Sunday, November 30, 2014

Living LIke Moles

—Elinor Wylie, 1885-1928
Avoid the reeking herd,
Shun the polluted flock,
Live like that stoic bird,
The eagle of the rock.

The huddled warmth of crowds
Begets and fosters hate;
He keeps, above the clouds,
His cliff inviolate.

When flocks are folded warm,
And herds to shelter run,
He sails above the storm,
He stares into the sun.

If in the eagle's track
Your sinews cannot leap,
Avoid the lathered pack,
Turn from the steaming sheep.

If you would keep your soul
From spotted sight or sound,
Live like the velvet mole;
Go burrow underground.

And there hold intercourse
With roots of trees and stones,
With rivers at their source,
And disembodied bones.



Saturday, November 29, 2014

Sons of the Sea

Across the Lagoon, Bolinas, CA
—Poems and Photos by D.R. Wagner, Locke, CA


A great sadness passes over me.
I can see vast distances for moments
At a time.  There is no breeze.
Sheets of heat undulate in the air.
There is no wind.  Speech is impossible.

So much has happened that no one
Here can remember anything.  It is
A great amnesia that seems to exclude
Love.  People are going around
Killing one another.  Wars are started
Over bad manners and bad changes of direction.

They are playing our favorite song.
They play it over and over.
You know all of the lyrics perfectly.
They go with your outfit.  The one
You will wear tonight.  There will
Be a party.  Everyone will be there.

In the distance we can see
A man walking through the wasteland
Very slowly.  He seems to want to tell us
Something.  We don’t know what it could be
But we know it is important.
We run toward him.
We begin receiving signals.



How have we traveled this far
Without noticing how it is
That the sun has an agenda that
Has nothing to do with us?

I was resting beneath the oaks
Stroking your hair and singing softly
To you.  My heart was out doing little
Somersaults near the stream
When I lost it.  It slid down
The bank and hit the water just
As I was kissing you.  I never saw
It again until just the other day.

You were standing in the sun
Watching the winter crows perform
The afternoon away and I touched
Your shoulder.  You turned toward
Me and there it was again in your
Eyes, lit up bright as any day
I spend with you, the sun exclaiming.

Bicycle Seat


 The line between dreaming and raining
 Was totally unbroken.  Raindrops dripping
 From eyebrows, a slosh of water gathering
 At his feet and running down the gutter
 Forces him out of bed, but the rain
 Doesn’t stop.  It is both on his skin
 And bounces off the wool of his dream
 Where he was sheep beneath an oak
 Tree, watching the morning open up
 The whole shebang once again.
 When he tries to clear his throat
 He baas and the other sheep turn their heads.

 The dreaming becomes even more of a chore.
 Still, he must go get the firewood.  He slits
 The center of the dream just as the edges
 Begin to come apart.  The flock scatters
 In all direction.  He looks at his watch,
 The daylight gathering in the sky,
 Feels the short wool of his beard
 And makes for the door.  He becomes rain
 Again for a moment as he flows out the doors.



Events of the death:
    A beam of light passing
    unhampered across its eyes,
    a suggestion of morning.
    A child tumbling through the emotions
    of his personal night saw fully the shape
    of the dream body unhinged,
    caught unexpectedly below its usual heavens.
    Partially crushed by the brutality of the encounter,
    it fell.
    The child, unafraid, watched
    the dream body congeal into form.
    The vague maps of its travel
    became bones, the rivers of its memory,
    fingers, toes and hair.  In the opening
    of an eye, the body, finally there,
    glistened and was seen for the first time.


    Autopsy scheduled.

The Autopsy:
    Birds filled the chest cavity;
    alive, eyes wide, still and cowering.
    From the lungs, sounds arose.
    Distant, as drums moving in a rhythm
    similar to the movements eyes
    make when approaching the truly beautiful.
    The brain, colored
    as the stars, revealed of itself
    great ships of memory.
    Doctors spoke with wonder
    of the row upon row of twinkling
    deck lights and wonderful music heard
    as vessels larger than the greatest
    ships passed above and through them.

Cause of death: unknown
    like cliffs overhanging the sea
    that speak only to poets.

 Hummingbird and Shadow


A sweet whisper clipping the tops of waves.
The humidity changing the colors to pastels,
Opening my eyes in already late morning.

I can hear the birds arguing in the palm
Trees.  It seems they have important things
To do.  They abandon the yard.

I am working over the lyrics to a song
I can barely remember.  It says that heartbreak
Can be overcome if one stops feeling.

I am amazed at the way afternoon
Lopes into the room, recognizing everything
But how my heart understands distance.

I begin to sing my own song.  There is a
Moment where everything that prompted it
Becomes real again.  I can hardly continue.
The birds return and gather near my windows,
Silent except for their beaks tapping the glass.

(first pub. in Medusa's Kitchen, 2010)  



 I started to sing, but the song
 Found my childhood and the twilight
 Around it glowed pearl as the sea.

 The song found the high cliffs.
 It wandered before them.
 It plied at its rocks.
 It crashed with its high waves.
 It roared up the shingle
 And wrapped around me.

 I stood on the strand and listened
 To wave talk.  I gazed at the moon.
 It looked peaceful and free.

 The white pebbles of beaches
 Lie between dark rocks
 While the hoarse sea upon them
 Spilled melancholy.

 A keen seemed to rise, fitful with moaning.
 A stillness like death
 Seemed to pour over me.
 I knew that this dark ground
 Was never for walking,
 That I should never have been there
 And I shook to my knees.

 A dark company of drowned souls
 Rolled up from the toothed waves,
 Came to gnaw at that darkness
 That surrounded me.

 I ran from that music.
 I ran from the night beach.
 I made for the town lights
 Now far behind me.

 I never looked back.
 I never will go back.
 I’ll tell no one about it.
 Who would believe me?

 That, nights when the
 Crab beds are culled by the rollers,
 When the moon’s a lit candle
 Hanging over the sea,

 That creatures come walking
 To find souls for the soul
 Cages, come moaning their keens,

 Then pass back below,
 Down past the kelp plants,
 Down past the lost ships,
 Down to that darkness
 As dark as can be.

 We are not meant to see this.
 We are not meant to speak it.
 The verse becomes dreaming,
 Yet it flowed out of me.

 Though speak this I must,
 For tales need be told.
 But all poets weave fancies,
 And all time won’t return them.
 So farewell to the dust
 Of this poor lonely earth.  Then
 I bid farewell to these spirits,
 The sons of the sea.

Fern Canyon Bridge


Where the meanings are
Left out on the street
To find their own way home,
Distressed at their own inability
To recognize anyone who had
Anything to do with their discoveries.

Once, on the top of mountains,
Streams began from florid
Displays of weather: snow,
Sleet and freezing rain,
Then rivulets and finally streams
Cutting canyons where entire
Groves of trees might hide
For hundreds of years.

I see you standing by the curb
Looking at the debris wash past,
Your hair wet with rain,
Paper and bubbles, oil and small
Stones, patterns in the water.

We suddenly beheld a great meadow
That seemed to stretch for miles
In a westerly direction and from
Which we could hear the thunder
Of a great waterfall in the distance.
All of effort was to reach the
Sound before the darkness came.
Even the horses were alarmed
At the voice of the water,
Where all meanings are.


Today's LittleNip:

Poetry is plucking at the heartstrings, and making music with them.

—Dennis Gabor





Friday, November 28, 2014

Oiling the Stars

Bihu Dancers of Assam, India
—Poems by Pijush Kanti Deb, Nagaon, Assam, India
(Anonymous Photos)


The keen longing for a paradise,
maybe, a dream or a pet always,
but the sky alone is incapable and helpless
to germinate even a tiny flower plant.
A paradise—a luminous and tumultuous garden,
full of blissful flowers and feathery singers
exhibiting the colours and beauties of fresh life
and singing the triumph of life as the best.
Paradise—assumed already as a belonging
of life-less heaven—a world of fantasy
but well appreciated and valued
only in the real world of blood and sweat,
well co-operated by open hands and hearts,
germinated nowhere other than the land—
nurtured, enjoyed and glorified by the mortals
adding the sky to the land—fantasy to the reality
for a spontaneous intercourse—quite significant
for blooming a life in the paradise
and a sweet smile on the thirsty lips
as a consolation—bestowed upon by mother-nature
against the pains and strains of tough reality.


Maybe, the raising head
touches the moon or Mars
and the race between the man and the God
reaches its competitive climax
in extending or sustaining their own greatness,
yet, something like an extempore speech
or the building of a sweet home
needs oiling the stars to be favorable
in converting the heterogeneous
into the homogeneous,
reshaping the implicit into the explicit
and enlarging dictatorship into democracy
in the hunting of honey for all.
Otherwise, a glass of hemlock is ever-ready
to give the last shelter
to the unfortunate speaker or builder.

 Bordowa, Nagaon, Assam, India


Whenever you embrace me
my angel in my soul
finds his greatness brimful
to make my paradise fertile
till the blooming of the last blossom,
and enchants you too to join on the floor
where I used to dance with my God.

Whenever you kiss me
my demon in my heart
feels the taste of your blood,
makes me hungry to consume you
till the end of my last supper
and mesmerizes you too to be happy
with the taste of my flesh and blood.

 Kaziranga National Park, Assam, India


"We should let bygones be bygones,"
the returned hand of my ex-girlfriend
advises me, keeping itself on my shoulder,
wipes out the tears of my eyes,
cuts the grass growing under my feet
and at last pushes me
to the cause of my grief
to look it bravely in the face.
Maybe, the cause is already forgiven
and my face is turned to other mirrors
but the pinching is still active
in digging my heart and soul
in each and every moment of my lonely evening.
"We ought not eat the humble pie,"
the kind hand advises me once again,
embracing me and my heart,
squeezing them to shed all the pains down
and whispers in my ears,
"You ate your cake and have it now too."

Rash Celebration


I am ever-cautious of the cat on your lap
along with its hidden claws
waiting for directing the dual
between your ‘yes’ and my ‘no’ and vice-versa,
but my compromised heart never calls for a dual—
rather well ascertained it is
with the regular scanning of my heart and brain
to maintain an eclectic equation
that embellishes my eyes
with a sophisticated vision of verified tomorrow.
Maybe, my office schedule tightens its grip
or my dog at my feet barks at your cat.
Our evening tea-hour, nevertheless, is well trained
to extend itself to a decade or more
provided that
your cat and my dog interchange their masters
and my eyes are fearless to kiss
your awesome fingers,
embellished with sharp and polished nails.

 Statue of Srimanta Sandardev at Bardua, Nagaon, Assam, India

Today we are pleased to welcome Pijush Kanti Deb to the Kitchen, all the way from India! About himself, he writes: I am Pijush Kanti Deb and a new Indian poet with more than 180 published poems and haiku in more than 50 national and‬ ‪international poetry magazines and journals in print and online, like Down‬ ‪in the Dirt, Tajmahal Review, Pennine Ink, Hollow Publishing,‬ ‪Creativica Magazine, Muse India, Poetry Pacific, Teeth Dream Magazine‬ ‪and so on. At present I am working as an Associate Professor in‬ ‪Economics.‬

Welcome to the Kitchen table, Pijush Kanti Deb, and we hope you join us again soon!


Today's LittleNip:

Let your life lightly dance on the edges of Time like dew on the tip of a leaf.

—Rabindranath Tagore



Thursday, November 27, 2014

By a November Shore

—Poems by B.Z. Niditch, Brookline, MA
—LittleNip by Ann Wehrman, Sacramento
(Anonymous Photos)


The Autumn scent
of an early frost
across the blue lake
a shadow of brown bears
creep in departure
as bluejays fly South
by the always-sunny surfboarder
with bloodshot eyes
who works out in the crossroads
of the cranberry bogs and dunes
here on his daily jog
though the red-leafed woods
in a cushioned disposition
regretting his becalmed wish
of being back in California
watching this poet's friends
put an anchor on his kayak
along the ocean's edge
and paying him a seasonal visit
on the swaying dock
these fishermen with a wine bottle
bringing salmon and Danish cheese
throw pebbles on the shore
as a trumpet plays
in the greensward fields
among new foliage colors emerging
by the tar-burning orange leaves
as fresh flames burn out
by the cooking oils
of the hibachi grill
in the bedrocks of the Cape
there is always room for
one more guest here
for a seasonal visit.

IT'S BLAKE'S DAY (Nov. 28)

As quickly as a block dance
is over a poet awakes
from a heavenly dream
it's Blake's day again
and we put icing on the cake
hearing night music
along the roof tops
even at an angel hour
of winged landscapes
the poet is off the shelves
between us is our brother
in fine animated company
coming to our celebration.



Hunting hides
the conversation
of the fawns
in the woodland
who disappear
like Blakean angels
with high-pitched voices
who hear the shots
of reminiscent thunder,
a poet on the grassland
watches skywriting
translate his thoughts
of saving animals.


Leafy November
overgrown with elder
as a heavy song
from a Spanish guitarist
shouting out his melody
fills this newly created Fall
here at a gig
a sax player
in long nights
carries cranberries
and crab apples from his garden
crawling on all fours
by mildew roads
on a thin haze of sunlit sands
of overdue memory
longing for the echo of waves
in his full handfuls
awaiting his night music.



Tins of oysters
under a spotted shore
with several fishermen
by green sweet waters
in a pastoral landscape
watch eclipse nuptial plumage
under nests of evergreen trees
over the grayish cloudy sky
an artist sets up her fairing outlines
on her unfolding hapless easel
on a spot of the earth
with a Montreal accent
she gestures to a poet
returning from his half-mile jog
wearing his old blue beret
that she will do an oil portrait
of him if he would like
as a fluctuating sun
by mourning doves
overpowers them.


My eyes open
to awakening birdsong
in the cornerstone
of my rock garden
Fall is here in a glorious sun
with moments of new feathers,
black- and blueberries
pressing the aspens
in my hyacinth arms
with two lovers' nicknames
on the poplars
a sailor is hungry
since it's been raining
on his weekend leave
he attends an Autumn fair
and hayride in a harrowing Eve
among owls, bears and whales
along the sunflower woodland
and ocean's edge.



The chess players
in Harvard Square
migrate to tents in Florida
or California this season
like sky birds
bartering for warmth
they carry their pawns
queens and king
in their green schoolbags
for their whole life dream
is to be a champion
for their favorite game
searching for new diamonds
for baseball or for their lovers
which are not real
but good for storytelling
when they return
forgiven by their friends
leaving them
to the campus of young princes
and resuming a Sunday brunch
from their intelligent opponents
who eagerly embrace them
with the bishop's kiss of peace.


We like a day
like today
when blankets come off
awakened by sleeping paintings
of poetry in my soul
with a seasoned visit
from the angel Muse
followed by six others
reflecting my wishes
for a creative season
when browsing
from the easy sun,
hearing the throaty voice
of a cardinal
we bring bread to his tree house
practicing sax riffs
on the highland dunes
from my plucked heart
waving to fishermen
along the ocean.



On green sleeves
leaning from my window
fresh from apple picking
trying to explore
red and orange in an abstract
of my own
imagining a Mondrian hand
over me
from a storehoused memory
urging me on,
my lemony kite anchored
by a harvest festival wall
now released
to dance over birch branches
through dazzled whirlwinds
over a sky nation of clouds
as a nature's stepchild
tiptoes on new foliage
planting bulbs and  footprints
to a posthumous season.

Today's LittleNip:

—Ann Wehrman, Sacramento

Thanksgiving dinner
at a friend’s
rush home
to work online
work never finished
never enough
granola and milk
at 9:00 p.m.
stomach still
full of turkey
tired, but
work still not done
work that’s never done
work that pays the bills
really, really full
keep working
midnight, still working
your picture on my desk
looks a little fuzzy
my too-tired eyes
wonder where you are 
if you know how I feel
if you care
fall into bed
pass out
work still not done
no idea where you are
or if we will ever
come together



...from Medusa and Rattlesnake Press!

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Staying Hungry

Annie and Beth
—Poems and Photos by Loch Henson, Diamond Springs, CA


Staying hungry while you write
may lead to some interesting

That’s why poetry comes
before breakfast in my house.

The not-so-subtle charms of
pancakes and bacon aside, the
temptation to evade your own
insight grows stronger as a morning

In those pre-dawn quiet hours,
while my partner and the dogs are
still taking turns snoring, I come to my muse
with open hands and ask
for one more favor.



A nest built of

   lichen and spider webs

sits, sculpted and holding

together on a branch

   just well enough

to host baby hummingbirds.

Home is a

   delicate concept,

meant to be held together

   just well enough

to host and raise young.

When examined

   closely, the gossamer

threads seem so easily 


It is not a false

   comfort offered the baby bird.

How else does one

   cultivate the will to fly?



I come by it honestly,

my affinity for blue.

It’s a birthright.

Tahoe’s shades, from

smutty to cerulean,

informed my early imagination.

Where I used to call home

is now where I get to visit

on ‘special’ occasions,

few and far between, and

short…unsatisfying, but

adequate in the absence of

the deepest hues of my 

most preferred shade elsewhere.

Twilight skies, and cobalt

specimens aside, there are

so few opportunities to bask

in the lush loveliness of

the proper blue.

 Lake Tahoe

NEWS AT 11:00

Sneaking sips of
"the good air"
is not enough for us.

We, who falter at
intersections, aware
of the power of

turn our backs
to the polluted tides
and struggle to swim
against the current.

Vintage dispositions
disguising radical urges,
we capture with words
and dreams
and paintings

the colorful contrast to
the shadow side of
brightened, whitened
(bleached, parched)
News at 11:00.



Hungry ghosts push my shopping cart.

I don’t know what to feed them to

make them be quiet and go away.

The smoky burn of scotch…single malt, please…

Incense (sage and cedar)

a wee nip of pomegranate juice, or 

perhaps some peppered chocolate?

Tobacco, or spices?

What will appease them today?

What will lay their noisy chorus to rest?

It’s not the goods they want; it’s the

attention.  No wine can pass skeletal

jaws and be tasted; no smoke can be

scented or savored with lungs that are

themselves in dust.

They envy the juice of life that we

still retain, ours by birth, but on borrowed time.

So lift the glass,

   light the candle,
     burn the incense

         and lay the chocolate on your tongue,

lest someday you join the chorus and

become just another hungry ghost.


Today's LittleNip:


You are cordially invited

to make full use of your

remarkable intuition,

your unique perspective,

and your charged enthusiasm.

“How?” you ask…I’m glad

you asked.

It doesn’t matter.

Work where you work.

Play at things that

make you happy.


Do these often.

Shine as bright as you dare.

The world needs you,

now as much as ever,

to accept the invitation you

were given at birth…to


RSVP daily.


Loch Henson is an El Dorado County native, born and raised in South Lake Tahoe. She currently works as a bookkeeper to support her horse and alpaca habits. Exploring the threads of thoughts and emotions within poetry is a persistent fascination, and she is becoming more active in sharing her work with others, including some of the many poetry groups in Placerville.‬

Loch writes: The photo below is of me and my horse, Willie. ‪Willie is an excellent therapy horse, and in my other day job, I do Equine Assisted Therapy (animal-assisted psychotherapy for people, with horses on the treatment team). ‬And then ‪it took three years to make the decision to jump in, but I did finally did get to adopt alpacas. They've been with us coming on two years: "The Girls" are Annie, Pumpkin and Beth. We also have a llama named Dolly.  ‬

Welcome to the Kitchen table, Loch, and don't be a stranger!


Willie and Loch

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Dancing the Joy of Words

Lamp Shadow on Wall
—Poems and Photos by Joyce Odam, Sacramento


Come, let us
dance the joy of words,
speak music.

Come, let us enter
the howling house
with its swirling of leaves.

Let us assign ourselves
to each other’s prayer.
Let us kneel and hold each other.

And if the wind stops howling
to hear its own silence,
let us sweep leaves.



Gold the color of gold; sky the color of sky;
thunder clouds, textural; the strange fierce light.

Soon the sound:
thunder; felt crackle; everything motionless.

Then a sway of blue . . .
not really blue . . . but feeling of blue . . .

The gold light spreads,
refracts; the gold fields start to sway.

A telephone pole shudders.

A long fence trembles and strains.
The huge sky billows and tears itself.

Nothing on the roadways
that form a cross here—no person—no cars,

only the great invisible force of light and the wide
bulging and swaying—the year

torn into another season— the moment charged
with some great ghost of gathered sorrow,

human-like—blent and moaning—wind-howl;
vast gold motion of field after golden field.  Rain.

 Field With Crows, No Dumping


It is the music—
torn shreds of it,
its fragments
remembering back into whole pieces;

or maybe it is the lack of it,      
the wish for music
as perfect
as that . . .

indifferent music, joyous for itself,
forgetting its composer,
its poorest listener,
filling other ears with perfection,

destruction, its cost for the envy:
the torn joy
of listening—
for the ache of it,

to hold it,

so, free it,
tear its pages and
mingle them into something larger—
a cacophony to fit the tears.  

 Full Moon

The hawks are becoming old for me.
They scream against the sky
though their eyes are silent.

They fly lower now,
now that they are heavy
and clouds are weary upon them.

It is an old season after all,
full of dim blue and sadness,
the painter in the field getting chilled,
and the light failing.



Now we go fuzzily into distance. Our glasses
are lost and we must learn to grope—trust

the assisting hands that reach toward us—
gesturing and pulling back. There is no

such thing as loneliness. Time will not
permit. We are ever in the non-revolving.

Music wobbles when we listen for perfection.
Facades are well-structured and have proven

themselves real. How can we believe otherwise? 
There are Sundays we must fill with our own

blessings. Some presence is always there. 
Our souls whisper. Our glasses are pushed back

on our foreheads. We laugh at Monday,
finding us unaware—time blurring up to us,

fresh as a  beginning— and we realize
that we have been living backwards all our lives.

 Trees Against Wall


Summer has just begun and now is ending.
Time is not the dream.
Reality is forming while we move
through spinning days in a slow malaise.

Oh, why do we trust such rumor—do we know
what will become of us when we are old?



Where we are rich is where some happiness
fills a particular moment without reason or
specialty—only its little change of light
that makes its point at some lift of darkness—
and allows the blessing of gratitude . . . .

Today's LittleNip(s):
(After "Poem for Liu Ya-Tzu" by Mao Tse-Tung)

What is deep and what is lonely
if not the waters of the mind,

too deep and shallow
at different times . . .

         * * * * *


I hand you a dollar

and you bless me,

you bless me, you bless me.


Our thanks to Joyce Odam for today's culinary delights! Say—how much do you know about fog? Around here we know about tule fog, but how about advection fog? Radiation fog? Or how about the mental kind—surely you know plenty about that! Our new Seed of the Week is Laces of Fog. Send your poetic/artistic/photographic thoughts about fog (weather or other kinds)—or any other subject—to No deadline on SOWs.


 Orange Carnations

Monday, November 24, 2014

Dancing with the Clover

Sunrise with Oak
—Photo by Taylor Graham

—Taylor Graham, Sacramento

A skull-shaped cloud floats
overhead, changing as clouds do
but so slowly, a mortal can’t
see it happen. White as sheep
yet sweet with a hint of rain
to water this parched landscape,
a cloud soft and porous
as bone-casque to absorb
moisture from earth, breathing
in and out with the wind,
the spirals of weather
and evolving sky.
I think it became an angel.   


—Taylor Graham, Placerville

Turkeys on the two-lane,
crossing and re-crossing. Acorns
disappear. Deer are on the
move, the field is full of geese.
When they fly, as they enter
flight, you can hear each feather,
an individual voice. And yet
they fly as pattern changing as
the weather. Every creature
hoofed and winged is moving.
What do they know
I haven’t fathomed yet?


—Taylor Graham

Out of my book flew enough
blackbirds to crust a king or dream
a poet. It was too dark inside the book.
Released, the birds glistened
with wet ink. Their shadows rain-
bowed greasy pavement where two
women pushed their lives in shopping
carts toward the weedy fields that edge
the slough. One hand-slapped
but innocently the air. There was
an eye in her hand. The birds ascended,
November sun divorced the clouds.
“Bogard’s blue,” she said.


—Taylor Graham

He woke up from dreaming rain to find it was
raining. Now he sits at the window looking out at
rain. The oak trees are alive, waving their limbs
gently, rocking, as if cradling their crowns,
meditating on the oneness of root with earth.
They’re content in their place. So are the sheep,
not wanting to leave the barn, to step out into
weather. Only the grass and clover are dancing,
opening their green mouths to rain-songs.
He releases his outer self, bundled in oiled wool
tight-woven, to walk in the wet gray world,
to bring in firewood. Sing as the spirit wishes,
sway with the great oaks, dance with the clover.   


—Taylor Graham

A bridge, its toll.
Ink still wet, hoping for birds.
Waiting for the light,
God, a sunny day. Everything breaks
like dawn,
holds together past the gardens.
Enough to start a fire,
birds of different colors,
words on the horizon.
We must stand in this wind
walking on the levee.
No more logic.
We create another of ourselves.
Time, sand and wind, wind and sand
own names and stone eyes.
The fire charm,
dances of the lightning
sliding through walls,
floating ships of water.
Near the creek
a yellowing book of tales.
Dark forms fluttering
the lights on the tower,
spinning of the earth to catch
the shimmer
drowning, a mirror.
Our true selves.

 November Sunrise
—Photo by Taylor Graham

—Lelania Arlene, Sacramento

Fleeing down Jackson highway,
Sometimes bookended by geese and hawk.
Now parenthetically by runnels of fat cloudy tears.
I slam on the brakes so I can feel the seatbelt noose,
Choke-hold strap, satisfactory and bracing.
Feels like the way you make me hate me.
I now understand the siren appeal of the noose.
Who wants to drift off, puking?
So inelegant.
Choke me, Make it real.
Make it what it is.
The honesty of a rope.
Drop it like it’s hot.


—Lelania Arlene

Outside the hive you still get pricked,

They peck the shine right off of you.
Port flush without the warmth,

Flayed skin fits in a thimble.
Inside the hive you might get dicked,

They will accept the shine right off you.
An iron breech births on and so forth,

Wolves' cape accepts your mingle.
Shine on, shine off.


—Lelania Arlene

She child-laps water from the plastic dog bowl,

Plastic edges ragged from canines, matted with fur.

Surface slick with oil from Chuck Wagon.

I’m a DOG and I have a beard when in my bowl....

Fueled it’s time to RUN, slipping on avocados.

Dodging snails on the mossed concrete.

Passes to avoid captive dogs' pooled urine, free outside their fence.

Up, Up onto a staircase of packed dirt.

Into the sandy wilderness, beyond the privacy bamboo.

Sniffs the fuel of dirt bikes, angry at their snarls.

Crouching to taste clean mud on a tiny fingertip.

Smiles, lips pressed together, legs akimbo in a crouch.

She pisses.


—Lelania Arlene

Nightmares crept in like reaper cats on soft padded paws.
They must have ridden in on the fogs!
Screw you, sleep.

—Photo by Caschwa, Sacramento

Today's LittleNip:

—Kevin Jones, Elk Grove

And so the doctor’s going through her checklist:
“Any tattoos?”
“Yes!  Two.”
“Where’d you get them?”
“Well, one in Bloomington, Illinois
And the other in San Diego.”
“No, where did you get them?”
“No, where?  Prison or a
Tattoo parlor?”
She looked relieved,
Made a big check on the list.
Didn’t even ask what they
Looked like.



Anna Marie and Lawrence Dinkins (NSAA)
at Rancho Cordova Library
where they read and talked about their work at
Spotlight on Poetry on Nov. 20
—Photo by Michelle Kunert, Sacramento

Sunday, November 23, 2014

The Struggle

—Photo by Katy Brown, Davis

—Michael Paul, Garden Valley, CA

Another strange juxtaposition or two
in the newsfeed today:

Someone called upon Krishnamurti
to denounce all labels as violence

if I am this or that, in gist
makes you into the Other

someone else piped up and called BS!
then quoted the dollar bill: E Pluribus Unum

I said amen, but added that until
in tempora restitutionis omnium quae locutus est Deus*

we’d all be busy squabbling, busy like
indigenous folk saying we are The Real People

busy like gang-bangers defending our turf
with mack 10s and Ouzis

busy like Shi’ite’s and Sunni’s
replicating Catholics and Protestants

replicating Conquistadors and Conquered
repeating history like Einstein’s

definition of madness—doing the same thing over
and over and expecting different results

over and over and over I’ve gone mad myself
in the struggle to find my way home

to find my tribe, to be where I belong

then I saw twin posts—one a beloved friend
in front of The Wailing Wall with an I heart

tee shirt on. Another from a new friend
calling Ya Allah—save my brothers and sisters

in Gaza! Oh God yes, and in Compton and Cleveland!
India and Pakistan! China and Tibet!

in red and blue and gay and straight
in slave and free and man and woman
in black white red yellow brown and
Yin and Yang, oh God yes

save all our brothers and sisters
and save us all from segregation!

Over cereal my wife told me I’ve been doing the superior dance
I sat corrected.

*the restitution of all things of which God has spoken



Saturday, November 22, 2014

A Way Across Morning

Morning Tule Fog
—Poems and Photos by D.R. Wagner, Locke, CA


She stood there looking
Just like a bridge, ready
To take its toll.

She dropped her journal
On the sidewalk and three
Black birds and one red one
Flew out of it.  “The ink was still
Wet,” she said.

“I was hoping for birds,” I said,
But she didn’t know what I was
Talking about.  I sat on the corner
Curb waiting for the light to change.
I knew it would take a very long time.

“Remember when we were talking
About God?" she said.  “No,” I answered.
“It was on that beach and there were flies
All over everything and they kept getting
In our mouths when we were talking.”
“No,” I answered.  “I’ve only heard about
It from a book I read when I was 12 years old.”

“It’s a good thing sunlight isn’t hard.
Everything would break on a sunny day.”
“Everything breaks when it is raining.”
“Are you trying to be funny? Like dawn
Breaking and all that?”  “Not at all.
I just don’t know how it holds together
When it is wet.  I can’t see anything at
Night.  A lot of the time there is nothing
There.”  “Yes, there is.  I can hear it talking.”

“I’m going to take a walk out past the gardens
Along the slough.”
“When will you be back?”
“Back?” I said.
But she was already gone.

 Morning Light Moment


She made my favorite sound.
The sky at its vanishing.
A few stars poke through.

She bites her lip hard.  Blood
Begins to show through.
A night song then.  It is cold
Enough to start a fire but we
Have come to prefer places,
Like this, that keep us alert
And without guile. 

We have things that belong
To one another, that we have
Spent years working on, hoping
We may be understood.  But no.
We are still often asked, “What
Is it you are trying to say?  What
Are you going on about?  Nobody
Is able to make sense of your sounds.”

She can pull birds of different colors
From any conversation she hears.
Then she makes that special sound.
It is somewhere between "I love you"
And "Don’t ever touch me like that again."

I have never known what to do with words.
They become extremely keen when I handle
Them.  They cut through my clothing and leave
Me naked before you, struggling to ask
For your help, what you may have seen
On the horizon, if you know which way
We are going?  What are we going to do when
We finally are able to hold our bodies against
One another?  How can we begin to hear anything
If we must stand in this wind, begging as we do?



We were walking on the levee
Above Snodgrass Slough,
When Mike told me what was really
Happening with us here on Earth.

“We’re all in Samadhi, man,” he said.
“No more logic, no analytical ability.
Our being becomes silent and we sit there,
Perfect beings with nothing to do.

"So," he said, "we create another being of ourselves
That walks around on this earth,
Having adventures and doing things
So that we may remain in Samadhi
And not be bored through eternity.

"We are the entertainment of our highest
State and do what we do, knowing
We can return to that higher state
At any time.”

I nodded and pointed out a herd of goats.
“Look at those goats,” I said.  "Even here,
In this state, we can be entertained by one
Another.”  And we continued our walking. 

Mount Diablo From Below Courtland

        —Lord Dunsany

All of Babylon’s winged bulls
Lie dead upon the stairs.
Long ago they took hold of the moon
And pulled her down beside
Them, bellowing the end
Of the House of Man.

But they had neglected to tell
Such plans to Time,
Who, though stupid with sleep,
Raised only a half-opened eye
And they fell upon his homeless seat
With its slow quests of
Wandering ships, feeding itself
With great storms and Time’s garments:
Sand and wind
And wind and sand.

And we see them dead before us.
Time, touching our cheeks tenderly,
Asks if we like them?

“Look,” says Time, "they do not even carry
Their own names, but suck at eternity
With stone countenance and
Cold stone eyes.  I walk among
Them, not at all surprised.”



Silver threads upon the air.
They touch our eyes.
We are not there.

For the the room has opened,
Sprung its locks,
And the dances of the lightning
Have quit and fled their box.



People in my dreams
Caught in the act.
Running through the room
To get back to where
They belonged as quickly
As possible.  But I saw
Them sliding through
The walls. 

Phil Weidman
at Nello Olivo reading in Placerville
Sunday, Nov. 16, 2014


The clouds were molten.
More ideas of clouds
Than floating ships of water.
The sun would soon have at them
And dissolve their nests away.

I crouch near the creek
Searching for a white trout,
A lady the fays said to be
At work, on duty, waiting
For a long-lost love,
Enchanted in the olden times
And left between the pages
Of a yellowing book of tales
No longer told to any but children.

There is a way across morning,
Past the range of first light
Lifting over the oaks,
Past the proclamations of the birds,
Still only dark forms fluttering
From power line to power line.

The lights on the tower change
From red to a strobe of white
Before quitting altogether
As this change comes into the sky.

There is a genius here to which
We are not party except to walk
Through it, marveling at the spinning
Of the earth, its ability
To catch the shimmer
Of a white trout as it rises
From the water, fully clothed
In white robes, again to take
Her place.  Her place in
Her shining stars,
Awaiting the sound of her lover’s horse
As it draws nearer and nearer.
A constellation of morning
Gathered into our lives.


Today's LittleNip:


Drowning as a mirror
Our true selves.


—Medusa, thanking DR for the poems and pix, and wishing him Happy Birthday!

Kathy Kieth and Taylor Graham
at Nello Olivo reading in Placerville
Sunday, Nov. 16, 2014
—Photo by D.R. Wagner

Friday, November 21, 2014

It's Always Wetter

—Photo by Ann Privateer, Davis

—William S. Gainer, Grass Valley

They send email
of people’s birthdays.
When I go through the list
all that comes to mind is,
Christ, you’re still alive.


—William S. Gainer

The water always
than you thought,
deeper too.

But hell,
if it’s going to
all you can do
is wait for the flood.
Sometimes it comes,

And it’s always wetter
than you thought
and most times
deeper too.

With luck
you can keep a toe
on the bottom,
the chin up
high enough,
and find a hand
to pull you out …
but, sometimes

It’s just how
floods work,
always wetter
than you thought.

 —Photo by Ann Privateer

—William S. Gainer


in this heat
she still turns


—William S. Gainer

Her picture
pulls the old man’s
lets him stare
without notice,
think about things
she might know

His glance
makes sure
he’s alone.

He writes
a simple note,
Thank you.
I only wish
was kinder.


—Photo by Ann Privateer

—William S. Gainer

A different kind
of warm
settles in.
Not too hot,
the sticky gone.
It’s nice.
I like it
we can sleep


—William S. Gainer

It’s me and Kae St. Marie,
the odd dreams again—
I’m like Mr. Magoo
her, Mrs. Magoo.
We’re at Disneyland,
checking out
the restrooms,
“Oh, this is nice.”
“Look, they got soap!”
We’re up to 13 now,
still working on it.
I’m sleeping good
Mrs. Magoo too.

 —Photo by Ann Privateer

—William S. Gainer

The bondsman
wanted me to put the house
to get him out.

Later we talked.
One of us
was going kill
one of us.
We all knew it.

Three young cats,
spinning the triangle
of destiny
never worrying about
whose name
it pointed to.

You can’t live that wild
that long
without something

after the smoke settled
and the ugliness
he moved to Mexico,

didn’t last long,
got sick,

Me, to the mountains
to hide out.
It’s been a while.

Got a card from his third wife.
Said he was always glad
it wasn’t me killing him.
Said, you never deserved it.

Be blessed,
he always
loved you.
                 – Rita


Our thanks to today's fine chefs in the Kitchen, and a reminder that the latest issue of Rattlesnake Press's WTF! is now available, either for free at The Book Collector, 1008 24th St., Sacramento, or for $2 at (to have it mailed to you). Deadline for the next issue is Jan. 15; why not get your submission in now, since all the Christmas kerfuffle might make you forget. Editor frank andrick has been a bit forgiving with the deadlines recently, but he assures me that this one will be hard and fast.

Know a haiku from a senryu from a haibun? If you do, then another intriguing deadline for you is Dec. 1, which is for the 12th Annual Jerry Kilbride Memorial 2014 English-Language Haibun Contest, sponsored by our local Central Valley Haiku Club. See for details.

Be sure to get over to CSUS before Dec. 13 to see PTSD Nation Art and Poetry, curated by Diana Bloom, which will be on display at CSUS Library Annex through that day. The show features the art and poetry of survivors of war, gun violence, and/or domestic abuse. Info: or see Nov. 20's wonderful
Sac. Bee article (with poet/artist Jennifer O'Neill Pickering's artwork) at

And dodge the raindrops to get out to a reading or two this weekend: The Other Voice in Davis tonight features Sherman Stein and Peter London, and tomorrow you can travel down to Salida for a new issue of
Song of the San Joaquin, or stay here in town for the poetry reading at SPC at 1pm from Women's Wisdom Art. Scroll down to our blue box (under the green box) at the right of this column for all the skinny!


Today's LittleNip:

—Caschwa, Sacramento

Do not respond to this poem
It was composed by a machine
With the sole purpose of
Announcing that this poet has
Taken the day off

But don’t despair, there are
Plenty of links to wonderful
Poetic opportunities in the
skinny green box at the right
and then the blue one below that

In the meantime I will be juggling
The flaming torch scenarios that
Impose a full-time permanent job
On a person whose body parts and
Attention span have long ago retired



Women's Wisdom Art
(Can you find Allegra Silberstein?)
For more about WWA, see