Saturday, June 19, 2021

Cutting the Grass

 
—Poetry by Michael H. Brownstein, Jefferson City, MO 
and Nguyenvan Luat
—Photos Courtesy of Public Domain



I CUT THE GRASS WITH MY SON
 
My son, no longer a boy, tall and taller
Leans into the lawn mower on the hill,
The last quarter-acre of land, the grass
Tall, too, lanky like him, allows itself
To shape-shift, the first days of September,
The sun on fire, the air on fire, I am melting,
My hair loose over my face like a wet mop,
My shirt discolored with everything pouring
From me, but there is shade and somehow
A light breeze. My son is as composed as can be,
Pushing the mower up the hill for another pass.
When he is done, he asks what’s next.
The silk trees, I point, growing everywhere.
And the vinca vines leaching into tree trunks
We wish to keep healthy. There’s a strand
Of poison ivy. The evergreen needs a trim.
So we work and the weight of the work
Grows heavy within me, but he is not wet,
His hands are not dirty, and yet the silk trees
Fall, the vinca vines disrupted at their roots,
The poison ivy cut at its source. Next?
He asks, but I need a break, our gallon jugs
Humid in the heat, and I am hungry, too,
So we enter the house where his baby girl
Leans into her mother, already knowing strength,
And my son who is no longer a boy
Lifts his child carefully in his large hands,
Kisses her gently on the forehead once, twice, twice more.
We have to do more, he tells her. When we finish,
We’ll take a walk downtown, visit the library,
And maybe get a bite to eat. What do you think?
And he kisses her again, on the top of her head,
Rubs his hand through the soft silk of her hair,
His strong hands containing all of her, his baby girl
Making baby sounds, and my son blue-skies happy.


(prev. pub. in Medusa’s Kitchen, June 21, 2020)
 
 
 

 

I THINK ABOUT MY SON WHILE I CUT A QUARTER-ACRE OF LAWN

The father trims trees; his son trims trees—
they stand together before a mosaic of large bark,
new blossoms, a glitter of leaf, each one
holds a clipboard and a small golf-scoring pencil,
their heads bent towards each other discussing
length and circumference, distance and height,
dry rot, the mulberry growing out of the maple,
the small tree forming in the elbow of dogwood
and I cut the grass in long rows, thinking of my son,
the flea market twenty-dollar mower grunting
one line after another, steep hills, roots,
the remnant of an old wall now revealing itself,
rock and brick, tree debris, clumps of earth,
the sun warming me to sweat and brine,
knowing he is cool in his lab researching herbs
and a multitude of plants, degrees in botany,
grants to travel to Vancouver, Scotland,
the north of Viet Nam near the Chinese border,
to Missouri and his farm of figwort and moss,
then Chicago to his office, a portrait of his son and wife
on the wall above his desk, a photo of his mother,
the air conditioner blasting, his equipment singing
soft hymns, his computers opening pages of notes.
He will be coming to visit in late August, the grass
not as tall, the rocks and debris gone,
and he will wake after his first night in his old bed,
come down for breakfast, his family still recovering
from their long trip, and say to me,
"Let's cut the grass?" and I will answer, "Yes."
 
 
 

 
 
A POEM BY NGUYENVAN LUAT

Capella Evelyn, Nick name Bao La 
Bao La!
Cháu gái bé Bao La

Từ bên kia trái đất

Chào đời! Chào cả nhà!

Chúc An khang Thịnh vượng!
Bao La tình nghĩa Mẹ - Cha!

Bao La bông lúa củ khoai tình ngườii!

Bao La bừng sáng bầu trời:

CHÂN - THIÊN - VIỆT-Mỹ đời đời Bao La!
Grand Father's Bao La

28/07/2018   


Capella Evelyn, Nick name Bao La
Immense!

Baby girl Bao La

From the other side of the earth

Born! Hi all!

Chúc An Khang Prosperity!
Loving Mother Love - Father!

Bao La cotton rice yam yams love!

Bao La bright sky:

CHAN - THIEN - VIETNAM - USA forever Bao La!
Grand Father's Bao La
 
* * *

A POEM BY MICHAEL H. BROWNSTEIN

Anh Sáng Ban Ngày
Tôi đánh thức sấm sét từ bên trong,

một cuộc đụng độ khác,

ngân hàng khóc vì thiếu,

công ty điện thoại sủa,

hàng rào xuống cấp và sau đó

một trong những con chó của chúng tôi nhảy qua

và tôi không thể tìm thấy cô ấy ở đâu cả.

Tôi phải đi làm, tôi có

việc vặt và việc làm và giấy tờ,

nhưng điều này sẽ cần phải được giữ,

Con chó được tìm thấy, an toàn. Một kiểm tra

với hàng hóa, tôi sửa hàng rào, kéo

một vài cỏ dại, một cây bắt đầu,

và tăng cường nghiêng.

Đã có hàng trăm người ở bên ngoài,

ánh sáng mặt trời đằng sau độ ẩm của mây,

và rồi tin tức đến qua—

một cháu gái, sinh ra bốn giờ sáng,

sáu cân, khỏe mạnh, đã đẹp—

và mặt trời xuyên qua lớp mây,

những bông hoa rực rỡ bởi bức tường phía xa

mở khuôn mặt vàng xinh đẹp của họ,

bụi hoa hồng mở miệng đỏ,

những bông hoa nhỏ màu trắng, hoa tử đinh hương,

bồ công anh, mulberries chín

và tất cả đều đúng với thế giới của tôi.
 
 
 



DAYLIGHT

I wake to a thunder from inside,

another clash of infection,

the bank crying about a lacking,

the phone company barking,

the fence degrading and then

one of our dogs jumps over

and I cannot find her anywhere.

I’ve got to go to work, I have

errands and deeds and paperwork,

but this will need to be put on hold.

The dog is found, safe. One check

to the good, I fix the fence, pull

a few weeds, a beginning tree,

and reinforce the leaning.

It’s already a hundred outside,

sunlight behind a humidity of clouds,

and then the news comes through—

a granddaughter, born four AM,

six pounds, healthy, already beautiful—

and sun breaks through the cloud cover,

the sunlit blossoms by the far wall

open their beautiful yellow faces,

the rose bush opens its red mouths,

the tiny white flowers, the lilacs,
the dandelions, the ripening mulberries

and all is right with my world.

So fresh and so clean.

______________________

Today’s LittleNip:

Somehow a rainbow
harvests the sky,
and a dragonfly over
murky black waters wears
a rainbow on its wings.

—Michael H. Brownstein

_______________________

Our Father’s Day (tomorrow) and Juneteenth thanks to Michael Brownstein
and Nguyenvan Luat for today’s poetry! Michael has been a SnakePal for a long time, and we’re always glad to see him pop up. (For an extensive 2019 interview of him, go to www.chollaneedles.com/2019/09/interview-poet-michael-h-brownstein.html/.)

Today (6/19), from 5-8pm: a new monthly program will premiere in Placerville on Main Street: the Third Saturday Art Walk, featuring art, music, poetry (at the Belltower), $5-7 specials at some restaurants, and other fun stuff at local merchants. Notify new El Dorado Poet Laureate Lara Gularte (larag@aol.com) if you’d like to read a poem.

Tonight (6/19), 7:30pm: Sac. Poetry Alliance features D.R. Wagner reading from his new quartet,
Distant Lights (Cold River Press), at 1169 Perkins Way, Sacramento—plus open mic. Please bring a mask if you are not vaccinated. Facebook info: www.facebook.com/events/946413116191632/?acontext=%7B%22event_action_history%22%3A[%7B%22mechanism%22%3A%22surface%22%2C%22surface%22%3A%22create_dialog%22%7D]%7D/.

________________________

—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!
 

 





















 

Friday, June 18, 2021

Closer to Angels

 

 
—Poetry and Photos by Taylor Graham, Placerville, CA
—And scroll down for FORM FIDDLERS" FRIDAY!!



SUN TEA & SHADE

We’re waiting on camp chairs
in shade of ponderosa and incense cedar
edging main street. Waiting
for Wagon Train in a small crowd
of families with dogs and kids, chairs
and drinks—waiting by horse-time
for muffled thunder of Percheron hooves
on pavement and someone yelling
“here they come!” We’re ready,
with sunhats and poems to share while
we wait. A bottle of sun tea
and a stash of horse poems, ranch poems
of the land beneath us, poems
of Gold Rush and lumbering, high
Sierra rising to the east where
Wagon Train’s been rolling down a week,
hoof-beating, creak-wheeling
three miles per hour, over the summit,
down the long boulder-and-timber
western slope; a trail of history,
sun and scant shade; maybe not iced tea. 
 
 
 

 
 
BEFORE HITCHUP

Old lady—long skirt,
pioneer bonnet, walker—
waits for help up steps,
wagon train passenger who
used to ride and cut and rope.

Horse eyes deep-gazing
at me, I recall the black
mare of my childhood. 
 
 
 

 
 
WILD WEST RE-ENACTMENT

We came early, now we’re one of the crowd,
mock shoot-outs loud with gun-
smoke, tall pines shadowing sun.

We’ve brought poems to read while we’re waiting
for clomping hoofbeats, the lead
hitch, a scout on buckskin steed

on the trail perhaps since dawn. Now they’re here—
a rousing cheer, wagons drawn
past us, away. Now they’re gone. 
 
 
 

 
 
LULU WITH PUPPY

on the Wagon Train

All the way over
summit down river-rover,
in the wagon bed

older than her years—
what of old pioneer fears,
ancient forest dread?

Did she dream at night
lonely trails, no end in sight,
no milk, daily bread?

This is here and now.
Maybe she’ll remember how
night was stars instead.

Crowd cheers, they’ve arrived!
Horses, teamsters all survived.
Puppy lifts his head. 
 
 
 

 
 
ROCKS WATCHING

They were sleeping under quilted grasses, wild oats and fiddleneck’s golden tune that turns to tinder. Grasses dead by summer. Rocks sleeping among roots of the stunted oaks that survive this hillside. Do rocks sleep? They rise like groggy commuters on a weekday, surprising me with stone-heads I thought buried. What do rocks know about forever? Do they dream of butting against my trimmer-head as I mow dead grass, these rocks

limned by sun and moon,
metamorphic metaphor—
does such patience sleep? 
 
 
 
 


FOR WINGS

Trees conceal the babies who should
have graced your work. I can’t find a bit
of twig or dried grass in your pinup
boxes hung eyelevel to a human. I guess
the bluebirds, titmice, nuthatches
have no affection for lumbered walls
and ceiling. They miss the dark cavities
of trunk and limb looking out on sky.
Nestling childhood should breathe
among canopies of leaf, closer to angels. 
 
 
 

 
 
Today’s LittleNip:

MIDNIGHT INJUNCTION
—Taylor Graham

Shut
the board-
game down clam-
tight. It’s worthless
as a quarter to the old sliver moon.

Moon filters thru oak boughs abandoned by
dream monsters. Map
its backside,
marker-
rocks.

_____________________

Thank you, Taylor Graham, for today’s spirited poetry! For more about the Highway 50 Association’s 72nd Anniversary Wagon Train Run that takes place every year in June, see www.hwy50wagontrain.com/.

Taylor has sent us some poetry in intriguing forms: a Word-Can Poem (“For Wings”); a Tetractys, our Fiddler’s Challenge last Friday (“Midnight Injunction”, which is also a Word-Can); a Lulu (“Lulu with Puppy”—see last Friday’s post for Carl Schwartz’s invention of the Lulu); a Boketto (“Before Hitchup”); an Englyn Penfyr (“Wild West Re-enactment”) and a Haibun (“Rocks Watching”).


Give yourself a treat and check out the latest issue of Sisyphus at sisyphuslitmag.org/. You’ll recognize a few names, like SnakePal Ellaraine Lockie, and Lucille Lang Day.

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.)

Carl Schwartz says he “set out to compose a Tetractys, and then it evolved into a double, triple, and finally a quadruple Tetractys”:
 
 
 

 
FETCH ME ONE
—Caschwa, Sacramento, CA

those
oldies
but goodies
don’t fade away
somehow we remember our favorites
as if we had kept them in our pockets
along with coins
that jingle
singing
out
hear!
this one
we used to
sing all the words
at any odd time of the day or night
and those coins were also in our old car-
parking meter
“sing that song
again”
change

 
 

 
Here is Carl’s first-letter Acrostic in response to Medusa’s current Seed of the Week (Taking the Plunge)—a new take on “Plunge”:


COMMON TOOL
—Caschwa

Another

plunge
loosens
unseen
muck
blocking
exit
route
securely

hallelujah!
effective
like
pretty
easy
remedy

__________________

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:

Rhupunt: www.writersdigest.com/write-better-poetry/rhupunt-poetic-form

__________________

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

•••Acrostic: literarydevices.net/acrostic
•••Boketto (“Listen to the Light”):
poeticbloomings2.wordpress.com2016/05/11/inform-poets-boketto
•••Englyn Penfyr: www.writersdigest.com/write-better-poetry/englyn-penfyr-poetic-forms
•••Haibun: www.writersdigest.com/write-better-poetry/haibun-poems-poetic-form
•••Lulu (by Carl Schwartz): 5-7-5 syllable format; rhyme scheme of aaf, bbf, ccf, ddf, eef
•••Rhupunt: www.writersdigest.com/write-better-poetry/rhupunt-poetic-form
•••Tetractys: www.shadowpoetry.com/resources/wip/tetractys.html
•••Word-Can Poem: putting random words on slips of paper into a can, then drawing out a few and making a poem out of them.

____________________

—Medusa
 
 
 
Stay cool till next time!
—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.
 

 

















Thursday, June 17, 2021

Snake and the Bossa Nova


 
 LSD
—Poetry and Visuals by Smith (Steven B. Smith), Cleveland, OH
 
 
 
LOCOMOTION

Snake didn't offer Eve no apple
no
it was a cup of coffee
hot
black
no sugar
that opened their eyes
and they thought
wow, if this forbidden is this nice
what else is there?
and of course soon came
marijuana
tequila
bossa nova
 
 
 
Flashback
 


SUNTIMES

After midnight alley
of serpentine night
up dances sun

Yellow electric line
across bright blue sky
catches eye

Spring growth
slabs of yellow, white, greens, blue
hope

Sun shines down
on cold-hearted humans
rotting in their gold

Sometimes sun
on eye-closed upturned face
is enough

Sit in sun
suck its go
become autotroph
 
 
 
Before

 
 
VECTOR GRAPHIC

Sun on face
dog on prowl
creeping myrtle licking feet

Too early
I park in alley
count rats

Warm dirt
cold night
fog 

 
 
After
 
 
 
Plants eat sun
animals eat plants
plants eat us
sun eats earth
while reality eats all
then begins again
or ceases
whereupon we either start over
or pick up the pieces

Each day
the light comes later
the leaves lesser
the sky greyer
the temperature lower
the dark longer
 
 
 
Serious Up
 
 

Dirt hides seed
heart holds need
desire grows

Today butterfly
yesterday caterpillar
tomorrow dead

First things first
which hurts worse
life... or birth?

The problem
with people
is people

Let's face it
we're all fucked up
one way or odder

It's always a battle
between the proletariat
and the lariat

Stay in line
or pay the fine
no drifting from the herd

Everyday I make
from wake to sleep to wake
copy? clone? clown?
 
 
 
Magic Mushrooms
 


Beneath the bridge
in still-warm water
fish wait
for the vibration of the coming train
to rattle the old wooden trestle
shaking down the bugs
from the underside
into the water
for dinner
 
 
 
Monkey Business
 


DAMAGE CONTROL

Fight or flight?
Flee or fold?
Fuck or feel?

Feed the lizard
or seed the sky?

Bit of both
correct reply.
 
 
 
Nightstorm
 
 
 
Day gone
exhausted
nothing done
sleep
rise tomorrow
do nothing again

Dogs do
you do
I do
we all do
doo-doo

I've stopped giving a fuck
from now on I charge for them
 
 
 
Dandelion

 

Today’s LittleNip:

Bird treasure
shiny bits
left today
to pay
for yesterday's kindness

—Smith

__________________

Here is Smith, visiting the Kitchen in the middle of June, and, as always, we’re so glad to hear from him! Also as usual, LittleSnake is ambivalent about being cast as the Bad Guy—though he does love the attention. See below for snake with coffee, as well as a Quantumized Smith.

Tonight at 8pm, Poetry Night in Davis presents Brian Dempster and Lucille Lang Day in a short (35 min.) Zoom reading at ucdavisdss.zoom.us/my/andyojones/. (Poetry Night is returning to a Zoom reading due to the current heatwave. Host Andy Jones hopes to return to the John Natsoulas Gallery live readings on July 1 for the Emily Hughes reading.)

__________________

—Medusa



Smith Quantumized
“Feed the lizard/or seed the sky?”
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 




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!
 
 LittleSnake says: When are people going to 
let go of that whole apple thing...?














 
 
 
 
 
 
 


 

Wednesday, June 16, 2021

The Language of Roses

 
—Poetry by Claire J. Baker, Pinole, CA
—Photos Courtesy of Public Domain



HERE IN THE HEAVENS

We humans transcended
fiery upheavals,
dangerous convergences,
primeval swamps,
the wildest of animals—
ourselves.

Now we climb mountains,
study Mars, love,
weep, emerge from scars
to love again.
Through darkness,
we come into the light.

World of skies,
skies of other worlds,
we flicker off and on,
sparkle like stardust.
Our adventurings fan
embers back into flame.

Here in the heavens,
beyond astronomy, astrology,
physics and philosophy,
truly as Carl Sagan exuded
with boyish wonder:
We are the stuff of stars.

                         
From website: sfpeaceandhope.com
                     Liz Hack, Artist-Editor
 
 
 

 


SEEKERS….

Seekers of the exotic,
riders of water and wind,
shapers of jewels, jet planes & jazz,
builders of bridges & breakthroughs
explorers of the psyche,
embryos this moment conceived—

whatever happens tomorrow,
in a hundred years, or
at the last turn of the earth
under moonlight’s incantations,
whatever happens, may we lean
toward the language of roses.
 
 
 

 
 
THE MIST TRAIL
Yosemite Valley

Try us, rock
and water,
dwarf us
to sand size,
yet we will rise
as on wings of wind,
to conquer ifs
of incomparable cliffs—
to prove that  
with granite desire,
mankind
can
     climb
          higher.
 
 
 

 
 
THE DOG WHISPERER

A young trainer runs a pack
of renegade rejects along
a grassy hilltop above L.A.
No one wants these dogs—
their time slipping away.

Testing the trainer, the dogs go wild!
Alpha man keeps whispering,
calming the pack as they circle him.
He offers treats, chances to trust
a human, to become tamer,
maybe even adoptable.

                    *

Some days I wish a kind person
would run me along a hilltop,
work out quirks and trauma,
whisper     whisper      whisper,
calming me to the core.
 
 
 

 
 
SOLDIERS OF THE SEA
Naval Academy Graduation

Speeches silent, festivities
faded, bullhorns muted
concourse deserted,
the Anchors Aweigh anthem
only faint echoes, we
wander over the huge field,
pause to pick up the cap
of an unknown cadet who may
crave peace
while superbly trained for war.
 
 
 

 
 
YOUNG BELLA
   school project

Today,
in third grade,
Bella lets her long
blond hair
be
cut short
butcher-boy style
for weaving
into a silken wig
for a child  
balded by chemo.
 
 
 

 
 
WRITTEN IN THE DARK              

What do we read in each other
beyond what we imagine or assume?

Are we gifted in sensing personas,
gentle in lifting a mask?  
Sensitive when shown someone’s

shadows, glories, handicaps, stories—
respectful of any need to withhold?

Do we dare translate their pages
before editing our own?

Dear people, our trees cling to earth
at the same time, our leaves  
flowing together, backward and

forward—our roots tingling
   as we grow toward
      heightened humanity.

_______________________

Today’s LittleNip:

WHAT  IF…

through every
delightful or harsh
life experience,
trees
of our spirit

add another
growth ring until
our limbs sweep the sky
like Sequoias
leaned on by ferns?


—Claire J. Baker

_______________________

—Medusa, thanking Claire Baker for today’s fine poetry, including the sharp scent of roses and the stuff of stars ~
 
 
 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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, June 15, 2021

He Brings Me Rocks

 
Moonstone
—Poetry and Original Artwork by Joyce Odam, Sacramento, CA



THE WAY OF STONES

This is the way all stones
are laid in a path—
recognizable
or not,
belonging
where they are—
they are not there
without some intention—
stones appear by movements
not their own, coming from
as far as earth’s revisions—
or brought by some lover
of stones, to be native anew,
to become a mystery perhaps, or
merely regional to the world’s path.
 
 
 
The World's Path
 


STILL LIFE WITH GULL AND BOY

a gull roosts on a rock in the dim midst
of a gray rain-lake \ a small boy sits on
a vague horizon-line and dreams he is
_________floating in the sky_________
                                                                     
a rock-shape emerges from a second horizon
and becomes an island , a third level
creates a RiPple-pattern of continuance ,

ShimmeR afTer shimmeR elongates and diS-
torts  perspective , the boy  puts his hand out
and   a   slow-w   vi-bra-tion n   be-gin-n s s ,

the gull on the rock does not notice the
slight movement of its own re-flec-tion ,
a sound of gray light huMMms over the
fragile landscape   >   >   >   >   >   >   >   >  >

the boy and the gull look off in the   >   >   >
same direction and wait for the power   <   <   <
to return from the spell of the boy’s daydream ,

the   levels   keep   forming ,  the gray  sound
keeps humming ,  the shiMmerIngs remain ,
the only move-Ment visible in this scenE   
 
 
 
Twilight 
 
 
 
THE AURA OF DARKNESS
"Bird in silhouette against flare of light"
—Photo by James Ballard, as seen in  
Reflections on the Gift of a Watermelon Pickle


O bird, in bird outline
O bird, in bird silhouette
O bird, in stark relief—
    that old thieved line

Around you, a rim of flared light
Behind you, a swirl of energy
Inside of you, the dark threat

Unreal or real, what
    has decided you?
Sharp beak and quiet eye—at rest,
    what has arrested you?

          …against swirl of energy
       …all light has suppressed in you
…self darkened to mere silhouette

A shadow-child might see you
    and think you tame.
A shadow-world might free you
    and release your name.
And I might rearrange the gathered
    instance of you to exclaim  :

             …reality is not true
          …imagination has its own view
…no shape of fear is darker than you

_________________

BENT WATER IN THE MOONLIGHT

It is the bent water in the moonlight that gets lost
where the dream ends. The sleeper still can choose.  
The small boat rocks in the moonlight and the curve

of the river pulls. But the sleeper is comfortable here,
dreaming an old dream, safe in the sturdy little boat
in the mesmerizing center of the water.  

Then the boat widens until it touches the banks,

and the dreamer steps out of it onto both shores

where two young women are walking away from him—
both are familiar, but his heart can hold only one;
they have warned him of this. Now the boat shrinks;

it can bring him back to the scale of easy dreaming
but begins to drift off and will soon be out of
reach. He is beginning to waken. He must choose.

                                                                  
(prev. pub. in The Gathering, Ina Coolbrith Anthology, 1999
and
New River Poets Anthology, Watermarks: One, 2003)
 

 
Maze Thirty-Seven


 
OUR LACK OF WEEPING

this craggy waterfall struggling down
the jutted rocks—the land broken—

the one tree barely alive

and the tufts of straggle-grass—
the flat white sky—

and the clumsy way we stumble
over this terrain

as we go
from one word to another

and your eyes are hot,
and mine are cold,

and we have left the even ground
for this—

this terrible moor,
something to get across—

admire even—for its significance,

this trickle of chance
for anything to survive until the rain.
 
 
 
Landscape of the Mind
 


WAKING TO YOU

Yes, it is for you I dream and waken—
the dream scattered into fragment parts,
half remembered—the dark water of it,
the slippery rocks we struggle on,
the horse in danger;

what does the horse mean :
the eerie terrain of night,
the panic, the strangeness—the mental wall
of those whose mercy we beseech
who struggle near us in their own displacement;

and the edge that is always at the leaning,
the unsafe balance, the night caught
in the complicated landscape of the mind
relinquished to sleep—
the awful things that happen to it.

I awaken just in time again,
refusing to go back
to have to finish the danger—
knowing
it is all locked in place :

you still there—
waiting for my reentering,
the night-water sloshing against
the wet rocks—the horse
still dissolving into our inability to rescue it.
 
 
 
Crowding Through the Opening



WATERCOLOR :
DREAMER TRYING TO WAKEN

A pale wash of sky. A gray house floating above a thick
pool of sleep. Sharp green wind in the leaves. Crows and
mockingbirds—song scattered over the morning.

Vibrations in the air. Sirens making jagged lines,
distance bringing them nearer, then fading-them by
in streaks of red. A smear of dog bark.

Agitation of flowers : white, and white, and white blur.
A blue confusion of shadow. A receding figure that goes
textureless in a slow distortion of dark movement.

Something inside the sleep that refuses to awake, seeking
return to the dream—someone out of range of reality—
someone caught in two dimensions.

Something wrong here : a lake of admiration—
a woman watching her shuddering reflection—
a man coming up behind her, carrying a child.

A child-sized boat that rocks on the groping water,
a glitter of goldfish flashing underneath. The child
holds out its hands. Laughs. The reflection reaches up.

An interruption of crow cries. A drowned doll on a pillow,
covered with tears. A red rose drooping in a waterless vase
in the room’s deep, protective shadow.

A hum of gray balances the sky. Stillness settles in, be-
comes permanent. With a brush-stroke of brown, the gray
house attaches to the land. The artist signs his name.


(prev. pub. in Tiger’s Eye, 2003)

___________________

IN THE PAVILION

I am in the pavilion, selling tickets.
The tour-boat is filling up behind me,
the expectant faces all turned in my
direction, but my back is turned to

them. Husbands come up and want to
marry me. I am sixteen. I am in the
summer, but it is cold. Something is
wrong with the weather. People are

shivering on the boat on the restless
motion of the water. The docks are
struggling. Soon the captain will ring
his bell and the boat will chug out into

the chilly bay. The faces will all be
turned toward the sea. I will become
a receding time-figure to them; so will
they to me. The day empties. The year

slips away. I am standing in the empty
pavilion, a roll of red tickets in my hand.  
The dock rocks and creaks. I wait all my
life, but they do not return. 
 
 
 
The Day Empties
 
 
 
SLIPPAGE

There will be no coming back
from this,
no turning-around place
in the breakage of our lives.

This is a road on a dangerous mountain,
steep and narrow,
rocks slipping off the cliff edge
and rain pouring down.

                                        
(prev. pub. in Atom Mind, 1997)
 
 
 
Where the World Ends
 
 

ENDINGS

1.  
This is where we take the different ending :
the walk on the beach
in that peculiar light—
the sea immense and lonely.
“Oh,” you protest,
“we can’t say the sea is lonely.”

2.
This is where we take the delicate ending :
the walk on the particular beach
at a particular time,
approaching some object
made of dark light
that seems to be moving.
When we near it,
it is the disheveled doll
left by our childhood
that seems to remember us,
for we pick it up and hold it.
It is so cold and wet and
featureless. It gasps like a kitten, and expires.

3.
This is where we take the difficult ending :
walking the roiling beach in winter light,
leaving the doll behind.
The sea rocks and moans over the doll,
retrieving it in its foaming arms.

4.
This is where we take the desperate ending :
You look back and tell me
what you see.
I don’t look back.
I am watching a seagull swooping and crying
into the sea’s defining loneliness.

_____________________

Today’s LittleNip:


MY ROCK COLLECTION
—Joyce Odam

He brings me rocks now.
“They are so heavy,” I say.

“But they are beautiful,”
he answers.

                 
(prev. pub. in
Red Bluff Daily News)

_____________________

Tuesday the 15th it is, waistline of June 2021, and we send hearty thanks to Joyce Odam for her poems today, celebrating the mighty stonework of the world! Rock-solid—that’s what her poems are. Rock on, Joycey!

We’re on the cusp of summer, and our new Seed of the Week is “Taking the Plunge”. Is this about getting married? Taking a big chance? Or just jumping into the old swimming hole? 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.

Reflections on the Gift of a Watermelon Pickle…and other modern verse… is a poetry anthology that is available on Amazon.

And on this day 25 years ago, songstress Ella Fitzgerald passed away. Rest in peace, sweet songbird!

_______________________

—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.