Sunday, April 30, 2017

Print is Still Breathing

Jack Mahoney
—Photo by Brian Mahoney

Jack, age 6, loves the iPad he uses in kindergarten. He already navigates the net to some degree. But when he accompanied his father to the Post Office, he sat quietly on a bench and read something in print while he waited, no electronics available to distract him. Not even Medusa’s Kitchen daily posting.

Jack was caught in the act by his father, Brian, armed with a cell phone, who sent the photo immediately to his grandfather many miles away. The grandfather, as usual, was sitting at his computer, typing away, no print publication nearby to distract him.

The grandfather once sent children’s magazines to Jack but in kindergarten the boy has become electronically mesmerized. Magazines don’t have the same appeal.

His iPad offers action, moving parts, and that understandably appeals to a child who would rather see a giraffe eat from the top of a tree than read about the giraffe doing it in print.

No poetry or fiction at the Post Office, so who knows what caught Jack’s attention, but there are words among the graphics he’s looking at on paper rather than on a screen.

The grandfather from infancy on was suckled on print but now in his dotage he takes nourishment at a computer.

So who is he to worry about Jack not reading newspapers and magazines. The boy's only 6.

Times change, the grandfather must remember, and generations must adjust.

He once read four newspapers a day in Chicago. Now he reads the one newspaper published in St. Louis.

Print publications may be terminal.

At the Post Office, however, as young Jack discovered, print is still breathing.

—Donal Mahoney, Belleville, IL


Today’s LittleNip:

Those tender words we said to one another

Are stored in the secret heart of heaven.

One day, like the rain, they will fall and spread

And their mystery will grow green over the world.

—Rumi, 11th Century


Thanks to Donal Mahoney (and his son and grandson) for today’s photo and poem-story, and to Loch Henson of Diamond Springs, CA for the beautiful Rumi quote. Donal lives in Belleville, Illinois, but still reads the St. Louis newspaper. He says the sports scores and obituaries are invariably accurate.

As for her on-going health issues (see last Monday’s post), Loch sends this “to LM”:

"THE Reality" is
I know I am not well. Which
means you need care, too.

And our thoughts go to Sacramento Poet Theresa McCourt, who is in the hospital due to an accident which happened to her while she was running. For details, see


 Celebrate poetry and The Air We Breathe (this week's 
Seed of the Week)! And note that today is the deadline for 
Sac. Poetry Center’s annual issue of their journal, Tule Review

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.

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Living in Poetry

Fantasy Castle
—Anonymous Painting
—Poems by D.R. Wagner, Locke, CA
—Visuals Provided by D.R. Wagner


I am beyond the base camp this evening.  I have traveled alone to be here and yet I choose to write about this to be with others.  Only then will I be able to give purchase to these dulcet, idle days on the cusp of Summer.

Extraordinary clouds constantly reinventing themselves, the true writing of water we can barely read in our torpor bred of ego.  “Excuse me, can you speak wind?  Can anyone here speak wind?”  I suppose this is a lot like all that stuff you’ve read about the moon, how it goes away and then comes back looking different every night?  How it goes away for a few days, comes back and is a new moon?  Well it’s not.  I was just out walking in that pale light and it was totally different but essentially the same.  It took thousands and thousands, maybe millions of years to make that moon.

Oh I placed my hands on your body, the moon was there, a wreath of petals awaking for the silk mist of our breathing.  See how it is not new?  I’ll waken you as soon as I am able.  It has been a long time not to be noticed.  Oh cover of the night, the hand of darkness that passes out of me, to where do we go, where do we crawl after this kind of beauty?

Yes, it has a look about it.  Yes, it is very much of the heart.  This is why it has been penetrated time and time again.  It is impossible to stay there.  We speak of our love for one another.  A golden music comes from our bodies, so vast, being on these seas all night.  Ah the moon, the moon.

Here is the kingdom.  Godspeed should we ever be delayed.



This morning I awoke before my dream
Was able to quit.
I removed its fingers from
My mouth, slid into the passageway,
Went searching for a cup of coffee.

Somewhere in the flashing dark
The whistle from the engine
Screaming for the coming dawn.

It could have been the procession
Of twinkling lights from the villages
Flying past the windows and my mind
Walking a couple of steps ahead of me
That brought the time to a swamp of swords.

I removed the “S” and once again discovered
Words caught in my mouth, left by concentric
Dreams reminding me that I was back here,
On this same earth once again, still not understanding
What this blessed destiny of living in poetry was about.

 The Coming of the Sea


There is a keening
On the wind, a kind of clear
Blue wanting that knows how
To use a can opener on the
Air, so that it can tear silver
Lines into the heart.  Oh, there
Will be no blood, for blood is
A veil and time, a great bird
High over the roofs of this town.

We thread our way past the crowds
To discover a land drenched with moon,
Its collection of owls silently winging
Out, over the edge of the lake.  There
Is an idiot’s song, a lament caught
On the floor of the night.  How big
It all seems, the words, the voices
From the sink of the city.  It is
As if we were not to find a way
Here, as if God himself were out
For the day, inventing Christmas
All over again, so that it might have
A different sound, perhaps that of many
Children, rather than the small golden
Voice two thousand years old.

When we arrive home, well
Fed and slightly tired, the block
Is strung with colored lights and
Singing can be heard from windows,
Laughter and a crisp of first frost
In the air.  It must have been
Like this over and over again,
So far we have come knowing such
Things, so far we have left them behind.

 Music and the Mouse


        for Joyce Odam

The winters here are mostly damp.
The days are grey.  They form a camp.
A great and endless fog commands,
All thick and dense, a gauzy stamp.

This weather makes its own demands.
The days are ghosts with oak tree hands.
The morning and the evening change
Without a sound, their cold, white plans.

There is no landscape.  All is strange,
Fog cattle grazing shadow range.
There is little here of any sun
To make a mark or rearrange.

A cloistered time.  Each day a nun.
A silent time.  A seamless one.
We speak another language; one
That quiets time, as days pass, stunned.

 One and Two...


There were birds here.
One can see where certain
Kinds of grasses have been bent
Down to form places for their
Courting.  There are hollows too

Lined with feathers and nests
Made of twigs and string, of floss,
Bright bits and scraps of paper,
Forgotten by all else but them.

Here too are tracks upon the ground.
Here, a book of soothing gathered
From their shapes and movements
In the sky or by the nature of their calls.

Yet, when we come here now,
There are no birds at all.  Only
Signs of them remain.  We must

Learn a kind of quiet, a special
Patience too and remain long
Enough for us to see them
With our own eyes, hear their songs.

They are like our own dear souls
In that souls must be regarded
In like kind to reveal and be
Revealed before us, full of colors, voices
Moving through the air, among the trees,
The shrubs, upon the waters too.  Looking
Deep into the heart, toward dreams, toward
What is every morning of every blessed
Day that we may find birds there,
And know them, that may be quite enough.

 Pink Moth 1

Today’s LittleNip:

This time he tried his best not to think of anything in particular.  With is eyes closed and his mind a blank, he focused solely on the music.
         Finally, as if lured in by the melody, images floated behind his eyelids, one after the next, appearing, then disappearing.  A series of images without concrete form or meaning, rising up from the dark margins of consciousness, soundlessly crossing into the visible realm, only to be sucked back into the margins on the other side and vanish once again.  Like the mysterious outline of microorganisms swimming across the circular field of vision of a microscope.

—Haruki Murakami
Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and his Years of Pilgrimage)

 Pink Moth 2

Many thanks to D.R. Wagner for providing today’s poems and visuals and LittleNip. About his work, D.R. writes: "This week I have a poem called WAKING BEFORE DAWN ON A TRAIN where I take the last two verses of a poem I recently published with you, called CONDUCTOR, and remade the poem with two additional verses about remembering how to make a poem." Trying new ways of working—always an inspiration, yes? 


 —Collage by Brock Alexander
Celebrate poetry! And don’t forget today’s 
Sac. Poetry Center Writers’ Conference
which begins at 10am. 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.

Friday, April 28, 2017

Lady K

Sleeping Lady
—Poems and Visuals by Smith, Cleveland, OH


In the cool of the Fall
when we first fell
she was my B-movie star stable,
scrappy girl reporter one date,
witty secretary à la lusty librarian
or pouty pal with secret crush
the next,
sometimes all in one night,
it became ritual
each time we left I'd stop
two steps below
look up
demand one kiss for passage
and gauge
what girl tonight?

One evening talking witches
as she left I found in fridge
on white plate
thick wet orangeyellow mango slices
arranged in crescent circle
with mound of red slick pomegranate seeds
glistening in their midst
like surreal sperm on fertile egg,
and flashed, aha, a love spell,
and flushed it down the toilet.

Did no good though,
we married a few months later.

 Yellow-Eye Lady

Well I got a little lady
Maybe she a shady gray
But when I lap her lapidary
She the only way

She make me sweet begonia
She jolly up my jam
She make me sweat petunia
She amp my is with am

I want to be her front door man

O lady let me light your darkness
Won't you lead me late to sin
Let wicked lie be my harness
And my whip lip on lip

Sweet Potato Lady


Your "you do with me as you want"
Popped plans of white slave trades
And long slow humid caravans
On large lumbering cockroaches
Thru jungle green into my brain.



Full asleep 3:30am
wife comes in, kisses me.


"I just wanted to kiss you."

More lip nibbles and she leaves
me awake, unable to seek sleep
so I flip flop top lop for 2 hours
until she comes back in
and we make love.

Is this foreplay?

She cradles the cat upside down in her arms
brings her to me
and we pet and coo and purr.

Get up, pet cat, feed cat, make coffee.
Wife dresses for morning run.
I fill pitcher so she can water her outside plants.
She gets compost from freezer
to drop by Hooper's Farm on run,
fills cup with seed to feed the birds,
grabs the letters she's written
to assuage grief and prison,
"Compost, birdseed, water and letters;
there's got to be a poem in there somewhere."

I hand her her keys
and she leaves.

 Window Lady


Honey in the bee box
Raisins in the bread
Found my baby cooking
Took her back to bed
Asked her in the morning
How she liked my beats
Said I was a poet
But need to test more sheets
Rode her to the mountain
Nestled in the cloud
Down to bushy plain
Where the field is plowed
Played her wet in water
Held her high in air
Laughed like loonies liking
Then took her to the fair
Climbed among the Tetons
Rubbed around the mill
Reaching each our reasons
Scrubbed-a-rub the grill
Not much more to mutter
Matters not at all
That we bit the apple
That led us to this fall

 Amsterdam Lady


An hour out of Lodz, Poland
pronounced Woodge
rhymes with ooze
long time iron curtain town
gray used chipped broke broken bombed
poorer version of Cleveland
and we're an hour north of town
walking miles to train
to take us to train to Krakow
walking miles in sun
seventy pounds on each our backs in packs
sweat streaming down faces into hidden places
walking fast to make it
Lady stops, says "I can't do this"
takes her Grandmother's full length heavy heavy
1940's leather and suede coat out of her pack
and lays it on the edge of the road.
"I can carry it until we can ship it home"
I offer, but no, we go
she ten pounds lighter happier
breathing belief again.

We make Lodz train
which stops ten minutes from the station
stops and stays, and stays, and stays
eating our connection
finally reach station
look at board out of time
run to gate
find it boarded with construction
knowing no Polish, not knowing gate
we run random when woman shouts "Krakow? Gate 1"
(angel know, I wonder?)
run fast backpacks flapping upstairs cross platform
see train pulling out
Lady runs and LEAPS onto the train
raised arms catching the side of the roof
body hanging down past open door feet dangling
pack pulling her toward track
me running behind trying to lift her up
help her through door
which we did somehow
though I do not know how
go find our compartment
sit in relief
when I wonder
are we on right train?
While I worry
she turns, shows me her hand
surprised says, "I broke two nails."

I'm telling you
don't ever get between Lady and the train
because in the story of the Lady and the Tiger
I'd bet on Lady.

 Lady France


Let me be your rat dog baby
Let me lick your underside
Lace my like to you my lady
Stick my stack in overdrive

You thing my swing in ever land
You wind my wig in counter time
You slip my slide in slither land
You bounce my bump in rhythm rhyme

No rubber bumper baby bugger
Our poems and art offspring will be
No inside box no barcode rudder
We free rove range about our be

So let me be your rat dog baby
Please let me lick your underside
I’ve laced my like to you my lady
You stick my stack in overdrive 

 Scarlet Lady


I love you oodles poodle love
from microbes low to whys above
in June through moon we spoon at night
before and after rising light

I love you dear like mice love cheese
your way with me is one of ease
we laugh at times or silent sit
knowing this in this is kiss of fit

Wetter water wonders where
the wear and tear of tears do swear
to love obey and stay with true
well true is true for me to you

So here's for you and you for me
as far and long as be can be
I gotta say you are quite swell
you saved me from my one man hell

Our birth of cool is endless song
weaving in and out of throng
showing them there is a way
for two folk true as one to stay

It ain't no thang we bring to stage
but solid rock foundation aged
by this and that and other things
where here and there we tried our wings

I'll see you here and down the road
help you on and off with load
hold your hand and walk and play
what more is there of need to say?

(Peter Ball (1949-2015) music/mix/recording, me word&voice, one of the last songs we did. Hear it at

 Left Eye Lady

Today’s LittleNip:


Brown trees barren
Blue sky bleached
Wasteland terrain
Gasp in breach

From afar
From afar
From afar
I am
You are


Our thanks to Smith (Steven B. Smith) for today’s poems and pix! About today’s post, Steven says: "While I was recovering from neck surgery, my wife Kathy discovered she had a rare type of eye cancer. She started off with a 30-50% chance of survival if it had spread from the eye.

"They put her in the hospital, partially removed her eye, sewed a radioactive plaque to it, radiated her for three days, then took a biopsy sample. Doctor says there's a 95-97% chance the tumor will shrink from the radiation, and the biopsy says there's only a 2% chance of it spreading. Plus the CAT scan says it probably has NOT spread yet. So the prognosis is as good as it could possibly be under these circumstances.

"So, these are for Lady K: poems from 2005-2017 for and fotos of Lady K aka Kathy Smith— friend, companion, collaborator, wife."

Thanks, Steven! And please give our best to Lady K.


 Performing Lady
(Celebrate Poetry!)

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then click on the X in the top right corner to come back
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Thursday, April 27, 2017

Poetry's Chimes

Crema Lantern
—Poems by B.Z. Niditch, Brookline, MA
—Photos by Stacey Jaclyn Morgan, Fair Oaks, CA



Escorting the violets
to plant in the ground

no one but a bird
on an Elm branch

is heard with regrets
to make a sound

as a poet on the sunny wind
will reveal his secret word.



We sink
into Sixties movies

from Italy
because we want to think

of something beyond
beach red

into phantasms sanguinity
of life's reality instead.

 Papaver somniferum


Erasmus told a yarn
behind his barn

about his colt
in the mud

that the stud
was hurt

in the dirt
was taken to the hospice

during Christmas
but was rescued by Jesus.

Golden Celebration Rose


Shadows in a plethora
of motioning sorrows

in a honeymoon
bounded by waves

of a subterranean
ocean floor

looking toward
snorkeling tomorrow.

 Bronze Iris


Under a window
of faltering spiders

wondering why you
yourself feel as an outsider

in a polarization
of shadows

of astonished wishes
of meditation.



Wanting a safe space
in a field of butterflies

you asked for love
waking up to be wise

masked by secrets
of transparent regrets

hidden by a shield
of purple violets.


Today’s LittleNip:

—B.Z. Niditch

Frozen in time
of resolution

percolating as green tea
you asked for a solution

in a steaming hour
of questioning

the power
of poetry's chimes.


Our thanks to today’s poet and photographer for their fine work and for sharing it with us! Tonight in Sacramento, we have a choice of Poetry Unplugged at Luna’s Cafe at 8pm, or “Stories and Poems on the Theme of Magic” as part of the Speak Up Storytelling series at The Avid Reader on Broadway, 7pm. 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.

And don’t forget that today is Poem in Your Pocket Day as part of the National Poetry Month celebrations. Find out what it’s all about at



 Celebrate poetry, and remember that The Air We Breathe 
is this week’s Seed of the Week!

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.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Editing My Life

Detective Johnson
—Poems by Michael Lee Johnson, Itasca, IL
—Photos Courtesy of Michael Johnson


December 1st 2016,
detective Johnson here.
I see my shrink for the 1st time,
I’m low maintenance, one every 3 months,
Dr. Pennypecker.  He is tight ass conservative type
with a raisin dry personality who tries to keep sober
and focused so he can focus on me.
I’m a grade 3 drop out with a degree
in elementary school bullshit.
I ask him how his children are.
“I only have one, let’s focus on YOU!"
Nice haircut, Dr. Pennypecker,
have you ever noticed how the poor people
who usually come here, are Mexicans,
and they all can afford a $60 a month cell phone?
“Let’s stay focused!”
I tell Dr. Pennypecker I love Jesus, I love the Holy Ghost,
I love the Father; most of these Mexicans do too.
With all these rain clouds up above outside this window here,
I believe we are all together until I pass.
“Now that is interesting, let’s focus on that!”
I tell Dr. Pennypecker when I get upset about something
I know is my fault and I do have problems
sleeping but I don’t dwell on that too much.
“Let’s focus on that!"
Is 20 milligrams of Citalopram, antidepressants, generic,
enough or should we cut it back?"

Oh no, don’t do that, Dr. Pennypecker.  By the way, Dr. Pennypecker,
how do you cut your hair in the back when you have your own Wal-Mart
Pro Clipper Haircutting Kit set on #2?
"I put a paper back there and I put a mirror back there and I sort of do,
no, no, let's not focus on that!"

I walk out the door ready for my next appointment 3 months down the road.
I open the door for a stranger ready for his appointment; I say, "have a good day."
He is so self-centered that his long hair and the way he moves back and forth
sways, swings, doesn't say anything he is so damn self-absorbed in his own gray cloud.

This was my day with Dr. Pennypecker.


Fern Dickson life untrue to her marital vows, peachy,
what did you expect from the Indiana Rockville whore?
Daddy was welder man, sweat, bleeder bending
over hot steel rolls all day, he was a verb man,
Oliver farmer, noun, welder machine man.
Fern Dickson was a sneak out the door whore, peachy,
2:30 pm. daily was her homemaker check-out time.
Waddling penguin style down to Kubiak’s bar
to write her own mystery novel.
Demolition of their marriage, started with table hopping at the bar,
peachy, free drinks and a celebration of wholesale sex.
Narrative, family circles and circuses run in the gypsies of whores,
daddy dog, dancing sin, with the Rockville whore.
Daddy comes home from work,
angered at the burned potato fries,
cold Sauerkraut, Bush's fresh out of the can, 
maple cured baked beans, cold Cole Slaw, A&P grocery store.
Narrative, old prostitute whore habits die-hard.
Coon hunting, fox hunting daddy, I’m the storyteller
of this Rockville, Indiana whore.
Her brass tits suck then stuck in the mouths of strangers at the local bar, peachy.
Fern has no regular job, bar hopping, table jumping,
became her unemployment check, salary, entertainment and career, peachy.
This cemetery now is Archangel Lucifer, secretary, note taker
for the Rockville whore.



Paint your face with cosmetic smiles.
Toss your breast around with synthetic plastic.
Don’t leak single secrets to strangers—
locked in your trailer 8-foot wide by 50-foot long
with twisted carrots, cucumbers, weak batteries,
and colorful dildos—you’ve even given them names:
Adams’s pleasure skin, big Ben on the raise, Rasputin:
the Mad Monk—oh no, no, no.
Your legs hang with the signed signatures
of playboys’ and drifters’ ink.
The lot rent went up again this year.
Paint your face, walk the streets
again with cosmetic smiles.

 The Mad Monk


Next life I will be a little higher on the pecking order.
No longer a dishwasher at the House of Pancakes,
or Ricky's All Day Grill, or Sunday night small dog thief.
I will evolve into the Prince of Bullfrogs, crickets don't bother,
swamp flies don't bother me—I eat them.  Alligators I avoid.
I urinate on lily pads, mate across borders, continents at will.
Someone else from India can wash my dishes locally for me.
Forward all complaints to that religious office of Indian affairs.


I edit my life
clothesline pins & clips
hang to dry,
dirty laundry,
I turn poetic hedonistic
in my early 70's
reviewing the joys
and the sorrows
of my journey.
I find myself wanting
a new review, a new product,
a new time machine,
a new internet space,
a new planet where
we small, wee creative
creatures can grow.

 Children in Sky

Today’s LittleNip:

—Michael Lee Johnson

There is a full moon,
distant in this sky tonight,

Gray planets planted
on an aging white face.

Children, living and dead,
love the moon with small hearts.

Those in heaven already take gold thread,
drop the moon down for us all to see.

Those alive with us, look out their
bedroom windows tonight,
we smile, then prayers, then sleep.


Many thanks to Michael Lee Johnson for today’s poems and pix! Michael’s poetry may be heard at


 Celebrate poetry!

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.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

One Thorn for Love

Sun Flare
—Poems and Original Artwork by Joyce Odam, Sacramento, CA


Here we go hungering after life again,
despite certain hallways and dark-hung mirrors
where we continually walk toward

and through ourselves
as if the walls never taught us
anything. The least structure failure

and we lose who we are,
depending on memory to recreate us.
Each day is like this,

created and uncreated,
life after life, learning the maze of resistance
which is our illusion of difficulty.

We have not been here before,
though part of it seems familiar,
We trust anew, and mistrust eventually.

Why are we singular and not blent
as the smug words say—part of
a single consciousness?

Though I try to enter your space of being,
I feel my difference. I am blocked by my selfness.
I can only imagine you.

Our thoughts combine, and what was confusion
is now love, though we destroy it
with our inability to know, and be known.

Hungry for touch, we reach
and recoil. What is that sensation
that it devours us with such desperation?


(After Galway Kinnell)

Well, she has kissed the bitter rose
and now her lips have blood on them.
One thorn for love is what her grievance knows.

This blood red rose that once was talisman
she makes symbolic with a kiss
and dried up tears.  She’ll not surrender this.

The taste of blood is bittersweet.
She mocks a bitter laugh.  Her lip
shines red.  She bites it with red teeth.

The rose has died, as now her love is dead.
She peels its petals for her crimson shrine
to all her dead heart vows to keep confined.



Love on the verge of failure,
risking themselves on one
another—how can we
bear to watch them—

happy as fools—
following the light in
each other’s eyes, holding
hands on the dark pathways.



Here we are,
on the other side of failure—
far from each other now,
and the old beginnings.

 Flower Panels


You are the one I almost love.
How will I hold you now,
my arms are cold and distant;
I wear an old song in my mouth.

You are coming toward me in warm light;
you are carrying a rose.
Oh, you are carrying a rose.
I reach out into the emptiness between us.

You are walking through me
in the warm light. It is the mirror.
It is the mirror between us.
I am on both sides. You are on neither.

It is the false light that hinders everywhere.
It shifts and loses us too easily.
It cannot hold.
No wonder I cannot find you.

Now you are sitting in a circle of your own 
a new-formed sea, surreal as always.
I move toward you,

but there is no substance of reality.
You cannot hear me or see me.
I am under water,
deeply breathing.


After “Sculpture” by Flavio Zarck

The wings are too heavy now, the body
too weak, the bent pose not surrendering.

Time has lapsed, ruin has taken over,
the mind is in a trance.

A wall of light expands, the bent figure
leans—leans—against the unfamiliar,

The wings shred further—
scarred and broken, in pain of motion,
still attached to the tensioned shoulder.

The figure is unaware of wings now.
The heaviness is heavier.

What is troubling the mind—the lack of
remembering, the question diminishing;

what is here to love, or feel defeat for,
what happened—what happened?

The light failed—no trail of glory,
the metallic wings still flapping.



I go to the vast window
with its scenery that falls away.

I have no cat—even though
birds avoid my gaze and disappear.

I hold the curtain back with my shoulder
and watch the day—how it shortens

and grows chill. I should turn away,
but something holds me here . . .



Holding one long note of music within the music,
inattention comes to irritation—is the note stuck—
holding itself in one long tremble—the other notes
probing around it?  Is there intention—this held
sound—longer than breath-holding—like swimmer
under water? Will the held-note merge back into
the lost smoothness, otherwise pleasing, except for
the annoyance of the listener . . . ?

 Leaf Shapes


It is funny how I have no more tears,
no more weeping—no more—for any
of the dyings, no matter how close.  No.

All my weeping was spent on little things,
the first tantrums of life—the first failures
and losings—all my tears were used then.

My jar is empty.  I keep nothing in it now.
My tear jar stands useless, a pretty ornament.
I do not know what to put in it now.

It is a tear jar, and I have no more weeping.


 “ . . . there never was a word for her / Except the
one she sang and, singing, made” —Wallace Stevens

Her world was made of joy beyond the
nuisance-price of trouble; she kept her hope,
admonished all my pessimistic gloom—
would never be defeated—not by sorrow—

would not at all surrender to those forces
that would vex her spirit—laying claim;
she’d swear a bit, then laugh them all away with
her defining, all-redeeming word—Tomorrow!

 Leaves and Berries


I too can write a sonnet—love and loss
balanced between the lines for you to read
and see—and try to understand the cost,
perhaps less subtle than what you can heed

at first, but buried like a word, and how
to struggle with it—as I’m doing now—
you, so pompous—sitting there, so smug,
the way you turn me off with just a shrug.

No more will my word-failure be assuaged,
baiting me to scorn my tireless need,
challenging my heart till it is freed,
unfeeling when I’ve wept, and when I’ve raged.

I’ll finish this somehow and back away—
admired or not—with nothing more to say.


Today’s LittleNip:


Take no credit, take no blame,
let be—the frustration
of your struggle:

the mind in the maze,
no out or in—just there,
in the maze you puzzle through.


Our thanks to Joyce Odam for today’s poetry and original art, playing with our Seed of the Week: Frustration. Her “Useless Sonnet”, by the way, is an Onegin Sonnet: Iambic Pentameter,
a b a b | c c d d | e f f e | g g

Our new Seed of the Week is The Air We Breathe. Send your poems, photos and artwork about this (or any other) subject to No deadline on SOWs, though, and for a peek at our past ones, click on “Calliope’s Closet”, the link at the top of this column, for plenty of others to choose from.

And a reminder that the deadline for Sac. Poetry Center’s annual journal, Tule Review, is this coming Sunday, April 30; see


Celebrate Poetry!

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.

Monday, April 24, 2017


Sunset, Mekong River
Nong Khai, Thailand
—Photo by Loch Henson, Diamond Springs, CA


down the woods trail and past the ponds.
Let’s pry the lid off what we know.

Find a way to meadow in the midst of forest
blooming white and yellow.
How many kinds of April willow?

Step inside a house of bark,
watch the sun light every gap and crevice.

See the weave of honeysuckle vines
to bind the trees together.

Sit still, become a basket maker
of your mind.

Listen. What’s that tap-tap?

someone hammering with a tiny
hammer? sending Morse code
through the woods?

Let’s give every bird a name of its own.

Your head is room enough
to take this whole meadow with you

—Taylor Graham, Placerville, CA

—Taylor Graham

That girl has a foxtail
under her blanket cinched tight and tighter –
saddlebags full of math problems,
papers red-lined “incomplete.” Ridden all day
by teachers; the rest of the time
father’s “do it now!” A mother worries
is the girl just frustrated,
or is she lost? Not that headstrong, just
boggled, itched and stickered
by her life. Slaps the saddle down hard
after school, knees the girth near breathless;
leaps astride, clattering steel-shod,
hooves striking sparks on pavement;
into scrub-woods plunging to get away from
that thorn dug into her brain;
through brush, under low-hung branches.
Does she forget to duck?
A horse knows his own way back
to the barn. Can she find
a path through stunted gnarly oaks
and dry grass waiting for a match, tangles
of woods like fairytales
that used to scare her in the dark?
A daylight way home.

 Mut Mee Guesthouse, Nong Khai, Thailand
—Photo by Loch Henson 

—Taylor Graham

        for Loch

Your trip was an inspiration—
even with stopover in that city where
the air quality was abominable—

and your lungs aren’t the sturdiest
nor are mine, I’ve got a cough as well,
it just hangs on, my “solstice cold.”

Your souvenir of Shanghai—but you’re
home-bound now, inside your
walls. We miss you at poetry—our life-

breath, we like to say, as healing as
mountain air in God’s country
(as we call it), foothill breeze with doe

so light along a roadside. As if
immortal verse could fill our failing
lungs, first stanza through the last—

those poets gone now. Your trip
still with you, suffocating. I’d invoke
an exultation of meadowlarks

to burst open your door.

 Dessert, Easter, 2017
—Photo by Loch Henson

—Taylor Graham

Frustrating, trying to find the old mine where they dug for gold. The map sketchy. No one wants to talk about it —damage it did to the land. Unsettling hillside, releasing toxins into creek. I’ve hiked a labyrinth of trails through meadow sog, berry bramble and I haven’t found it, nor totally lost my way. I keep my compass by sun and shadow; drawn to canyon bottom, its damp and dark. Ferns conceal the hole delving out of daylight.

what bird calls unseen
from green unweeping willow?
I’ll follow birdsong


—Taylor Graham

Shall we adventure down the creek?
The new footbridges already are easing into
the landscape, taking on the color of leaves
fallen last year or some year before.
Every leaf on every tree finds its way down,
in time, like the creek. These simple
bridges shift their balance with the weight
of our footsteps and the way the banks stretch
and sigh in their sleep as the creek keeps
flowing even in dark like a dream.
But, you say, we came for daylight, and
nothing seems to be changing.
We’ve lived too long with humans and their
machines—geared faster and breaking down
quicker than the creek cuts rock.
The way nature blesses us with change.
How old is this canyon?

Loch Henson in Bangkok
—Photo by MRW

—Taylor Graham

The sound of drums was lost
before it ever reached the meadow.
If drummers carried the chant beyond
their boxed performance,
they dispersed on different paths.
The meadow silent
but for the breathing of a few
listeners who’d come to hear the drums
speak to the soil and grasses
and the bones of a fox almost lost
in tall green. The drums
never arrived. But an insect—
perhaps a nymph with only the hint
of wings—landed on a sleeve,
moving as if searching for its form,
its place, its voice.
The listeners spoke in myth,
in verse very softly to not to disturb it
on the journey to its song.

—Photo by Caschwa 

—Tom Goff, Carmichael, CA

          The best lack all conviction…
                        —W.B. Yeats

The paper greets us with atrocity.
A little Syrian girl with oxygen mask,
face cherry red as if from carbon monoxide;
worse still the toxin visited without pity
on her by her country’s president. A task
to be done, extinguish so many, genocide
to us…and what to do? What can we do
to flush this dictator monster out of Syria?
As these thoughts finish, back into the car
inside which classical music sprouts wisteria…
nothing here of tragic victims, angers:
Peter Maxwell Davies’ An Orkney Wedding,
stuffed with Scottish musical capers, bangers,
deliberate departures from true pitch,
rascally quarter-tones, bagpipe distortions:
all at the farthest madcap remove from sarin…
How can anyone reconcile the itch
for drunken amiable braggadocio
with a doe-eyed Khan Sheikhoun child’s contortions
toiling just to breathe one breath less desperate:
our jollity’s undersong, plague—as in Boccaccio?
What species of fleshy insect, what disparate
traits: joy on the one hand, fear on the other, held
one arm-span apart by perfect Vitruvian Man,
that equable creature managing not to meld
humor and cruelty…yet the more balanced his stance,
the more his meaty thorax emits indifference;
how far beyond self must our glance range for inference?


—Tom Goff

We look for gods to come, we watch for omens,
believe sky-images, bright signs, transparencies
must deliver swiftly what’s heralded. A woman
giant-strides the horizons; or strange errancies
tilt with the twilight, at point of sun’s lance;
“these late eclipses of the sun and moon”
cap every “squeak and gibber,” every trance
not even Shakespeare’s antennae can attune
to mechanisms of thought. Now we see cloud,
declare it amasses like a besieging force.
And so we perceive. It grays, it blackens air
as we think sarin, some such poison shroud,
should steep us in blisters, burn us past despair.
What darkens these crystal signs? Our own remorse?

—Photo by Caschwa 

—Tom Goff

A certain composer whom I need not name
penned into one of his eerie nature scores
the mood directive Elfin and soulless. Spores
of the dark mushrooms, ferns or birches claim
less than his Inhumans the label soulless.
Our whimsical musician-poet thinks
the Sidhe, the faery race, that untamed goalless
pack of necromantic drifters, links
fingers with every mortal hand who probes
June-shadowed forests riddled with dawnlight;
henceforth, each tricked poor human too must drift
bereft of compass, grasping for bright slight
seductions. You, though: immune, my guide, you sift
true from false paths, pierce thickets of oakleaf lobes,
all Latvian soul (deceivers far too slow
for you, bride sprung of quite different elves!) you glide:
we tread the leaf-plush depths where shadows glow,
you prodding the Sidhe like birds from where they hide…


—Tom Goff

Whatever I may suppress, feeling seeps out.
For lack of a decent, amenable word,
I hide sweet emotion, I cloak it in doubt.
My old coal-mine mouth, my canary-bright bird
under my tongue. As if meant to smother,
poor bird, poor word. I search for another.

Next time you come to me, nothing will shout
from my crimsoning face, not one thing absurd
will slither from under tongue, poke out from mouth.
So secretive will I be, I may seem blurred.
Blurry I mean to be, shapeless, or rather,
reduction of bird and sauce. Not one loose feather. 

Hornbill Bookshop, Nong Khai, Thailand
—Photo by Loch Henson

I found at a garage sale a 1945 book called Five Thousand Quotations for all Occasions by Lewis C. Henry
     This book that I bought for just 50 cents has poets and authors I haven’t yet read 
     For instance a French-born predecessor of William Shakespeare named Francois Rabelais—
     He was known for coining into English such phrases as “Strike the iron whilst it is hot”,
     “never look a gift horse in the mouth”,
     “of two evils, choose the least” and “robbing Peter to pay Paul”
     Me, I had classes on Shakespeare that didn’t discuss Rabelais’ effect upon him at all
     This book with a severely damaged dust jacket was probably going to be discarded otherwise if I didn’t buy it
     No book like this, no matter how old, should be disregarded in the way this one probably was
     Such a book can inspire people to read even “dead poets” out of current fashion
     So it seemed to cry out to be “rescued”, being thrown in with a stack of outdated history texts

—Michelle Kunert, Sacramento, CA


—Caschwa, Sacramento, CA

Went to the library
To see what they had

Countless selves of
Digital spines

Cute and gory
Mixed together

Hard and soft covers
Hot and cold topics

No due dates
Take your time
Sit’n & Knit’n


Today’s LittleNip(s):
Cleveland Haiku #426

the creek and several tributaries
officially have names

* * *

Cleveland Haiku #427

Small waves leap
over the concrete barriers
protecting the shore

* * *

Cleveland Haiku #428

A mans walks the streets
holding his guitar,
never stopping to play

* * *

Cleveland Haiku #429

birds shopping for food
on my lawn

* * *

Cleveland Haiku #430

birdsong from the bush
outside my bedroom window

—Michael Ceraolo, Willoughby Hills, OH


Our many thanks to today’s contributors, a fine, diverse beginning to a Monday morning! About her photos, Loch Henson writes:
The Hornbill Bookshop is on the same soi (alley/street) as the guest house, and features many titles in English.  Books literally disintegrate in the tropical climate...the humidity erodes the it is brave to open a bookstore in this area.  The owner bags most titles to keep out the moisture, but leaves a few open for browsing.  She has an impeccable section of hardback poetry for sale (minus the two titles that I purchased while staying there!). The reference to Loch’s health in Taylor Graham’s poem refers to Loch’s breathing being badly compromised by Shanghai air, where she had a 13-hr. layover. She has been ill ever since. (Her "dessert" photo reflects all she could hold down at Easter.) Our thoughts are with you, Loch!
James Lee Jobe has some news about the Poetry in Davis Series; check it out at James Lee also invites you to like his new Facebook page, One Dog Dharma, at

Poetry readings in our area begin tonight with April Ossmann and Camille Norton plus open mic at Sac. Poetry Center, 25th & R Sts., Sac., 7:30pm. On Thursday, check out Poetry Unplugged at Luna’s Cafe, with features and open mic at 8pm.

Don’t forget that this Saturday, from 10am-4pm, will be Sac. Poetry Center’s Writers' Conference 2017, featuring Iris Dunkle, Kathleen Winter, Marsha de la O, Indigo Moor, Hugh Behn-Steinberg, and Paul Hoover. Reg: $40 (members $30). For info/reg., call 916-714-5401. 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.

And this just in:

HAUNTED LUNGS REVISITED....(a Snarkastic Haiku by Loch Henson)

Lungs full of China—
words fail me when the breath does.
Send inhaler, STAT, please!


 A Troll Hairdresser
Celebrate Poetry!
—Photo by Loch Henson, who shares Medusa’s love 
of vintage troll dolls—who have similar difficulties 
with hair control. This one is known as Susie Sweetdream.

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.