Thursday, August 31, 2017

Listening for Midnight

Transparent Shadow
—Poems and Photos by Taylor Graham, Placerville, CA


Driving up the long ridge,
we stopped here by chance. Then
I remember—

years ago, down this dirt track,
a hunter lost, canyon dark as ancient
forest with no moon;
found by daylight.

Now, it’s the morning
of eclipse. On the radio, we’ve heard
it observed through so many
lenses: science, nature, spirit, myth.

We’ve come to ground
our selves; to watch less-than-
totality on earth.

Not for a missing hunter
but to see by twi-light—
before all goes dark—opposites

Sun and moon.
Sun-crescents on dirt road.
Day as night as day,
science, nature, spirit.

My transparent shadow
leads the way lost things go.

 Waiting for the Eclipse


Dog’s soft breathing, air dense with insect noise—crickets louder than ringing in my ears. Refrigerator humming down the hall, car tires on chip-seal down the hill. / Suddenly, not a sound. As if everything went dead—listening? collecting deeper quiet, audible stillness so intense, it’s spooky, wonder-full. A presence—shiver passes over, imperceptible. Sound-eclipse. Then / as suddenly, a car goes by below the hill. The dog yawns. Crickets resume their insect song. I breathe. What changed?

stealth angel or owl
silent wings over my head
in a waiting night

 Waiting for the Eclipse 2


I heard you slip to sleep, dense
as earth in the dark of your mummy bag.
            I was wide awake, listening
to my bones—right knee retelling our hike
over rock, crepitus of scree underfoot,
sudden catches for balance. Still,
                        I’m not as old as the stones.
Something whispered soft as a child
breathing. Was it the lake turning in sleep?
           Do stars sing? Maybe it was
music of nighthawk wings. Moonlight,
a constant wake, trailing old lace over aspen.
                       The sound came quiet,
as clear as angels, the ones who wipe out
hikers’ prints as they sleep.

 Hangtown Creek Coldtree


Hangtown Creek awakens to daylight
below the rock bridge,
between bike trail and Main Street,

where the last of the nightly
homeless lug their earthly loads
and creek skirts a city’s toxic litter.

             Your photo begs me suspend my
disbelief. From its perspective,
ripples reflect in a pool emerald-clear,

sheen of sun filtered
through canopy of leaves and shadow—
an ancient bigleaf maple cooling

its feet in the current; old-man tree
of many lifted arms, burl
hunched and curling in the flow

to a giant’s laughing mouth,
afraid of nothing—shaman is he,
healing the water as a creek heals tree.

 Dog Dance


Sable as shape-shifter Coyote—
spirit of Wolf, the tiny part of DNA
denied by our old bible, the breed book—
but now we have the internet
with its ungoverned sources, its hints
and innuendos.
What Russian wolf-dog danced
with my dog’s grandmother? My Loki’s
never low-key. Outside our human
laws of fence and physics.
There’s a wild
world out there. Just take
my lead, she says, and follow me,
I’ll show you.

Dog Dance 2


Forever caught in puppyhood, my
shepherd-dog brandishes an artichoke staff
pulled from the garden, dead feather-fronds a-
flutter. Instantly chivalric—too quick for
my iPad lens in dim first light—he hoists this
lance, finds the balance point and
prances, dry fronds flag-rattling with his
courtly-dainty leaps as over a field of cloud.
This tournament as real as dream,
as once—puppy under discipline of harness—
he performed an improv leash-ribbon
dance of unbridled joy. Again he puts the
rules aside and jousts this morning
in his knightly-errant dance with
artichoke lance.



Apples and grapes, a map with sketchy roads,
just scatters of icons promising fruit,
wine already poured. Magic. Morning bodes
adventuring ridge and canyon. My route—

road-signs blinded by fall
sun-gold and glittering twines of leaves,
a harvest glory as if
this is what I came for venturing

a landscape secretive as winter-gorge
and then abruptly sunlit orchard ripe
for picking, savoring peaches, pears and
apples and grapes, a map with sketchy roads.


Today’s LittleNip:
Night, the beloved. Night, when words fade and things come alive. When the destructive analysis of day is done, and all that is truly important becomes whole and sound again. When man reassembles his fragmentary self and grows with the calm of a tree.

—Antoine de Saint-Exupery


—Medusa, with many thanks to Taylor Graham for today’s fine poems and pix!

(Anonymous Photo) 
Celebrate the poetry of the midnight moon, and don’t forget 
that Jennifer O’Neill Pickering will read tonight at 
Poetry Unplugged at Luna’s Cafe, along with music from 
Michael Pickering and open mic, 8pm. 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, August 30, 2017

Shadows and Dreams

Crescent Shadows
—Photos by Katy Brown, Davis, CA

—JD DeHart, Chattanooga, TN
I take a bit of shade,
a modicum of shadow, and place
it in my bag.  Call me some
version of Aeolus.

In the afternoon, heat came
and I rustled in my bag for
the bit of coolness, finding
it had evaporated.

Guess I forgot to feed
and water it.



of a world that I thought
we had created.  This was
many nights ago.  Peace
and serenity.

Last night, I dreamed about
the world we might be creating.
Furtive glances, interrogation
rooms, hiding and tucking away.

I woke with a sense of being
undefeated even after finding
that civility has not completely
conquered our flaws.

—JD DeHart

 Curves and Arrows

—JD DeHart

They finally got it right
with that one, folks said.

Do you also get the image
of porch swings and lemonade,
old people with large eyeglasses,
when you hear the word folks?

They rumored and they gossiped
him into great success.  You would
have thought he wore sandals
and carried a sword and scroll.

Now, every time he comes home,
he feels like he has to put the
legend on, and boy is it itchy.


—JD DeHart

I decided one day
the trapeze was no longer for me.
Maybe it's getting older
that did it.
I decided the lighted circle,
center-stage, was to be abandoned.
It's okay.  I usually flubbed
my lines anyway.

 Fellow Eclipse Watcher

—Michael H. Brownstein, Chicago, IL

This poster is not enough to fill me with food—
at its apex Jimi Hendrix cannot play the guitar
and Janis Joplin, already dead, has her mouth sewn tight.
There are colors in this poster, too, but not psychedelic,
not Jimmy Page, not Billie Holliday, not Ringo—
his drum sticks broken at his feet and his snare drum torn.
I never go to concerts. They are empty of sound,
empty of substance and yet I can remember the exact
look of Sha Na Na at Woodstock—their only song
worth repeating as if Joe Cocker could actually

balance his hands at the end of his wrists.

 Red Shift in Light

—Michael H. Brownstein

My daughter blossomed into a wild flower
Hummingbird, sparrow, honey bee
Nourishing herself in the wind.
My daughter flashed her new colors
Brighter than a flamboyant tree,
Its leaves relish golden red.
In a flash a rainstorm loses its tea
And my daughter alive and invasive,
Straight and lovely, finds a way to give it back.


Today’s LittleNip:

—Michael H. Brownstein

Heart shape, cloud shape,
A beat to the wind,
Flash flood, flash light,
A soul within the snow,
Soda winter, soda stream,

The riff of the line of kites.


Our thanks to today’s fine poets (from far away), and to Katy Brown for more eclipse photos (from closer to home). JD DeHart writes that he is working on a project at, a site where he writes book reviews and posts author interviews. Check it out!

And Michael Brownstein has played a trick on Medusa: somehow I got the idea that he was from N. Queensland, Australia. I featured him and posted him several times, saying that’s where he’s from. But recently, for some reason, I Googled him and found out he’s from Chicago! When I asked him why he let me be so silly, at last he confessed. His excuse, he says, was that he loved the idea of being from Australia…

Well, I guess it doesn’t matter where he, or anyone else, sends poems from, just as long as they keep sending them, right?


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, August 29, 2017

Where Poems Are Born

—Poems and Original Art by Joyce Odam, Sacramento, CA

After a drawing by Wayne Hogan

Bird above boat. Boat above trees.
Diagonal light equating sunset.

Moon-shadow suffers explication.
Flowers burn in the moonlight.

Bird pecks at stars which are invisible.
Boat-shadow lures fish to the surface.

Trees bend in the same direction
as the breeze that caresses toward night.

(first pub. in Medusa’s Kitchen, 2010)



Here is a black cat
walking thin
over its shadow

over the crack
of the sidewalk
into your

swerving path—
a thin black cat
with eye so yellow—

watching you
as you watch it—
stopped-dead in your

superstitious track—
a slow black cat
with fur so shiny

and walk so supple,
slow as a fact—
you dare not argue

the cold dark shiver
at your back as you
angle past

each other—
you and the
out-of-the-nowhere cat

 Blue Theme

A shudder of blue branches

woven together in all their directions
none hostile to another
nor greedy for space

letting the blue light through
from the lowering sky
the blue dark adding its tones

the trunks of the trees
in old patience

and the little filtering sounds
that speak to the hidden creatures
or only to each other

and all night the brambles touch
and touch in a tender blindness
through the night hours



The street light serves for the moon—so
low in the sky it glows through the window.
It is always full—a bright watch-light
for this shadowy corner of the night.

Sounds illuminate with recognition—
song or sigh? No sky is farther away than
any reach of mind in this proximity—
low enough to make an aura of wellbeing,
till dawn turns if off—just like the moon.

 Yellow Vibes

After “Transfigured Night” by Brodsky Quartet

Moon-rise.    Open window.    Night.

A chandelier,
glinting in the room light.

A little boy, listening.
His mother closes her eyes.

Through the night window,
another moon rises

—or is it only another
window—dressed in black.

A train stops on a track that is
a dead end.     It is late.     Late.

The violinist’s eyes are closed.
In the train, two people wait.

The violinists play in unison,
dressed in black.

The maestro barely leads.
The music leads itself.

Outside, a man sits on a rack of luggage
by a diminishing row of paintings . . . . . .

A woman dances to herself
under a white clock on a yellow wall.

This is all harmony.  A listener now
stares quietly.  A tear runs down his cheek.



I tried to solve the night but the night was secret.
Nothing penetrates but restless dreaming.

Night without moon. 
Or moon behind clouds.

Iconic moon. 
Changeable moon.

Nocturne . . .
Nocturnal . . .

Like a cat.

Like black shadow of cat
brushing by.

No moon for fear.  Howl
at the moon, full and near.

An echo of that howling.
Electric with tension.

A bristling in the air. An apprehension.
White moon of morning in pale blue sky

hanging there—
benign and patient, fading with the morning.
(first pub. in Medusa’s Kitchen, 2011)


Safely I tell you
the rose is real
and the morning
and the night
and me in my sadness
and you in my joy
and I am not to be taken sensibly
I am to be held.

Do not make words upon me
they wound my mind.
I must reach out to touch
the shadows and
the form of light I
see against darkness.
Do not make danger for me.
I have a fear of what I do not know.
Do not explain me.

When I am the morning
I know many things,
most of them true,
these are the things I tell  you
when I am night.
I take flight in my stillness.
I go where it is easy for me to be.
Come with me and we will be together
and I will always return you.

(first pub. in Red Cedar Review andNocturnes, Frith Press, 1995)

 When the Flower Kissed the Sun


The sky, filling with blue, then a fragile cloud or
two, threading.  A sharpness of birdsong, penetrating

the silence—brief—and from no distance other than
where it was a startled moment back.  Then that slow,

soft tone of whiteness that takes the place of early
blue, the way you slowly surrender the owned moment

to the swift intrusion of sounds and urgencies—your
reluctance to rise from your bed—seductive with

comfort, warm around you.  The sky again, gone flat
outside your window measure—full of daylight now,

the clouds losing their pink direction, taking on the
heavy factory gray that smudges them.

You stretch and sigh.  Look at the clock.  Get up.
Old night. New day.


 In the mauve grove where twilight falls
 soft and fragile, where poems

 are born in the souls of birds;
 where old trees listen to the songs

 of shadows; where everything
 comes to rest and be safe—even

 the terrors—even the dreams
 in the minds of the oldest of children—

 even the blamed and wounded loves
 who have no reunion. There let us

 be—in the minds of all that sylvan
 bliss, and speak nothing but prayers.


Today’s LittleNip:

—Joyce Odam

Now, balance out this night, oh, Lord,
with falling stars––to give reward

to tearful eyes and stricken heart––
to all from which we tear apart.

Flare out the moon to its full eye
to draw this prayer through such a sky.

(first pub. in Poets’ Forum Magazine, 1997/1998)


Many thanks to Joyce Odam for today’s haunting nocturnal poems and pix, echoing our Seed of the Week, Night Sounds. The moon was the star of the show at last week’s eclipse, so it’s only right that poets sing its praises even more than usual.

Our new Seed of the Week is Things I Can’t Stand. 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.

Here is Joyce’s formula for the Nocturnette (as in her example in Today’s LittleNip):

6 lines broken into 3 couplets 
Each couplet rhymed aa bb cc 
4 Iambic feet to a line.


 (Anonymous Photo)
Celebrate Poetry by flying out to Carmichael tonight, 
6-7:30pm, for Carmichael Library’s Open Mic Poetry Night 
(sign-ups at 5:30pm). 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.

Monday, August 28, 2017

Eclipses, Earthquakes and Ben-Hur

—Photo by Cynthia Linville, Sacramento, CA

—Tom Goff, Carmichael, CA

At first light, I must prepare
for the onset of second dark.
My day moon, you’ll soon bare
your scimitar edge, round, black.

I want you to superimpose,
cross my face with your wayfarer grace.
Lunar rover, waif, repose
your ghost-orb on my crescent face.

Your mouth shies over its overbite
I’d love you to plant hard in my lip.
Devour me whole with my light
as you hush the long sky with one sip.

As you pass over me, my dun,
your darkness I see is not tooth.
Tongue melting the rusk you’ve won
as with glib words made vapor by truth.

Male covers female animal,
yet mastery is not my pride.
I wished for eons you’d slip, all
cool skin, over my burning glide.

Why, just as you’ve enveloped me
in chill, and blindfolded my sight
in the urge that craves obscurity,
must you slip off and leave the light

lit that needed extinguishing?
Sun faints from his day’s own heat.
All solstice, one long anguishing
without your cold darkening, sweet.


—Tom Goff

Above me, nine miniscule clouds
in silver-pink, each one a fish.
This is the Folsom commute
charioteers only would wish.

Nine clouds for each harrowing lap.
Circus Maximus toward home
from work. Sky turns fishes over
per each turn in this mad hippodrome

of craze and race and near-crash.
As this black monster minivan tailgates
and ricochets round me by rash
near-diagonals toward the next side street,

he piles into this lone standing soldier.
Your shield and helm cannot save you.
Still at arms in the V-6’s shadow;
then speed, mass, and impact. Enslaved you,

did it, this empire of commerce,
posing you in your one role frozen,
till you lost the knack for survival?
You weren’t the only one chosen

for stupor or vapor of mind,
caressed into risk by exhaust.
The fish-clouds turn one by one down.
For me the great race is long lost.

Dazed, I’m the slowpoke in the whole pack.
Messala’s ahead. His black horsepower
brawls with Ben-Hur’s white sedan.
Each car’s a demolishing tower,

raging, rampaging the field.
The steel peloton long since lapped me,
yet I have to watch mirrors and blind spot
in case unseen sideswipes yet slap me.

Let the hero and villain contend
for the whip hand, butt end and lash.
I’m content to lose all but my life
or my car in the scuttling slash.

Now I end up hands frantic, still steering
my wheel. Naked engine block, drive train.
The whole rear sheared away, my legs dangle.
On white sand I trail a red stain.

—Photo by Christian DeLaO, Sacramento, CA


—Tom Goff

All light is crumbled powder since you left,
the powder we call pollen lifeless dust.
Without you, birds take wing more slow, less deft,
their song reduced to shrieks and squawks of lust.
The round of this world without unearthly you
has lost its stained-glass color-flare at dawn;
sweet dawn itself’s diminished to steel blue,
metallic stains and odors on each lawn.

Your farewell lesson for me is but this:
the grind of degradation—light to powder,
powder to dirt and sand, to ash that sand—
means life was never one pressure toward the kiss,
the coupling of sweet flesh, with godly power
to push back dying in the youngest hands.

You go, I shrivel; life knows one thing, to chafe.
No more than bring you back may I keep you safe.


—Tom Goff

And below a rock shelf, my dog
making his own swirls, mud, eddies.
He’ll come out shaking, sharing.
                                    —Taylor Graham

I’ve always wondered how dogs shake,
themselves: no, earthquake, tremor all over.
I’d push vertebrae and neck close to Point Break
if I tried. Wholehearted as any rover,
I’ve never clamped jaw to shook squirrel
or made rag-dolls of rabbits. What whirl
or shimmering water-shimmy I can make
tells me dogs are onto a great something.
Intuitive beyond humans in at least one thing:
They’re breaking off bits of water-shine to share.
Do we so kindly rent room-pieces of lair?
Dogs must discern as do the French—say, Proust—
when lagoon, pond, Lucerne, comprise a fine piece of water.
Each piece of water they doff is diamond dust.
Sun-melt of the finest water, this showplace.
Generous shaggy unspooling of each loosed
blessing offshaken from the aspergill…
How should I respond to flung samplings of this glowplace?
Whether in attitudes of thrill or chill,
say thank you, you wag. Receive grace, the only must. 

—Photo by Cynthia Linville 

—Michael Ceraolo, S. Euclid, OH

               September 5, 1881


"I love agitation
and investigation
and glory
in defending unpopular truth
against popular error"


"Instead of saying
'Guiteau the assassin',
they will say
'Guiteau the patriot' "


            September 7, 1881


"It is refreshing to get
where I can look at the sea"
"I have always felt that the ocean was my friend"
"and the sight of it brings rest and peace"


When I survived that shipwreck last year
I knew that I had a divine mission
to carry out


            September 10, 1881


The members of the Cabinet
came to Elberon today,
they reported on their departments
rather than in a group meeting

Windom of Treasury
and Postmaster General James
reported they were establishing
Civil Service exams in their departments


"That the President,
under the manipulation
of his Secretary of State,
has been guilty
of the basest ingratitude to the Stalwarts,
admits of no denial"

—Photo by Cynthia Linville

—Caschwa, Sacramento, CA

Ludwig von Beethoven used to stroll daily in
The Vienna Woods for inspiration true

Before the area was threatened by urban sprawl

Forests were inundated with all five senses of
Trees such as beech, oak, cedar, spruce, and yew

Before their names populated maps and atlases, et al.

Ludwig recorded and shared all his sensory feelings
By jotting down notes both happy and blue

Without requiring the purchase of batteries at the mall

—Photo by Christian DeLaO


Up all night trying and trying
Infernal dead-end streets
That’s not going to work
No, not that either

Applied cool analysis:
Key part missing?
Design flaw?
Pilot error?

Got a fresh night’s sleep
Retraced my steps
Started from square one again
“Slower pace, forget the race”

Oh, duh, my bad
How incredibly, awfully stupid!
The flat end of the USB cord
Was plugged in backwards

But it fit!!  How could that be??
Usually with plug and play connections
Items must be facing the right way to fit
So one can easily check just by feel

Here this one connection requires
Removal of the blindfolds
And activation of the optic
Data retrieval system I was born with

Now the computer finally recognized
my new All-In-One printer, fax, copier,
scanner, toothbrush, Black Ops (don’t ask)
That was easy.



TV off, cellphones muted
Household asleep, except for a
Persistent knocking sound
From the standup freezer

Like when the toe
Of your sturdy hiking shoe
Hits a small stone
Knocks if off the trail

And it ricochets down
A steep canyon wall
This way, that way, another
Longer than one’s attention span

Okay, that finally stopped
Now all is quiet, good night…
Then a crescendo of trucks,
Trains, planes, motor bikes

Deliver waves of rumble
Transforming peaceful dreams
Into wide-eyed alerts
Good morning!

1940 Dodge, 


as i was writing
i used the term,

“In retrospect” 

at my age now,
everything i do
is done

bridges to cross,
mountains to climb,
not in front

so no matter what
i write,
from here on in,
it's faded,
damn blurry
and forgotten quickly

it's all
nothing more
than a backward glance 

—Charles Mariano, Sacramento, CA


Today’s LittleNip:
Before the sun goes down

I’ll lay my wildflower hand
in your hand’s white wicker basket

and bold—tender—shy I’ll encircle you
as day and night would encircle
the trees of the day and night

and my kisses will live like birds on your shoulder

—Astrid Hjertenaes Andersen (trans. from the Norwegian by Nadia Christensen)


Our thanks to today’s variety of poems and photos in the Kitchen, as we continue to celebrate poetry (and the eclipse) in photos and verse! Readings in our area begin tonight as Placerville presents its Poetry in Motion read-around at the Placerville Sr. Ctr on Spring St. from 6-7pm; then Sac. Poetry Center presents Erin Rodoni and Gillian Wegener (plus open mic) in Sacramento, 7:30pm.

On Tuesday from 6-7:30pm, Carmichael Library will host an Open Mic For Poetry and musicians. Then on Thursday, Jennifer O’Neill Pickering will read and her husband, Michael, will present music at Poetry Unplugged at Luna’s Cafe (plus open mic), 8pm.

Friday is a Good Earth Movement Coop event in Placerville, featuring Barbara West plus open mic, 6:30pm. Barbara has a new book coming out from Cold River Press, and will have advance copies available that night. 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.

Laverne Frith has two recent reviews published at
New York Journal of Books: Mary Jo Salter's The Surveyors at and Michael McGriff's Early Hour at


 Sac State Sign
(Celebrate Poetry High-Impact Areas!)
—Photo by Cynthia Linville

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, August 27, 2017

Stubborn Illusions

During the Eclipse
—Photos by Katy Brown, Davis, CA

—Katy Brown, Davis, CA    
Can you hear the world hushing
with the silent moon rushing
to cross the path of the sun?

We won’t see totality
we’re too far south for reality
of umbra, corona, night sky.

But I’ve removed my colander
and set-up away from the conifer,
to catch mere shadows on the ground.

I’m ambushing reality —
advancing, shadowy debris
of cosmic choreography.

Art can’t capture wonder
no matter how long we draw.
The lone image never captured awe.

A transference from dark to light
captured in the soul’s inverse,
leading to enlightenment, moves us to verse.


When the moon goes into retrograde,
will it hide the sun again.
Will seas pull mountains into waves
and whales return to land.

How often will the nightingale
confuse the waiting world
with song that heralds night and day
and sunflowers, unfurled. 

Or will the moon, with energy reversed,
simply whip the earth away
from gravity’s once-stable path
into dark doomsday?

The laws of physics won’t be changed
any time too soon.
For now, your lunch will always be
served to you at noon.

—Katy Brown

—David Wright, Sacramento, CA

There were trains I was to catch.
Places to go, clothe to wear.
Music they said I was to love.

And I had none of it.

As far back as Nursery School, I
Developed (or was it inborn?)
A violent revulsion to
Ingratiating myself to others.
In a circle, they played us
Kiddie's tunes on their
Brightly colored record player.

And if you clapped at the right time
It pleased them.
Be a good boy or good girl.
I wouldn't do it.  I couldn't understand the
Lack of pride of the kids who did.

School was prison,
My crime was being alive.
Summer was freedom,
Summer was life.
And so to me time spun forward from
Summer to Summer.

Not clapping became not attending proms, or not
Having big weddings.
Mine was before a county clerk.
Guest list?  My mother.
Thirty-six years ago.

What a riot, all the big weddings of our
Siblings and friends.
Days searching for the right dress, the ring.
The men in absurd tuxedos.
The cutting of the cake.
The canned honeymoon in some Hawaii.
Romantic, it says so right on the brochures.
Then, the obligatory photographs and videos.
They show them as if to make sure we know they've made it.
Still clapping on queue.

Almost all of them now divorced.

I shouldn't laugh at that, so I do.

Yet, it's true by not marching lock-step
They begin to hate you.
And your good deeds towards them
Make them hate you more as time marches on.

But time is a stubborn illusion.
From that I feign solace.
Yet, loneliness.

It's 2:00 A.M.,
My wife is asleep, and
Keeping me company as I write is
My pipe, a strong English tobacco tonight,
And my cat, Belle.

And I dance my dance alone.
And I clap. 


—Medusa, with thanks to David Wright for his fine poem today, and to Katy Brown for her poems and the pix she took during the eclipse by setting out a colander and shooting through it. Such creativity surrounds us… 

 Katy Brown and Her Colander
(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.


Saturday, August 26, 2017

Tournaments of Dreams: An Exultatiion of Memory

Deep Dream Skull
—Poems and Photos by D.R. Wagner, Locke, CA


The walls were old wood.
Very old, like ships dragged
From the oceans centuries
After they sank.

The way your voice cracks
Through the post-midnight
Air, thick with insect noises.
The gnawing at images
As soon as they are born.

“We’re making a terrible
Mistake, using dreams
Like this.  There is a reason
Sleep has them as kingdoms…”

Great birds hover over
Long dining tables.  All is disarray.
Reckless as Winter.
Their language and voices
Belong to ogres, creatures with too many
Teeth in their mouths.

Battalions of faces without bodies,
Straight from the bonfires.
We come back with maps
Showing no place we could
Ever get to.

We can meet in dreams.
There will be tournaments
Of dreams.  Come find us.

 Mammillaria Blossom


We have swans.  It is soon
After midnight.  They are restless,
Rustling their huge white wings
In the moonlight.  The stars are doing
Things we do not expect, like pebbles
Blowing against a bell.

Fireflies trail in the sky.  They spill
Across the night like noise but
Do not carry sound for their dances.
We can barely see the mountains.
We decide to build our own fire.

The swans begin making patterns
In their swimming.  I begin to hope
For rain.  You said you would return
During the rains.  It has been much too
Long.  A sadness sits on the edge
Of the pool where the swans keep
Their secrets.  The city lights bounce
In the water’s reflection.  There are
Rock shadows across my hands.
I can pick tears from my cheeks.

I will tell myself this is some kind
Of photograph, a mouth that can
No longer speak like the farewells
The tempest allows us as it passes
Through our bloodstream attracting
Flock after flock of these white swans. 



Breaking through the magic until

There was only you, alone, in

Your own room again.

Butterflies from the carts in

Your closet where you kept the dreams.

I see them there, their moon 

Shadows, the listeners in the perfect

Stillness of the late Spring night.

We were not supposed to come here.

While I was holding you, kissing your

Lips, your breasts, the pearly rooms
Of your thighs, I came to know this

Meaning; could see it attached

To language all the way back to Sappho.

The breeze mumbling incredibly ancient
Stories quickly, as if we were late

Arriving.  The wine had been poured.

The music already making its own
New magic.

 Dream Beast Garlic


Strings dance in the air.  There is a blur
In the heart.  It is as if the night had a skull
And eyes to see approaching ships.

A book of engravings, lost in a room,
In a great house.  It carries on conversations
With the dead.  We become witnesses
Without knowing why anything other
Than dreams would have such a language
Attached to it.  We resolve to make dust of it.

Still, I will stop to listen to a few more birds
Caught here in this universe where strings
Twist and interlace, seemingly without purpose.
I will consider all enigmas, all wandering spirits,
Without purpose except to put us on the very edge
Of some mythology that prompts us to speak
In hells such as this, looking for an intricate
Fire, left to be used by nightingales.

This will be an exultation of memory,
The fault of words not used previously
By the dark, never heard by Keats, a liquid
Song, straining to be heard, then a breeze,
Then, strain as we may, nothing.

 Bitter Melon


A murmur of birds.
They are taking down the stars one by one.
Like coins they tumble into the lake, forgotten,
Unforgotten.  Unburdening themselves
From an incalculable mythology.

Erasing symbols, nurturing and needless
As sirens are to nightingales,
As drunk is to the moon.

I wait by the water.  Little by little
I begin to no longer recognize myself,
Except as tigers and tigers and tigers
Searching the streets where forever has been lost
Irreparably.  Things become transparent.
People slip away or escape
Deep into the waters of the bay.

They have forgotten their form.
They have forgotten what sparse language they owned.
They have forgotten the weight of consciousness,
The unrelenting memory, the petite charm of the garden,
The mirrored pool below the fountain,
So secret and necessary.

The flowers, silent now.  The stars beneath the water,
Wavering, now vermilion, now yellow.
I recall the vague dreams of children,
Sights along the road.

I decide this must be a journey.
I dive into the water to be with the stars.
I will wash this dust from me
And begin another universe.

 Tandori Pizza


There will be nothing but words

And I will be dreaming once again

And you will be my love and

Nothing will come true but
Magic and music and poetry.

I shouldn’t have to tell you how I got

Around in the late evening and waited

For the rooms to arrive.

It is so beautiful here, the fire,

The music filling the corners of this room.

The tiny heater moving the air against

The silk scarf tied to the floor lamp.
The entire house collecting stillness

Around itself being as important

As it might be, lacking any substance


So, tonight I will miss the warmth

Of your body against mine.  I will
Visualize the far hills, knowing you are

Riding them.  I will imagine a deeper quiet

Just so it is.


Today’s LittleNip:


“Don’t get any ideas,” he whispers.

The jugglers twirled as they
Took to the air
And songs of parting rained
Down on all that was there.

There was a persistent flooding
Of the frontal lobes.

My skin felt like cellophane.


Our thanks to D.R. Wagner for today’s fine poems and pix, all of which have previously appeared on Medusa’s Kitchen, since D.R. is on hiatus from the Kitchen throughout August. Previously published work is always welcome here, by the way.

There’s poetry at Sac. Poetry Center this morning, 10am-1pm, as Writers on the Air host Todd Boyd makes a podcast of poet Jackie Howard's work, plus open mic. Then head up to Placerville this afternoon for Poetic License in the Placerville Sr. Center lobby, 2-4pm. 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.


 Neon Swan
Celebrate Poetry!
(Anonymous Photo)

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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Friday, August 25, 2017

River-Mountain Talk

American River, Henningsen Lotus Park, Lotus, CA
—Photo by Candace Flint
—Poems by Candace Flint, Diamond Springs, CA

     (a Terzanelle)

A fluid exchange; solid earth and wet River.
Echo-Mountain against River: How’ve you been?
River voices her return: Come close, come hither.

A congenial twinning and twining, old friends
at a dance party, promenade; begin again.
Echo-Mountain against River: How’ve you been?

Quiet conversations of “remember just when”
Their coaxing eyes meet in an opposites-embrace
at a dance party, promenade; begin again.

Piercing glance where River-Rain etched Mountain’s smooth face
Mountain’s heart crumbles breaking down, now river-flow
Their coaxing eyes meet in an opposites-embrace

Yin-yang, give-take; elements mix, who’s the giver?
Paper/rock/scissors; neither lose, both are winners,
Mountain’s heart crumbles breaking down, now river-flow

They merge and they moan; float away, mixed together.
A fluid exchange; solid earth and wet River.
Paper/rock/scissors; neither lose, both are winners,
River voices her return: Come close, come hither.


Field trip in a school-colored bus
Desert drive to apron hem
Disembarked on scorch-baked dirt
And, started walking up the skirt

Dirt that had once started out high
Then, later, spread out wide and low
The culprit being water flow
In desert, moving down and down but
never, never scouring slow. 

How grave the planet’s gravity
Downward depositing silt
Existing landscape, interrupted by rivulets
A wide, fanned-apron to be met
A wrinkled earthy fabric that got wet.

A hike from hem to waist
Stepping back through epoch scree
To fossils now exposed
Eroded soil, cleared debris,
Made viewing most sublime
A field trip sedimented in the mind.

Marine impressions from long dead plants
Suggest not all have started high to low
But traversed low to high
From sea to mountain top
Is it any wonder why
Our species, too, has claimed itself
An oracle in the sky?

Now 50 years have gone since then
Me moving down the hem
I never knew til now
How like-patterned was my fate
To be up high and end up low.
To ultimately, tentatively, take my bow.

 Garage Closed
—Photo by Taylor Graham, Placerville, CA


Traveling eastward with their cargo’d hope in tow
Propelling thoughts of planting new Tea made them go
And mentally blew their ship where they could sow.

Immigrants arriving in post-civil war America,
Fleeing their own country’s strife, a disabled rickshaw
of fading shoguns, samurai;  arriving they saw
health: sap rising in the mulberries,
worms pushing silk and singing la-la-la.

If unwanted change was taking place in Japan
Then wanted change the pilgrims would make in new sand
Mulberry trees would house the creatures sure
The tea would thrive, silk would endure.

But an unexpected drought, a greedy rush towards gold
by others, unspun their pilgrim luck, but made them bold
enough to be assimilated into historical stories later sold
like the one you’re reading here.

“Do not feel sorry for us. 
Our hope grew things beyond tea and trees. 
We all end up dust
but sprout a million other occupying dreams,
like you here now,
through the earth’s fragile crust.”

—Photo by Taylor Graham 


The wind breathes across the wide-open plain
A prairie matriarch barks and howls me awake
Says it’s time to make haste
Come back to the mound
Drop down in the cave.

Over the domed rim I go
and below, there are tunnels
and pockets, no hate manifestos
on their prairie town’s dockets.
Underworld tributaries,
Small curled mammals linked
in community, and, unity.

Their breathing rapid, beneath the sand
Hearts going beat-a-beat-beat
Rhyming drummers linking their band
of brothers, heartbeat and respiration
quicker than my own
I’m out of my element
This is their subterranean home.

Up out of the hole, by necessity, I go to
rich grasses on fertile topsoil
where, by day, the dogs renew
their daily exchange with earth’s top, by toil,
Give and take, rightly, in their place.

I brush past the grandmother dog
Who stands guard between her sub-heaven and earth
She harks out advice through my dream fog:
“Take back what you’ve learned
To your own tribal nation
To your lost underground stations.

“Summon your own matriarch, ‘Lucy’
Walk bi-pedally on the ground,
Funnel water, gather wisdom stones
channel her ancient evolving sluice
You, upright being, are not alone.

“Listen to other small mammals
Both alive and those whose bones
Now enrich the place where you have grown,
Remember the prairie dog
And don’t post hate blogs.”

 August Field with Shadows
—Photo by Taylor Graham


He tilted at windmills, perceived threatening giants.
If Don had paid attention,
he could have used their guidance
being moved along gently by those
beautiful water pumping machines:  He
Could have learned not to “lean”
Could have observed “the scene”
Could have dropped his “mean”
Could have discovered, for him,
a haunting moment of peace.

The earth also tilts, axis at 23-1/2 degrees,
The world whirls, twirls and tilts causing
a celebration of solstice.  No one flees
or goes Quixote-mad; but stops to pause,
a moment of gated attention, before boarding
the plane bound for the land of mental freedom.

Quiet revelers listen to the slant
gaining wisdom into the designed chance
of sun, and earth; with background chants
of bird chirp, bee buzz, and silvered fish
breaking up, through water like a lance.

Our sun is a giant star; does not stand still
like the story in the old testament.
It is us, the earth, in our aligning bewild-
erment, allowing extra moments of daylight,
on one, special day of the annual dark/bright.

The sun’s design was imaginatively built
Our planet teeters off-kilter, with a tilt.
Therefore, we have summer solstice, and give
thanks while yet we stop and briefly live.
A eulogy is read:  Don Quixote is dead.


Today’s LittleNip:

Typo of the week:

“…ham and cheddar on a freshly naked croissant.”

—Menu, Buttercup Pantry [or is that Panty?], Placerville, CA


Welcome to Candace Flint, who has quite recently moved to Diamond Springs! Born and raised in Southern California, Candace moved to the East Bay (Martinez) in 2004. Recently retired, she now lives in Diamond Springs, enjoying the local rivers, hiking, reading, and finding expression through writing. Don’t be a stranger, Candace!

And thanks also to Taylor Graham for these photos and for introducing Candace to the Kitchen! Small world, poetry is...


 Prairie Dog (Lucy)
(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.