Sunday, February 16, 2020

A Past President's Poem for Presidents' Day

Barack Obama

—Barack Obama

Sitting in his seat, a seat broad and broken

In, sprinkled with ashes,

Pop switches channels, takes another

Shot of Seagrams, neat, and asks

What to do with me, a green young man

Who fails to consider the

Flim and flam of the world, since

Things have been easy for me;

I stare hard at his face, a stare

That deflects off his brow;

I’m sure he’s unaware of his

Dark, watery eyes, that

Glance in different directions,

And his slow, unwelcome twitches,

Fail to pass.

I listen, nod,

Listen, open, till I cling to his pale,
Beige T-shirt, yelling,

Yelling in his ears, that hang

With heavy lobes, but he’s still telling

His joke, so I ask why

He’s so unhappy, to which he replies...

But I don’t care anymore, cause

He took too damn long, and from

Under my seat, I pull out the

Mirror I’ve been saving; I’m laughing,

Laughing loud, the blood rushing from his face

To mine, as he grows small,

A spot in my brain, something

That may be squeezed out, like a

Watermelon seed between

Two fingers.

Pop takes another shot, neat,

Points out the same amber

Stain on his shorts that I’ve got on mine, and

Makes me smell his smell, coming

From me; he switches channels, recites an old poem

He wrote before his mother died,

Stands, shouts, and asks

For a hug, as I shink, my

Arms barely reaching around

His thick, oily neck, and his broad back; ‘cause

I see my face, framed within

Pop’s black-framed glasses

And know he’s laughing too.


For commentary on Obama’s poem (and the typo), as well as another of his poems, “Underground”, go to

Today from 1-3pm in Diamond Springs (just southeast of Placerville), Poetry of the Sierra Foothils will present Kelly Grace Thomas and Linda Scheller, plus open mic, at Caffe Santoro, 493 Pleasant Valley Rd., Diamond Springs. 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.


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, February 15, 2020

Embrace Me

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

I live in the Sacramento Valley, it is tremendous; it goes on and on. Each of us here walks through the valley the same way, and yet each of us is different. A life is a life, yet no two are truly the same. And my life? In summer, I trust the morning dew, and in winter I trust the tule fog. I put my faith in the deer grass and manzanita, in the blue oak and the grey pine. I live in this valley, a part of it.

The air is low tonight, pressed down to the ground, and it welcomes me like I am a victorious soldier just home from some distant war.

The ground kisses the low air, and caresses it, whispering sweet love words that I cannot make out, even though I listen closely.

There is moonlight, star light, the street lights, headlights from passing traffic, and a sort of blue light from television sets filtering through the windows of the sad houses.

Even with this light I cannot make out the tops of the trees or the roofs of the taller houses.

Walking in this world brings me a loneliness, a melancholy that lingers long after the night is over.

A new days begins, so what can I do but begin again as well.

So I do.

Hanshan, the old monk, on Cold Mountain.
Meditation, poems, and laughter.
The winter wind howling
Across the surface of the frozen snow.


Embrace me on the tip of a blue flame, a campfire

Embrace me of the swirl of a dance floor, those drums

Embrace me with the truth, I have heard too many lies

Embrace me until sunrise, the darkness, the darkness

Embrace me in friendship, mi amigo, mon ami

Embrace me on the sharp edge of passion, the stars

Embrace me while the world spins, it never stops

Embrace me, embrace me now, embrace me tomorrow

Embrace me and I will embrace you, our blood together

This life

The music of autumn, the sound of birds, the sound of trees moved by wind. This music is a tall blessing, tall and wide. This life is everywhere. At once. 


When the earth herself
Comes asking for help,
How will we hear her?
Friend, we often fail
To even hear each other.

With hope there is life.

With life there is hope.

Live. Hold on to your hope.

Keep the faith, always.


Today’s LittleNip:

After dinner, standing outside in a light rain, I am connected to all creation. A perfect imperfection.

—James Lee Jobe


Thank you, James Lee Jobe, for your contributions to the Kitchen this morning, as we hover between seasons.

For up-coming poetry events in our area, scroll down to the blue column (under the green column at the right) for info—and note that more may be added at the last minute.


—Medusa, listening closely to the trees moved by the wind ~

 —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.

Friday, February 14, 2020

Valentines to Warm Those Chilly Hearts

—Poems and Photos by Taylor Graham, Placerville, CA


Sun-shimmer morning after rain—time for oracles in the mossy woods, green-folk performing secret ballet rites-of-spring then stealing away at human footfall. Forest duff absorbed my steps into the matrix of earth. One heavyset stump blossomed with fungus, the oaks’ idea of afterlife among a windfall of acorns. My reverie broken by that street-singer, Scrub Jay, and roar of a jet swallowed by thunderclouds building over the hills,

chill north wind bringing
its news of changes to our
ever-living green 

                 (for Verl)

O Bolens diesel tractor small but wise,
you forged a path to where they felled our trees;
now turn my heartache into our hearth’s ease.

Each oak and pine I mourn, each friend that lies
on battlefield of severed heartwood knees.
O Bolens diesel tractor, small but wise,
you forged a path to where they felled our trees.

An ample woodpile grows before my eyes
so we’ll be cozy, come a northwind freeze.
You clear a whimsy-way for April breeze.
O Bolens diesel tractor small but wise,
you forged a path to where they felled our trees.
Now, turn my heartache into our hearth’s ease. 


The Muse’s chair sits out in all weathers
gathering wisps of cloud-thoughts passing by
and some iridescent shades of feathers
she’s caught with glimpses of birds on the fly.
You’ve been inside pondering which-where-why
her chair is empty, waiting for a word.
She’s left her post, she’s musing on the sly—
your Muse is practicing dawn-song of a bird?

Could this be her sport of all-togethers?
the baited hook on line, a verse to fry?
iridescent fish with scales, not feathers.
What can that empty Muse’s chair belie?
It’s almost spring, a Muse’s alibi.
And what’s that wildwood warble you just heard?
From canopies of oak—oh way up high—
your Muse is practicing dawn-song of a bird.

All around her chair, blossom-rot gathers
a shining ring of toadstools (eat-and-die)—
all iridescent in the way of fungi feathers.
Lovely lethal Nature—she winks an eye.
Art is where you find it; she wouldn’t lie.
You wonder if this Muse has gone absurd
or eaten metaphor like blackbird pie.
Your Muse is practicing dawn-song of a bird.

Her chair’s up-lifting as if set to fly
on inspiration’s whim. A single word
might set it wingless soaring into sky.
Your Muse is practicing dawn-song of a bird. 


A subtle north wind plays
with ashes I toss on ash-heap—
ashes smothered in cast-iron, quite
cold. Ashes that kept us woodstove-
warm with embers recalling frigid
dawns-ago, dead now. Winter sun
plays on ice an inch thick
on the bucket, still unmelted
into afternoon. Ash drifts on north
wind, remembering its fire
of dreaming summer’s tinder
flaming into fall. Does ash ever
die? Trust a north wind to raise
remains that rise to cloudless sky. 


You’ve longed to get away from city streets,
to the mountains’ cathedral of tall pines—
a place to meditate on nature’s peace,

its silence brooding with reflective thought,
incense cedar and manzanita bells.
You’ve longed to get away from city streets
to the mountains’ cathedral of tall pines—

A soundless footfall, shadow moving slow
and tawny, circling where you stand against
a tree. Cougar breathing as you breathe.
You’ve longed to get away from city streets,
to the mountains’ cathedral of tall pines—
a place to meditate on nature’s peace. 


Burke Junction

Here’s the Old West in a fog. Rows of storefronts; shops and restaurants mostly closed, this early on a February Sunday. No more staged train robberies and gunfights—the little vintage train station’s closed till further notice. No Wanted posters, but we’re here to catch a missing man—Hatch, old search dog trainer, who left his car in front of the Nail Salon to wander among buildings for our dogs to trail. The little water-tank floats, silent, above its tower lost in fog. Larry the resident white rooster saunters by as if to tease my dog, antsy to “go find!” Down the boardwalk, spinet against store wall, chair for pianist and bench for audience.

raw morning, footsteps
and breath muffled, fog plays the

Today’s LittleNip:

—Taylor Graham

North Wind’s come to call
through door-lock and chimney flue—
don’t you love its song? 


Listening to the sounds of the wind in Taylor Graham’s poems today, echoing our recent Seed of the Week, North Wind. Thanks to her for such music! Her poems today are in the forms of Haibun, Haiku, a rhymed Madrigal and an unrhymed one, plus a Ballade. For more about the Ballade, as well as some examples, go to

For up-coming poetry events in our area, scroll down to the blue column (under the green column at the right) for info—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. 

Kelley White is new to the Kitchen; she stumbled across Joyce Odam’s poems last Tuesday and was very surprised, since she has appeared in Joyce’s
Brevities. Small world! Also surprising: she sent me a Tuanortsa, which we talked about here a few weeks ago (astronaut spelled backwards, don’t ask me why). More from Kelley in a couple of weeks, but for now, here is her astronaut-spelled-backwards:

—Kelley Jean White, Philadelphia, PA

I start out walking
one booted foot
ready to step
on your back
your pretty little shoulders
oh darling your eyes gleam
love or anger
and I’ve been alone so long
it’s hard to remember
what brought us
together in that night
how we waited
in that busy little town
we knew so little then
now we know even less

now we know even less
we knew so little then
in that busy little town
how we waited
together in that night
what brought us together
it’s hard to remember
and I’ve been alone so long
love or anger
oh darling your eyes gleam
your pretty little shoulders
on your back
one booted foot
I start out walking


Here is a Rispetto from Carl Schwartz (Caschwa):

—Caschwa, Sacramento, CA

put on a pair of gloves to gather this fruit
it’s a bit thorny, your tender skin knows well
the imprint you leave with your big, heavy boot
may publish a story you don’t want to tell
have a bowl ready to collect what you pick
set it down handy, clear of weeds that are thick
stifle the sound of the phone ringing loudly
what really counts is the fruit you pick proudly


Carl says he “looked up the Chueh-chu [a form Taylor Graham sent us last week] and came up with this trilogy, each using a slightly different rhyme scheme”:


my heart becomes alive at the beach
it is here that true life is in reach
all the senses filled to the limit
just inhaling, no need to beseech

hidden feelings will show their colors
waves break like the first bite of a peach
hot sun, crisp air, no timecards to punch
ask Nature, she has so much to teach!

* * *


secure all the animals inside
make sure to close the windows and doors
put emergency supplies handy
clear a good pathway along the floors

okay, we are now safely in place
rehearsed like marching band groups of fours
it is too soon yet to test the sky
my bones aren’t broken, how about yours?

* * *


light of my life, nothing will dim it
all the senses filled to the limit
a honeymoon of togetherness
puzzle pieces no problem to fit

memories etched of this and that bit
high and low times to sharpen our wit
okay, now we are safely in place
anniversaries always a hit


Today is Valentine’s Day! In addition to Carl’s sweet poem above, we have another love tribute from Joseph Nolan:

—Joseph Nolan, Stockton, CA
My lover has many
Layers of luckiness:
It begins
With her silky skin,
Continues with her
Brilliant eyes
And ability
To disguise
The way she
Loves me so!

I’ll never
Let her go;
I couldn’t
Without her!

She’s lucky to have
A lovely body,
A mind that’s
Quick and clear,
A sensitive ear,
A way to be
As clear
As she wants to;

But ever
A mystery
To me!


—Medusa, wishing candy and flowers to all those who visit the Kitchen— and thanks to all our contributors today for some right-lively fiddling!

 Love (and write!) like a tiger!
—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.

Thursday, February 13, 2020

Push Back / Move Aside

Giant Technicolor Squirrel
—Poems by Len Germinara, Elk Grove, CA
—Anonymous Photos


We are live outside the home
Police and investigators
Are on scene
As the world mourns
The death of Kobe Bryant
On every media outlet
World wide

100 yards from where we stand
Someone who should not have had a gun
In one last rage against 
His wife
Could no longer cope with

Shot his son
Then himself

The news this night will
Lead with the details
Of a legend’s death
The sad passing of all
On the helicopter

And cards, pictures will be left

Father and son
The mother’s grief
A brief mention

Tomorrow comes quietly
Skunk’s silhouette slinks
Through the shadows
While a white dot van

Its occupants
Begin the work
Needs doing

Without any fanfare 


Found a blue black Labrador retriever
Abandoned on the New Year

Huddled around a garbage can
In a dog park

Obviously shell-shocked
Howling terror and WTF in woof

I shared a look with my dog
Said let’s help this poor
Son of a bitch out

It took some doing
               Fear like that
Requires caution

My dog Swegen knows what to do
Never seen him falter
In a touchy canid social encounter
              A true Tick Not Hound

He wags
They wag back

This will be an understanding
Forged in urine
Licks and sniffs
The obligatory
Submissive roll

Every move I make
Reminds him of the
Night just passed

So I sit at a slight remove
Wait for this puppy
To return from the hell of
Being thrown away

The dogs
Tentatively at first
Begin to play

While the morning doves ask
Who who who

He comes around
Quick as any infant
Terror already forgotten

Sidles up to me
In the hope that I’ll
Pat him and tell him

It’s OK, it’s ok, it’s 


I’ve read they’re

Told beforehand
You’ll find your host
Something of a dick

I did

In some dim and dusty
Gin Joint in Gloucester
He made quite a show

Continued it back at his uncle’s house
Insulting his friend
In ways I could only marvel at
            Ways I never would have thought of myself

Dick really doesn’t begin to describe him

The poet famous for his irascibility
Didn’t discriminate the year we met

Survived his salvo
His dear wife
Standing behind him
Cheering me on
My ham handed compliment

He took wrong

He called me late one night
Said you get it
I’m sick
This isn’t an act

Ever the optimist
I invited him back 


The glacial outwash
That formed
Sconsett Bluff
Faces Open Ocean
Even if
You could build a wall
Strong enough
To hold her back

The force at either end of the structure
Will rend
The flanks
With catastrophic effect
           Force has to go somewhere

So, the question
Preservation or mitigation is moot

The beach that would become an industrial zone
          In this dubious battle
Fragile as porcelain
Can’t survive the rich
Their money

         All too often
The engine that moves Us to act
Skewed by the desire for an answer that’s acceptable
Against all good reason—MOU
In reality
It means

Mou ve aside
You can’t stop us 


Dust-up at the bird feeder
Bastogne redux

A fuzzy furor
Shoots me a Zieg Hiel!
And what passes for
A middle finger
Squirrel I thought male
            Two rows of angry red
            Swollen nipples

Look that says lock-jaw
            Gird your loins


Terms were discussed

            Pretty sure promises
Were made

Can’t say I’m confident
            She’s appeased

I’m an old fart and
I’m way past indifferent

This is not about
Gender identification

            Or whatever it is
Put the bug up her bushy butt

            Pardon me

I’m just getting up to speed
on they and them

            always have been
                                              a step or two behind

I’m compelled to ask
What does
itititititit mean

Them never saw this coming
             Best case scenario

             She’ll/they’ll go on about they day
Them will wander away

On second thought
You know what

              Ititititit me
              Nuts to you


Today's LittleNip:

Poetry is the opening and closing of a door, leaving those who look through to guess about what is seen during the moment.

—Carl Sandburg


Welcome back to Len Germinara, and thanks for today’s fine work! He says these poems are not from his recent book,
Back Story; you can see more about that new book at

Today, Wellspring Women’s Writing Group meets at Wellspring Women’s Center on 4th Av. in Sacramento, beginning at 11:30am. Then tonight, from 8-10pm, Love Jones “The Swoon Effect” features love poetry and music inside Strikes on Laguna Blvd. in Elk Grove. And Poetry Unplugged at Luna’s Cafe and Juice Bar meets at 8pm with open mic and featured readers Terryl Wheat and Sam Jensen, 1414 16th St., Sacramento (info: 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.

For more about giant technicolor squirrels, go to


—Medusa, who is plenty squirrelly herself ~ (is that one “l” or 2?)

 Cover of Len’s new book!

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, February 12, 2020

Fragments of the World

Stone Garden
—Poems by JD DeHart, Chattanooga, TN
—Photos by Katy Brown, Davis, CA


moments floated past me
as I walked the old courtyard
photos suspended in the air

images of a younger me
a more frightened person

I thought of the crisis time
when I had to decide
between who I was and who
others made me out to be

every poor decision
and choice of wording
navigating to my purpose
and how soon
rain would come and autumn
would be thicker than memory

 Just 18!


We visited the graveyard often
Even though we knew no one
In the graves themselves
It was at the crest of a hill
As if to place the dead skyward
With my Polaroid camera, I would
Snap photos of the markers, hoping
And simultaneously not hoping
That in one of them there would be
The wisp or specter of a ghost
When the products popped out
There was always that moment
Of ethereal mystery as the image
Faded into firm being.

 Broken Stones


Wait a moment says the click
Dull slumber, the lull of crowds
A spark, then darkness
Feedback of the microphone
Poison to impatient ears
The program will continue
For now, we pantomime
With uncertain, strange gestures
Waiting for the earth to resume.



Fourth-grade math, split with fifth-graders
The aged eagle swooping over the room
Resting at his nest on occasion, then up again
Back and forth, spreading grey feathers
“Sleep with your math books, class,
Practice your fractions, and then practice more”
Last year, the kid had won a division contest
Now he is confused, one number over another
A strange display, another language
With about half his mind, the pencil forms walls
Small figures in tights, vigilante emblems
Of course, the paper is snatched by the talon
“Superhero City,” the pedagogue intoned,
“Will not solve your math problems.”

 Mourning Angel


mother fried them
in butter
like everything else

they started as brown
and webbed
then were rolled
and carefully breaded

we ate them at the small
metal table
my father made for her

always patently
domestic in his gifts



Down the bends of the road, they called his name
Over and over again like a meditation
Small dogs have a flaw in feeling larger
All the world, all people, constitute a friendly place
Surely, there is no harm to be found here
So, the family searches the familiar places
Around them, the homes of strangers are quiet
After two hours, they discover their dog’s betrayal
He has taken up with another family
The new father already purchased food and a bed
“We’ve always wanted one,” the new mother says
The smile spreads across her face like butter
They walk away sadly, members of the old pack
Listening to the yaps of the tiny Brutus.



silent men around me
seem to know
there is a time for rutting
and feeding on corn
a time to sit still in cold

start the cleaning
of the firearm and stop

start the squeezing of
target practice trigger
              stop again

a preconfigured notion
of manhood starts
and I stop it at its
bubbling source
thereby redefining.


Today’s LittleNip:

—JD DeHart

an ancient wisdom
or just scribbles from

or product of a bad

tiny words to bind
compress and heal
a wounded soul


Thank you, JD DeHart, for re-visiting the Kitchen today! JD says that these poems once appeared at a now-gone journal called
Eye On Life Magazine. And thank you, Katy Brown, for your cemetery photos from here and there and everywhere!

Poetry Off-the-Shelves takes place tonight in Placerville from 5-7pm at the El Dorado County Library on Fair Lane. Then at 7:30, Laura Martin will read at The Word Thing at the Shine on E Street in Sacramento. 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.

Condolences to Sacramento Poet Kathleen Lynch, who broke her ankle and had to have surgery, so she will not be reading at Poetry of the Sierra Foothills this Sunday. Kelly Grace Thomas will be reading there from her book,
Boat Burned; plus there will be an open mic for poetry and stories. Kathleen and Kelly were also scheduled to read at Sac. Poetry Center on Monday night; Kelly will be reading with Linda Scheller instead. Get well soon, Kathleen!


—Medusa, celebrating “moments of ethereal mystery” ~

 —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.

Tuesday, February 11, 2020

The Wind's Voice

Spirit Leaf
—Poems and Photos by Joyce Odam, Sacramento, CA


After Wash Day on the Maine Coast by N.C. Wyeth, 1934

Upon the hill the winds are fierce and loud.
The bending woman scrubs the Monday sheets.
The day is tense. The hours all undo.
The boats below the hill are in a lull
at rest on calmer water in the cove.
The scene is frozen still. The sky is free.
The tugging clothesline fights the whipping sheets.
The centered woman, bending to her chore,
does not heed the rumors of the day.
The clothespins give—the sheets accumulate—
sheets billow into clouds. The woman scrubs.
The child upon the step plays with the wind,
the weather changing for the playing child.
The sheets become the sails for all the boats.



Today the winds come as promised.
I read poetry of dead women.
I ache for simplicity.

I fight the old moods again.
Wearily this time.
Almost surrendering.
I touch fragrance in a movement of air—
that leaps back into some recall
when someone said Jasmine.
I do not tell you what I took from you :
It was a look in your eyes—
a gesture—what I misinterpreted.
It was you, Mother, in the final rain,
your raincoat shining, your eyes deep
with love as I stood there disappearing.

 I Am Here

The wind blows color here, red trees
and gold, the dying green and brown,
the brilliance of the air.
And it brings sounds—
sharper bird-song,
rustlings…   moanings…  
something in the trees.
Wind’s voice.
I’ve heard that voice before—
in the howling corners of the house,
in the listening silences
outside my window
that build to something there.



motion of circles
upward swarm of colors
for the NASA camera eye
                could be the sky
                of Van Gogh
            its roiling energy
            its dark and light
       blending through
       or upon the heavens
 distance irrelevant to being

and marvels
the powerful activity
                held in
        let out
what difference connects,
connects, and keeps its secret
through the curious knowing
it roils, it continues, is photographed  
       indescribable blue and
            gold     Gold      Maybe !
                            What Is Color?

After NASA photo of the North Pole of Jupiter



It was the one window
he used for everyone, the north light
flattering, shadow-patterned,
some flowers on the wide white sill,

the easy landscape spread in silence,
deep around them
the blue air tinged with green
from the trees,

white slats divided the glass,
cupping the small scenes together
as though each could be entered
separately, like dreams,

this was the window he always used
for the particular gray hour
that would come
at just the right angle—

filtering the last soft shadows
across the room,
grainy with the dying light—
always struggling to remain.



No wonder we are hollow, the ache is everywhere, in
the mind’s reunion, with the question : why can’t we
find ourselves ? The land is so barren, the mountains
so far, the winds so loud—and still we want to be
rescued—look for one billboard—one vacancy sign
in the distance, one crossroad leading somewhere.

 Yellow As Weight


She stretches back as if to dance,
unsettling the leaves on the counter
that have fallen from the three panels
that replace the mirrors of her questioning.

She closes her eyes into the dance—
room shadows expand into one shadow
and struggle against the light
darkened by time and its submissions.

One leaf seems to flutter, the yellow one,
the others writhe back into the panels
where all the leaves are torn and
tearing all over the ground.


After “White Teapot”, c. 1934 by Lilian Westcott Hale

Here is where we took tea—this abstract garden—
winter now. The white trees shine.
The white grass climbs toward the hours of decline.

See how the white cloth does not tear,
layered with snow;
how the cup and saucer hold their pose with grace

while the absent winds declare themselves anonymous.
So, my absent Dear, I fear the tea has gone
cold again—as it did then—when we surrendered

all our time to time’s forgetting. Now I stare
through winter’s window to this
cold setting and refuse to know which death is mine.

(first pub. in Silt Reader, 2003)


Today’s LittleNip:

—Joyce Odam
that grew so big
that lived so long
its roots went deep

it knew the songs
of winds and birds

and threw its shadows
just as far
as life’s dimensions are.   


Thank you, Joyce Odam, for your poems about the wind, and your photos about the casualties of that sharp North Wind, our current Seed of the Week. Our new Seed of the Week is Lost Keys. 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.

If you’re of a mind to travel to Nevada City tonight, the Nevada County Poetry Out Loud Championships will take place from 6-8:30pm at the Eric Rood Center, 950 Maidu Avenue, Nevada City. For more about the California Out Loud process, see

Or, if you travel the other direction, into Modesto, Second Tuesday @ Barkin’ Dog will feature Iranian poet Zaid Shlah plus open mic (bring a love/anti-love poem by a favorite poet) at the Barkin’ Dog Grill, 940 11th St., Modesto, hosted by the Modesto-Stanislaus Poetry Center. And on Wednesday night (tomorrow) from 6-8pm, the Stanislaus County Poetry Out Loud competition will be held in the Little Theatre of Modesto Junior College, 435 College Av., Modesto, also sponsored by Modesto-Stanislaus Poetry Center. For more info, see MoSt has a very active poetry life, so try to keep tract of their events at that website.

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.

And for more about Lilian Westcott Hale, go to for a good selection of her work in portraits.


—Medusa, braving the wind to look for her lost keys ~

 Tree Capsized by North Wind, Kieth Neighborhood, 2/8/20
—Photo by Kathy Kieth, Diamond Springs, CA

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, February 10, 2020

The Richness of This World

Incredible Image Showing the Extraordinary Aftermath 
of One Star Engulfing Another
—Anonymous Photo Courtesy of Joseph Nolan, Stockton, CA

—Joseph Nolan

We are not just
Clouds of emotion
Floating over the land.
We have two arms,
Two legs,
Two eyes,
Two hands.

We also have
Two halves
Of brain,
Two ways to go
Through the world,
In love or in pain.

Clouds cannot float together
Hand in hand,
Arm in arm
Or spoon together
In the night.
We’d have to say in some ways,
Compared to
Being a cloud,
Being human
Is all right.


—Joseph Nolan

After “Mistress of the Woods”
By Taylor Graham, Medusa’s Kitchen, 1/2/20

Her beak
Makes her complete:
“No nose-job for me!”
Says she.
“I use it for my family,
You see;
We would not eat,
Without it.”

“I use it to tear off
Fresh meat
Or pinch through
A mouse’s heart,
Before I drop it in
The nest
Of our family
And serve it bleeding—
Warm, in small pieces,
My little darlings, pleased
To no end!

“I use the wind,
Rising in the updrafts
On spread wings.
My song a shriek,
Sending little critters
Running to their holes.

“Most get away
But I have them
All marked, now,
In my hawkish vision
And I’ll fly by another day,
Without an early warning
To say,
I’m hungry
And so is my brood!”

 Crater of Ice on Mars
—Anonymous Photo Courtesy of Joseph Nolan

—Joseph Nolan

I simply swirl stars
With my swizzle-stick,
Separate galaxies
Inside my glass.

I do this
For my pleasure:
Swirling stars together
Puts my heart at ease!

At pleasure and at ease,
I surf across the Universe,
Standing tall.
There is no gravity.
I do not bend my knees.

Putting down a drink,
I swizzle through
My memories
As though they were
A parable
Of my entire life.

I see many strangers
Who hardly
Got to know me well,
Including, among them,
At least one ex-wife.

Some friends were just acquaintances,
Some more closely acquainted,
Others, less,
But we were always separate,
Although close-mixed-together,
Like statues lined-up on
A windowsill.

As I swirl stars
To mix up separate galaxies,
While putting down a drink,
God, Himself, walks through
The swinging saloon doors,
Sits down next to me
And asks,
“Exactly what do you think?”

I say,
“The distance between stars
Is measured in light-years.
They are all
So very far apart.
That’s why
There’s so much space between us
And why we never
Really seem to capture
The essence
Of each other’s hearts!”


—Joseph Nolan

You cannot ask the dead for change
Or for anything else.
There is no chance of a do-over,
Apology, reformation,
Or any change of any kind.

They have left you behind,
Wherever they have gone.
Everyone leaves this world, one day.
To it, they never belonged.


—Joseph Nolan

There was a man
With a Grecian urn
Who shone it so brightly,
Its reflected brilliance
Burned the sun
Into a tiny lump of ash.

“It’s mine!” he said, “Mine!
And I shall have it
Bright as bright can be.
Damned be the sun
If it can’t compare.
It is mine in brilliance;
Though it burn the sun to ash,
What should I care?”

Of course, this sort of thing
Can only go on for so long. 


—Rhony Bhopla, Sacramento, CA

to touch one’s own art
is like self-touching;
self is the touched,
the going within, and
emerging of self.

If you are uncomfortable—don't stop,
just do the dishes, pick up dog poop,
scrub the floor—return to the page.

The process can be like
having your erection, and
looking at it for a while.


—Rhony Bhopla

How to record the richness of the world:
observe crust inside nostrils, splashes
of mud from trails on pant legs, footprints
along discovered bridges over creeks.

Count horse-hoof pocks from aerial heights,
inches entrenched into the red-brown-black
purplish-red emerging from blue, and—
bit of yellow. Feel: color.

See blue shapes of you, recording
a world full of riches, your lip-kiss, hands-kiss,
body-kiss, you saying many of your names,
recording colors heard through a prism,
color-sound, elucidated: cool calm.

Test lush, extrapolate, the inner working
of the senses onto mind, the pristine
reflection of self everywhere, contained
on creeks, pattern flicks of horse hooves,
voiceless calm, the view from a wing.

 Supernova Snowfall: Exploding Stars Scattering Traces of Iron
Over Arctic Snow

—Caschwa, Sacramento, CA
when you turn 21 years of age and
you have already sampled many
alcoholic beverages, and magazines
that tell and show everything

which adds up to you now having
all the information, age, and wisdom
your Baby Boomer bod needs to be
eligible to vote

and after just one more Constitutional
amendment, so will those kids turning 18



when you are introduced as a return
guest on a TV talk show, and the
moderator says “Wonderful to see you,
nice to have you on again” but you’re
not really sure if he is talking to you or
to his underwear

 Collision of Two Neutron Stars


when your dog, on a leash,
in the front yard, visits with
neighboring cats by fondly
touching noses

and then when loose in the
fenced in back yard, is quick
to impose the strictest, most
vicious No Trespassing



when one looks up the meaning of
OAB and MOAB and comes to the
general conclusion that it means:
Mother’s Over-Active Bowels



when you realize: the same government
that took away the Indians’ ancient
homeland to conform it to capitalism’s
highest and best-use protocols

that offered no compensation to the
legal property owners when the
Constitution was amended to free the
slaves (which started a fire that still
burns today)

that advertised the Electoral College
to be a failsafe system, but in fact
failed miserably on multiple occasions
to actually make it so

that thrives on the warmth of God
Bless America sentiments, while
turning a deaf ear to the cold truths
of living below the top 1% level

the same government that has taken
a few awkward steps backward, is now
quite due, very overdue, to start moving
forward once again

 Black Hole Swallowing Star

In the backyard of the Southern
California home where I spent
most of my formative years were
two quite sassy trees:

a grapefruit tree with tart fruit my
mother enjoyed, that always
extended its boughs over the metal
pole at one end of our clothes line

not my thing

plus a very mature peach tree with
fruit whose main purpose in life was
to remind us just what all those mouth-
watering peach confections really taste
like before the addition of generous
helpings of sugar

again, not my thing

several moves later, a few hundred
miles upstate, our son planted a
bare root apricot tree in our backyard,
which every season or two thrives with
enough sweet, savory fruit to satisfy
multiple households


Today’s LittleNip:

—Joseph Nolan

Time is taking me away.
There’s little more
I could really say
To make it any better
Or much worse.

Time is our enemy.
Aging, living’s curse.


Monday is here already, starting a week dedicated to St. Valentine, hopefully in all the good ways that love can be celebrated. Our thanks to today’s contributors of poetry on many subjects, all of which reflecting, as Rhony Bhopla says, “the richness of the world”.

Congratulations to The Sacramento Area Youth Speaks (SAYS) Youth Poet Laureate 2020 winners Cloudy, 17 (from Sacramento High School) and Alexandra, 17 (from Medusa’s alma mater, Mira Loma High School)! The Sacramento Metropolitan Arts Commission is currently in the process of selecting Sacramento County’s Poet Laureate for 2020-2022. Stay tuned! Meanwhile check out an article in Sunday’s
Sacramento Bee about one of the candidates, Andru Defeye, at For more about the SAYS Youth Poet Laureate program, as well as the adult program, go to Since its most recent Poet Laureate Indigo Moor left office Dec. 31, Sacramento is currently laureate-less… But thank you, Indigo, for your work as the PL and, of course, your fine poetry!

The richness of the poetry scene in our area begins tonight at Sac. Poetry Center, 7:30pm, with Matthew Chronister, Emiliann Ferguson, and open mic. Tomorrow night, Nevada County Poetry Out Loud Championships will take place from 6-8:30pm at the Eric Rood Center on Maidu Ave. in Nevada City.

Poetry Off-the-Shelves takes place Wed. from 5-7pm in Placerville at the El Dorado County Library on Fair Lane in Placerville. Then at 7:30pm, Laura Martin will read at The Word Thing (plus open mic), Shine, 1400 E St., Sacramento.

The San Francisco Writers Poetry Summit meets all day Thursday in San Francisco, so check that out at Back in Sac that day, Wellspring Women’s Writing Group meets at Wellspring Women’s Center on 4th Av., Sacramento. That night, from 8-10pm, Love Jones “The Swoon Effect” features love poetry and music inside Strikes on Laguna Blvd. in Elk Grove. And of course Poetry Unplugged at Luna’s Cafe and Juice Bar meets at 8pm with open mic and featured readers, 16th St., Sacramento.

This weekend, Kelly Grace Thomas and Kathleen Lynch will read on Sunday (plus open mic) in Diamond Springs at Poetry of the Sierra Foothills, Caffè Santoro on Pleasant Valley Road, 1-3pm. 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.

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.


—Medusa, swirling and separating stars with her sizzling swizzle-stick ~


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, February 09, 2020

I Carry It


[i Carry Your Heart With Me(i Carry It In]
—E.E. Cummings (1894-1962)

i carry your heart with me(i carry it in

my heart)i am never without it(anywhere

i go you go,my dear;and whatever is done

by only me is your doing,my darling)
                                                    i fear

no fate(for you are my fate,my sweet)i want

no world(for beautiful you are my world,my true)

and it’s you are whatever a moon has always meant

and whatever a sun will always sing is you

here is the deepest secret nobody knows

(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud

and the sky of the sky of a tree called life;which grows

higher than soul can hope or mind can hide)

and this is the wonder that's keeping the stars apart

i carry your heart(i carry it in my heart) 


—Medusa, who carries secrets of her own ~   

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.