Wednesday, January 20, 2021

Cruising

 
Zambezi River
—Public Domain Photo
—Poetry by Linda Klein, Los Angeles, CA
 
 
 
UNCLE MAXIE’S CHAIR

In Grandma Rose's kitchen,
near a doorway, stood a wooden chair,
crudely painted white.
It was hard and had no cushion.
Uncle Maxie sat there,
day and night.

Max was brown-haired and slender;
he looked a lot like Grandpa.
His manner was tender,
his face gentle and mild.
When they spoke of him years later,
they would say, "Such a sickly child."

Each time we went to visit,
Max was sitting in his chair,
and the moment that he saw me,
his warm smile appeared.
I sat in his lap, and in our playful way,
we discussed the events of the day.

He had a black and white terrier, Lettie.
She sat at Maxie's feet.
Now and then he reached to pet her.
Lettie's eyes gazed up at us,
while Max spoke soft endearments
that, like an echo, I'd repeat.

Then, one day, we went to Grandma's,
climbed those endless stairs.
When we reached the kitchen, I saw the empty chair,
Lettie lying low and sad beside it.
My Maxie wasn't there.
I toddled toward his bedroom.

Mom following closely behind, scooped me up
and brought me to the parlor,
where the family was gathered,
uncomfortably quiet, staring into air,
sitting forlornly on sofa and chairs.
I looked, but Uncle Maxie wasn't there.
 
 
 
—Public Domain Photo       
 
                        
DREAMS

Be they fears or premonitions,
secret desires or admonitions,

these picture-story movie reels,
whatever they reveal or conceal

as they automatically unwind
in my overactive mind,

be they somber and darkly foreboding
or pleasantly engaging as puzzle decoding,

when my body wants its rest,
I welcome dreams.  With them, I feel blessed.
 
 
 
—Public Domain Photo    
    
 
A RIVAL

The wailing cry of Santa Ana, mourning the transition of seasons,
was the alarm that woke me with a sound as powerful as a jet plane
overhead, reaching, sweeping, and penetrating windows and walls,
as though the walls were wafer-thin, emitting a foreboding chill.
Then through the bathroom skylight, so intense
the roar, atmosphere alive and moving,
a wanton wind waited and called.
From my kitchen window a spectacle of wildly swaying palm trees,
fifty feet high, threatening to crack and crush the roofs of houses,
a catastrophe miraculously avoided by their suppleness
as they continued to perform their frantic dance,
shedding dry fronds into the street,
into the dusty swirl as I watched, mesmerized,
on my way to work, driving a car that was making moves
directed by a co-driver.
The willful wind played its game trying to take control,
but I prevailed, turning into the parking structure,
successfully escaping its pull.
Then walking onto the bridge, stumbling,
fighting my way, walking against its obstinancy as it wrapped my hair
around my face.
I arrived at last on firm ground, spotting a crumpled piece of paper
dropped or thrown and swept up in the flutter.  With curiosity,
I picked it up and read—

                                  Congratulations.

            This time you've won,

but we shall meet

                                                             again.
 
 
 
Zambezi River at Sunset
—Photo by Linda Klein
 

                                                          
AFRICAN SUNSET

A swathe of flame across the sky
frames the brilliant sun's descent.
We watch—can scarcely breathe, entranced,
romanced by natural beauty.

Shimmering with gold, inky ripples
move along in arcs, sidle up
to kiss our riverboat,
bouncing in slow, gentle rhythm
to the beat of kettle drums.

Dancers sway and dip,
their gleaming faces invite us
to join them.

We sit in rattan chairs on mats
and sip an amber liquid
poured by soft-spoken Zimbabweans
who smile and bow with simple grace,
somehow possessing secret knowledge.

The tea we drink is warm and wild
evoking steamy dreams and passions,
a spicy, floral-scented rooibus
with hints of ginger, cinnamon, and nutmeg,
which stirs the soul and makes a wish.

     May this Zambesi twilight last forever.
 
____________________
 
Today's LittleNip:
 
Do not dare not to dare.
 
—C.S. Lewis

____________________

Our thanks to Linda Klein for her poetry today, and a note that the photo of the Zambezi River was taken by her at sunset one evening when she was there. For more about the Zambezi River, go to q2travel.co.za/zambezi-river/.

____________________

—Medusa
 
 
 
—Public Domain Photo
To learn more about traditional Zimbabwean dances, 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 


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.

Would you like to be a SnakePal?
All you have to do is send poetry and/or
photos and artwork to
kathykieth@hotmail.com. We post
work from all over the world, including
that which was previously-published.
Just remember:
the snakes of Medusa are always hungry—
for poetry, of course!



 










 






 

Tuesday, January 19, 2021

Lonely Old Apartments

—Poetry and Photos by Joyce Odam, Sacramento, CA



SOMEONE IN A RENTED ROOM

Someone in a rented room playing a violin
to the night, to the music itself, in tribute
to the mood and to the violinist, music
that softens against the walls and
spills out into the hallway where
someone passing listens—
someone with memories—
someone with buried tears—
someone who unlocks
another door and goes inside.

And this is not
a romance in disguise,
this is a moment
that snags against another
moment that only exists in the
imagination of this poem,
the violinist someone who died
a long time ago, unknown to
the poet but who puts him here
to fill an unhealed sadness of someone
playing a violin in a rented room.
 
 
 
For The Tears
 


PERSONIFICATIONS
The Pierre Hotel, New York, 1946
(from
Going Fast by Frederick Seidel)

Once again I pack up my grief in a tired suitcase
and lug it forward, inch by heavy inch, over the
wet sidewalk toward a curb which always stops me.

Why go further . . .
the question I always ask
though I have no question mark.

This is not
a formal question,
only a weary repetition.

The grief is all I have left . . .
my only possession;
it is what I need for the next experience.

I tell it to be patient,
there is another room for rent.
I will let it out there to share the view with me.
 
 
 
Sigh Of Sighs
 


THE APARTMENT CAT

The cat dreams of the nearby tree; of the flying black
squirrel; of that bird with nest-stuff in its beak; the cat
has a hundred naps a day—he is that quick—sleeping
round and black.

He is the prize of his mistress who calls him Kitty Cat.
She got around her mother after her father said no;
she got around the No Pets Allowed. Somehow, she
accomplished this. If the cat knows about his luck, he
doesn’t show it. All cats disdain luck.

The cat with his yellow eye observes; the cat listens
with his spacious ear, but wherever he schemes, it is
not very far—no matter what his wish. There is always
a compromise—even for cats—he lives on a leash.
 
 
 
For The Memory
 

 
THE PLACE I TRY TO REMEMBER

I cannot describe the place except for the
arched doorway with the fringed awning,
and an iron railing to a small slanted stairway
that curved into a blank wall, and a car that
was parked by the curb. I think it was raining;
the streets were shimmery, and a figure made
of wet shadow brushed by me and went inside.

The car settled into its waiting and fastened to
its reflection. The white wall-face of the building
was streaked with old rain and a wet gray light
that faded deeper into it. The street seemed to
end here—a dead-end place with no further
turnings and no one to ask where I was.

I think I was cold. The building stayed dark.
The doorway did not open again. I stood for a
long time and listened to the soft falling of the
rain and tried to memorize the feeling of this place
that had shifted forward in time—or I had shifted
backward into it—I’m not sure which was real.

__________________

THE SCENIC PLACE

Here and there were windows,
this I was told—
and mountains that had mysteries.

How can I envy
someone else’s experience
that I want to be mine, that I can relive?

If there are windows, where are they?
I have window-frame and glass,
but where are the windows.

If,
in my mind,
I go where it is inner—where is that?

                                 
(prev. pub. in
Medusa's Kitchen, 2012)
 
 
 
The Simplicity Of Water
 
 

WINTER BOREDOM
(Long Beach, California, 1940’s)

The small sea-house grew musty in winter
with its dark wood
and its just-so window shades, pulled even.

All the tourist noise was gone, and the days
endured themselves, and the nights,
and the sea rolled in and out of time
with a certain patience.

The quiet light seemed almost blue
when the day closed down
and the sea-sounds muffled against the air
like a lamentation.

The house would creak
and brace itself
against whatever force was set against it.

To live by the sea in winter
is a lonely waiting,
too cold to stroll by day,
too gray its colorless dimension.
I was too young to love it then.
That would come later.

Tonight I think of that small house with
a sweet remember—the safe domestic hum
as I bided my time to be gone from there—
the quiet rustling of the rooms—
 
 
 
Living On The Fourteenth Floor
 
 
 
PLACE OF HARSH LIGHT

Here, light follows light in a
blaze of blindness. Do not look.
       
She is not for your eyes, even though
she tries to seduce you with her distractions.

If you look, she will break into stabbing images—
multiple apparitions that will release her destruction.

Still, you pursue her—your eyes on fire and bleeding.

_____________________

SLEEPLESS

do the dark now
do the dark
the way you do it

squeeze in the music
from the next apartment
slip the light under the door
fade the carpeted footsteps
that go by in the hallway
free the creakings in the wall

outside
the puddles shine with rain
the streetlamp studies them
car-doors slam closed
and voices say goodbye
the moving hours are the same

do the dark now
make it right
the moon is bright
do the dark now
say goodnight
 
 
 
Not All That Frail
 

 
WHEREVER THEY LOVE
After Couple on the Shore, 1906/07
(Painting by Edvard Munch)

Always goodbye—wherever
they love—no way to return.
The melancholy beaches
are lost to winter now.

They remember what was true:
the dark gulls overhead—
kept afloat
by slow, untiring wings.

The gray world moves
in endless white waves
that try to cover what is lost.
There is no other—

no other anything they want and
cannot keep. So they embrace—
with every tender, vanished place
reclaimed, in resurrected love.

                                    
(prev. pub. in Medusa's Kitchen, 2013)

_____________________

Today’s LittleNip:

ALL THE PLACES YOU HAVE BEEN
—Joyce Odam

It was a map,
blue, folded,

till the creases
cracked

and the detail that was there
was only guessed-at now

a cracked map
made of crayon and arrows

and a red word
marking where.

______________________

Joyce Odam has left us with some eerie images of life in lonely old apartments, and we thank her for speaking to our recent Seed of the Week: Lonely Old Apartments. Our new Seed of the Week is an ekphrastic one, courtesy of Joseph Nolan of Stockton:
 
 
 

 
 
Go wide, go deep! Get those metaphors out of the closet and imagine a criminal hiding out in the woods, or a family snuggled in against the cold. Note the smoke: is that a chimney with crackling firewood, or an old man smoking a pipe on the porch? Send your poems, photos & artwork about this (or any other) subject to kathykieth@hotmail.com. 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.

This Thursday night (1/21) from 7-8:30pm, El Gigantic presents An Evening with Catherine French online at Zoom: cccconfer.zoom.us/j/9348057923/. Hosted by Danny Romero; open mic to follow. A Sac. City College program.

And Friday at 6pm, Jennifer Pickering and Georgina Marie will read online. Facebook info: www.facebook.com/jennifer.j.pickering.9/posts/10217741181953292/.

______________________

—Medusa
 
 
 
“I think it was raining…”
—Public Domain Illustration
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 





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, January 18, 2021

Saying Good-bye to #45

 
—Poetry by Tom Goff, Joe Nolan, 
Michelle Kunert, Caschwa (Carl Schwartz)
—Public Domain Photos Courtesy of Joe Nolan, Stockton, CA
 


IN CAHOOTS
—Tom Goff, Carmichael, CA

You Capitol police
Who bravely stood, thanks be.
Some few of you in cahoots
With the absurd but dangerous Proud Boys,
Not unwillingly enabling the milling
Wall-scaling throng, the boisterous crowd noise
Turning battering ram,
Bashing ahead with fire extinguisher killing,
You who cooperated with the berserker-
Fur-clad bare-chested Viking,
With the pipe-bombing-bearing, officer-striking
Mob, a lasting disgrace.
Whether you played the misleader or the shirker,
The emblem of the whites-only racist face,
The Stars and Bars, flaps in your blood
And in the blood that is your hands’ defiler,
Some of that blood still staining President Taylor.
The insurgency was mostly akin to flood,
Thank god, not fire,
What with all that Molotov-bottled-up ire.
The brave among you police fought; some
             capitulated,
Letting the screamers or oddly touristy trespassers
Stay gawking or vent their obscene release.
Rome’s Capitoline geese
Who squawked in time to save their Capitol
Were of more use. What could be crasser?
You who were in cahoots:
Peru’s indigenous desperate fighters,
Clamoring their defiant Inca hoots
While battling vicious conquistadors, Pizarros,
Were of much tougher moral fiber
Than you who posed for selfies with
             the Bizarros. 
 
 
 

 

CAPITOL OFFENSE
—Tom Goff

The whitest building, the whites-only dome,
Rising above D.C. like wavetop foam,
The noblest product known of all our piles,
Exists by unfree labor that defiles.
Reclaimed by Lincoln for a Union free
(For some this freedom remains a mystery),
Re-reclaimed by a Presidential huckster,
Retains its bigoted, spit-shined, lackluster,
Sepulchral sanctity that lives by bribes,
Pork-barrel vittles argued for by tribes
Of lobbyists, tacked onto bills by riders,
Negating all good intent like true backsliders.
In such an atmosphere, will the sprayed mace
In rioters’ eyes fume worse than the disgrace?
The Senate majority leader cares for none
Of the vandals dressed like Viking or
             like Hun
Or Goth whose black attire and eyeblack, flags
Drape—not ours but Police-Lives-Matter rags,
Good-ol’-boys’ Stars and Bars that scent
             their place
In this still largely segregated space.
Outnumbered, still the Capitol Police
Fought a brave losing battle where Release
Of crassest Prejudice, privileged Arrogance,
Made marble walls and halls a blood-floored
             manse
Where zip-ties would take hostage the lawmakers
And execution-style deaths be thirst-slakers,
Expressed most bloodlust in the rioters’ picnic
That littered the scene and killed good Brian Sicknick.
Some of the police who fought you sympathized
With whatever grievances you had devised,
Yet fought you till mauled with flagstaffs and sticks
And riot shields, withstood such as who sicks
Vicious pit bulls in “most admired disorder”
Till total breakdown of the restraining border.
We trust them as we do hostile witnesses
Sworn to tell truth that counters their own interests;
Likely their hearts felt what the marauders felt,
Yet they sank down defending. Cut and welt
And blow to the head they took, defending
             principle
And practice Time at best finds half-defensible,
The standing contradictions whose old home
Embraces all beneath the White Man’s Dome. 
 
 
 

 
 
WRITING BY MOONLIGHT
—Joseph Nolan

Because the moon
Is not that bright,
I write
In the light
Of day.

Otherwise,
I could not read
What it was
I had to say
Until the
Following day,

When I could
Not remember
What it was
I’d really meant,
Anyway,
Or from which muse
The message was sent.
 
 
 

 
 
JAZZ SAX
—Joseph Nolan

He did it straight,
He did it hard,
Like it came
From a place
Of devotion,
Something
You’d never discard,
In a million
Years of playing,
Like you can’t crawl
From your skin,
Or find any
Replacement
For the beauty
You need to win,
Over and over again,
When you play those high notes
Like a hawk
That floats in the sky.
You reach for that
And never question why
You can get there. 
 
 
 

 
 
THE INNER-MEANING OF TOUCH
—Joseph Nolan

Unfortunately!
You have no appreciation,
No understanding,
Of the inner-meaning of touch.

In a lifestyle
In which
We’re all hurried,
To be fussy
About the means
By which we might
Lurch into familiarity,
Requires much too much!

And thus,
We drift apart,
Into disparate
Software,
Regretfully, perhaps,
Since, we find,
We have lapsed
And we are
Not together,
Anymore. 
 
 
 

 

TOLERANCE
—Joseph Nolan

We shall surely go on
Making choices,
Some better,
Some worse.
This is unavoidable.

We don’t need a showdown
With judgments of morality.

It is better for us to continue
In whatever it is we have chosen
Than to burn each other at the stake.

It is not for friends to get preachy
With each other
Whenever we get some whiff of impropriety
Or inappropriateness;
That is for priests.

And, among priests,
Most care not to daily do battle
With human frailty and weakness,
Since most, in their leanings,
Simply seek a dimmer light,
A paler reflection of the brilliance
Of the harsh glare of Divinity.
 
 
 

 
 
If it were up to me,
     daily newspaper comic strips which deal with the coronavirus pandemic ought to be given awards for their brave statements—
     For a while, Scott Adams’ characters in “Dilbert” in 2020 were drawn wearing masks and discussing how coronavirus was affecting their jobs as well as their overall lives
     Only a few other minor strips, such as “Sally Forth” and “Baldo”, dared  to have their characters wear masks and mention their frustrations with the covid pandemic
     Then “Dilbert” just suddenly quit acknowledging the panademic, as if the artist was told the humor was getting "too dark” for a comic strip
     Comic artists such as Scott Adams should not have caved into their critics who apparently want “irrelevant” strips not dealing with the real situation of life under a pandemic
     Making humor during this pandemic also should not be considered a taboo, morbid subject, but a possible emotional essential

—Michelle Kunert, Sacramento, CA
 
 
 

 
 
THREE POINT TWO MILLION
—Caschwa, Sacramento, CA

it was TV news talking about living
people, comparing those who had gotten
the life-saving vaccine to those who were
still waiting, as if on some rainy forest
road at midnight, while a search was
called off for darkness

but somewhere, all their three million,
two hundred thousand, warm, beating
hearts evaporated into cold, Wall Street
greenbacks, 3.2 million pieces of paper
rolling off gargantuan machines, each
one having the full faith and credit of a
government that shamelessly lies about
numbers

it could be one entire city or even one
entire state that had those 3.2 million
living people, “forgeddaboudit!” they
don’t count, not listed on the Big Board,
not a Citizens United voice in Congress 
 
 
 

 
 
 BAR MITZVAH
—Caschwa

today you are a man*
all you have to do is
read through this Hebrew
well enough to get us
through the service,
and you the man!

*you still can’t vote,
or marry, or smoke,
or drink, or drive, or
enter a contract, or
rent your own place,
or join the military, or
have a choice about
schooling, or contradict
your parents 
 
 
 

 

AFTER DEATH EXPERIENCE
—Caschwa

a popular late-night comedy show host
asked 3 interview guests to try to tell
him what they think happens to them
after they die

their responses were on the order of
becoming an angel, not really sure,
and visiting with friends

well I am not going to overrule those
wonderful guests, but feel the need to
expand the list of responses to include
this one:

after we die, we become like the federal
government under #45—eternally dead
to the world in both appearance and
function, showing no visible signs of
being connected to any living thing 
 
 
 

 
 
 MY BIG EXCUSE
—Caschwa

Disclaimer: No birds were
harmed in the penning of
this poem


today is the day following
my birthday, so my quill
knows no ill because
I was born yesterday

all those glaring flaws and
agonizing imperfections of
our governmental body are
not my baggage because
I was born yesterday

generations of hate and
horrendous deeds of high
crimes and misdemeanors
don’t point to me because
I was born yesterday

the Second Amendment,
along with endless discussions,
firearms, repercussions, assaults
on USA, no mea culpa because
I was born yesterday

unpaid debts, negative balances,
bad decisions and choices, a Who’s
Who of ugly tattoos, organized crime,
short one dime, I did no crime because
I was born yesterday 
 
 
 
It’s time to start hanging together!
 


HAPPY NEW EAR
—Caschwa, Sacramento, CA

The opportunity is
drawing close
where the needs of
regular people

will finally be heard
as they were when
this nation revolted
to oust a tyrant king

pen to parchment
torches held high
signals glow in the air
blood writing history

no we won’t kneel
get off your high horse
not here, brother
that is not who we are

____________________

Today’s LittleNip:

BEAUTY TOWARDS HUMILITY
—Joseph Nolan

Beauty is a blazing rung
On a ladder to
Unabashed humility.

____________________

Our thanks to today’s contributors for their messages from the muse, as we say good-bye to President #45, Donald Trump, and as we remember Martin Luther King, Jr. MLK Day will be celebrated today with a virtual event from 5pm-7:45pm at mailchi.mp/88ec47ba03eb/mlk-day-event with speakers, art and poetry. If interested in sending pictures of your art, please contact crnworkgroup@gmail.com/. Facebook info: www.facebook.com/events/2792272631039428. And may we all be in a much better position by this time next year when
his next birthday rolls around.
 
 
 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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.

Would you like to be a SnakePal?
All you have to do is send poetry and/or
photos and artwork to
kathykieth@hotmail.com. We post
work from all over the world, including
that which was previously-published.
Just remember:
the snakes of Medusa are always hungry—
for poetry, of course!
 
 

 



 













 

Sunday, January 17, 2021

Whispering With Stars

 
—Poetry by Kimberly Bolton, Jefferson City, MO
—Public Domain Photos
 


SETTLING IN

The hummingbirds flew the coop last October,
Off to find their winter home in the south.
Brown leaves fold into the ground and get ready for the cold to come.
All the small creatures I’m so used to seeing in the spring and summer,
The rabbits, the squirrels, the occasional groundhog,
Are all tucked away somewhere in the woods,
Settled into their winter nests, and dens, and lairs.

Here in the house, we’ve turned the furnace on at last,
As the temperature waited until just before Christmas to drop
To below forty degrees.
I’ve stripped the thin summer blanket from the bed,
Brought out the heavy winter quilts my grandmother so patiently
Pieced together back during the Depression,
All laundered and scented with lavender.

The smaller quilt I keep folded over the back of my chair,
Next to the window in the living room,
A stack of books on the floor next to it.
Here is where I will spend the winter months,
Nested in my favorite chair, wrapped in my quilt,
A book open on my lap, and a cup of hot cocoa at my elbow.

Every now and then, I’ll glance up from a page
To watch the first snow of winter settling in.
 
 
 

 
 
SIMPLE NEEDFUL THINGS

Spring seems to be everyone’s favorite season
After shivering through the bone-chilling winter.
But give me the late autumn,
The season of slow light and the pace of life slowing to a near standstill,
As it slips reluctantly to the edge of winter.

I want a sky dark and gray with a cold rain thrumming on the roof,
The crackle of a fire in the hearth,
With soup simmering on the stove in the kitchen.
I want to listen for the back door to open, then close,
As you come into the house, stamping your boots,
Vigorously rubbing your hands together,
And exclaiming to me what I already know, “It’s cold outside!”
Emphasis on the word cold.

Later, we’ll snuggle together under the blankets
We’ve piled on top of us,
Listening to that special kind of quiet as the rain
becomes snow in the middle of the night,
As if the stars are all aquiver with the joy of the season,
And freeing the soft, star-shaped flakes they’ve been hoarding
All year.

Without complaint, you let me put my cold feet on you to keep them warm,
Making me smile in my sleep.
Such simple, needful things these: a warm fire, hot soup, the sound of you
Coming through the door, thick blankets, and a night whispering
With stars and snow.

_____________________

Today’s LittleNip:

A POEM
—Kimberly Bolton

Come here and snuggle beneath this quilt with me,
This quilt of a poem,
In this comfortable cushy chair with room enough for
The both of us,
This comfortable cushy poem of a chair.
Let’s watch out the window as the last bit of rain
Turns magically into snowflakes,
These magical snowflakes that fall silently into
A poem.

_____________________

Thank you, Kimberly Bolton, for your cozy snow poems from Jefferson City, Missouri!

Today in our area, David Anderson of Lincoln Poets Club invites you to an online open mic at 3pm on Zoom at us02web.zoom.us/j/81669036074  (Meeting ID: 816 6903 6074; Passcode: 337231).

_____________________

—Medusa
 
 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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.

Would you like to be a SnakePal?
All you have to do is send poetry and/or
photos and artwork to
kathykieth@hotmail.com. We post
work from all over the world, including
that which was previously-published.
Just remember:
the snakes of Medusa are always hungry—
for poetry, of course!
 

 



















 

Saturday, January 16, 2021

Tasting Night & Day

 
—Poetry by James lee Jobe, Davis, CA
—Public Domain Photos Courtesy of James Lee Jobe



the land where I live is a land of trees
and a land of trees is a land of birds
a cold night in autumn
and from above the wind
comes the soft hoots of an owl
it is a melancholy sound
but perhaps that is my own sadness i hear
yes i am sure of it
from my kitchen window at midnight
i see bright moonlight on the tall pines
with their branches moving in the biting wind
the wide trunks are hidden in shadow
 
 
 

 
 
there is always some reason to give thanks
my aging body is falling apart
hearing and mobility are both compromised
like a criminal caught in the act.
thankfully i am on the back-end of life anyway
my diet is shot to hell
that’s alright
i am a marvelous cook
one by one my plants die like sickly prisoners
i give thanks that i am not farming for a living
so you’ve got some troubles
so what
cheer up
it just means you're still important
to somebody

____________________

bodies dead from covid-19 are stacked
like jenga blocks on the city sidewalks
these stacks are the same height
as our mounting grief
how many coffins can you pull out
before the stack falls and you lose
does it even matter
haven’t we all lost already
this question is rhetorical
no one is left to hear me ask it
just the finches eating the birdseed
that I leave scattered
on the cold and empty patio
 
 
 

 
 
a hummingbird buzzes by the lemon tree
which is filled with fruit
the neighbor’s old cat lurks
beneath the lovely young oak
there is a tight crispness to the breeze
that whispers if you listen
a change is coming
and even now in my own life
autumn is easing into winter
the forecast for tomorrow calls for rain
 
 
 

 
 
how does one begin
one can begin by tasting night and day
by tasting a freezing winter
or a summer heat wave
taste life and death
go ahead do it
taste these things
slowly slowly
let the flavors settle in your mouth
and control the moment as it happens
then cleanse the palate
with meditation and silence
with prayer and emptiness
if this tires you then sleep
and should you become energized
sweep the floor or rake the leaves
do these things one at a time
as you do one thing
do not think of the next

______________________

Today’s LittleNip:

death
the midnight of life
life
the new morning of death
oh
how sadly my time passes

—james lee jobe

_______________________

—Medusa, with gratitude to James Jee Jobe for words of moderation that cleanse the palate…
 
 
 
Look around you—the daffodils are out!
—Public Domain 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.

Would you like to be a SnakePal?
All you have to do is send poetry and/or
photos and artwork to
kathykieth@hotmail.com. We post
work from all over the world, including
that which was previously-published.
Just remember:
the snakes of Medusa are always hungry—
for poetry, of course!
 

 
 














Friday, January 15, 2021

A Congregation of Conks

 
—Poetry and Photos by Taylor Graham, Placerville, CA
—And scroll down to Form Fiddlers' Friday!
 


CLEARING THE DAY

Early new year, early morning. All
is sparkling, surroundings washed clean with
wind-scrub. Frost slick as fate on porch steps
and gateway. Yesterday is gone, I’ve
ridden it hard enough already.
On a dead-leaf oak branch, one bird calls
noncommittal as a dial-tone.
Sun tops Stone Mountain, drift of cloud
floats vibrant-lemon over dead grass.
Bird’s song is gratitude of this day.
 
 
 

 
 
DAWN LENTO

Compare this morning to the passing night?
Unfair. Beauty of light against the dark?
Midair, the flight of owl, the steady stars
ensnare. And then the song of meadowlark.

Skip the talk. Call my dog, we’ll walk the trail.
Grip my tracking stick—twilight, dark or dawn.
Drip of rain from oak leaves, wet underfoot,
flip the page on minutes already gone. 
 
 
 

 
 
CONSOLATION IN THE RAIN

Along the rainy forest road at night
you’d been hoping for a meteor display
above the clearing, Lyrids flashing bright
along the rainy forest road at night—
that lyric sound? No lyre. Guitar at play,
a distant neighbor’s boy, his fingers light
along the rainy forest road at night.
You’d been hoping for a meteor display…
 
 
 

 
 
A DREAM AS CONGRESS COUNTS THE VOTES

I’m walking downtown with my dog
when someone else’s rabid dog breaks loose
threatening the street, shoppers running
for their lives. Is it my fault?

I sleep from watching TV at home,
my dog dozing on the couch. Rioters break out
marching our Nation’s flag to storm
the Capitol. Is this my fault?

In my dream we’re all connected. 
 
 
 

 
 
ARS POETICA 19

Something to tease the critics, a scatter of
words—illogic, structure, chandelier—to set
on the page according to their color and
sound, the warp and woof of a weave whose pattern
may puzzle or please. I wrote in mimic of
a new lauded voice. I sent it out; printed
in a noted journal. I stumbled on it
the other day. Who wrote this? My name in the
byline. It’s interesting in a remote
sense. It’s got a swing to it, and aura. It’s
not my child, it’s borrowed blood. I put it back
in its tome. I’ll take a gloaming walk with my
dog in the rain of falling woods and let a
poem find me. 
 
 
 
Conks
 

 JANUARY GROWTH

The mushrooms are coming. These: drab,
plain as an unpaid bill. They grab
for purchase, pushing up with loam
in their cups, and dried forest foam,
dead oak leaves, broken twigs that jab.

Soon, wonders beyond science lab:
all shapes of gizzard, kidney, crab,
a knight unhorsed, a dwarf, a gnome,
the mushrooms are coming.

Do they confer together, gab
at how the living hungers stab,
or the dishevel of our home?
Each tree-conk like a blunted comb,
a frilly, ruffled elfin scab.
The mushrooms are coming.
 
 
 

 
 
Today’s LittleNip:

LIVE OAK MEDITATION
—Taylor Graham

Rain-shine oaks can slake a thirst
and doubt, each oak true since birth.
It holds no alternate facts,
simply acts by heart of earth.

____________________

Many thanks to Taylor Graham for these snappy poems and photos! Her forms today include a Rannaigecht (“Live Oak Meditation”); a Triolet (“Consolation in the Rain”); Normative Syllabics (“Ars Poetica 19” and “Clearing the Day”, which is also a Word-can poem); a Lento (“Dawn Lento”); and a Rondeau (“January Growth”).

The Word-can form consists of putting lots of random words on slips of paper into a can, and then drawing out five and making a poem out of them.

For info about the conk, go to gatrees.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/02/FungalConksonTrees.pdf/.

And now it’s time for…



FORM FIDDLERS’ FRIDAY!  
 
 It’s time for more contributions from Form Fiddlers, in addition to those sent to us by Taylor Graham! 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, by golly! (See Medusa’s Form Finder at the end of this post for links to definitions of the forms used this week.)

This week, Claire Baker has sent us a spunky Triolet (“with variations”, she says). Thanks, Claire!


THINKING LIKE AN EGG
         (remembering Aina)
—Claire J. Baker, Pinole, CA

We won the raw-egg tossing contest!
From 12-feet off our egg was thrown—
if cracking, one is sorely messed!
We won the raw-egg tossing contest
soft-handed, since we had assessed
ring-bands on shells hit hard as stone.
We won the picnic raw-egg contest:
six times our white orb held its own! 
 
 
 

 

Joyce Odam sent us a Haibun. Thanks, Joyce!


FROM THE TRAVELS
—Joyce Odam, Sacramento, CA

Faded signs would never name the towns. It always     
rained, and there was no one to give directions. The      
sole café was sad—like in the movies—or in the    
Hopper paintings.

A child always stood in the road behind us, bouncing
a red ball in the shadows between the few thin trees
that stretched toward each other across the lane.  
A woman always appeared in an open doorway,
watching us leave.


        A voice speaks to me,
        no one there, but I answer—
        who is it this time  ?
                                             
                                                 
(first pub. in
Parting Gifts, Winter 1998-99; also in
Peripherals: Prose Poems, Rattlesnake Press, 2009)
 
 
 

 
 
In his first poem today, Caschwa (Carl Schwartz) has done the reverse of Taylor’s Lento (above). He has rhymed the first word of each line, while she has done the more traditional Lento rhyme scheme. (Both variations, incidentally, are correct; see www.shadowpoetry.com/resources/wip/lento.html/.) Yesterday was Carl’s birthday, by the way.


ADAGIO MISERABLE
—Caschwa, Sacramento, CA

dough left in roadway to be flattened, while
speedo air drying on the back of a
doe in forest clearing, listening to
rondo that her own mother used to play

bone of contention had kept them apart
phone calls outwore welcome, sure to annoy,
tone deaf emoji images lacked touch:
known measure of kinship avoirdupois 
 
 
 

 

This is an Ottova Rima from Carl:


ZERO HERO
—Caschwa

the module left him off at a precipice
where he got a foothold that barely held him
from falling miles and miles into an abyss
but he kept on climbing though chances were slim
and with his last breath he gave the peak a kiss;
it had been worthwhile, all those hours at the gym

“Honey, is that you up there? The tavern phoned,
they have your house keys” and on and on she droned 
 
 
 

 

And an Argonelle Chain:


FOR NOW
—Caschwa

Wednesday
keen to express their views
they’d come to have some rowdy fun
did plenty of that, now they’re done
made their point, breaking news

except
5 live souls extinguished
jettisoned off the ship of state
did not make America great
laws broken, hate languished

for now
most hiding, some to jail
we have no handy fix it kit
the President is in deep shit
vowed to fight tooth and nail

we knew
he would never concede
all is working out as he planned
fires he lit are still being fanned
what is his next dire deed?
 
 
 

 
 
And last, Carl says this is “a little Alouette”:


JACKPOT
—Caschwa

odds of winning, small
most won’t gain at all
don’t need to be filthy rich
front page Wall Street news,
just enough to lose
that “above my pay grade” pitch

__________________

Many thanks to our SnakePals for their brave fiddling! Would you like to be a SnakePal? All you have to do is send poetry—forms or not—and/or photos and artwork to kathykieth@hotmail.com. We post work from all over the world, including that which was previously-published. Just remember: the snakes of Medusa are always hungry—for poetry, of course!

__________________

FIDDLERS’ CHALLENGE!  
 
See what you can make of this week’s poetry form, and send it to kathykieth@hotmail.com! (No deadline.) This week's challenge: the Minute Poem (www.shadowpoetry.com/resources/wip/minute.html), so-called because…? (Hint: It's not pronounced myn-OOT.)

__________________

MEDUSA’S FORM FINDER: Links to poetry forms mentioned today:

•••Alouette: www.shadowpoetry.com/resources/wip/alouette.html
•••Argonelle: poeticsonline.com/glossary/argonelles
•••Haibun: www.writersdigest.com/write-better-poetry/haibun-poems-poetic-form
•••Lento: www.shadowpoetry.com/resources/wip/lento.html
•••Minute Poem: www.shadowpoetry.com/resources/wip/minute.html
•••Normative Syllabics: hellopoetry.com/collection/108/normative-syllabic-free-verse OR lewisturco.typepad.com/poetics/normative-syllabic-verse
•••Ottava Rima: www.writersdigest.com/write-better-poetry/ottava-rima-poetic-form
•••Rannaigecht: www.writersdigest.com/write-better-poetry/rannaigecht-poetic-forms
•••Rondeau: www.poetryfoundation.org/learn/glossary-terms/rondeau
•••Triolet: www.writersdigest.com/personal-updates/triolet-an-easy-way-to-write-8-lines-of-poetry
•••Word-can Poem: putting lots of random words on slips of paper into a can, and then drawing out five and making a poem out of them.

__________________

—Medusa
 
 
 

 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 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.