Tuesday, January 31, 2012

This Cold Wind

Two Textures
—Photo by Joyce Odam

—Joyce Odam, Sacramento

this cold wind
lost on
my landscape
of one thin tree
in patient suffering

this cold wind
bringing nothing I can use,
except its cold,
disturbed hues of
its own howling,
except the force
of its own direction,
with nothing to hold it
but this bent tree . . .

let it go . . .
let it have its say
and go . . .
it is not up to me

(first pub. in Poets On: Coping, 1995)


(After "Sun Setting at Cannon Beach"
by Ursula K. LeGuin)
—Joyce Odam

you in your sky, becoming the sunset that I watch,
becoming the breezes that touch my face,
becoming the echo that follows the lone bird cry
becoming the motionless glide of its wing—
you, in your manuscript sky—taking up all of it . . .


—Joyce Odam

The wind blows color here,
red trees and gold,
the dying green and brown,
the brilliance of the air.

And it brings sounds:
sharper bird-song,
rustlings…      moanings…
something in the trees.

Wind’s voice—
I’ve heard
that voice before,
outside my window—

howling corners
of the house—
even in the silences
that build
to something there.


(after Franz Marc:
"Woman in the Wind by the Sea", 1907)
—Joyce Odam

The woman in the green coat
wrestles with her hat
and balance—
forcing her way
through the storm.
The winds
conspire to torment.
The blue sea gathers
more force
against the shore.
She struggles so—
her arms in a flail
—tearing at the air,
howling into the howling—
as if some fight she fights
would have it out with her.


—Joyce Odam

Strangely sensual without the body,
flattened into pure shining texture
for the observing room light—
her kimono—lying open on the bed.


In the late summer woods, a leaf has fallen
into a shaft of sunlight and lies, softly
shining there—its edges lifted by
the occasional small breezes . . .


(after “The trees in the garden” 
by Stephen Crane)
—Joyce Odam

There was a rain of blossoms
and web floated on the air;
the day’s breezes were gentle
and a great sighing was felt.

Sermons waited in cleared throats
of those who were on the verge
of finding what was unfindable—
only felt—by the lost and found alike.

All this was mentioned
by the misery of the loveless
who groped for what was ever gone
at their reaching.

Oh, good day of chance
and failure—
must I continue,        and continue,
and continue?


Thanks to Joycey for whipping up the wind, our Seed of the Week, for our Tuesday breakfast! Our new SOW is Lanterns in the Night—send your enlightenings to kathykieth@hotmail.com—and the Form to Fiddle With this week is, correspondingly, the lanturne. Check that out at thepoetsquill.wordpress.com/2011/08/31/lanturne-poetry-form

Some other items of note:

•••Open Mic Voices is a new online poetry forum: see OpenMicVoices.com

•••Donald Anderson writes: By visiting http://www.RainFlowers.org/ (that's flowers not forest) and browsing the links on the top menu bar or dropdown menus, and by listing on this event page ten things that can be improved on the website without repeating what others have mentioned, you will receive a 178-page color pdf (openable on computers that have the widely used free Adobe Acrobat Reader software) of ebook Moon Mist Valley, a collection of poetry and art, to your email inbox of choice. Deadline is Valentine's Day.

•••Swan Scythe Press is proud to announce a new book by Sandra McPherson: A Visit to Civilization. To order, go to www.swanscythe.com/books/visit_to_civilization.html or write to Swan Scythe Press at 515 P St., #804, Sacramento, CA 95814.


Today's LittleNip: 

—Joyce Odam

bush-shadow shudders
against white siding
rattling the wind’s name
under loose windows



 Two Textures, II
—Joyce Odam

Monday, January 30, 2012

Ars Poetica 128

—Photo by Taylor Graham

—Taylor Graham, Placerville

When salmon came dancing
up the spawning stream,
we watched dark wings come closer.

A wheeled plane settled, sea-bird
on sand, letting out fifteen fishermen
who checked the tide-table,

pulled on hip-boots, opened tackle-
boxes, cast rainbow-colored lures
into silver ripples whose rocks

clasped them tight, a river-queen's
ransom, so fishermen offered
new lures shiny red purple green

while the salmon danced in their red-
scale armor upstream, the river
sang, quick red voice summoning

tide and sunset, till the wheeled
plane lifted fifteen fishermen away
into evening's dark wings.


—Taylor Graham

Mozart draws me much too lucidly
tonight, from lux perpetua to kyrie eleison,
and lacrymosa dies, the way the world
spins red and ashen from a girl's
not coming home for supper
to finding her asleep under her own
backyard. Sand, tiny fragments
of rock. Cunning as music,
how she was wooed or wedged
into that hole, and the earth made as if
right again above her. One more
death I never knew—what loss to me?
Ask her mother, ask the man
who made the music and is dead.
This sweet art, skin of sound,
notes soaring off like birds let loose
in a blown-apart sky. It's winter
when the birds have flown.
Requiem aeternum.


—Taylor Graham

I thought I was in love with the Buddha
but he was huge and distant and wouldn't look at me.
Then I followed that poet Bukowski for a spell,
but I lacked gumption
to stand with him cold on the shoulder
waiting for a ride from Vegas,
with all that roadkill
unpoetically concrete on the two-lane,
and hurt poems limping along in the dark beyond
the headlit edges. Oh beautiful maimed
anapestic rabbit. Is poetry always about love?



The rainbow colors
in our school palate

Just the howling wind
blows open
the classroom door
wafting all
off of their desks

Noses start dripping.
Tissues are born in
the air, shooting
out of cardboard

Shoes scatter on
the floor by

Eyes don’t blink
Mouths wide open
Knees bumping
on the floor.
Let’s Go—

—Rhony Bhopla, Sacramento


—Caschwa, Sacramento

(The director told those who were picked to be in
the crowd scene of a movie to just say “rhubarb”
over and over again, in their normal speaking voice.)

Emboldened by the positive feedback
From Ronald Reagan’s challenge to
“Tear Down This Wall!”

Activists have been busily tearing down
Other walls viewed as limiting or confining
Our precious freedom of speech

Unleashing a veritable prison break of
Dominating terms and images borne of
Alluring, evil, manipulative, sly, you name it

Cries arise of triumph, anguish, incredulity,
Hatred, humility, arrogance, defiance, and love
Starting as a buzz and escalating to a roar

Which has eventually drowned out the memorable
Slogans of our patriots, whose singular embattled
Voices had finally reached sympathetic ears

Only now the din of the crowd is reduced to
Rhubarb repetitions disconnected from reality, which
Nonetheless vibrate the air like a powerful engine

Mass media, which had gained acceptance
By spreading the news far and wide
Now boldly sprays rhubarb everywhere



Because they couldn’t pay their bills
Those lofty aliens who hold
Sway with our pay
Decided to poke us working folk
Squeezing our income outrageously low

Mirroring the Mazatec ritual
Of crushing Salvia divornum leaves
To extract juices to infuse in tea
To create an altered state of consciousness
For ritual healing ceremonies, yippee!

After years of practicing
This awkward procedure a lot
The budget is finally balanced
So everyone can now go back
To just being normal. Not.



I was just expressing my heartfelt gratitude
And saving it in some handy metal canisters
I got from the camping supplies store

When some self-righteous snobs told me
That was offensive and not appropriate
Behavior to do in a public forum.

Well!! Imagine that? Feelings are banned
If you are in a place where others can see you;
We could be on the threshold of a major
Decline in the greeting card industry.



It’s 5:00 at the art museum
Close of business
Consumption of the body
Can of beans

Tear away from that painting by
Jean-Francois Millet
It will still be there
The next business day

Hanging in another place
Depicting yet another face
Some memories we can’t erase
A missing head and bloodied lace

So rests poor Barbizon at last
Slain by tourists who move too fast
Burying the richness of its past
Ignoring the flags that fly half mast

Shut the door and
Leave it behind
Go home, let TV
Take control of your mind


Today's LittleNip: 


A can outside
The wind blew in
A candle inside
The wind blew out

The French inch passed
Its British kin
Napoleon’s height
Was left in doubt

(for more about Napoleon's height, see www.todayifoundout.com/index.php/2010/03/napolean-bonaparte-having-been-short-is-a-myth)


Thanks to our chefs today, including Taylor Graham, who writes about her salmon: Salmon in process of being smoked in the smoker we built of river rock so we could transport our catch home from the island. Ah the old days of adventure [when she and husband Hatch were living in Alaska]. Good to have Rhony Bhopla in the Kitchen more these days, too. And we have a new Facebook album of the American River from Carl Schwartz (Caschwa); be sure to check that out.


—Photo by Caschwa
(Be sure to check out his new album of
the American River on Medusa's Facebook page!)

Sunday, January 29, 2012


Falcated Teal

—Tom Goff, Carmichael

Excited by the rarest rare-bird report on KCRA,
we head up north this fine wild-wind January Sunday
to the Colusa Wildlife Refuge, electric with hopes
to see a blown-off-course visitor: an Asian Falcated Teal.
So giddy with hopes of the Great Reveal,
we might be flying, not driving, flying like Aztec
voladores, spiraling in a mystic centrifuge.
This visiting Siberian waterfowl ought to be
wintering in Vietnam or Bangladesh or Burma,
we learn from the Roger Tory Peterson field guide.
But, Teal’s instinctual GPS device wind-flustered,
storm-baffled perhaps, he’s flapped and fluttered
and bellied down to pond, from Siberia via the Aleutians
through Canada and—here. How much of his misglide
was fear? His misery or mischance our good luck,
we unpack our binoculars. There’s the duck-observation
deck, the one rock-solid in a wilderness of pooling
and ponding. We strain and strain our lenses to find
the rare friend in grand goose-strews and duck-huddles,
wanting so greedily to see the scimitar covering
plumes jacket the graceful straight flight feathers.
We envision the breast neatly dappled and stippled,
the sensuous downcurve of the Art Deco tail feathers,
knowing our passion to flame from mere smoldering kindled
—but where is he?

Oh the Snow Geese and the exquisite copper-sided
Northern Shovelers are lovely. We lap up vistas
of Black-Necked Stilts wading, their leg stalks all
peach yogurt color. And the Pintails plow fresh
channels of landing, their lusciously silverblue bills
aglow. But Mr. Teal’s not anywhere to be seen.
He was here just yesterday, say some birders. He’ll turn
up sooner or later, they opine. And we’re far far
downriver but missing our Mistah Kurtz in all this
heart of duckness. Not overly soon but soon, we head
for home: our Tinkerbell and teal belief
shaken to something a bit like grief.
And your eyes almost fill.


But that was that Sunday. Today Sunday,
the planks of that ducklooking deck seem weighted
a little weightier with us absurd people,
bird people. In front of the throng, almost
amid the fullthrottle birdsong, two or three
spotting scopes: murmurs of I can see him!
We shyly ask to peek—then, Where is he?
See where that transmission tower is. Now
look just past that little green island: he’s out
there just hanging out with some Snow Geese.
And we’ve found our Falcated Teal! See his
lovely mallard-green head? But a touch livelier,
a tad bit Key Lime pie tinge. The subtly curved
scimitar covering wings might be kissed
or scented faint lilac. And the clincher: how
the wonderful little rust patch just paints
the top curve of the head running back a ways
from the little duck brow. We leave the great
spotting scopes to their rightful scopers. Now
we can ply our own binocs as on bikes minus
training wheels. And we catch him again!
gliding like Ultraduck with mighty invisible kicks
across the rippling shining soft waterfield.
O Walt Whitman of teals, you poet among odd
ducks, we’ve got you! And we and you and the live
oak in Louisiana will live alone no longer evermore.
And we know we will go home as aglow as the long
soft sunset pond. The air just back of the wild
afternoon blue’s like a painter’s ground,
golden and cold and windblown,

and our sweet teal found.



(For more about the Falcated Teal, go to en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Falcated_Duck. For more about his visit to the Colusa National Wildlife Refuge, and to see him in action there, go to baynature.org/videos/falcated-duck-turns-up-at-calusa-national-wildlife-refuge.)

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Charles Bukowski As The Buddha

Window and the Sea
—Photo by D.R. Wagner

—D.R. Wagner, Elk Grove

Oh the path was green as green could be.
The path led down to the sea-O,
And from out of the sea and the night beach-O,
Came fishes three to dance upon the shore-O.

They danced on their tails as they told their tales,
Fins flapping on their sides. And they sang quite
Loud but they sang quite clear and their eyes shone
Bright and greeny as they danced in the blue moonlight:

“We have been to the lands of the fairie queen to show
Her our scales and how they shine, brighter than her armoured
Knights and she bid us go to the green, green path
That leads down to this sea, to dance upon the shore.

The sights we saw were the sights we saw and turtles
Large as dreams, they swam with us in the icy seas
Among the bergs and the herring schools with whales
White and Whales blue, bowheads, finned and the right ones too.

Through the realms of the squid and the great, great rays,
Past the thousand sharks and the octopi, the dolphins, eels
And the barracuda, past the sunfish and the bright sea snakes,
To come to this shore on this bright night to dance in the moonlight
Just for you, to dance in the moonlight for you.

And when you wake in the morning, child, and the day
Collects around you, you’ll tell your story of the dancing
Fish you’ve seen upon the strand. No will believe such
A thing you’ve seen, through it’s true, as true could be.
Such a sight they’ll say could never be and you’ll say the fish
Sang to you too and they will say this couldn’t be true, oh no,
They will say it couldn’t be true.

All you’ll have left are some scales we will give
And these words of our song we sang for you
As you came down the green, green path that
Leads to the edge of the sea-O, that leads to the edge of the sea.”


—D.R. Wagner

This should be a voice.
This should be a red voice.
I did not know that this
Would have this appearance,
That it would seem to be a collection
Of stars at a window, the blue
Eating away at where the moon
Was just reaching. This does not
Appear to be a voice. It is
So silent. I can’t get back
To it often enough. There isn’t
A sensation of sound at all.

Shaking the sleep away with
A voice. How can this be
As it seems. I will write
It down here. I will come
Here to listen. I will not know
Anything but the voice.
I will not be reading at all.
I will know what this really is.


—D.R. Wagner

They were shredding the sky.
Huge chunks of it ripped out,
The skin behind the stars
Showing its edges. They too glowed.

Someone was already sitting near
The piano when she entered
The room. There was something
Familiar about him. His eyes
Had seen rafts of the dead
Laid out in the sand and broken rocks,

A voice of pure red and dirty smoke
Before the bodies had come apart.

There must be a place for them
In music. Please let there be
A place for them in music.

It is bad enough they can never
Be put back together. The sound
Itself weeps blood and fragments of bones.
We walk quickly to find cover.
Perhaps we have not been seen yet.


—D.R. Wagner

All around me, a gray rain,
A glance dropped so easily
It made no sound until it reached
The heart’s core and leaked out
Through the bottom, not understanding
A blessed thing about why
The coldness cracked the surface
Where love was smoothing and soothing
As much as it could when
Its truth was knocked out
Of its head and scattered
On the runway like

Porcelain gems spinning
The tires of huge jets and
Creating havoc every time I even
Thought of a kiss or your arms
Or anything that might be
Your body next to mine.


—D.R. Wagner

Well this is certainly harmless.
All the blood has been washed away.
They have recorded everything so they
Can relive it over and over.

The sounds of the working day
Are muffled here as if there
Was something no one wanted us to see.

I don’t know. Something just snapped
And before I knew it everyone was
Wearing red and screaming and I
Reasoned that the gathered throng
Was some kind of drunken giant
That never heard of Our Lady
Of Sorrows. I smoothed my hair
And my hands are covered with
Blood. I haven’t been taught this.
Just stand here with me, not hurting
Anymore, ever. We’ll talk quietly for awhile.

I wonder if we will meet again.
I can hear your voice, the crying
And that little star that needs
To hear us sing to it so it can shine.


 Window and the Sea II
—Photo by D.R. Wagner

(The bitter tears of the wind,
Much of rain is for the sky
alone to see.)

—D.R. Wagner

“The sea is like a splintered mirror.”

There is no moving closer to it
Or landing on it. We have no way
Of knowing if we are near the ground
Or if we are part of the snow and the terror

The edge of night brings to us
As we hang suspended in the air
Listening to the whining of the motors
That keep us aloft. They seem
Fueled more by dreams than
Gasoline or jet fuel. They do not
Offer us comfort, only remind us
That we are gods of the air
For a brief moment. Then we see
Three flares in the distance,

Decide they mark the edge of a plane
Where we might escape the clouds.
The runway of the night all around us.

We turn our craft toward these
Feeble beacons and begin singing
As if they were the most precious
Of jewels as we feel the lump
Earth becomes beneath our wheels
And we begin thinking of how
Exotic a cup of coffee sounds.


—D.R. Wagner

The sea birds fly low
Across the water, just inches
Above the wave tops,
Like almost waking from sleep
But being unable to do so.

The ladder reaches almost
To the top of the wall
But still falls short
Before one is able to see
Over the top.

O the fire knows my name.
“The velvet voices of the drowned”
Wish this rain to rise again. It seems
So small. We cannot possibly
Be important here. The hours
Will wash over us. There will be
Kind words and the beating
The heart knows as its private
Voice is echoed in the thunder,

Describes the robes the heart
Wears before it has been harmed
By living in these streets, walking
Among the monsters of murder
This city fills itself with.

We watch the birds and decide to test
The rain once more, to fly for all
The days of our lives.


—D.R. Wagner

You can wait outside this place forever
And never see the same poem that went in the front door.
It was so shiny and full of order, clean metaphors,
Dancing rhythms.

Here comes one now. It is tired and hurt.
It looks like it got into an argument with Charles Bukowski
About a race horse. Thing with poems though,
They have been everywhere. They are like fire.

They are all our senses, these are poems after all.
They go everywhere, they see everything.
They see as well as the Buddha, for crying
Out loud. They might be the Buddha.

Later, when you finally get in the door and go
Looking for it, you will find thousands of them,
Most of them attached to poets however.
If you find one without an ego it just might
Be the Buddha. Or maybe it's just Charles Bukowski.


Today's LittleNip: 

—D.R. Wagner

I found myself a fiction.
No one believed me.
Everyone read me.
I remain the truth.



Hole in a Wall
—Photo by D.R. Wagner

Friday, January 27, 2012

Stardust and Antique Rose

African Mask, Crocker Art Museum
—Photo by Cynthia Linville, Sacramento

—Janet L. Pantoja, Woodinville, WA

Wild winds of winter weather
Whoosh through the evergreen trees
Whipping and flinging branches
With such ease and expertise
Wide and far—leave behind a
War scene—green foliage on
White foam snowed on the landscape.


—Helen Treulufian, Sacramento

Words . . .
they float up in my mind.
Do I need to let them all out?
Or shall I pause and think before I speak?

Weigh their effect on others?
Or are they as light as feathers,
almost weightless,
and therefore have no effect?

I think not—kind, gentle, loving—
the spoken word.
The other thoughts and words
don't all need to be said.
Let them float on by, or use them
to express myself in the written word.

Poetry—an outlet for
opinions . . .
ponderings . . .
wonderings . . .

And, please don't put words in my mouth.
I may have to spit them out
and the spittle may get you wet.
I wouldn't want that to happen.


—Helen Treulufian

How come,
if we have stardust within us,
we don’t shine?

I’m sure there are still combustible sparks
inside us.

And I say to myself, what is my flint and
what is the strike that will inflame my soul?

Tell me, why not?
Are we frightened moths hiding
our wings in the mud,
our eyes bound tightly with fear—
of our gloriousness?


—Carol Louise Moon, Sacramento

So lovesick,
so homesick,
so full of rheumatoid arthritis.
So… standing on a million pointed stars—
the journey home, such a disappointment.

She died along the way in February,
before the month of May—
before she could even stay long enough
to ensure a good fit with her surroundings,
her flounderings, her groundings.


—Carol Louise Moon

Turquoise, being the curious color
of the future, propels me forward;
the stuff of dreams in visions of
turquoise. Flying geese which
usually waddle are now riding bi-
cycles down the cherry lanes in teal
garden-parks. London-blue dogs
sniff at turquoise nuggets which
dot the off-blue landscape.

Sprinklers sprinkle lawns at 9am
with a pale version of aquamarine.

By now, I suspect the very nerves
of my spinal cord are a deeper
shade of turquoise. Turquoise
won’t leave me alone.


—Carol Louise Moon

I have an old, old dictionary:
page after page of words.
(Well, of course!)
And, a portrait of Noah Webster.
(Why not?)

On page 109 is the definition of
Arabian brown: a moderate to
strong brown that is redder and
slightly darker than oak, and
darker than Vassar tan.
(Vassar tan?!)

Well… we now know what
Noah Webster knows.
(I suppose!)


—Carol Louise Moon

If we’re not careful
we could fall
mint green,
sink below the surface—
our tongues treading sea foam
our toes at the ends of our legs
trying to grasp onto
a lighter shade
of stability.


—Carol Louise Moon

Pale Purple has been so
misunderstood, underestimated,
always compared to
Periwinkle and Tanzanite.
Channel 6 did a feature story
on Pale Purple, dubbing it the
(quote) Color of Low
Self-Esteem (unquote).
What a shame. What a sham!


Today's LittleNip: 

—Mitz Sackman, Murphys

All life is choices
From patterns seen and unseen
Open one door
Another closes
Open your heart
Your mind can see further
Trust your hand
To choose the right door
Let your heart fly
Through the window beyond
To the rest of your life
You now have chosen


Thanks to today's lady-chefs for these culinary delights, including these fine mask photos from Cynthia Linville. Welcome to Helen Treulufian, who comes to us from the Women's Wisdom Art program in Sacramento (www.sacramentofoodbank.org/programs/womens-wisdom.html) that is facilitated by Davis Poet Laureate and SnakePal Allegra Silberstein. And welcome back to Michelle (Mitz) Sackman from Murphys, who's been absent from the Kitchen for a while, partly due to a nastily broken wrist that required a plate—and no, a Kitchen plate wouldn't do. Carol Louise Moon sent us these tasty riffs on color (yesterday we were talking about what inspires us), and Janet Pantoja sends us a Pleides based on our Seed of the Week. If you'd like to fool around with Pleides (the 7-line, 7-syllable/line, same-cap-letter-starting-each-line form), you can exchange them online w/The Moon and Stars Pleiades Circle, care of Carol Louise Moon at dadsdesk@hotmail.com; include "Pleiades" in the subject line.

And nobody corrected me on my misspelling of "tuanartsa" yesterday, which should've been "tuanortsa"—being, of course, "astronaut" spelled backwards. For more about tuanortsas, see www.poetrymagnumopus.com/index.php?showtopic=1918  It seems like you can either repeat the middle line or not. Carl Schwartz's example yesterday didn't... 


 African Mask, de Young Museum, San Francisco
—Photo by Cynthia Linville

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Spring Seeds Sprouting

—Caschwa, Sacramento

(Inspired by dawn dibartolo’s leather jacket & boots)

Such a delicate touch
The world at his fingertips
He was very, very self-sure
Excelled at his art
Not too hard to reach
It is good he stayed above the law
Not too hard to reach
Excelled at his art
He was very, very self-sure
The world at his fingertips
Such a delicate touch



Mother Nature tears down trees
With forces far fiercer than
Chain saws

Re-routes rivers without
All the discussion and delay
Of committees

Keeps life going despite immense challenges
And plucks it away
Quite easily

Gives us a cornucopia of
Food and colors and tempers
When she feels like it

So we are left to read between lines
That are constantly changing;
Wonder what she meant by that?


—Michael Cluff, Corona, CA

Cursed by numbers
before civilization established them,
twenty-six miles out of Long Beach,
twice thirteen,
the native fox
of Catalina
is now in better stead
than before
thirteen distempered
nearing extinctual years
now mercifully
let to rest.

Introduced by rabid dogs
brought over from shore
by dodos of men,
nature takes command
and balances the ledgers
for fauna
this one rare time.


—Michael Cluff


The cheeky breezes
bromides hiding prejudice
in social
intellectual insults
unsettled Noelle
much more
than the wild winds
of plasma
shooting off
the sun
a boiling brontosaur
which never hides
behind homilies
traditions, any isms
and the three-piece
pinstriped suit
her professor
almost always
dons at dawn.


The cheeky breezes
tap out my boredom
and boorishness
a battalion of possibilities
prance outward
to defeat
the draughts of ideas
that hold me under
a pool of pruned promises.

The wild winds grab
the released me
carry it into
the corona
of the solar balloon
that tints the inviting
indigo and iris of the
liberating dusk
sliced off
from the numbing
of noon.


Camille texts me
her paper
was blown over
the car
into the still soppy drainage ditch
lost to the acts
of a capricious nature.

Having had my loose
new silk birthday necktie
ripped from my unbuttoned-down collar
make me mellow
towards her
not myself
for planning
to wait until
I reached my office
to create the perfect

The wind does not care
one way or another
it just howls
joy accenting
the final notes
of passing.


The clarifying
occurs when wild winds
scour out the residue
of what the skies
unwillingly inherited
from the actions
of 21st-century man

and the cheeky breezes
slap at the hems of dresses
the ties of men
the kites of kids
and the wings
of fighter jets
to establish
who will win out
in the end.


Cheeky breezes
drive me to the balcony
and then
play rehearsal.

the wildest winds
will have to step in
and bluster and impel
me back to work.


—Taylor Graham

A cottage paved with knees of sheep
laid joint-to-joint a shank-bone deep.
Think of the lambs that used to leap—
how newborns on their knee-caps creep,
then sweetly by their mothers sleep.
What odd economies we keep.
If tiles are pricey, bones are cheap;
just pick them off the garbage heap.
Floors of scrolled ivory—hard to sweep,
but most attractive. Bones we reap.


—Taylor Graham

This stiff wind,
tickling-whim wind,
dim first-light bird wind,
cliff-high fling-wind—
it's itch, hitch-this-wind
wind, it flirts &
clings, trips, sings, this
bright whirligig
kiting wind, night-lightning
wind, this winding-
this I'm-its-kin wind.



blew you here, off-course
from the road to Halsted? You're looking
out to sea and those rocks
named on the map—The Manacles—
corruption of a Cornish word. This sunny
afternoon, shearwaters skim the tops
of waves whose sparklers flare and flicker.
A sea-breeze beckons divers.
What treasures glitter
below The Voices, The Minstrel,
Carn-Dhu—where old sea-wrecks lie
scattered on the bottom?
Those rocks have bound so many men
to doom. From shore you imagine
voices—ideas of water and air—or
maybe it's an ill wind whistling
through distant cliff-caves
so it sounds like moans
of drowned sailors,
cold fingers fumbling riggings
in a storm. Or is it
the soft song of mermaids
beckoning, while the sun is high,
to swim out to those sparklers
that light the surface
as if reflecting, from below,
jewels of the dead.

—Taylor Graham


Thanks to today's chefs for some tasty fare! Their inspiration seems to have come from here, there, and everywhere.

Where do you get your inspiration? Taylor Graham says her monorhyme ("Rustic Husbandry") is based on something Elihu Burritt saw on his walks at Bicton in Devonshire—a cottage floored with 76,000 sheep-shanks for “a delicately-sculptured surface of great beauty.” Medusa tries to fan a few flames for you with Seeds of the Week (currently "Wild Winds and Cheeky Breezes"), Forms to Fiddle With (right now it's the monorhyme), and our new feature, News-Seeds—keep up with all of those on the green board at the right of this column. Carl Schwartz (Caschwa) and Mike Cluff were moved to poetry by the article about the rebound of Santa Catalina foxes.

It's also fun to see poets inspired by other poets: DR Wagner, Taylor Graham and Katy Brown have been writing to each other on these posts for some time now; today Carl Schwartz was inspired by dawny-D's boots (see yesterday's post)—but not in the way you think... Cool form that he used; is that a tuanartsa?


Today's LittleNip: 

A great wind is blowing, and that gives you either imagination or a headache.

—Catherine the Great



 Welcome to the world, Riveter and Boomerang!
—Photo by Taylor Graham

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

The Art of This Day

fractal (anonymous)

storm in the making
—dawn dibartolo, citrus heights

the symphony of winter leaves
blowing down the quiet street
heightens my poetic senses, and
I wish at once that I could paint
the way the naked, white trees
against the canvas of rain-laden,
slate-colored clouds is lightened
by the sun shining from behind me /
from around me / from within me.
I am the silhouette of shadow
cast upon the art of this day;
I am the speck of unintended splatter
that adds character to the piece;
I am the signature of an artistic God
upon his most memorable creation.
I am a storm in the making.


—dawn dibartolo

the candle burned wildly
in the wind from the ceiling fan
spilling wax onto black lacquer
and down to the wooden floor
in spikes of honey colored menace,
seemingly frozen in fragrant mid air.
if the fire had leapt from its wick,
he would breathe deeply,
unbroken calm, and say merely
“look at that,” pointing. in the cold
he does not shiver, in the heat
he does not sweat, unscathed
by life as it burns out around him.
he is not charred as I am,
unaware that days can become
inflamed; his skin is still armored
and his eyes bright with promise.
he is the porcelain place-setting on
an oaken table, the room
filled with smells of cooking meats
and garlic mashed potatoes,
undisturbed and waiting, stoic
in the belief that hunger
is only a phase. and here am I,
the starving junkie fearing
and anticipating ahead of time
the overwhelming super-high,
the sizzle of blue-red veins and
roiling blood, the very thought
making my heart beat double-pace,
even now, screaming from within
that the house is again in flames.


leather jacket & boots
—dawn dibartolo

if I cud bottle the leather jacket & boots
wear it like a fragrance
to repel the constant bullshit
I’d perhaps bite my tongue
& keep the angers to myself
coast thru day unphazed
be the sunshine intoned by the name
on the fringes of solemn autumn
be the sunshine intoned by the name
coast thru day unphazed
& keep the angers to myself
I’d perhaps bite my tongue
to repel the constant bullshit
wear it like a fragrance
if I cud bottle the leather jacket and boots


color printer
—dawn dibartolo

end of life.
magenta is dead.

rest in peace,
she says.

morbid way
to start the day,

but I’m wearing
mourner’s black;

pull the tab, and
now everything has

this lovely pinkish hue.


—dawn dibartolo

it all seemed so simple…
a breed of newness

that will rise from the old;
simple as words to a page

atop the scribblings of
a “throw-away” poem;

the new story will be read.
some don’t believe and want

to tell you who you are and
what verbs your poem should use,

but for the poetess, the very word
“verb” is redefined on a whim.

yes, I am simply made and
can be simply new

however the words tend
to grace this given page.


Today's LittleNip: 

I was reading the dictionary. I thought it was a poem about everything.

—Steven Wright



fractal (anonymous)

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Those TIny Savants

—Photo by Joyce Odam


sparrows maybe
as tiny savants of distraction
and be so led

from ground
to tree
through air

at disturbance
or some nervousness of

at one with survival
and I

merely watching
enchanted by their quickness
their disinterest in me as foe

as threatening presence
as anything at all other than
shape or movement

so I keep a patient stillness
to give them no reason
to fly from me

(after "Etude" by Ted Kooser)
—Joyce Odam, Sacramento


—Joyce Odam

The soul is a caged bird:

Let’s say this is so.
And you want the bird to sing

and be joyous in the cage.
And you want to own this bird
and praise it—over and over—

for its singing. But
it will not always sing;
sometimes it will claim its
own silence as a separate power.


(after "Dark Birds, Dark Sea", 1959, Milton Avery)
—Joyce Odam

Midnight birds in a dark blue river,
held by a spreading path of moonlight,
their gold beaks shining
in the shimmer-silence of the hour.

They seem too shadowy
to be real—as if painted
by a midnight child
in love with midnight’s deep blue color.

(first pub. in Brevities, 1999)


—Joyce Odam

It was the pale bird in the dream that I remembered.
It flew down a shaft of silence and found my window.

Glass broke in my mind and I shattered.

The pale bird entered my broken dream
and bled and bled its whiteness clear to the horizon.


COLD BLUE (an Octo)
—Joyce Odam

Today I look long at the birds:
winter sparrows in a dead tree,
waiting for green—waiting for spring.

Both tree and sparrows etch the sky
of such cold blue—teasing the eye,

waiting for green—waiting for spring.
Winter sparrows in a dead tree:
today I look long at the birds.


Today's LittleNip: 

—Joyce Odam

Blue bird, sky bird, fiery-winged
against the lowering sun,
causing the horizon to catch fire

and the moon to rise—
blood red—
and near—
soars into the red moon
with a cry that is a prayer.

(first pub. in Brevities, 2011)


Thanks to Joyce Odam for today's poems and pix, wrapping up our Seed of the Week: Our Feathered Friends. Our new Seed is Wild Winds and Cheeky Breezes; send your poetic thoughts (poems, art, photos) to kathykieth@hotmail.com

My apologies to Caschwa (Carl Bernard Schwartz) for inadvertently truncating his poem, "Goaltending", yesterday. Herewith is the complete poem:

—Caschwa, Sacramento

The ball is heading
Into the basket
Too late to interfere

The fetus is in its
Third trimester
Too late to interfere

The corporation has grown
Too big to fail
Too late to interfere

The church has hired
Molesters to steer our faith
Too late to interfere

At risk youth
Get thrown in jail
Too late to interfere

The experiment in democracy
Doesn’t always work
Too late to interfere

A fortune teller’s product
Is entertainment
Too late to interfere.

The threat of global warming
Might just be valid
Too late to interfere.

Bankruptcy is chosen
Because there are no other choices
Too late to interfere.

Instructions to a sesame seed:
Don’t stop now,
You’re on a roll.



—Photo by Joyce Odam

Monday, January 23, 2012

Like Old Friendships

Nude in the Bath
—Painting by Pierre Bonnard, 1941

—Jane Blue, Sacramento

A woman lies in Bonnard’s bath
floating encapsulated, nearly faceless
in a shroud of blue water. I feel nothing
she thinks to herself, golden light
filling the panes of a leaded window
at the end of the tub, falling like yellow
tiles between the slabs of blue tiles
on the wall above her. She’s stretched
thin in the tub, oddly sexless, the tie
holding back her hair blue like the small
diamonds of tesserae on the bathroom floor.
She’s trying to keep her head above water
to keep from slipping under without
seeming to move a muscle, above
the tub’s claw feet, a scatter of gold there
on the floor, dropped from the thick sun.
She’s a cold muse and getting colder
as Bonnard works to get the mosaic right.

Outside the opaque window are trees—
she doesn’t see them, birds—
she doesn’t hear them, her parents
wishing they could do something, her sister
and someone is picking plums.

(first pub. in Antigonish and also in The Persistence of Vision by Jane Blue, The Poet's Corner Press, 2003)


(Ptaki Ktore Jedza Pomysty)
—D.R. Wagner, Elk Grove

The shearwater stays just above
The tops of waves. The air pushes
Their bodies upward inches from
All the ideas of air and water.

Bodies of fire exclaim.
A ball of shining made of ivory,
Made of wood, made of the beaks
Of ten thousand shearwaters.

A scroll unfurls itself, full of allegations
About who gave what gift to whom,
A sliver mine, a pillow full of love
Being wound around sharpened pins forever.

Surely there is a way to keep
These ideas safe. They glow
Like old friendships slowly
Being dismantled by birds
Birds feeding on the soft music
Of believing in things like songs
And the idea that animals can fly.

(first posted on drsspoon.blogspot.com in 2010)


—Caschwa, Sacramento

The ball is heading
Into the basket
Too late to interfere

The fetus is in its
Third trimester
Too late to interfere

The corporation has grown
Too big to fail
Too late to interfere

The church has hired
Molesters to steer our faith
Too late to interfere

At-risk youth
Get thrown in jail
Too late to interfere

The experiment in democracy
Doesn’t always work
Too late to interfere

A fortune teller’s product
Is entertainment
Too late to interfere.

The threat of global warming
Might just be valid
Too late to interfere.

Bankruptcy is chosen










Set up house right on my patio
What do you think about that?
In eaves over where humans gather
To sit, grill food, and chat

Despite multitudes of hornets
Far too poor for paying rent
It only matters what is fair
To the ruling 1 percent

Tonight we will evict them
With a special can of spray
That awful nest of hornets
Will not see the light of day


 Photo by Taylor Graham

—Taylor Graham, Placerville

Two sister ewe-lambs, 3 months old,
explore their new world of grass
lightening into a new spring morning.

Beyond, still deep in shadow
of the eastern hill, a garden fence
whispers “trespass” and “temptation”

as gardens always do. It's early
morning. The lambs step tentatively,
attached to their long shadows—

shadows opening, becoming
larger than life, a dark passage
across May-green grass.

The photographer planned this shot
with sun-angle in mind,
to keep herself out of the picture.

But she casts a shadow too. Her twin.
By day's end drifting to dark—
to memory and art—as shadows do.


Today's LittleNip: 

Close the door. Write with no one looking over your shoulder. Don't try to figure out what other people want to hear from you; figure out what you have to say. It's the one and only thing you have to offer.

—Barbara Kingsolver


—Medusa (with thanks to today's cooks. Do you see the hidden message in Caschwa's (Carl Schwartz) second poem?)

Tiger lilies, Butte Meadows
—Photo by Katy Brown, Davis
 Be sure to check out Medusa's Facebook page 
for a new photo album:  
Katy's Excellent Adventure in the Buttes 
by Katy Brown!

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Moon Language

The Painter: To The Moon
—Painting by Marc Chagall, 1917


Admit something:

Everyone you see, you say to them,
"Love me."

Of course you do not do this out loud;
Someone would call the cops.

Still though, think about this,
This great pull in us
To connect.

Why not become the one
Who lives with a full moon in each eye
That is always saying,

With that sweet moon

What every other eye in this world
Is dying to

(trans. from the Persian by Daniel Landinsky)



Saturday, January 21, 2012

A Rose in Winter

Photo by Katy Brown, Davis

—B.Z. Niditch, Brookline, MA

Sun enlightens
backyard oaks
as red leaves fall
from blue hills
in tenuous shadows
and a child
we know all too well
makes friends
with nature's words
writing his initials
on a branch.


—B.Z. Niditch

In a knotted hatred
of war since childhood,
domestic or foreign,
my lonely initials
from my right hand
held your immigrant suitcase
by ash trees
in their cold shiver
like our own
at first light
near the train station
hearing questions
in broken English
anyone would ask
moonstruck by miles
between two shores
awakened by red eye
in lonely latitude
enveloped by darkness.


—B.Z. Niditch

Waiting around
on silence

The sun turns
on our backs

Clouds hide
seabird voices

Stretching sailors
ice fish

A graffiti artist
at the lighthouse

Dunes breathe
an eternal winter.


—B.Z. Niditch

On wintry nights
when conversation
like auspicious ivy
wears out
our hospitality,
and darkness
in the living room
exhales vagrancy,
as lamp lights
beneath a reflection
of elm and evergreen
cannot judge
our past cadences,
a cool silence spins
on our long day faces
until we recognize
the familar steps
of belonging.


—B.Z. Niditch

At three
am or pm
there is little
to ask for,
takes place
outside the city
at the nameless hour,
the electric chair
is always ready
with present company
only to execute
there is little mercy
on the sleeplesss walls
when a red rose appears
in winter
outside the hospice.


—B.Z. Niditch

Until the sound
of sparrows
at the edge
of first light
in dawn
of barely awakened
as to the day
breathing in
the large mountain air
in one commotion
of birds flying upward
near the roof's melody.

By evergreen leaves
trailing in the yard
we overhear
resuming echoes
by the balcony sun
we welcome
unless we should close
the coverlet
and resume our rest.


Today's LittleNip: 

Today, while begging food, a sudden downpour.
I waited out the storm in a small shrine.
Laughing—one jug for water, one bowl for rice.
My life is like an old run-down hermitage—
poor, simple, quiet.

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


—Medusa, with thanks to today's cooks in the Kitchen. Katy Brown will be reading at A Starry Night Poetry Series in Lodi this coming Sunday (tomorrow) at 2 pm; go to  www.astarrynightproductions.com/poetryseries/poetryseries.htm and scroll down for more info. And you can learn more about B.Z. Niditch at community-1.webtv.net/buzz-worthy/TheWorldofBZNiditch

And please take note of our new feature on the green board at the right of this column: N-SOWs (News-Seeds of the Week)—poem ideas that have been taken from the news.

 Canada Goose
—Photo by Katy Brown

Friday, January 20, 2012

Washing Up On This Floating Rock

Fishing Boats Leaving the Harbor, Le Havre
—Painting by Claude Monet, 1874

WINTER, 1879-81
—D.R. Wagner, Elk Grove

These Winters had been extremely
Cold. Le givre, the frost, covered
Every morning, demanding the Seine
To be still, quieting the landscape
For days. There were no birds at all.

Camille was gone; a mist in the grey
Swirl that was all of Vetheuil that
Year. There was always the river.
It seemed to carry the most elusive

Of Colors for brief periods of the day.
This was a good place to look at without
Thinking. The ghost trees away, across
This frozen place would become translations.

Painting. The days passing. The ice finally
Moving changing into floes. Painting.
The sun trying to move the season.

Painting denies language and all
Mortal sounds. The Winter mutes
All things further into silence. Years
Later this time will have no appearance
Other than landscape, a view, an object.

It would take Monet years to paint
The river. The sunsets, the ice breaking
Up finally the coming of the Spring,
The palette changing, the light lengthening,
Apple trees in blossom by the water.

(Camille Monet, Monet’s first wife, died at Vetheuil on
September 5, 1879, at age 32.


1923 AND 1938
—D.R. Wagner

It was the rooms that mattered.
They were the weather embracing
The figures, the glitter the spirit
Festoons itself with as it embraces
Time, the objects, the shadows opening
To reveal intimate spaces, everything included.

Washing his hands, Vuillard looks
Into the mirror, into the room,
The walls are covered with paintings
Of paintings, a chance to see
Them as they were, still becoming
What they would be, still changing.

Memory works this way, passage by
Passage. We are in the middle
Washing up, looking into a mirror
Reflecting the entire room, reflecting
An open window, reflecting our image.
This time it has become the painting.
We recognize the figures as reason enough
To make these complex observations.

Trying to say everything. This is how it was.
This is not remembering. “Here is that
Very chair you see. You are having tea.
Form that same cup she holds in the
Picture. She was delighted to see how
The painting showed many things she knew.

She has long since died. That
Room you see is no more, even
The building is gone. I come in here
Often to look at the painting.
This is how it was. It is like talking.”


—D.R. Wagner

It was now 9:00 A.M.
The light would be entering
The bathroom just now.

The way the trees outside
The window caught this time precisely,
Bouncing it over the walls, mixing
It with the surface of the bath
Water. This was the time to paint.

Over and over again particular
Transparencies in the flesh sustained
Great challenge, stopping time
At every occasion, saturating the room
With trinkets of pale tints, quick
Necklaces precipitated by the season.

Again and again, each time without
Remembering the last, he moved
The paint across the canvas.
Each mark an instant only. This
Time exactly. This time exactly.

He sometimes thought the yellows were
Like singing, then not, then pattern.
The figure moving through them,
Rising, bending, claiming all the space
Object by object. Even once Pouette
Entered the room, lay down on the rug,
Waiting for Marthe to finish
Drying herself....Bonnard surprised
At the momentary intensity of his red
Dog, swirled against the grey-blue tiles.

(Poette was Bonnard’s dachshund;
Marthe was his wife.)


—D.R. Wagner

I was in Missouri, the green
Hills outside Warrenton with
A stillness about them, rocks the
Color of Weinheimer dogs
And with their same color eyes.

In the middle of a glen
I saw da Messina’s angels
Holding the body of the dead Christ,
His limp wrist touching the cheek
An angel presents to the dead man.
The points of their wings attenuated,

The light became crippled in October
When everything seemed to us
So clear, became clouded,
Now abandoned and still, with
The lovely rocks piled just so
To hold the glow coming from
The body. I could tell no one.

That night, Borges appeared to me
In a dream. "I saw you in the
Woods.” He said, “I will tell no one
What has happened here.”

I am no longer able to dream.
The quiet invades my room
Thinking I am a lover, touches me
Where my love rises through the lateness
The hour presents to me, telling
A story I stand unable to explain
In any other way than this imagined

Dance to music leaking into the room
After one A.M. and here I am, darling,
Sitting on the edge of the bed,
Unable to weep or smile or
Recall how I even am allowed
To be here with everyone,
Feeling proud and erudite and
Perfectly silly that I may walk
Through these places without being arrested.

It seems, always, we are unable
To understand much of what happens
To us here on this floating rock.

I for one, am glad that music
Seems to be moving through me.
I think it is our blood moving as
A new Covenant, given
To us for the remission of
Sins, and as part of that
Covenant, we may have communion
With everything we encounter.
What do you think?


Thanks to D.R. Wagner for today's painterly potpourri!

Don't forget the Sac. Poetry Center lecture series that begins Feb. 16. Only $99 (10% off for SPC members). $65 Mix/Match Pass (any four lectures you wish). Or, $20 per lecture. Runs Thursday evenings, 7:30-9pm; Feb 16–April 5. Proceeds benefit the Sacramento Poetry Center. Contact Tim Kahl (916-714-5401) for more information. Here is the schedule:

Feb. 16: Joshua McKinney — "Bolo and Bullshit: The Other T.S. Eliot"

Feb. 23: V.S. Chochezi — "Poetry Collaborations: Sacramento and Beyond" [Gary Snyder and Tom Killion, Electropoetic Coffee (NSAA and Ross Hammond), Poetry Machine (Mario Ellis Hill and friends, Fo'Shange, Straight Out Scribes) and much more]

March 1: Molly Fisk — "Women Poets: Friendship, Critique & Support"

March 8: Emmanuel Sigauke — "Contemporary World Poetry through International Poetry Web"

March 15: Bob Stanley and John Allen Cann — "The Blab of the Pave: Rhythm, Texture, Silence and Other Elements of Post-rhyming Poetry"

March 22: Judy Halebsky — "Japanese Literary Traditions in West Coast Poetics"

March 29: James DenBoer — "Kenneth Rexroth: The World Outside the Window"

April 5: Tim Kahl — "Surrealism and its Academic Discontents"


Today's LittleNip: 

Painting is a blind man's profession. He paints not what he sees, but what he feels, what he tells himself about what he has seen.

—Pablo Picasso



—Painting by Antonello da Messina, 1475

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Needless Gerunds

Pinky's Pizza in Petaluma
Photo by Cynthia Linville, Sacramento

—Kevin Jones, Elk Grove

Worked for a while with
The Fair Oaks Theatre Festival,
Just before they went semi-pro.

Did the newsletter, readings
From plays, talks for clubs,
The usual PR stuff.

Realized it was time to move on
When they offered to build
A chicken suit for my appearances.


I dreamed that I suddenly got a white horse—
out of nowhere he just appeared in my backyard
I didn't even think what I was going to do
For some reason I said to the horse I think I'll call you "Equus"
even though I know that was some freakin' weird play
about a mentally ill boy who blinded horses
I then just decided to hop on him with no saddle
All of the sudden the traffic and roads disappeared
and I rode him on the trails around the American River

—Michelle Kunert, Sacramento


The nurse assures "Come on, it's just a routine screening..."
I can't even look at the tools supposed to penetrate me
"Haven't you had sex?"
even though she knows I haven't had children
"What the hell does that have to do with this test procedure?" I answer,
"It's just not the same"
But this plastic clamp won't hurt like the metal ones
which I told her I got hurt on long ago when one I guess went wrong
"You'll just feel pressure"
like she was just describing a massage instead
But any "toys" I've used don't prod me like this does
And I swear I have vulval nerves that shoot pain throughout my body
I decide I can't go through with it unless I get something to numb
as one would have, getting a cavity filled at the dentist

—Michelle Kunert


—Michael Cluff, Corona, CA

They and I
play a game of patience
with my car
underneath the eucalyptus.

Learning their dietary
cycles and flights,
I can time my moves
my castling
of rook and king
unless parking restraints
force me otherwise.

The sparrows don't
pay any notice
if my Charger is
in their bombsite
the cement and blacktop
then suffer more
that they would do usually.


Today's LittleNip: 


YIPPEE! – Your Investment Portfolio Proudly Exceeds Expectations!
SIGN HERE – Security Is Good Neighbors, Hope Eternal Resides Everywhere
THOUSAND – True Hearts of the United States of America Never Die
SOAP – Serenity, Optimism, And Peace
WALNUT SHELL – Whoever Arrives Last Needs Us To Show How Excellence Lasts Longer
POETRY – People Over-Eat Then Repose Yawning
WISHFUL THINKING – What If Sudden Hot Flashes Ultimately Launched True Happiness In Not Knowing Infinite Needless Gerunds


—Medusa, with thanks to today's cooks for some wonky sh*t, as they say..... :-)

Apple Hill, 2011
—Photo by Cynthia Linville

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Mac-n-Cheese Day

In the wilderness
You survive
By the skin of your teeth
On the flesh of men
Or you die
And you die

—Photo of Donner Lake and Poem 
by Ronald Edwin Lane, Colfax

—Charlie Mariano, Sacramento

picked up my granddaughter
so we could go to our
secret place

not-so-secret place
is Boston Market
and according to her,

“the best mac-n-cheese in the world!”

for now
this place rules

while gobbling that goo,
she says,
“Happy Martin Luther King Day grandpa”

between sticky gulps
i said,
“well thank you, same to you”

she puts down her plastic fork
and looks at me all serious,

“grandpa, i don’t know what we’re supposed to do
this day”

“what did they teach you in school?”
i asked

“my teacher said this is a holiday for people
with dark skin,”

“is that so,” i said, “she said that?”

“no, she called them something else”

“African-American?” i asked

“yeah, that’s it,” she said, “that King guy
was important”

“very important,” i said
“you know, you have dark skin too,”
i told her

“but i’m dark like you, they’re different,”
she added,

“no, not really,” i said, “we’re all the same”

her face got all scrunched up
trying to soak it all in
then she smiled,

“ohhh, so today is for everybody?”

“sort of,” i told her

“Happy Mac-n-Cheese Day grandpa”


—Taylor Graham, Placerville

Winter-brittle grass
at the edge of dirty pavement.
Every mark on the gauge
reads empty.
No juncos, no robins,
a month since rain.
Soil wrinkles like old skin,
the pasture's waste.
Not a wing
feathers the air.
Sheep move
as if under a spell
under this unbreakable
blue sky.


—Taylor Graham

samisen music sown on rumor—
sewn in reminiscence.
memories revive: a mecca, a caress,

a wren, a crane, a vireo, a swan.

once-aurora, now an eve.
susurrus. musicians score an aria
sonorous as au revoir.
we owe a raven's ransom.

a sorrow soars.


—Taylor Graham

They all laugh. He mutters, stutters—words
wing-clipped, till he flutters, utters birds.


—Taylor Graham

The trail steep and winding, grinding, long.
Birds against sun blinding, finding song.


—Caschwa, Sacramento
(Inspired by Michele Kunert’s photo of Canada Geese in McKinley Park—see Medusa's Kitchen post Monday, Jan. 16)

They flocked here from Canada just as others before
had from Ireland, Scotland, and England
Disease would cut short the lives of many,
And some would be shot for sport

They did not migrate here to flee the inadequacies
Of Canadian Universal Health Care in favor of
The allegedly better services offered when big gov
Puts big bills in the collection trays of private enterprise

Each quacky one, as they enjoy the serenity of the park,
Remembers those fateful days when predecessors of
Our “better than them” health care professionals darkly
Feared the side effects of X-rays more than a lodged bullet

Putting poor William on a permanent path to gangrene
By today’s standards, assisting the assassination
Hamstringing first responders with the mandate:
Wait until the FDA finally, officially says it is OK


—Michael Cluff, Corona, CA

They please me
with their melodies
merry and sweet in natural
trilling without restraint
and bias unless
the call of bees and avians
are involved.

The cage is a killer
even unto the domesticated,
wings were evolved
for a purpose
that contains many acres
of unbounded skies
and clouds.


—Michael Cluff


Emus, ostriches and chickens
eagles, orioles and canaries
as well as offensive.


—Michael Cluff

Deluded and elated
he flew
ever upward
towards freedom
what birds obtain
without construction.

Dad warned Icarus
that escape
does have its downfalls
if ....


Today's LittleNip: 

I love bamboo how it looks
and because men carve it into flutes

—Ikkyu (trans. from the Japanese by Steven Berg)



 Canada Goose
—Photo enhancement by D.R. Wagner, Elk Grove