Monday, July 31, 2017

Dreams of Flying

—Photos of the Cal. State Fair by Cynthia Linville, Sacramento

A co-worker told me he has dreams where he is falling
    His nightmare is falling either from the sky or tall buildings
    I suggested to him that he might be able to turn them instead into “flying” dreams
    because I go from falling to flying when I’m aware that I’m dreaming
    Flying instead of falling in a dream means to have confidence in life
    so I’ve understood
    I told him to just look it up online—how he may be able to dream he’s flying too

—Michelle Kunert, Sacramento

   (Inspired by Anonymous Cal. State Fair pig photo
    which appeared on Medusa’s Kitchen 7/24/17)
—Caschwa, Sacramento

My dog has 10 teats
And runs around bare
Like a pig at the fair
“Oh, how cute!”

A woman of stature
Dares to show her shoulder
And the reception is colder
“Oh, how could you!”

Men, of all people
The kings of temptation
Condemn public lactation
“Oh, God help us!”

God created man
With no underwear
Or reason to care
“Oh, how disgusting!”

It was 13 centuries
After the teachings of Jesus
That underwear was invented to please us



All the colorful candidates and
Hotly contested issues

Sensible planning is for nerds
So the campaigns brought out
Enormous, empty shopping bags

And let the voters eagerly populate them
With their own flagrant opinions
Yes, that is exactly what I wanted to hear

The South will rise again
Climate change
Socialist, Communist, Terrorist

Poor people deserve less
My body, my choice
My gun, my rules

So what people really voted for
Was the one propaganda package
They felt they could live with

We had waged bloody war, won it
And celebrate our freedom
Now this is what we do with it

 I wouldn't get too close to this
finger fidget...
—Photo by Caschwa

—Gerard Manley Hopkins, 1844-1889  

To Christ our Lord

I caught this morning morning's minion, king-
    dom of daylight's dauphin, dapple-dawn-drawn Falcon, in his riding
    Of the rolling level underneath him steady air, and striding
High there, how he rung upon the rein of a wimpling wing
In his ecstasy! then off, off forth on swing,
    As a skate's heel sweeps smooth on a bow-bend: the hurl and gliding
    Rebuffed the big wind. My heart in hiding
Stirred for a bird, —the achieve of, the mastery of the thing!

Brute beauty and valour and act, oh, air, pride, plume, here
    Buckle! AND the fire that breaks from thee then, a billion
Times told lovelier, more dangerous, O my chevalier!
   No wonder of it: shéer plód makes plough down sillion
Shine, and blue-bleak embers, ah my dear,
    Fall, gall themselves, and gash gold-vermilion.

Today’s LittleNip:

You have escaped the cage.
Your wings are stretched out.
Now fly.



Many thanks to today’s contributors! We have a new photo album on Facebook: last year, Cynthia Linville sent us some wonderful night photos the Cal. State Fair, and I’ve re-posted them again this year. Check them out at

And I couldn’t let our Seed of the Week, Flying, pass without posting Hopkins’ beautiful poem, The Windhover. Read it out loud and listen to the sounds fly by. For more about Hopkins, see Reading his work always reminds me that poetry is as much about sound as it is about content.

Poetry readings in our area begin in Sacramento tonight as Sac. Poetry Center presents Josh Fernandez and Cynthia Atkins (plus open mic), 7:30pm. Tomorrow in El Dorado Hills, Poetry Off-the-Shelves read-around starts at 5pm at the EDH Library.

Then on Thursday, Poetry Unplugged at Luna’s Cafe in Sacramento presents features and open mic starting at 8pm, while in Davis, also starting at 8pm, Susan Kelly-DeWitt and Mary Moore will read at John Natsoulas Gallery, followed by open mic. And on Friday, The Good Earth Movement Poetry Night in Placerville will present Danyen Powell (plus open mic), 6:30pm, hosted by Rod Miller

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—and probably WILL be— added at the last minute.


Peregrine Falcon
—Photo by Herb Houghton, National Wildlife Federation
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.

Sunday, July 30, 2017

His Wisdom is Ancient

—Anonymous Photo

—Robert Penn Warren, 1905-1989 

From plane of light to plane, wings dipping through
Geometries and orchids that the sunset builds,
Out of the peak’s black angularity of shadow, riding
The last tumultuous avalanche of
Light above pines and the guttural gorge,
The hawk comes.
               His wing
Scythes down another day, his motion
Is that of the honed steel-edge, we hear
The crashless fall of stalks of Time.

The head of each stalk is heavy with the gold of our error.

Look!  Look!  he is climbing the last light
Who knows neither Time nor error, and under
Whose eye, unforgiving, the world, unforgiven, swings
Into shadow.

          Long now,
The last thrush is still, the last bat
Now cruises in his sharp hieroglyphics.  His wisdom
Is ancient, too, and immense.  The star
Is steady, like Plato, over the mountain.

If there were no wind we might, we think, hear
The earth grind on its axis, or history
Drip in darkness like a leaking pipe in the cellar.



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, July 29, 2017

Checking In

—Anonymous Photo

—Naomi Shihab Nye

Such a swift lump rises in the throat when

a uniformed woman spits Throw it away!

and you tremble to comply wondering why

rules of one airport don’t match another’s,

used to carrying two Ziploc bags not just one

but your pause causes a uniformed man to approach

barking, Is there something you don’t understand?

and you stare at him thinking

So many things, refugees marching

from one parched field to another,

rolled packs on their heads,

burn of ancestors smoldering outside stolen homes,

or you could be six again, yelled at on the playground
by a teacher who knew all the bad things you could do.

You’re pressing little shampoos and face creams

firmly into a single plastic bag, he could slap you.

Sorry, so sorry, not wanting

to give up seven extra bottles of Bliss brand

lemon & sage soapy soap fresh-foaming shower gel

that you tipped the W houseboy into leaving

so you could pretend you live a Happy Hour life

back home, you hope she takes it out of the trash

when you turn away, obviously she needs a relaxing shower

and a stiff gin and he needs something like a long trip

into a country full of foreign soldiers and we all need

to swallow hard again so the lumps dissolve

and pressure eases and our worlds mingle kindly

and he no longer feels the gun in his back.


—Medusa, with get-well wishes to D.R. Wagner this week, and hopes that he'll be able to join us in the Kitchen soon!

Friday, July 28, 2017

I Always Thought...

—Photo by Katy Brown, Davis, CA

—Ann Wehrman, Sacramento

I always thought I’d get married
I was responsible to bear a child
the future depends upon my lineage
it would shorten the time of restoration

I was responsible to bear a child
a brown-haired, brown-eyed little bairn
would shorten the time of restoration
would be someone to love

a brown-haired, brown-eyed little bairn
would she look like her daddy or me
would also be someone to love
would I love a girl as much as a boy

would she look like Daddy or me
would Daddy and I stay together
would I love a girl as much as a boy
would Daddy love the baby without lust

would Daddy and I stay together
would we be soul mates
would Daddy love the baby without lust
is there a man out there who could

would we be soul mates
the future depends upon my lineage
is there a man out there who could
I always thought I’d get married

  —Anonymous Photo

—Ann Wehrman

traveler’s checks and food stamps in hand
the five of us squeezed into that rented Mustang
straight though from Illinois to California
to the ocean, my first time

tailbone-bruising ride
taking turns balancing on the ridge
between back bucket seats
spiders in pocket bathroom, Texas gas station

camped overnight in the desert
walked under stars, swam in clear creek—
then sprinted to the coast
wound through steep mountain passes
gas gauge near empty
coasted on fumes and prayer

I drove the carful of sleepyheads into LA before dawn
lanes like ribbons on either side
white markers, index cards at regular intervals
flying, swooping on the Interstate

too young and foolish to appreciate what we had
we bought some jeans
complained at the overcast beach
empty sand, flat sea, gloomy sky
unimpressed, turned back

most of us contracted mono—you and I, spared
shared our last loaf of white bread
rode Amtrak back, through tunnels down into Chicago

we did not relish the ocean’s immensity
pearl-soft, slow breath of fog
that gray day, lonely beach

travelers propelled by our desires
we did not stop to feel, to understand
infinite moments, priceless beauty
held in our hands

  —Anonymous Photo

          (W.T. Sherman)
—Tom Goff

The famed old soldier, well-groomed, still attractive.
Still older, do my looks please youngling you?
He campaigned for her, needing some duty active.

He loved her sculpting hands that shuttled, restive;
she metaphor-fingered gray clay, his residue,
the famed old soldier, well-groomed, still attractive.

He sensed her transfer to stone her reproductive
urge: marble with life her soft hand could imbue.
He campaigned for her, needing some duty active.

He ached to dissolve within her; the dream furtive,
hidden in hearty brusqueness (mine toward you).
The famed old soldier, well-groomed, still attractive.

She glimpsed all this: her hands traced him in cursive,
revising the hard tough surface as could few;
she too campaigned, girl-corporal duty, active,

haptic, each tingling fingertip suggestive.
You, nursing my long-banked fires to stir and brew.
The famed old soldier, well-groomed, still attractive.
A last campaign, a last someone reactive.

  —Anonymous Photo

              (Arnold Bax, 1932)
—Tom Goff

Symphonic afterthought. Postlude to the Fifth,
some say. The aftertaste of ice and whiskey
from a Highland highball glass? Some find it briskly
Finnish, more stark than Järvenpää, stuck with

Sibelius. Well, I think not: Bax is Bax:
preludial plainchant English horn descants
more suave than velour. Allegro motif-stacks
tilt this way and that; all hues reveal their slants

more vibrant, Walter Raleigh’s best slashed sleeves.
Now tristful, woven wistful-fine, a move
toward late things: Bax’s boyhood Ireland grieves,
but distant-lensed, oblique, opaque. The groove-

free grain of oboe, cello, French horn, harp,
flute duo, no blade, no twist, no corner. Sharp
the poignant reverts to point. Heart-leap, heart-lurch.
We’re out of—if ever once in—white Finnish birch.

Brass, piccolo, strings that scurry. Tub-thumping, it’s called
by one Baxian friend. With Bax, I just thump along unappalled. 

 —Anonymous Photo

—Tom Goff, Carmichael, CA

            for D.R. Wagner and Barbara West, friends in poetry

The surge took hold of body and mind both.
How not to think true life an anti-climax,
albeit to leave verse-reading one be loath;
the eyes must readjust, as after an Imax
film. O no, I’ll not give up or give over
this clutch that is seizure and lover’s bedroom touch,
though to express why cannot be spoken much:
leave this glow? I’d rather “smell my way to Dover.”

An old man’s lust for the pleasures of the young?
In love with a Russian girl confused at her heart,
young Bax learned his eyes would dilate—by drops unstung—
in full sun. Pupil-distending delights of art:
Wide-open, mine saw just now quail at full run.
People too, scooting just like them. What can’t stun?

  —Anonymous Photo

Today’s LittleNip:
—Ann Wehrman

I sneak into your bed
invisible, in spirit
it’s dark, and you are half awake
reflecting or slipping into sleep

I nudge your jaw, your throat
cat at your side stirs
perhaps feels my presence—do you?


—Medusa, with thanks to Ann Wehrman, Katy Brown and Tom Goff for today’s tasty brunch in the Kitchen, and all those other anonymous photographers who've captured roadsign silliness around the country!

 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.

Thursday, July 27, 2017


Queen Anne's Lace and Thistle
—Poems and Photos by Taylor Graham, Placerville, CA


A deep-blue bus brakes at the Fairgrounds gate,
discharges passengers; blocks my view
of machinery that anchors Ferris wheel to earth.

It’s County Fair week, mid-June before
the crops are ripe. I have nothing of blue-ribbon
quality but my tallest weed, a thistle.

Has our Fair lost its grounding in almanac?
Across the road, I’m waiting for new tires on my
truck. Ferris wheel starts up again.

Does it rotate with or counter to the spin
of earth; and gosh, how about the cross-shuttling
of traffic? Enough philosophical physics.

When will my tires be mounted and balanced,
my truck road-ready? At Fairgrounds gate
a lady waits for the shuttle, checks her watch.

Here, I’m waiting too. But I don’t lack
for entertainment; back to my book, viewpoint:
the Deep Blue Lead, ancient river of gold

our town is built on. Surely it merits
a blue ribbon at History’s wildly spinning Fair.
But that was many fair summers ago.



A sign at the strip-mall says Funeral & Tax
Services as a caravan passes me, going the other
way—homemade house-shacks on wheels—
a repertory theater of days-gone-by? No,
I misread the sign. Financial & Tax Services.
Nothing’s certain but…. Shadows, a flight
of crows as the troupe heads toward the fair-
grounds. Maybe I’ll find them encamped
on a vacant lot beyond the gates. Rehearsing
ancient lines. Travelin’ music from else-where.
All sun-shimmer as the troupe rumbles on,
drivers humming mirage of eternal roads.
Travelers aren’t we all, hawkers of words. Less
certain than taxes—five acts, we’re gone.
The fair’s over, thunder-weather red-flag days,
and a sign says whatever you think it does.

 Shooting Stars

      —florette from a missing person flyer

And wondering, he traveled far
from campsite, family and car;
adventuring off path and trail
where buttercups all yellow hail a shooting-star.

For it was early spring all day
and every cloudlet seemed to say
come chase us up the rising hill,
you’ll never catch us standing still, no not today.

His mother prayed, his father told
the rangers how this boy is bold—
much too adventurous to sleep,
he’s making memories to keep when he gets old.

 Somerset Sunset


On an old trail through manzanita
up the ridge under Sirius—black sky glimpsed
through incense cedar—
          you knew the way without a flashlight.
Under Sirius, on black sky you drew a star-
map in your head, knowing the way without
              We hiked to the canyon overlook,
star-map in your head, meteor shower
predicted tonight. From the overlook we saw
a cabin light, faint silver.
                      Meteor shower predicted—
but what was that, a saxophone?
         One light, faint silver, and distance
making blues of jazz. A saxophone filled
the woods like thrush-song, distance making
                   blue jazz. The notes drifted cool-
then-warm filling the woods like thrush-
song in the dark, as forest segues notes
drifting cool to warm.
                        The Perseids? we never
saw them where forest-dark segues incense
cedar to showers of music on the night,
              on an old trail through manzanita.


     for Jasper

He greets us at the door, eyes bright
as tinkle of the invisible bell we trigger
as we step inside. He knows us by instinct,
by scent of dog or cat that clings
as if reminders of those lives we’ve left
at home. As the reading begins, he might
lean against a poet’s arm, absorbing
every word as a good dog does, as a poem
might convey more than is said;
as the love song that is a dog. Then
he finds a cool spot on tile floor, circles
three times, lays himself down
ever attentive to the poet’s voice—twitch
of Dobie ears. He stretches, readjusts
his long red length of dog; lays one fore-
paw over an ear—intense brown study
(or a gesture of when-will-this-end?).
He’s too well-bred to snore.


As if caught mid-arc, mid-air,
light shining through wing feathers,
the pulse of raptor fire—

hawk who haunts our land.
I stood amazed at her sudden rising
out of the blue

oak behind the house. She rose,
then settled. Flame-angel
of the place. Electric charge that kept

the voice of songbirds scarce.
At last her chick was fed and fledged.
She stayed furtive shadow

through trees, stealth hunter
too quick to be caught but in gray-
tones of art and

memory which is an animal
poised on the invisible stair between
sky and earth, flight and landing.

 Railroad Tracks

Today’s LittleNip:


The cranes are too great to step here
with their peculiar grace. My ear,
tuned so mid-level, cannot hear
their passing clear, their passing clear.

We lived much higher once, firm-set.
But cranes flew higher. We forget
the wild excitement, the regret,
the call
and yet, the call and yet….


—Medusa, with thanks to Taylor Graham for her flame-angel and other wonders in today’s poetry and pix!

For more about the florette poetry form, see
For more about the monotetra, go to

Celebrate Poetry!—And don’t forget about 
Poetry Unplugged at Luna’s Cafe in Sacramento 
tonight, 8pm, with featured readers and open mic.
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.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Where He Is Lost...

—Anonymous Photos
—Poems by Craig Steiger, Nevada City, CA


Little did I know
When I stacked two-by-eights
And corrugated sheet metal
That my errand to repair her leaking roof
Would carry me up shaky ladders
Into a windy blue domain
Where hour by hour
Close clouds caught the light
a hundred ways,
Rowdy ravens gave me their greeting
Morning air pulsed
And squirrels scolded from blustery cedars,
Little did I know!
Spending a day rubbing elbows
With eaves & chimneys & gutters,
That dusk would bring
a perch on that high gable
For viewing a full moon rising huge
Over the purple Sierra



Carpentering the old house
Brings thoughts of those selfsame roughnecks
Who constructed it in 1936,
We found the Carson City Appeal
With such a date rolled in the attic for insulation,
Who were those men
Who spat and swore and sweated
In the 100-degree dog days of August,
Bloodied by rough lumber,
Whither have they wandered now
To wheelchairs & graves
And who will visit my handiwork
Sixty years hence,
Wondering of me?


A date with death
On the high Wyoming plateau
premonition in dreams,
December when the ground lay bare
And sunlight shone golden
On vast windy rangelands,
Out of Rock Springs
Ominous snow clouds gather to the north
Sioux chanting & death rattles
in the bottom of the mind—
The pickup out of gas
Miles and miles down some wrong turn
Where the road ends
Under swaying cottonwoods.



Trudging through hip deep snow
Along the Truckee River
Showered with blowing snowdust
From the close ponderosas
I stop to catch my breath
And glimpse a winter half-moon
Between swirling snow clouds—
What exhilaration I felt in that chance moment,    
Like any reckless tramp
Bogged down in the middle of nowhere,
Snow in my boots, the going rough:
Out on the edge that is everywhere,
Out in the cold waver of pink twilights,
Baptized by ice, the elemental shakedown
The world builds itself against—
The adventure lives for that edge,
Seeks it, walks it, courts it,
Where all roads end, trails end, time ends,
The blue glimmer of the forever beyond
He finds irresistible,
Forsakes for it all other loves,
Where he is lost he finds his life...


Tomorrow has been cancelled.
A swoop of magpies
Jabbers in the pinetops
As the bath fills with hot water—
Silvery woods at dusk
Where all things meld
Into an Indistinct soft repose,
Including me.
For an hour then has no bounds
There will be no dreaded consequence
No silver hammer poised above my head,
All sins forgiven,
All fears forgotten.


‘Standard of living’
Came his reply to my question
“Well if you could live anywhere,
Why not live here?”
But elsewhere
There is far more standard
Than living


Today’s LittleNip:

—Craig Steiger

Your keyboard may be more efficient
but I’m fondly reminiscent
Of the chrome and black shine
and the Remington ding!
At the end of the line


Many thanks to Craig Steiger for visiting the Kitchen this morning! Craig graduated from UCSB, where he developed a love of poetry from reading haiku, Allen Ginsberg, and Gary Snyder. He has lived in Nevada County for 35 years, where he worked in home repair services. He has self-published several small chapbooks of poetry, including
Wintering at Lake Vera, Stolen Apples and Works and Days. Read more of Craig’s poems at


 Craig Steiger
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, July 25, 2017


Balloons for the Sky
—Poems, Photos and Original Artwork 
by Joyce Odam, Sacramento, CA


Walking through the barns
among the huge horses,
the immense cows,
in the farm exhibit
the last day of the fair . . .
Watching the Chinese acrobat
do handstands
on top of six chairs
placed on four green bottles . . .
Watching the sketch-artist
do her last
quick portrait of the day,
too late
to take a number.
Eating a two-dollar hot-dog
while watching the
shivering twilight divers
dive into their
little vat of water . . .

(first pub. in Tule Review, Premier Issue, 1993;
also in Medusa’s Kitchen, 9-10-13)

 As Beauty Does


You will find her on a lone road—coming out of the trees,
maybe, or simply standing under the gray threat of rain when
you drive by in your car . . .

or maybe she will be in a bar somewhere, twisting slightly
on the barstool, shaking her foot to her dark thoughts, and
you will be there to save her thoughts, for you know how to
save her . . .

or in a bookstore, she may be concentrating down the aisles
to where you are, and she will glance at you when you glance
at her, and maybe you will be reaching for the same book . . .

or she may be at some carnival or fair—laughing in simple
pleasure, at a ride, or game, or sideshow—and she will turn
away at the last moment—or you will—and you will miss
each other, as you always do . . .



He stands posed
with the bride’s hand
under his hand.
She a mannekin.
He a mime.
They stand in the carnival
to advertise their theatre.
He wears greasepaint
and a bright silk costume.
She wears white lace.

Her wig is crooked
and she leans in a rigid way.
His locked smile holds
through the audience-prod
of taunts and questions;
he tilts himself
in their direction,
blanks his eyes.
A mime is not to answer.
And she just smiles.

 No Contest

After Carnival Evening by Henri Rousseau

Where are we now but in some dream together,
emerging a dark woods—

two mimes in white costumes,
wandering through a night-sketch—

late of a country carnival
(how long ago?)

displaced by time, perhaps,
the winter-stricken trees already lonely

for our presence
as we slowly diminish—

two cloud-wisps emulating us—
the cold and following white moon about to weep.



left in carnival places—such as
memory—stacked one behind
the other—with all their faces.

Some have fallen—left to be
walked on—their  dimensions
worthless.  Leaning walls are

but walls now—no more
trick angles and placements
for losing yourself.  If you

get caught among them
the EXIT sign is always
backwards—behind you.  



Do not show us the hag of our dreams—her chest laughing-
lady motor—huge; and as we shrink to enter, we feel her
breathing; we feel her motor beating, and we are in her
carnival. She is lined with mirrors and makes us stand before
them while she contorts to scare us. We must laugh and point
our fingers at each other. If we displease her she will not let
us out. She thinks we love her.


1)  But I
never cry
I remind you,
and you nod your
inquisitive yes
and I feel I have convinced you.
2)  I draw the face over again.
I do not like it this time either.
It smiles too wrong
and keeps looking older.

3)  I am beautiful anyway,
I say and its laugh darkens
and I must give it another mouth.

4)  The eyes look funny
and the hair
is wet—
such a long shining rope.

5)  And I start the dance over again.
Thin rope dance—
dance of my body
and my rage.
The sad dance—
clumsy as a life at stake.



all the want is there
in the mirage
we are fooled by
distance and desire
in the long hurry
we never get there


at night time
we dream of this :
great fish
appear in our lakes,
move slowly toward us,
but they are ours
we hold them in our arms
and circle together
in the direction of air


at the edge of us
the mirage breathes
and opens up
its other dimension

 Pink Envy


Now, out of all the Motherings,
comes benign little Rabbit-Prop—
dressed homey, in old-fashioned mode.

Mother-child sets her in a comfy rocking chair
upon the floral rug to soften the squeak
while Mother Rabbit struggles to grasp the

heavy book of Fairy Tales with her thumb
and porcelain fingers to balance herself
against this awkwardness of metaphor—

for how can she be expected to
handle this proxy as Rabbit-Mother
of Fairy Tales to explain all the morals of.

 Startle of White


When I was a child I read of
Princesses, and Kings, and Queens.
Life was a fairy tale—a book—

pages and pages of yearning and learning.
There was a real Queen in the world.
I read of her.  She had two daughters…

two real princesses… my age… like me…
I could be a princess, too, with them.
I wore a tiara, my costume, my royal life.

I felt familial.
We occupied the same story world.
It was real.

I did not stay a princess.
I became a girl.  I became a woman.
I became old, like the Queen, like me.  Now.

Hail to the Queen.  She is still alive. 
Like me.  We still live.
This is not a political poem.


Today’s LittleNip:
The Fairies Are Exquisite Dancers
by Arthur Rackham (1867-1939)

Once upon a dance, upon a thread of light
that stretched from stem to stem of leaf and

flower—oh—once upon a fairy tale, archaic
as a dream, upon a morning drenched with

meadow-dew—the ancient fairy—weightless
as a shadow, danced upon the dwindling

hour of the night, and the two lost children
woke,     and smiled,     and held each other.


Our thanks to Joyce Odam for her wonderful carnival of images as she explores our Seed of the Week, At the Fair! Our new Seed of the Week is Flying. 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 don’t forget the CLA workshop by Bob Pimm today at 11:30am at the Avid Reader in Sacramento: A Legal Guide to Traditional Book Publishing. 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.



 The Fairies Are Exquisite Dancers
—Illustration by Arthur Rackham
(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, July 24, 2017

Listen to the Shadow

—Anonymous Vintage Poster

—Michael H. Brownstein, Townsville, N. Queensland, Australia

The insane among us
drugged and decomposing
fashion a light between themselves
dark, dense and beautiful.
A river swells in them like a beast,
its long tongue whipping brush and briar.
For a long time
its hunger is insatiable.
Listen to the shadow.
Pay attention to the voice of air.
Sunlight is not always
a light of health.

 —Anonymous Cal. State Fair Photo

—Michael H. Brownstein


How is it I sit in a puddle
and only when I stand
does the moisture slip through my clothing?

I remember the time I was old enough
to be better,
the style of dance changing,
clothing no longer matching ten speed bikes.
Tears grew onto me
and I couldn’t know how,
but there they were,
unfolding into eyes seeking the ends of the earth.


How can someone be this dizzy?
How can someone not know enough?
Not an armor of skin?
Not the layers of flesh christening bone?
Not the silence of muscle bending to the task?

 Cal. State Fair Dinosaur Exhibit, 2017
—Photo by Michelle Kunert, Sacramento, CA

Winnie the Pooh got banned in China
         Now, what did Pooh do against the country’s leadership?
         (its creators are not like artist Ai Weiwei)
         It’s not known,
         other than it’s said President Xi doesn’t like to be compared to him
         Besides doesn’t China make the toys for the Pooh franchise?
         Perhaps China’s leaders want to turn back time
         to where the “red book” was the only literature the common citizen could have
         (any other books they got caught with got destroyed)
         and they could supposedly “control” their population better than now
         But Pooh fans, alas, take solace
         When the Chinese Communist Party bans something,
         its citizens want to buy it even more than before
         For instance that's one reason the Bible still sells so well in China         

—Michelle Kunert

I went to the State Fair instead of Phillip Larrea’s Sac Voices presentation on July 15, 2017
      I just had to listen instead to choirs from local churches singing gospel music that day
      even though the sound system of the PG&E Stage wasn’t that good
      (and I shared what I know about "creation science” with the hosts of the animatronic dinosaur exhibit—
      “it was thousands of years not millions, and dinosaurs lived at the time as humans,” I said;
      I got strange looks like I was “weird")  
      and had fun despite some vendors trying to sell me gadgets and gizmos I didn’t need
      So, sorry, Phillip, and others who went
      Tell me all about what happened at SPC while I was at the fair
      Did Tom Goff and Luz Maria Gama read as indicated on the invite from Facebook? 

—Michelle Kunert

 Cal. State Fair Dinosaur Exhibit, 2017
—Photo by Michelle Kunert

—Michael Ceraolo, South Euclid, OH
Cleveland Haiku #107

Countless spider webs
woven between rocks
guard the beach's entrance

* * *

Cleveland Haiku #108

The clouds arc
in a veil across the sky—
I think they're hiding something

* * *

Cleveland Haiku #109

The garbage bins hidden
behind a fence—
out of sight, not out of scent

 —Anonymous Cal. State Fair Photo

Cleveland Haiku #129

Sunshine through the window—
I am like an egg
frying on the sidewalk

* * *

Cleveland Haiku #132

One lone boat
stubbornly sails against
the tide of changing seasons

* * *

Cleveland Haiku #133

The percussion of the waves
by the hum of insects

 —Anonymous Cal. State Fair Photo

—Caschwa, Sacramento, CA

Desperate pleas from favorite celebrities
Right to die debated, right to kill inflated
Countless bitter Tweets, zero laudable feats

Cannot conform with the norm
Not worth a shit or willing to quit
Government mess creates far more stress

Nuclear codes given to man missing brain lobes
Lower the bar for the oligarch tsar
Every mynah recites made in China

Lapel flag pin opens floodgates of sin
The bait is honey, follow the money
“Believe me” visits Russian pee

Deports valued residents, not my president
Sacred trust trumps Constitutional must
When leaders forsake honor, truth is a goner

 Who says everybody in California is a health nut??
—Anonymous Photo

Today’s LittleNip:

—Michael H. Brownstein

The acne of death and the kaleidoscope of the living bloom into measles, mumps,
the disease of the month, filibuster of the week, forty-nine dollars off the price of a soul


Our thanks to today’s contributors for their tasty stew of fine, fine poetry, all the way from Australia to Ohio, and points in between! In addition to her “takes” on the State Fair, Michelle Kunert has sent “Bros, Not Bras”, an album of photos from the Sacramento Bromeliad and Carnivorous Plant Show at the Shephard Garden and Arts Center in Sacramento, July 22. Check out Medusa’s Facebook page for these photos. And Caschwa (Carl Schwartz) says that he “never anticipated that retirement would present [him] with the melting of both our polar ice caps and our trust in government.”

Stockton Poet and Editor Donald R. Anderson sends us a link to (Poets’ Espresso Review), which includes poetry by Marie J. Ross, Nikki Anderson, Roger E. Naylor and Donald R. Anderson. Check it out at

Poetry in our area begins tonight with Poetry in Motion in Placerville at the Placerville Sr. Center, 6-7pm; then with a book launch at Sac. Poetry Center at 7:30pm, as Dale Houstman reads from his new book,
A Dangerous Vacation, followed by Art Mantecon plus open mic. On Tuesday at 11:30am, Cal. Lawyers for the Arts presents A Legal Guide to Traditional Book Publishing with Bob Pimm. (Go online to register—it’s cheaper.) And of course Poetry Unplugged at Luna’s Cafe presents featured readers and open mic in Sacramento on Thursday, 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.


 —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
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Sunday, July 23, 2017

The Fair, World-Like

—Anonymous Photo

—Edith Sitwell (from Coterie, 1919)

    I. Springing Jack

Green wooden leaves clap light away,
Severely practical, as they

Shelter the children candy-pale,
The chestnut candles flicker, fail . . .

The showman’s face is cubed clear as
The shapes reflected in a glass

Of water—(blog, glut, a ghost’s speech
Fumbling for space from each to each).

The fusty showman fumbles, must
Fit in a particle of dust

The universe, for fear it gain
Its freedom from my cube of brain.

Yet dust bears seeds that grow to grace
Behind my crude-striped wooden face

As I, a puppet tinsel-pink
Leap on my springs, learn how to think—

Till like the trembling golden stalk
Of some long-petalled star, I walk

Through the dark heavens, and the dew
Falls on my eyes and sense thrills through.

    II.  The Ape Watches “Aunt Sally”

The apples are an angel’s meat;
The shining dark leaves make clear sweet

The juice; green wooden fruits alway
Fall on these flowers as white as day—

(Clear angel-face on hairy stalk:
Soul grown from flesh, an ape’s young talk!)

And in this green and lovely ground
The Fair, world-like, turns round and round

And bumpkins throw their pence to shed
Aunt Sally’s wooden clear-striped head.—

I do not care if men should throw
Round sun and moon to make me go—

As bright as gold and silver pence . . .
They cannot drive their black shade hence!



For more about Dame Edith Sitwell (1887-1964), see