Sunday, June 30, 2013

Inheriting Heaven's Graces

—Photo by Richard Hansen, Sacramento

—William Shakespeare

They that have power to hurt and will do none,
    That do not do the thing they most do show,
Who, moving others, are themselves as stone,
    Unmovèd, cold, and to temptation slow—
They rightly do inherit heaven's graces,
    And husband nature's riches from expense;
They are the lords and owners of their faces,
    Others, but stewards of their excellence.
The summer's flower is to the summer sweet,
    Though to itself it only live and die;
But if that flower with base infection meet,
    The basest weed outbraves his dignity:
        For sweetest things turn sourest by their deeds;
        Lilies that fester smell far worse than weeds.



Saturday, June 29, 2013

The Roots of Language

At the Beach

The roots of language are of steel.               
                            —J.L. Borges
The objects hardest to break remain.
                            —I. Calvino

All of the words which speak of distances
In lovely forms, describing groves
Of trees, armies riding with their
Banners declaring what banners may declare,
Cities shimmering on the plain
Or blinking with myriad lights on the
Seaward sides of rolling hills, market
Places crowded with all one might
Desire, great waterfalls with their towers
Of mist, each of these, a symphony
In that distance, is not that thing.

As we come closer to them
They are changed or we perceive them
As having changed.  Sometimes the
Most compelling of images are dull
And mundane as we draw near to them.

And, as a bit of writing on one side
Of a piece of paper cannot know
The other, will never inform more
Than it can call up of its own page,
So a magic is born there and we
Create tales of the smallest of things.

A ring made of ivory and ruby that
Once belonged to a princess who married
A spider who later became a handsome
Prince because he was loved.

A horse of such perfection that it
Took years to find someone as
Beautiful as the horse to ride it
And by then the horse had become old.

Perhaps and only perhaps, could a song
Made on this side of the page
Be heard on the other side?
But it would take the best
Of singers, one who could imagine
What that page might say,
How the words might carry
The mystery to us.


JUNE 23, 2013

The moon really means it tonight.
It’s not just fooling around.

It turns the sky pink even when
It is not in that part of it.

And when it is there,
There is no room for anything

The moon has become a fluid
Or a cask leaking moon spirit
Over everything,

Tonight there is no place to hide.
Even I can see the light in the eye
Of a vole moving by the fence,
Separating the yards.  It is no longer
Frightened.  This night has made all
Things the same.  The shadows are
Inside the houses.  The mouth
Of the moon is all over everything.

It pretends to kiss us, to love us
But it is sloppy and comes too
Close.   Just when we feel it does not
Have anything to do with us, that it
Is just a rock sphere sitting out there,

It begins insisting
We go back into the house
So as not to not have to look
At it anymore, or if unable
To do so, decide to invent pastures,
The fields, the so specific light.
Light crosses the forest
Tonight and begins to create rumors

About the moon...the rabbit
Who dwells there, what the man
In the moon really does.
Where have the nursery rhymes gone
Now that we have become adults?

Beach Graffiti


I had already left the room,
Left the house and started
Down the long alley of Lombardy poplars
When it occurred to me that I was
Still hearing the last part of the conversation
I had been engaged in previously.

It was the sound that surprised me so.
It was actually coming into my ears.
I was nowhere near any other person
And caught myself clutching at my throat,
Words coming out of my mouth.
I had not been thinking about the conversation
At all.

I began to be frightened that the sounds
Were so clear and that I was speaking,
When I realized it could just be
The wind through the trees,
The little arguments the sparrows
Were having, the cicadas informing
Each other of their music with one
Another.  I stopped on the path,
Waiting for something substantial to indicate
That this was an entirely different
Experience than my conversation
In the house.

I listened a long time.  I could feel
The night begin its walk, and waited
For the moon to rise and throw shadows
Along the walkway.

This waiting and this listening and this
Royal collection of sounds and
Vision had exactly the same qualities
My conversation had had.

Finally, I continued and could no longer
Distinguish what the subject
Had been.  I was part of a greater
Language that went beyond both
Words and concerns, understanding
Everything, calm in my knowledge,
Wondering if I ever need to speak again.

                              —Lydia Davis

So many little rooms, each one full
Of beautiful rugs, mostly
North African with their
Lovely borders, ‘his hand
In his brother’s hand.’

“Nobody cares about these rooms,”
Ramon said, pulling me along
To get back to the horses.

“They don’t care about much;
What they are going to eat,
Where they will sleep,
Do they look good.”

We reach the horses and quickly
Get out of town, get back to the forest.

“We will make some music when
We get back,” says Ramon.

“I want to sing a song about rugs,”
I tell him.

“That’s a good idea.  That’s what they are
Good for,” said Ramon.

 Rock and Stone


During the night the enemy had come,
Taking our shields as we slept.

There were lions near the camp.
We could hear them coughing close
To the edge of the forest.
We were not afraid.

Ramon and Miguel could speak to them.
The lions had seen the thieves come
During the night. They had followed them.

The large pride led us into a clearing
Where our shields were
Lined up on a row.
There were also a number of other
Weapons next to them, not ours.

“Why were the shields left here?”
I asked Ramon.
“The lions put them there for us.”
“Where are the soldiers who took
Them?” I asked Ramon.

“It is impolite to ask,” he answered.



No one has touched his body in a very long time.
And he watched it as if it were
A golden boat lifting from the surface
Of the water, claiming air
To hold the hull, to drive it
With only wind. Wind and a perfect star.

“Yes, that is something I have done,”
He thinks and gathers in the streamers
Of light that lit the labyrinth
For a thousand years.  He plies
Them into a belt and wears it.

Gazing down from a great height,
Not discovered by the twinkling
Lights so far below his delicate balance.

“I have something for this.  It will
Be a song.”  He helps it along
Through the harbor, tests it with
A three-pronged tool to ease
The sea back into the dream.

He will even borrow someone
Else’s dream of living by the shore,
Listening to the gulls in the morning
And the crispness of the air.
“They will never notice,” he thinks,
Letting the sails fill with a phantom wind,
Allowing light to escape and bounce
On the throat of the waves.

“No one will see this,” he assures himself,
“No one at all,”
The shore line disappearing
In the wake of such a beautiful ship.


Today's LittleNip:


“There is no way
You can go everywhere,”
She said.

“You just watch,”
He said.


—Medusa, with thanks to D.R. Wagner for today's poems and pix!

Palm Shadow

Friday, June 28, 2013

A Mountain of Love

Duncans Mills Ceramics
—Photo by Cynthia Linville, Sacramento

—James Lee Jobe, Davis

The beggar breaks the rocks, and I eat them. My soul is nourished only by stone and great lament. By sorrow. Every day lasts for a thousand years. At dusk, I give the beggar a few pride-less coins, just barely enough to keep him until morning. Throughout the cold night I lie on my back and search the dark sky for a friend. Just a friend. I shiver, and my heart is empty. I have nowhere to go.

—James Lee Jobe

My thumbs are the captains of my hands. Attention! Fall in! These captains issue orders to the fingers who rush to obey. Together they fight many battles. Typing. Getting little things out of the sink drain. Replacing the minute screws in the frames old eye glasses. Typing out a poem. Some battles are won, some are lost, and there has been more than a few minor casualties. This particular battle has just been won.


—James Lee Jobe

Your voluptuousness is luscious! You are a mountain of love for me to climb. And look! See me scurry among your canyons and wooded valleys! I climb ever upward, my dear, surrounded by the flesh of your love.

—James Lee Jobe

The grandfather clock packed its bags and caught a train back east, hoping for new opportunities while there was still time. The curtains blew away on the wind, flapping madly as if waving goodbye, then shooting out into the sky like a thing frightened. The dog left, just giving up and walking away, and the cat took up with the neighbors, saying sullen things and lurking under bushes. The apples ran away with the wine, someplace more romantic, I suppose; I hadn't been aware of the relationship. With each loss I felt a bit freer, and lighter. Night was coming on, and looking pretty good. What now? —I asked the heavens. There was no answer, of course, but the sky was lovely, and the setting sun was so warm.

—James Lee Jobe

How nice to be sane at the end of it all, I thought. But even then madness smeared the sky with colors that were wrong. Yellow. Green. Dogs and cats made love together in the chaos of the streets. Suicidal squirrels raced in front of fast moving cars. Children laid down their toys and moved off west, singing about Leopold and Loeb. And I began to have doubts. Deep in the roots of my poems questions appeared, in that place where life, language, and sanity all run together, each claiming victory, each claiming a part of me. Finally, I moved off west also, carrying it all on my back as I shuffled along.

—Photo by Cynthia Linville

—Timothy Sandefur, Rescue

Honeybee's sweetness hides an amber sting;
She knows a precious, a dangerous thing.
Hides a dagger under her ring.

Want more from life than it's ready to give?
Want to be, more than to live?
Won't repent. Won't forgive.

The sultry heat of Carissa musk
Ripples in liquid red until dusk,
When the dance begins; whom to trust?

Her silky flesh is ripe with life;
Her brisk eyes bite with golden light;
The natal swell of hips invites.

Swerve from the plum and circle around;
Thorns like horns all the way down.
Clutch at the clouds on the way to the ground.

Buzz, buzz. The flowery hedge
Is not a boundary, only a ledge.
Life is sharpest at the edge.


—B.Z. Niditch, Brookline, MA

The fool promises of love
are not for a night
in a noisy warped
amusement park
when emotions climb
like roller coasters
which flood light over us
in a spectacle,
what about
our shredded nerves
of a Dear John letter
in the morning
for convenience sake
kept in a music box
in a deafened past
that often makes
us cynical,
yet love is obliging
when Eros calls on us
with lighthearted gestures
upon a melancholy day
and slips out like cat
in a black handbag
with big changing mirrors
you carry
by the fun house
in your over-sized look
of goodbye.


—B.Z. Niditch

Forgetting my music
for one night
and tuning in
to Tuesday Weld
in Pretty Poison
about a cheerleader
then Snakebite
which scared
the pants off me
all because
you passed
in living color
the three "R's"
and resentment,
having no answers
to your album
of questions,
preferring to open wide
my third-story windows
along the Channel
and play tenor sax
until a luminous dawn.


—B.Z. Niditch

Nature, like time
every memory
its forgotten miles
of word loss
from the cold reality
from an emerging affair
as you trudge up
the great blue hillsides
trying to find that crevice
of your former love poem,
it's summer now
in your absence
with a new watch on
my wrist for luck
by these rootless bushes
bidding a farewell
to a curious letter
I cannot locate
framed to the earth
into innocent oblivion.


Today's LittleNip:

—Caschwa, Sacramento

    •    Getting older – the vitreous floaters are move about with the energy of Olympic competitors to see which can irritate me the most
    •    Getting up – I have to make sure all the parts are working just as people do with their automobiles before a long trip
    •    Getting hungry – oh that omnipresent appetite…



—Photo by Cynthia Linville

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Silver Linings

Kara Synhorst


In the whole forest, you were just
a fat rabbit caught in a fallen, hollow log.
You were just a bee in the
flower of a trumpet vine.
You were just things inside of
other things.

I rose up into the sky,
cold like the outer atmosphere,
and the anaesthesiologist
with his surgical beard net
like a cloud said
Tell me what we are doing.
And I said You are removing my
right fallopian tube
and he was satisfied but I wasn't
and so I added and the embryo



I am the queen of the silver lining,
wearing a silver ermine cloak,
used, so the death only touches me
A silver line rings my iris,
has since birth,
and in my old age, silver begins
to crown my head with wiry,
coarse hairs that stand up
like a halo.

I am the queen of the silver lining
writing a bright future into every empty teacup,
every wrinkled palm,
every spiraled orange peel,
every bottomless pit.

I am the queen of the silver lining,
calling after you as you fall how you are
lucky to get to

A tribute to me
is a consolation prize.



This is potential energy, the science teacher says.
Holds a ball aloft, fingers down
like a wrinkled-knuckle cage, holding gravity at bay
he pauses for effect, looks around.

The quiet moment at the top of the roller coaster's hill
The crack the spine makes when you open a book
Camping at dawn when the sun is hinting and the birds are still
The shimmering shock of a lover's first look

Packing a bag, making love, saying yes
A seed in the soil in early spring
Opening his fingers, the science teacher says
this is kinetic energy



Body of work, body of water,
Body and mind, long lean daughter.
Tall little sapling, birch or beech,
Jumping, climbing out of reach.
When did you master chain link fence,
Pumping swings, unzipping tents?
Belly rounds, then arcs and flattens
Hair floating up, then combed and battened.
Licking fingers, learns to snap,
Pat-a-cake needs crosshatch clap.
Ink ladders up the frame of the door,
Little muscles strain your core.
Soft armpits, smooth nape
Dirty toes, bathtowel cape.
Round bottom, my side's genes,
Running round our secret scenes.



B needs a band-aid to
cover his hickey.
B has a cigarette burn
on his hand.
B needs water, to run
to the restroom.
B can't sit: B has to stand

B needs reminders to
take off his cap.
B doesn't know where
his papers have gone.
B moved from Fresno
to live with his brother.
B can't come to school with
those all-red clothes on.

B greets me each morning
with a serious handshake
careful to protect
that cigarette burn.
Instead of assignments,
he folds origami—
a boat, so he has
some means of return.


Thanks, Kara, for today's poems! Kara Synhorst is a lifelong Sacramentan who has never lived more than seven miles from her childhood home. She got her B.A., teaching credential, and M.F.A. from CSU Sacramento and now teaches English at Luther Burbank High.  She lives with her husband Reza and daughter Azadeh and two ornery cats. Her poems have appeared in Poetry Now, Convergence, The Found Poetry Review, unFold, Phantom Kangaroo, Sacramento News and Review, and Susurrus.

Today's LittleNip:

—Kara Synhorst

I allow myself only
moments of micro-grief
mourning doves light on the laundry line
to grant me some relief.



Supermoon, 2013
—Photo by Katy Brown, Davis
[For more about this week's supermoon, see

Wednesday, June 26, 2013


Dragon's Teeth
—Photo by Katy Brown

—Katy Brown, Davis

We leave forgotten monsters
in the carport near the mower
— let them weather and crack
in frost and rain.

These sad humbugs, covered
in dust, curtained with cobwebs
— belched fire when we
were younger, more theatrical.

Today’s nightmares are kept inside
where sunlight can’t fade them
— where occasional laughter can’t
round the edges on their teeth.

We save the deepest hours
of the longest nights for them
— these shiny new terrors
that squeeze into shadows.

These new fears, created from
older minds— from more
scientific stuff— these new fears
won’t crack and turn to dust

like the papier-mâché creatures
we constructed when we were young.
The new ones are guaranteed to last
for the rest of our lives. . . .


—Ann Wehrman, Sacramento

old friends’ faces
a stranger like my lover, long ago
eyes, or the way he holds his head
Redwood-shake storefront like the dive bar
where we listened to music, danced

love hoarded, treasured
friends gone, family dead
why do I still see you
do you think of me as I re-create you

in Safeway, Mom’s ghost
peers into my eyes
from the lines on a woman’s
deeply tanned face


—Taylor Graham, Placerville

I woke up thinking it was dawn's
gossamer, pale-silver light and
bird chip-chipping with an under-hum
of song. But it was just
the refrigerator, guzzling
electric current in mechanical slurps
through cord and plug
and down that consistent drain,
the power meter. I'd
be a low-grade user if we hadn't
gone solar. As a child
I was burdened with every
problem. I've turned off the clock-
radio. Is it folly
to just take a walk in the dark?



alone at the clothesline, what's left
of a week's stains and splatters. Alone but
for the breeze on a rustling tangent
through bandannas. Just watch how they
flutter and redden as if recalling
some great-uncle who left the farm
with dreams of a concert hall,
if not the Follies. Family fable or history,
such fancies ran in the blood.
Maybe it all ran downstream to right here,
alone at the clothesline, windsocking
the tangents of a breeze.

—Taylor Graham


—Taylor Graham

As if her living-room were nothing
but a compartment of a train traveling
through the evening news; joined
by a thin wall to the next apartment.
She gets the neighbors' noise,
the same old worry over wages; hyped-
up unveiling of electronic gadgets;
factions among the rebel ranks. A crane
has fallen out of the sky. Somebody
hits the mute. A crane? to raise
the scaffold of a skyline even higher?
Or did a 747 clip a great bird with soaring
downstroke wings? She saw them
dancing once in a floodplain stubble-
field, dancing to undo the day;
she felt their thrumming rumble-song
in her passages of heart. Her mind
is loosening. She walks out the door,
down the platform steps to leafing green
as evening thickens into dark.
Past the last overhead light until
she sees a star, and then keeps walking.

"Super" Moon
—Photo by Katy Brown


...especially the dog next door.
I could hear him woowing. He wasn't
woofing, but woowing. Woow. Woow.

I didn't know what it meant. I didn't know
what he meant it to mean. He wasn't mean,
he was just woowing—whatever that means.

It's not like we woo when we're wooing.
He wags while he's woowing, and
it bothers me when he wags his tail
because it's attached to his spine.

And if he's spinning and whining,
and woowing and wagging that means
his spine is wiggling, and that's
what really bothers me.

I almost died in the hospital last week,
and if I had died and was dead
I never would have met this dog next door.

I wouldn't have rung the door bell and said,
"Is that your damn dog woowing so much?"

But I now see him spinning in circles on a
circular carpet, and I see those big brown
eyes bulging from this little beagle—
and I am ambivalent about his barking.

Can you calm and quiet him?
He's kinda cute.

—Carol Louise Moon, Sacramento
(Prev. Pub. on
Medusa's Kitchen, Dec. 2007)


but today I'm dry,
except inside, of course.

I'm wet inside, but
tomorrow I rain.

The sun is shining today.
Who knows about tomorrow?

If the sun doesn't shine tomorrow,
I won't know it.

Neither will you know it;
we'll be frozen.

But if the sun should shine
again on the third day

we'll thaw, and we'll know it,
because we will be raining.

Yet, who knows if this
will really happen?

Just because we've never heard
of it happening this way before

doesn't mean it hasn't happened.
Why else would it be raining,

except that ancient people
are thawing?

—Carol Louise Moon
(Prev. Pub. in Rattlesnake Review, 2009)


—Carol Louise Moon

Must you speak of Moss Green
in such uncertain terms
as if you're confused
by the colors green and gray?

With such uncertain terms
as "Well, what is it
the color green, or the color gray?"
you make it sound as if

"Well, what is it?"
is an appropriate question.
You make it sound as if
this color hasn't been around too long.

Is it appropriate to question
a color's validity based on longevity?
This color's been around quite long,
in fact, for thousands of years.

So a color's validity IS based on longevity,
in case you're confused.
For the next thousand years,
will you be questioning Moss Green?


Our thanks to today's contributors! It must be true that the full moon brings out the folly in all of us; our Seed of the Week is My Three Follies, and we have not only a fine photo of the moon, but also a photo and poems of another Moon, Carol Louise! Send your follies to No deadline on SOWs; let the folly continue!

And for your reading pleasure, the new issue of convergence is online at; look for work by Myles Boisen, Dane Cobain, Johanna DeBiase, Elijah Enos, Grant Flint, Bill Freedman, A.J. Huffman,  James Lee Jobe, April Salzano, Fabio Sassi, Anita Scharf, Allyson Seconds, Jeanine Stevens, Don Thompson, Michael J. Vaughn, and Brenda Yamen.
Also online is the new issue of Canary, at, edited by Gail Entrekin.

Oh—and happy birthday to Ann Wehrman!


Today's LittleNip:

He was born with a gift of laughter and a sense that the world was mad...

—Rafael Sabatini, Scaramouche



Carol Louise Moon

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

A New Page of Yearning


Put your arm around her ragged shoulder.
Kiss her straggled hair.

Perfect her with your sympathy, her blunt
hands to her face, her sweater wet with tears.

Hold her tight to your chest, though she
resists such tenderness—her ‘last straw’

condition catching up with her at last
with its old weight.  Maybe the slant of

light along the wall behind her
can be a sign—some turning for her mind,

unreachable with hope’s old metaphor. 
Tell her this. Tell her about the wall-light

that reaches down toward her moment
of despair—or be silent with her, letting her

stay rigid to herself, her fingers pressing
back the tears now, her shaking stopped,

your silent presence telling her
there’s one more healing possible.



I am unable to feel my shadow
on the white mirror.

I am wavering with movement not my own.
How cold I feel.

Death puts its arms around me and I weep
and am not comforted.

(first pub. in Lines Against Death
Mini-Chap by Joyce Odam, 2002)



with your
black staircase
and mute windows

your supplicant roof 
and walls that squeeze in—
your doors that open and close


I love the way you float in the sky
at night
when the stars surround you

and anchor to earth
by day
with the secrets you tell yourself.

I know how old you are
in your comfort and strain—
in all your containment, oh, my house.

(After “Body My House” by May Swenson)


I cross this bridge by means of you—
my dead love—
dead to my eyes
and my voice
which calls and calls
over the span of your absence.

This is not a mourning for you;
this is a cry out of my own darkness,
and you not here to comfort me.
There is a difference.

The bridge is so long this year—
full of fog and swirling
cries of something out there—
barely heard and barely seen
and still we go toward it
with our awful loneliness.



The act of loneliness is hard to separate
from the comfort of some old reunion
never made real, only the abstract place
and time . . . like interruptions in time
to redirect some wrong way almost
taken.  Fate has its place in things.

Forever the old ruse—the never reached,
the far away—the long reel of experience,
though that is not what you call it. You are
here now with your new page of yearning,
as empty as ever, and a pocketful of words.
Pathos and whimsy.  Write.

You sit and think out the window, or into
the dull face of the clock, forever at war
with you. You open yourself and face the
turmoil, the little incidents of memory
that drift in and out of fog—that other
where of you. You are still lost.

A fastening: Someone said red-winged bird,
and blue boat, and something less tangible
that was gone before you caught it.  And that’s
the one you want—that image, that sound,
that something that turns and looks at you
with your own eyes that is not a mirror.
Oh, reach . . . reach . . .



You sit in the floor-light
of the lamp and talk to me,

saying how madness claims you.
The doorway outlines you

to a graven performer.
I cannot recede into mind-darkness,

you have it all
at the gesturing end

of your fingers that twist so
in your agitation . . .

I am the one
in bent and inconsolable sadness,

curving inward to a deafness
while you articulate

and perform
your charming pain for me.

(first pub. in Coffee and Chicory, 1996)


Today's LittleNip:


like a stone cry I hear
on the darkness . . .

I am the dark . . .
I am the silence it fills . . .

it howls into me
and sinks through to my heavy heart


—Medusa, with thanks to Joyce Odam for today's poems and pix on our Seed of the Week, Inconsolable.

Our new Seed of the Week, by the way, is My Three Follies. Send your poems, photos, artwork on the subject (surely you have more than three follies!) to; no deadline on SOWs.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Dioramas and Dreams

—Photo by David Iribarne

—David Iribarne, Sacramento

Make sure I don’t fall
I enter the water
Bleeding for nothing
just because you breathe
is why I breathe
never free enough to find you
have you
I used to dance
when you were around
you taught me to dance
you guided me.

Now I have become numb
no will to swim
no will to tread against the waves
current has seized me
like you once captured me five years ago.

At that time, I was overcome
with your grace, your beauty.
Your eyes captivated me
your black luscious hair
even when unkept lassoed me
kept me tangled up
lavender smell of your perfume
drew me close
and your long legs
intertwined my body
luring me in.

Five years ago you were my destiny
now my body is ice cold
feelings frozen
love has met its demise.


(After a photo by David Iribarne)
—Ann Wehrman, Sacramento

white, succulent wings
like the thinnest of aloe leaves tremble
butterfly drinks dew, nectar
from the heart of gold and fuchsia bells nestled
in leaves shadowed to evergreen
sun’s merciless path
throwing her sip of manna into highest relief
bright contrast to the deep, cool
support of green, dark leaves
promising cool shade, deep breath, silence


(for Anna Akhmatova, b. June 23, 1888)
—B.Z. Niditch, Brookline, MA
A glass of tea
seen through a mirror
in the middle of night
on a June 23rd birthday
because it is never late
to be warm and still
in a dark hour
when requiem's
slow recognition
burns in liquid tapers
by two candles
concealing us
in the midst of shadows
on the timeless mantle
by once wintry blinds
moving in the wind
and language is still
unwritten in word
dioramas and dreams
where stars
from evening frost
like winter's snow flakes
along the Volga
mask from the sky
dusting over our fingers
in an open window
by a bird's voice
smothering quiet
along the moonlight
changed hallways
your eyes shut
in a motionless hand
on the piano.

Calif. Museum of History, Sacramento
—Photo by Michelle Kunert

People go to the movies to see superheroes
   but for me now
   "Superman" is a Mexican immigrant on a bicycle
   who helped me rescue a female boxer and pit-bull mix dog
   when no one else on Lemon Hill and Stockton Blvd. would help
   he chased after her into traffic
   as she dodged cars going two directions and nearly got hit 
   her breasts swollen and milky
   probably escaped trying to find some either lost or sold puppies  
   he took off his own belt and looped it through her collar
   Like me he too risked getting bit
   because she was unlicensed as well as not spayed
   Whoever had her before probably didn't deserve her anyway
   I only had a few dollars for groceries to reward "Superman"
   even though he expected nothing in return

—Michelle Kunert, Sacramento


 I guess I'm one hairy bear
   being how my leg hair so defiantly grows
   I use an electric depilitator
   it's supposed to yank out hair from the roots
   yet within a week I get stubble again
   I wish the hair on my head grew as well
   thinning head hair runs in my family

—Michelle Kunert


Today's LittleNip(s):

if I knew what I was doing
i wouldn’t be doing this


is so final
no do-overs


when it comes to bad
i’m all over it
—charles mariano, sacramento   



Poets James Moose, Betsy Powell, Shawn Pittard
at Crocker Art Museum, Sacramento
—Photo by Katy Brown

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Forever in the Mansion

Sebastopol Cemetery
—Photo by Cynthia Linville, Sacramento

JEAN DE LA CROIX (b. June 24, 1542)
—B.Z. Niditch, Brookline, MA
Quand je bois de
tes mots
une flamme entoure
a numen d´esprit
de tradition rabbinique
dans une robe espagnole
pour blesser la nuit
nous sommes entrelacés
dans la même vision
en partageant des gestes
dans le soleil carmélite
en étendant un amour blessé
dès Castile
jusqu`au Monde Nouveau
et tous ceux qui rêvent
d´un témoin de l´aube
emprissoné par
la fortune ou le vide
de nuit
Ceux qui n´ont pas du pain
ou monnaie
dispersés sans
maison ou un abri
seront comme des anges
dans la demeure
et château de terre
dans un ciel non exclu.


—B.Z. Niditch

When I drink in
your words
a flame envelops
a numinous of spirit
from rabbinic lore
in a Spanish robe
to wound the night
we are intertwined
in the same vision
sharing gestures
in the Carmelite sun
extending a wounded love
from Castille
to the new world
and all who dream
of a witness of dawn
imprisoned by
fortune or the void
of night
those without bread
or coin
dispersed without
house or shelter
will as angels
in the mansion
and castle of earth
in a non-excluded sky.



Saturday, June 22, 2013

Here We Make Dreams


What is more real,
The howling of the wolves?
The grinding of the mill wheel grinding wheat?

The dagger punched into a back
When the night stops for a moment,
Then runs out of hours for
The one the dagger entered?

Here we make dreams.
Some are smelted and poured.
Others constructed of glass spheres
That make particular music when
Handled by the dreamer.

Some are too nebulous.  Deep winds
Screaming through the streets,
Snowfalls so white that the
Middle of the day seems
Impossible to comprehend.

These are the questions we ask
When we find ourselves alone,
Captured in the muddy hours
Of the night, tormented by nightmares,

A flood of angels blown across the sky
By a simple natural phenomenon,
The Northern Lights.
A meteor shower in the early Autumn,
Horses racing the high desert
In a lightning storm.

I will look for you there.
Everyone seems to be waiting for the light
To begin flashing and for the gates to
Come down separating the train from
The roads.

Night windows on a passenger train.



At certain hours, in certain places
We are privy to see unmistakeable
Dances such as we have never before
Witnessed.  We walk the streets,
Wander the quiet paths in the park
And suddenly before us, the most
Beautiful and engaging of dances
Performed by the most beautiful dancers.

We hear their music echoed
In the voices of insects,
In the barking of dogs, the sound
Birds make as they undo the evening
To show how it might be put together.

Too often we forget what we have
Seen and do not recall this very
Magic.  Then it becomes the time
For seasons to change, for the winds
To discover new clothing,
Better ways to make the leaves
Rise and fall, whirl in the air
In a smoky Autumn or quiver
In the the yellow-green of Spring,
Rush across the carpets of all
The Summer or create the
Stallions of a snowfall under a full moon

Once again.  It is then we come
To truly be here again and know
There is no place these kinds of things
Go better or where they may be so seen
As the dances that they are.

(student drawing)


Whatever happens here will not go unnoticed.
The beach is very flat and because the
Wind is also still, the waves too move
To the shoreline almost as flat as the beach.

I find I can look for a long distance
Out to sea and have difficulty determining
Any distance I am able to describe.

Perhaps it is the angle of light that does this.
Perhaps, because there are no seabirds
Present, it has become impossible
To determine any scale to the place.

Then I think it is the bright overcast
That hides the sun but illuminates
The entire scene in such a way as
To confuse any perception of horizon.

I notice the waves are barely making any sound
As they lap at the beach.
The place has such a sameness about it
That for a few moments I fancy
I am not there at all and the beach
Only exists because I am thinking
About it.  The sea and the sky
And the beach are all the exact same value
Of hue but have lost their ability
To vibrate their edges.  It is impossible
To tell what color any of this
Scene would be, if it wanted
To be a particular color.



Tonight, when I am writing the poem,
I think, I will not bother him right now
For he is writing a poem and that usually
Means he has found something of importance
He wants to say in a particular way
And I will not disturb him for it may
Turn out to be a very good poem.

Perhaps one about a specific aspect
Of nature, or a description of a village
He did not know would manifest itself
So beautifully in the words.  Or a very
Definite smell that was carried on the
Night air and made him look at the moon
And once again be totally surprised
How wonderful it appeared through
The screen and the open window
And what the night might mean,
Crowded around it the way it was.

I decided to just let him go on
With the writing until he was quite finished
With it and would put the pen down,
Close the little maroon-red journal
With its pocket at the back
In which he sometimes kept an
Extra dollar or two, just in case,
Click off the light to try and
Sleep once again.

This often seems so much better
Than to say anything to him.
I am outside of him.  He is doing
All of the writing right up until the end.


I’m not putting this anywhere.
I don’t even know how it got here.
I was walking near dawn, the light
Became fascinating and I bent to look
Deeper into the draw near the edge of camp.

There they were, welling up on a column,
Angels, two or three.  The light was so bright
It was hard to tell.  And the music.  I fell
To my knees,  wondering if I was praying
Or was merely alarmed.  At any rate, I was
Taken, completely.  I was not anywhere.

I have always lived in fear.  That you would
Not love me, that I would never measure up,
That what I believed in was without value
In this world.  I walked tight to the ground,
Not wanting to imagine anything for fear
Of manifesting it to myself or, worse, to the world.

I took this path around the camp to the water
Supply so I would not be seen—and now these
Angels, a shaft of them whirling before me.

Everyone has seen the light leap before me.
There was no longer any hiding.  I shall learn
To speak aloud, to express wonder to all,
To call out the name of the lord to the darkness,
To be lead by this pillar all the days of my life.
I wish to speak to you.  Do not deny me.
I am the one who comes to you totally without agenda.



Inside my life are moments nobody wants to remember...
                                —Meg Pokrass

They used to have their own rooms.  When I was ill, usually
when I had the fevers that started when I turned fifteen, I
could see that these moments did have their own rooms and
if I squeezed my eyes shut I could see inside some of them.

Ruth always thought she knew more than me because she
had had sex with a boy long before I had sex with a girl. She
used to come over to the house to watch my mother bake
cookies and pastries.  She loved my mother.

“You keep running away from anyone who you think might
love you,” she said one night when we were coming home
from Randall’s Pharmacy, the one with the big orange Rx in
neon above the store’s name.  We used to go there on
Saturday evenings to buy paperback books from the spinner
racks in the store.

“What are you talking about?” I said, feeling myself turning
red.  It was dark now.  Ruth couldn’t see my face.  Not that
it mattered.  She liked to say something about everything and

“Oh you know,” she said taking my hand and tickling my
palm with her middle finger, almost giggling as she did so.

“No, I don’t,” I said pulling my hand away and shoving it
into the pocket of my jeans. “I’m tired of you always telling
me how I am.  You’re not me. You don’t know anything.”

“Oh come on now,” she said.  “You know I’m only kidding.
I just like to make you talk fast.”  She laughed.  It was a
short, sharp laugh, kind of like a car starting up.

By that time we were in front of my house.  “I’ve got to go,”
I said, turning abruptly and going up the front steps to the
door.  “I have too much homework to do tonight.  Thanks
for going to Randall’s with me.”  I could feel the science
fiction magazine in my back pocket.

“Have fun with your space monsters,” she said.  “Don’t let
them get you too excited.”  She laughed again.

“Shut up,” I said, going through the doorway.  “I’ll see you
in church tomorrow.”

I could hear her begin to sing to herself as I shut the door.
"My boy lollipop,” she sang.  I hated her.


Today's LittleNip:


This poem is not
As empty as it might

There are mysteries
Contained here
And a truth, a terrible truth.


—Medusa, with thanks to D.R. Wagner for today's poems and pix!

Note (errata): Yesterday a notice came around saying that Foam at the Mouth Reading Series would be happening today, and I duly posted it on our blue board at the right of this column. That was a mistake: the actual reading will take place July 20. Sorry for any confusion or inconvenience this may have caused.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Solstice: The Season Turns

—Photo by Robert Lee Haycock, Antioch

—W. S. Rendra (Indonesian)

The moon's bed, the bride's bed:
An azure blue sky
Held up by ancient hands;
A cricket flutters about,
Shrilling a love song to the net.

The moon's bed, the bride's bed,
A chinese junk with a thousand sails
Crossing the sea of sleep;
Stars fall one by one,
Yawning with sweet visions.

The moon's bed, the bride's bed:
A kingdom of ghosts and spirits,
Drunk with the flavour of incense;
Dreams scatter, one by one,
Cracked by brittle truth.

(trans. by Burton Raffel)


—W.S. Rendra

In the pale moonlight
He carries his bride
Up that hill,
Both of them naked,
Bringing nothing but themselves.

So in all beginnings
The world is bare.
Empty, free of lies,
Dark with silence—

A silence that sinks
Into the depths of time.
Then comes light,
Man and animals.
So in all beginnings
Everything is bare,
Empty, open.

They're both young,
Both have come a long way.
Passing through dawns bright with illusion,
Skies filled with hope,
Rivers lined with comfort,
They have come to the afternoon's warmth,
Both of them dripping with sweat—

And standing on a barren coral reef.
So evening comes,
Bringing dreams
And a bed
Lined with gleaming coral necklaces.

They raise their heads:
Millions of stars in the sky.
This is their inheritance,
Stars and more stars,
More than could ever blink and go out.

In the pale moonlight
He carries his bride
Up that hill.
Both of them naked:
The world's first face.

(trans. by Burton Raffel)

—Photo by Robert Lee Haycock

—W.S. Rendra

You're the woman I love best and forget fastest, my love,
Because in this evil silence weeds grew over my miserable heart,
Tall weeds, with long torturing roots.

They're dark weeds, soft, painful.
She's dark and swaying
And she blossoms in sin.
My heart's still yours
But weeds grow in my breast.

(trans. by Burton Raffel)


—Ajip Rosidi (Indonesian)

In the train
I read poetry: Rendra and Mayakovsky
Yet the words I hear are yours
Above the rhythm of the wheels.
I look outside:
Rice-fields and mountains
And a poem rises
From every bead of sweat
On the brow of the farmer
Throughout his long and lonely day.

I know you know
That life drifts between heaven and earth
Adam was expelled from Paradise
Then searched for Eve.

The poet's fate
Is to knock on door after door
And never find: Restlessly
To surrender to his situation.

In the valley I see your calm face.
From the valley your hand stretches forth.

In the train
I read poetry: submission to emotion
Which through the iron fingers of Time
Determines the path of Fate: stretching out
Into the realm of dreams which I shape to no avail.

I know.
You know.
In poetry
Everthing is clear and definite.

(trans. by Harry Aveling)


Today's LittleNip:

—Queen Lili'u-o-ka-lani (1939-1917, Hawaiian)

Above, above
all birds in air

below, below
all earth's flowers

inland, inland
all forest trees

seaward, seaward
all ocean fish

sing out and say
again the refrain

Behold this lovely world

(trans. by Mary Kawena Pukui and Alfons L. Korn)



—Photo by Robert Lee Haycock
[Photos may be enlarged by
clicking on them once]

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Half-Rests Under Sun

Sacramento Gay Men's Chorus sings Abba at
Crocker Art Museum 
—Photo by Katy Brown, Davis

—Taylor Graham, Placerville

She left the music running, Death
and the Maiden giving up to Winterreise.
First hot day of almost-summer going
on fall. Lost keys scattered in drawers,
on pantry hooks, no clue, no clef, no treble
tremolo that they belonged to. She left
the front door open as if to let
Schubert escape himself. Or was she
thinking of Die Frau ohne Schatten? Without
shadow she moved by half-rests under
sun, her scent trailing down the sidewalk,
fading but alive in accidentals,
pavement cracks she always wished
to break her mother's back. But these
were only snippets. The spinet
long gone to a world of her own


—Olga Blu Browne, Sacramento
Sound and silence sing as one:
"White is cold, Black is deep."

Their shadows now are silent.

(first pub. in Brevities)


—Olga Blu Browne

I stand silent, sadness locked in.
My memories the weapon.
Dark fears of inward visions.
The scars of my soul echo within.

(first pub. in Brevities)

Sac. Gay Men's Chorus
—Photo by Katy Brown

—B.Z. Niditch, Brookline, MA

Almost alive

in your living room

watching Breathless

for the ninth time

you in your kimono

no one answers

the bell or phone

or questions where

we are terraced

or traced from time

by an indoor memory 

or number of drinks

what comes next

to amuse, trying to forget 

in mystery or illusion

of a melancholy season

wounded and reeling.


—B.Z. Niditch

This must be

a great nightmare

in darkness to cover us

in blanket suspicion

at first light burning up 

with a high cabin fever,

A heartsick somnambulist

wishes for water

from nightfall's escape,

we oscillate

like fawns by branches

to drink in liquid silences

shattered by time

buried in volcanoes

of half-speech

unearthed like a catwalk

by ripples of phantasms

while turning here,

My sheets move me

from a daybed,

destiny dawns

on tuned-up sounds

unhinged images

signal forlorn thoughts

deep within.


Our thanks to today's contributors, talking about our Seed of the Week, Inconsolable. And thanks to Katy Brown for the pix! For more photos of local events, see Medusa's Facebook page for the new album, Recent Readings, by Katy Brown and Michelle Kunert.


Today's LittleNip(s):

i may not be
or famous,
but i do
a hell of a lot of
whatever the hell it is
i do


scribbled so many notes,
my ears are full


don’t go in there
don’t go
too deep
too hard
to come back

—charles mariano, sacramento



Seven Poets who read at Crocker last Friday:
Shawn Pittard, Paco Marquez, Marilynn Price,
Allegra Silberstein, Katy Brown, Danyen Powell