Friday, December 13, 2019

Full of Possibilities

—Poems by Michael H. Brownstein, Jefferson City, MO
—Anonymous Photos


An old man in a wheelchair and a woman who bitterly despises him
A woman who bitterly despises him and a child holding a broken toy below the shelf
A child holding a broken toy below the shelf and a grandmother resting in front of the fireplace with a cup of tea
A grandmother resting in front of the fireplace with a cup of tea and a young man full of possibilities
A young man full of possibilities and a wonderful woman entering an enchanted dance
A wonderful woman entering an enchanted dance and a man looking toward the entrance-way in awe
A man looking toward the entrance-way in awe and an old man in a wheelchair


Kaos in the undergrowth
Kaos as guardian of the window
Kaos on the couch
Kaos on the lap
Kaos wheezing breath control
Kaos wheezing breath patrol
Kaos rambling through the yard
Kaos finding something good
Kaos stretching
Kaos racing to the alley
Kaos wheezing breath on hold
Kaos wheezing breath withhold
Kaos leaping
Kaos searching
Kaos loving affectionate happy

Today’s LittleNip:

a curdling of wind—
black snake outlines
falling leaves

—Michael Brownstein


We're fortunate on this Friday the 13th to have Michael H. Brownstein with us today! His latest volume of poetry,
How Do We Create Love?, was recently published by Cholla Needles Press ( His poem, “Kaos”, uses the literary device/poetry form of Anaphora, a repeated word at the beginning of each line. (See And see also the chain of repeated phrases he uses in his “After the Broken Hip”.

Acapella Performance Poetry Showcase meets tonight from 7-9pm at Acapella on Del Paso Blvd. in Sacramento. Tickets are $5. Scroll down to the blue column (under the green column at the right) for info about this and other upcoming poetry events in our area—and note that more may be added at the last minute.


Form Fiddlers Friday! 


It’s time for another contribution from Form Fiddlers! Each Friday for awhile, there will be a poem posted here from some of our readers, using forms—either ones which were mentioned on Medusa during the previous week, or whatever else floats through the Kitchen and the perpetually stoned mind of Medusa. If these instructions are vague, it's because they're meant to be. Just fiddle around with some forms and get them posted in the Kitchen. 

There is, of course, no such thing as a formless poem; as soon as you put two words together, you have, well, something. So we talk about “Free Verse” ( But you might check out the following article for some thoughts about what you’re doing on the poetic page when you think you're writing Free Verse:

Meanwhile, Taylor Graham sends us a Pleiades, mentioned to us last week by Carol Louise Moon:

—Taylor Graham, Placerville, CA
Reams of paper, words crossed off,
rewritten; pencils and pens
red and black, arrayed all-set
ready for the next draft, the
revision to render it
radiant, immortal. He
rubs his eyes—fading vision.

And Caschwa (Carl Schwartz) sends us what he calls “a little bauble that just happens to repeat the syllable scheme of 5-3-7”, sneaking a few rhymes in there, as well:


—Caschwa, Sacramento, CA

I pledge allegiance
to the bell
that closes trading daily

and to the folks who
live quite well
if not a bit too gaily

to the republic
that will gain
when all stocks perform their best

when trickle down will
replace rain
with real money to invest

And another poem of his, which “rhymes, plus a dozen ‘nines’ (nine syllables per line)”:


He’s not an attorney at plumbing
he’s neither an attorney at law
he isn’t the song we’ve been humming
in fact, he is the worst kind of flaw

Electoral College diploma
Russian influence played no small part
Democracy’s now in a coma
and the Wizard denied him a heart

mere babe trying to play a woodwind
all his fingers too small for the keys
bad notes he’s unable to rescind
stop this nonsense now! Oh pretty please


Our thanks to today’s poets for their form-fiddling, and keep ‘em coming!

—Medusa, for whom kaos is a way of life ~

 —Cover from Michael Brownstein’s latest book,  
How Do We Create Love?

Photos in this column can be enlarged by
clicking on them once, then clicking on the x
in the top right corner to come back to Medusa.

Thursday, December 12, 2019

Good Oak

—Poems and Photos by Taylor Graham, Placerville, CA


I stoked the woodstove before bedtime;
woke up before dawn. Black. Even my solar
lamp had died overnight. Whole house dark,
no glow from the woodstove. But not quite
cold. I turned on a kitchen light, started coffee
perking, heard you stirring down the hall.
You appeared, the woodstove flared to life
all by itself. Embers, warmth of so
many years—good oak, our life together.

for Kuskokwim Jalapeña TD & Kuskokwim Peter Piper Pepper

Peter Piper Pepper you pronounced her, apodo to perpetuate her predecessor Pepper (Jalapeña Pepper to be precise). Tongue twister partners, they teased and tested your tries mastering dogs overly motivated not simply to please but to perform the toughest tasks; to guide, guard, and guarantee your presence with the proper canine command. You pretended to be boss though they were—bucking wind, burrowing into snow, busting through bushes to locate the lost.

You, lost without them—
are they waiting in a world
beyond to find you?


Glisten of goldfinch and bull-thistle’s crown,
green mouths of moss after rain, and the call
of red-shoulder hawk hunger screaming down,
and valley oaks tarnished, steadfast through fall.

Oh, but the stars!
abrupt, cold-twitchy overhead
punching stickles of light
in black sky

so close, the ground seems to prickle with sparks
as if creation’s fire still makes earth bright
with chances, with loving every passing
glisten of goldfinch and bull-thistle’s crown.


Billions of birds have vanished from North American skies over the past five decades.
New York Post

The birds are disappearing: fact,
hallucination, rumor, or
an absence as if sky had cracked—

a fissure in the forest floor
or some magic teleport… all
hallucination, rumor? Or

was that soft farewell call
at evening just the mourning dove?
Is, by magic teleport, all

the morning birdsong you so love
now dwindling into distance, gone?
At evening, just the mourning dove

singing of an uncertain dawn.
Your annual bird-counts, what of them?
now dwindling into distance, gone—

loved and lost like a mythic gem.
The birds are disappearing. Fact,
your annual bird-counts. What of them?
An absence as if sky had cracked.   


Wild geese peck at scraps
in supermarket parking lot—
where are their lawns, pond?

Today’s LittleNip:

—Taylor Graham

Under gray rain clouds
sun finds a few last oak leaves
still hanging on—gold.


—Medusa, with thanks to Taylor Graham for her photos and poetry—including her tongue-twister which uses alliteration so skillfully!

Tonight in Sacramento at 8pm, Poetry Unplugged at Luna’s Cafe and Juice Bar features a book release by Stacy Gee, plus lots of open mic. That’s at 1414 16th St., Sac. Scroll down to the blue column (under the green column at the right) for info about this and other upcoming poetry events in our area—and note that more may be added at the last minute.

—Medusa, celebrating the poetry of the season!

 —Anonymous Photo

Photos in this column can be enlarged by
clicking on them once, then clicking on the x
in the top right corner to come back to Medusa.

Wednesday, December 11, 2019

Starting With Dessert

—Poems by Ryan Quinn Flanagan, Elliot Lake, Ontario, Canada
—Anonymous Photos of Elliot Lake


A cool painting
won’t let you glide through the trenches
on ice skates,
read nefarious from library shelves
that get you drunk on words
so you take something home with you,
to enjoy for weeks at a time,
propped up in bed flipping through
those many numbered pages
until the late fees kick in,
a demand for money you don’t have
and a bachelor of the arts may as well
be a bachelor of anywhere else;
blowing over the simple soup spoon
until you don’t burn your mouth.








The highschool
my father attended
was levelled to the ground.

The arena where we used to watch
Barrie Colts hockey games
is now a fire station.

Bums fight in the street over drugs.
Hookers offering their services
at the bus station where
I once sat on my father’s shoulders.

Pretending to be a dinosaur
with snarled claws
for fingers.

As we waited for the Allandale bus
to take us back home.


Some people
were just blown up
at a bar three streets away.

Could be terrorism.
Human error
or human purpose.

Details are sketchy
at this early stage,
as Reuters is so fond
of saying.

Like the theatre is in its infancy
when no one could pretend
to cry.

Not for an audience,
not convincingly.


That’s just how I laid it out to him.
As sure a thing as the stocks that made
other people rich.

I didn’t know how it worked,
but it did.
Everyone wants to back a winner.

And I remember when I thought we had the best basketball team in the city,
invited my father to come see them win the championship game
on home court and he declined.

Without even thinking about it.
Against his traditional city enemies.
Even though we had this point guard named Rob
that couldn’t miss.

And how I went without him
and sat in the stands with the jocks
and the many groupies.

Collecting their death stares
and cheering on
even though the home team was
never really my home team
and down by four at half.

And the second half was no better.
Our star point guard looked nervous.
As if the stage was too big for him.
College scouts may be sniffing around.
He kept turning the ball over to these overly-athletic
black guys that would dunk on us.
It wasn’t even close.

When it was over,
I walked home in dark.
My father asked how it went
and I walked straight up
to my room.

He never came up and said anything.
I had been tricked by the lights.
Never again.

I guess he had too and wanted to leave me
with the truth of that in my
own time.








Today’s LittleNip:

—Ryan Quinn Flanagan

The queen of England is the prince of pop
is the king of the hill is the duke of earl
in the emperor’s new clothes from the Salvation Army
marching into Manchuria walking like
an Egyptian with 80,000 reasons and half
the guns.


Welcome back to the Kitchen, Ryan! Ryan Quinn Flanagan is a Canadian-born author residing in Elliot Lake, Ontario, Canada with his wife and many mounds of snow. His work can be found both in print and online in such places as: 
Evergreen Review, The New York Quarterly, Medusa's Kitchen, Setu, Red Fez, and The Oklahoma Review.

Tonight in our area, Poetry Off-the-Shelves meets in Placerville, 5-7pm, at the main branch of the El Dorado County Library on Fair Lane. And at 7pm In Sacramento, Upstairs at the B presents An Evening of Poetry w/Spoken Word Artist Buddy Wakefield (and others) at The Sofia, 2700 Capitol Av., in a benefit for Creation District. Then at 9pm, Tara Crawford is featured at Mahogany Urban Poetry Series at Queen Sheba on Broadway in Sac.; open mic starts at 10pm. Scroll down to the blue column (under the green column at the right) for info about these and other upcoming poetry events in our area—and note that more may be added at the last minute.

—Medusa, celebrating the poetry in those many mounds of snow!

For 15 Surprising Facts about Winter Weather, go to 

Photos in this column can be enlarged by
clicking on them once, then clicking on the x
in the top right corner to come back to Medusa.

Tuesday, December 10, 2019

When The Voice Sings

—Poems and Original Artwork by Joyce Odam, Sacramento, CA


pair a bell
pare a bell

tell truth without truth
bell words
are a knell

knell  ,  knell
is to tell
a parabelle

tell it to the sky
that trembles
for the bell

I can tell it
now  ,  how it rings  ,
how the bell rings

when the voice sings
tell it well  ,
be the knell : parable



Did what we could, but who knows what to say at times
like this. Poor Martha, sitting with her back to the wall
again, twisting tissue in her lap, and poor grim Arthur
dangling out there with his fingers gripping the window-
ledge—each needing more help than the other.

But he wouldn’t yell for help—not grim Arthur, not to
frozen Martha—deaf and without a shred of sympathy.
And this time it had gone on for weeks. They took turns
being silent and screaming at each other—that was their
way, their lives going on around them—as if all this were
usual, like a season—and it was. We brought out all the
old advice each time we came by, checking to see if they
were still okay.

It’s winter again, and the window stays open between
them, Arthur looking down, and looking in, and Martha
sitting helpless to the wall. But it’s no use—they don’t
know how—or maybe they could surrender all their tired,
and stubborn, love-fraught tragedy. Oh well.

 Detour Flashback


These women, of such secrets, lounge in luminous white
chairs in the twilight and speak softly among themselves
and gesture with quickened lyrical motions of their hands.

Their features grow dim and their voices continue under
the slanting and changing of the hours. Their houses are
waiting but their houses are only the shells of their lives.

The women shine softer as random flickerings find them
laughing and talking in the shivery dusk. How long they
will stay depends on how much more they have to say.

 A Horde of Marbles

After Birds and Flowers
by Shen Chuan (ca. 1682-1760):
Two Butterflies on Lilies

At night, on the dream river,        
where has sleep taken me?       
What is meant by waking?       

I have been of two lives—            
bewildered in both.                        
At night—on the dream river,               

I meet another self,                         
with passage between the two.     
Then what is meant by waking?       

If one becomes the stronger,        
does one release the other,                
created by night’s twisting river?      

Should I not want to return,           
would something still hold me?          
What, then, is meant by waking?     

If I had a choice,                             
would something relinquish me?    
At night—on the disturbed river—   
would there be a waking?      

     Birthday Cake


Which side is which to which
of the perception?

Words float through lines
in audible silence.
The reader reads and is informed :

Let me follow the words that blur
as I read them—doubling for

I must not be too literal here,
I must honor the mystery.

Someone has discovered a truth
and would share it,
but it shifts as I listen.

Words like twisted, and broken,
are placed against
a simpler word for comparison.

Random lines scribble and scribble
in broken direction. The original
thought is twisted as a challenge.

I am in this : the artist/author
has seen to that. He would
involve me as co-conspirator.



your cry
on the soft darkness

your tears
in a tight handkerchief

making the rain
such sorrow

(first pub. in Paisley Moon, 1991)



Why melt when sorrow loves you like that,
like blithering rain, or withering pain, like
that—trying to abstain—make sense, go
splat—all over again—life is like that,
a wheel, and a stain, on a wall, or a
floor—stutter no more, it doesn’t
become... you are no more than,
what a shame, glorious sorrow
fit for singing, something like
that... something like wrong...
finger-nail-scraping down a
wet window full of life’s
pitiless rain—oh you—
oh you—I know how
you feel, I—like you
a commiserate stain,
the bearer of pain...

 Marbles vs. Checkers


Who is Joyce, who is she,
with her stumble of words,
her clumsy language?

Look, she is all un-
gathered again,
mended so temporarily
in one first mirror.

Stepping away, look how she
stutters apart,
sending little nervous glances
in all that glass.

Oh, she has something to say.
Oh, she is opening her mouth.
Oh, a moth flies in.

Tell us about gray, then;
tell us about soft suffocation
on the tongue.

Well, her eyes are sufficient,
I suppose;
they are rather like candles.
But the moth has died.

(first pub. in The California
Quarterly, 1974)


Today’s LittleNip:

(Courtesy: Long Ago High School Days,
try at your own risk)

I slit a sheet, a sheet I slit,
Upon the slitted sheet I sit.

—Joyce Odam (with apologies)

Thank you to Joyce Odam for her fine poems and artwork today, fiddling around and teasing our tongues with sound and form, and even playing around with punctuation. Her “On Dreams” is an unrhymed Villanelle—a Villanelle (, except that it is, well, unrhymed.

Our new Seed of the Week is The Perfect Gift. Send your poems, photos & artwork about this (or any other) subject to No deadline on SOWs, though, and for a peek at our past ones, click on “Calliope’s Closet”, the link at the top of this column, for plenty of others to choose from.

—Medusa, quoting Joyce: “when the voice sings, tell it well…”

  Tongue-tripping through a trio of tall trees
—Anonymous Photo

Photos in this column can be enlarged by
clicking on them once, then clicking on the x
in the top right corner to come back to Medusa.

Monday, December 09, 2019

Going Full-Angel

—Anonymous Angels

—Joseph Nolan, Stockton, CA

Don’t buy a car for the tires.
Don’t buy a car for the wheels.
Don’t buy a car for how it looks.
Don’t buy for how it feels.

You might buy a car for how it goes
Smoothly down the road,
How it gets you sure
From here to there
Without a worry or care.

This is just some fatherly advice
That I would like to share.

You’re going to have to drive that beast,
To fill her up,
And not the least,
To carry all your loads.
You don’t want those roles


—Joseph Nolan

Eddie had gone full-angel.
He stopped worrying about himself
When he realized how he
Was just a tiny part
Of the crowded
Mayhem on this planet
We call life-as-we-know-it.

What could there possibly be to gain
For himself, since he did not exist?
Not in the way he used to think he did.

Now, he was just a tiny light-blue dot
In an impressionist painting
Of a gentle landscape, fields in France,
Populated by a single, small boy
With a flower in his hand,
Sniffing floral perfume
On a brightly-lit, late-Spring day,
Before supper.

He thought about Mother Theresa,
Of Sainthood, of sleeping
On a rustic cot for a bed
In a barely-furnished, simple, small room
In Calcutta, without air-conditioning,
With the Indian summers reaching 120 degrees,
And humidity at nearly 100 percent.

He thought to himself,
“No sense taking things to extremes!
Some of those saints
Are a lot tougher than angels!
Besides, I like it better here in France.”

—Joseph Nolan

My muse is angry with me
Over a breach of faith.
I abandoned her sack of nails
I used to carry around.

She insists I pick it up again
And drag it from town to town,
But I howl
When the nails dig in-
To my ankles
And into my shins

And I pray to her,
I beg and I plead and I pray,
Why must you be so cruel to me,
To make me bleed this way?


—Joseph Nolan

I think we are running out of time,
Here in the middle of infinity.

How can I tell we’re in the middle,
And not closer
To one end or another of infinity?
By sense of smell, that’s how!
It certainly smells like the middle of infinity.

We had better hurry up.
We are getting close to the end!
If we dawdle, things will go sour
And you won’t like how that smells.

President Trump:
      Please release Chelsea Manning from jail for Christmas
      As you probably know, the prison sentence for the transgender woman was commuted by President Obama—
      because she really did not do any harm to anyone as a soldier who gave “military secrets” to WikiLeaks
      Manning’s act of "espionage” let the world know what America was really doing in Iraq, Guantanamo Bay, and Afghanistan 
      Manning is in jail again, this time for refusing to testify in court against her friend, Julian Assange 
      and Julian Assange is in danger of dying in prison in Britain
      even though he’s only been accused, and not charged with publishing material that “undermines American security”!
      With a strike of your pen, Mr. President, you could return Assange back to his native Sweden—
       It appears now Assange’s home country at least believes in “innocent until proven guilty"
      These two are heroes, not traitors, to the American people who pay taxes to our government to pay for wars
      Again, please, for Christmas, release Chelsea Manning from a Virginia prison
      So she may get a job in her community just like other parolees

—Michelle Kunert, Sacramento, CA

For Christmas, please just give to people you know
      I am so sick of these “charities” where you don’t know where the money goes
      So many of those are headed by CEO's drawing six- and seven-figure salaries
      and the collections therefore don't go to the desperate poor for whom they claim to advocate
      Jesus would be disgusted by those who claim to be Christian, who do just that
      Please practice "love your neighbor”
      and give to a person who you know, even if you don’t earn a tax return for it
—Michelle Kunert                                                                

—Photo by Caschwa, Sacramento, CA


So I’ve got this 1975 Webster’s
dictionary that I paid big bucks for
back in the day

this is the Second Edition, over
2,300 pages long, “based upon
the broad foundation laid down
by Noah Webster, extensively
revised by the publisher’s
editorial staff…”

published in the age when school
systems everywhere were teaching
children that Pluto was the ninth
planet in our solar system

who knows what other of its wide
array of authoritative entries are
now obsolete?

the ragged spine makes this book
look like it was used as a weapon
in a bar brawl, so now it rests on the
bookshelf as stately as a deposed
king, waiting in line to once again be
properly respected



We are but a trail of ants
to the media workers giving
traffic reports, filling our own
antennas with all the statistics
emanating from fatal collisions:

number dead, routes closed,
areas delayed, when the
situation will be back to normal

zero mention of human grief
wives left widowed, kids left
orphaned, parents left childless
it is as if the pitiful survivors have
their orders to just keep going
and shut up about it

remember, you’re an ant, damnit


The Problem:

negative consequences
from criminal acts

The Old Solution:

King Hammurabi’s
18th-Century B.C.
death penalty code

Progress Check:

problem continues
executions don’t deter
enough, prisons full

The New Solution:

we have Corrections
and Rehabilitation
this problem solved. NOT!



· A free market economy encourages risk
· Prohibitive prices stem the ability to overcome risk
· Failure to overcome risk leads to takeovers
· Takeovers morph into dynasties
· Dynasties act to rid themselves of the stigma of free market economy
· We are all minor players in the grand plan of a dynasty wannabe
· Meanwhile key speakers burn jet fuel daily to come tell us we need to switch to greener modes of travel


The bottom fell oot of my boot
which caused the pant cuff of my suit
to engage in a jugular tug-o-war
with the irregular sidewalk

forcing me to sidle-walk ever so crooked
I took it so badly that my tuckus made a
greater ruckus than the Circus Maximus
carnivorous taxi bus parking garage

a barking image of seams ripped apart
sweet dreams that don’t even start with
a birthday push on the tusch, candles
lighted in celebration, a virtual alliteration


Today’s LittleNip:






A big thank-you to our contributors today, helping us start another week with a big bang!

Poetry readings begin tonight in Sacramento at Sac. Poetry Center, featuring Jason Shapiro plus open mic, 7:30pm. On Wednesday, Poetry Off-the-Shelves meets in Placerville at the library on Fair Lane, 5-7pm; then from 7-9pm in Sacramento, An Evening of Poetry w/Spoken Word Artist Buddy Wakefield (plus others) meets at The Sofia, 2700 Capitol Avenue, in a benefit for Creation District.

Poetry Unplugged at Luna’s Cafe and Juice Bar meets on Thursday at 8pm, with a book release by Stacy Gee plus lots of open mic, 1414 16th St. in Sacramento, 8pm.

Second Sat. from 2-8:30pm, Sac. Poetry Center features the Women’s Wisdom Art’s new showing, Global Sisterhood, with an art project, reading, and refreshments. And Sunday, 1-3pm, Poetry of the Sierra Foothills features Kristin George Bagdanov, Michael Mlekoday plus open mic at Caffe Santoro on Pleasant Valley Road in Diamond Springs. Scroll down to the blue column (under the green column at the right) for info about these and other upcoming poetry events in our area—and note that more may be added at the last minute.

There’s a new reading series in Lodi called Lyrical Lodi, with emphasis on the spoken word. It will meet every first Friday at the Angel Ra Boutique, 10 N. School St., Lodi. Sign-ups start at 7pm; suggested donation $5. Hosted by J-Scribe and the Journeyman.

Interested in workshops? Check the green box at the right for a listing of local ones which will be held this week and/or later. But be aware that many of them will be cancelled during one or more of the holiday weeks coming up in December.

—Medusa, who sent her halo to the thrift store long ago ~

 Don’t forget Form Fiddler’s Friday here in the Kitchen!

Photos in this column can be enlarged by
clicking on them once, then clicking on the x
in the top right corner to come back to Medusa.

Sunday, December 08, 2019


—Anonymous Photo, Starlings in the Rain

(from WT Webb, ‘Science Fantasy no. 47’)
—Andrew Darlington, Osset, W. Yorkshire, England

she paints me
rain falls in heavy squalls,
the far side of the garden is hidden
the orchard is a writhing quagmire of birds,
I open the door, pace unsteady down the path,
the rain stipples my skin as I walk,
the birds lurch into the air ahead of me,
they fly in a half-circle on either side
in a dark bow-wave among murmurations
of starlings settling on bare branches,
I lose sight of the house among the trees
squint through an aviary of watery haze,
the bird-cries change pitch and tempo
I understand their words, their language,
a million wings in vengeful flight
rebellious as children at a saturnalian rite
to which my feet dance in sympathy,
the rain ceases, the sky has cleared
the starlings rise, a dark reverse snowstorm,
a night blackness of ascending wings
a lid that lifts from this garden
a vital part of me lifts with the swarm
sculpted in vibrant feathers, no longer
distinguishable among a pyramid of birds,
at the garden’s centre
she paints only a
formation of bones


—Medusa, and thanks to Andrew Darlington from over the sea ~

Photos in this column can be enlarged by
clicking on them once, then clicking on the x
in the top right corner to come back to Medusa.

Saturday, December 07, 2019

Bucketful Of Hope

—Poems by James Lee Jobe, Davis, CA
—Photos Courtesy of James Lee Jobe


The sound of the wind. Tree branches rubbing together. Dried leaves blowing across the ground. Listen harder. From somewhere in the distance is the sound of one bird singing. Tiny moments, sweet and small, rest in the quiet corners of being alive.

O sad world, cheer up.
The world today is dragging
Its feet in the sand as it walks.
It looks dejected.
The world keeps its eyes
On the ground as it moves around,
Ignoring the sky and the sun
And the birds and the trees.
Ignoring everything lovely or sweet.
Something in me
Wants to console the world,
To cheer it up a little.
It's going to be OK, world.
You're going to be just fine,
I promise.


The stream knows that the way to the river is downhill, and likewise does the river find the sea. It doesn’t matter if it is day or night, the journey continues. And you? Where are you going, and how will you get there? Follow your heart.

Open yourself to your life
The way a window opens
To let in light and air.
To welcome life
Is to meet that which is divine.
That which is divine opens her arms
And holds you like a lover.
Friend, that which is divine is a lover.
Open yourself to your life.
Don’t wait any longer.

Like blood on the hands of a policeman, like the screams of a beaten prisoner, a cat cries out in the night. It is the sound of my life spreading out in the darkness. It is the sound that says, “Now. At last.” I cannot swallow this midnight with my mouth bound by a gag. I cannot breathe from behind this choke-hold. The cat cries out again and again. The night drags on like a life sentence in a cold, cold prison.

Love and hope walk together
Down the same street.
Sunset, sunrise, midnight;
It doesn’t matter.
Step by step they walk, arms linked.
Strength and faith nurture each other.
People could learn from this example.
There is strength in faith,
And through faith, one can find
Immense strength.
Love. Hope. Strength. Faith.
Open your heart, open your arms,
Open your eyes.
We are the universe, and the universe is us.
Go now, live your life.


Today’s LittleNip:

That I never fail to see that even mistakes are grace. That I seek the equal, middle ground with everyone. That I always value commitment, support, and stability. This I pray.


Thank you, James Lee Jobe, for this morning’s recipe of hope in the Kitchen! We can all use a bucketful of that during this cloudy season. Besides, how can you be sad with all those mules grinning at you?

Tonight from 8-10pm at the Calif. Stage on 25th St. in Sacramento, Ladies of the Knight will present a full-length staged poetic show with music. Also tonight, at Sac. Poetry Center: Poetry & Prose Debut Reading from the 10th chapbook by Team Haag:
Soul of the Narrator, at 7pm with Jan Haag. Scroll down to the blue column (under the green column at the right) for info—and tickets—about these and other upcoming poetry events in our area—and note that more may be added at the last minute.

—Medusa, celebrating the good which can come from this season ~

 Photos in this column can be enlarged by
clicking on them once, then clicking on the x
in the top right corner to come back to Medusa.

Friday, December 06, 2019

There You Go

—Poetry by Linda Imbler, Wichita, KS
—Photos Courtesy of Linda Imbler


Stop tearing your hair
you frightened child, young sad boy.
Pressure cooker
meal is the thing you smell,
pressure cooker family
you see and hear.
Household dysfunction,
all things blowing up,
screams of parents bouncing off the kitchen’s walls
and you sob as you rock madly
back and forth within your invented universe,
the pressure cooker whistle is all around you.
Yours, they shriek, blaming each other.
Just admit it this time,
your fault, they howl.
Under this roof
beside the metal stove,
then all noise ceases at once.
You wake from this shrill dream.
Please, come sit,
the family is broken still, but hungry.


The land of Cowboys and cattlemen,
The land of bankers and Baptists,
The land of bless your heart and there you go:

They say it's the city where JFK was killed, a friend
once told me at NorthPark Mall that her father knew
Jack Ruby back then.
They say it's the land of mortgaged extravagance: Yes, there
you go, I have seen lavish hotels built upon
former ranches.
And they say to me Dallas town itself is quite small: My reply
is there you go, for there are suburbs both rich and poor
that surround it.
And there is both bitter hunger and keen gluttony;
poverty and great wealth, and I match their snide remarks
and say to them:
This is also the town of my youth, the place where the Crossroads
Club and the Dairy Queen gave me solace and refuge.
It's the town of my latter years where my father died, and later
still, those whom I had once been close to fell away from me,
sadly, so there you go. 


When I am old,
And called across the sea,
And beauty, peace, and ecstasy unfold,
Make no sad laments for me.

A quiet shore awaits,
Those long passed, I’ll meet again,
Within majestic open gate,
The happiest I'll ever be.

I'll walk the pathway,
Abounding sights,
Shoreline blue and silver gray,
Days and nights now finite.

And when you come
And call and look for me
Follow the silence to my sanctum
On the shore along the sea.


I clutch tightly
your urned cremains.
If I put them down
you might disappear.
I put them in triple-layered plastic bags
while I shower.
Strap them into the car seat
ever so snugly,
carry them into the store,
in that very large beach bag
that now serves as my purse,
when I can make myself buy food to eat.
At night, with you beside me
I dream of our life together,
careful not to knock you off the bed
to be scattered.
That I could not bear.
I recall the reasons I’ve loved you;
the magnitude of your heart
for all things living,
your capacity to forgive
both my naive foolishness and my purposeful obstinacy,
your feverish defense of truth and justice.
There is much to cherish.
And while the way I am acting may seem strange,
there is a method to my madness.
If I hold this reliquary
close enough to me,
perhaps you will reappear.


Today’s LittleNip:

How did it get so late so soon? It’s night before it’s afternoon. December is here before it’s June. My goodness how the time has flewn. How did it get so late so soon?

—Dr. Seuss


Thanks and welcome to Linda Imbler today, who joins us for the first time, all the way from Wichita! Linda’s poetry collections include three published works by Amazon:
Big Questions, Little Sleep; Lost and Found; and Red Is The Sunrise. Soma Publishing has published her three e-book collections: The Sea’s Secret Song, Pairings (a hybrid of short fiction and poetry), and That Fifth Element. Examples of Linda’s poetry and a listing of publications can be found at  Again, welcome Linda, and don’t be a stranger!

Tonight from 6-8pm is the annual Sacramento Poetry Center Holiday Fundraiser at Mimi Miller’s home on 40th St. in Sacramento, with food, libations, music by the Soft-Offs, and plenty of good times to be had by all! Tickets are $40 ($30 for members); purchase them at the door. Scroll down to the blue column (under the green column at the right) for info about this and other upcoming poetry events in our area—and note that more may be added at the last minute.


It’s time for more contributions from Form Fiddlers! Each Friday for awhile, there will be poems posted here from some of our readers using forms—either, ones which were mentioned on Medusa during the previous week, or whatever else floats through the Kitchen and the perpetually stoned mind of Medusa. If these instructions are vague, it's because they're meant to be. Just fiddle around with some forms and get them posted in the Kitchen.

Carol Louise Moon sends us two poems for FFF today, and she writes: "I have two forms to share. The first is a Pleiades. And we can remind our readers that Pleiades are also 49ers, so that a 7-line poem with seven syllables per line does not have to have any other considerations. The other poem is a Tanka. (Modern Tanka aren't necessarily the 5,7,5,7,7 pattern, but they shouldn't contain more than 31 syllables.)" Here are her two poems:

(a Pleiades)

matted tangle of snakes. A
minute now, I wonder if
managing her headdress she
mangles her tangles even
more by raking through her "locks."
Mirrored by each other, these
monstrous snakes compete for space.

—Carol Louise Moon, Placerville, CA
* * *

forest fires
insects fly out—
roller birds dive into smoke
feasting on mice, lizards
and bugs fleeing flames

—Modern Tanka by Carol Louise Moon

Some poets like to make up their own forms, following some inner ear that carries them along through rhythms and rhymes. Here is one such poem by Joseph Nolan, written in response to our current Seed of the Week: Tongue Twisters/Alliteration:

—Joseph Nolan, Stockton, CA

She is unwell,
So, to tell:
She glares and stares
And bristles.

Has anyone
Any whistles?

If I were but
To play a tune,
Perhaps she might be
Normal soon,
And stop
Her crazy stares.....

But it seems
That no-one cares,
She stares and bristles.

She is a poet
But we don’t
Know it?

Likewise, Tom Goff sent this Octet for us, which uses an interesting 5/7/5/7/7/5/7/5 syllable rhythm that is not a traditional Octet form, but lovely music anyway:

—Tom Goff, Carmichael

Haze brightens autumn?
How is it, filtered by smoke,
reds, yellows in leaves,
pine branches, come to take on
glow, perhaps gleam, perhaps glint,
while air, cheesecloth-wise,
strains out lint, motes, gnats? What beam
sticks in my eye now?

Caschwa (Carl Schwartz) sent us a Kouta, which was introduced yesterday on Medusa by Taylor Graham, and also uses 5’s and 7’s:

—Caschwa, Sacramento, CA

Some put stock in lots of hope
cheery thoughts abound
many lives are being saved
happy days are here

But look at a calendar
the days are always numbered
all holidays included
darkness will prevail

And there are lots of ways to rebel against forms, too, or find other ways to make them our own! Caschwa writes: “I checked out the examples given for a Triversen [Medusa’s Kitchen, 11/26/19] and found several departures from the form of each line being an independent clause. One such line was only one word: ‘diminishing’. As a result, here is my popularly imperfect version of a Triversen”:


Church confessions abound
sending the truth round and round, till
all the priest hears is flabbergasting speech

Confessions made to the police
are motivated much less by truth than by
the need of everyone to end dissent

Staunchly inquisitive, investigative news reporters work hard to
fill in the missing confessions of
those who only offer silence

Ah, Carl—what can I say? It’s an imperfect world. But of course the poet is the ultimate boss of what goes onto the page; we can have our ways with any form we want to, as long as we’re not entering some contest somewhere that might get picky. Here is Carl having fun with the whole concept of forms: 


You really don’t need to know
what is in the Secret Sauce
to fully enjoy and savor its taste

nor do you really need to know
that some counterpoint is in fact
a fugue at the fourth to fully
enjoy and savor the music

nor do you really need to be
well schooled in anatomy or
related disciplines to have a
most satisfying sexual encounter

the point is just this:
do it, love it, repeat, that’s
all you need to know


You got it, Carl—the key is to love it. We don’t need no stinkin’ forms, anyway. Or do we…….?

—Medusa, always looking for the recipe for that Secret Sauce ~

 Linda Imbler
Welcome to the Kitchen, Linda!

Photos in this column can be enlarged by
clicking on them once, then clicking on the x
in the top right corner to come back to Medusa.


Thursday, December 05, 2019

When All Else . . .

—Poems and Photos by Taylor Graham, Placerville, CA


Wildfire’s on the news, a galloping blaze
consuming hills, homes, this field of horses.
Red-glow daylight as it leaps and courses—
or is it night? a dead black overlays

the picture, everything’s a smoky haze.
And here’s a human against such forces—
wildfire on the news, a galloping blaze
consuming hills, homes, this field of horses.

Human leads a black stallion through the maze
away from stable and herd, its sources
of comfort, safety. Man reinforces
his halter-tugging with words of horse-praise.
Wildfire is the news, a galloping blaze. 


Look for a shop door flung wide
to let natural daylight in—
here’s the used bookstore.

Browse the back shelves by flashlight,
buy your book with exact change—
cash-registers/card-readers are dead.

Back home, feed the wood-burning stove,
make whatever supper you can,
and in lovely dark quiet, sleep. 


Our clever black cat plays with matches,
pens, pencils, whatever he snatches
that used to be mine. Plots he hatches:
unplugs bread-maker, then detaches
external backup drive, and catches
claws on couch, shredding it to batches
of fabric now ragged as thatches.
Mend it with thread, needle and patches?
No foiling him, he just outmatches.
Look at the doorsill—full of scratches.
Nothing’s safe, he’s master of latches. 


dark-eyed juncos feast
on birdseed kicked down by finch
at hanging feeder 

Hail and Birdseed


dull November sun
strikes dead oak leaves on dry grass,
makes scatter-crystal


I woke up in the dark wondering why? Why another Thursday, everyday everyweek prosy stuff needing doing? Our black cat materialized out of dark, tickling my cheek with his whiskers, purring. Hungry? I got up, shoveled ashes, crumpled old news in woodstove’s ashy bed, added twiggy tips of oak that fell in last winter’s storms. So much work, dismantling what’s left of a great oak carcass. Remember how beautiful standing in the woods. Strike a match, miracle of instant fire. Get coffee perking. Lucky—power’s on, this dark morning. Dog’s curled with cat on the couch, patiently waiting for the room to warm. They’ll be wanting breakfast.

If all else fails, be
thankful for these everyday
prosy Thursday things. 

Today’s LittleNip:

—Taylor Graham

When the ancient parchment turns
to worn-out carbon paper
wordless and lifeless and gray—
walk outside and breathe.


Our gratitude to Taylor Graham for today’s poetry about our recent Seed of the Week: When All Else Fails. She sends us many forms today, including the Kouta for a LittleNip. Check it out at; those of you who love counting syllables might have fun with it. Her "Master of Latches" is a Monorhyme (

Tonight is Poetry Unplugged at Luna’s Cafe and Juice Bar on 16th St. in Sacramento, this week featuring Jen & Sho plus, of course, lots of open mic. Or head over to Poetry in Davis, featuring Len Germinara and Frank Graham plus open mic at the John Natsoulas Gallery on 1st Street in Davis. Both events start at 8pm, with open mic sign-ups at 7:30pm. Scroll down to the blue column (under the green column at the right) for info about these and other upcoming poetry events in our area—and note that more may be added at the last minute.

—Medusa, celebrating inspiration, wherever it finds us!


Photos in this column can be enlarged by
clicking on them once, then clicking on the x
in the top right corner to come back to Medusa.