Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Thicker Than Memory

Coburn, while desire lasted
—Photo by Stacey Jaclyn Morgan, Fair Oaks, CA
—Poems by JD DeHart, Chattanooga, TN


Fourth-grade math, split with fifth-graders
The aged eagle swooping over the room
Resting at his nest on occasion, then up again
Back and forth, spreading grey feathers
“Sleep with your math books, class,
Practice your fractions, and then practice more”
Last year, the kid had won a division contest
Now he is confused, one number over another
A strange display, another language
With about half his mind, the pencil forms walls
Small figures in tights, vigilante emblems
Of course, the paper is snatched by the talon
“Superhero City,” the pedagogue intoned,
“Will not solve your math problems.”



He is in charge and you can tell
From the stick he carries
It is large and full of venom
    Puffed-up adder
Plus the badge with the fancy letters
Golden spirals of digits and codes
So complicated they must mean
Something important
The universe of a black bag to place
    You in, heedless
Plus the car, all trappings of authority
Siren light and blaring noise
Speeding on the night street breakneck.

 Rim Rock Ranch, Old Station, CA
—Photo by Cynthia Linville, Sacramento, CA


the way he says
get ready, gear up
makes me imagine
an internal clock

cog kicking against cog,
a furry creature
turning a wheel
at the center of him

smell of rubber
and onions

fueled by the gas
station cappuccino
and constant soda
streaming into him.



mother fried them
in butter
like everything else

they started as brown
and webbed
then were rolled
and carefully breaded

we ate them at the small
metal table
my father made for her
 always patently
domestic in his gifts

Rim Rock Ranch, Old Station, CA
—Photo by Cynthia Linville


silent men around me
seem to know
there is a time for rutting
and feeding on corn
a time to sit still in cold

start the cleaning
of the firearm and stop

start the squeezing of
target practice trigger
              stop again

a preconfigured notion
of manhood starts
and I stop it at its
bubbling source
thereby redefining.



We visited the graveyard often
Even though we knew no one
In the graves themselves
It was at the crest of a hill
As if to place the dead skyward
With my Polaroid camera, I would
Snap photos of the markers, hoping
And simultaneously not hoping
That in one of them there would be
The wisp or specter of a ghost
When the products popped out
There was always that moment
Of ethereal mystery as the image
Faded into firm being.

 Morgan competing with the ghost of Professor Mary
—Photo by Stacey Jaclyn Morgan


moments floated past me
as I walked the old courtyard
photos suspended in the air

images of a younger me
a more frightened person

I thought of the crisis time
when I had to decide
between who I was and who
others made me out to be

every poor decision
and choice of wording
navigating to my purpose
and how soon
rain would come and autumn
would be thicker than memory



Wait a moment says the click
Dull slumber, the lull of crowds
A spark, then darkness
Feedback of the microphone
Poison to impatient ears
The program will continue
For now, we pantomime
With uncertain, strange gestures
Waiting for the earth to resume.


Today’s LittleNip:

—JD DeHart

an ancient wisdom
or just scribbles from

or product of a bad

tiny words to bind
compress and heal
a wounded soul


—Medusa, with many thanks to JD DeHart—all the way from Tennessee—for his fine poems today, and to NorCal photographers Cynthia Linville and Stacey Jaclyn Morgan for their intriguing images.

 —Celebrate the desperation that can make fine poetry! 
And drive up to Placerville tonight for Poetry Off-the-Shelves 
read-around at the El Dorado County Library, 5-7pm. 
Scroll down to the blue column (under the green column 
at the right) for info about this and other upcoming poetry 
events in our area—and note that more may be 
added at the last minute.

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.