Monday, October 10, 2016

The Fires of October

Nasturtium and Borage
—Photos by Stacey Jaclyn Morgan, Fair Oaks, CA

—Sue Crisp, Shingle Springs, CA

I have stood before this old-time, weathered door
dozens of times, and always retreated from its
haunting inner sanctum memories.

And yet, here I am, standing before it again.
My breath comes in short little bursts, like
gasping for air, my heart beating triple time.

I tell myself to focus, get over it.
All it takes is
Turning The Key.

 Dusky Morning Glories

Beware, beware: 
the fires of October
burn low in the field
and the smoky-eyed moon
peers red above the hills.

Like moths to the lantern,
the souls of my family
have all soared to death
in the flames of October.

The moon-drawn Bohemian
just under my skin
scrys loss in the embers—
reads omens in blood.

Remember, remember:
the lives of this family:
drawn by red moonlight—
into the night.

On All Hallows’ Eve
when spirits drift earthward,
I listen for whispers
of those gone before.

By the light of three candles,
in quiet night hours
I hear the faint thumping
of wings on the pane.

—Katy Brown, Davis, CA

 Galina's Cucumber

Wakamatsu, looking back:

sister of the present,
keeps events concealed

so much hidden
like an old movie
with stuttering frames

negatives of stiff-backed pioneers
flash among snippets
of letters, shipping manifests

much of what came before and
what came after
the Wakamatsu settlement

remains in shadow
ghosts look out from
lace-curtained windows

—Katy Brown

 Nasturtium 1

—Taylor Graham, Placerville, CA

Hands of clay working clay, he molds faces
with his fingers. Thumbs find the shallow
craters under eyes as if seeking through skin
for the skull that ages or moments later
will prove we are human. Index finger
rounds the lips in a pout or thought-pose
as if a pause before rising. So many heads
in his studio, they all will be finished
in variegated shades of under- and over-
glaze. Each slightly unfamiliar as if
from another hemisphere, across some
border, a literal ocean apart from us. And
yet, look at them, so different, so utterly
human. Dust of dust becomes clay by
the tiding of waters, the molding of hands.
Are they a dream? Walk outside alone
at the edge of that sea, under stars. Ask them.


—Taylor Graham

This place of visceral changes.
They say, see the caterpillar striped
yellow and black as artifacts.
Silent, outstretched broken barn-slats,
pellets woven of fur, tiny bones

and bellow of beasts from the slaughter.
Mucked stalls. Barn owl lives here blinking
x-ray vision, white & black—bone
on night—leaving small treasure-casks
below the rafters. Bits and slivers.

Wings soon to be butterfly from
a milkweed stalk. Step through cracks
of that room on the far side of wall.
Breathe deep dust, the smell of silk so
musty dark it swallows daylight,

lets out a rustling wind, monarch-
wings so beautiful in larva form.


—Caschwa, Sacramento, CA

Fall is here

Long sleeves
Long pants
Tall socks

Forget the makeup
And the mirror
Ski mask
All set!

 Nasturtium 2


Like I’ve been telling you for years
They are not making guns right
A whole lot goes into the production
But they just don’t come out what we need

Now I am pretty good with these things
And I have come out with some very special
Custom ammo, my own creation
Nothing else like it in the world

It will not fit your Colt
Or your Smith & Wesson
Or your Ruger
So we need to change all the guns

We need to entirely redesign guns
So that they fit my ammo
Get rid of those old failures
Make ammo great again 



Neighborhood awakes
Five doors down
From our sleepy abode

Trucks and trailers
In the street
Materials galore

On trucks
On ground
On roof

Work crew

On ground
On ladders
On roof

A happy way
To end 4 years
Of drought 


In my email of events at Cal Expo in Sacramento for October
    Why does its “Fright Planet” event go on for three weeks
    while a free health, dental and vision clinic is held for only three days before Halloween?
    It makes me wonder if the two could be combined, though—
    maybe come to the “haunted house” and “win” a spot for free health care?

—Michelle Kunert, Sacramento, CA

The Sacramento Bee featured the headline “Creepy clowns worry police, and actual clowns”—
   building upon this new urban legend that is being fueled in the media
   concerning stories from kids claiming to be chased by scary-appearing clowns
   But a young black man at work said to me that he’s scared of cops, not any so-called “creepy clowns”
   He explained earlier that week that, while minding his own business walking down the street
   a white police officer who he didn’t know suddenly pulled his patrol car up to him—
  The cop rolled down his window and called out his name
  At this, the young black guy, who was doing nothing wrong, decided to run away like hell and hide
  “No, I don’t want to end up being taken to jail again, or even worse, end up dead,” he explained
  The true media reports expressed by “Black Lives Matter” would justify his fears—
  perhaps indeed there are racist cops, even here, purposely hunting down African Americans,
  and these cops even know the names of their prey
  but those claiming concern about civil rights issues in this city apparently don’t want to hear about any such things...   

—Michelle Kunert


Our thanks to today’s contributors for starting our week out right—no Monday blues for us!

Poetry week in this area begins tonight at Sac. Poetry Center with Tim McKee, 7:30pm; Wednesday is the Poetry Off-the-Shelves read-around in Placerville, 5-7pm. Thursday brings Poetry Unplugged at Luna’s Café in Sac., 8pm, or travel to Readers’ Books in Sonoma to hear Susan Kelly-DeWitt and Katherine Hastings at 7pm.

This weekend, Manzanita Writers’ Press will hold three days of workshops in Angels Camp as part of the Mark Twain Wild West Fest. See for info and the schedule.

Saturday also brings two mid-afternoon choices: Sac. City College’s Centennial Open House & Fair, featuring a reading by English Dept. Poets and Writers from 3:30-4:30pm, or travel up to Placerville to hear Dianna Henning and Susan Kelly-DeWitt read at Fausel House Gallery, 3-5pm. And on Sunday in Sac., Mosaic of Voices presents Juan Louis Guzmán and Joseph Rios, 2pm. Scroll down to the blue column (under the green column at the right) for info about these and other upcoming poetry events in our area—and note that more may be added at the last minute.



Today’s LittleNip:

dragonflies hover
pond surface sprouts golden eyes
unblinking green frog

—Katy Brown

 —Photo by Katy Brown

Celebrate poetry! And be sure to check out 
Katy Brown’s new photo album, "Autumn in 

Photos in this column can be enlarged by clicking on them once,
then click on the X in the top right corner to come back
to Medusa.