Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Bleeding Spring

—Poems by Ann Wehrman, Sacramento, CA
—Photos by Katy Brown, Davis, CA


step out, let wind dry my hair
finally feel something
hamburgers grilling over charcoal
perfume of dry grass

oh, this still matters!
trees I watched shiver all winter
now have leaves, filled out
almost to summer’s span
their green, a deep field of welcome and joy

scrub jay blusters, chases robin away
tang of pine needles baking
my skin expands in lassitude
warmth tempered by breeze

too long inside—
the blue screen
the narrow desk
the endless deadlines

 Stacked Hats


the tree at the college bus circle is my friend
her broad, green leaves
like tissue paper fans on flat wooden handles
keep me cool, twist this way and that in the breeze
or lie flat, buffering summer’s blazing sun, as I 
sit, comfortable and out of time, under her branches

worn wooden bench at the bus circle, over decades
seated students, lovers, friends
solitary townspeople changing buses
journeying from work downtown
cradled homeless who wander
the park-like campus in daytime
stretching out some nights on the bench
after last bus of the night—
the tree shelters us all

tonight, the sky blue-black, translucent
after freak hailstorm, afternoon rain
clouds scud, new moon still not risen
bus will come soon—
I made it on time
high from power-walking across campus
I rest on the gentle bench

breathe deeply early autumn night
thank my tree for her beauty, for being my friend
for adding oxygen to rain-washed night air
hear her voice in my mind responding,
yes, thank you, too for exhaling,
and I understand
feel the connection
life energy, breath, and love
from the night
the soft wooden bench
my beloved tree

 Angles on a Bright Day


spring, and the earth
aches for children
camellias already droop, brown
white roses blow open

freshly turned soil
an open wound
soft, wet air
dim with morning
overcast, wan

warmer, longer days
ground littered
with cigarette butts, trash

stained by fracking, radium leaks
Mother Earth raw, bleeding

 Broken Windows


most were not actually sordid
merely pared down, temporary resting spots
some edgy, perhaps unsafe
some simply sad—or I was sad

crashing on a dorm hallway couch after It’s a Beautiful Day
women’s restroom floor in that Kentucky park
our mobile fundraising team side-by-side in sleeping bags
the front seat of the van
on the floor in a sleeping bag in hundreds of Motel 6s

sleeping draped over pushed-together chairs
in Mom’s granny-house’s kitchen
she slept in that narrow cot on the screened-in porch
Dad alone in the bedroom, his tiny TV
nervously at my brother’s friend’s

on the floor of my apartment in Culver City
as the Rodney King riots raged
sleeping fully dressed, supplies in a backpack
ready to evacuate if necessary

after six decades, I now sleep on a day bed
in a dusty, humble flat
jumbled with my writing, books, music
sleeping spaces over the years crowd my memory
nights pile upon nights, melt into a river
loneliness, companionship, fear, relief

all pale in the light of
touching you, lying cocooned in warmth
talking through the night
cheap hotel’s heater too loud, sheets rough
ill considered, perhaps hopeless
my heart a lotus, opening in your love’s sweet water



ninety degrees at 11 am
fragrance of rich grasses
seeds toasting
ants mass and work in sidewalk cracks
feed on spills by the park
grass grows long stemmed
to red-brown seed tops
that bend and wave in the breeze

could I gather them, crush to make flour?
entirely ignorant, my romantic
fancies imagine living on the land
watching the birds for guidance
on which berries are safe to eat
maybe trapping a bird for meat
could I bear killing it?

deciding I could not,
child of grocery-packaged meat,
I walk the Earth depending on others
for food, for the work that pays me
beneath the sun kissed grasses
as Sol’s warmth melts my back
knotted from online work

am I just a visitor on this Earth,
a superficial inhabitant
ignorant of how to feed and house myself
dependent on others to shelter and heal me
even for basic survival at root chakra level
out of touch with Earth
ignorant, untrained
my feet in tight city shoes
my days spent indoors, away from the Sun


Today’s LittleNip:


—Ann Wehrman

after the storms
strong breeze
air like purest water
from holy spring
tastes like clean, new hope

what is hope?
battered, oppressed,
we still ask through tears

holy morning’s
pure majesty
life still exists
earth, wet in my hands
raw material for change
rebuild our hearts
the city, the world


—Medusa, with thanks to Ann Wehrman for her fine poetry on this what-used-to-be Memorial Day, and to Katy Brown for her fine photos!

When Pigs Fly
—Photo by Katy Brown
Celebrate poetry! (And hope for rebuilding…)

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
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Tuesday, May 30, 2017

The News We Bring

Center of Attention
—Poems and Photos by Joyce Odam, Sacramento, CA


a moment suspended
out of the other moments
out of the lifetime
a frozen moment
somehow pulled out of the others
to become memory
a foot stepping down to a platform
someone’s balancing hand
at an elbow
the cold, night-air on the face
or the hot, day-air
or a sound at the edge
or a movement
a moment of contemplation
what now?
or a moment in which
all the awareness gathers
and will stay forever in
its collected sensations
its forces that brought it together
like a new
or a déjà vu
or even a moment
of hesitation
or relinquishment
or something about to be
the mystery of the next moment
not this one
the foot
steps down upon the platform
the hand at the elbow
pulls away
the vertigo of realization
shifts back into balance
sounds, sensations,
distractions, decisions,
fit back into place
the shudder of awareness
and time is entered
once again.

(first pub. in Poetry Depth Quarterly, 2001)

 A Rose is a Rose

After “In the Train Compartment” by Gustave Fischer

Who sits near you in travel—
in the next seat? or across the aisle?
It’s hardly romantic.

Maybe in novels :
the handsome man, the pretty girl—
too old for her, too young for him.

Or, the teasing thoughts
of a dangerous fling
worked out in the imagination :

the glance, the smile, the surroundings,
the fast train rocking on the rails,
the world floating by in the old direction—

who does this nowadays?
But ghostly trains
of yesterday

clack slowly through the city at night—
the hollow mourn of their warning whistles,
waking you. 

 Eye of the Beholder


Wrapped in slumber.
Transparent and intangible.
Body going through a pane of glass.
Becoming shimmer.
Becoming ghost of sleep.
Return-prayers on echo.
Never-dying echo.
Sound become soundless.
Portal of light.
Of dark.
Why is this important?
Answers turn away.
Always into.
Answers are not important.
Only questions.
Variegated light breaks upon glass.
Only the delusions.
Hope for nothing.
Nothing hopes back.
Cry ‘save me’ and be saved.
Save me. 

 Imbuement Qu

After “Mourners in half light” by Carol Frith 
Here where mourners struggle in the half light
of your poem, I remember the occasion of life.

Words are not that different, you remind me.
They are common to the errant usage of love

and how it endures. The light is so artificial here,
I marvel, so thin and transparent along the edges.

You murmur that darkness is always the reason:
bracing the energies—building the center

with a constant treading. Then how, I ask,
can you explain that color—and that color,

blurring by at the speed of slowness—
slow enough to wonder at the strangeness,

You tell me that color always moves like that . . .
like that soft goldness . . . and that thin silvering.

When will we truly find each other, I question.
You hear me and mention the time spent

in dreams —in conjurings and forgettings—
all that will evolve into all that we ever wait for.


After Coreen Spellman, “Road Signs”, c. 1936

a confusion of distance
a mis-read of signs
turned every-which-way by the winds

a metallic ring of bullets against the posts
each way to go

the ground swivels its post holes
and the poles resist
placed there forever for the traveler

who finds himself lost
reading the directions
of places no longer there

a few small rooftops try to suggest a town
the sky passes easily overhead
in all the directions

and the old winds bluster forth
whenever they want
tugging and shuddering against the signs. 

 Showing Off


I’ve gone the length of this day’s sorrow
            and I’ve come home to tell you
                        of the sameness of the journey.


I hear the birds crying now
            in a fierce delirium of telling—
                       how do they know what to say?


I listen to the heart distort the sounds
            of this closing, heavy day.
                       It feels like a dying.



The news we bring has burned a tardy path in our slow
journey, looking for you here, at peace, involved with
simpler thoughts—not thoughts of the news we bring.
The news we bring has bodies of small birds that were
sent too far. They broke their wings. They could not
find you—strollen from the door—thinking of ram-
bling paths, not thoughts of what we were sent here for.

The news we bring has lost its urgency. We took
wrong turns, stayed over, here and there, were never
paid enough for what they paid us for. Eventually, we
brought the scraps and rags of chances that had time if
we just got here soon enough. We did not know you
were in need of time—in need of chances, and of
better memories than you had—not these cold clues
you could have used—not these regrets. 

 The Third Rose


This is our penance:
that we go
the many
as believers

that we enter the
places of love
with a vague regret

that life is
intense weather,
with moments only for

the fragile-scented
and the insidious journey
of the leaves

that what we find
is never what we looked

that in
the questioning age
we do not know
the answer

that we are
just as
the mind
has put the self

(first pub. in Poet & Critic, 1967)

 Spent Roses


the water seems to lean toward the boat,
its image shuddering with drowning light—

reflections of the mind, the day, the way the
boat responds with creakings, how we cling

as though in earthquake : vertigo that’s new
and old—remembered and forgot.

What are we doing here? It’s growing dark—
moonlight crossed with clouds, and still we

ask where are we? in a tone of apprehension.
Where we are is here. And when is now.

And why is not enough to ask. The water
makes a sound. It lisps and leaps with little

murmurs while the light goes deeper with
its echo made of dark.

Our little ark is safe enough for now,
a simple journey over time’s remorse.

And who are you? And who am I? Two
strangers, each with a different shore.

Our quarrel lasts. It’s not enough to love.
How true is that . . . ! The boat nudges

the dark then bumps away. An island,
or a myth. Not here. Not yet.

The water stretches out the quietness we feel.
Perhaps we’re but a dream that will forget.


Today’s LittleNip:

—Joyce Odam

Oh, but I shine for distance
which must follow me
as I go down its
its curve
and its
I am the
mark at the
beginning and the
end…I am the map between…

(first pub. in
Acorn, 1999)


Our thanks to Joyce Odam for today’s fine poems and photos, as she talks about expeditions, our Seed of the Week. Our new Seed of the Week is My Misspent Youth. (Or what you can remember of it…) (If anything…) 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.


Gymnasium for Cats
Celebrate poetry!—And our Misspent Youths…

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
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Monday, May 29, 2017


Something Ridiculous Comedy Jugglers
Sacramento County Fair, May, 2017
—Photo by Michelle Kunert, Sacramento, CA

I hear it every Memorial day from retail—
  our soldiers sacrificed their lives so you can buy something "on sale"
  no other country now tells their citizens this…

—Michelle Kunert

Max Breakfast
Sacramento County Fair
—Photo by Michelle Kunert

—Claire J. Baker, Pinole, CA

We break camp before dawn.
The long road veers,
oaks snag a huge
tennis-ball moon.
We lower car windows,
face a hallelujah sunrise.
Three last stars point
to a village coffee shop.

We enter to browns, golds,
exotic spices.
An espresso machine
grinds fragrantly.
Steamed milk greets—
love that friendly hiss.
Cinnamon & vanilla
sprinkle easily over
double-dawn lattes.

Stomachs, hands, lips
warmed, we lick off
milky mustaches,
drive up the mountain
to a Camelot
for poetic vagabonds.


—Claire J. Baker

As we hike higher
an eagle keeps
in blue crystal air.
Is he leading
or following?
Why do we care?

 Hawk, Berkeley Station Sidewalk
—Photo by Katy Brown

—Caschwa, Sacramento, CA

The tub drained too slowly
And flushing the toilet
Caused the pipes to hammer
Our patience had run out

We called the plumbers
Two arrived in one van
Put one in the tub
The other in the toilet

They proceeded to demonstrate
Their expertise in techniques
That reached beyond DIY
and those helpful Internet tips

Routed the tub drain
Found no massive hair balls
Just the toggle-switch plug
Itself blocking the drain

We can finally stop using
Harsher and harsher
Chemical treatments
That failed to address the problem

They listened to the walls shake
From knocking pipes
And replaced the fill valve
In the toilet tank

No more turning the water
On and off at the main valve
To drain and restore air pockets
That wasn’t the problem

Today everything is working
Just like it’s supposed to
Hope that keeps on
Day after day after day…

 Flag on the Side of a Train
—Photo by Katy Brown

Today’s LittleNip:

—Katy Brown, Davis, CA

Stop asking why the cow crossed the road.
Ask instead why it left the comfort of
the grazing herd, took only its shadow,
and clopped across the unforgiving asphalt. 

(in response to last week’s cow-on-the-road pic in the Kitchen)


Our thanks to today’s contributors, including some fine poems and the photos from Michelle Kunert and Katy Brown! Remember to check into Medusa’s Kitchen’s Facebook page for our new album by Katy: The Other Voice in Davis. And for a soundtrack to go with Michelle’s County Fair photos, see or

Poetry readings in our area begin tonight at Sac. Poetry Center, 7:30pm, as
Poetry Now and the Under 30 Project present an open mic night for new poems. Beer/wine/snacks! And on Thursday, Poetry Unplugged at Luna’s Cafe will present featured readers and an open mic, 8pm. 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.

Medusa is celebrating her 11th birthday today—a tribute to persistence, if nothing else. We shall commemorate today by re-posting the first poem to ever appear in the Kitchen:

—Shinkichi Takahashi (1901-1997)

I stretch my hand—
everything disappears.

I saw in the snake-head
my dead mother's face,

in ragged clouds
grief of my dead father.

Snap my fingers—
time's no more.

My hand's the universe.
It can do anything.


—Medusa     🎂🎂🎂

—Photo by Katy Brown
Celebrate poetry, birthdays, resistance—and persistence!

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.

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Memorial Day

Memorial Day in Port Sanilac, Michigan
—Photo by Katy Brown, Davis, CA

—Yehuda Amichai (1924-2000)

Memorial day for the war dead.  Add now
the grief of all your losses to their grief,
even of a woman that has left you.  Mix
sorrow with sorrow, like time-saving history,
which stacks holiday and sacrifice and mourning
on one day for easy, convenient memory.

Oh, sweet world soaked, like bread,
in sweet milk for the terrible toothless God.
“Behind all this some great happiness is hiding.”
No use to weep inside and to scream outside.
Behind all this perhaps some great happiness is hiding.

Memorial day.  Bitter salt is dressed up
as a little girl with flowers.
The streets are cordoned off with ropes,
for the marching together of the living and the dead.
Children with a grief not their own march slowly,
like stepping over broken glass.

The flautist’s mouth will stay like that for many days.
A dead soldier swims above little heads
with the swimming movements of the dead,
with the ancient error the dead have
about the place of the living water.

A flag loses contact with reality and flies off.
A shopwindow is decorated with
dresses of beautiful women, in blue and white.
And everything in three languages:
Hebrew, Arabic, and Death.

A great and royal animal is dying
all through the night under the jasmine
tree with a constant stare at the world.

A man whose son died in the war walks in the street
like a woman with a dead embryo in her womb.
“Behind all this some great happiness is hiding.”


—Medusa, reminding you of Poetry on Main Street, the open mic for poets and musicians today from 4-6pm in Placerville at The Wine Smith, 346 Main St. 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.

And thank you to Katy Brown for her Port Sanilac photo today! Katy has a new album on Medusa’s Facebook page, featuring photos of last Friday’s The Other Voice reading in Davis. Find it on Facebook at Medusa’s Kitchen/Rattlesnake Press.

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, May 27, 2017

As a Fool Upon a Bridge

Celebration in Locke, May, 2017
—Poems and Visuals Provided by D.R. Wagner, Locke, CA


House of bones.
House of bones.
Look they make the horses.
Look they make the men.
Look they make the ladies fair.
Look, then look again.

This sparkling darkness.
Silence beating its padded clubs
Upon the room.  We stand
On the highest point.
It is blue.  The night is blue
And the streets are filled
With blue snow.

Aren’t we forgetting something?
A lacework of lights
Said the shape of the village
Below.  It seemed so peaceful
There, but it was not where we were.

The engines of the planes gathered
On the sleeve of the night.
We could hear them coming.
There were many of them.
House of bones.
House of bones.
Silver is the sky with falling bombs.



She got in her car
And drove all the way to suicide.
It looked like a familiar landscape.
Don’t open your mouth.
We are still learning to breathe.
I live in an industrial
Perhaps the cat.
If there were a cat.
I was devoted to curiosity.
I saw so much I stopped breathing.
A terrible mistake.  I had to go home.
Like Lenore, I kept bats and moths
In my hair, more as companions
Than any attempt to do harm.
There wasn’t any room for a heart.
She told me this was a prayer
For me because I was able to think
This way.
I wept.

 If There Were a Cat


Can you call across this distance?
Or is this only my imagination
Once again, My clothing smoldering.

To me this is like learning to breathe
Once again, Learning to feel your
Breath against my own.

A tender moment not understood.
I never quite understand what I am
Being told about love being captured.

Here love bangs against the bowl,
The aquarium seems to bind me.
Perhaps a kiss?  Perhaps just the breath

Of Sergei Vasilievich Rachmaninoff.

 Light of the World


Mostly in twilight, leaning
Toward dreams uncalled for.
This one was once a ballet.

There was one that traded
Only in light.  It had a twisted
Mouth and no skill at privacy.

Their lines were damaged sorely.
“A wind too full of leaves.”
A tribulation from an ancient sea.

I have promised not to show them
To others but a huge sadness occupies
My vision, a great lake headed for Niagara
Falls, determined to destroy all these traces.

So, I spoke.  The words ripped from my threat.
Each one cluttered with the tears of those
Who must dwell there with unspeaking shadows.

 Every Leaf on Every Tree


I am watching the evening insinuate itself
Into the conversation about the day.
Dinner time had no mention of her, there
Were still doves admiring the liquidambar trees.

The weather wanted to see things differently,
Clearing, then a haze and a confusion of cloud
Types culminating in a less than enthusiastic
Fury as the sun relinquished its part in the conversation.

The path went from the beach up a small creek
But as it did, there were lots of trees in the canyon
Holding the creek.  Shadows were setting up
Night camps and small birds sought perches

To watch the show.  We watched the foot
Bridges ease into the landscape like rainbows that
Had lost their color and were waiting for the
Flare that would say evening was indeed here.

I will stand here until it is impossible to tell
One object from another.  There is little hope for
The moon tonight.  The evening begins to cup
The sun in its hands and starts to hide

It from view.  Why even talk about a landscape,
Except that we remember the others who are
Unable to see this evening, who climb to sleep
Without these blessed thresholds to touch them.

Every leaf on every tree closes its lights down
And cries for us to remember it, stores the moment,
Blesses us with change, holds the dark off for a
Final moment and considers the entire world as one thing.

 Chéri Hérouard, 1921—The Honey Goddess


These words walk upon my lips.
From them I can look out
Over whatever city this may be.

I feel them upon your skin as a fool
Upon a bridge, standing at midnight
To understand the cusp of violin music.

The light allows itself across
The tops of those hills.
I prefer to think them, your lips.

A swirl of vision from a moment,
Onto your breath, Lean forward.
Kiss me as you would your life.


Today’s LittleNip:

—D.R. Wagner

Don’t make me remind you
To keep standing up.

I’ve told you many times
Do not lie down with a chain saw.

You’ve wrecked every house
We ever made for you to live in.

Keep floating.  I will say
I’ll try to find more gasoline
For that piece-of-crap saw of yours.


Many thanks to D.R. Wagner for today’s fine poetic and visual delicacies! Folks in our area have three poetry events today, and time-wise, you can attend all three. Start at 10am at Sac. Poetry Center with Writers on the Air, a live radio podcast/broadcast featuring Azin Rametipour. Then, after a quick lunch, drive up to Placerville for Poetic License from 2-4pm at the Placerville Sr. Center. Then from 6-10pm, Rhyme Syndicate’s 4th Annual Showcase takes place at the Ooley Theatre, 2007 28th St. in Sac. 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.


 If there were a cat...
Cat Graffiti
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.

Friday, May 26, 2017

Temple of Hope

Banksy Rat 2006
—Poems and Visuals by Smith


Meat rides bone.
Spirit rides meat.
Bone strides earth.

When it's pain
"It will pass."

When there's joy
"This is now."

 Night Eyes


Dark rises from dark
broods as slow rising light
becomes land and trees against sky
sliced and unsilenced by silhouette
of train on trestle
while a multitude of birds
sing up unseen sun
new spring dawn baring winter's nip
beneath its ever old promise
of renew




Cold concrete expanse
rigid with yellow lines
empty of cars
bows before big box store
filled with beads
awaiting buyers

portrait of the trail lost


Awaiting wife
in steroidal coffee shop
$4 for 50 cents of home brew
watching young women
in tight jeans
and short dresses
above boots and spike heels
laughing inner lizard
between the overweight olders
and a single soldier
in camouflage


Slow low wind dance
of white turbine blades
thrice slice the bluegrey sky

quiet temple of hope



Scrub tub
add epsom salts
fill with hot water
ease in
take a toke
lay back in hot wake
to soak away ache
and phone rings
wife saying
"Can you pick me up?"
"My eye hurts."

Four weeks ago
doctors took her eye part-way out
sewed on 21 radioactive pellets
put eye in
locked her down three days
while radiation bombarded tumor
popped eye back out
removed pellet plaque
put eye in again
sewed inner eyelid shut
and sent her home to hard since
her eye blurry from serious salve
pupil dilated due daily drops
eyeball swollen and bruised
burning from bright
tired of trauma
she works more to see less
amid multiple pains
shooting ache stab throb
burn itch pinch
and she is
... weary

"Sure, I'll pick you up"
because pain trumps pleasure
and love binds both

and baths can be refilled



Walking on egg shells
in quicksand
covering void
over nothing.

My companion faces equation
but I have no numbers
and cannot do the math.

Our quest lies in questions
that do not know answers.

As if answers exist.

I love
and am loved
yet may lose
though I've gained.

 Test Subject


According to community owned reality
you can't boil watched water
or save stitched nines in time
but clean underwear is next to giddiness
the first squeak gets both the oil
and the fast bed early rise prize
while money parts fools with ease
though not all the time
in a government of the eatable
too often beaten
by bad breath gift horses
in homes housed unholy
some Simons so simple
made to drink water
roll lone moss unstoned
in gelded gold glitter
their beauty self inflicted
skim deep disturbing
carpe per diem
in well ending wallow
back bridges burning
too many egg baskets
in forests unfallen
for sometimes the right hand’s just wrong
when tossing apples at doctors
too easy to get gone
the do down done diddled
bathwater from baby
to soft pillow the conscience
on single step journeys
where the weak shall inherit our mirth



We’re in this waiting room
waiting for the set to change
except there’s no waiting
no waiting
just a few flowers
to feel
maybe fondle
as we tip our tongue in tangle
and tango the won’t that awaits

 Orange Barrel Blues


What was is was and won't ain't will.
Some might-have-beens did not.
Could and should could still be choice
If would would dance the dance.

Maybe's lazy, focus unfound.
Might's just trust for luck.
Should's a shuck to pass the buck
So only *is* is ground.

On my way to holy heaven
Took a detour down to Hades
From that level saw the devil
With a hell of a lot of babes.

Forget equations master-mined.
Remember past told lies.
Rock remains river bound
While winnows whither wind.

Glitter hides what glimmer seeks.
Tomorrow's price is want
To blunt the burnt and bitter bier
Once spotlight darkens stage.

On my way to heaven
My spirit to inspire
I saw below in earthly show
My love of Satan's fire.

Shouldda wouldda couldda
Well they went and never came.
You need to do the doing
Till done to get the title to the deed.

Done's just destination.
It's the doing that's divine
The weight of one's intention
The spirit in your spine.

So toss off thought of heaven
I'm here for spirit's fire
Must work below on earthly show
To escape the after ire.

(To hear music by Peter Ball, word & voice by Smith, 2011, 3:56; go to


Today’s LittleNip:


Between the must and the mist
the much that we miss
funnels most of this mess


—Medusa, with thanks to Smith (Steven B. Smith) for today’s fine poetry and visuals!

 Coffee Eyes
—Photo by Smith

Celebrate poetry, and head over to Davis tonight, 
7:30pm, where The Other Voice presents Carol Frith 
and James Lee Jobe plus open mic. That’s at the 
Universalist Unitarian Church library, 
27074 Patwin Rd., Davis. Host: James Lee Jobe, 
who takes over from Allegra Silberstein. Free. 
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. 

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Morning Miracles

Clarksville Day, Lincoln Highway
—Poems and Photos by Taylor Graham, Placerville, CA


I’ve known it as Hwy 50, loneliest road
in America; road that for decades has taken me
most of the way home. But there
I was on Clarksville Day, when the old
ghost highway welcomes guests.

A crowd of the living walked hundred-year-
old concrete, crossed the little bridge
over a creek banked with pioneer rock-wall;
stepped aside for a team of Percherons.
A parade of classic cars tootle-whooped me

out of the way by the old Wells Fargo
ruins almost disappearing in thistle and tree-
of-heaven. When Hwy 50 got re-routed,
the march of commerce passed this way-stop
by. The town of Clarksville died.

What if I just kept walking this piece
of ghost-highway? Might I climb to where
the fenced buffalo once roamed? fly
right up Hwy 50 (no pedestrians allowed)
all the way back home.


My shepherd-dogs as if on pogo-
sticks raucous-outraged under the young
pepper tree. High up-treed, a white
cat in thin-precarious branches.
Down-tree, hanging from the lowest
branch, a nestbox. In the box,
a rough dry-grass nest, and in its cup,
a mass of gray feathers, one yellow-gape
bill wide-open-hungry. A nest
of blue-birds. How young the babies, how
many? Where the parents? Up there,
the cat. My dogs in extremis warp-spasm.
Unwanted gift of a neighbor’s cat.


Pitchfork, shovel, dirty fingers. He turns
soil as if to turn himself into fruit of the earth.
He composts, weeds and waters, marvels
at the slow-leaping growth of new shoots
leafing; watches them disappear to ground
squirrels, hornworms…. His blemished
kingdom. Returning home one day, he found
a pamphlet stuck under his door,
and the single just-that-day-ripe peach
vanished from his tree. But, back to Nature.
His bargain with the garden: He plants,
waters, and weeds; he harvests what is given.
The garden grants what weather
and the creature-hungers leave.

 Ponderosa Candlestick Pine


Monday dark then dim, I drove
the ghost-pine road to town, to the Senior
Center for fitness class. Warm-up, stretch out
the same old pains. Get out of breath,
repeat this is good for me. Walk out
at end of class. Sun’s come up
over the east ridge.
Road still in shadow. But look ahead,
edge of pavement, just beyond—
one young ponderosa

holding aloft its candelabra:
new-growth candles flames of sun,
each candle lit as if by morning’s miracle.


You sparkled at the corner of my eye
as I turned onto the side-road. Time to spare
before my appointment. You beckoned
like evening breeze in summer.
You whispered rain in drought, “stay.”
A bridge is a gateway;
a child-worn path down your bank is the first
sentence in a wonder-story,
a private entrance to river, to sea.
How you eddy a downwash of everything
upstream into color-whirl blues
grays greens aqua with a swirl of silver.
How you dandle roots of a creekside
alder honed and polished, etched to a puzzle
holding earth, its secrets of stone;
you wash those roots, image of Medusa’s
hair. Lost in your tales
of mountain spring and canyon deeps,
I forgot my appointment. I’d
sing you an ode if I knew your name. 


Halfway up the mountain
he stopped his car in the eastbound
lane. Far behind, below, the city
flickered and swelled. But way up here,
highway deserted, no sound
but tap-tap of a woodpecker out of sight.
He opened all the doors of his sedan,
let the radio’s achy-breaky
burst out happy as he took his partner
by the hand and they two-stepped
right there in the eastbound lane
headed up the mountain. 


Today’s LittleNip:

—Taylor Graham

Sunlit crystal paperweight
just a piece of quartz
dug from the earth
its stone song


Many thanks to Taylor Graham for today’s fine poems and pix! Tonight, you have three choices of readings in our area: At 7pm, Speak Up at Avid Reader in Sacramento presents storytellers and poets on the theme of “I Quit”; at 8pm, Poetry Unplugged at Luna’s Cafe on 16th St. presents frank andrick and Aponte/Wolf Fox; and also at 8pm, hear the Kings and Queens of Poetry in Old Sacramento at Laughs Unlimited. 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.


 —Anonymous Photo
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.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Welcome to the Cottage

—Anonymous Visuals
—Poems by JD DeHart, Chattanooga, TN


or should I say, welcome back?
These are the wooden slatted floors
where you first learned
about the predilection of old ladies
in the woods to be villains, to have
ovens, to possess poison apples,
to woo children away from breadcrumb
trails; the same spot where you
learned about the flash and dash
of princes, how often beautiful maidens
fall asleep and must be rescued,
the tender-hearted fair ladies whose
ruddy cheeks decorated so many
late-night reads before bed,
and I couldn't help but notice you
striking a match, preparing to burn down
the cottage, and build your own version
of the world's story now you are grown.

(prev. published at Bluepepper)



I dreamed about a world where, suddenly
at the edges of their being, some people
started turning orange, burning shades
of autumn, and so the landlords and officers,
wearing their capitalistic top hats, threw
these shades of persons into chains, stuffing
them into Orwellian overalls, and put them
to diligent work building a new country,
throwing up the guard of a new regime.
I have to stop reading dystopian fiction
before turning the lamp out.

(prev. published at Eunoia Review)


The budding voices have died away
Leaving the empty room with confetti
Spread on the rarely clean floor,
Small tokens of their presence

In the middle of the room, beneath a table
A plastic sheep, the head chewed off
An abandoned Old Testament sacrifice.

(prev. published at Red River Review)



When they have unearthed us, will they
look back at our architects and mutter,
How they rivaled the pyramids, or will
they first get hold of our wasted celebrity
adoration, our overpopulation, or propensity
for barbaric neighborhood yawp, will they
first peruse the words of Faulkner or Melville,
or lay their hands on the garish pop novels
we carry with us, with oversized umbrellas,
considering our culture with furrowed brows,
will their verdict be, Let us imitate them, or
No wonder they have all gone missing.

(prev. published at Eunoia Review)


In walked dear symbolism,
whom I invited so often to
class with me and down
she sat.
Along the ride, she pointed
out the plumage of bright
birds flapping past, perhaps
resembling courage;
a pool standing stagnant
representing my lack;
an old man signaling
the inevitability of my fall.
Dear, you read too deeply,
she told me as she left,
just enjoy the rest of the trip,
which I took to mean life.
But maybe not.

(prev. published at Eunoia Review)


Today’s LittleNip:
I grew up in this town, my poetry was born between the hill and the river, it took its voice form the rain, and like the timber, it steeped itself in the forests.

—Pablo Neruda


—Medusa, with thanks to JD DeHart for today’s fine poetry!


Celebrate poetry, and cottages everywhere…

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.