Tuesday, October 04, 2022

Let Us Love Dragons Forever

 
—Poetry and Photos by Joyce Odam, 
Sacramento, CA


THE RED DRAGON

Why were the children in this dream?
           
There is a wilderness to the domestic silence.
The last thing we drew was a dragon with no eyes.     
Poor dragon. It flew into a mirror and died.
Your ship finally came in. You were still poor.
               
Little boys like to color boats dark blue
in generic coloring books.
       
Our fingers were heavy with red crayon. Yours
were the same as mine—little red finger points.
           
Next time, let’s trade, I said.
But your crayon-blue eyes were refusing.
           
Little girls are very particular about which colors
they want to use.
           
The dragon stared toward us in the mirror.

Let us love dragons forever, you said.
We drew pity for a flag.
           
We painted it bright red. Ships sink every day.
           
Little toy sailboats
wobble safely in gentle ponds and streams.
           
Some days the dragon dreams back to our ruined page.
We draw it again, this time with eyes.


(prev. pub. in Medusa’s Kitchen, 9/22/15)
 
 
 
Yours Truly

 
TINCTURE

The wings of light
linger on the dark branch silhouette
to be seen in contrast.

                             ◇

For lack of pigment, the white wings rest
on the edge of the
blue weed-flower—the color of the sky.

                             ◇
 
At mid-day, the sheer wings
seek the road-way poppies to reflect against,
as if they yearn to be golden.

                             ◇

The frayed wings learn to become gray
when twilight softens
their wounds with camouflage.

                             ◇

At night, the black wings
will touch at anything for substance—feeling
for their opposite dimension.


(prev. pub. in Medusa’s Kitchen, 4/8/14)  
 
 
 
Unresolved
 
 
DOUBLE EXPOSURE

Two horizons emerge from the blurriness,
become an apparition of fear and wonder

if not the old blindness of the unresolved—
truth or question—when all is not stable,

uncertain of the wonderment,
how else explain the duplicated vision

that appears to the truthful imagination
of the mind—the self-deceiving

mind—that relies on the rationale of
complex desire : two skies that waver

apart like double exposure—having
to choose the real or unreal to exist in.


(prev. pub. in Medusa’s Kitchen, 4/6/21)
 
 
 
How Long The Night
 

DREAD

Here comes the beast.
One foot down in the dust.
One hand upon the door.
Sniffing. Hungry.
Slow enough for dread.
A figment realized.
Conjured or born
It is said . . .

_______________________

DREAM STATE

Often I
flow upward into
a dream. Panels of walls
and knobs of windows try to
hinder me. I float through, glance
past intercepting shapes. I am their
goodbye and am not noticed by the
sleepers who do not dream like this.

_______________________

HEDGEHOG POEM
Brazenly based on Hedgehog in the Fog
—Short Film by Yuri Norstein, 1975

When I was out walking in the fog one day, I met a
materializing old horse with sad brown eyes. He
was an old dim photograph of a horse. We surprised
each other, each having no destination—he cau-
tioned me about the semi-darknesses in life, I con-
curred to his wisdom. He was such a beautiful old 
brown and gray horse. ‘Kinda like us’ I said, and 
laughed. He snorted and stomped and stirred the 
air into silver particles that whirled awhile then 
settled, we were talking about the word ‘Beautiful’ 
and agreed that it was a beautiful word and should 
be allowed—with that solved, we talked some more 
about the fog, how thick and long-lasting it was.  
‘Like sadness’ he said and I shivered and felt the 
sadness of the fog and the beautiful leaves started 
falling—falling silverly around us—like tears—
beautiful, old, silver tears from an invisible tree. We 
empathized a bit longer, having taken each other at 
face-value and appreciating this brief intimacy of 
strangers. An evening breeze came up—scattering 
the leaves and the old horse stomped his hooves, 
and I stomped my boots, and the fog did a fog-
dance around us and thickened even more. And I 
felt a sad loss—such a sad loss. 


(prev. pub. in Medusa’s Kitchen, 12/20/18)

___________________

I MUST UNDERSTAND THE WORD

Though I know the word
and I cannot reach the word
and I must undertake the word
to know beyond
the normal knowing
and my dismay
that I go fancy
when I try to stutter my way
through talk to say whatever
is the pure say instead of some un-
comprehensible reach through language,
that tool of words to define my
question or the simplest thing I try
to say when all my meaning goes awry.  
 
 
 
 Tincture of Irony

 
THE KEY HOLE
After Dragon Amulet by Antonzis Kalaktzis

I had an amulet I used to wear, a fetish
to my half-believing spells against
the harms and dangers to be feared.

It had a leather thong that knotted
at the neck where hung

a tiny key-hole made of brass
that fit an actual key,
although I had no key for that.

The key was clue and risk,
a double play against permission

and reluctance to let in.
For years I wore it—lightly joked—
how it protected me from

something that I could not know
but might be true.

I let myself believe
what I could use to let imagination
have its errant way of wit.

My talisman finally disappeared
and I was left to my own rule.

There’s no comparison for this—
but I wonder what was really lost.
It’s not like it was

a gold or silver cross
on a furtive chain.

Perhaps it found and followed some old
key that fit—that it was lonely for.
I guess one does outgrow

such habit-need—and besides,  
I think I do as well with worry stones.

                                           
(prev. pub. in Medusa’s Kitchen, 10/16/15)
 
 
 
 Listening


DEATH’S LAST WORD

And now I face an ending not my own :
Today I saw a brown field full of crows
And yesterday the sky was full of gulls
I feel a contradictive undertone.

How can I be the one slow death abhors ;
The crows were stark as sadness, huddled there
The gulls just bright opinions of the air
As life is full of never-ending doors.

I turn away from all but death’s own room
You turn to say the crows are just a curse—
The gulls for all their whiteness are much worse
—that all will end that ever was begun.


(prev. pub. in
Medusa’s Kitchen, 11/29/11)
 
 
 
 Secretive


Today’s LittleNip:

NOW THAT THE CAT
—Joyce Odam

Now that the cat
has come to
live with us
in our tame house,

from my red rug
I vacuum
all such things
as

moths
wren feathers
and dragonfly
wings

and the red
felt nose
from the catnip
mouse.


(prev. pub. in
Medusa’s Kitchen, 9/22/15)    

_____________________

No fog around here yet, but the image of a hedgehog in the fog is appealing. For more about this short, animated Russian film, see en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hedgehog_in_the_Fog/. To watch the 9-minute film itself, go to www.bing.com/videos/search?q=hedgehog+in+the+fog+by+yuri+norstein&qpvt=hedgehog+in+the+fog+by+yuri+norstein&view=detail&mid=D8F69D7A2D2E7122EC75D8F69D7A2D2E7122EC75&&FORM=VRDGAR/.

Hedgehogs aside, Joyce Odam has faced the dragon this week in our Seed of the Week (Here Be Dragons) with her usual aplomb and poetic skill, and we thank her for that and for her fine photos.
    
Our new Seed of the Week is “Confusion”. 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. And see every Form Fiddlers’ Friday for poetry form challenges, including those of the Ekphrastic type.

_____________________

—Medusa
 
 
 
 Hedgehog in the Fog
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 



For upcoming poetry happenings in
Northern California and otherwheres,
click on
UPCOMING NORCAL EVENTS
in the links at the top of this page.

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.
 
LittleSnake Unleashes
His Inner Dragon
























 

Monday, October 03, 2022

Dragon Dust

 Here Be Dragons!
—Public Domain Dragon by 
Laith Abashaar, Courtesy of 
Nolcha Fox
—Poetry by Nolcha Fox, Caschwa, Joe Nolan, 
Michael Ceraolo, Stephen Kingsworth,
Sayanı Mukherjee
—Public Domain Photos Courtesy of
Joe Nolan, Nolcha Fox and
Stephen Kingsworth
 


Lights sparkle outside

the window,
dancing firework
fallout surfing
midnight wind.
Are they lost
fireflies,
sparks from a blaze,
or dragon dust
from another land?

—Nolcha Fox, Buffalo, WY
 
 
 
—Public Domain Photo Courtesy of Nolcha Fox 
 
 
 
WHAT?
—Nolcha Fox

I see your mouth moving,
I can’t hear you.
What?
Now you point.
Yes, that’s the table.
So what?
Now you point to the floor.
Oh. The vase is in pieces.
Oh, the cat!
You point to my face.
What?
Is my nose missing?
You shake your head.
So sorry to frustrate.
You point to the top of my head.
Oh!
I perched my glasses
where I wouldn’t forget them.

You know I can’t hear without glasses.
 
 
 
—Public Domain Photo Courtesy of Nolcha Fox
 
 
 
We couldn’t find them

anywhere, they vanished
from the dance floor.
They left behind
a perfumed mist
of perspiration,
a trail of
corsage petals,
his shoes,
her heels,
that led us
to the exit.
Just in time
to see them
running barefoot
to the beach.

—Nolcha Fox
 
 
 
—Public Domain Photo Courtesy of Nolcha Fox

  
 
EMPTY, EMPTY
—Nolcha Fox

This empty house
sings sentience,
despite the barren rooms.
The floorboards
echo spectral steps,
old laughter bounces
off the walls,
stale air breathes sighs
from people
long since gone.
Unlike this empty
soul I wear,
a chain around
my body.
My muffled steps
are melancholy,
my shadow in
another room,
detached from
my bland body.
I’ll fill this house
with furniture,
but what will
fill my inner void?
 
 
 
—Public Domain Photo by Ugar Arpaci, 
Courtesy of Nolcha Fox
 
 
 
She’s an alley cat

at midnight,
a first flight
of firelight,
prowling
the fish pond
in moonlight,
looking for
an easy catch.

—Nolcha Fox
 
 
 
—Public Domain Photo Courtesy of Joe Nolan
 
 
 
THE BIGGER PICTURE
—Caschwa, Sacramento, CA

when trying to be seen as smarter and conspicuously
well-read on things, it soon becomes apparent that
there are a whole lot of different:

types
forms
sorts
genres
issues
categories
ratings
approaches
tastes
smells
feels
sounds
images
weights
strengths
tolerances
fonts
audiences
knobs
buttons
levers
meanings
sexes
genders
possibilities
nuances
scenarios
formulas
recipes
serial comma rules
ways to reach the same conclusion, and
strokes for different folks

then when you try to connect all the dots
to simplify the underlying message, you
encounter a vicious storm of Here Be
Dragons and risk just sounding stupid.
 
 
 
—Public Domain Photo Courtesy of Joe Nolan
 
 
 
OUTSIDE THE BOX
—Caschwa

there are two things people gonna do
whether laws approve it or stand agin it:
beat drums and shoot guns

now looky see, we don’t have a whole
Constitutional Amendment to address this,
but if a person visits a classroom, or
movie theater, or other public forum, and
starts beating on their drum, folks will
gather round and escort them away, give
them “the talk”

and then if resistance is below the
extreme level, it never reaches the police
or the courts of law,

but then there’s that scenario with the guns
which is a whole new ball game from just
walking up to some drummer boy and
telling them that you’re going to beat your
drum if they don’t stop beating their drum

because here, they could shoot and kill you

but our forefathers, as wise as they were,
only saw guns as the key to maintaining
control, and failed to envision the whole
“what if” scenario where the very people
who were out of control got the guns,

and all the control slid over to them

and all the law slid over to them, too

lucky for us, our guvment hired “only the
best people” to solve problems just like
this, so relax, help is on the way…
 
 
 
—Public Domain Photo Courtesy of Joe Nolan
 
 
 
SURREPTITIOUS SURPRISES
—Caschwa
 
some things may not turn out as they appear:

Example 1 — backup beepers on trucks are not
primarily to protect anyone’s safety, but instead
are designed to mask the insufferable cursing
of inept drivers who never really learned how
to steer a truck in reverse

Example 2 — we all think we know full well
what those red, octagonal, signs posted at
intersections are meant to do, but actually it is
a flat out dare:
Speed
To
Overtake
Police

Example 3 — likewise, there is no substitute for
knowing at what speed:
My
Penis
Hardens 
 
 
 
—Public Domain Photo Courtesy of Joe Nolan
 
 
 
THE BODY
—Joe Nolan, Stockton, CA
 
The body
Is an archaeological dig,
Full of remnants
And leftovers,
Broken pottery,
Tarnished baubles,
Long buried,
Traces of ancient things,
Long gone.

Inscribed within its scars
Are bumpy things
You have to read
With Braille.
Hieroglyphics—
Symbols and letters
From an ancient language,
Long silenced by time.

Who cut them into flesh?
What message was meant
For all the world to see—
To touch, to feel, to read
From this victim of impression
And for what reasons?
 
 
 
—Public Domain Photo Courtesy of Joe Nolan 

 
 
THREE FROM DUGOUT ANTHOLOGY
—Michael Ceraolo, South Euclid, OH


Jim Bouton

I'm glad to see that some in these poems
talk about things beyond baseball,
because many things are more important
I'm also glad had had
the ability to play baseball
gave me a greater opportunity
to address those more important things

* * *

Roy Campanella

Jackie and I had the same end in mind,
though we used different means to bring it about
His way was right for him
My way was right for me
Our differences shouldn't have led
to animosity between us
Later, when our playing days were done,
I had some appreciation for his way
after my car accident
And after the youngbloods called him
one of the names he used to call me,
I think he understood me better,
and we reconciled

* * *

Phil Rizzuto

AfterCasey took over the team,
he didn't like having around those of us
who knew him before he became a genius,
and eventually he got rid of us:
Joe alone retired on his own terms
Me, they told me on Old-Timers Day
that I was now an old-timer
and no longer an active player
Holy Cow, what a way to fire somebody
But I soon landed on my feet,
in the broadcast booth to be exact,
and outlasted Casey by decades
 
 
 
—Public Domain Photo Courtesy of Joe Nolan
 
 
 
WHERE IS YOUR DRAGON?
—Stephen Kingsnorth, Coedpoeth,
Wrexham, Wales


Sleeves rolled up high, bootstraps pulled tight,
forewarned, now forearmed, battle site,
a piercing spike to hover, jab,
chasing the dragon, foiled attempts.
Yet valley rift, for high ground quest,
wound tourniquet marks battle wounds,
once nostril flames now fire in veins,
myth monster, fixed term, soon complete.

But is this dragon sold on streets,
or fly, whipped, over lily ponds,
komodo, reserved nature park,
or slain, defeated by St George?
Knight errant may be night’s mistakes
as wander, improve the CV,
my record in chivalric code;
though dream now fading, tenement.

Abasement, flat, is self-imposed—
through lighter fuel comes cheaper zest.
A puff of magic all I need,
though gone to pot, that theory,
Jackie Paper’s roll, draggin’ joint,
imagined rôle in lyrics’ pop.
My one old dragon, her indoors,
Nyx, Hecate, both joined in one. 
 
 
 
—Public Domain Photo Courtesy of Joe Nolan
 
 
 
AFTER BUBBLE WRAP
—Stephen Kingsnorth

My life was spawned from underneath
in bubble wrap, clump globule place,
beside the strings of weed and toad,
where boatmen search amongst gnat rafts,
transporting death as ferry, Styx,
on cauldron mix, like witch’s brew.
Full ramshorn snails, newts, slimy things,
their fins, fine crests, fly caddis sticks,
shrimps, sucking leech, elodea,
and rotting leaves which feed the fuel,
stir gene spread thrive in stagnant pool.
Brief spell, metamorphosis trail,
like Ovid’s tales set by the sea,
this fluid state within, without
from dot to frog by withered tail,
and legs erupting in their turn,
encapsulates transforming stew.
This underworld where gangsters thrive
with dragons, nymphs and beetle dives,
slaters, skaters, sticklebacks
is threatened by so much above—
a starling beak like scuba stab,
before its murmuration cloud,
drag fishing net, jar ringed with twine,
by muddy knees, excited shriek,
and Eden’s asp, snake in the grass—
all dippers launched from outer space.
And airy, rising from the deep,
stream bubbles, photosynthesis;
when all seems well in mirrored glass,
from sediment, in clouded view,
that all-consuming teeth-bared pike.
 
 
 
—Public Domain Illustration Courtesy of 
Stephen Kingsnorth
 

 
FLAG CYMRU
—Stephen Kingsnorth

I assumed dragons around caves
and not laid out in field of green
with clear white sky, no hint of flame—
except as tongue, in coloured flesh.
Not the land of my fathers, yet
eisteddfod born beyond the hill—
its name World’s End—just as it seems—
a launchpad, buzzards, where I live.
A nation known for poets, bards,
of brass bands, lyres—not birds but strings—
for mountain railways, coal seams, slate,
and Snowdon, highest kingdom peak.
And stranger finds, maybe unique,
exotic scenes, Portmeirion,
Italianate bricolage,
its pottery, The Prisoner fame.
But there’s no flutter in my heart,
no waves of passion passing through,
though flag it up, with strings of harp,
the crwth—a useful Wordle word.
Wales has new titled Prince announced,
investiture, no song or dance,
in state noted for male voice choirs,
where bara brith, our yellow bread.
For some, appointment up the pole,
though William may win their hearts.
But Aberfan all Britain knows,
a mining slag heap sliding down,
engulfing village school below,
to steal the lives, a hundred, more.
The late Queen slow to visit site,
then most moved by gift posy note,
quote that summed the tragedy: ‘from
remaining children, Aberfan’—
for dragons yet stole through the land.
 
 
 
—Public Domain Photo Courtesy 
of Joe Nolan
 
 
BORDERLINE
—Stephen Kingsnorth

The bus crosses the border twice,
so masks are coming on and off,
as down up round the winding snake,
by valley route, both lobes and roads.
Do dragons breathe, this side or that,
through nostrils, if the mouth is shut?
Thick skinned by second, third ply some,
layered—cake sucking through a straw.
Perhaps the castle keep is blocked,
the drawbridge raised, but foe inside,
now lifted shield, armorial,
is moat too wide or mote in eye?
Though lips are sealed, the views are clear—
if stares were daggers, blades are drawn,
below, the scabbard, yawning gap,
as cloth is eaten, soggy wrap.
This omnibus, for Clapham sect,
and evangelical their cause,
a border force for changing sides,
flip flop conversion, swap of rules.
So faced with zygomatic arch,
a buttress, if the bridge is pinched;
will finger press hold back the stream
that threatens breach, dyke Offa’s edge?
The highwaymen, delivery
to those, coach stop, who stand and wait,
as steadfast, firm, vicar of Bray,
this trip, for health, now borderline.
But underground, coal shafts were mined,
and tin, by Romans in their time,
who happened to patrol the shelf,
and left their wrecks beneath the soil.
But where they dug, those seams abound,
they had no inkling, what above,
the crossings, border unpatrolled,
and seamless—Celts and picks were found.
Its global stretch removed the pain,
time’s acute angle now obtuse,
though Angles, angels, not confused,
by Welshmen proud, Glyndŵr’s stand.
 
 
 
 —Public Domain Photo Courtesy of Joe Nolan
 

 
SOLACE
—Sayani Mukherjee, Chandannagar,
W. Bengal, India


Nascent images booned
My brewed morning
With words as if fragmented clothes
I thought,
They will play with me—
A criss-cross algorithm
Between simplicity and public vain
And then will appear
A blessed halo
And silver whispers
That will somehow ring by my side
With nightshades and soft clouds—
A brimful of common poetry.

Because, only I know the voice
Natural, unscarred within
And the serene utterance
As it colours the morning prayer.
Then, a cradled shadow,
A wet-dripped morning,
Raindrops two or three,
And a cottage of green simplicity.

The rugged path will be my destiny
It is not just worldly wisdom
For my wishy-washy tale
But my whimsy haze
And my romantic spree
An eternal wish for an April spring
With my brewed morning
And my winged pen
Leading my green path
Towards my bundled sky
And a grim, earthy solace. 
 
 
 
—Public Domain Photo Courtesy of Joe Nolan
 
 
 
REFRAME
—Sayani Mukherjee

Two small frames are enough
To capture an ocean
A moment's glance,
A perilous longing
The white forest emerges
Out of cryptic movements.

Under the heaving spree
Of elm tree
I have hidden my
Pandora's box
Of rubies and pearl-whites
The key responds to your
Humming note
Always
At the nighttime,
The Heaviness bemoans
Worldly matters
Of chopping down a
Wood with a nice
Sickle and angst.

On midnight
I sketch down
The secret temple of Vestas
Priestesses who drowned
Their fires to the
Sacred learning—
The arrows sling open
Outside a masculine urge
To crown the passage.
But, Victory lies in my firm oath
My fleshy wishes
To not cut open
The inside blossom
The thousand lotus flowers
A sanatorium of feminine ideal.

Then, I sung my mon amor tune
The dolphins and the siren slope
The messy underworld
Of Neptune and cosmic sky
Knitted with
Hell fire and the beauty of woe.

When spring comes
I clean my tunes
Amor and infinite veils
The last is the truest prophecy
For the mind dwells
In sacred fire
Of infinite love and
The hymn of learning. 
 
 
 
—Public Domain Photo by 
Simon Goetz, Courtesy of 
Nolcha Fox
 
  
 
Today’s LittleNip(s):

After the rain

the air we breathe
is a peppermint
kiss on the cheek.

—Nolcha Fox

* * *

PLEASED TO REPORT
—Caschwa

Goal: be filthy rich
Status: the first half is now
officially done

* * *

ETERNITY BECKONS
—Joe Nolan

Earth beckons.
Eternity beckons.
Time reckons.
Eternity can wait,
We think.

____________________

Lots to read in the Kitchen today, as some of our poets responded to the Seed of the Week: “Here Be Dragons”, and others responded to technicolor prompts from their inner muses. Our thanks to the poets, and to those who found us photos, including Joe Nolan. Be sure to check each Tuesday for our Seed of the Week.

SnakePal Joe Nolan reports that he was the victim of a hit-and-run driver weekend-before-this. He says he was not injured, other than whiplash, but his poor car came out of it the worse for wear, and the evil driver took a powder, as we used to say. So Joe has been left holding the bag. So sorry this happened to you, Joe, and take care of that whiplash! (Check out Joe’s poem about his ordeal next Form Fiddlers’ Friday.)

Readings in our area this week include Sac. Poetry Center online tonight, with Bronte Billings and Amanda Stovicek D’AlessandroPoetry Unplugged at Luna’s Cafe in Sacramento this Thursday; and William O’Daly and Stan Zumbiel (plus open mic) at Poetry in Davis, also Thursday.

Next weekend (Friday-Sunday) will be hoppin’, as Gold Rush Writers Conference takes place in Mokelumne Hill, CA, at the Hotel Leger. Saturday will be a very big day, event-wise, with the Great Valley Bookfest Festival in Manteca—lots of authors and seminars; Lara Gularte and Dianna Henning reading for Sacramento Poetry Alliance at 1169 Perkins Way in Sacramento; Susan Cohen in Auburn at the new Silver Tongue Saturdays series; She Spits Fire at Brickhouse Gallery in Sacramento; and, if you’re in SF, check out Poetry World Series Litquake 2022. Details for these and other future poetry stuff can be found at the UPCOMING NORCAL EVENTS link at the top of this column.

Congratulations to Placerville’s Beatrice Pizer, whose poem, “Soul Loss”, was published in Placerville’s
Mountain Democrat this month. See www.mtdemocrat.com/prospecting/poem-of-the-month-soul-loss/.

For those of you who fiddle with forms on Fridays: last week’s challenge, the Veltanelle, listed a link to Poets’ Collective—which badly screwed up the formula for a Veltanelle. The correct form may be found at www.poetrymagnumopus.com/topic/1882-syllabic-forms-found-in-pathways-for-the-poet/#veltanelle/. And thanks to Carl Schwartz (Caschwa) for locating this correct link.

_____________________

—Medusa
 
 
 
—Public Domain Photo Courtesy of Joe Nolan
 








 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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—
and collaborations are welcome.
Just remember:
the snakes of Medusa are always hungry—
for poetry, of course!
 
Mondays, Pre-Caffeinization
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 















 

Sunday, October 02, 2022

Journeyman

 
—Stephen Kingsnorth, Coedpoeth, 
Wrexham, Wales
—Public Domain Photos Courtesy 
of Stephen Kingsnorth


RE-INCARNATION

Without my specs, I saw a cheese,
well-ripened, past its sell-by date,
hard cheddar mixed with herbal flakes,
goat gouda stuffed with fenugreek—
but study clarified the stitch
in plastic, not a leather seat.
That sets the age—assume not staged,
conglomerate, synthetic mulch,
but stratified, a grating rind,
absorbent tissue for the moss,
wherever dip or needle hole.
Unpromising to propagate,
like buddleia in bomb site crack,
yet here it is on moulded shape,
a host for green and creeping things.

Though saddle-sore, I don’t think staged—
it takes me back to Cambridge days,
drop handlebars—no sturmey gears—
just pedal power and lecture notes,
in woven basket strapped to rear,
and padlocked to a college rail
or thrown, if late, tutorial.
Indeed, here framed, it might be mine,
bike lost, occasion such as this,
poor time-keeping, that machine thrust
to ground for theft outside the school—
that session, thief in paradise;
the life expectancy of wheels
a resurrection bicycle,
in tandem, saprophytic style?
 
 
 

 
 
WESTERN GHATS

Protesting, strain motor engines scream,
bearing torque, outside of bends
edge-fenced by cliff-hang fall
outstripping unbroken unspaced trucks in line.

Not losing face, or screen, but hooting lean,
as calling on the dashboards’ garland gods,
to slip them back in pack again
the drivers vent, exhaust their fumes.

Bravado's wrecks raze valley floor,
reek, with jasmine hint, the strangest fuel.
Silver years on, road rites comply,
so first-time travellers adopt
hooded view, climbing Western Ghats
to Pune from Mumbai, stale breathing with
grocer's paper bag encasing head,
custom in follow weeks suspend. 
 
 
 
Modern City 2
—Painting by Alexey Kondakov
 
 
TRIGGER?

A classic bridge, maybe of sighs—
the morning after night before—
but what a gap for art to span,
and what if ladies flesh not paint—
another niche assigned I think.
A fare stage for thespians’ play—
a comic strip, programme perhaps—
would someone call, emergency,
even if not public transport—
though public transport’s what achieved
if hanging, walls of gallery—
a tram for tramps, assumed today.
I’m not alert to origin,
the first art framed, atelier;
now upper deck, with shiny seats,
would this not wear a trigger sign—
though TV, deemed reality? 
 
 
 

 
 
BOX CAMERA

You see the black and white, though grey,
these clothes that give the date away,
the leisure space, despite bow tie,
a family on holiday?
The Kodak box of sibling snap
above a clifftop overlook—
it’s inside knowledge knows I’m right,
my focus others’ oversight.
This open space a closed-down place,
as I, at end, grasp plastic bag,
the day that hobby gripped the boy,
collecting my phillumeny.
A proper noun for matchboxes,
the first from Kentish brewery,
which prompted guests of B&B
to search their pockets and their rooms.
Within few hours, expanded bag,
my treasure held close in my lap;
that’s why your grey is not my sight,
excited boy set on a quest.
It’s not of swallows, amazons—
yet lucifers brightened my life,
and fifty-on still feel the thrill,
that child’s delight in seeing things.
 
 
 

 
 
WILDING

Patina melting into wood,
hydrangea sapped, skeletal drop—
was cottage pink or iron blue?
Fond fountain pen, Quink laid to rest,
long superseded, Wilding stamp,
fear Machin corner, older crown.

Tuppence to Chagford, in her thatch,
from Newton Abbott, 59;
warm beer at Ring of Bells, chime lost,
ramrod, her cycle to the church
for Mrs Goodale, Dartmoor edge,
the children paddling, River Teign.

Two decades past her days were wild,
her middle age mixed WAAFs around,
moved Harrogate to Buckingham,
Spitfires and Park, enigma found;
but Bletchley changed to Milton Keynes,
new town, moved world, though tors remain.

And so retreat, hall corner chest,
her past ingrained, bees wax as seal,
the floriography of age;
before class slowed her envelopes,
the rich in castle, poor at gate,
when all was bright and beautiful.
 
 
 

 
 
JOURNEYMAN

I need a map or lexicon
to know where ‘here’ to be;
though gazetteer is limited—
theology, a peer?
Context referral, global spin,
truism tasting words?
Even abbreviated space
too much, illumined waste.

The doorway rise, if that presumed
to be the sight for found,
is there a wheelchair ramp around,
or step inside too high?
So if I should pass by this way,
then that is what I would;
for those certain that others lost,
themselves need find their way.

My guiding light, disciple tread,
gives freedom, choice and grace;
no need to label from on high
that street-side portal saves.
Perhaps this is the tourist board—
on path, mistake their terms;
I am, simply, a journeyman
still watching for the signs.
 
 
 

 
 
THE BAR

This strand of sand, brief marked, our prints
that blanche a whiter shade of pale—
yet far beyond the vanish point,
perspective dreams horizon might...

Time healer, historicity,
now understood as victor’s tale;
posed statues stand as timely pride—
but chronos flows, finds kairos moved.

So how sustain subjunctive mood,
laid tense against prevailing proofs,
without resort to bottles’ tide—
denial there’s a problem here?

A decking chair of teak effect—
the cards were stacked, the play unfair—
a wistful stare from wispy hair,
while mind wrack like Sargasso sea.

Here unities of time and place,
their daily pace suspended, hear
waves’ gentle lapping on the shore—
but surely there was space for more?

And like the old man by the lee,

his way hemmed by what might have been,

prevailing leather and the cap—

we'll ponder crossing of the bar.
 
 
 

 
 
SNAPPERS

To pad where others trod before—
it is the human nature walk—
but tread tenderfoot, less the claw
awaits to pounce at lintel door.

The mind-set of our history,
inheritance to curse the globe,
leads green world to a blooded tree,
bequest maintained till we break free.

This carefree, little prancing girl
is unconcerned, no danger sensed.
The sun draws on through scattered swirl,
what prospect better, dancing lass?

Far harmony, do pipe scales play?
Does cheated magpie steal still more?
Are rats more easy prey to slay?
What magic flute can lure this child?

Is wisdom more than proving score—
achieve the stride, a target hit?
If skip, why plant in other’s paw,
when print unmatched with our own sole?

Today that youth learns carefulness,
more savvy than her fathers were;
inscribed on tiles, beneath her steps,
the groundwork runes to contemplate.

So what beyond safe corridor?
The simplest clues that logic reads,
strand spread of sand along the floor,
tells snapper both in front, behind.

___________________

Today’s LittleNip:

You must stay drunk on writing so reality cannot destroy you.

—Ray Bradbury,
Zen in the Art of Writing

___________________

—Medusa, with thanks to Stephen Kingsnorth for today’s poems and photos, and a note that his “Trigger?” was inspired by the Kondokov work which was posted in the Kitchen last Tuesday—itself having been found by Joyce Odam, who also based a poem on it. Got that?
 
 
 
 “Without my specs, I saw a cheese…”
—Photo Courtesy of Public Domain
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 



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