Monday, April 12, 2021

Love, Movies & Blue Bananas

 
Icelandic Monument
—Poetry by Joseph Nolan, Michael Ceraolo, 
Caschwa (Carl Schwartz)
—Public Domain Photos by Joseph Nolan, Stockton, CA



LOVE CAN BE JUST, SO!
—Joseph Nolan

There’s no
Need to kill
A little thing,
Because it will
Not grow.

Maybe you might
Water it,
And let it live,
Even though,
It will never
Come to nothing,
More than just a blessing,
—To let you know—
Love can be just, so!
 
 
 

 
 
ABANDONED BY OLD SCHOOLS
—Joseph Nolan

The world is full
Of furtive feelings
That may not 
Be revealed,

While evening dances
Drag moons down,
To where they
Can’t be healed,

Drying out
On surface sands,
Where dead fish
Wash ashore,

Condemned
To end,
Abandoned,
By all of their
Old schools. 
 
 
 

 
 
AT A SUPERMARKET IN BOULDER
—Joseph Nolan

He kept shooting
Undeterred
By what his shots had wrought.

He shot with eyes open
And saw which way his shots went.
He kept on shooting,
Shooting and shooting.

He watched all
The bodies fall.
He heard the screams
Saw the blood and all
And surely felt the pain
From his bullets
Spraying like rain
In a hurricane
And he kept on shooting,
Shooting and shooting.

Aware enough
To strip himself naked
Before submitting
To arrest,
To not give the cops
Any claim
To return fire.
 
 
 

 
 
ALONE, APART, TOGETHER
—Joseph Nolan

The wealth of love,
That overflows hearts,
In little pieces,
Held apart,
From one-another
Peacefully,

Each, in its own,
Separate culture,
Each, with its own
Religion,
And each demanding
Its right to be,
Beneath the sun
Eternally,

To live and let live,
Together and apart,
Don’t expect us all
To share
The same heart,
Forever and ever,
Beneath the sky,
That harbors us,
But doesn’t ask why,
We feel alone,
Together!
 
 
 
Blue bananas taste like vanilla


 
Here are three from Michael Ceraolo’s poem sequence entitled, “Mabel: Selected Lifeography”, poems in the persona of actress Mabel Normand as a sort of autobiography. Michael writes that each poem has the title of one of her movies and is the same number of lines as the running time of that particular movie, as far as is known:


THREE POEMS
from the sequence, “Mabel: Selected Lifeography”
by Michael Ceraolo, S. Euclid, OH

         Hot Stuff

Not to be immodest,
but we were all pretty hot stuff
in the early days just by being on-screen
But for David (he'd stopped calling himself Lawrence by then)
I wasn't ethereal enough,
didn't embody his vision of abstract womanhood
because I was a flesh-and-blood woman,
and so others became stars with him

* * *

        The Champion

Later generations of moviemakers
sought to have their names above the title
as a sign of their star status
I went them one better:
I was the first,
and still the champion with almost thirty,
to have my name in the title

* * *

        Mabel and Fatty Viewing the
        World's Fair at San Francisco

I know,
that's a helluva long title,
like those of some books Bill Taylor
would later buy for me to read
It was the last one I directed,
and was my only actual
Once the novelty of seeing things
move on a screen wore off, the public
didn't go in much for actuals
 
 
 

 
 
COME LOOK!
—Caschwa, Sacramento, CA

the dining area was an
immaculate doll house,
table most perfectly set

durable cookware near
to the stove, and early
photographs of older

generations mounted on
the walls, looking down to
ensure that their protocols

were being followed to the
letter, no exceptions, your
compliance not an option

the missing element was
people, young, old, in between,
absent from this scene

but of course! they had all
dashed outside to enjoy the
annual visit of those colorful

Monarch Butterflies; boiled
meat and filtered talk can wait,
as they share a special moment
 
 
 
You'll go straight to hell if you eat this....
 
 
 
BRINGS TO MIND
—Caschwa

(after Tom Goff’s work about Keats,
Medusa’s Kitchen, April 8, 2021)


emboldened by words
Severn would skate past Keats’ nerves
over and over
 
 
 

 
 
DEALING WITH IT
—Caschwa

there it happened again
a pigeon pooped big
right on the windshield

impossible to find the
exact culprit, but no
matter, just grab a gun

and shoot the gizzards
out of the next pigeon
you see, that does it

won’t solve the problem
which is sure to repeat
but it brings satisfaction

where is the portal
to get back to ground normal?
I’m ready to leave

_____________________

Today’s LittleNip:

SEA LEGS
—Caschwa

no better way to feel at
one with the world, the
whole Third Reich can
rise and fall, rise and fall
and while others are
turning green in the face,
you’re OK strutting down
to the mess hall for some
chicken

_____________________

Our thanks to today’s three contributors of this morning’s poetry and photos, including Carl Schwartz’ paean to Tom Goff’s Keats sonnet cycle last week. Tom sent the following link to the Keatsian tribute mentioned in his work: www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nb4l7zYeK0U/.

Tonight, Mon. (4/12), 7:30pm: Sac. Poetry Centers Socially Distant Verse presents Mary Zeppa and Patrick Grizzell online at us04web.zoom.us/j/7638733462/.  (Password: r3trnofsdv)

This coming Friday (4/16), 7:30pm, Sac. Poetry Alliance presents Jennifer and Chad Sweeney reading online from
Foxlogic, Fireweed and other books, at csus.zoom.us/j/87183068168/. Facebook info: www.facebook.com/events/1616183911906112/. Host: Josh McKinney.

Follow Sacramento Poetry Salon’s Young Laureates interview series on Facebook at www.facebook.com/SacramentoPoetrySalon/. Next interview is April 13, hosted by Sac. Poet Laureate Andru Defeye and Sac. Poetry Salon.

Sacramento Poet and SnakePal Jeanine Stevens writes: “My new chapbook,
Gertrude Sitting: Portraits of Women, winner of The Heartland Review 2020 Chapbook Contest and a Main Street Rag finalist, has arrived! Many thanks to Mick Kennedy at Heartland.” For info and to order, go to www.theheartlandreview.com/chapbooks/. Congratulations, Jeanine!

And those of us in the Kitchen on this side of the sea send our condolences to our SnakePals in the UK on the death of Prince Philip. He served his his country well; may we all be able to say as much at the ends of our days.

_____________________

—Medusa
 
 
 
LittleSnake Gets Into a Pickle
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 



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, April 11, 2021

Dirt and Stone

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



THE MIDDLE OF NOWHERE

Way in the back country of Missouri,
In the middle of nowhere,
Set deep in a valley surrounded by trees,
And the hump-backed hills of the Ozarks,
Some rogue ancestor of mine discovered
Just the right spot alongside a creek
To set up a grist mill.
Once the mill was up and running,
A general store was built,
Then, a one-room schoolhouse,
And a church.

Here’s the church and here’s the steeple,
Open the door and there’s the people.


Somehow folks found their way here
To this little valley in the middle of nowhere.
Guided by some pioneering instinct,
Or an internal GPS, they came.
They came by horse and wagon,
Deciding this was as good a place as any
To settle.

The ax bit into the bark of the tree,
And the labor of hard work and hardship began,
The iron bedstead host to the first breath,
And to the last,
And in between, their lives carved out of the furrows in the field,
Family histories pieced in patchwork with quaint titles:
Log Cabin, Wedding Ring, Friendship, and Grandmother’s Flower Garden.

Here, in the middle of nowhere,
The matriarchs of my family were born and raised.
Here, they were married and buried.
Here, their children were home-grown.

This little valley in the middle of nowhere
Was all these women knew of life.
Set in their ways, many of them never left,
Nor contemplated leaving.
Set in its way, this middle-of-nowhere valley
Lies rich and fallow
Within my soul.
 
 
 

 
 
DIRT AND STONE

This dirt under our feet is where they stood
A hundred years ago or more,
This land where the wild sheep sorrel grows,
And the sycamore and oak.

They scratched out a living from this dirt,
Got dirt under their fingernails,
In the folds of their sun-weathered skin,
And the ache in the back bending over the rhubarb,
And potatoes, and cabbage.

Their dreams were little bigger than what could glean
From their gardens.
Houses and barns long since fallen in to disrepair,
As if the very weight of their dreams
Had caused them to collapse into exhaustion.

The land takes back what belongs to it by rights,
Having survived the plow and pioneer stubbornness.
Stone is what the land offers up now they are gone.
Stones and the wild cabbage roses my grandmother favored.
 
 
 

 
 
THE INFINITESIMAL

My grandmother was nearly ninety when she died,
Her white hair, the rounded hump between her shoulders,
Her rheumy, watery eyes behind the thick lenses of her glasses,
Proof enough of griefs I did not come to understand
Until I grew to be half her age,
And she dead more than thirty years on.

My grandmother’s hands were testament
To the life she had lived,
Having plied needles to quilts by lantern light,
Breaking ice in the water bucket on cold winter mornings,
Chopping firewood, pulling weeds from the garden,
Scrubbing laundry on the washboard until her hands
Were red and raw,
Calloused hands that soothed a child’s fever,
or wrung the scrawny neck of a chicken
for the frying pan.

Having endured hardships and more losses
Than she cared to remember,
My grandmother, like the women of her era,
Possessed within themselves the innate intuition
Of how fragile life was,
And so did not take for granted what little happiness
Showed up on their doorstep:

The smell of spring breaking through a winter-weary earth,
A newborn calf dogging its mother’s heels across the field,
A husband who brought home his pay instead of wasting it
On moonshine and poker up in the hills,
A mulberry tree in bloom,
And the birds that nested in among its leaves,
A child that lived to adulthood,
The simple pleasure of searching for spring greens
Along the creek bank,
A son who came home from the war . . .

All these blessings and more under heaven,
She cherished in her heart,
With the sure knowledge that tiny and insignificant as we are
In this world,
We are blessed to feel the momentous in the infinitesimal.

_____________________

Today’s LittleNip:

If there’s a book that you want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it.

—Toni Morrison

_____________________

—Medusa, thanking Kimberly Bolton for today’s colorful cowgirl-poetry stories of pioneer life!
 
 
 

  
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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, April 10, 2021

What Sorrow Has Brewed

—Poetry by Sue Daly, Sacramento, CA
—Photos Courtesy of Sue Daly



LANGUAGE OF THE TEA LEAVES

She sips tea slowly
captures sunshine in her hair
brushes it from her face
sees her tears in the tea leaves

drifting down to the bottom of
the cup arranging themselves
into intricate delicate patterns
as if trying to convey a message

of supreme importance about
her future perhaps an end
to the strange misadventure
threatening to overwhelm her

now as she sinks deeper
oblivious to captured sunshine
and the mysterious
language of tea leaves. 
 
 
 

 
 
On the way to the mailbox

I watch the clouds paint the day gray,
competing with a few rays of sun.

Sidewalk roses beg for affection—
deep reds, pale pinks and peaches.

I breathe in the heady cologne.
Breaking off a hesitant pink

I press the fleshy petals to my face—
crushed velvet explodes on my cheek.

A moment resplendent.


(prev. pub. in
Medusa’s Kitchen, 8/19/20)
 
 
 

 

TRAIN OF LONG AGO

Forgetting and remembering
at the same time—
the train of long ago leaves the station.

Tumbleweeds and thistles fly by
in such a blur I cannot fasten
my understanding to them—
to any part of the past or future,

in the dream or the nightmare—
in the black or white of this world
and possibly the next.

_________________

SUMMON THE POETS

Charlatans are everywhere,
promising this and that in an instant—
anything we might desire.

A magic spell won’t keep me from harm,
an amulet won’t bring unearned blessings—
who can find my fate in a cup of tea?

Better to summon my first love—
I’d rather read Whitman
than tea leaves. 
 
 
 

 
 
MONTEREY

The mist inches inland,
kisses all in its path.

We absorb it by osmosis—
the cypress drink it every spring.

Thirsty roots inhale the moisture—
in peril without it.

When autumn arrives the trees
creak and bend in the wind,

dormant,
dreamless.

___________________

CHASING ETERNITY

Time chases eternity
and like the White Rabbit,
I often arrive late—
for a very important date.

Eternity chases time,
what do I hope to find—
on this round rock
of blue and green?

Maybe a secluded space,
hidden among the trees—
where I fall on my knees,
pray to God my gratitude
for a chance to dance
with uncertainty
with eternity. 
 
 
 

 
 
The stars

are yours now,
you have tamed them—
tied them down around
time warps and cosmic thunders,
they bend their will to yours.

Why not corner the sky?
It lies open before you—
how hopefully you have traveled,
how useless to fight against the night
and all its dreaming.

              (for Josh)
 
 
 

 
 
EVER AFTER

dusk unraveled day
as night approached
steadily
relentlessly
cast shadows of fear
blurred by uncertainty

she did not flee this
witching hour but
bloomed within
its clutches
entered with no
assurance of return

stumbled over seven
faces of darkness
danced through ruins
dreamt of light
laced with laughter
ever after
after all 
 
 
 

 
 
EVEN THE CLOUDS

There is nothing to see here.
Nothing more can be done.

She is so weary of sorrow, even
the clouds offer to hold her tears.

The sky shudders,
rolls up and goes home.

She sleeps but does not dream.

____________________

Today’s LittleNip:

BITTER HERBS
—Sue Daly

Sorrow
steeps the tea.
Mercy sips it.
Regret looks away,
unable to taste
what Sorrow
has brewed.

____________________

Welcome back, a big thank-you, and congratulations to Sue Daly! These poems are from her new book,
Language of the Tea Leaves, published by Cold River Press, April 2021. The book is available for pre-sale at gf.me/u/zmw9dj on Facebook.

____________________

—Medusa
 
 
 
Cover of Sue’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.

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, April 09, 2021

Sweeping the Sky

 
—Poetry and Photos by Taylor Graham, Placerville, CA
—And be sure to scroll down for Form Fiddlers’ Friday!!



TRESPASS

Sin’s
wages?
Those mages,
our black-face sheep,
contemplate long ages
of trespass while their humans sleep.
What are fences? They’re surely meant to leap.
Boomer, Riveter—each sheep’s born to know the ins-
and-outs of stock-wire, electric tape: creep
under, around, or push through; reap
roses. As Mistress rages,
the new lambs peep
thru cages.
Sages.
Jinns. 
 
 
 

 
 
WARMUP

Yesterday was woodstove weather,
today it’s blossoming spring at the farm,
buttercups crowding against old dead branches,
inviting them to a yellow-dance. Wild geese
flying in pairs over the pond, each pair
finding its couple-quarters.
I could stay forever, breathing sun-yellow.
Come outside and feel the spring!
These daffodils—come see them now
before they’re gone.
 
 
 
Can You See It?
 
 

PLAIN SIGHT

O bright green tree frog
hiding in deadfall branches,
disguised as spring leaf—
my lens can’t see you at all
until whoop! you up and leap! 
 
 
 

 
 
FAIR TRADE

I had a pasture but no horse.
A neighbor I’d never met before
had a horse but no pasture.
We struck a deal.
Now we both have a horse and
pasture—not forever; what is
forever? A lush
green moment, however long
it lasts. And a goat
is part of it, horse’s hooved
companion.
So now I’ve got a new friend
neighbor plus a goat and a horse. 
 
 
 

 
 
EXCUSE FOR NOT WRITING

I was starting to weed-eat the pasture
when he arrived—Galahad I call him,
knight’s horse of fantasy—through the gate,
now grazing at his ease. How could I dream
such a thing? Why should I keep
April breeze from flowing through grass
and fencing? The poem arrived
without pencil or paper, and sits like
meadowlark on brain, singing. 
 
 
 

 
 
THE WIND ATE MY POEM

It tore up my notebook.
What a wind! to set the last dead oak leaves
flying, and fill out those old stained
britches on the clothesline like embodiment
of a grease-monkey. Wild turkeys used
the shed for a wind-shield. I rescued
half-a-dozen empty dogfood bags, goodly
supply for fetching deadfall branches for the fire.
Wind chimes all went crazy. As far
as I could see, that wind set the whole world
dancing, and sky swept clean for April.
Wind left me nothing but a bunch of images
blown through my head and onto a scrap
of paper. It blew my words clean
away. 
 
 
 

 
 
Today’s LittleNip:

CRAZY TIMES 
—Taylor Graham

In my dream the rioters passed.
Will I be arrested, beaten, gassed?
Cover my face and duck my head,
try to wake up and fall out of bed.

The rioters, proper people all?—
the world’s a topsy turvy ball.
Duck my head and cover my face,
maybe wake up in a better place. 
 
 
 

 

__________________________


Our thanks to Taylor Graham for April tales of spring lambs and brave little flowers and new friends, both four-footed and two. Some of her poetry is in forms today: a Diatelle, last week’s Fiddler’s Challenge (“Trespass”); a Tanka (“Plain Sight”); a Word-Can Poem (“The Wind Ate My Poem”), and Rhymed Couplets (“Crazy Times”).
 
Today is the deadline to register for the online Cal. Federation of Chaparral Poets Convention on April 16-17 at www.chaparralpoets.org/Convention10.html/. Check in there for a listing of events and presenters, including a workshop by Sue Daly.

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.)

Joyce Odam has sent us a poem about time this week, using Normative Syllabics (5 syllables to the line):


BOTHERSOME COUNTING
—Joyce Odam, Sacramento, CA

When you are counting
the long thin hours
of the day—the long
thin day that becomes
filled with the naggings
of the mind in its
wanderings—failing—
precious time that is
not for the wasting,
the static measures,
when life's wonderments
can fill the mind with
all the time you waste . . .
 
 
 

 
 
Claire J. Baker sent a Cinquain with an intriguing title, all about Medusa:


WOMAN OF THE STUNNING CHAPEAU
—Claire Baker, Pinole, CA  

Under
her writhing snakes
Medusa is femme fatale.
Chaste, yet enraptured, she grooves with
love bites.
 
 
 

 

Carl Schwartz (Caschwa) is all on center today, starting with a Diatelle:


VROOM!!
—Caschwa, Sacramento, CA

Churn
Asphalt
Big result
Black tire tread marks
Thorough fun, for adult
Extra clean plugs for mighty sparks
Careful not to mix those up-and-down quarks
Whole race, start to finish, is made of one big turn
The driver must aim to speed through those arcs
Contra from relaxing, green parks
skip the lawyer consult
checkered flag harks
ankh occult
exult
learn
 
 
 
 


 
And then an Aquarian Chain:


HITHER GO I
—Caschwa   

so nice
taking a walk
sipping from my cup of
coffee

breezy
wind chill factor
the mercury rising
slowly

paper
in the driveway
rubber banded, no wrap
dry day

inside
my dog awaits
seeks my full attention
gets it

at last
coffee refill
sit in my easy chair
browse news

____________________

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!

____________________

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:

Amanda’s Pinch: poetscollective.org/poetryforms/amandas-pinch

____________________

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

•••Amanda’s Pinch: poetscollective.org/poetryforms/amandas-pinch
•••Aquarian: poetscollective.org/poetryforms/aquarian
•••Aquarian Chain: a bunch of Aquarians put together
•••Cinquain: poets.org/glossary/cinquain OR www.poewar.com/poetry-in-forms-series-cinquain
•••Diatelle: www.shadowpoetry.com/resources/wip/diatelle.html
•••Normative Syllabics: hellopoetry.com/collection/108/normative-syllabic-free-verse OR lewisturco.typepad.com/poetics/normative-syllabic-verse
•••Tanka: poets.org/glossary/tanka
•••Word-can Poem: putting lots of random words on slips of paper into a can, and then drawing out a few and making a poem out of them.

___________________

—Medusa
 
 
 
—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.
 
Snake in the Grass

 
 












 

Thursday, April 08, 2021

Four for John Keats (Stripped to the Waist for Poetry)

 
John Keats (1795-1821)
—Poetry by Tom Goff, Carmichael, CA



FOUR FOR JOHN KEATS (in his Bicentenary Year)
 
            Young “Junkets”
 
Standing rebukes to prejudice of class,
You first: with idealism and with humor,
By more aristocratic wits and crass
Denounced as low-born—innuendo, rumor—
Next, your verse: for Blackwood’s, too lusciously,
Too sensuously fruited, scented for
Its bustling, bristling questions—viciously
Demeaned—to be perceived; at its true core
Not so much Beautiful as Medicinal.
You and your work had to be scorned at first;
Negative Capability was your call
On openness now; on last reserves at worst.
You fell ill climbing the steep marmoreal stair
—With nervous glances back down at John Clare?
 
 
 

 
 
            Virtual Keats
 
Your posthumous fame requires an effigy,
Chiseled in pixels, clothed in CGI:
Your “crispéd locks,” young frame from nose to knee,
In white shirt and beige trousers airily clad;
Your Joseph Severn rapture-gaze at sky,
The inn-and-stable-keeper’s son to speak,
Your vocal resonance, half man, half lad,
Rebuilt by linguists to the precisest tweak.
An inner-city accent, no dropped aitch,
No syllable-ending swallowed tee; yet on
That voice, a digital chip applied or patch
On what didn’t and did attract Fanny Brawne.
If painted in oils, your subtle shade of Cockney,
Your canvases would out-auction David Hockney.

 
[See Anna Russell's "Bringing John Keats Back to Life," The New Yorker, 3/24/21.]
 
 
 



            The Inner Keats
 
All poets who read your letters react with awe
On your firm, forthright way of meeting grief;
Or meeting Shelley, Coleridge, Wordsworth. Flaws,
You clearly see in them—and in yourself: chief,
Your prickly standoffishness with women. Soft
You will not be, for Woman signifies Loss,
Your mother more gone than Hamlet’s Ghost is. Oft
The aloof mood and suspect euphoria cross.
Yours is an age of “sensible” (feeling) tears
You fight and write to fend off with more vital,
Tongue-juicy indulgences, grapes, apples, pears.
But over the one fruit, Fame, you battle for title,
A pugilist, stripped to the waist, for Poetry,
Trading haymakers with Mortality.
 
 
 
 


            Name, Writ in Water
 
You worked to be defined, not by a cough
—The saturation of your lungs by fluid,
The flaking of pulmonary tissue off
Till the autopsy doctor wondered you could
Breathe, at the end, with near no lungs at all.
You stayed in bed near Spanish Steps, indoors
When breeze more spring than winter, long past fall,
Scudding with budded scents across your floors,
Would rake your skin with goosebump chill and ice.
Your superstitious neighbors would evict
You, burn out the rooms’ interiors in a trice.
You, disallowed all verse, left derelict,
Barred full foreknowledge of your legacy,
Breathed grace into your last words, helplessly.
 
 
 

 
 
Today’s LittleNip(s):
—John Keats

Poetry… should strike the reader as a wording of his own highest thoughts, and appear almost a remembrance.

* * *

I am however young writing at random—straining at particles of light in the midst of great darkness.

* * *

The roaring of the wind is my wife and the stars through the window pane are my children… I do not live in this world alone but on a thousand worlds.

___________________

Today Tom Goff sends us a sonnet sequence in tribute to John Keats in this, the bicentenary year of Keats’ death. Tom writes, “I must have been sleep-walking through the news that this year is the bicentenary of Keats's death, and the Keats-Shelley Memorial [Association] has been commemorating the milestone date (keats-shelley.org/about; Shelley's to come next year). Whereupon this little sonnet sequence…” Thanks, Tom, for a worthy tribute!
 
For Anna Russell's article in The New Yorker, go to www.newyorker.com/culture/culture-desk/bringing-keats-back-to-life/.

____________________

—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!
 

 
 













 

Wednesday, April 07, 2021

Sheltering in Place

 
NYC Crowding
—Poetry by Ann Wehrman, Sacramento, CA
—Photos by Chris Feldman



IN APPRECIATION

today I got my COVID-19 vaccination
walked to the site
appreciating the outing
so rarely—too rarely—
go outside these days
it’s been one year now
sheltering in place

unseasonably warm for early March
blue sky, tender breeze
grass and shrubs exuded oxygen
smelling like manna
I tasted their sweet fragrance, rich with life
I walked closer, brushed the shrubs
ran my fingers through their leaves
caressing them gratefully as I passed by

down long sidewalks
Exposition Boulevard, built for giants
buildings, streets all jumbo-sized
meant for drivers—no one walks in this city
though word is out that
driving increases pollution
damages the environment

Sacramento’s stuck in the 19th century
Wild West mentality remains
though we made full circle
upon reaching the Pacific
there’s no new land to run to
leaving this destroyed
only known land
ours to heal, appreciate, care for 
 
 
 
Rainy Day
 


FUNDRAISING IN CHICAGO, 1976

first autumn on the Mobile Fundraising Team
selling roses, Clark Street at night
dinner: quick plate at a cool vegetarian restaurant
sentimental memories of meals with lovers
life before the Church—another universe

furtive sex w/myself in a gas station bathroom
hope the door lock holds
no privacy in shared sleeping quarters
my mind blank, hurrying
blank filthy walls, bare bulb, damp floor, illicit relief
hope no one will notice

cold fat raindrops, puddles on the sidewalk
streetlights gleam, car horns blare
excitement, glamourous nightlife

bleary-eyed with exhaustion, still fundraising
cross an intersection at midnight
spot a $100 bill on the street
decide to keep this gift from spirit 
 
 
 
Shadow of the Cross
 

 
IN THE WARMTH OF THE DONUT SHOP,
WAITING FOR THE VAN
After Nighthawks by Edward Hopper

perched on a high stool at one end of a long, oval counter
I sipped a cup of coffee
after midnight, icy Chicago winter
afraid the place would close, I nodded into my coffee
terrified of falling asleep and being robbed or missing the van
too cold to wait outside

after fundraising, the night’s last run
quick burger in the van, then told
Go out again; you can do it!
I hated the late work, already exhausted
had fundraised on foot all day
sold many boxes of candy

I peered around at the faces
tired, hard, old men, all strangers
I, too, was tired, my eighth month as a volunteer
warm shop fragrant with sugar and coffee
offered anonymity, a sense of safety

if only I could have cried
talked through what the hell had happened to me
talked to someone whom I could trust
who could have helped me make sense of it all
but I saw no one strong enough
neither family, past lovers, or friends
so I leaped into the long trial of faith, endured it

my head sank toward the linoleum counter
so warm in the donut shop, finally getting warm
like falling asleep in a blizzard, just give in 
 
 
 
On Edge
 
 
 
INSOMNIA

Sleepless again, I open the window; sunrise softens late winter’s chill, air sweet and clean. I am a porcelain cup too close to the edge of the table. My heart defies every schedule I try to force on it. Hard-earned stability pales in value; I crave air, life, movement, love. I want to wear myself out walking in the sun and wind, leave this desk behind. Energy beats in my veins—pools stagnant in my belly, legs. I should be wrestling, dancing, caressing, loving, living with you, not spending years at home, circumspect, alone. My soul is hungry; I stir the morning oats, add raisins, try to appease it.
 
 
 
Laundry
 
 
 
ITSY-BITSY

spider crouches on the light switch
maybe it’s warm
in a broken-down laundry room
in an overpriced apartment complex
in a mega-metropolis
filled with millionaires, bustling families
college students, homeless

I live here alone in a tiny studio
priced at “market rate,” or so they justify
five times what my parents paid each month
for our four-bedroom country home
decades ago, when I was in high school

laundry room smells of bleach and mold
I bring paper towels
wipe kids’ candy residue from the table
stand, fold my underwear

through the window
sunset fills my eyes with splendor
twilight grows, I hurry
wanting my warm room, yellow lamp, music, books

my spider friend seems to have moved slightly
or is that my fancy?
has sat on that same light switch for months
whenever I do laundry I check for her

immense patience, a keen mind
seem to emanate from the spider
alive or dead—I’m not going to find out

friend, counselor as I walk through these
slow days alone
my uplifted heart a bowl of sorrow
eyes filled with glory and gratitude 
 
 
 
Rainy Day Bird Hopscotch
 
 
 
I WENT OUTSIDE TODAY

I went outside today, almost one year since
COVID-19 became a household name
since sheltering in place, staying home all the time
lockdown, or whatever you want to call it, became a way of life
I rent a small studio in a complex with hundreds of apartments
in a city with millions of residents, yet my days are spent alone now
it’s been a year since COVID-19

I am alive at 66, and lucky
perhaps I had COVID-19
a year ago, when it began in the US
but when I called, my doctor said
don’t come in, it’s probably allergies
don’t come in unless you are very sick
so I continued my teaching work online
slept a lot, powered through it
coughing all the time, waking up struggling to breath
used meditation breath—longer exhalations
bent over, lowered my head, to relax and to breathe
sick for weeks, months to recover; I still feel some effects

I’ve gotten in the habit of staying inside
no one to visit, no activities allowed, can’t browse the mall stores
bus service limited but I kept the pass active
go outside less and less often
breath indoor air, temperature-controlled, central heat and air

I miss being outside so much, no words will convey how
on today’s walk, I greedily gulped sweet, fresh oxygen-rich air
sun enveloped me in a golden blanket of warmth
grass smelled green, tender
one bird, then another, and a flirtatious squirrel greeted me

today I went outside
I walked to the corner and back, around thirty minutes
tired out my legs and hip joints
a good tired—muscles will strengthen
maybe I will go out again tomorrow

______________________

Today’s LittleNip:

Courage doesn’t always roar. Sometimes courage is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying, I will try again tomorrow.

—Mary Anne Radmacher

_______________________

Our thanks this morning to Ann Wehrman and Chris Feldman for their take on the pandemic!

Today at 6pm, Sac. Poetry Center’s MarieWriters workshop for poets at all levels meets with host David Quinley: us02web.zoom.us/j/671443996/. Facebook info: www.facebook.com/events/2757173551202746/?acontext={"source"%3A"29"%2C"ref_notif_type"%3A"event_calendar_create"%2C"action_history"%3A"null"}&notif_id=1617789557017627&notif_t=event_calendar_create&ref=notif/.

It has come to my attention that the longstanding Cal. Federation of Chaparral Poets is holding its convention online this year on April 16-17, and they want you to register by this Friday, April 9 at www.chaparralpoets.org/Convention10.html/. Check in there for a listing of events and presenters, including a workshop by Sue Daly. Chaparral Poets is a California organization that has met for many, many years. Members and non-members are welcome to this annual event.

_______________________

—Medusa
 
 
 
Nighthawks
—Painting by Edward Hopper
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 



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!