Saturday, October 31, 2015

Walpurgisnacht, 2015

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


It is dark, but not the dark that carries

Only night, but dark, the dark that moves

Itself to dreaming and we are too long

On the road as she comes around us

Bringing her own air, her own beasts,

Horses unlike horses that we’ve known

Who stand at the corner of the streets

Where we can see their large eyes.  They

Seem to know us and make horse sounds

To one another, leaning toward the fog,

The coolness of the evening and blow

Steam that seems to glow from their great

Nostrils.  They paw the ground as if in waiting.

Then bats, as if the night had tongues,

Course just above our heads with squeaks

And clicks and sudden flash of reddish eyes.

They too have a sense of purpose to detain

Us on this night and swirl in flocks and bunches

Keeping us to the sidewalks weaving light and shadow.

We have heard that it is Halloween.  The 

Jack-o-lanterns with their grimaced faces

Flicker from the porches of the neighborhood.

The cats of no color but the night move, too,

Around us in this night as if they wait for something.

Perhaps they think that we are creatures like themselves

Acquainted with the night and ready for its fierce

Devices, the howling of the wolves, the mocking

Face the moon makes to our wandering, looking

For a house we are not sure will be there, close 

We hope, but hope is not a part of what we are.

Tonight is Halloween, a witches’ night.  The roads,

The streets are for the ghosts and half-seen children

Of the night whose music has been foretold, who

Gather toward us as the spider weaves his web

And calls us in the only haven left in this damp cold.

(first pub. in Medusa’s Kitchen)



She filled her hands
With winter light and October's
Crows, a cacophony of wings
Against the blue of early evening.

Children used to come here.
There were hills and copses and woods
Challenging the imagination with shadows
Caught alive in stories of the Fall.

The road ended at her mouth,
Full of weeds and drifting terrors
Searching for a body to accompany
During the dark evenings of the waning year.

Shaken, she reaches for the twilight
As if it were a vessel of some kind,
Easy on any sea, unmoved and with sails
Painted in the colors of forgetting.

To dream was to vanish into memory,
The twinkle of an eye,
The brush of a hand across a shoulder,
No place for sharing stories, whispering.

This time of year is full of stuff
Like this, fine of hand and bathed
In a crystal construct made of wood,
Made of fire, made of singing.

She was not given to understand
More of this than her hands covered
With the cool and brilliant light.
She wishes us luck as we continue

Toward the shoreline, the same light
Glinting off the water, infecting
Our minds, making everything in life
A challenge and the turning of the days
Borne on the backs of black birds
Exploding time with cackling and shrieking.

(first pub. in Medusa’s Kitchen)


Star poked me in the eye.

The coyotes heard it.

I could barely move.

Tiny lights reminded me

I was alone.

I think I am dead.

I died in a dream

With my mother 

Talking to me.

And I laughed. 

I laughed.

For I was alive.

I could feel myself cry out

And I knew my name

When they called.

And then we were

On the beach

Building sandcastles

And you remembered

My name.

And then they took

It all away from me.

The blank look

The waves have 

As they touch my skin.

The lights in the town

Are charms.

They visit above the voices

Of the coyotes,

The questioning owls.

These are the voices

In my heart.

I trust you will tell no one.



Charlie Bennet, he’s dead now,

Lost both his hands about

Halfway to his elbow
In a farm accident.

Some kind of chopper got him,

At the the exact same spot,

Both arms.

He went to whispering 

After that happened

And Darrell Miller was ‘bout the only one

Who Charlie talked to

At all after that.

Darrell told me Charlie
Said his dead hands

Used to come looking

For him.  They never did 

Find them.  Chopper

Must have spit them out

Pretty far away.

Charlie said his hands 

Could talk, a kind o
Scratching sound 

That Charlie said he

Could understand.

“Charlie,” they’d say,

“Charlie, come here.”

And Charlie hated it

When they’d call out.

He would get far under

His blanket and make

A moaning sound.

Darrell told him

“Hands can’t talk, Charlie.”

“Like hell, they can’t.”

Said Charlie.

“They can sing songs.

Scratching songs.

They don’t like folks

To know they can sing,

But I’ll prove it to you.


So Darrell met Charlie

One the night at

Morgan’s barn, right 

Near where his hands

Got chopped off,

And they waited.

They waited a long time.

But, finally Darrell Miller

Said he heard this

Scratching music start

Up from one of the horse

Stables below that wasn’t

Used any more.

“Listen,” Charlie said

And he began to move

His cut-off arm stumps

Around and the scratching 

Sound seemed to move in

Rhythm with the way

Charlie moved them stumps.

“Stop it. Stop it,” said Darrell

“I can’t,” he said.

“Not when them hands are singing.


Darrell said that from then on

He could hear the scratching music

Every so often and noticed

His own arms began to move 

Whenever he chanced to hear it.

Darrell died in a terrible car wreck

Out on old 95 and lost both of his

Own arms in the accident. 

Cut off at the same place Charlie’s were.

Now, I’ve started to hear the scratching

Music and I can’t seem to turn it off.

“I didn’t want to tell you this story,
Darrell told me at the time.

I wish he had never said anything

About it to me.  I wish he had never

Said anything at all.  Last week Morgan’s

Barn burned to the ground.  In the ashes

They found Charlie’s wedding ring

But there weren’t no hands there at all.

Today’s LittleNip:


A sputtering that used

To be language but

Has been divorced from

The tongue for much

Too long to hold any

Arrangement.  Water.


—Medusa, thanking D.R. Wagner for the Halloween fare this morning, and reminding you to set your clocks back an hour tonight!

Friday, October 30, 2015

Camouflage Kid

—Poems by J.D. DeHart, Chattanooga, TN
—Artwork by J.D. DeHart


I was and continue to be.
And one day will not be.
But let's not dwell.
Who I used to be was a
camouflage kid, never the life
of the party, just trying to
blend and make a few jokes,
put himself at ease.
Who I now try to be is the guy
that sometimes speaks, but is
comfortable with quiet.  Knows
but knows it's okay not to know.
Reads, but can't read it all,
loves and believes, sees limits,
and who I may become is one
who always speaks calmly.



Creature of softness
willowed down before me,
my fingers are not small
enough to touch without
crushing, injuring.
I cannot step without jarring,
cannot even leave without
upsetting a balance, so sit
in what passes for delicate
interaction, whispering.



A smash of atom,
refusing the presence of fiber,
not listening to the inner voice,
conflagration, unexpected.

Some create beauty and art,
others create force
and dull the edge of reason.

 —Art by J.D. DeHart


He is an image
made of lines.  You can
even see the blank spaces
between features.
One you might see
at the corner of an on-ramp.
One crouched, running
away, asking for an odd
number in change so he
can abuse fictitious bus rides
home and still wind up
in the same sidewalk spot.



He's a raving man
who carries a door
across the street.  Why?
To add it to his pile,
of course, where there are
also old crosses, his old
life, and bits of his guilt,
gloves, a radiator (I guess
is what that is), tables
never sat at, drinks never
enjoying, growing hair
in the sun.

 —Art by J.D. DeHart


We consider, correct
read and reread, notice
the levels of confidence.
It is a wise person who approaches
all with a healthy sense
of skepticism.  Even proof
is never proven.  Always pushing,
questioning, reconsidering
for the new context, the new
envelope of experience.


Today’s LittleNip:

Reality only reveals itself when it is illuminated by a ray of poetry.

—Georges Braque


—Medusa, with thanks to today's fine contributors!


 Old Jacks
—Photo by Katy Brown, Davis, CA


Thursday, October 29, 2015

We All Have a Secret Garden

—Poems by B.Z. Niditch, Brookline, MA
—Paintings by Tetsuya Ishida, 1973-2004


Between you and me
speaking confidentially
it's all an amazement
how Odysseus still inspires
our own return to Greece
through his words and phrases
we remember his exiled journey
that even a warrior like him
deep down longs to smile
visits an island of sirens
and birds until he relieves,
relives and returns
to Penelope at peace,
or recalling Jason's hopes
with the bold Argonauts
at Colchis searching
for the golden fleece,
or wake up
with a cupcake and saucer
in an English priory
reading the tale of Bath
by Geoffrey Chaucer
or when contemplating
from a chapel in Paris
the poet Jean Pierre Jouvre
being fortified as art rules me
back from the Louvre
seeing what is colorfully new
with a wide critical eye
among different classic
or romantic schools
taking in imagination's part
deciding what to review,
or by chance to fly
near the fountains of Trevi
designed by Salvi in Rome,
or just dog-walking the Spaniel
gone far from home,
or reading how Daniel
was a captive
exiled in far stranger Babylon
yet praising and praying
with the angel Gabriel
in his prophecy for Zion
with an interpretation of dreams
in signs for freedom, it seems
God showing him the demons
of four future kingdoms
with so much governmental danger
among the lions and beasts
it's a a great parenthesis
from his deliverance too,
or the shepherd king David
kneeling inside Jerusalem's walls
broadcasting from Israel
when God calls,
or in St. Teresa's consolation
in her convent in Avila
water flows in the Prayer of Quiet
continuously without delay
for blessings in depth and height
in her Seventh heavenly mansion
clothing her contemplation
from numerous conduits and way,
or we being devoted scholars
being creative back at college
quoting Rimbaud, Verlaine,
or the Romantic Baudelaire
seeking poetic knowledge
in a lending library of words
of linguistics from Saussure
or Derrida's heliocentric
metaphysics as an arranger
to my friendly mind
yet without a worry or care,
daring travel like Dante
telling his story with Virgil
his guide going forward
in hell, purgatory or paradise
for we all have a secret garden
and sanctuary by the bier
of Hamlet, Ophelia or Lear
to seek pardon and dwell
as Master Shakespeare,
not being a monkey, cockatoo
or any songbird on a tree
yet leading as a lion in a zoo
wishing like Daniel to be free
do not be embarrassed
at my words, all is well
we could be in a desert
or mountains of Grenoble
with your Alps goat herds
grazing for another day
it's all amazing,
wouldn't you say,
or wrapped like Leonardo
in the draped fashion of his day
by his paintings, sculptured art
inventions or portraits to portray
or hearing a Bach cantata
or a clarinet concerto by Mozart
we all have passed our part
in sonata, Passion or quartet
learning from the rapturous art
from Ravenna's Mosaic culture
or bolder frescoes at museums
above high Mobiles of Calder
echoes composers like Webern
or older Vienna professors
like Dr. Freud trying to convey
how our early genesis of genius
came gingerly to love and play
we remember Venus and Adonis
conferring dreams for us
or as the conspicuous insect
of Franz Kakfa
offers us his Metamorphosis
until his last regret.


As if words surprise
absorbing attention
when a smooth jazz poet
and alto sax player
with all-night riffs
emerges outside the club
as an Elm branch falls
because of a cool, bright
late October wind
over the downtown docks
the poet draws his eyes
toward the riverbed dunes
on the first light Esplanade
by the bandstand gazebo
with resting songbirds
delivering dreams in images
of articulate voices
yet somehow remembers
he must turn back the clock,
we survive with words
come snow, welcoming frost
speaking in a foreign sense
of divining phonic tongues
we watch until my kayak anchor
once fastened by inertia's rope
now moves like a swan boat
across the back of the pond
by the rocks of the sea
thunder waves over us
as the catch of sorry phrases
are a wonder of honesty
going beyond our sixth sense
to a characteristic fifth dimension
with intuitive friends
greeting me this early dawn
the sun rises by my bicycle
sighting our tense choices
at tension's moments of truth
as nature awakes the vineyard
an authentic bard of New England
walks over a trail bed of leaves
hearing chaotic squirrels
sit in an apple-orchard tree
as mourning doves chirp away
we're fumbling a football
with a blizzard of verses
red-eyed for a creative day.


Standing in a rose garden
under a poplar tree
asking no pardon to disclose
another's popularity

We are alone under a sky
seen by perhaps only one star
often wondering in the frost
the cost of beauty from afar

But our eyes are stone, cast
on two lonely birds
who sing us their solo tune
in a song without words

Putting bread from the feeder
and water for their thirst
soon they will fly ahead
satisfied from the first,

Few bother to stand with me
under this dream of landscape
or understand that poetry
has its own green band of escape

Here we take a surprised leaf
of orange, lemon and red
by our own relief
is already gone on this river bed

Asking to be born
for another century
as we walk
along haltingly,

Perhaps only Keats, Byron
Yeats, Dickinson or Shelley
will greet such an October sun
and still run away with me.



The door opens
to a china glass of blue
with nana's jam, kvass, groats
boiling green tea too,

Everything seen in nature
leaves small sorry sightings
daydreams on an exciting tram
as all things become new,

Over a dawn's trainload of ideas
drawn from my margin's outlines
and composed in an octave mode
a prodigy shares the road signs,

Until reaching our destination
where its treated human cargo lies
retrieves us at the last station
as a few children wave goodbye,

When is an expedition or experiment
ever wholly completed in rhyme
yet with a hello at our music school
we take our notes in time,

We try to obey the golden rule
in our own maxims and quotes
to pass any secret tension
we live in a cello's rosin notes,

And behave in familiar traits
as in a mirror's dark glass door
and confess as love waits
in a whispered corridor,

Watching dependent bureaucrats
yet one cool cat at every class
students grow into jazz
with knowing incomprehension,

Playing my dressed-up riffs
from an alto sax or solo violin
with an open sentence stress
in my first knowing composition,

Confessing to reach a harmony
beyond my voice's convention
to extend my speech choices
on a minor key's vocal invention

We wait for a breakthrough
in content and lyrical form
without any local fear of tension
to encounter a musical storm,

Learning English and Latin
Russian and Greek
translating Pushkin or Bunin
is always yearning to speak,

With a major melody you knew
a poet recites in matins verse
trying to recall the calm night
from Hebrew psalms reviewed,

From a good day's childhood
delayed from recitation and respite
through our neighborhood hallways
we are made to be always polite

After a virtuoso's breakfast
hoping to record
what echoes in our tenses
we sense its own reward.


You made an hour's listening
to your urban Beat reading
sound easy no matter
how consequential
you ask for a clever
underground voice
to make our attention span
pass all unconventional words
yet you once called yourself
a troublemaker in temperament
or street-wise young delinquent
who had so much tension
escaping Vietnam for Canada
defying the government
after a poet's vent and rant
you visit a secret zen peace garden
to observe a choice of leaves
when tossing and turning
sleepless in lemon and red
at Julian to the El Capitan's dam
flowing in a riverbed
as blue fish swim beside you
finding in his imagination
even a mermaid or merman
in an expectant delivery
of California's inclement rain
for a life is never a fading thread
there is always a clever knot
somewhere in any deluged plant
that causes us to survive
any injectant life-long pardon
remembering what you said
you made us wish to feel alive
willing to entertain
your departure is an absence
within October's rushing breeze
as we wade in your span
making eyes at the dancing moves
of you and partner Mary
move their hands and feet
from grit head to their knees
you showed us how to be brave
from any contrary countenance
flowing from a spit-image
of recognition and a language
writ to a connection
at your magnetic presence
just by sheer energy
in your main man-up ignition
offering and all ready to go
and fully release your poetry
at a leaking lip of chance
never drowning
but going by the implicit flow
in an innocent body of thoughts
with your unique way of language
yet dowsing for still waters
evidently listening
to sea-star shells bobbing up
amid the Big Apple
traveling to Brighton Beach
to hear sea-star shell echoes
hidden out by enlightened angels
with Whitman and Crane
and onto San Diego's
sunny Coronado
within reach of the white sand
by endless exits of parking lots
we remember you, Steve Kowit
engaged here to shelter
to enlighten us by an obit
for your own entwined memory
from my own signed elegy
you sought to be at peace.


To another time
and world where words
meant something
like the critical journey
of artistic voiceless
from frosty silhouettes
dazzled by sky birds
in their flight
you remain in memory
persuaded that light
from every abyss
taught us to touch petals
fallen in the thinned garden
in an age of the pitiless
you rose up questioning
like exiled freed Odysseus
waiting for Penelope
as an invited guest
to pardon what lived
and grinned
from a faceless mirror
at a lyrical wind
through an earth-wise valley
lifting our own darkness.



Yeats in the Rhymers Club
waits to share his words
not to scold, atone
to make amends nor please
at his pub on Fleet Street
but to be here with friends
as words rise on poet chairs
at the Old Cheshire Cheese
to abide with Dowson, Wilde
Symons, Lionel Johnson,
praising his circle to tell all
and to be set at ease
with their cups raised
making their own voices heard
as each now a grown-up child
no matter what shadows
the weather portends
they come out each night here
for as songbirds fly
near the window shutters
under the sullen Fall sky
poets arrive here alone
for their enlightened stupor
aware of the other's voice.


When in pursuit
of the past
you seal your words up
as in a waterwheel
watching the sea waves
as a lobster net catches
some red salmon
already ordering
my next meal
the sun conceals us
as in the allegory
of Plato's cave
with a theory of forms
as people are untutored
behind a visionary's wall
in a fiery burning parapet
where prisoners awake
and puppeteers may move
as in a snatching net,
it's like the last cup of water
we noticed by the museum
in a long box
of wild roses by the phlox
are gathered by campers
near the Blueberry Hills
thinking of packing
up our belongings
for our journey
to a hike up on trails
near the Green mountains
up to Vermont's high peaks
a landscape arises
out of nature from my camera
revealing out of nowhere
scenes of expectancy
as fond memory scenes
will return to remember
these wide open fields
in a variety of naming colors
of blond, green, flaming red
like Blakean seasons of October
by the White River bed
near a painter of oils
clothed fresh from the city
in his handsome denim
tells me he wishes to become
a Master of the snows
in the coming months
as a weekend jazz recital
rocks in an alabaster courtyard
near an ambrosia bandstand
I'm asked to play violin,
by the hyacinth out in the sun
my child spirit is within
nature's poet's full enclosure
from a lorry of sightings
by fireworks as we swim,
it seems our brief time
motions us to linger now
flowing as if we are by shore
near the quarry waters
on a visionary's mission
we motion our chapped lips
like Wordsworth or Whitman
transformed for our time
as a young rap singer
puts away his radio
of German heavy metal
sings about a fountain of youth
with a bong and guitar nearby
winks to remind us
at this hip hour
that we are like birdsong
or a mute blue-petaled flower
only here for an hour
yet after a brief melody
and riddled laughter we live on
drawn together
to share what is cool
as Wordsworth or Wheelwright
knew that often communication
is justice misunderstood
I'm here to honor the unknown
when words wait to appear
in the setting sunshine
to rejoice in the pine woods
gathering moss and stone
by the fawn, deer or lamb
as a witness to feel free
in an open sky's countryside
are never spoken as gone
nor of our missing
daughter, son, or swan
residing out by the sea
perhaps hiding out by bicycle
or out riding
in another neighborhood
as seen in the next dawn
suddenly finding
a last love letter of Dear John
below the blind alley
or writing on an Oak tree
by the golf cart lawn
a text message in Swahili
"I am who I am".


Today’s LittleNip:

I am what I am, thank God!

—Jimi Hendrix, “Nine to the Universe”   


—Medusa, thanking B.Z. Niditch for today's fine poems, and noting that more info about Tetsuya Ishida may be seen at

Odysseus verspottet Polyphen
—Painting by Joseph Mallord William Turner, 1775-1851

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Poems of Wonder

—Photo by Katy Brown, Davis, CA

—Tom Goff, Carmichael, CA

We were just talking, a teacher and I, about you
and how far you have come in your brief time
with us: Not college material, they’d chime,
the ones (there are always the ones) who slander the true,
the blameless, the untainted miracle
survivors of that toxicity they drain
into your hopes. The tasteless venom and stain
they’d soak into you skin-level, at every spiracle.

So family drags down, so school lifts up;
our microculture was just what you needed to flourish.
Let it be said of me (it won’t) I nourished
one leg, hip, or arm of you; supplied your cup
with an ounce of juice, your worst most despondent morning.
That one day infused me with sorrow. Blood, from your borning? 

 —Big Apple
—Photo by Katy Brown

 —Tom Goff

Against the moonrise, the sundown, who sees a ghost ship?
The silhouette incoherent, inchoate blot unplotted
as is its so-called course. No matter whether the most ship
or the least ship, there’s a tatter in every masthead,

a racing that’s also a listless floating, all ballast without gravity,
both upright mainsail prow forward and alarming list,
a shudder of pirate red and black in a deep seacavity
forever evoked in fortissimo swells of Liszt.

The Ancyent Marinere confused the issue,
repairing the holed-most canvases with notes
that eat at the poem’s mysterious somber tissue
of dreams, yet aren’t all poems moth-devoured motes?

Let us indite new yardarms and keels of nothing no man
never sailed in silences of white with echoes,
gossamer-gaunt ghazals that hug like Romans
those Dalmatias, Aegeans of coastline
where everything’s inattentively seen
via eyelash, and so soft legends
come splintering strings and plectra
lyre-first headlong into no seas,
no flamehanded crew of ghosts…

 —Anonymous Photo

(symphonic poem by Arnold Bax)
We Baxians reverence Bax’s biographer,
Lewis Foreman, sage and gentle source
who, kenning the man’s faults, keeps his foremost course,
tracks Arnold Bax toward greatness with a sure
and steady step. Once in a while, he’s off
the mark, as when he faults The Tale the Pine
Trees Knew
, for its supposed cliché: a scoff
at its “Indians Coming Down the Hudson” line

of rhythm. Trochees all the way, he’s right,
the drum by which we (white) younglings used to clap
our lips in war-whoops. Not exactly right,
or else we’d not be having quite this flap:

for where’d Hiawatha get his studly hip-hop?
The good gray poet adapts the trochee’s Nordic,
the rhythm of Finnish, Latvian, Iceland bardic,
the meter of long-legged reindeer whose clip-clop
the moss and snowdrifts mask. Is this the stride
for Lapland ceremony, groom and bride?   

 —Photo by Katy Brown, Davis

(EJ Moeran, Anglo-Irish symphonist, and Arnold Bax)
 —Tom Goff

Arnold, you should have known better: this was Jack
who collapsed from a jetty into Kenmare bay water.
Died still your composer friend, survivor of slaughter
who held, all the more for that, his love—his wrack—
for high-hearted song, most lissome when sung in anguish.
Yet not without lightness of heart, the folkloric strain
that dances long before leg takes signal from brain,
unlazying listeners giddy. No slacker may languish.

You scrabbled through manuscripts your fellow had left:
no Symphony Two here, but “rubbish” none could redeem,
so you pronounced, and left thus many unraked leaves.
Years pass: from the heap a low hum, then a ghostly gleam;
scrapped husks assume lyric shape. Broad as a weft,
these blossoming fragments make sail for the Isles of Greensleeves. 

 —Anonymous Photo

—Tom Goff

A period jots the page right after your name,
as with Walt, on his title page. The poet’s a sentence,
Walt the subject, Whitman the verb. Repentance:
no need of it, though such a simple grammatical frame.
You rise, my subject and verb, as does the wheat,
from purity deep in you. I come from disease,
long spears of infection, old as I am to squeeze
so tender a sprout as is good grain easy to eat.
My muck is my beginning. I embitter
just witnessing each sore, mole, scar on me
(me, chestnut in a spiked envelope, off the fall tree).
Whereas not even tattoos dark as litter
at sidewalk-edge could envenom that soft dawn we
feel lambent in your skin, your mythic face,
the one Face: I see you, swaying above this page
kissing and sexing, never to reach my age.
Beside us, the Poet, imbuing our sheet with grace
transcendent of life's rough dirt and sly infection.
If we could just Whitman each other, merely a trace.
Long since though I've roused a woman's inside convection...

*“Poem of Wonder at the Resurrection of the Wheat,” Leaves of Grass, 1860

 —Photo by Katy Brown

Today's LittleNip:


Twin sentries, crouching gilded lions
who guard a gateway with no gate.
Are they, or not, in true alliance?
Twin sentries, crouching gilded lions,
each blind to a counterpart, out-growl defiance.
Our eyes can’t meet: we share that fate,
twin sentries, crouching gilded lions
—to guard a gateway with no gate.

(first pub. in DAD’s DESK, September 2015)


—Medusa, with thanks for today's fine poems and pix! 

 —Anonymous Artwork


Tuesday, October 27, 2015

You Call Me Sadness

—Poems and Photos by Joyce Odam, Sacramento


Behold me now in autumn.
Love after love
I drift through something golden.
Name it anything.
I die with the sun
and live again in leaves.
In the blue corners of my shadow
I wait for rain.

I fathom to your eyes.
You feel me dancing.
You would dance with me
but the light is hollow.
You ask if I am real
and I answer you with laughter.
You close your eyes
and I slip behind them.
You call me sadness.

I come to you again
when you are
tearing from the trees.
How faceted you are,
holding your corners up to the wind,
giving me the bright happiness
of your tears.

At last I know you.
You are the rain.
I tell you how it is to be
half golden—half blue shadow
and you keep breaking into
silver pain.
I turn my body into silence,
but you have found
where I keep my love
and you are singing.

(first pub. in The Small Pond, 1971)


of pre-dawn
just after night’s blue rain.

Winds of no color
break through the night,
sending the dark green trees
and leaves into a flurry.

Even so,
small chirping sounds
of softest yellow
burst here and there.

A squirrel scampers
along a frail board fence
outside the listening window.

I hear all this through
a slow, reluctant waking,
gray threads
of dream-fragments tearing away.

Then comes
the soft gray blue
of morning : 6:00 a.m.
Just like the clock dial said.

Old October disguised as summer again. An ur-
gency begins, as of something unfinished. A
quickness in the light. A richness of movement.
Wings. Sounds break at the edges. The calendar
begins to die. The pictures turn into an album.
Did we do all those things marked in the squares?
The great sadness of time begins its mourning:
quick, quick, quick.  Oh-h, for the losses, quick
and rare—October, disguised as summer again.



to the (un)familiar—
not thought—
this is whim-si-cal advantage,
the mock(ery) of everything in view.

Oh yes, the window, famous now,
for all the looking—freedom for the eyes,
the air grown heavy from smoke—
from burning trees—forests of disaster.
One can smell it.

Only on the news, we are here,
at the edge of looking, feeling the fear,
the “what if”  already over-burdened,

One color opening into others,
so richly overwhelming.
It wants no memory of this.
Close the window—
looking out—close the window.

After “An October Evening, 1887” by John Lavery

An autumn evening with light still waning,
surrounding her shadow, the dark chair

disappearing, the window burnished red,
dull gold mixed in—her thoughts

dormant—her face blurred
through a mirror

that is far away—
that will not answer her stare.

Who is she—
if not Her Self—

any one,
and any where.

She who was the most beautiful
to her beholder,

now exists in likenesses by his eye and brush,
his shortened memory:

his nonexistent, perfect female
after the art of all the others.



How can we tell the tree from the sorrow?
They are both the same. Leaves convey
the same feeling as tears on a moving face.
The wind loves this and comes murmuring.

The trees bend in the murmur
like a dancer fluid with many movements.
The rain remembers and returns.
The rain is the wind’s tears.

Trite! Trite!
Scream the crows.
But the women continue weeping,
the women who are the crows.

Old! Old! Cry the saplings,
and they preen in the rain until golden—
they preen until a sad old face
looks at them from a long drought.

But they are fastened now
to the last of the memories.
Lost! Lost! Screech the crows which are
blights on the air, disassembling.

But the trees are the wings of the air
and they lift into bright pretensions,
patterns that entangle with the crows,
and they claim each other.

In the first memory is the innocence; 
in the second memory the sadness is born;
the third is the prediction, since it is the memory.


This is the autumn we’ve waited for all year;
we are the falling leaves—the fierce red light
that turns the air to copper—the brimming night
that echoes this for hours, like a smear
of ancient blood upon the sky—minds clear
and open to the season—to the sight
and feel of all that hurry with hearts that might
turn rhythmic to this churning atmosphere.

We are the ache and joy of all that change—       
transfigured into something newly strange—
an older blood-flow urgent to belong—
happy to follow some age-old desire:                                            
We, who are an old, nomadic pair,
becoming now another autumn song.


Today’s LittleNip(s):


leaves of autumn—
crushed to sidewalks
except for
this one.



I have set an apple on the table
for you to look at.

Hence, table: flat surface
covered with white cloth;
background: a black diffusement.

All else is not employed.
What color is the apple?


—Medusa, with many thanks to Joyce Odam for today's fine, fine poems and pix, and a reminder that our new Seed of the Week is Masks and other Guises. Send poems, photos, and/or artwork on this (or any other) subject to No deadline on SOWs.

Monday, October 26, 2015

The Trees of Heaven

Old Dog, Old Tricks
—Photo by Robert Lee Haycock

—Robert Lee Haycock, Antioch, CA

Her powder box chimed  “Golden Slippers”
His Bay Rum insinuated itself
Frowns when I banged up the stairs
Smiles when I played piano in church
Carnival glass chicken full of horehound
Punch bowl full of Chiller Diller
Fireworks in the front yard
Desert snow on Christmas morning
Looking out the back window of the car as we drove away
Gammy waved from the balcony
After Papa died


—Robert Lee Haycock
Backyards full of broken
Paused in our headlonging
Toward agreement
Fox and I
Eye to eye
What are you doing here?
I am living. hay
What are you doing?
He’d like to know.


—Robert Lee Haycock

How many times I sit here
Figures populate the same linen plane
Refusing to touch they broadcast
A green ground
Shimmers of simplicity
While in the next room come
To melt a cone or two
Bisque the most beautiful things I’ll never make
Hollow spheres of wet hurtled mud deleted
By custodians in a fit of critique
Through this door is an open casket
A smiling once upon a man
Gammy and Papa crying more
Flowers than I’ve ever smelled and
Ice cream on the streets of memory

 —Photo by Robert Lee Haycock

—Rhony Bhopla, Sacramento

Strung cobweb wires against paint-stripped building
walls, least wanted, fixed with tape stretched, broken.
Passing adverts claim a phone call costs
Rupees.  Gandhi remains folded in

a passerby’s pocket.  Both unaware
of the growing entanglement of lights.  Dangling
bulb bursts, daylight sun showers, nothing is
on fire—yet.  Haphazard wraps around, under

other wires.  Sometimes, they hang from trees,
tortured by auspicious chants.  Under Punjab’s
clustered canopy, a future guru sits,
eyes closed, pierced tongue reverberates:

The tree gesticulates with long,
inelastic branches.  At tip, knobby
fingers point at the ominous
future of our electric snarl.

A perfect table squats at shop entry, covered
by an unraveled, sheer turban, tied
to the knees of its legs.  Underneath, brown
legs zigzag in dirt.  Boy’s eyes closed, unstirred.

Word Key: 

inam:  gift; a common name for a child
guru:  a spiritual teacher

 —Photo by Katy Brown, Davis, CA

—Kevin Jones, Elk Grove, CA

It is the color
Of rust—at last, seen, at last


Golden Retriever’s
Coat, all the more vibrant in
The early dawn light.


Jack the Yellow Lab
Never had a bath, but he’s
Bright, grinning. . .fall sunlight.


Brandy, my Irish
Setter, never so stunning. . .
October sunset.


The yard cats, mostly
Black longhairs. . .summer tangles
Gone by the first frost.


Down by the river,
Wintering Mallards start
To fret. . .They’ll bring bread?


Out on the trail, the
Coyote sniffs. . .Knows that change
Is in his favor.


A time when change is
In the air, and when rust
Is a color that rules.

 —Photo by Katy Brown

—Taylor Graham, Placerville, CA

Rugged mountains gentle into meadow flowers,

birdsong, and a river in meandering flow reflects

sky. Clouds against horizon. Sun arc’d through
its daily motion rising setting in postcard colors.

All night I tried this road and that, I stared at the

dream-image but earth kept spinning under its

heaven and I kept walling-out at dead-ends and

cul-de-sacs, battering at the door of each house

individually wrapped in mosquito-netting or

gifting-cellophane with the attendant principle

of keeping something in/something out. Gray

figures bent as in longing, watching the most

beautiful landscape on their screens.

ice on the bucket—

above willows at first frost

the trail goes trekking


—Taylor Graham

Winter’s coming. We practice for long sleep,

you napping the hours, I with my books:

one poet found his dying father deep

in dream; another wonders how death looks.

My pup roisters with a bone;

flips cartwheels, crackerjacks the prize

from leaf-fall piles,

barks me come outside.

And see, the tree of heaven bright with fall.

A weed, they say; nerves of green all thru drought.

What do we know of heaven? Slanting light.

Winter’s coming, we practice for long sleep. 

 —Photo by Katy Brown

—Carol Louise Moon, Sacramento

The house in San Francisco sits on a hill.  It 
smells of old electricity and newsprint.  From 
the chandelier hangs a ceramic pig in the 
middle of a quaint room.  A window lets in 
light and opens to an opposite hillside view.

The hill-house in San Francisco is old 
electricity and natural light.  Both chandelier 
and sun contribute to a nostalgic ambiance, 
as does the breakfast nook. Outside, sparrows 
twitter as the ceramic flying pig spins from a 
crystal chandelier in the antique sitting room. 
Newsprint tells of an earthquake disaster, its 
date obscured by a hawk feather bookmark. 

San Francisco radio news: Weather today is 
sunny with cool breezes…  The opposing 
hillside sports two redwoods, one Coastal 
and the other Sierra. Patio birds chat their 
own brand of news, as radio speaks of 
seismic activity off the Pacific coast. A fly 
lands on the rump of the ceramic pig 
dangling from the dusty sitting room 


—Carol Louise Moon

There is a fly in the house in San Francisco
which flies near the chandelier.
The ceiling is painted light blue
to match the sky.
The fly alights on the rump of a flying pig
which dangles from the chandelier.
I wonder why, and I wonder when.

The crisp ocean breeze that blows
through the house on the bay
whispers in reply:
When pigs fly, flies do too.

 —Photo by Katy Brown

Our thanks for today’s hot breakfast of poetry and pix, and a reminder to check out the green box at the right of this for workshops (a couple of new ones), submissions opportunities and poetry contests (lots of new ones), a wonderful website to enjoy on Webilicious, and a reminder that today is Sacramento Poetry Day! 
Then scroll farther down to the blue box under the green box and take note of what’s upcoming in NorCal poetry for this week and beyond, including a new reading series for Seniors, hosted by those lovely Straight Out Scribes on Halloween!


Today’s LittleNip:

—Carol Louise Moon

   “Do not cast your pearls before swine
    whereby they will be trampled under foot…”
                      —THE BIBLE

Patty’s pearls meant the world to Patty.
But one day Patty threw the pearl necklace
down at the feet of a pig.  The pig looked
at the pearls, then looked at Patty and
walked away.  Patty’s pearls lay broken
and scattered on the ground—a lesson
for Patty, which failed her miserably.


—Photo by Robert Lee Haycock

Sunday, October 25, 2015

At the Fall of the Leaf

Fallen Leaves
—Photo by Katy Brown, Davis

—Dante Gabriel Rossetti (1828-1882)

Know'st thou not at the fall of the leaf
How the heart feels a languid grief
         Laid on it for a covering,
         And how sleep seems a goodly thing
In Autumn at the fall of the leaf?

And how the swift beat of the brain
Falters because it is in vain,
         In Autumn at the fall of the leaf
         Knowest thou not? and how the chief
Of joys seems—not to suffer pain?

Know'st thou not at the fall of the leaf
How the soul feels like a dried sheaf
         Bound up at length for harvesting,
         And how death seems a comely thing
In Autumn at the fall of the leaf?



Saturday, October 24, 2015

Trekking Our Way to Heaven

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

                         for Kenneth Patchen

A rainbow arcs over a grey lake.

Tired grey boats are drifting

Away from the shore.  Bent grey

Figures are hunched over them

But are not directing their motion.

One would think such a place 
Was defiled by man but no,

It is not necessary to submit

To any drifting.  We are made 

For fiery work and the spirit.

We are the cloth of the tempest.

We are the nets of light upon

This grey lake that brings the rainbow

Flying across such a pale landscape.

Bring your bodies dressed in golden

Birds to stand with us on this shore.

We shall batter the doors of these dreams

With the music of our being here on this poor

Earth.  We are able to see the dragons,

Hold the answers to all that is unexplained,

Draw the songs from the sullen boatmen.

I awake in a room filled with light and legend.

We lay down near the world and our tears

Bring the flowers of the world to attend us.


The countenance of the dream forgets itself.

It will walk the concentric heavens,

Its towers of sand, the half-forgotten faces

That write their sad names to nothingness.

The nightmare that is pure mystery.

The voice of the suicide that drains 

The sunset of its rootless colors,

Tears all meaning from the senses,

Speaks only to dust.

From here, in the morning, I still can see

The sun rising over the oaks along the sloughs.

I feel my heart beating to hear the songs

Birds bring to this safe harbor for a moment.

Your name too is shimmering there,

Contrived by teeth and bones and hunger

For the vision that is the universe before you.

I beg for the words to fill all hearts with joy,

Yet voices still complain from outside the doors.

They do not believe in these green hills,

These thrones of love are caves to them,

Their only gold is the skin of the tigers who tear

Them away from sleep with blood and anger.

Let not this house be so defiled.

Let not all be such an exile to love.

We walk through each house alive

With cries that reach the highest plains.

There are photographs of all the dead.


We were standing as close to the edge of the waterfall

As we could get and still walk the earth.  Our luck held

As long as our memory, until it became so intolerable 

We could only see our situation through the eyes of a poet.

We kept using up our years gazing into the maelstrom. 

Any part of sameness held contradiction, like a Summer’s

Night, cricket sounds, the voices of frogs, so near

We imagined that words were something that has been

Sent to us as impermanent as something to be desired.

We had no secrets.  You must have seen us holding the branches

The trees extended over the edge of the place, a door to another

Universe, one without heroes or the treachery of ancient legends

To carry us over the brink.  We became the property of the moment.

It seemed enough, no, more than enough, like a gunman

Demanding all attention or the mouth of a lover busy with its

Ministrations and explorations, impossible to ignore.

The entire construct vanishes even as it stands in the light.

Something buys a part of the morning, a feeble objectiveness 

Composed of the beginnings of conversations, the conditions

For an argument begin to torment us as we try to raise a song.

Finally, we become spectacle.  A raft of fresh green and perfect

Blue.  The mad rush of water capturing every color the light throws

At it.  It all begins to disintegrate around us.  We find images

Showing its presence in old postcards and an occasional lantern

Slide.  When we research what may have happened to all of it,

A single image, an engraving, shows a horse being pulled away

From the edge of the waterfall, one man pulling feverishly 

On the reins. The rest, a story in a tourist guidebook already old.

(prev. posted on Medusa’s Kitchen)



These forests are without moment,

Not held in the mind at all.

They will remain unmentioned

In world after world.

They course through the body

As if the body were made of sweet water.

As if there were no distance between

Coming and going through a beautiful center.

Oh, I cannot speak with any voice.

The white bird, the great heart

That moves us through childhood 

Unwrapping the landscape

Through harbor after harbor

To our grave and beyond.

I will not summon or attend

A single object or thought of the world.

That it bear the marks of breathing

Is enough and is as exact as any companion

Might be.  I inhabit and am inhabited.

        for E.R. Baxter III

The altitudes have gone past tension.

We are required to know just how

High we are, what names the dead

Animals by the side of the road

May be identified by, what has happened 

To the amphibians that the Spring

Isn’t as full; the vernal pools

With their pale eyes reflecting

The cool morning, the wakening

Rustle of the season, all green and up.

So we stand and watch the buzzards

Ride the thermals, circling round

And round and we learn to listen

To our breathing as we do so.

We can meet here as often as we are able

But let us speak to one another

About these changes, remind one another

Just how temporary it all is.

Or, if I am unable to see you here again,

I’ll be sure to text you, maybe that

Will be our attempt at presence

As Spring replies with confounding necessities.



To hear the voice tell us stories.

The heart went questing with true

Love and its page, Ardent Desire.

To know this is true, as true

As clouds lifting against the 

Horizon, building higher than ideas.

Oh please tell us the truth.

Tell us about Mister Death

And his lovely dances full of leaps,

Full of daring and challenges.

The color of the sky at twilight.

When we wait at night for the

Lights to quit and make soft

Cloaks around our thoughts

So we may sleep.  Children,

Families, lovers and deer feeding

Beside streams full of moonlight.

Let us stand here together.

I will hold you to me and kiss

Your lips.  I will tell you and you

Will tell me.  We will be able to see

The silver of enchanted light through

The trees.  We will agree that our lives

Shall always have this sheen about them.

Far to the North, just before the snows

Begin to own everything for months

At a time, we hear the voices again.

Cantatas that overcome death, leave

Us choruses swelling with prayers,

Rejoicing beyond measure, the seasons

So full we wash in them and they flow

Over silken skin as clouds lifting

Against the horizon, building higher than ideas.



The air tumbles through the haze.

Somewhere in the blur of lights

Moons have found a place to gather.

Tonight the snow is golden and children

Are dressed in shining cloth.

They have tongues of ice but sing

As best they are able and it is a sweet

Song that moves the milky air.

Yes, stars move closer to hear

These words.  They know life

When they hear it and their horses

Stamp and rear, tossing their manes,

Their tails, and snorting dreams

Seldom seen outside of words

Like these poor mumblings

Trekking their way to heaven.

Oh, that each day would be filled

With such visions and that the red

Blood of terror not be seen in places

Such as this.  The horses with their riders

Growing larger and climbing so far

Out of sight that the world bleeds longing.


Today’s LittleNip:

I read and walked for miles at night along the beach, writing bad blank verse and searching endlessly for someone wonderful who would step out of the darkness and change my life. It never crossed my mind that that person could be me.

—Anne Quindlen


—Medusa, thanking D.R. Wagner for such fine fare this morning!