Friday, July 31, 2015

The Trail of Broken Wings

 Those Trickster Ravens
—Poems and Photos by Cynthia Linville, Sacramento


        Death is not a foe, but an inevitable adventure.
                                          —Sir Oliver Lodge

Welcome to wherever you are in the corridors of night.

Let me give you an early warning
tell you how to start the last flight
show you the girl with the spider knife
take back your black and blue fortune.

Here’s an inheritance disclaimer:
we cannot see God’s silver.
Here’s a little tax and legal for the Irish rebel:
the luckiest man alive will soon be one of us.

Let me take you to the Wonder Garden
to the green road on the move.
Just follow the trail of broken wings.
Think of it as a little adventure.

 St. Muerte


That moment I almost pushed you off the cliff
ten thousand butterflies escaped
from the wound in my side,
yet now that you are actually dying
I am unsettled by a strange sadness—
more purple than maroon—
as if someone has stolen the best cards
from my Tarot deck.
Everyone needs clouds on the ceiling.

* * *

Everyone needs clouds on the ceiling
to capture that strange sadness—
more purple than maroon
like the wound in my side.
Someone has stolen that moment
I almost pushed you off the cliff
like The Fool in my Tarot deck.
Now that you are actually dying
the butterflies can’t escape.

* * *

Ten thousand butterflies escape over the cliff
like The Fool in my Tarot deck.
Now your dying reopens
the wound in my side—
unsettling me with a strange sadness.
Someone has stolen my best cards,
has left the purple and taken the maroon.
Now I have to push you
into the clouds on my ceiling.

 Ceiling Detail, Crest Theater


He came here to be shaken up
came to escape easy mouths talking.

She could almost taste
the ember and ash of his last bonfire.

I am Queen of this cloud
she said, sporting a tiara of metallic flames.

Together they waited for the storm that never came,
stockpiling poison arrows.

Together they grew bored
waiting for an imaginary war

until they evaporated layer by layer,
receding into someone else’s dreams.



The hermit crab of my heart
promises nothing.

There you sit—
eating grievances for breakfast.

I prefer to eat life with a
plastic-Easter-egg-colored spoon.

How soon until you become past tense?

Your face—a mirror reflecting cloudy skies
a hint of desperation around the eyes.

You are burning yourself into ash
accompanied by litany of thunder and rain
a whiff of sulfur
a match blown out.

These are familiar dramas—

    * * *
Predictable desperation
burning itself into ash
eating grievances for breakfast—
you promise nothing.

The hermit crab of my heart
detects a whiff of sulfur
prefers to eat life
rather than death.

There you sit—
a match blown out
by thunder and rain
your face a mirror reflecting cloudy skies.

These are plastic-Easter-egg colored dramas—

How soon until we become past tense?

    * * *

How soon until you become past tense
eating your grievances for breakfast?

There you sit—
promising nothing
burning yourself into ash.

These are familiar dramas.

I prefer to eat life without
the blown-out matches
free from the stench of sulfur.

I prefer to lap up thunder and rain
with a plastic-Easter-egg colored spoon.

Your face mirrors desperation—
my hermit-crab heart
is unpredictable.


Today’s LittleNip:


The alligator under my bed is
growing fat on my misery.

In my dark, secret heart
I have a nosebleed.

This is too much crazy
even for me.



—Medusa, thanking Cynthia Linville for today's fine breakfast as we celebrate tonight's blue moon! See


Thursday, July 30, 2015

Fragrant Sunlit Days

—Photos by Denise Flanagan, MA
—Poems by B.Z. Niditch, Brookline, MA


In the clearing
a breath of summer
on the sand castle
by a sleep house to rest
bonded on living hands
in blankets of prayers
by a shivering eventide
away from the boardwalk
near a landscaped watering hole
listening to the gulls cry
searching for bread
in the high tide surfaces
of wandering souls
near a hospital ship
docking for a rescue at shore
asking for wisdom
without complaint
as unhooked runaways
cruise waves like blue fish
expecting a twice-lived time
of a surfer's endearing love
amid the shadowy sea
between deck chairs
on the vagrant gazebo
and a still caressed sky
full of songbirds
by fragrant sunlight days
as a poet dives in between
the docks of passing boats
with good sound approaches
and weighed from memory
from jazz notes floating
in scales and in these words.



Reaching out on my pad
when everyone is sleeping
hearing a few birds
in the alley way
of my old Manhattan building
it's July's restless fleeing
of star dust out to the suburbs
in a whistled pace of time
chance handing me
an Indian summer shirt,
towel and snorkel
as an angel neighbor, Gertrude
puts me in a better mood
lets me borrow Stan's telescope
questioned in an all-night hope
of a Beat poet
heading for the gazebo
to hear the steamships dock
on trained ears Staten Island gulls
circling over rocking waves
flying by tree branches
in the hummingbird morning
my pea jacket shadow leans
over an uncertain kayak
in the silhouetted wind
embracing dawn's flight
of open city grackles
trail me in the water’s bush
near the outback rivers
to sway to smooth jazz
playing as my collected words
always return alive
in these hallways
from a rush to my memory.

 Still Life with Flowers and Fruit
—Painting by Claude Monet


After hours of work
in the ossuary
he offered to her life
a water lily a day
though being a romantic
he preferred the impressionistic
Claude Monet
this Beat assured
this flower child
of San Francisco
named Lily
that he loved her
even though carnation,
rose, orchid was hid
in his suit pocket
he gave only to Lily
a worthy picture of her
engraved in her locket,
when sent to the military
he acted contrary
without a rod for war
not wanting to offend God
he remembered Lily's soul
more than her body
and sent her from overseas
more flowers and rich teas
and cried on his knees
at the clod-planted earth
on Frisco's grave cemetery
chanted prayers for his Lily
hourly in her memory.



With an assumption
of finding an invocation
in exquisite strands
of her mind's clarity
in the mystery of love
unveiled in charity
by the swaying souls
on the oak pews
of tribulation and trial
as good news is spoken
from Gentiles and Jews
in a refuge from exile
when wars have broken out
when there is disparity
or hunger in neighborhoods
among the very poor
Simone Weil sits hidden
on a back chair
in her confessional altar
with a blessing to share
as fans sway in the warm air
hearing the chanting chorus
amid more Pentecostal shouts
in the choir's sung words
not doubting miracles
above the rung of Jacob's ladders
in the diaspora for all of us.


He painted daylong
in the ash can school
flicking his dotty cigarettes
by the yard
where we play bocce
in the fresh air
kicking the ball
and he not being cynical
to children at all
but cool when I was ten
one afternoon
he was doing a red pattern
with geometric shapes
of Manhattan
on his spread-out canvas
listening to jazz songs
from his radio in the sun
the principal wondering
if he were alcoholic
what a teacher called "sick"
one day
we were told to stay away
yet he was draped
in his drip-dry cape
and friendly to me
in every way
learned later the fact he was
the abstract expressionist
Jackson Pollock
who soon became famous
here in Greenwich Village
in my own bailiwick.


(July 20, 1304-July 19, 1374)

It’s dark in a San Francisco bakery
and Italian words of Petrarch
in his sonnet welcome me
to this city in July
on a day you are born and die
that miracle spark in Arezzo
in the birth from your betters
you would rediscover
Cicero's letters
and change poetry
for a universal Renaissance
in a valiant verse and history.


(1899-1932, born July 21)

Staring like a flock of starlings
at the white high towers
by the Atlantic's waterfront dock
under the luminous sun
in lustral Babylon's buildings
you watch with uncertainty
wanting to prophecy
by flashing waters of the sea
an ecstasy of poetry
in a new world's frequency
over the clock's skyscrapers
your red verse deflowered
and now outlined
by the marginal cry in beds
of gulls from washed white foam
in a wave swarming towards you
with the literary gift
of impalpable power
you write by a trapped door
on a day-old newspaper
wrapped from the fish market
in Brooklyn's Crown Heights
with a jazz melody in your soul
an uprooted exile lands
in the Big Apple
Hart recruited through time
rolls up on a pink birthday cake
he found outside a bakery
dotted with thirty candles
wishing for a nocturnal embrace
from a parachuted card
in an echo of wishing you
a city miracle of myth
that your words may sparkle
in the Keys' expanse
when you hunted yourself down
there may be a sheaf
of your moving poems
hearing a chorister of angels
among songsters on the bridge
granting on this July 21 a belief
in the miracle of creation
knowing that in a canon
as you write all this down
there is a circular harmony
thinking in a music's motion
and a cerulean ocean's chance
a Muse to offer you an epiphany
as you drown in ink
with the metamorphosis
of an earth-wise crown.

(1893-1930, born July 19)

Your handsome voice
on the platform of one
above the crowd
in the Moscow rainstorm
swaying your hips
to a Russian polka
by undelivered love letters
on the saliva of big kisses
and near-missed opportunities
seeking doors of words
from red lipstick mirrors
of abolished insomnia
and sleep-housed myth
returning to wish you
on arboreal ballads of secrets
a peace offering
from my three-cornered hat.


(Born July 15)

What cupidity
in your glance
from an eye of your soul
transforming color
whitewashed by the sea
in a white crystal of dawn
from the solitude
of forgiving primordial words
in a subterranean light
of all existence
in the blameless sunshine
of the Aegean
lashed by the winds
embraced by the waves
and all rushing elements
on such a day and wellspring
to have joy coming at you
in a spirit to be alive
and sing among mermen
by the sirens of an apocalypse
of the soaring flight of gulls
at these oarlock moments
out of Attic breaths
in the home sail harbor
of the Mediterranean ships
a poet in foaming blue waters
sings at the sight of birds
after a blazing voyage
returning to the music
of his memory
in a thousand words.


(born July 24, 1934)

Waiting for the scales
on an eye of justice
to open an unblemished time
for a miracle in Lagos
from your prisoner's sigh
perhaps a kindly word
to save the earth
when day and night splits
from the scroll in logos
to transfix a risen line
of staring into love
by an outstretched pulse of hand
running like anointed oil
over Aaron's fairly long beard
as someone hides a letter
from a fellow poet
trembling an inscribed wish
in your crumbs of bread
escaping no notice
at the dove at your window
by the trees’ time span
invading the small space
at your marvel of life
in the gradual light
from the perfumed rainbow
out of your pocket-poetry
we casually picked up
after a reading
at the used book store
in Harvard Square.

(1904-1973, born July 12)

By a Chilean minefield
an earth shoveled
by blossoming labor
in the quivers of sweat
under a suspended sun
in a spiral let-down of hours
knowing how you think
in replicas of seasons
of hurried toil
in crushed years
yet able to love
without doubt
in dirt roads of the poor
by murmurs of rumors
of a strike upon your soul
we bring you red flowers
from the street vendor
who still sings your words
of a thousand friendships
who listen for your reply
in the July heat's suffocation
by the furrow's horizon's wind
along the rivers of a copper sun.


(1888-1978, born July 10)
Your art, a poem sculptured
in occluded sunshine of color
forms a world of balances
rises from landscaped surprises
from iconic fragments
in pastel figures eluded
from recumbent flights
of moving clouds of sources
deep in the eyelids in the tempo
of asymmetrical wrappings
in historical forms
of geometric dedication
abandoned colorful flashes
in occurrences never aging
known only to devotions
from moored figures
of open imagination.


Today’s LittleNip:

Oh! Old rubbish! Old letters, old clothes, old objects that one does not want to throw away. How well nature has understood that, every year, she must change her leaves, her flowers, her fruit and her vegetables, and make manure out of the mementoes of her year!

—Jules Renard


—Medusa, with thanks to B.Z. Niditch and Denise Flanagan for this morning's contributions to the Kitchen!


Wednesday, July 29, 2015

The Skin of Memory

—Photo by Ann Privateer

—Ann Privateer, Davis, CA

A sign says no, you and your car
are not wanted here, here too
many people muck up the works
there's only room for just a few
so maybe you need to skidoo.

 —Photo by Ann Privateer

—Ann Privateer

We, from the same
genetic strain
spend days away

reliving our pain.

Three generations--
so different, and yet

somehow the same.

Far away from comforts
mundane, upended,
together, flawed,

we return to the lives

we live.


—Ann Privateer

The past lingers in the skin of memory
So close and yet far from my present life
Reverberating in the mind's soft eye
Continuously questioning me, "why"?
On so many levels of actions past
Here on this day when every moment
Slips away, no thing lasts but erosion
Particles unfurl, forms will disappear
They did not hire him so he ate his lunch
Alone, the noon whistle blew, cats jumped high,
A fallen deer threads through the broken hearts.
To be almost, and to sit in the midst
of the forest, moments that never last. 

 —Photo by Ann Privateer

—Carol Louise Moon, Sacramento

    “On the hard ground where Adam strayed,
     where nothing but his wants remain
     what do we do to those we need…”

On the hard ground where Adam strayed
my little dog chases a sporting squirrel.
Except for exercise his needs are met…
for food and love, apartment life,

where nothing but his wants remain.
Or, is it need for open space, companionship
of smaller size—his brother squirrel, his
father crow, a bed of lawn, the sun for lamp.

What do we do to those we need?
I claim my love for him is deep.  But do we
collar those we love?  Do we not set the
banquet plate with chalice beside our own?


—Carol Louise Moon

Black of Blacky’s beady eyes
Black of little Blacky’s coat
Black, the back of the napping dog
Black of morning coffee grounds
Black, the hands of the kitchen clock
Black, the numbers ten and noon
Black, the purse which holds
      yellow bits of kibble for
Blacky, the waking, stretching dog


—Carol Louise Moon

Because I think of Barkley as my four-year
old son, and I’ve gotten him vaccinated
to prove it, do I now put him in obedience
school and call it kindergarten?  I think, yes.

I need to show him off.  I hope the instructor
takes class photos, and that I can purchase
twelve wallet-sized. Come picture day he’ll
wear his blue bow tie, and people will think
he won a poetry contest—not for writing a
poem, of course not, he’s a dog—but for
memorization.    Who’s to say he hasn’t
memorized one of my poems?

 Proud Parent
(Carol Louise with Barkley)
—Photo by Carol Louise Moon

Today's LittleNip:

—Medusa, grateful for recent good wishes from readers during and after her vacation and Computer Fatality!

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Shattering Birds of Light

Blue Flower
—Poems and Photos by Joyce Odam, Sacramento


Teeth of light bite into me like regret;
we are caught in light like prisms.

How can I not tell this to you—
you who break apart like glitters of death.

I am stabbed by your beauty; your screams
are silent to my ears. Or are you laughing?

You are no longer real. Shattering birds
of light fly into their own illusions—

windows everywhere opening to receive them
—sky cages closing behind them.


Somewhere in time a gold bird explodes.
It is all covered with fire.
It is falling into our burning eyes.
We can hear its bright wings screaming.
We respond with our mouths open and answering.
We can see its white eyes bore through crimson skies.
The clouds catch fire
and the cindered stars are reeling.
We stand in the color of this sight.
We have come together to celebrate this mourning.
Our hands are at our throats.
We can feel our pulses pounding in our fingertips.
We can see the great self
of the bird burn away, and we can see
what life is made of in its mysterious center.
The sky has caught fire.
We ignite in the infinite color.
The bird has been falling forever.
Every glinting fragment of it falls
into our rapidly beating hearts.

(first pub. in Galley Sail Review, 1967)


Button man
has them
all over himself.

I keep punching
here and there.

I keep
all his
sensitive buttons
they are so
raw and

How he
reacts and
covers himself
with explosive pain,

but I don’t know
else to touch him.



various tones of beige
rich browns
a field of near-white
in suspended swirl

a frozen leap of line
in vague direction
balanced right side up
and holding
like an important act
of intention

the eye understands
what the mind
tries to know

art is art
framed for itself
to adorn some wall
deciphering nothing
but the happenstance of
accidental design
and deliberate choice of color

abstract proof
of anything asked
that requires no answer

 Brown Tree


This is the mirror my husband shot
when he was careless, or angry, or thought
perhaps I had betrayed him and caught
my image in his sights and wrought
symbolic vengeance there.  I don’t know what
to say of it—why we keep it—surely not
my obsession with this torn glass. It’s got
so I love to look in it; I ought
to pull my face away. We never fought
after that—just bore the silent, hot
look of his stare, and my stare back—an old plot:
what he delivered—what I never bought.
He likes to stand behind me. There’s a lot
more to this than this small, round dot
in the center of this mirror that my husband shot.

 Window Shards

     A woman is making the bed in the sunny room.
She is picking up the slivers of glass from the broken
window. They dazzle her fingertips till they bleed.
She holds a wad of Kleenex in her hand. She is
weeping. Her tears are cutting her cheeks. The
sheets are white with red rosebuds on them. The
diamond of her ring makes angry slashing motions
in the light.

    She is fascinated by this ritual. She feels as if she
is in the center of all the world’s mirrors, performing
for them. She is going to stay here until the bed is
smooth and safe again, even if nighttime comes, even
if time tears itself into little pieces. This is a thing she
must do.

     Every time she thinks she has it all, another piece
of glass flicks her attention to it. They are getting
smaller now. She licks her finger and touches it to the
glass. The sunlight is warm in the room. She doesn’t
know why she cannot stop weeping. It all happened
too long ago to keep remembering it now. Why does
it take so long to do? Is the window through breaking?

 Self Portrait


Available in stone,
this warp,
this pure intention,

my life in the mirror,
changing as I change,
this daydream made of mind-want,

this day that is about gone:
the sunset—
the long line of sleep—

the complication of dream-tangles.
Oh, that I want it—
want all its anger and danger—

its little pools of hope
that I stare into.
How else do I get through

one after another tyranny
of mind-maps?—
how else shall I regard you

with my glass heart and sharp eyes?—
you are my own, as I am yours
in our singular existence.



I have walked in red dresses through colorless times.
I have risen from sleep into the cold path of moonbeams.
I celebrate my own feeling against cloth.

Even though my body is not young and fair, I wear nothing
under my dresses. Times I go barefoot are few. I wear
sandals. I do not paint my toenails, though I mean to.

I have given up cosmetics, but not incense.
I still wear my rings. I always close curtains—
I cannot stand bright air. I have walked in red dresses

in mute and colorless times of eloquent deep stare—I am
too loud for the mirrors. Even though I have covered my scars
with mending eyes—Love, oh staring Love, they are all yours.

 Mistletoe and Roses in Reflection

Today’s (Longer)Nip:


A boat ride through
the long rock walls of the jetty.
Crash.         Silence.

Water lapping.
Flashlights. Who is it?
Flashings of thought.

Time explosions.
Here and then.

Stubbornness of time.
Mirrors. Unbroken.
Full of faces, mine among them.

Yes.       Wrong direction.
Glossy wet gleam.

Seagulls, white and graceful,
bringing themselves back
to here.

Sun going down.
City after city ago.
Weariness of time.

The drunkenness.
The sobriety.
Regrets and absolutions.

This morning I heard birds.
Windows open in October.


—Medusa, with thanks to Joyce Odam for today's hearty breakfast, and a note that our new Seed of the Week is Mementoes—send your poems, photos or artwork about this (or any other subject!) to No deadline on SOWs. Note also that we have a new photo album on Medusa's Facebook page: The Dolly Llama and Her Pals by Katy Brown. Check it out!

Monday, July 27, 2015

Honk If You Missed Me!

CSUS Dragon Made of Recycled Materials
Calif. State Fair, 2015
—Photo by Michelle Kunert, Sacramento

—Ann Wehrman, Sacramento
I will look into your eyes;
I will look at you,
raise my head
even though you may strike,
raise my breast
to your cold bite.

I will
look into your face
as I seem to hear you
beg of me,
as I wish you would beg
standing close before me.

Tell the truth this time.
Your cold words pushed me away,
but your tears told me
you lied.


—Ann Wehrman

taller than she
by a head or more
he must bend
she must reach up
yet their movements
are as one
through the unbroken circle
of their bodies
his broad hands
a warm caress
on the small of her back



licks his white satin socks
saucer eyes glow yellow
satisfied belly sways
patrols his domain
young enough to carry
too much chow
swaggers, though spayed,
jet coat sparking at my touch
mind-melds, head butts,
unashamed begging for
the last of my cereal’s milk
heavy affection
asleep on my shoulder
black hairs left in my bed

—Ann Wehrman


—Ann Wehrman

friend, protector
you lit a fire under my complacency
dried up my depression
I was no longer alone

wisecracker with round golden spectacles
long, lanky hair
eyes lit with mischief
lips blue from exhaustion

your friendship
saved my senior year
a lifetime ago
still feels like today

 Still Life Feathers
—Photo by Taylor Graham

—Taylor Graham, Placerville, CA

She takes pictures of aftermath.
That back corner of garage where paint-
cans exploded—who knows why?—
leftover colors of walls that once made her
happy. Bird feathers she found among
rocks in the woods, evidence of hawk-kill.
She arranged them but the wind
kept rearranging, wings without flight
at the brink of hill. One day
she scattered pages ripped from her
journal—Life doesn’t explain.
She likes the lie of promises torn in
halves, word-shards. Tatters of feather
on stone.



—Taylor Graham

Shook his head at the spoon, hungry

but not for pablum. Grown up before he was

a baby. He’s the pattern she might find

in a novel, figment of a border-

mind, fiction truer than textbooks.

Dance of early animation, a birth that hit

the ground running. He tries so many words

at random, chasing after the one
he loves; then rolls in the inexact greens

of grass under clouds burdened

with what he wants to say. Might he

explode his father’s paint cans for their un-

expected color-patterns on the wall?

 Lion Dancers of Hebei, Cal. State Fair
—Photo by Michelle Kunert

—Tom Goff

The goddess dark-featured, the goddess sheer white:
we fear, we exult, but with her we must deal.
This goddess who opens the gate of all light
on day-of-death-fated-dark bolts that gate tight.
Aloof or most urgent, the One truly real.
She’s rock and air, water and turning millwheel.
The goddess dark-featured, the goddess sheer white:
we fear, we exult, but with her we must deal.


—Tom Goff

Primal things Graves describes, old Celtic poems
called pied verses, words double-colored.
Enigmas in squat, dense columns of gnomes,
foreground-background / face-front-again forms,
homely and comely, sharp-edged and shuttered,
forthright, deceiving quick syllables uttered.
Primal things Graves describes, old Celtic poems
called pied verses, words double-colored.

Acrobats, Cal. State Fair
—Photo by Michelle Kunert

I had a dream where I saw a park with an ice skating rink
    and I was wearing a bathrobe—
    it was one of those where, if I’m not naked, I’m inappropriately dressed     
    When I came to ask to skate there were workers declaring it closed
    “You’re too late,” they said
    Then the rink shrank and turned into a pile of snow
    and the workers shoveled it up
    I guess I then decided to wander into some large house
    It claimed to be holding an estate sale
    only it was claiming to be of things people had “lost”
    I went inside and saw nothing familiar in the piles of stuff
    then I saw, on a dining room table, my deceased orange tabby cat Morris
    Morris loudly purred as he scratched the table top
    I told the lady attending there he wasn’t my favorite
    since he would bite, and he chewed and shredded towels and blankets
    If this place could bring back cats from the dead
    it was Morris’s well-bahaved brother Sunny I really want back
    She apologized that she had sold Sunny to someone else
    I was irate as I showed her Morris’s tag and license on his collar
    “Sunny had a tag on like this one with the same address, and you sold him to someone else?”
    “Oh they were so fond of Sunny,“ she explained
    I recall she went on to say, “But you deserve to have Morris…” 

—Michelle Kunert, Sacramento

 Acrobats, Cal. State Fair
—Photo by Michelle Kunert

—Kevin Jones, Elk Grove, CA

Grandmother awoke to the sound.
Thought, no, no pickles
This season or the year before.
But had to find out: took the
Golf club, the cane,
The shillelagh (there’s
A difference, you know),
And started to the cellar
To find out.

Got there to find
Grandpa huddling
Behind the furnace,
WWI Doughboy helmet,
Garbage can lid
As shield, watching
The last of his
Home brew bottles
Go off.

After the last one
Popped, he stood,
Smiled, assured
(Always the charmer):
“Don’t worry, Edie,
Next time, I’ll
Get a better capper.”

“Next time you get
A thirst, you’ll go down
To the Shamrock Tap.”
And so he did.


—Kevin Jones

Came time to paint
The upstairs bathroom.
Mother chose
One of the unidentified
Cans that came
With the house.

Didn’t look too bad:
A sort of pearlescent
Pinky grey.  Was my
Primary bathroom,
Could live with it,
Even thought it
Might have a certain
Charm if I ever got a date
That far upstairs.

Father was
“Too girly.  Next
She’ll have us
Taking the Playboys
To the garage,” and
Opened a couple
Of other cans and
Began mixing.

Next morning,
All a little high from
Old oil paints,
We looked it over,
Tried to name the color.
Lilac?  No.  Hyacinth?
Not even close.
Grink—a sort of
Gray and pink?
Nah.  Maybe girple?
Just then, my grandfather,
Whose hearing was
No better than my
Own is, appeared.
“Pimple?  No.
Gotta have more red.”

 Acrobats, Cal. State Fair
—Photo by Michelle Kunert

Today’s LittleNip:

—Tom Goff

Water disturbed subsides from foam.
Splash where you like, its form returns.
Bright earths in paint hold shape like loam.
Water disturbed subsides from foam;
watch paint upend. Permanent swirls & burns.
Clear liquid calms by a going home;
water disturbed subsides from foam.
Splash where you like, its form returns.

—Medusa, with thanks to today's contributors on this day of The Return of the Medusa after a week's vacation!

 Rhony Bhopla at Sac. Poetry Center's 
"Unbarred Words" reading July 13
—Photo by Michelle Kunert

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Where Does It Go?

—Allen Ginsberg (1926-1997)

Elan that lifts me above the clouds
into pure space, timeless, yea eternal
Breath transmuted into words
Transmuted back to breath
in one hundred two hundred years
nearly Immortal, Sappho's 26 centuries
of cadenced breathing—beyond time, clocks, empires, bodies, cars,
chariots, rocket ships skyscrapers, Nation empires
brass walls, polished marble, Inca Artwork
of the mind—but where's it come from?
Inspiration? The muses drawing breath for you? God?
Nah, don't believe it, you'll get entangled in Heaven or Hell -
Guilt power, that makes the heart beat wake all night
flooding mind with space, echoing through future cities, Megalopolis or
Cretan village, Zeus' birth cave Lassithi Plains—Otsego County
farmhouse, Kansas front porch?
Buddha's a help, promises ordinary mind no nirvana—
coffee, alcohol, cocaine, mushrooms, marijuana, laughing gas?
Nope, too heavy for this lightness lifts the brain into blue sky
at May dawn when birds start singing on East 12th street—
Where does it come from, where does it go forever?  


—Medusa, suggesting you slide on over to the green box at the right of this and find the red Webilicious for Poetry Foundation's fine article about the letters between Lawrence Ferlinghetti and Allen Ginsberg, "As Ever".

Also: Medusa has apparently stared at her computer the wrong way and turned it into stone; it made its final crash yesterday and will need replacing. So there may be no Medusa postings for a few days. We shall, however, return.

Saturday update: still sssssnoozing........... 

Medusa-snake, Lola, kicks back for some summer zzzz's
—Drawing by Sam the Snake Man

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Trombones of Loss

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


No one will know I am here.
I left the house in the early morning.
I have a small bouquet of flowers
I picked from a field in my dreams.

They will come looking for me
But by then the light
Will be just starting to rise
Above the oak trees.

I can see birds landing
On the roof of the house
Where I am dreaming.



Last night I dreamed
Of a tree and this morning roots are
Growing out of my feet.

I am standing at the edge
Of the road, offering
Perches to birds, watching my friends
Below me now.  Some of them
Want to climb into my branches.

 Nighttime in Locke, Kay's House


Woke up to gardens full of snow.
It was so beautiful I nearly
Forgot to wake up.

There were stars in the tips of my fingers.
Spiders spun their webs between them.

I reminded myself that this was July.
Washed my face, made fresh coffee,
Decided to go outside and build
A snowman only you could see.



I woke up terrified
That I had lost my cap gun
Somewhere in the fields
Beyond my home.

I am currently 71 years old
And still hear the trombones
Of such a distant loss.

 Ruined Water Tank


The hardest part is knowing
That you wander my dreams.
I put my forefinger on your lips.
The stars forget what it is they
Are doing and bind themselves
To the moon.

The traffic across the causeway
Is too heavy and the day is, too, so
I don’t think I am allowed to say
That there are spirits casting nets
Into our consciousness, but I can smell
The tops of mountains in your hair.

You are not there or anywhere
Except captured in these few words
Where I can never hold you.

It doesn’t mean this is a vision.
It doesn’t mean this is a fantasy.
It doesn’t mean I cannot walk
And touch you like this.

It doesn’t mean we cannot allow
Our clothing to fall away.
We’re dressed only for this
Kind of touching.



I can’t put these words in any
Other box without their meaning
Looking for a way to get out,
Appear as films or memes,
Or worse yet, excuses for things
We know damn well
Deserve so little freedom
They can be talked about.

This isn’t a thought any longer.
One cannot think about things
Like this.  They have their own
Dog carts and race around the edges
Of the world starting fires
No one can put out.

 Delta Landscape


This would have looked
A lot better if it had been
A landscape somewhere out here
In the delta with the trees
Far away on the horizon and the sky
So big one could drive all day
And not get any closer to anything,
Rather than just the thought
Nailed out here on a page like this.



The world stopped right
In the middle of John Coltrane’s
Saxophone solo on "So What"
On the Miles Davis "Kind of Blue" recording.

I went to the window hoping
There could be something
That could be truly real.

I’d settle for a bird.
There was blood splashed
All over the window.

Outside it was an incredibly
Beautiful day.

 Between the House and Garage, Locke


The only place the rain is falling
Is into a bucket at the end
Of the driveway.

A dog comes over to look
At what is happening.
It wants a drink but
It doesn’t like its head
To get wet and moves away.

Three wrens watch
It leave.  They drop down
To shower in the small rain.

It rained for hours.
The bucket never overflowed.
The entire planet seems
About as big as a basketball.



I wish she hadn’t come
And taken the poem out
Of my hands before it was

It wasn’t even to the part
Where the day was coming
To a close.

The birds were to occupy
The trees that were still in Galt
When she took it away.

I was hoping for a violin
Melody somewhere as well.
Fat chance of that.

She is using it to light the stove.
She says she will make us
A delicious dinner.


Today's LittleNip:


I keep trying
To forget something
But I can’t remember

—Medusa, with thanks to D.R. Wagner for this morning's Kitchen delights!



Friday, July 17, 2015

Song of the Spheres

—Poems by Scott Thomas Outlar, Atlanta, GA
—Photos by Keely S. Dorran, Sacramento, CA


The silence of white roses
with deaf petals
beneath a muted sun
holds the music’s place
in a steady embrace
while the implosive force of entropy
passes by in an instant’s blink,
and then rhythm is reborn
as melody blooms anew
toward a colorful fruition
of infinite solar expansion
that even the gods
dare not question,
lest the miracle’s magic
lose its elusive power
and get washed away
by a chorus of down-pouring rain
that flashes with a fluid voice
along to the beat of thunder’s drum
as splashes of electric ignition
light up the night sky
with tremors of a vibrating crescendo,
adding the tension of dramatic flare
to the opera of existence
that flutters with grace
between the dimensions of time and space.

The song of the spheres
rotates in tune with heaven’s frequency,
harmonizes with evolution’s wave,
and cascades with a celestial voice
across the infinite tide of the sea
where the sirens weep in waiting
over the tragedy and bliss
of this experience we call life
as it unfolds
one note at a time
until the cycle has completed its spin,
the wheels stop turning,
the gears grind to a halt,
and the symphony reaches a point of exhaustion.

 Rose Petal

With the dawn

With the roses

With a fire

Upon my lips
a kiss

Up my spine

Through my blood

With passion
love me

Until my heart
cannot take the fervor

With the truth

With the stars

With a spark

Enter my soul
from the source

From the first
to the last

From the beginning
to the end

With your words
love me

Until my heart
cannot take the pressure

With one gentle whisper
into my weathered ears
you could calm the cravings
and loosen the weight
that hangs so heavy
around the neck of my desires

With just a simple smile
flashed from your ruby lips
you could light my mind on fire
and torch the past
that hangs so tightly
around the mistakes I’ve made

With a loving caress
upon my blistered flesh
you could open wide the pores
and send my heart soaring
toward the high spaces
that I haven’t seen in years


The closer a flying object
zips by in the sky
the quicker it’ll seem to travel

I saw a flaming comet
speed by from the outer reaches
right in front of my eyes

Imagine my surprise, nay, shock
at such a sight
as the stars fell

You cannot change the world
with one apple seed
but you can damn well make sure
that at least one tree grows
to survive
in whatever the world may become


Today's LittleNip:

It always
comes back


Our thanks to our fine contributors from two sides of the country today, and a note that this is a busy weekend in NorCal poetry; scroll down to the blue box (under the green box at the right of this column) for all the details.

Please note also that we have a new photo album on Medusa's Facebook page: Red Alice's Swan Song by Martha Ann Blackman, in which we mourn the end of Bill Gainer's reading series (Red Alice's Poetry Emporium) at the Shine Cafe.


 Rose Petal II



Thursday, July 16, 2015

The Wellspring Wind

Nantaska, MA
—Photos by Denise Flanagan, MA
—Poems by B.Z. Niditch, Brookline, MA


Hearing a mourning dove call
by the gecko who lands
over this sandy coast
on a day of pure air
the bird with its tone's echo
going and then coming away
to take a wash along the beach
by bright tourist ships
in the home harbor
as my dusky eyes rose up early
with the flying dove over my head
now a warm memory
to all who recall her
by the dunes and redwood
reaching for the waters
in the bluest sea
of illumined words
when first light enfolds
my hand of sunflower seeds
from a breathing wind
in the neighborhood
as daughters and sons
of the wellspring wind
wake up those who are lost
from motioning shadows
whom fate double-crossed
on ocean journeys
those troubled yet survive
double-minded in the eventide
searching for the shore
where we long for
more of your love.



Verse can happen
in unexpected times
from an arrival of summer
by trekking on back roads
watching birds on frenzied wings
or hearing a cardinal sing
over ladders of seasonal silences
when herons climb upon Evergreens
near a poet's buried footsteps
amid secret silences
on a nostalgic hammock
folding over two paper roses
creativity may occur
watching egrets
by the home harbor shore
for an early swim,
words can wash over you
from wayward third parties
who send waves to you
on the sea's dark coolness
covering a white desert sand
with a butterfly net
or at the freshly painted gazebo
by the lighthouse's luminosity
or listening to the tremor
of an oboe or cornet
from the brass or woodwinds
playing a set from a jazz sax
over nuanced quarter notes
in a Newport quintet
by a quilt of sunshine
from your peace arm band.

 Glory Cloud


You had returned
from the flesh worlds
screen lines and voices
of Buñuel's Tristana
and the Dali paintings
at the museum
no evil eye
could penetrate or guide
your mind's memory
of sound and paint
or addressed
the sleep's angels
who waited for you
covered with casting light
of printed shadows.



On the same page
at the same time
in the sheltered mirror
with invisible doors
open for an actor's stage
in the limelight
your words
entered in
the night your were
an understudy.



We glance for a part
to review
as we met you
by your red sports car,
eager for a chance
for a role in a new short play
acting in Venus in L.A.
you had a loneliness of sorts
yet wishing to become a star
or win a handsome Oscar
no matter who stands in the pit
or on a poster of worship
with wit as an actor dressed up
in your fitting room
with no lines of censorship
as you came to Hollywood
from Vegas as a family guest
dining on Sunset and Vine
eating a waffle
with the ice,
blood or coal of a poet
on your frozen lips
ready to sign a contract
with a thousand chips
in your targeted shadows
racked by so much glitter
no matter at thirty
you became a bitter soul
yet goodness prevailed
from your smothered desire
no one understood
you found a higher dare
than screen or T.V. fare
in a deeper scaled fire
than in any goal at rehearsal
with more angels than you care
to admit to your premiere
than any of the best movies
you made in the past year.

 B.Z. at Good Harbor Beach, MA


The evening's slow curtain
still sees you faithful in joy
in a surprised amazement
at the opening revival
in the theater corridors,
what an actor on the highest stage
you were in our buds of regret
not holding onto your wounds
from the vision of pillar fire
the moving clouds pass
you by as a silent star
as the late doors close
you held onto our secret.



Everywhere in our horizon
the new wave of '68
plays jazz a on a grand piano
shares a weight of half notes
playing my experimental solo
with anointed laughter
which lines my set expectations
and began with smiles and similes
in the movie theater
to grapple with cinema's reality
at command in our portfolios
from Prague to Paris
to San Francisco and Big Apple
art enters an enigma's voice
by reeling in our parts
of once cabin-fevered words
which were an embarrassment
covering our shore lines
or suspends us from our actor's
past expectations
venting in our old suits or boots
we poets dive from airy parachutes
exchanging space and time
for imagination's rhyme
on our planet's weightless voyages
we survive as exiles
by wings and myriads
chanting for understanding
as cool paintings on a canvas,
soon after two decades
environmental art like Christo's
will be gladly released
life once took us as being lost
and only temperamental
in our new school of Cage
editors now engage us in rants
of an intelligent renaissance
from a Beat's estrangement,
whatever our last wages or rent
is due to a past government
yet to feel urgently alive
from any past irritant or duel
with humor and irony
leaving a universal legacy
on every believer's tongue
our venue is being upstaged
for reading in a new century
any elegant parts arrangement
of a new language transparency
free of jury or injury.



The smooth jazz plays
above the windowsill
grackles sing furiously
by wellsprings like this
near shadows of geraniums
it seems a curious day
in the season's weather
for the winds, rain, shower
or to hum a childhood hymn
when warm words emerge
like a light feather's secret
on a blackbird's wing
yet the urge for creativity
has reason in its metamorphosis
for a temperamental poet
discovering nature's outback
to be hovering
over red flowers, bees, Evergreen
in our neighborhood
or by the river bed
here on Spectacle island
at the perfect morning hour
for her to deliver a daydream
for any emerging refugee
hiding in the woodland
or in exile from parental storms
reaching out for a miracle
on the sandy beach.

 Nantaska, MA


Today's bird-shadow
has the sun in two hands
by a twin wood kayak
under a speechless branch
in the middle of Walden Pond
what thoughtful laughter
in duality on seamless water
where Thoreau wrote
by beams curved in Concord
that one wishes this memory too
will live after us
from the outback foliage
of our shining language
in the fragrance of wellsprings
next to sounding warblers.



On the island's floating tree log
the cape wind wraps me
in her last shade of nature
at dusk playing a flute,
the sea ditchwater smudges
on my bathing suit
striving to escape wild geese
near the wisteria-covered road
with an empty monastery's silence
far from yesterday's
crowded energy
on the fast-motioning trains
of shouting
in the city's hysteria
today choosing annunciation
to rest with fruit and fauna
enfolded in surrendered peace.


Today's LittleNip:

(in memory of Dorothy Day)

In his nightmare
words become alive
and he is in morning light
they give him ammunition
and basic training
but he resists
in the crossroad position
not needing a cross of honor
so he does crosswords
on the field
puzzled by his young life
does he need a cross of honor,
he decides to cross the line
crosses himself,
and enlists for peace.


—Medusa, with thanks to B.Z. Niditch and Denise Flanagan for today's fine fare from the East Coast!