Friday, December 31, 2010

Turning The Page

For My Promise
Photo by Robin Gale Odam

—Robin Gale Odam, Sacramento

Last yellow December rose,
saved from frost, cut tenderly for
my crystal vase, for my loving heart,
for my inspiration, for my promise of
sugar water and a bright location,
and for companionship as we
awaken and turn the page.


—Joyce Odam

December:      January:      Count of time.
The step from one into the other—

the last and first of something:
the new with its promise: the old with its regret.

Let’s be happy now…
confetti falling… balloons trapped at the ceiling…

embrace and kiss;
who you hold now is who you will hold forever.

Forever is now. Hold tight. It’s only a moment,
Make no promise. Or promise everything.

This is the one moment of the year you wait for.
It is here.       Drink up.      Say Happy New Year.

(First published in Joyce's mini-chap, Listenings)


—Joyce Odam

The year comes trailing in like an innocent
bystander and finds me in the first hour
and we size each other up and take some
sort of stance to suggest intention.

So we greet each other carefully and ask
direction of one another,
and here we are at the same beginning—
dependent on one another, somehow,

to make it work—whatever we say
and mean. And we wander off together—
down the days—and become destined—
though the particulars are yet to be realized.


—Joyce Odam

A leftover horn from some
stale celebration is bawling in the distance,
probably in the hand of some child—
loud in the morning.

I can see it now: crumpled on the end,
red foil peeling, three tassels dangling.
What a sad, old sound it makes—
over and over—

like some animal
trapped in quicksand,
or on barbed wire, or drought,
or winter—you know—a suffering.


—Joyce Odam

She has hidden herself now
in a garden of threads
and melting colors—

the cloth of memory,
cross-stitched with stories,
textures and scents familiar—

lavender roses
and pale narcissus,
the seasons mingling.

Only the hours know how to fill
and renew. She waits for that renewal.
She waits and grow late with waiting.


—Photo by Robin Gale Odam

—Joyce Odam

It was summer, and there was no cause
to fear rumors of ice and snow—
old warnings of dire-predictors,

weather-people, people with charts
and ways to know such things.
The high sun glittered

on our bright horizon—
in this—
our longest summer ever.

But winter was quick with sealing
and we found ourselves locked in a
time-lost globe, being roughly shaken,

until small flakes of white
went swirling—as if to make fly
the six frozen birds in our winter sky.


—Joyce Odam
                             Feel the artistry / moving
               through you / and be silent—Rumi

Impose your heart upon the silence,
what is beheld in thought and dreams—
the hope of doubt, and oh, the doubt of hope.

The art of understanding is beyond the mind
but not the heart—it’s in the silence—
not the blare of thought that so befuddles.

What fails
is something powerful and strained—
a shadow and a blow.

What is, that is not known?—mystery
its own—more powerful than clues
or any solving that will be.

Take up the trust again.
It helps you look where nothing is,
and helps you look again.


Today's LittleNip: 

—Robin Gale Odam

Precious yellow flower, oblivious to the
rules of landscaping, lovely petals above
the silver curve of blades gleaming in the
last December sun.

Photo by Robin Gale Odam



Thursday, December 30, 2010

We Stare in Thought

Photo of Medusa taken by Cynthia Linville
at The American International Rattlesnake Museum, 
Albuquerque, NM, 2010

—Carl Bernard Schwartz, Sacramento

Attention publisher:

Cancel my lifetime subscription
to Pathetic Pathways for the
Depleted and Defeated
effective immediately.

I’ve had quite enough
taste of sour grapes,
other peoples’ gripes,
grandiose pontifications,
and throw another pauper
in the hopper propaganda.

It is time for me to enjoy
a renewal of my choices.

Unleash the positive voices.

Renew the vision,
whatever it takes,
that elevates one’s sights
above earthly mistakes.


—Patricia Hickerson, Davis

To get born in a coal camp takes guts.
My mother rode a horse straight up the mountainside to get born here.
She rode on a coal train to get here.
She rode in a hay wagon to get here
she rode muleback
she slung herself over a donkey’s hip
she rode the wind and screamed like an eagle
she dove through the sky
she yanked clouds around and re-channeled rivers
she clawed icicles off mountaintops
she did not come gentle into this hard life
she rode the tail of a giant possum
she straddled a cat’s ass
she came galloping full bent round the turn driving hard day
and night to get born here
black hair like satin ropes snapping in the wind
eyes like sky blue marbles glittering in the sun
she was a length of dynamite
long and red and lean like her mama and papa
this is where she charged out of Mammaw’s belly
in late December 1905 in a coal camp in Westbourne TN
She was a human fireball,
not a baby.


Thanks to Carl and Pat and today's other contributors! Rattlesnake Museum—wow! (Don't read the news clipping below if you're still eating breakfast.) Carl says his poem is about Medusa's "evil twin", and Pat celebrates her mother's birthday today.

Cache Creek Spring Workshop w/Rae Gouirand: MARK DOTY; THE ART OF DESCRIPTION

Thursday mornings, 10am-12pm

Ten weeks: January 20-March 24, 2011

Rae Gouirand writes: This workshop at Woodland’s Cache Creek Preserve will consider not just Doty's poems but also his writings on poetry, and examine the truth behind his statement that "What descriptions—or good ones, anyway—actually describe... is consciousness, the mind playing over the world of matter, finding there a glass various and lustrous enough to reflect back the complexities of the self that's doing the looking." This workshop will be structured somewhat differently than the topical sessions of the past: While we'll be observing the same organizing principles we usually do (the first hour of class devoted to discussion, the second hour to independent work on the Preserve site), there will be official homework and reading between class sessions (some of which will be self-assigned by the participants). This ten-week workshop will meet indoors in the Preserve's education office on cold or rainy winter days, or outdoors in our gorgeous outdoor classroom as weather permits. Registrants are required to commit to regular attendance, and will need to purchase copies of Doty's The Art of Description as well as his Still Life With Oysters and Lemon. Early registration is strongly advised; space is limited. Free to the public (donations to Cache Creek Nature Preserve are accepted in any amount to help support the program; no one will be turned away for lack of funds). To register, simply email with your name, email, and phone number.

PS: Sacramento-area folk: there are still slots open in the Sacramento section of Rae’s Creative Nonfiction workshop at the Sacramento Poetry Center (Wednesday nights 7-9 PM, January 12-April 27, $375). If you're interested, email and she'll forward the info and the registration form to you again—they start soon!


—Carl Bernard Schwartz

Setting out to emulate
Ludwig von Beethoven
who is said to have composed
entire symphonies while
strolling in the forest, I
grabbed some writing
utensils and went outdoors.

Oakwood, Woodside, The
Meadows, Sierra [all kinds
of second names], each one
comprised of private property
honeycomb apartments,
managed by this and that LLC,
LLP, or HOA, whatever.

One had to have a vested
interest in the real estate to
get close enough to see, hear,
smell and feel the life in the
few remaining trees.

Maybe a regional, state, or
national park would be the
answer. Tourists, admission
fees, long lists of restrictions.
Maybe not.

What if heaven itself is now
populated by investors and
regulated by lawyers?

I’m siding toward leaving the
forest behind and heading out
to sea past the three mile limit,
to where music and life simply
stop when they are done instead
of expiring like contracts.


—William Bronk

Kortlandt, who studied chimpanzees in the wild, concealed
within his blind, would sometimes see them find
his eyes, and stare in thought and wander off.
Contemplation and doubt were what he saw
or thought he saw, behind their searching eyes
these times and others, as if they tried
to make sense of an always, or often, puzzling world.

It seems a sad as well as a wondrous thing.

He doesn't say, but he leaves the thought to occur
that our primate nature could be, not as we think
it is: to know, but only to be disturbed,
as these simpler beasts are disturbed, in their simpler world,
that all the unknown should strike us, even though
it stops at that. No more. We stare in thought.


—William Bronk

He lets us into a room which must
be any room in an ordinary
house on a street where buses, perhaps,
go past us, or once we arrived just
too late to watch a parade. This
is a city, anyway, where
we always seem to be at the wrong
season; the weather is bad, and our friends
are somewhere else. Here in the room
though, there is a fragrance we had all
but forgotten from somewhere, and all around
us, a great ingathering of lovely things
from such long distances of time
and space, we marvel to see again,
and for once together, what we have failed
before to connect. Or so it seems.
Does it matter than on a second look
the room is empty, or if not that,
that the things that are gathered here are things
we never saw before? No.
With what sweet eloquence
these objects speak and ask no reply;
for listen, it is we, ourselves, who sing.


Today's LittleNip: 

—Robin Gale Odam, Sacramento

random act molotov cocktail thrown through the
window of the home of a 102-year-old woman
just before midnight last night when asked
if she has any enemies she smiled her
old woman smile and said “Oh yeah!”



Another photo from the Rattlesnake Museum
courtesy of Cynthia Linville, Sacramento

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Surviving on Hope

In this harsh cold

The masses wander aimlessly
Through a barren world,
Hungering for food,
Thirsting for water,
Surviving on hope,
Searching for their souls.

—Poem and Photo by Ronald Edwin Lane, Weimar


Trina Drotar, Sacramento

She opens a box removed from under the bed where it’s
resided since 1989, brought out once or twice a year to
dust the rose print, not as faded as the curtains in the room
open to the morning sun or the carpet in the room receiving
afternoon light. She removes a pink, floral handkerchief,
still stiff with starch and trimmed with hand-knitted lace,
places it against her cheek, feels the rough cloth, closes it
within her right hand, wadding the pansies and lace into a
bouquet that springs back once unfisted, then folds the cloth
into a three-fold rectangle and places it in a brown paper bag
before removing the next item.


—Patricia A. Pashby, Sacramento

She feels the wetness seeping
through her soft soled slippers
as she carries the remnants
of the holidays to the trash can.

Overhead the heavy clouds dash past
bulging with snow for the mountains.
Behind the deck—a compost pile
of last year's resolutions.


—Taylor Graham, Placerville

Tuesday morning tangible as oatmeal
on the stove. Last night on TV
a hippo browsed nameless greenery
in some far-off world. At this
very moment, somewhere, a girl
waits backstage mumbling tragic line—
will they grow, by years
and repetition, trite?
In another time zone, a woman
cradles an antique pitcher
someone cast aside. On this particular
Tuesday morning, oatmeal’s
brought to boil on last night’s cinders
blown to flame. Look out
the pane at end-of-old-year light.
Isn’t it time to quit
window-shopping life?


—Taylor Graham

When our Earth gets in the Moon’s
way, it can shake a lifeline
loose. I woke up

on the floor with all the walls
shivering. Earthquake.
Someone died. Someone fell

in or out of love. Tonight
the lights and darks line up in their
personal orbits. Clouds

obscure the sky. Such
patterned steps behind veils.
Whose head

is served tomorrow on a
platter? Who
dances with a new love?


—Taylor Graham

We left our coats and rain-boots,
and stuffed verve in our
pockets, or zest – I couldn’t translate
to your language, any more
than the weather we left like reasoned
argument behind. A flight
to sans-souci, to honey-
moon? No marriage, but who hitch-
hikes alone when a kiss is
free as a ride? Somewhere south
a sea was winking. We left
our woolens, slid into bikinis
thin as water rippling
over ancient viaducts. Cautious
travelers may take their
tonic spiked with limey gin
and call it quinine.
For us, the unhygienic bota,
cheap white wine
fountaining into open mouths.
We forgot everything
our mothers ever told us.


—D.R. Wagner, Elk Grove

We had been traveling a long time.
The children were almost grown.
They spent a lot of time away from
Us now and often looked at us curiously.

There was no way to tell them
What happened as they came
To consciousness. There were so
Many events. They had their own
Memories. Perceptions are like winds.

We had finally reached a place where
We could see beyond the mountains.
All was open space that seemed to stretch
Forever. The air itself had changed.
An elation washed over us we had
Arrived. We were no longer tired.

Now, we knew the journey could
No longer be driven by past efforts, be
Directed by past accomplishments or carry
Past hopes. All would be different now.
We did not know how, but we knew it
Implicitly, as part of our breathing.

We would like to have stopped here
For a moment, to understand how weaving
Our lives manifested so many experiences,
How visions might drive, how love becomes
A core of living, even as it changes all our
Definitions of what it might be. How much
We do not know as we persist. We spoke

One to another, quietly, made promises,
Pledged ourselves never to forget all
That had brought us here. At dawn new
Plans began to unfold. We breathed

Upon one another, touching as we did so.
Marveling at this moment; then began the next,
Trusting still, our dreaming, our children, our
Conviction that understanding would come,
Each other, each step, always only a next step.
Each step always aflame with change. Always alive.


Today's LittleNip:

—Sandy Thomas, Sacramento

the box with rabbit ears     illusion
for the white rabbit with pink eyes     real
the reality reminds us
that imagination is inherent 



(My apologies to Sandy Thomas; yesterday's photo of Bill Gainer was taken by her, not Trina Drotar.)

Not just mountains
Into streams

—Photo and Poem by Ronald Edwin Lane

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

The Gutteral Saw

Winter Rose
Photo by D.R. Wagner, Elk Grove

—Muriel Rukeyser

for Nancy Marshall

You are like me born at the end of the year;
When in our city day closes blueness comes
We see a beginning in the ritual end.

Never mind: I know it is never what it seems,
That ending: for we are born, we are born there,
There is an entrance we may always find.

They reckon by the wheel of the year. Our birth’s before.
From the dark birthday to the young year’s first stay
We are the ones who wait and look for ways:

Ways of beginning, ways to be born, ways for
Solvings, turnings, wakings; we are always
A little younger than they think we are.


Renewal: Solvings, Turnings, Wakings: that's our Seed of the Week. The old Make-em-and-Break-em New Year's Resolution thing. Housecleaning. Starting over. Taking the saw to old ways, "ways of beginning, ways to be born," as Rukeyser says. Send your poetic thoughts on Renewal to or P.O. Box 762, Pollock Pines, CA 95726. No deadline on SOWs—or on starting over, either, for that matter...


—Donald Hall

Today they cut down the oak.
Strong men climbed with ropes
in the brittle tree.
The exhaust of a gasoline saw
was blue in the branches.

It is February. The oak has been dead a year.
I remember the great sails of its branches
rolling out greenly, a hundred and twenty feet up,
and acorns thick on the lawn.
Nine cities of squirrels lived in that tree.
Today they run over the snow
squeaking their lamentation.

Yet I was happy that it was coming down.
“Let it come down!” I kept saying to myself
with a joy that was strange to me.
Though the oak was the shade of old summers,
I loved the gutteral saw.


—Richard Wilbur

Now winter downs the dying of the year,
And night is all a settlement of snow;
From the soft street the rooms of houses show
A gathered light, a shapen atmosphere,
Like frozen-over lakes whose ice is thin
And still allows some stirring down within.

I’ve known the wind by water banks to shake
The late leaves down, which frozen where they fell
And held in ice as dancers in a spell
Fluttered all winter long into a lake;
Graved on the dark in gestures of descent,
They seemed their own most perfect monument.

There was perfection in the death of ferns
Which laid their fragile cheeks against the stone
A million years. Great mammoths overthrown
Composedly have made their long sojourns,
Like palaces of patience, in the grey
and changeless lands of ice. And at Pompeii

The little dog lay curled and did not rise
But slept the deeper as the ashes rose
And found the people incomplete, and froze
The random hands, the loose unready eyes
Of men expecting yet another sun
To do the shapely thing they had not done.

These sudden ends of time must give us pause.
We fray into the future, rarely wrought
Save in the tapestries of afterthought.
More time, more time. Barrages of applause
Come muffled from a buried radio.
The New-year bells are wrangling with the snow.


Today's LittleNip: 

His life was the practice of forming a single sentence which, as he grew older, he tried to simplify, reduce its compound-complex structure into one statement ruled by the single, inviolate pronoun within which he attempted to live, always engaged in revision and the act of becoming; as the distilled statement gradually became a fleeting inquiry, a mild interrogative that he repeated and refined, making it increasingly concise, almost, at his conclusion, producing no more than a single sound, not quite a word, less than a cry, which his death erased leaving the question mark hanging in the air, like a broken halo, emblem of his birth, evolution and release: a full life.

—Stephen Dobyns



Bill Gainer reads at Natsoulas Gallery, 2010
Photo by Trina Drotar, Sacramento

Monday, December 27, 2010

Bitter Chocolate

Red Berries
Photo by D.R. Wagner, Elk Grove

—Anthony Buccino, Nutley, NJ

I was trying to figure a way
to ask her how she could be so beautiful
and so nice
but everybody knows
I could never say that
not to someone so beautiful
and nice as she

So, I thought I’d ask her
about that famous Tiger guy
he’s been hogging the news lately
How does she feel about
old married men
running around with beautiful women.
(Notice, I don’t tell you what
she’d say.)
That could be the lowered drawbridge
over the moat to her heart
(Pretty girls like that kind of talk, and
nice girls will say they like that kind of talk.)
don’t you see
and she would look at me
and we’d go off to happily
ever-after land.
But everybody knows
I could never ask that
not to someone as beautiful
and nice as she.


—Anthony Buccino

I never thought a TV commercial
could make me lose my lunch
instead of going out to buy one.
But those stupid spaghetti ads
that ran every day on TV
Wednesday or not were enough
to make me hate my name.

For every Bill who became a Willie Wonka
for every Chuck who became a Charles Brown
for every Homer who was a doofus
and for every Herb who ain't "that herb",
it’s time now for us to pull the plug.
So many times I wished I was a Tony
but that had been squared away long before.
For now and ever after,
I’m Anthony through and through,
and all the more it makes me hate the Prince.

I know that little kid who ran through Boston
neighborhoods like a flash in the pan
is all grown up and went to college
on royalties from that commercial
but never, ever, say to me,
“Anthony, it’s Prince spaghetti day!”


—Anthony Buccino

Unfamiliar with words and how to stack them
One upon the other in long strings that make sense
She asks me how to write a poem
And I’m thinking it’s so easily done
You just put your pen to the paper and let it go
Isn’t it that way it works for everyone?
Poets just hold the pen. The pen adds the words
Wild, strange, familiar, foreign, they all
Flow into the lines to make a point.
How hard can it be to write a poem?

If you’ve never written a poem before
It’s just a matter of settling down somewhere
Where your mind can send the word pictures to your paper
Then another line comes and then another
And when you get to the end of the poem
Somehow you’ll know that’s where you are.


—Anthony Buccino

She tells me how I’m driving
Tells me my speed, and how long
It will take until we get where we’re going.
She tells me when to stay right
Or bear left one point seven miles,
Then bear right to the highway.
She always knows where I am
But she never listens to me.
No, I’m not talking about my lovely wife
Who does much of the same
Things to help me along,
Reading directions aloud,
Following an unfurled road map.
No this new lady
with her disembodied voice
Speaks to me from the dashboard
Where her suction cup
hugs the steamy windshield.
While I drive, she shows a blue car
Fluttering along the road and ahead
Before I can see it, she shows me
Curves and hidden side streets, too.
All the while she is telling
Me the temperature
My speed and how long
Til we get where I’m going.

When we turn off Main Street
to these convent woods
She senses that the road
has ended and
The blue icon of my car
is now floating along
Without a road below,
floating as if on a cloud
Into the heavenly sanctuary
Of St. Marguerite’s Retreat House.

Then I’ll pluck her from the safety
Of the bracket that stays with the glass
And slip her in my back pocket
Until it’s time to hit the road again.


—Anthony Buccino

For a moment, I thought of that picture
we've all seen of an old woman sitting
and looking out a window at the street below.
For a moment, I wondered what it was
she was thinking behind what photographed as a stare:
of her life lived, what she enjoyed, the life missed,
or the cat tail under the rocker leg on which she rocked?
Did she live alone, spend days at the window,
nights in front of an old black and white TV waiting,
once again, for the sound of her children playing,
fighting and yelps of joy when dad arrives?
Did she live vicariously through the view
of people passing by in routine lives
of the hours when school children pass,
or the same people who wait each day for the bus,
and who-parked-where these days?
The moment passed and I went on my way,
forgetting the imaginary woman
at the imaginary window,
no longer caring if she watches for me,
or what happens in her life or with her family,
if any, or who visits and brings her cookies.
As quickly as I thought of her,
I boarded my bus and rode away.


 Feral Cat Watches
Photo by Robin Gale Odam

—Robin Gale Odam, Sacramento

Sipping hot tea morning after
Christmas, reading stories from
the Moon ... what happens next?
Dog’s tail wags.
Feral cat watches.
Wet leaves cling to feet.
Church body gathers holy words.
Collection plate holds coins.
Choir sings Hallelujah and Amen.
Saints go home for Manna.
Diamond light opens the sky.
We all wonder.

(This poem is a response to Carol Louise Moon's poems
posted on Medusa yesterday.)


—Robin Gale Odam

Christmas trees gathered on the
cold lot, silent company to the man in the
flannel shirt and suspenders huddled over
propane heat, face chapped from winter.

He had lovingly counted them and unwound
the brown twine and adjusted their beautiful
branches and dreamed for them of the
children sipping sweetness and hanging shiny
globes and tinsel, and singing.

They were still here, on this cold lot, on
Christmas Eve. He had seen the hollow eyes
and thin pockets as the shoppers had
stopped by, just looking.


—Robin Gale Odam

Found my list.
Remember to
Be charming
Get healthy.
Don’t lie
or manipulate.
Be virtuous
and good.
Find strength
and trust.
Don’t look over your
or give in to
Black pepper
Bitter chocolate


Today's LittleNip:

If you could change one thing about your life, what would it be?



Wooden Fish
Photo by D.R. Wagner

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Between The Fish & The Moon

Photo by Carl Bernard Schwartz, Sacramento

—Carol Louise Moon, Sacramento

A large green lung perched
on tree bark tells a story
likened to a fairy tale.

A dog sleeps in the sand
next to several ladders. A tree
grows a beard 9 feet long.
Twelve British soldiers with
twelve cracked shields stand by,
with twelve empty pyxie cups.

Manna from heaven, in time
to be eaten Christmas morning:
raindeer moss.


—Carol Louise Moon

Startled by a rainbow barn owl
She almost lost grip of
Splintered rafters in the old
Storm-worn barn. Knowing that
Shrieking doesn’t help, Carol Louise
Simply groaned a cow-lowing groan and
Stared down the owl until sunrise.

Carol Louise Moon: Self-Portrait


—Carol Louise Moon

And the two pigs ran to their brother’s house…
And what do you think happened next?
There’s the brick house. Where’s the wolf?
Let’s turn the page. Oh, the page is missing.
Well, you tell me. What happens next?

Let’s start another story. This one looks
good. What happens here? The duck waddles
across the grass. And, what happens next?

Do you want to turn the page?
Look a horse. Where’s the rider?
What do you think happens next?
…a beautiful black horse with reins.

So…what happens next? Let’s turn the
page. Okay, I’ll turn the page. Let’s see
what happens next.


—Carol Louise Moon

My eyes droop a shadow
into a curious sunbeam
on this vacant kitchen floor.
My sigh is unrecognizable to you,
as is this new place to me.
I yawn to shut my ears. Have all
the hours stretched out long
since leaving yard and house?

The smell of onion and parsley
has not yet descended.
Where is the gravy of your
sweet conversation? the salt
of your command? …why
have all the cats forsaken us?

This cold floor is not the retirement
of which you often speak in quick yaps.
Work, you say, is where you must be.
I say, this loneliness of work
does not work for me.

Lying motionless waiting to play—
I suppose I practice
playing dead.



in his dementia looks down,
and seeing the tiny carpet people below,
declares that they are all too busy to notice
his face looming large above them.

Not an elephant in the room, but rather a
flaky-skinned cherub with large green eyes,
I name him “All-My-Own-and-Beyond.”

Later in the dreary afternoon, after he has
rolled himself off his couch, I cover him
with a tapestry of Christmas elves and
leave him nestled among the many tiny
carpet people.

—Carol Louise Moon


—Photo and Poem by
Ronald Edwin Lane, Weimar

See how they gleam
Strand after strand
White, red … blue and green
Diamonds are sparkling
Millions of di-a-monds
Trillions of di-a-monds
Lined up in skeins
Formed into threads
Balanced on blades
Made into Necklaces
Lining the webs

Ting, tong, ting, tong
That is their song

Ring ding-a-ling
Diamonds are fa-all-ing
They’re everywhere
Hung in the air
Touched by the sun
Brushed by the light
Ring ding-a-ling
The source of life
Diamonds sing

A very, very precious element
A very, very precious element

See how they gleam
See how slip
See how they drip
Diamonds are fa-all-ing
Diamonds in rivulets
Diamonds in streams
Oceans of di-a-monds
Diamonds are everywhere
Ting, tong, ting, tong
Diamonds in the air

A very, very precious element
A very, very precious element

Clouds of di-a-monds
See how they gleam
Touched by the sun
Ring ding-a-ling
See how they rain
See how they snow
Ting, tong, ting, tong

Behold the diamond rainbows
Behold the diamond rainbows

Ting ting-a-ling
Ring ding-a-ling
See them gleam


Today's LittleNip: 

We are the night ocean filled
with glints of light. We are the space
between the fish and the moon,
while we sit here together.

—Rumi (trans. by Coleman Barks)



Photo by Bob Dreizler, Sacramento
(Yes, that's Swiss chard)

Saturday, December 25, 2010

A Day to See Beyond the World

Photo by Katy Brown, Davis

—Ray Hadley, South Lake Tahoe

There’s not much out here
in the desert of eastern Nevada,
sage brush and the plane geometry
of a small town of the horizon.

Ice sets up on the reservoir like frosting
on a stale cake. The moon, painted
on the wooden background
of a shooting gallery, sinks into the tules.
The ducks are quiet on their metal chains.

A coyote with glowing eyes looks at us
as if he were peering into the bedroom
checking up on his sleeping children.

There’s not much out there, but for now
it’s more than enough.
Cars pass through. There’s a light on
in the liquor store, but the store is closed.
There are two churches on big lawns bathed
in yellow light blinking from a wire hung
in the middle of the intersection.

There are two softly lit crèches which seem
to be in competition with one another (the inn’s
full and now all the barns); two Protestant
denominations who had a big fight a hundred
years ago. Now no one remembers
what it was all about.

“Merry Christmas to All” says the sign strung
across the street. The wind that sends
it rattling also brings dust-devils to the door
of the dark pharmacy and to the row
of empty cafes.

We look both ways, and glide carefully through
the intersection.


—William Bronk

They have the flamboyance of tulips or other big
blossoms,—lilacs maybe, whose massiveness,
observed close by, breaks up in complex
fretworks of joy, compounded, proud,
beautiful in its abundance, filling the air.

So, in this brassy music, massive joy
downed no more than the flowers by the sinking times,
the terrible world where hollow catastrophe
hangs wherever. The shouting brass shouts
“but nevertheless”, the nevertheless of joy.

The nevertheless, the yet. The truth is all
the numbers to be added but not, in the end, their sum.
How almost like the beasts, with only barks
and cries we are, so tangent is any speech
to all we know. What opposites are true!


—William Bronk

Decembers, the little deaths of dark pool down.
Intricate, bare branches blot in the black.
Warning: Darkness Approaching. The unknowing dark,
the unknown. We see the warning. We see, we see.

And much that other months have seen, or more
not seen, desired but never seen
could please us to let the lights be off:
if darkness is coming, let the darkness be.

We think of mirages, unreal images,
of all the world’s walls as looking glass
opaquely repeating our looking always, and the glass
sun blinding our eyes. How can we see?

What can we see? Blinded, how close we come
inside the cage of light, to that blind state
which answers only “darkness” to the dark.
Dazzled. Dizzied. Not even deaths or deep

disasters, not pleasures face to face
have shape, seem real. They happen merely, they
are there. And dark as an alternate seems good.
And yet, not yet. Before the final night

to see again and more, a shape outside,
or a world beyond our world which holds our world,
as music, we know, has seen in certain lines
that are and are again. There is that world.



Wishing you a happy holiday season—
and a peaceful new year—
from Rattlesnake Press!

Friday, December 24, 2010

An Embarrassment of Riches

—Photo by Robin Gale Odam

—Robin Gale Odam, Sacramento

Tucked gently into gold tissue in the red box,
China doll in satin hat, ornately dressed,
awaiting Christmas Day.

I read about her today in Mama’s poem.

I bought her for Mama eight years ago but
she caught my daughter’s gaze so my
heart was torn and I gave her away and she
sat on the shelf among my daughter’s
treasures until time gave her back
to me.

I love her.

Her name is Caprice and I believe she has a
twin in Mama’s mirror.


—Michael Cluff, Highland, CA

All the finals are complete
grades put to bed
faculty, staff, administrators and students
all feel half dead.

Dr. Davis dreams
of sugar plums and accreditation
Dr. Dieckmeyer of SLOs
Curt Mitchell has nightmares about Barstow's inflation.

Assessment follows Sheryl Tschetter around
career shifts are on Dr. Farrar's mind
Dr. Crasnow worries over SB 1440
me the best cup of hot mulled wine.

Arend Flick ponders faculty development
Peter Boelman-Lopez curriculum matters
Drs. Pavlis, Zwart and Makin their on-lines sites
Monica Gutierrez dreads it when a petri dish shatters.

Chuck Sternburg wishes for a Stratocaster
Andy Robles and Keith Coleman a Fender bass
Karin Skiba a digital palette
and Dr. Freitas the secret of an atom's inner space.

Dina Humble hopes
for a world tour for the choir
Jefferson Tiangco prays for
more hook-ups into the internet's wires.

I watch the swans float by
listen for a Christmas angel's sigh
enjoy hot mulled wine in my Moreno Valley cup
on that note, I better shut up.


—Ann Wehrman, Sacramento

It had gotten to be pretty late,
but on acid, one doesn’t notice the time.

I’d taken that hit of windowpane
that I’d brought with me from school.
I had all night
to listen to the new Dead album
under the Christmas tree,
its tiny, twinkling multicolored lights prisming overhead
and the pungent living smell of sap and needles
filling my nostrils and the darkened living room.

I sat, sketched, dreamed
the world and beyond,
then Mom walked into the room,
smiling like a witch,
strong, olive-skinned face closed off
by thick, silver-threaded hair,

I couldn’t sleep; are you OK?
Sure Mom.
Well, OK…

Did she notice I was tripping out of my mind?
Back then, we both had our secrets.


Photo by Michelle Kunert, Sacramento

—Ann Wehrman

alone in my rented room,
CD from a breakfast cereal box
playing “Ave Maria” in syncopation,

I fold my black satin camisole,
pack my music and flute for
tonight’s performance,
feeling your regret, I ask,

give me, this Christmas,
your passion,
your continued presence in my life
if only from afar—
as I give you mine.


—Ann Wehrman

An ink-stained cloth rests on the tabletop,
itself a functional and foldout style,
with matching metal chair, and for my feet
the cardboard box in which my TV came.
My room, quite adequate, seems cozier
since the addition of a new love seat,
a present from the brash young man upstairs,
who, when we met, said, “Come up for a drink.”
He must have thought it weird that I said no,
the days of dry old maids being long past.

Still, when his plumbing leaked into my bath,
and looking in, he saw an empty house,
his generosity beat my reserve.
I fretted over what his gift might cost—
“Woman raped in her home,” the TV blares—
yet, when it came, all pink and forest green,
I took the chance and thanked him very much,
and evenings now, I sink into its warmth.
Although too short to sleep on all night long,
the love seat makes night easier to bear,
before I spread my pallet on the floor.


—Patricia Hickerson, Davis

it’s snowing
icy Manhattan night on Lexington
lights sparkle
snow crackles
then she’s inside at the glove bin
seeking a new pair
none seem right

standing there with Don
it’s his Xmas gift
a pair of black suede gloves
from Bloomingdale’s
she’s been looking for them
she keeps trying them on

these almost fit these don’t at all
try one pair, then another
so many gloves
black suede gloves
long short loose tight
Don stands waiting
she can’t decide
maybe she’ll just get a new boyfriend

maybe she’ll walk out of Bloomie’s
into that dwindling night before Xmas

Don, nowhere guy in bed
no matter how hard she tries
gloves don’t fit
he’s going away for a few days
wants to see his mom in Florida for Xmas
maybe these will fit

he’ll send a wire
no money from mom to finance them
“have to postpone our wedding plans”
she’ll have to keep looking


Crataegus monogyna ‘Biflora’
—Taylor Graham, Placerville

Joseph of Arimathea, they say, made his way
from the Holy Land to England; sat down on Weary-
All Hill and stuck his thorn-staff in the ground.

It rooted on the spot, and flowered, offshoot of a dead
branch. Here it blossoms not once, but twice a year,
May and Christmastide. Biflora, double-blooming

hawthorn, species alien to Britain, where the native
thorn blooms but once a year. At Glastonbury Abbey,
its offspring overlooks the grave of Arthur—but

wait—didn’t he sail, instead, to Avalon’s Evermore—
Ynys Avallach, the Celtic Apple-Land. Apple,
hawthorn’s sister. How legend blossoms, one lovely

conceit after another. Why shouldn’t a Connecticut
Yankee become the English Appleseed, planting
Joseph’s staff; restoring hawthorn hedges

which Man’s Agro-Economy cuts down? Imagine!
Glastonbury Thorn bright-blossoming
its legend all over Britain in the bleak mid-winter.


 Photo by Katy Brown, Davis

—Taylor Graham

Christmas Eve. She vacuumed every corner,
every spider web. No matter
if Sierra Domes (our mountain Daddy-longlegs)
count as family any other time of year.

They’ll find new crannies, weave
new webs. The tree—two spindling cedars
thinned from thicket, tied together
at the trunk, festooned with blue glass balls.

Do spiders dream of heaven laced with
constellations in their webs?
Can a tiny spider not sleep for joy on Christmas
Eve? Eight-leg tiptoe down banister

to gaze at the tree. Ascend a candy-cane,
explore brachts and crofts of a transfigured
world, this living ~ room.
No evidence but silk spun in the dark.

Christmas morning lights a strung-
together cedar tree suddenly webbed with
golden filament—angels’
hair-nets spider-woven candle-shine.


Today's LittleNip: 


is to have more to share.

More knowledge,
more memory,
more charm,
more fun.

More of the things
that grow even larger
inside of you when they
are given away to others.

—Carl Bernard Schwartz, Sacramento



 Photo by D.R. Wagner, Elk Grove

Thursday, December 23, 2010

We Can Sing, Maybe

Photo by Michelle Kunert, Sacramento

—Robin Gale Odam, Sacramento

Want...deeply planted seeds...fragile memories...

All I want is a little time, some solitude,
peace and quiet...last-minute me bustling off to the

Billowing black clouds above Bel Air Market,
Christmas painted on the windows, shelves of
candy canes and stuffing mix and isles of
people with no eyes, they move like snakes.

I want Christmas like when I was little and
Mama and Daddy took us downtown to walk
in the misty air and see our reflections in the
windows full of Christmas elves making wonderful
toys and the beautiful no-expense-spared display at
Breuner’s and rustic scenes of shameless nativity.
Everyone said Merry Christmas and Happy
New Year, not happy holidays.

We played pick-up-sticks and jacks on the black
and white checkered kitchen floor and smelled dinner that
would be ready in about thirty minutes and after dishes we
rode on the strong back of our horse named Daddy as he
whinnied and reared and dared us to fall off to be
tortured with his tickling and rough play and Mama
changed the lighting and put on soothing music.

Daddy sang “Oh Christmas Tree” and we admired it and
inspected the beautiful presents and brushed our
teeth and stood over the floor furnace so its rush of
heat could billow the beautiful new nightgowns that
Mama had sewn and then ran to bed quickly so as
not to lose the warm air.

Mama wanted a little time and solitude. To think and to
write. And to plant little seeds of memories.


—Joyce Odam, Sacramento

Am I a child now,
wanting toys?

I look at dolls on shelves.
I wish for China clowns
in satin hats,
ornately dressed.

I stare at mobiles
and touch at bells
and wind-chimes when I pass.

(First published in No Name Newsletter for Poets,
formerly Poets Forum Magazine)


—Joyce Odam

I want bead curtains to hang in my doorway
like those in old movies, tinkling softly
when someone brushes through.

(First published in Brevities, 2009)


—Joyce Odam

I wanted to
write you a poem,
but all I could say
was love.
I celebrate you.

I wanted to say
happy birthday
in a special way,
but all I could
think of was
you are
a happiness to me.
And I celebrate you.

(First published in Quoin)


—Joyce Odam

To see something you want to share,
and nobody there—

no one to prove your finding,
no one to help carry the memory
grown sharp or dim
as the years dilute—

how can anyone carry this alone?


—Joyce Odam

I reel
to your presence.

You are a long sorrow
lengthening even as I
mention this.

You are spreading
over my entirety.
I am helpless under your

You have such a wide
cold and forever.

How come I nuzzle
against you and weep
like a lost child
to a lost mother?


—Joyce Odam

You are the white island I see in the dream—
the dot in the distance—the sea calm,

white breakers
striking the beach with no sound.

I want to go there, but distance always
recedes—pulling farther away.

Then sea birds cry
and I waken.


—Joyce Odam
(Unconditional Love—Sarah Descallar)

Hope wears a blindfold so you can grope
toward the brightness of your desire.

It is the only way to earn what you want.
It is its own guarded secret.

It will tell you, and tell you to follow—
follow. And you will follow

and not stumble,
though there are pitfalls everywhere.

Your heart is pure and your
want is sacred.

You will never fail yourself,
and someday hope may reward you.


Today's LittleNip:

—Joyce Odam

What can we do
when all those songs
hurt in us
and want to live…

we can sing, maybe.



 Photo by Katy Brown, Davis

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Flashes of Common Light

Photo by Michelle Kunert, Sacramento

—Taylor Graham, Placerville

All night in my sleep I’ll be listening
for tiny hoof-beats on the roof,
woosh of flight through the dark—rain
washing everything clean,
absolution carrying hill to creek
with visions of ocean opening; sky
to rain; a rush of wind like hawk-
wings. I’ll wake up hungry
as rain-tooth for soil, red-tail
for mouse, the world still working
in spite of holiday. Dawn
a surprise down every chimney.


—Taylor Graham

Misty windows turn, by a certain
low-slung angle of December light,
to stained glass. A flash
of that brief light silvers the door-
step, invites me out.

I will not regret the big-show
item I missed, lunar eclipse compact
with solstice, somewhere
high above the clouds that mist
my vision. I’ve got these

flashes of common light.


—Tom Goff, Carmichael

The kildeer silence
their nightwheeling skirl.


Salomé’s platter, silver
still red where John’s
neck last brushed.


Did Mars break orbit?
Red, carnelian red;
white, ice white.


Out the front door for each
glimpse of eclipse, then back
inside quick! Neck stalks twisted,
faces moonglazed.

Time-lapse cameras, our eyes
click out rust moon vistas, one phase
at a time. Each return to gazing station,
stars brighten one power. Our ears
Jutland cold, Lapland cold.


Sharp are our edges.
We have been monitoring
the crystal radiances
of eons. We observe
no ethers, no phlogistons.


—Carl Bernard Schwartz, Sacramento

Today is mostly cloudy
with a chance of rain tonight.
Those clouds are looking rowdy,
always ready for a fight.

Will we also get loud thunder
and lightning ‘cross the sky?
Meteorologists sometimes blunder,
and later explain just why.

I’m going to dress for clouds today
in reliance on the forecast,
but if rain should fall across my way
my umbrella is ready super fast.


—Robin Gale Odam, Sacramento

Found myself breathing words.

Simple words.
Incomplete thoughts.


Yes, the deep well.
Watery phrases.
Dark memories.
Old heartbeat.


Yes, emerge.
Rise and breathe.
And hear them.
Timeless words.

Our Father...


Today's LittleNip:

—Robin Gale Odam

Suffering the holy fall,
the seven dying tears,
the heart beating
in the bitter chord,
somewhere lay
a sacred nest
and within, an image
of lips forming around
one eternal sound
that would heal.


—Medusa (with thanks to today's contributors. Robin Gale Odam is Joyce Odam's daughter; welcome to the Kitchen, Robin!)

Photo by D.R. Wagner, Elk Grove

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

O Res Merabilis!

Solstice Tree (at the Capitol)
—Photo by Katy Brown

At midnight on Dec. 21st a red moon,
the last being 1638 the same night
One can only imagine
some guy in England in 1638
committing adultery while in his bedroom
trying to warm his lover with charming words
repeating to her words he heard from John Donne
but pretending as if they are his own
Then he sees the moon shining into his window—
Horrified at its color he suddenly leaves her
and goes into the dark cold, screaming
without taking his cloak to cover his nakedness
Bowing down to bury his face in the snow
saying "Oh no my God—
It’s a punishment, for I have sinned against my Lord
with my conversion to becoming Protestant!"
believing that Revelation's judgement day had come
where it says the moon turned the shade of blood
Meanwhile the Muslim world,
not surprisingly, probably had a violent war break out
thinking it’s a sign that Allah was mad…

—Michelle Kunert, Sacramento


—D.R. Wagner, Elk Grove

The rain is talking to the back door.
“Pat, pat, pat”, it says, not even listening to itself.
You are coming down the wind, naming
The clouds as you do. The sidewalks reflect
Your footsteps, “pat, pat, pat”, like an old
French song fashioned of late summer and
A piano in a room overlooking the Mediterranean.

Under the leaves of the trees birds huddle
Remarking at how much you look like the rain.
Their badinage is marvelous. They have eighty
Three different tones for describing the way rain
Looks as it falls upon water, the sea, ponds, lakes,
The rivers, brooks. There is not one that describes
Your coming down the wind. They explode in
Welters of birdsong and squabbling.

All day the sun has refused to look through
The clouds. It had decided to leave the day to
Ducks, swans and the dreams of fish gazing
Toward the sky at the spreading circles of the raindrops,
As if they were a ceiling of water kissing water.
Now it has heard you upon the wind and looks
Through the trees. For a moment the air is draped
In diamonds. They cover you as you roll across
The back of the wind. The air itself inhales.

The rain listens to itself, searching madly for
A language, “Pat, pat, pat”, it says, “Look
Past the wind, look past the wind.” I do.


—D.R. Wagner

Two stars caught between
The bottom of the mainsail
And the horizon have begun
To assert their importance.

By following these particular
Refugees from an ancient
Explosion it becomes possible
To find a way to proceed
Through this night, perhaps
Find land, a harbor, food,

Come to understanding something
Never before considered; a music
Unheard previously, filled with
Great sighing and an exquisite
Longing the soul recognizes
As an ancient companion long
Forgotten. Such things as this,

Holding this course, tacking
Back and forth across trackless
Spaces, binding all these poor
Stars, I may even hear your sweet
Voice again in my ears telling me
To trust in this kind of judgment,
Bidding me continue, making even
The shortest of journeys a marvelous
Thing. Walking to the bedroom,

Seeing these two stars outside
The bathroom window, brushing
My teeth, navigating my way to your
Side, anxious to tell you everything.


—D.R. Wagner

Where there is no turning back, where one slip
And the road turns to yellow mud and slides one
Down over the bank into an even yellower creek
That would have no business on the side of any
Road had it not been for this turn of weather.

One is always putting oneself just over the edge
Where there is no sure footing, where what we know
Is not given and where there is no safety but the stars
To give us vistas that one can only obtain by daring
To walk to where they are and further to gaze from
Such privileged heights back toward the poor earth

With its blues and whites and lovely shadows,
Claiming them as our own ideas, as our own
Way of doing things like reaching out our hands,
Placing them around a shoulder or taking another’s
Hand in ours and pretending to be brave until
We actually become so for a few moments.

Oftentimes I do not have the ability to speak of my
Feelings or find myself too much in awe of the distances
The heart can make as our will propels us from moment
To moment and I find myself willing, even eager to find
The cliff edge, the small unknowns that crowd the day.

I force myself upon them as the sailor upon an unknown
Sea, watch those mounting waves surround me and fill
With fears I had not imagined until I found myself in this
Place, at the door about to step into the darkness,
Unable to see past my own step yet willing to risk
It all just to be here, just to try to speak to you,
Just to try to wear the truth as if it were a garment
I had made of fine thoughts, all of them about the world.


—D.R. Wagner

The hour of the Angelus.
The shortest day of the year.
The room all but deserted
But for the figure resting
On the bed, not on light depending.

Hail Mary. The grace of sleep
Through her fine bones
Lift her to vision.
Elizabeth in the next room
Hears nothing, but the soft light
Has a music to it.

Be it done unto me according
To Thy word. The language of flowers.
The angel may or may not have
Beautiful wings, may or may not
Be genuflecting next to Mary,
May or may not be whispering,
May or may not be a dreaming,
But the soft light has a music to it.

O res merabilis! Unaque poscimus
Sic nos tu visita, ad lucem quam inhabitas.*

What wonder! We beg of you
That you visit us, the light in which you dwell.)


Today's LittleNip:

From today, the nights grow colder—
I sew my tattered robe,
The autumn insects cry.

—Ryokan (trans. from the Japanese by John Stevens)



Our Seed of the Week is All I Want For Christmas...

 Solstice Moon
—Photo by Katy Brown

Monday, December 20, 2010

A Festival of Rain

Photo by Katy Brown, Davis

—Taylor Graham, Placerville

It rained all night on top of rain.
New winter grass can’t hold
it by the root anymore.
All last summer’s leavings
and the dregs of fall—dry
thistle, buckeye seeds
with their pale
curved fingerings into soil—
have plugged the culverts.
Driveway’s flooded.

From the current we pulled
twigs, mud, boughs;
then walked upcreek, skirting
stairsteps that were dry
all summer; churning
brown over rocks, leaping—
as the dog does, giddy
with wet joy, shaking water
from his coat like the
creek running wild.


—Bob Stanley, Sacramento

I picked this one up at PoetryMart.
They had sonnets stacked to the ceiling
and women in aprons offering samples of villanelles.
I grabbed full cases of free verse from a forklift going by;
filled my rolling flatbed with formal pieces—ghazals, triolets, you
name it.

This poem, for instance, was part of a four-pack assortment:
one humorous piece, one political diatribe, a love poem and a
reverie written
at the edge of a garden. The package promised “a quartet
perfect for the
salons Apollinaire held alongside the Rive Gauche.” All for less
than what I used
to pay for a single sestina I couldn’t even make sense of!

I know! PoetryMart! It’s like discovering that exclamation points
are the answer to writing! I used to think poems
from chain stores would employ indifferent line-
breaks, but these fit right into my collection, with images clear
bright, like a thousand-piece jigsaw puzzle of a picture of
fireworks on the fourth of July.



stood ahead of me
in the check-out line at Happy Donuts.
She was drop-dead gorgeous,
breath-taking, tall and willowy.
Her classy carriage was dressed like
professional casual Friday.
Her voice flowed like hot honey
as she paid for four hazelnut decafs,
two glazed and two chocolate donuts.

I placed my order with a flour-
smeared, bearded guy sporting
a beer belly. Two guys
ahead of me moved away to pour
their coffee and to get an eye-full
of this model-on-a-coffee-run.

Then she turned quickly toward me
with a half smile that added to
global warming, set her tray
on the counter, and with a big-eyed
flourish, she swept me into an embrace—
well, actually it was a teepee hug—
whispered my name.

We chatted briefly about the good old days
when we worked together before I retired.
She now works for the insurance company
around the corner and, she cooed, we must lunch
sometime soon. I held my own in social chatter
straining to remember who, when, where—
A quick air kiss over the shoulder
and she was gone, leaving a trail
of perfume and hazelnut coffee.

I decided never to look her up,
to just let that lovely moment linger.
Although, I’ve since eaten often at Happy Donuts.

—Dewell H. Byrd, Central Point, OR


—Jane Blue, Sacramento

We went over an old bridge on the train
and workmen flattened themselves against the side.
I think of healing as growing up and forgetting
but even the memories of my ancestors haunt me.
Eggs crack open, infinitesimal plants go to seed
in the dust. When will he come, over the hills
and through the oaks? I make a sachet.
I make an orange stuck with cloves. Certainly
I can move forward even into the wind
into the future. Will we ever hang laundry
out in the yard again? Memories are like
mummies in ice floes, they crumble
as soon as they’re discovered.
I never wanted them to throw me up in the air
and catch me, my uncles, but I had
no voice, like some fen creature.
My father was the man in the moon. Whatever
was unexplained was what I thought I knew.
Crevices in the garden where a child could fall
and come out the other side, into Australia
where kangaroos hop-hopped
with their little hands held high. The cormorant
in China with a ring around its neck
couldn’t swallow, so brought the fish back
in its mouth, and we all cheered, parents and children
alike. We all felt that way, cuffed at the throat
unable to say whatever it was we were thinking.

(First published in Blaze, 2003, then in Jane's chapbook,  The Persistence of Vision, Poet's Corner Press, 2003)


—Jane Blue

The soil was almost black and tangled trees
beside the driveway cast dark shadows.
Sometimes fog covered everything as well.
My grandmother planted forget-me-nots there
that shone with a transitory, sky-blue incandescence
to keep her husband’s memory alive.
I’m the only one who remembers now.
The wolf-child, the changeling, the little animal
with no morals that they watched
for me to become. Now, even the crows
do not accept me, sometimes following me
down the street from tree to tree, haranguing.
I don’t mind. I understand.
If you could go up to their nests in cottonwoods
similar to the bunches of mistletoe beside them
(with little white flowers and intensely
parasitic natures) you might find the things
you’ve been looking for—your keys
or your bank card. I believe the sun shines
the reverse of what we think: a hole in the sky
through which light drains. I feel
from my frostbitten toes, and seem to love
the little things that come apart in the rain.
Hyacinths or snails or ants. Bougainvillea
and quince are much too bright, like foxes
glinting in the snow. I gather
my yellow canary to my breast and go
down in the mines. I plant my own garden.
Daffodils and tulips walk around in it.
You can see where their heels dig into the mud.
The old ones pretend they are children
and do these things in the night. Then robins
suddenly appear, splashing around and singing
insanely. I don’t think they count the seasons
quite the same as we do.

(First published in The Persistence of Vision, 2003)


Today's LittleNip: 

Of course the festival of rain cannot be stopped, even in the city. The woman from the delicatessen scampers along the sidewalk with a newspaper over her head. The streets, suddenly washed, become transparent and alive, and the noise of traffic becomes a plashing of fountains. One would think that the urban man in a rainstorm would have to take account of nature in its wetness and freshness, its baptism and its renewal.

—Thomas Merton 


—Medusa (with thanks for the rain and for today's contributors)

Rainy Window
—Photo by Katy Brown