Thursday, February 28, 2013

Start With Liverwurst

—Photo by Katy Brown, Davis

—Ann Privateer, Davis

a carrot found
in the street
Oh Dear.

fully grown
green lacy leaves
feather above

but alas
it's yellow
not orange

discarded, I think
I'll take it
scrub it

then eat
this unusual strain
to see

what magic
will be imparted
on me.


—Ann Privateer

There's nothing to see here
no deception
too much truth
a boring diet
entices me
too much trivia
paste the walls
with fur lined swatches

there's nothing to see here
no shadows
too much light
half empty glasses
invite me
we'll party
on champagned ice
immersed in elderberries.

There's nothing to see here
no lies
no imagination
sitting all day
hands folded
release me from prison
to waterfalls
flowing to the sea.


—Katy Brown

Hail to thee,
modest young carrot,
buried in earth
growing down, not
up—escaping sun,
your top marks
your hiding place.

Hail, tender carrot:
slender orange jewel,
bright spot in
soup, salad, or
just eaten raw.
You grow delectably
out of sight.


—Katy Brown

Corporate accountants fleece money from boards;
hide profits from taxmen and fudge bottom lines.
But no one gets hurt—it’s a victimless crime.
Move along.  Move along.
There is nothing to see here.

Army consultants charge fortunes for hammers,
claim success with equipment that never will work.
They wine and they dine all the sleek politicians.
Move along.  Move along.
There is nothing to see here.

Hungry young veterans beg in the streets
with war wounds and trauma beyond any help.
There aren’t enough doorways to shelter the homeless.
It’s far more convenient to just look away.
Move along.  Move along.
There is nothing to see here.

—Photo by Ann Privateer

—Katy Brown

You can train a dog to do anything
if you use enough liverwurst—
or so my friend Jean told me
when I was a child.

Her old Chesapeake Duke
obediently said his prayers,
played dead, and balanced a kibble
on his nose for a pinch of ‘wurst.

Years later, Belle, an untamed pointer,
came to live with me.
She refused to go through doors.
Everyone terrified her—

when people came outside,
antelope quick, she fled
to the far corner of the yard.
Any sudden movement made her cower.

There seemed no way to banish
the terrors that haunted her—
no way to earn her trust—
until I remembered liverwurst.

One chunk of liver sausage at a time,
placed closer and closer, over many spring hours,
many sweltering summer months,
brought her close enough to catch—

close enough to comfort.
I used liverwurst with Belle—
but I was the one who was captured.
She trained me in the art of earning trust.

—Katy Brown

It is written that the First Horse
was condensed from the South Wind
by the Old Woman who created all things.
She gave the mare the speed of a desert sirocco.

This horse—fluid, swift—flew
over the sands with breathtaking grace.
The Old Woman created five more mares—
the first band of horses.

These new horses, she gave the gifts
of endurance of a rising sun
and courage of the leopard.
She gave them intelligence and sensitivity

and infused them with the spirit of mutuality.
This small herd grazed together
in the shade of the Great Oasis—
ran together over mountainous dunes.

One moonless night, the Old Woman
created the first stallion and introduced him
into the band of mares, giving them all
the gift of devotion.   

Thus, were the first seven horses created.
Thus, were the Bedouins given
the gift of survival.
But that is another tale for another time. . . . .

Our thanks to today's contributors! If it seems like Ann Privateer and Katy Brown have written similar poems, that's because they got together and had a mini-workshop. Do you find it useful to write with other people?
Head on over to City College at noon today for a Late Peaches reading, then down to Luna's tonight to hear Mary Mackey. Scroll down to the blue box at the right of this for details. And here's a link to an interview Trina Drotar did with Mary for Sacramento News & Review:


Today's LittleNip:

—Claire J. Baker, Pinole

She dries her tears
on a diaper, inhales
the fresh cotton,

whispers a brief
prayer, sips
steaming herbal tea.

Finding pearls
in the dregs,
shw swallows them,

sturdier seed
gripping her womb
for dear life.



 Giant Grapefruit
—Photo by Katy Brown

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Get Out Your Pens!

—Photo by Anonymous Lover of Pigs

—Ann Privateer, Davis

an upsurge of curls
brandishing beneath her surf board
foam sprays azure
women’s naval reserve takes leave
gesticulating currents
sea rollers

—Pat Pashby, Sacramento

push, pull, rock and toss.
Swells the color of emptiness—
head swimming.
Strong underwater turbulence
intensifies her malaise.
Heave ho . . .



feeling like Venus
my breathless body quivers
echoing her pleasure.
When she whispers like that
the clouds part—
revealing the moon’s blinding rays.
When she whispers like that
I am stripped—
suspicious that
she is mocking my surrender
mocking my breathless body
echoing her pleasure
under waves.

—Cynthia Linville, Sacramento


—Michael Cluff, Corona

I have passed
half a day
without you
in the umbra
of what you perceive
as your destined glory.
Funny, the potato leek soup
was as unwholesome as usual,
the Gatling gun spat
as it is wont
and the stars still winked
at me
when your encrusted back
was quarter-paralleled
to me.


(4 her who sleeps in the Casa de los Picos)
—Jeremy Greene, Folsom

Don't be proud of the fact
That I've given up
On the higher image I praised
And allowed for the cynicism
To possess my inner demons

But, in the distance,
I hear a woman shouting "Hosanna!"
Re-awakening the real me
From the reality the heathens claim
I must believe in

I still hear you… the one who’s out there
We'll find each other, I swear...


in the woods that overhang this town,
the old man who lived here is gone.
We found his door wide open, gate rusted

on its hinge. Was he guided by voices
of wind that seemed to call his name
as it wound its syntax into fence-wire

at the edge of field, among leafless oaks
outlying forest, and the deeper dark
of woods, night quilted of deadfall leaves?

Or did he wake one morning to the call
of geese, a wild skein flying north
over Stone Mountain, and one lone

goose as if left behind, crying after them,
hurrying to catch up? What energy
sparks a soul-body's every filament

when all the light-bulbs of the house
burn out, when the sky is such
electric blue? Where has he gone?

—Taylor Graham, Placerville


—Taylor Graham

Evening: I brushed and flossed,
I walked the dog.
I laid out everything for morning.

But in the night, my spine
stretched out trying to touch the farthest
reaches, the whole dark unknown
while in dream my bread
failed. Too much
Elliott Carter or maybe
too much yeast. Heady with sky
each synapse tingling electric blue.

I woke before dawn, fingers itching
to knead the clean white
sponge of daylight dough just rising.


—Taylor Graham

On such a bright spring day, almost near
the end of winter, Percy knows he was born
lucky. Painted bird, a minstrel to the lost
at heart. A social songster for those
who cannot sing. Battalions of fast-food
sparrows with their single note of hunger
neither fly nor versify, while overhead
the mighty cranes—those platonic
conversationalists of the upstroke wing—
go searching afar for the Idea of prairie.
But Percy's place is right here, windowsill
guardian of song. Green-painted bird
of finest whittled plumage (knotty pine)
and brightest brush-point eye—well yes,
he's only wooden. But has he words
in his heart and head? Ask the little girl
who listens to his tales, and repeats them
every evening as she goes to bed.


—B.Z. Niditch, Brookline, MA

Distant as memory
these waves witness
like a brook's rivulet
of last night's dream
I was losing it
under a whole sea
of Pacific shadows
my language breathes
from a yellow snorkel
from leagues silver waters
where kissing fish absorb,
losing myself
in nature's bubbling tongue
of captured solitude
in a hideout of reflections
on the ocean floor
of green, red and orange
rolling by me
with luminous secrets.


—B.Z. Niditch
Uncle said be
like Wystan
try to be modern
and read W.H. Auden

Kick the habit
of feasting on Easter
over plates
of Welsh rabbit

Listen to operas
by Strauss,
the immortal playing
of Lily Krauss

Auden's great love
for food, drink and music
he taught us not to
be rude or sick

The poet's advice:
forget depression,
it leads to a headache
go visit God in confession

Beware of fascism
of men's dirty little minds
Stick to the catechism
and lively poetry's lines,

Happy birthday
from each of your friends
we learnt our lessons
now get out your pens!


Our thanks to today's contributors as we wind up our cameos and waves and start on Self-Deceptions, our new Seed of the Week. The poem I posted by Michael Cluff actually gave me the idea for this seed, so thanks, Mike! And welcome to the Kitchen, Jeremy Greene! May your pen continue to flourish.

Our thanks to all the readers who sent us poems about waves and other subjects in cameo form; I was pleasantly surprised by all the poets who tackled the cameo. No form is for the faint of heart. All of those intrepid poets will be receiving a free copy of WTF in the mail. If you haven't gotten a copy yet, you can either order one for $2 from or head down to The Book Collector, where there are still some copies, hopefully.

I had lunch with Debbie Reeves on Monday, her day off. You may recognize her from The Book Collector, where she has worked part-time for seven years. Debbie has taken over the management of The Book Collector, and she has a lot of ideas and energy to invest in it. TBC will remain the Home of the Snake, of course, and Debbie tells me she is willing to host the occasional reading by poetry groups around town, as well as to offer books on consignment. The month of April, which is National Poetry Month, will feature a month-long sale: 30% off of most poetry books! Awesome! Debbie is also willing to purchase some of your books outright and to offer bookstore credit on others. Good luck to you, Debbie, on your new adventure, and poets should watch the new "TBC Nooz" in Medusa's green box at the right of this for sales and other TBC events. You can order books online from Debbie at AbeBooks: see  Debbie can also be reached at   New TBC hours are Tuesdays through Fridays from 10am to 5pm, Saturdays from 10am to 6pm, Sundays from 11am to 4pm and closed on Mondays.

And our thanks to the anonymous shutterbug who posted the pig photos today. Tune in tomorrow for more about carrots (and more from Ann Privateer)!


Today's LittleNip:

—Kevin Jones, Elk Grove

At last,
I’ve found
The perfect



Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Those Rhythmic Waves


In folds
of silken fabric—
tossed over the edge of the bed—
her moiré
gown in waves of fading shimmer
—waves and waves of memory’s                                                  



These blue waves lift forever to the shore
     as if practicing time in suspension.

They pull in from the eternal horizon;
     the dark rocks wait for their fall.

The sound of their breaking is just about
     to be released.

The turbulence of blue churns with impatience;
    the layers of wet light glow upon the sand.

The smell of the sea air comes through the
     tang of memory.

The gulls have just lifted away with their
     harrowing cries.

The sky’s last light is slipping and slipping
     into time’s darkness.

And in that darkness, the waves finally
     and silently break across the picture frame,

right up the tangible edge of my wet shoes.



She may have been twenty-eight.
About 1932.  Perhaps Seattle.

Coming home from school
I found her
sitting on the couch
knees crossed
dressed up in her new dress

of crêpe de Chine
shiny as night’s
soft amber lights
of places she had been…

she smiled at me
with a smile that was her own
to make a declaration of herself
sitting there, posed,
like a glamour girl…
a movie star…
a model…

her hair just done,

those rhythmic waves
tight-pressed to her small head
which she held

and I
in awe of her…
my mother…



I hated this one immediately : bisque with
painted-on marcelled hair and fixed brown eyes. 

It looked at me, its blond face featureless.

But I said thank you and sat it on a chair where it
slipped sideways and went rigid with not belonging. 

I don’t remember ever touching it again.

(After "Couple on the Shore" by Edvard Munch)

Always goodbye—wherever
they love—no way to return.
The melancholy beaches
are lost to winter now.

They remember what was true:
the dark gulls overhead—
kept afloat
by slow, untiring wings.

The gray world moves
in endless, white waves
that try to cover what is lost.
There is no other—

no other anything they want and
cannot keep. So they embrace—
with every tender, vanished place
reclaimed in resurrected love.



How serenely she wears
the art of the painter’s hand
who painted her all green—

or is it the deception of light
turning her into
a numinous map of the sea

that follows her contours
with shapes and symbols
of intricate design—

even to the closed mouth
and eyelids, the hair sculpted
into deep waves: how

ever swim back now
to the real
and lose all this… how

ever clothe, and hide
the breathing design of her body,
so perfectly stained…



Late summer.
Sundown. A long empty beach.
Thinning cries of gulls.
Slow shushing of the waves
—only my footprints on the gray,
wet sand. I am singing to myself.

My memory house is somewhere
up ahead with all its lights on,
but I am not late. 

The waves rush up, and back,
leaving small tickles of foam
and gold flecks on my feet.
The slow, circling gulls
scold my presence.
But I do not hurry, or mind
their scolding. This is my time
to own all this—even them.

(first pub. in Poets' Forum Magazine)


Today's LittleNip:


You utter scream after scream into the vast silence
and watch the sound waves travel
distance after distance;

how still everything becomes now,
as if everything has ended—
even the light waves.


—Medusa, with thanks to Joyce Odam for today's poems and pix! Our new Seed of the Week is Self-Deceptions; send your musings on those lovely lies you tell yourself to

Monday, February 25, 2013

A Fistful of Cameos

—Photo by Ann Privateer

—Ann Privateer, Davis

people rise and fall
for those who recall: them, him, her
before their time
stilled from what they knew to no more
sojourning in night's excitement.
So lost.


—Ann Wehrman, Sacramento


pin curls
clips in fresh-washed hair
nights sleeping on tin can rollers
junior high
trying to make the perfect waves
decades later, comb and go
wave free


sea foam
sea-green bottle glass
waves—color of her true love’s eyes
dip and sway
white foam melting the green away
waves sing—long, golden day drowns
no bounds


your hands
the ends of your arms
hands stuffed deep within your pockets
no more time
I take one last, long look at you
see one hand slowly surface
you wave


—Timothy Sandefur, Rescue


That face;
It looked just like her. 
Couldn’t be—she lives in Boston
Doesn’t she?
Or did she wander from a dream
To be glimpsed and then
Walk on?


Put himself in all
His films. Michelangelo drew
His own face
Groaning at the final judgment.
We write ourselves in every

Wendy Williams, Hatch Graham, Judy Taylor Graham
—Photo taken at Citrus Heights Area Poets Reading in
Citrus Heights on Saturday, Feb. 16
by Katy Brown

—Taylor Graham, Placerville

as if
shipwrecked for a week
of summer on an island washed
by earthquake
waves—not another human, but
sea-wind is always speaking
to us

we walk
the tsunami line,
find old bones flung so far above
by the sea that daily brings us
iridescent caskets on
the waves

swimming upriver
in waves to spawn and die—every
thing is past
and future, present, broken length
of fishing line, words in a

we move
like tides, gathering
what the sea delivers, driftwood
out of time,
we watch a schooner-rock that sails
forever past our land's-end,
our lives


—Caschwa, Sacramento

Dodge Dart
Two Dodge Caravans
Ford Mustang with 289
Ford Taurus
Oldsmobile Cutlass Ciera
Chevy Malibu Classic


it melts in the mouth
never had anything so good
has no unpleasant after taste
the finest ingredients
buy some


Have fun
don't stay out too late
remember our discussion well
no drinking
of course you may have some coffee
now relax and enjoy your
night out


We met
at a singles club
but she wanted only hundreds
I was broke
so we didn't hit it off then
maybe all's well that ends well
we split


To reach
universal truth
turn off the television set
go outside
and take a stroll in the forest
if you live in the city


Today's LittleNip:

—Nancy Haskett, Modesto

Their hands
fluttered silently,
outstretched, as if yearning to touch
one more time,
separated by a distance
their fingers spelled out the words
good bye


—Medusa, who reminds you that if you send us a poem in cameo form (see Forms to Fiddle With in the green box at the right of this) on the theme of waves before midnight tonight, we'll send you a free copy of the brand-new WTF. Send 'em to

Spring Crocus
—Photo by Katy Brown, Davis

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Constancy is Essential

Fishing Boats at Sea
—Painting by Vincent van Gogh

—Johann Christian Friedrich Hölderlin, 1770-1843

All the fruit is ripe, plunged in fire, cooked,
And they have passed their test on earth, and one law is this:

That everything curls inward, like snakes,
Prophetic, dreaming on
The hills of heaven. And many things
Have to stay on the shoulders like a load
Of failure. However the roads
Are evil. For the handcuffed elements,
Like horses, are going off to the side,
And the old
Laws of the earth. And a longing
For disintegration constantly comes. Many things however
Have to stay on the shoulders. Constancy is essential.
Forwards, however, or backwards we will
Not look. Let us swing
As in a rocking boat on the sea.

(trans. from the German by Robert Bly)



For more about Hölderlin, see And don't forget that we're in the midst of a give-away of the new WTF. Send poems on the theme of waves in cameo form (see Forms to Fiddle With in the green box at the right of this) to by midnight tomorrow, Monday, Feb. 25.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Light Upon the Waters

Bears Dancing
(Detail from an old painting)


The wind seemed to be waiting for the dawn.
It poured into the room like a confession
That it carried with it weapons and knew
How to cut throats if it needed to do so.

It seemed greedy, unknowable, except
For its obvious needs in living me as time
Does, with all events dispensable, not

Expecting me to make it to the evening,
Not expecting me to arrive that far,
Hoping I would become lost in the multitudinous
Crashing of wind-driven waves, the scattered
Lights from a million poems pretending to be
Cities where the remarkable happened over and over.

Then, standing on the patio, I heard the discussion
Afternoon was having with darkness across the hours.
I saw the silver slip from that day, saw it scattered
By those same winds, felt my vain heart branch
Into a kind of clarity that all of this was totally
Haphazard, not part of any plan at all.  It was
Just step after step from the Garden of Olives
To the same Golgotha I already knew.  Nothing
Personal to see here.  Please move along.



It was always always a blear for her to remember
When she came down from Arvada.
She had two jars.  One with dried,
Very large lima beans and one with a tarantula
Spider that was just a shell.  A wasp
Had used its body to raise her young,
But it was still beautiful, perfect in form
And an almost electric blue color.

She crumpled paper she had been given
Without so much as unfolding it.
“So you came back.  Did you run out
Of cigarettes or miss the piano?”

She gestured toward the baby grand.
It was funny, she hadn’t even thought
About the piano since she had left.
“The piano,” she said and seated herself
On the bench seat in front of the keys.

“Here, I will play you something,” she said.
“Put those jars on the floor,” he said,
Taking a frozen chicken from the freezer.
“This will be good,” she thought.

He excused himself.  After a few minutes
She could hear him showering. 
She played a note.  Then another.
Electric blue and pale yellow-green.
The jars suddenly seemed
Incredibly important.



It never stops.  Everything is obliterated.
The sound covers everything.
We are the great pillars:
Fire, smoke, the single mind
A plague of locusts may be
Imagined to be.

Time sometimes thinks itself
A substance, a smooth mountain
Worn away by the nothingness
It truly is.  It refuses to
Recognize itself.  It needs
Its own universe to do this.

I write fearless of the lions that appear
To create a destiny but do not.
They are the same caprice
As time, dressed in its black suit,
Clutching its sad battle plan,
Hoping we won’t recognize it
Until it is much too late and
We are surrounded by mirrors
That will allow us to be no older
Than we are at the present,
That begs for some ritual to
Show how we purchase deceit
From time, wish to hold it, then,
With it, try to convince
Time we are its beloved.

Clouds rush in. The lions cough
From the high cliffs.
Eventually they will no longer
Fear our fires and will come to
Claim our breath, watching closely
Our uncertainty that anything
Even remotely like this were
Even possible. 

Sunset Tuesday


This is the time God must see you.
The vigils are more than completed.
Your ideas of tomorrow have
All but been defeated.

We have come from very far away
So you will not expect us at any
Given time.  We will disguise
Ourselves as prayer.

We have steel and can see within
It to observe its hunger for weapons.

We will walk slowly so you may
Come to think of us as worthy travelers.

You will begin to notice water
Filling the nights.  It will pour
Into the crevices within your dreams

And form a path for canoes and
We will board them and paddle,
Never looking away from the stars.

Just after happiness and suffering
Are found conjoined on the edge
Of these waters we will see shadows
Caressing everything we notice
About our bodies; how they might seem
Memorable then immediately realize
They are no more than wire fences
Where birds come at evening to
Speak to one another.  We
Become grateful that the blue
Distances surrounding us are nothing
To those birds, only a light God
Chooses to look at this evening.

He sits behind a rusted gate,
Dazed from having thought of you.
He asks you to speak.
You believe you are having a nightmare.



A rag tied tight above a frozen sea
A flag to some but not to me.
A wind that’s hollowed to the core
A heart that knows what dark is for.

A well that splashes in the air
Then slips itself beneath the bare
Rock of a cavern, below the hill
And keeps its language within it still.

A wood that hides both wolf and deer,
That praises darkness, draws it near
And finds inside its green, green soul
An empty room, a glowing coal.

A pair of eyes, a spoken word
That though uttered is never heard.
A tread upon the cool dark moss
That takes the very dreams we’ve lost.

It clusters midnight with its sounds.
It frightens children, quiets hounds.
It pretends to nothing be
But beats like a heart in a raging sea.

And so I’ve come down from the hill
To this small house, lean on its sill
Pray to the moon to keep me safe
To bless my life, to give me grace.

I may not then, then yes, I might.
I’ll craft a  song made out of light.
I’ll sing it through the quilted night.
I’ll pray, I’ll pray I’ve made it right.


Burned into the flesh
But never showing as brands,
Cold sparks coming from the mouth
Like a child’s friction toy.

We sit inside our skeletons,
An electricity of energy flow through us
Firing desire, rooms of actions and reactions.

The stars begin excusing themselves,
Recognizing individuals from other
Galaxies with names that sound
So much like our own that we
Answer upon hearing them
Across impossible distances.

We have trees who understand more
Of the universe than we could
Ever hope to understand.
Their concentric rings, the fractal
Ideas they explain to us with their growing,
Their leaves translating the sun
Into exquisite energy and beauty.
The speak intimately to the wind.

We are directly guided by light
And voices.  We have absolutely no
Knowledge of why we are here.
We live with death always about
To press its mouth against ours,
Sucking the sweet air from our collection
Of cells and organs, neurons and
Memories, adventures and experiences.

We have no right to be here.
We exist in a state of grace
Simply because we are here.

A candle flickers on a table.
The room is otherwise still dark.
We feel our way across it.
We sometimes touch others,
Other touch us, burning into our flesh
But never showing as brands.

The river just outside the window
Seems entirely in flames.  It is only
The light from the sun upon the waters.


Today's LittleNip:


This is a poem,
So you’ll always look pretty
Good in it whenever
You read it.

I’ll be here too, of course,
Because this is how
I love you when I am
Not here, when there are
Only these words.

I will always think
You beautiful.  I will
Always love your eyes
Running over these words.
Imagine I can feel this.

Let me hear you breathe
When you reach the end
Of the poem.  I hope we
Can hear this sound forever.
You can stop reading now.


—Medusa, with thanks to D.R. Wagner for today's poems and pix! Don't forget that we're in the midst of a give-away (the new WTF): send poems in the form of the cameo (see Forms to Fiddle With in the green box at the right of this) based on our Seed of the Week: Waves to by midnight this coming Monday, Feb. 25 and I'll send you a free WTF!

Vineyard Sunset

Friday, February 22, 2013

Grinding Winds of Change

Tim Kahl, Marathon of Love reading at SPC
Friday, Feb. 15
—Photo by Katy Brown, Davis

—Dewell H. Byrd, Central Point, OR

grinding winds of change
frozen cemetery stone
seasons marching by.

(first pub. in The Aurorean,
Winter 2002-2003)


hummingbird's nest
feathers drifting upward
wind-a-way wind-a-way winter


autumn chill
snow bird.

droplets of water
rain on pale green bamboo canes
wind chimes at twilight.



We leased a nice place
on the beach where
one could enjoy the
brisk sea salty air

until it arose from
several feet of
seawater that
swallowed our furniture

still chasing the American
Dream brought the cool
advice that buying was
better than renting

so my room-mate
Fiscal Cliff and I
bought a house on
Vicious Circle

on the Lower
side of town
very peaceful

because we strictly
follow the adage that
good firearms make
good neighbors

right hand over heart
serious expression
you know that all
of this must be true


 Sage Robbins reads at Marathon of Love
—Photo by Katy Brown

—Carol Louise Moon, Sacramento

There is a kind of orange tease
of brown, as if brown begs more
defining.  I am reminded that brown

is only in my mind, combined by threes:
color of sun, some sky or flower
of red, with green for background.

But more than this: a sheen
of golden hue laid over log or
rotting leaf, haloed or compounded

until brown eases toward tangerine
and mutes itself...  I'm not so sure
what brown is, this color so profound.


—Carol Louise Moon

I will not mention a bird
although you know I have
just mentioned a bird, but not
a blue jay—until now.
It's a lighter shade of blue,
but I'll leave that up to
your imagination
which is a very odd sort of light,
not unlike a blue bird
in flight.

(first pub. in Hart Sr. Center Anthology, 2012)


—Carol Louise Moon

You say I am so patient,
Yet what of this small slug?  I
Yammer while lying on sable
Yard grass, unsteady weaving
Yaw-of-ship verbiage.  I
Yearn for an easier life,
Yielding—like this silver slug.


Thanks to today's contributors! See more pix by Michelle Kunert and Katy Brown of the Marathon of Love in a new album on Medusa's Facebook page.

Free hand-outs from the Kitchen! We're still working on Waves, and we're also still working on the Cameo form (see Forms to Fiddle With in the green box at the right). Combine them and send the results to us, and Medusa will send you a free copy of the new issue of WTF which was released at Luna's Cafe last night. C'mon—it's not that hard, even if it IS the dreaded F-word (form). This one is non-assuming and doesn't demand those awful, confusing feet, though you do have to count syllables (which actually isn't that easy; how many syllables does "orange" have?). Anyway, send your wave cameos to before midnight on Monday, Feb. 26. That's right—Monday is coming up pretty soon! Hop on the tiny wave cameo this weekend, and don't forget to combine the wave theme with the cameo form.

By the way, there are also some free copies of WTF at The Book Collector, but they won't last long.


Today's LittleNip:

—Carol Louise Moon

The unread

on the bookshelf
wanting to be read,
wanting to be blue
like Moonlight Becomes You
by Mary Higgins Clark. 
"Read me in the dark,"
says The Runaway Jury
by John Grisham

the red unread book.



NSAA (also known as Lawrence Dinkins 
at the Marathon of Love
—Photo by Katy Brown

Thursday, February 21, 2013


2013: Year of the Snake

—B.Z. Niditch, Brookline, MA

Not far
from the clearing
of the waves burial
of the sandstorm,
yet close
to my home harbor
of beach erosion
after a wintry storm

We met new people
at a tar bar
all of us spared
after the floods
and snowy disruption
from raw winds
and ate out
on the white balcony
on the sea's green waters
with deep breaths for all.


—B.Z. Niditch

the now whiskey sky
under an umbrella
feeling the strangeness
of after a blizzard
which caused shore
erosion near boats
of future tourists
drinking in anticipation
on miles
of beach snow
hoping for relief
by the ocean skiffs
watching my snow
from dark red eyes
carrying images
by waters,waves,wind
not smothering
my ideas
by unfriendly clouds
of liquid solitude.


—B.Z. Niditch

Waves rise
washing the sea
where boats
and my orange kayak
may have sunk below
the purple ocean

I walk along the sand
by the dark water's edge
sunshine in silhouettes
like spider webs
by a snow statue
fix their glances
as a storm passes away

Yet utterly ashen
spying my kayak
catching up to my eye
and my accurate sight
spinning around
in a miraculous mist
confounding the laws
of maturing nature,
she lives again
for another voyage.

Wisdom. Yes!

(After the photograph, “tu estuve esperando” 
by bachmont)
—Lynn Hansen, Modesto

waves caress the sand,
watery hems of silky skirts,
moon pulling
their translucence in rhythmic dance,
a gentle cosmic embrace


—Carol Louise Moon, Sacramento

I love you, baby pit bull,
you hind-legged baby dog,
you near-eyed familiar face,
you canine yap of a doggie.

When did you stick your
kissable lips into pink jello?
Why do you smell so baby-fresh?
You're a dog—for dog's sake!

WuDon, come.
Come sit in my lap for
half an hour and let me stroke
your short-haired collarless neck,
as if you might sit still for
an old lady in your toddler years.

How is it that you suck in
your belly and squirm to escape
my affections?  Allow me to
hoist your warm, plump body
over my shoulder as I rise
from the couch to prepare tea.

I should sling you in a sling
at my breast while I do dishes.

Why do you lick my ankles
with your bubblegum tongue
before bounding away in haste,
as if a pre-teen running
from Grandma's wet kisses?


—Carol Louise Moon

The trick was to keep the dog from barking
every time someone entered the house.
The old Victorian located in midtown was
made up of six studios, #6 occupied by a
lady and her dog.

People-noise would come and go, and warp
any sense of memory, always bringing in
new memory, new words, until her own
words were dismissed, her brain was on hold,
her figure a mere shadow on the bedroom wall.

A list was posted by the mirror, her image
appearing and disappearing as the dog barked
again and again.  She grew to love the sound.

The sound grew its own meaning in her half-
open heart, a pitted apricot desiring the return
of its pit—like wanting the dog to remain with
her always.

One day the barking stopped altogether…
He had figured it out:  Don't let anyone know
she is here.  Don't let anyone knock on the door.
Don't let anyone take her away… the lady
the dog loved so much.


—Taylor Graham

Consider Tuesday, nubbly ram-lamb
with symmetrical black zorro-signs
below his eyes, as if his mask slipped.
His amber-eye half-sister Thursday
wags her stub of tail, already docked
sheepherder's fashion, hygiene-
chic. His other half-sis Wednesday
sports a bright green rubber-band to mark
the hem where hers will fall off
in good time. This leaves just Tuesday,
boy-lamb unwethered and undocked.
He nibbles sweet spring grass and filaree
as if his pasture were forever. As if
he could keep on slipping from
your crook, evade your banding ring;
abrade our sheep-scoured lawn to lamb's
content, never losing a ramekin
nubbin of his sweet self to the docker.


Our thanks to today's poets for their potpourri of steaming-hot delectables! I know Chinese New Year's began February 10, but it still warrants notice, being the Year of the Snake and all. Waves in all their puns and incarnations remain the Seed of the Week; our thanks to B.Z. Niditch who lives on the hem of the waves for his poems on the subject. Lynn Hansen took her inspiration from the link I posted with beautiful photos of ocean waves; see the SOW note in the green box at the right of this. Carol Louise Moon is Editor of Sacramento's only large-print journal, DADs DESK, and there is a new issue out. Send her $2 at 537 41st St., #6, Sacramento, CA 95819 for a copy. And Taylor Graham's poem is a response to those of Tom Goff and Katy Brown (see yesterday's post); she says she hopes it's "not too raunchy—but ranchy". I personally was involved in a lambs' tails caper when I was a wee lamb myself: my family and I visited friends with newborns (I fed them bottles of milk and they are strong!) and I purloined the tail-ends which had just been cut off, smuggled them home and stashed them in a drawer—where their odors and flies soon drew my mother's horrified attention. Well, it seemed awful to just discard something so organic. My lesson in impermanence, I guess. That, and the discovery of waves...


Today's LittleNip:

—B.Z. Niditch

Listening for a moment
blinded by rain
crushed by a hair
blown away by the poem
knocked out by a find
circled by a butterfly
rolled over by a loss
awakened by spring
waves from a sea of hands.



Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Lambs, Grahams, and Waiving Judgement

The Reef
—Photo by D.R. Wagner, Elk Grove

—Taylor Graham, Placerville

Sailors gave the sea
a few gold flecks rippling underwater,
small coin, ancient jars scattered
on the bottom: long-necked,
hips flaring wider than the shoulders,
all stained by turquoise water; one
with painted eyes, a goddess's perfect-
moment gaze. With this image
of the luck of drowning and treasure,
you could make your fortune below
the waves that swell foam-white horses
running out to sea, shipwreck
artifacts on the shifting tidal floor.


—Katy Brown, Davis

Wednesday, and Thursday
slipped-on their charcoal knee stockings
to gambol
in springtime owl clover and rye—
their pockets filled with sunshine
and joy.


—Katy Brown

sheep, hearty creatures,
dropping spring young in icy mud—
dark knee-sox
their only warmth against cold feet,
wool coats buttoned to the neck—
cool lambs.


—Tom Goff, Carmichael

Blessings on thee, little lamb,
babe with cheek of black and tan!
(Or hast thou, biter of grass and sage,
jowls more truly black and beige?)
But “thee” is three, so I should speak,
one for each midmost day of week.
First, Tuesday’s child, offsprung with Wednesday;
then, bringing up the rear, sweet Thursday.
Freckles mommed these wobbly lambs
midwived to stouter strength by Grahams.
You precious imps, so small portrayed
in photos, make free to abrade
whole lawns now sweet green, now quite frayed.
On Fortune’s cap the wool-clad button,
each garbed and marbled in soft mutton,
you’re clothed too in the finest nap
of sheepspun likely to plush a lap.
Ye tiny whelps, O spritely lambkins,
seem cupped popover in three wee ramekins.
Happy birthday and welcome, eanlings,
cuter than girls in pearl earrings!

Michigan Marina w/Barge
—Photo by Katy Brown

—Caschwa, Sacramento

Full leg cast
wooden crutches
starting college

an otherwise
awkward commute
now a pleasant ride

courtesy the
generous offers by
classmates with cars


Eagle Court with an
overabundance of terrific
food yet at clean up time

we packed the leftover
succulent cuisine
into cars and vans

and made a surprise
visit to a shelter
warmed the heart


Artistic verse quickly
disappears into the
ether of poesy

from whence it
reappears in print
or speech or fire

or lunar cycles
steering the tidal
flows of great oceans


—Kevin Jones, Elk Grove

The St. Patrick’s Day Parade
Moves slowly through Old Sacramento,
Pausing, halting often.  The
Beauty queens’ convertibles are
Stalled in front of the saloon.
The queens smile wanly, give
Weak waves: it’s going to be
A long day.  Out of the bar
Comes a biker all leather and
Denim, ZZ Top beard and
Jailhouse tats, stopping by
One of the cars.  The crowd
Gasps.  “No, No, Miss. 
You’re doing it all wrong: you
Have to roll it.”  And he gives
A wave so regal, so perfect,
You can hear the Corgis barking.
She tries, he nods and lopes
Back into the bar.  The parade
Jerks to life.  The queens all
Wave, properly now.  The crowd
Exhales, then cheers.


Our thanks to today's contributors for lots of fun poems about our Seed of the Week: Waves (that word has so many meanings and connotations!) and also about Taylor and Hatch Grahams' new lambs. Katy and Taylor tackled our Form to Fiddle With, the sweet little Cameo, too. More about that later in the week.

And Placerville, where the Grahams live (as does Medusa), had snow yesterday—our first of the season. We still have some on the ground, but the good news is that Placervillians rarely, if ever, have to plow. The best of both worlds...


Today's LittleNip:

—Taylor Graham

gray morning, the house
alien, a tunnel under
snow. You asked
for bread. I kneaded, punched down dough
with chopped chives; baked you a loaf
of gold.



Pig in the Snow, Port Sanilac, Michigan
—Photo by Katy Brown

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

The Wilderness of Love


It was sleep in the arms of . . . 

(whose unloving arms    
holding sleep?)

You slip in
through the mirror to the dream

to where
the holding arms

hold you,
the never-held

in the wilderness of love—         
a vast landscape of desire.

You go there,
through the sleep of another,

(the safe sleep
of the other,)
and fold into
the arms like a dreamed lover.



in doubles we see them:
images in two’s—

duplicate connections,
shadows attached to shoes

—admiring themselves
in the glad surprise of mirrors

—face to mirrored face,
each to each grown dearer

wearing the same rapt expression
saying the same thought

as if one still might disaffirm
the other—meaning death,

their eyes becoming tragic windows
opening together, enchanted now

with dazzled love
—dependent on one another.



That day there was a storm—a quarrel
of sky and sea—a division of force.

The clouds broke, the rain blew down—
churned under, and belonged to the sea.

The sea gathered and rose into the sky,
but there was no taming of either.

We walked along that shore to feel the
fury—answer our moods, our silence—

building now to the clash of power:
one fed the other, the whole winter of us,

daring—and uncaring of outcome.
This was a love to the finish.



We watched one flail against the other,
Love against Love,

words that were not words—
but reflex after damage.

How could we tell one from the other?
from such sameness.

Time is not used here,
everything back and forth—

like a hesitation—
a bare ripple upon the stillness,

on a harsh landscape,

unnamed here, like some tiny place
on the map of nowhere.

(After “Love” by May Sarton)

It was only love, and I was its failed student,
always looking out the window
into some daydream . . .

I mistrusted it, thinking its edges over-
powered its center
that was too far away, and deep . . .

I struggled with it—wanting it to be
different—wanting it
to equal my perfect illusion of it . . .

I could never learn my way
through all its disappointments.
It was love—a changeling—ungraspable . . .

Even now, I call it—censure it—challenge it
again— willing to soften my terms—
if only it will love me past my harsh resistance . . .



Ah, it is only love that he loves,
so quietly sad, so melancholy,
contented with
the drama of his loneliness,
sitting by the fireside
with a book
and letting his mind stray
—to love, of course—
those who have it
and those who do not.
He is an icon in the firelight
—half shadow,
half pose—
of such great loss.
How can he bear it!
Ah, poetry, of course—his,
and the words of others—
recalling the loves he almost had,
filling the past with memories,
perfected.  He is contented enough.
He has the sympathy of the many
who feel the way he feels.



It is not so much the expectation
as how things are:
cruelty comes first, and after.

What is left is in-between.
There is always one who will fail the other.
No equality here to make things easy.

There is a suffering to know. And disillusion.
If you can master these, you may
get through—value your scars—

show them proudly to each other—
even touch them lovingly,
and bless survival.


Our thanks to Joyce Odam for the photos and poems to wind up our Seed of the Week: Love. Time to move on to a new one: Waves. Ocean waves? Radio waves? Marcelled hair? Waves of nausea (pregnant?)? See what kinds of waves fluff up your fancy and send poems, photos, whatever comes up to

By the way, Joyce is one of the many fine poets who will have work in the new WTF which will be premiering at Luna's Cafe this Thursday night.

We have a new Facebook album, thanks to Katy Brown: she has sent us photos of the Second Sat. Writer's Brush reception which was held at Sac. Poetry Center on Saturday, Feb. 13. Check it out!

And while you're "on" Facebook, check out Shawn Aveningo's page for many wonderful pix of the Marathon of Love reading last Friday night.


Today's LittleNip:

—Joyce Odam

"Love is chaos"
           —Fakhruddin, Iraqi, 13th Century

There is
a force at work—
Being and Nothingness
made to copulate—and now there
is love.       
Love is
blessing and curse—
One would own the other.
Two will not be one—now there is



Monday, February 18, 2013

Waiting For The Moon

Things Are Looking Up
—Photo by Robert Lee Haycock, Anthioch

—William S. Gainer, Grass Valley

It’s been a while
I still miss you
still worry
you know
it’s a thing I

I’m feeling
good about it

and the world—
take a bite kid
it’s all sweet.

no matter what—
you’ll always have

It’s a thing
time does
keeps us apart
that much...


—William S. Gainer

The cool of her kiss
high on your cheek.
It’s been a long day
all she can taste
is the dust
and sweat of you

The sun hangs long
into the late hours.
She says
the tea needs
more sugar,
but you,
you’re just

The porch
doesn’t blink
as it holds you
and waits
for the moon...


(for a "crime of passion")
—Claire J. Baker, Pinole

Hello there, are you squeaky clean?
Sponge off grime at every glance?
You see, a jury is a team
of conscience & of balance,
of reasoning people fair & keen
who give considered doubts a chance.

Hopefully you are not too green,
won't slip into a faint or trance,
are far more kind than real nasty,
can take or leave alone "romance"...
You're slow to yesses, likewide can'ts?
Accepted. You'll be slow to lean.


—Claire J. Baker
Karen washed my laundry
when I had a nasty virus—
first time anyone offered
since I was mom's kid,
now I'm an elder.

She made chicken soup,
added quick-cook barley,
brought oatmeal, apple juice,
sprouted grain bread, honey
and eye contact.

My laundry not just soiled
but fouled, the apartment
not fragrant despite roses
opening in a vase. Karen used
rubber gloves, but still...

   Through a Glass Darkly
—Photo by Robert Lee Haycock

—Caschwa, Sacramento

A lonely spud
orbits the Earth
observing the living
lavish lasting love
upon one another

it has neither a
magnetic nor a
moral compass
nor the heart to
feel its loneliness

just artificial eyes
many, many eyes
to gather information
by proxy for someone
on Earth to process

to enjoy the largess
of the view of buttes
from well above gravity
high above loneliness
beyond reach of love

now enter the drones
mindless, blameless
framing an image
target acquired
target destroyed

collateral damage
innocent bystanders
erased by faux fear
due process dismissed
for the greater good

gone are the musket-
toting well-regulated militia
destiny to be history
is now shaped by many,
many artificial eyes

—Taylor Graham, Placerville

A fence
defines our pasture,
sheep-world of green grasses and forbs—
but less green
than beyond, where coyotes hunt
sheep. We must keep on mending
our fence.


—Taylor Graham

tea's allowed in your strict diet.
You choose chamomile
to wake you—
pale sunshine in a cup that heals
the barb with a honey-squeeze
of sweet.


—Taylor Graham

And how
shall I mourn my lost
music, when here it is a click
away? Here's
more Bartók, more Milhaud, more Schütz
than I could keep locked safe in
a box.


Our thanks to today's photographer and poets, who came to us from here, there, and everywhere: Robert Haycock and Claire Baker from the Bay Area, Caschwa and Charles Mariano from Sacramento, Bill Gainer from Grass Valley, and Taylor Graham from Placerville (who took a smooth-handed shot at the wee cameo form—see our Forms to Fiddle With in the green box at the right of this). And happy birthday, too, to Bill Gainer (2/17), with a reminder that he and Caschwa will have poems appearing in the new issue of Rattlesnake Press's WTF which will premiere at Luna's Cafe this coming Thursday, 8pm.


Today's LittleNip:

not sure,
but i think
i've been living the
last ten years
in sepia tone

—charles mariano, sacramento



Things Are Looking Up, II
—Photo by Robert Lee Haycock