Tuesday, October 31, 2017

The House's Dream

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

After “Blue Nude” (1998) by Frank Majore

A shudder of blue through wavering wet light;
insinuating beings who murmur around you;
you listen but you are distracted by a beetle

in the glass, going after the dregs.
The curve of the glass
will prevent its return up the sides. You watch

in deep, slow-motioned concern
to analyze your vision. What is real?
None of it!     None of it!

An orange glow dissolves through the glass
where naked figures embrace and dance,
a slow dance of tragedy

or love.
You watch them through the glass distortion.
The dregs hold the muddling light.

There is no beetle.
The blue exaggerates for your eyes.
You are crying.



Oh—the ghost in the cornfield—in the
night—under the full moon it loves,
does a white-moon-dance with its
sleeves from its fixed position
though it tries to leap freely from its ties.

Oh—it shudders and cries
with its wind-hollow voice
and beacons its eyes to the eyes
of the windows. It knows there are
watchers there who admire it
and it flaps and moans the louder
until it is even more of a rag.

And tomorrow it will deny all this.
Tomorrow it will merely flutter
from inside out and simply hang
on a stick like a farmer’s joke
and twitch back at the crows.

(prev. pub. in Medusa's Kitchen, 2011)        

 Midnight Crow



I can’t get out of the house’s dream. Composite house with
yellow rooms—with doors that lean, and stairs that fall away—
a crooked moon in all its windows. It thinks

I am a game and waits till I’m asleep to rearrange itself—
change its colors and its new address that I have to learn
again each day. The house breathes in, and the space grows

smaller. Where is my mother? Which room? Which room?
Where do I go to play? I used to know which room was mine :
the one with the cot, the one with the transom,

the one with the loudest radio. Something walks the hallway
with a silent tread that makes it shudder. I cry out. Should I
hide in a closet? Dark will save me. A wall sags.

A light bulb sways. The page tears in my coloring book.
My blue crayon breaks. The porch falls off. I use more red—
press down—outline with black to keep the house

more stable. The green smears. Orange takes over.
I can’t make it right—the door too small—the windows
too tall, the looming house too big for the page now.

 In the Dark

After Shadows (triptych), 1983-1986, by Ken Kiff

First, there is the flapping, wingless figure trying to fly,
a writhing blue tree, and a yapping dog. They are fleeing—
one from the gravity, one from the elaborate blue difference,
and one to a triptych fold where another scene is opening…

Here, a yellow cat peers over a blue sea, set in the sky—
or in the mind of a frightened figure about to be,
possessed by a primitive green delusion that keeps
blurring in and out of whatever anguish thought it up…

In the third panel an original orange nude steps through
a profusion of flowers that try to keep her among them.
She is touching lovingly through the flowers toward
the struggling figures who are so desperate to reach her…

This is not a scene out of childhood, though childhood
holds the secret. Soon, the children—with their crayons
and life-sized canvas and skills of their imagination—
will tell us what this means, if nobody interrupts them.

 Hollow Moon

(Five Katautas)

What is that bright sound?
Whenever I hear color
rage against light, there is grief.

What does the sky pull?
The geese cried down this morning.
It was too bright to see them.

What will release us?                                   
Shadows pass through each other
then separate with no touch.

Will we remember?
Blue beads will break to a path,
then just the string, then the clasp.

Will there be regret?
Love aches with hunger, then starves.
There is taste, then aftertaste.



The way she was leaning against a tree, a scar of sunshine
on her mouth—you would have kissed her, but she had just
spoken a word and you had to answer. 

In the next moment she was gone, though your camera held
her. You could revise her.

And then she was standing somewhere old, one hand to her
face, a fur of winter around her neck. A man with a butterfly
on his skin was with her, but they were looking into the edge
of their small square place, which would never allow them
anything other than suffocation.

You walked right past them, going home, in a slow, sur-
realistic manner.

And just then, she whispered what she knew, and you
answered what you believed, and that is how long it took
to change an ending.

 Ghost Tree

(In the format of “Drenched” by Mary Gilliland,
Poetry Magazine, August 2000)

At first the howl was distant, like a whine—an engine
In strikes of light the heavy skies release
perhaps, failing, or some animal in echo through the 
their lightning flashes that outline the houses

primal throat of suffering. Where was it coming from!
and churches of our globed valley—absorbed by the

It felt like a surrounding—I, the center—deep and
bristling grass and trees and reverberating voices

frozen, waiting for it to reach. And it, magnified—
of the thunder. The rains wait in swollen clouds,
became a sensation—coming from my own reached
to pour down upon all this pending—
mind, and at its fullest moment passed through me and
the air building—the ground shadows deepening—
was gone, leaving a sensate hum that drained me of all
everything holding a long note of waiting.

energy and an empty feeling that would last forever.
Oh, beautiful storm, we thrill to your arrival.

 All Hallows (Paisley Curtain)


How will you find me
if I am a silence

an explanation,
a bowl of oranges

glowing on a table,
time turning in the clock;
how will you

recognize me—
out of the mirror—
my old face made of shadows—

my eyes burning;
what will you say
if I turn toward you

and wait for you to speak
after offering you
these words?


Today’s LittleNip:
—Joyce Odam

There is a crease where something moves
that has not moved before,

a shiver in the sky
where the white birds cross,

a hollow in the dream
where the mind lets something out,

an old desire
that fades and does not grieve.


Many thanks to these bewitching poems and visuals from Joyce Odam on this All Hallow’s Eve! For more about the Katauta, go to www.shadowpoetry.com/resources/wip/katauta.html/.

Our new Seed of the Week is Autumn Leaves. Send your poems, photos and artwork about this (or any other) subject to kathykieth@hotmail.com. 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.

I’m not a big Wiki fan [insert controversy here], but there’s an unusually thorough discussion of Halloween at en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Halloween. And for the 50 Most Terrifying TV Characters of all time, see www.denofgeek.com/us/tv/the-twilight-zone/250153/50-most-terrifying-tv-characters [insert political jokes here].


 —Anonymous Photo
Celebrate poetry!—and the houses as they dream...

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, October 30, 2017

Our Inner Godzillas

—Anonymous Photos

—Cynthia Linville, Sacramento, CA

We all have an inner monster
we try to love
or at least appease
no matter how disturbing

Mine is Godzilla
angry and spiky
He likes to roar and
destroy tall buildings

Over the years
I’ve miniaturized him
Now he mainly visits
while I’m sleeping

He spends the rest of his time
at his rooftop playhouse:
umbrellaed drink in his tiny hand
sipping straw in his toothy mouth

When he gets bored or worried
he puts on his extra-wide galoshes
and creates an tsunami
in the wading pool

Or he puts a red plastic bucket
on his scaly head
and stomps out

When Goddie’s really het up
he might push
a few lounge chairs off the roof
or smash a few cocktail glasses

But at his size,
he can’t wreak
too much

—Tom Goff, Carmichael, CA

Sunflower, you rise for all of us and speak
dark-centered music with butter’s best color of voice.
Your axioms tell, while, near the impoverished creek
or planted in the well-cherished garden, choice
of all the master’s flowers to lift full face,
you incline toward sun’s kiln-crumbling skin, the space

that’s never known what oxygen is. Though bleak
that height, or higher, you’ll dare. Exhaust all ploys,
yield yourself as all must do, unique
though you be: soon the warm air that buoys
can’t float you, corolla and core, so high above base. 
Grateful, you sink back on yellow twilight and grace…

—Tom Goff

Great Sappho, black-haired, wide-browed, serious,
you gaze, lips parted, eyes a clear severe
brown, sizing us up, your thoughts both far and near,
front teeth just visible, museful, not delirious,
tracing our speech’s sense yet paying more heed
to Aphrodite. Eyebrow raptor-wings glide
atop the deep-lidded stare. No lyre-note slides
past that acute right ear-coil. Fashioned to breathe
purest inspiring oxygen, your straight nose
lengthens as do the gods’ who drink the smoke
of throat-cut offerings burning. Brittle rows
of chips, your Roman photograph, still shimmer.
And you, my Sappho of now? Lost blush, spent joke
face fragment…must this crumble enhance the glimmer?  

—Tom Goff

The finest sonnets ride without a title
Across the page—anonymous as you,
Deceptive, airy, old, young, fitfully vital,
Distilled from sweetest scandal, though few, few
Slurp their full juice. To love of man for man,
Woman for woman, sonnets lend secrecy.
Their coward yes-no-maybe bridge: short span
Above where toxic shames dump raw debris.

The finest sonnets claim equivocal title
For bastards, sexual predators, cutthroats.
Aren’t sonnets elegant knives across necks of goats?
Sin stinks more faintly mephitic in their recital.
Dark Lady, Fair Youth—“Shakespeare”—the most frail in blood,
Nameless as the Old Testament God of the Flood. 

After Smith’s “Status Report 96” in the Kitchen, 10/27
—Caschwa, Sacramento, CA

Disabled vet, barely hangin’ on
Mental, physical, financial issues
Doesn’t give up hope, chases
That light at the end of the tunnel

Reads what’s trending
On various media
Trying to keep one’s
Head above impossible floodwaters

Oh, isn’t this nice?
An open invitation to join the VIP Club
Just send in $150 or higher
To claim your special benefits

Patriotism, liberty, equality, sacrifice
Are just kid toys to occupy the po' folk
The really, truly “Very Important People”
Prove it with money

—Michael Ceraolo, Willoughby Hills, OH

The outlook wasn't brilliant for the Mudville nine that day:
the score stood four to two with but one inning more to play

And with the New York Yankees bringing on their relief ace,
the chances weren't very good of a comeback taking place

The first hitter Cooney was a strikeout victim,
and then Barrows struck out swinging following him

But even a superstar's concentration can flag,
and with two down Flynn worked a free pass to the first bag

And that brought hot-hitting Jimmy Blake up to bat;
if he got on, Casey would get his whacks, at that

Oh there was no joy in Mudville that summer's day,
because Blake's K meant Casey did not have a say.


Today’s LittleNip:

—Cynthia Linville

I drop in unexpectedly
He’s surprised to see me
He’s sitting on the couch
with his feet up
eating cheesy popcorn
watching one of his own movies
on TV


Many thanks to today’s fine contributors, with paeans to the end of baseball season, Godzilla, the buttery sunflower and, well, lots of other cool stuff.

Poetry readings in our area begin tonight at the Sacramento Poetry Center, with Torsa Ghosal plus open mic, 7:30pm. Thursday (11/2) brings The Love Jones Experience at Laughs Unlimited in Old Sac, 8pm, and Joe Wenderoth in Davis at John Natsoulas Gallery, also 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.


 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, October 29, 2017

No Flame...

—Anonymous Photo

—Hortense King Flexner (1885-1973)

You heap the logs and try to fill
The little room with words and cheer,
But silent feet are on the hill,
Across the window veiled eyes peer.
The hosts of lovers, young in death,
Go seeking down the world to-night,
Remembering faces, warmth and breath—
And they shall seek till it is light.
Then let the white-flaked logs burn low,
Lest those who drift before the storm
See gladness on our hearth and know
There is no flame can make them warm.

(from Clouds and Cobblestones, 1920)



For more about Hortense, see en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hortense_Flexner/.

To read this poem by candlelight, go to theyearofhalloween.com/2014/05/21/all-souls-night-1917-by-hortense-king-flexner/, and then go to theyearofhalloween.com/category/art-inspiration/poetry-and-prose for some related poems, all courtesy of Eva Halloween.

Saturday, October 28, 2017

A Cacophony of Wings

—Poems, Photos and Other Visuals 
Provided by D.R. Wagner, Locke, CA


She filled her hands
With winter light and October's
Crows, a cacophony of wings
Against the blue of early evening.

Children used to come here.
There were hills and copses and woods
Challenging the imagination with shadows
Caught alive in stories of the Fall.

The road ended at her mouth,
Full of weeds and drifting terrors
Searching for a body to accompany
During the dark evenings of the waning year.

Shaken, she reaches for the twilight
As if it were a vessel of some kind,
Easy on any sea, unmoved and with sails
Painted in the colors of forgetting.

To dream was to vanish into memory,
The twinkle of an eye,
The brush of a hand across a shoulder,
No place for sharing stories, whispering.

This time of year is full of stuff
Like this, fine of hand and bathed
In a crystal construct made of wood,
Made of fire, made of singing.

She was not given to understand
More of this than her hands covered
With the cool and brilliant light.
She wishes us luck as we continue

Toward the shoreline, the same light
Glinting off the water, infecting
Our minds, making everything in life
A challenge and the turning of the days
Borne on the backs of black birds
Exploding time with cackling and shrieking.


Charlie Bennet, he’s dead now,
Lost both his hands about
Halfway to his elbow
In a farm accident.
Some kind of chopper got him,
At the exact same spot,
Both arms.

He went to whispering
After that happened
And Darrell Miller was ‘bout the only one
Who Charlie talked to
At all after that.

Darrell told me Charlie
Said his dead hands
Used to come looking
For him.  They never did
Find them.  Chopper
Must have spit them out
Pretty far away.

Charlie said his hands
Could talk, a kind of
Scratching sound
That Charlie said he
Could understand.

“Charlie,” they’d say,
“Charlie, come here.”
And Charlie hated it
When they’d call out.
He would get far under
His blanket and make
A moaning sound.

Darrell told him
“Hands can’t talk, Charlie.”

“Like hell, they can’t,”
Said Charlie.
“They can sing songs.
Scratching songs.
They don’t like folks
To know they can sing,
But I’ll prove it to you.”

So Darrell met Charlie
That night at
Morgan’s barn, right
Near where his hands
Got chopped off,
And they waited.

They waited a long time.
But finally Darrell Miller
Said he heard this
Scratching music start
Up from one of the horse
Stables below that wasn’t
Used any more.

“Listen,” Charlie said,
And he began to move
His cut-off arm stumps
Around, and the scratching
Sound seemed to move in
Rhythm with the way
Charlie moved them stumps.

“Stop it!  Stop it,” said Darrell.
“I can’t,” Charlie said.
“Not when them hands are singing.”

Darrell said that, from then on,
He could hear the scratching music
Every so often, and noticed
His own arms began to move
Whenever he chanced to hear it.

Darrell died in a terrible car wreck
Out on old 95 and lost both of his
Own arms in the accident.
Cut off at the same place Charlie’s were.

Now I’ve started to hear the scratching
Music and I can’t seem to turn it off.
“I didn’t want to tell you this story,”
Darrell told me at the time.

I wish he had never said anything
About it to me.  I wish he had never
Said anything at all.  Last week, Morgan’s
Barn burned to the ground.  In the ashes
They found Charlie’s wedding ring.
But there weren’t no hands there at all.


The skeleton is dancing.
It holds a cane and wears a top hat.
It tries to show a hierarchy of the dead.
Above, the crows, the other dark birds
Wheel and squawk, barely sounding
Like birds at all.

We shall have a halloween soon, say
The witches, and prepare their cauldron,
Hauling the huge dark pots from summer storage
And cleaning cobwebs from their interior.

Children watch through bulletproof windows.
The scary crew is assembling in that
Kind of parade that starts at candy counters
And wide aisles in drugstores,
Motion sensors causing freaks to
Shriek and cackle, speak phrases
That are supposed to be frightening,
But sound as if the voice was generated
From a telephone receiver asking if
The doctor has returned from surgery
Or if they can make an appointment
For Tuesday, or simply saying “blood”
As if that were enough for a Walpurgisnacht
Far from the Brocken and the Hartz mountains. 

 Devil Sky
—Photo by D.R. Wagner


It is dark, but not the dark that carries
Only night, but dark, the dark that moves
Itself to dreaming, and we are too long
On the road as she comes around us

Bringing her own air, her own beasts,
Horses unlike horses that we’ve known
Who stand at the corner of the streets

Where we can see their large eyes.  They
Seem to know us and make horse sounds
To one another, leaning toward the fog,
The coolness of the evening, and blow
Steam that seems to glow from their great
Nostrils.  They paw the ground as if in waiting.

Then bats, as if the night had tongues,
Course just above our heads with squeaks
And clicks and sudden flash of reddish eyes.
They too have a sense of purpose to detain
Us on this night and swirl in flocks and bunches
Keeping us to the sidewalks, weaving light and shadow.

We have heard that it is Halloween.  The
Jack-o-lanterns with their grimaced faces
Flicker from the porches of the neighborhood.
The cats of no color but the night move, too,
Around us in this night as if they wait for something.

Perhaps they think that we are creatures like themselves
Acquainted with the night and ready for its fierce
Devices, the howling of the wolves, the mocking
Face the moon makes to our wandering, looking
For a house we are not sure will be there, close
We hope, but hope is not a part of what we are.

Tonight is Halloween, a witch’s night.  The roads,
The streets are for the ghosts and half-seen children
Of the night, whose music has been foretold, who
Gather toward us as the spider weaves his web
And calls us in the only haven left in this damp cold.


This iron-crowned king I see
Down on his knees picking up pieces
From a shattered afternoon does not
See me standing on his shadow.

His gaze is the gaze of a dreamer,
Forcing events back through me
That spike a deep fear into my heart,
Leave me trying to move away but unable to
Unlock my feet from the marble floor.

I have no memory of time here.
Even my breath breaks into hexameters that lie
About the shouts of men,
The snorts and exclamations of the horses.

I beg for a cause, a fear of wolves,
Coins upon a dead man’s eyes,
Migrating flocks of great birds,
The open sea, a Taoist priest making
A line I am unable to follow.

I cannot bear this kind of nightmare any longer.
I am being dreamed by a colony of ants.
My throat opens like the morning.

I open my eyes, stare back into the mirror.
The history of the night
Adjusts my clothing, points me
Toward a different eternity.
I recall the white horses of the Chaldeans,
The whistling of their dark riders.


I noticed a dampness in the grasses
And footprints embroidered in the mud,
As if tears could
Be pulled by a needle
Driven by the wind.

Somehow I must have carved
A dream from it, for in my sleep,
During a nightmare,
A stranger in tatters
Approached me to ask
If I has seen them, knew where
“They” had gone.

I stopped.  Cars whizzing
Past on littered streets.

“Whom?” I asked
“The ones with the ointments,
Or have you forgotten already?”

I began to weep.
“Do not confine yourself
To treasures.
Follow me to my rooms
Near this place.”

“I cannot,” I replied.
“I am committed to simple
Things.  Empty jars and mud.”

“You lie!” she said, and ran
Away quickly.

 —Photo by D.R. Wagner


While I was sleeping
They unlaced my dreams.
What was it that slipped
Away from me?  Guards abandoning
Their posts.  I saw their swords
Flash.  I had never been to

They whispered that I was blind anyway.
Why would I care.  “He has
Dreamed enough,” they said.

The shadow of a lover
Slides away across a floor
I no longer recognize.

What is clear now?  Moonlight,
So slow it can reach out and take
My breath away while it fills
Room after room with the still smell
Of flowers and the sea surrounding.

I break away from my body.
But it is only the morning.
“Remember me?” it says,
Its splendid mouth resting
Close to my ear.


It’s this road.  No, it’s that one.
I enter the room.  It is a huge
Open room, all wood, with a bar
At one end.  Two or three people
Are drinking, one of them is standing.

“So, did you find your mother?”
The men in the gray suits inquire.
“What are you talking about?” I ask.

“Look at your hands, boy,” someone says.
I do.  They are red with blood.
It drips on my pants.  I begin to cry.

“You’ve got a lot of nerve coming
In here,” he says.  “You need a lot
More than just a drink.”

I look across the room.  A heavenly
Light pours in through the door.
“This way please,” the light says.
“We will all be home before morning.”

—Photo by D.R. Wagner

Today’s LittleNip:

—D.R. Wagner

Bright orange CALTRANS
Trash bags piled on the side
Of the freeway: Seasonal garbage.


—Medusa, with many thanks to D.R. Wagner for his fine Halloween extravaganza this morning!

 Celebrate poetry!—and don’t forget that Writers on the Air 
presents Ronald Brady plus open mic at Sac. Poetry Center 
this morning, 10am, and Poetic License poetry read-around 
takes place in Placerville at the Sr. Center on Spring St., 2pm. 
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.

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, October 27, 2017

Blues in My Pockets

Limbic Rock

Skin, age and paper
In secret dance disabled
Raisins from the dead.

—Poems, Photos and Artwork by Smith
(Steven B. Smith, Cleveland, OH)


To Tupperware City
Light like liquid Zen
Wars time, tatters tight
As tight asses tie
Meat neat man to kine, kino
Contempt of course
Playing Plato’s barn

Blue bloods
Stabilize fish at 7
Mime the ma’am
Bamboo cathedrals
In wondrous disarray
Just outside real
Where the fat
Flee frantic
Fleece feed the poor

Competing EXIT signs
Dance specific disease
    Rude crude
    Plus tax
Bouncing Betty’s
Slouching Bethlehem belly
Slips on guilt
& splinters.



I hunger within
for the things without,
yet the things without
cannot feed me
for they lack substance.



Eat the cookie
drink the coffee
stare the dark
wait the sun
for light to stride the day

Sun will bring the wind
to move the wild grasses



Half a dozen nuthin'
a quarter pound of loss
a bit more downward moving
counting up the cost
eat some processed sugar
standing in the rain
swallow lies of someone
higher up the chain
fill my empty pockets
with lint and empty words
hope I don't get locked up
or put before the sword
whistle past the graveyard
while trying to get a taste
of what the high are hoarding
as I tighten belt at waist
seems this trickle's warm
and a wee bit yellow
why do the rich
have to piss on us below?



Old rich white male noise
kills black skin
buries brown babies
nukes yellow bodies
starves indigenous red
rapes women across rainbow
and worships green

if you're not whiteman with greenback
fuck you

 Will You Still Love Me?


Most folk laugh at children
playing with their invisible friends.

Many folk electroshock the insane
for talking to invisible friends.

Yet these same folk go to church
to pay to pray to their Invisible Friend.

Three undone by one.



Blues rocking my notion
Blues quaking my earth
Blues causing commotion
Blues life's afterbirth

Blues empty my wallet
Blues hole in my ace
Blues whatever you call it
Blues winning the race

Blues bogarting boardroom
Blues suffering's shame
Blues heavy in hordes loom
Blues down dirty game

Blues stomping the Savoy
Blues blowing the blame
Blues exploding the convoy
Blues scattershot aim

Blues hoodooing abuse
Blues burgeoning bicker
Blues clogging the clues
Blues secretly snicker

Blues in my pockets
Blues in my hair
Blues my eye sockets
Blues body snare

Blues ain't got a women
Blues got too many gals
Blues darkening domain
Blues breaking my pals

Blues harmonica crying
Blues electric guitar
Blues slow night dancing
Blues wherever you are

Blues just ain't my am
Blues knot nature's load
Blues a late night jam
Blues the midnight crossroad

Blues is selling your soul
Blues is crying your game
Blues is digging your hole
Blues is jazz rhythm rain

Blues sickens the sore
Blues unjustly jisms
Blues unevens the score
Blues happiness imprisons

Blues is the night's shadow
Blues is the day's glare
Blues is good time's widow
Blues but might's blare

Blues dark dank and dripping
Blues ark for the poor
Blues history's shipping
Blues forevermore

(For the recitation with music by Peter Ball, word & voice by Smith, 2010, go to


Today’s LittleNip(s):


Half is what you make it.
All is never there.



—Medusa, with gratitude to Smith (Steven B. Smith) for his usual irreverence and fine artistry!

 —and celebrate poetry! 
And don’t forget tonight’s 
Speak Up Stories and Poems
presenting Moon Don’t Go at Avid Reader, 
1945 Broadway, Sacramento, 7pm. 

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, October 26, 2017

Songs of the Promised Rain

October Field
—Poems and Photos by Taylor Graham, Placerville, CA

       The Squaw Hollow Sensation

An Aztec mummy brought to life?
There must be one good reason why
a German doctor scalpel-knife
took it as his duty, to try

the voltage shock. To vivify
an Aztec mummy! Brought to life
in our dry foothills—mummy-dry—
with abscessed teeth and skull-pan rife

with centuries. Old dusty strife
of history under speechless sky.
An Aztec mummy brought to life
must question, if electric-fry

was worth this promised by-and-by.
His desiccated afterlife.
How could the doctor’s lightning fly
an Aztec mummy back to life?



So cold, you didn’t even feel it
when something sliced your wrist open
as you got on the chair-lift. Burst of blood
arterial. You held pressure
to the top, the warming hut where Ski Patrol
took over. As they bandage you,
you sense a surge of life from the hut’s dark
corner. Huge, black forms converge
from those depths, sniffing, intent to get
to you. Shine of white teeth in wide
jaws. Smell of blood drawing them like
scent of the injured buried under snow.
Avalanche dogs trained to find life—
however cold and buried—and bring it back
to light, to time and space. If their
handlers would let them, they’d lick your
wounds and nuzzle, comforting, your face.



In a maze of red-dirt roads and scrub-brush,
I’m searching for redbud rusty-amber among
manzanita, toyon, coyote-bush, chamise,
and ghost-pine. I find a still-life:
black vinyl bucket seat of a cheap sedan,
a director’s chair without a back, and
a collapsing stool draped with Old Glory.
Before I can snap a pic, a white van
pulls up, loads bucket seat, stool, flag, and
director’s chair. Chaparral litter patrol,
or evicting the homeless?



A plank bridge over the creek (dry).
Field of summer-dead wild oats—Eurasian
invader, silver-gold in October light.
A side-path seeks the pond.
Native bunchgrass along the way to water.
Sudden wing-clatter. Duck or swan
gone but for ripples into bulrush, willow,
bramble. Break out of oaks, there’s a breeze.
Clouds non-committal as to rain or
clearing. Listen—a whisper?
Mossed Indian grinding rocks, the mortar-
holes full of dead leaves.
Oaks still drop their acorns for no one
but the gone, the lost, the wild.

 Finding Rock


Cresting the hill from the bedrock mortars—
acorn grinding rocks of the Nisenan
(gone now from here)—I found a boulder, bigger
than any around these meadows or the pond.
It looked like a small beached whale,
placid on its perch above the path. From another
angle, it was a legless snub-nosed dog
of immense proportion and yet not monstrous—
lost in thought. One candid eye like a
lipped-down blowhole off the darkling creature’s
back. Someone had scrawled a single illegible
word on its flank. A split-ring of white
plastic—broken seal from a bottle?—topped
its head like a tiny wreath, a crown,
a halo, or simply a bit of litter. You find
what you look for, in such a rock.


         from poems by D.R. Wagner

There was a shortage of the real stuff, rust-
colored rain, the way breeze tricks the essentials
of the idyll to crackle and glow. Angel names.
Things have memory. The dark coming,
swirling waves upon ocean and the edge
of languid sloughs. Be careful where you walk
holding hands, the light beginning silver grey.
A gauntlet of monsters nevertheless
beautiful. Night birds. They only want us
gone. A coyote passing on the horizon,
the entire landscape to bring us to tears—
synapses and thought canals a broken glass
becoming a kind of singing. It takes
all of our lives. We could cross the line:
an antique melody, a new song. Sometimes
it has a voice. The veins are fuses.

 A Certain Light

Today’s LittleNip:


our plain gray squirrel holds aloft
his sun-struck furry tail in halo.

—Taylor Graham


—Medusa, with thanks to Taylor Graham this morning for her fine songs of the foothills, a few about monsters (for the season), and some fine fall fotos, as well!

 —Anonymous Photo
Celebrate poetry!—and the promised rain!

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Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Never Too Early . . .

Alan Britt reading at Le IXe Festival
International des écrivains et artistes
in Val-David, Canada, 2014
—Photo by Flavia Cosma
—Poems by Alan Britt, Reisterstown, MD


When you sigh.

How can I make it up to you?

When you went away this morning, that’s
when I inhaled bricks like braille wedged
between the Hoover Dam, fused bricks
creating a bond—that’s when I realized
what I see could be you & me stuck waist
deep in a quicksand called miasma. 

I’ve missed a few things, but I just spotted
something that jiggles the membrane of our
quantum universe on a 3-D hook, something
resembling a bright yellow raincoat sagging
from the brass hook over our front door.


After Paul McCartney

You sang that night before like it was
the night before & night before
the night before that.

You were so sincere, so sincere
the night before.

But now it’s time to batten down the hatches,
unfurl the sails, & ride out the storm.

Now it’s time to say I might’ve found someone
new through magneto thick & titanium dew,
& looks like I’m headed for one last subterranean
waltz beneath moonlight bleeding from the night
before &, hopefully, many nights afterward.

 —Photo of Alan Britt by Charles P. Hayes


Richard the Lionheart to Richard II, followed
by scoliosis the III, then a succession of Henrys.

Like soccer affiliations these bloodlines of Jameses
& Georges forged alliances for genocidal namesakes
long before tropical disturbances littered a necklace
of coconuts across the concrete throat of a West
Palm curb one day, 1956 or so, thus vomiting
jewel-encrusted crowns before clogging up the
gold-plated bowels of the kings. 

How sad.



There was this beetle, cedar wings hunkered below a concrete
step for the short haul, minding his business, before tapping,
I hazard, tapping an IED. Guess what happened—shards of
wings, antennae, plus a transmitter discarded by the Dumont
Corporation—before they sold Jackie, they pawned Babe for
a minor fortune—but those days are passé.

Aluminum ladder, with its stained tarpaulin, prepares to escort
beetle beyond his dilemma, but all beetle wants is the truth,
unspun by trained spinners, paid liars, & prostitutes of the
cross. All he wants is one single drop of truth, one shimmering
photon, one strand of DNA that stayed out late & met the
ghost of Christmas Future.

Be that as it may, beetle begins crooning, crooning his ass off,
panting for all his worth until one fatal sunrise resembling
roseate spoonbills tattoos beetle’s dreaming wings. You
could’ve lit a torch that dawn. I saw it but didn’t light up. No,
sir. Not anymore. 

 Haunted Moon


Mask of walrus curdles your blood,
fumbling for icebergs resembling
Styrofoam huddling corals & coiling
mangroves shin deep around a tropical
disturbance whose name is long forgotten,
though, I tracked her, ‘65, the year
of Help, the year of napalm, the year
of joy, the year we embraced the years
becoming orphans while goblins steeped
in astrological algorithms frothed our
coffees & decaffeinated our dreams.


Today’s LittleNip:

—Alan Britt

December moon trolls an El Greco sky.

Carves clouds’ mother-of-pearl hips
into diaphanous silk robes.

Tourmaline moonlight drenches the hemlines
of the robes and sizzles the elongated
waists of these clouds.


Welcome to a new poet at the Kitchen table, Alan Britt, and many thanks to him for the poems! In August 2015, Alan was invited to Ecuador in a cultural exchange of poets between Ecuador and the United States. His interview at The Library of Congress for "The Poet and the Poem" aired on Pacifica Radio January, 2013 (see www.loc.gov/poetry/media/avfiles/poet-poem-alan-britt.mp3). Besides 16 books of poetry, he has published over 3,000 poems nationally and internationally in
Agni, Bitter Oleander, Bloomsbury Review, Borderlands: Texas Poetry Review, Christian Science Monitor, Confrontation, English Journal, Epoch, Flint Hills Review, International Gallerie (India), Kansas Quarterly, Letras (Chile), Magyar Naplo (Hungary), Midwest Quarterly, Minnesota Review, Missouri Review, New Letters, Northwest Review, Osiris, Pedrada Zurda (Ecuador), Poet’s Market, Queen’s Quarterly (Canada), Revista/Review Interamericana (Puerto Rico), Revista Solar (Mexico), Roanoke Review, Tampa Tribune, The Sunday Sun, Steaua (Romania), Sunstone, Tulane Review, Wasafiri (UK), and The Writer’s Journal. He teaches English/Creative Writing at Towson University. Welcome to the Kitchen, Alan, and don't be a stranger!


 Alan Britt as Walt Whitman
(Celebrate Poetry!)

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Tuesday, October 24, 2017

My House, Howling

—Poems and Photos by Joyce Odam, Sacramento, CA


My house, howling.
Sunlight in loose thin patterns.
The intense stillness of the curtains.
The cat in a deep sleep.
The air closing like fur around my thick breathing.
The motion and non-motion.
A future closing upon a warning.
Or maybe just a winter.
Simple as that.
No premonition.
No mystery.
The cat curled once around herself.
My intense listening.
Time pulled in all directions.
The sunlight giving up.
The wind like a lost voice.
My house straining not to answer.
The way all things resolve to some beginning.
The way a page holds words.
The way a door seems to want to let someone in.
Someone not there.
The way I brace for welcome.
The cat gone out of herself.
Her fur bristling.

 Horizontal Study


Scorning death, they step too carelessly
into paths of their desire—

of near and far—of stone and rut—
where flowers grow across the perils;

they step across
the deep and shiny pud­dles

where something lurks
and something threatens—

only here
and never there—

they take no detours.
Paths keep yearning—they have to follow. 

 Two Roses

After Portrait of a Young Woman and a Child by Emil Nolde

This child was left in the rage too long, caught in the wake
of the relinquishing mother. They almost merge, but they
are one and one. Their faces lock in the mirror. Glass
breaks between them as they pass in separation through
each other. The child is severed at the eye. A white glare
of silence fills with the force of the child’s resistance.
The mother is closing her eyes to the child. The child’s
red mouth fills with fury. Wet smears of color burn their

(prev. pub. in Rattlesnake Review, 2006)

 Lovely in Pink


: comes to her arms,
comes with his heart all weeping
having broken himself upon his life
and lost the pieces,

how he cries to her,
telling his long and pain-filled story
giving it sharp and deadly

making it deep, carving it in,
how can she listen?


ghost of red ribbon

grayish white counter
something remembered
brown stem
blackened leaves
last shreds
of a wilted bouquet
one tiny piece of green leaf
leaning against the stem,
a duplicating shadow
it all
since this
is an elevated angle—
I leaning over—focusing—
holding my breath—
taking this picture

 Norma's Rose


all wrapped
better than
maybe never open

let gather dust
box of wonder
maybe box
within box
within box

to something
as small as
a thimble maybe
or joke—
just the boxes

 Open to Praise

After Kolmanskop, Ghost Town, Namibia by Ian Plant

Never mind the ghosts
of this town. They stay
for themselves—perfec-
ting and protecting

                      their memories. If you had
                      lived here you would remem-
                      ber with them—but not as
                      endlessly. They would resent

         your presence now.
         Nothing impedes them—
         they are many, as true
         as one is one. A place

is loyal if you loved it. Here is where the
elements move freely and ruin takes its
time. We have time and guard it from
intrusion—here we have no need to haunt—

                       here is a blueness that we love—                     
                       shadows of light to keep us real                      
                       in the unbroken windows. True,
                       we are vain. We help each other

         watch the years—how they
         recede and stay and there is
         no difference, and we never
         have to leave.

The old inhabitants left us to
the loneliness that they
no longer wanted…
Go away.


Today’s LittleNip(s):


There is
such a
such a
in me—
I do not know myself.

* * *


The way it sits
at my edges
and haunts me

how it loves
my hollows,
fitting in and staying

* * *

“flowers were dressed in nothing but light.”
                                               —Mary Oliver
It was
as if the light
gave itself away to
everything—especially the


Many thanks to Joyce Odam for today’s bouquet of photos and poems, forewarning us of Halloween and our recent Seed of the Week: Monsters. Our new Seed of the Week is Halloween. Send your poems, photos and artwork about this (or any other) subject to kathykieth@hotmail.com. 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. Or, hell—make up your own! Do I have to do everything?   


 Celebrate poetry! 
—Anonymous Photo and Cat Model
And don't forget to check out Katy Brown's new photo album 
of last Thursday night's Poetry in Davis on Medusa's 
Facebook page:   

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.