Sunday, December 31, 2017

Lost To All

—Anonymous Illustration

—John Clare, 1920

The Old Year’s gone away
     To nothingness and night:
We cannot find him all the day
     Nor hear him in the night:
He left no footstep, mark or place
     In either shade or sun:
The last year he’d a neighbour’s face,
     In this he’s known by none.

All nothing everywhere:
     Mists we on mornings see
Have more of substance when they’re here
     And more of form than he.
He was a friend by every fire,
     In every cot and hall—
A guest to every heart’s desire,
     And now he’s nought at all.

Old papers thrown away,
     Old garments cast aside,
The talk of yesterday,
     Are things identified;
But time once torn away
     No voices can recall:
The eve of New Year’s Day
     Left the Old Year lost to all.


John Clare was born on July 13, 1793, in Northamptonshire, England. His books include Poems Descriptive of Rural Life and Scenery (Taylor and Hessey, 1820) and The Village Minstrel, and Other Poems (Taylor and Hessey, 1821). He died on May 20, 1864. For more about John Clare, go to


Saturday, December 30, 2017

Time is Nothing

—Poems by James Lee Jobe, Davis, CA
—Anonymous Photos 

December cold, and the night dew becomes mist, and then, in the most silent hour, becomes a soft rain. I am up late, putting my life into words that no one will read. What use is this world of men? I shiver violently from the cold, even deep within this thick, soft robe.

I cannot worry about the mud world today; I have more important things to do. So sorry! The sunrise races up so quickly in the the wind broken sky; I need to be there. A hummingbird offers an aria that only the blessed flowers can hear. I need to put that into a poem. And there is a river waiting for me to come and stare at the icy cold water. I am expected! So, no, I cannot worry about the mud world today. And I shall most likely be busy tomorrow, too.

I felt like writing a letter.

No. That's not quite right.

I needed to write a letter. I felt that need. An old fashioned letter, in an envelope, with a stamp, the way we did a generation ago, but I had no one to write. I took out a pen and paper and I wrote "dear" on it, and I stopped there.

Outside, a fog was growing. Wisps of fog in the wind. I watched it for a while through the window. I thought of making a small fire in a portable fire pit that I keep on my patio, but I didn't. I didn't even go outside.

The fog slowly grew thicker and the unfinished letter with one word stayed on the table. I didn't turn on any music or the television. I left it silent and sat down in a chair for a long time.

Time is nothing.

There was an old iron bridge across the river, in the bottom land, hidden from the houses by many trees. We would meet there. Willows and Cottonwoods kept watch for us. The river wound toward the sea like a fat brown snake. We spun ourselves into a wheel of flesh, far from the eyes of judgement. Our skin was shiny with sweat. Late into the night we would spin and spin. She and I.

She takes your stupid fingers and leads you into the darkened corner. She is Eve, but you are not Adam, not this time. You are the apple. In the darkness she takes that first juicy bite of you, still holding your fingers with her other hand. Now she leads your fingers to the moistness of her life, you touch her for the first time, and leaning in slowly, slowly, slowly she bites again.

Life is a night ride across the prairie, with your horse racing full out. —I know, it isn't my best line, is it? I’ll slow the horse down to a saunter and give it some more thought. At least there is this; the moonlight is bright, and I can see the mare's breath in the cold night air. 

The sky at night is beautiful, like a woman revealing the corners of her soul. Yes, she is taking off her gown to stand naked before you, but she is giving you a far greater gift than just her body. She is giving you the stars of the Milky Way, she is handing you the Cloud Nebula, and all you have to do is love her. 

The moon, like a snake, shed her skin last night. Skinless, she glowed even brighter, I could see that her light was the beacon that marked the dark and rocky shore, and so saved the small boats. Her light was a candle left in the window for the child who wandered so far; years have passed and she hasn't returned. Her light was a prayer across the face of the earth. Moon-skin at our feet. A light on our human faces. A light for our human faces.

You are a pitcher of cool water; the more thirsts you quench, the more you need to be refilled yourself. Is it night? Then be filled with moonlight, starlight, darkness. Is it day? Then raise your arms to the sunlight, the warmth. Praise that which is greater, both within and without.


Today’s LittleNip:

From falsehood, may I find truth. From despair, may I find hope. From hate, may I find love. From death, may I find life. From the darkness, may I find the light. For these things I pray.

—James Lee Jobe


—Medusa, with thanks to James Lee Jobe for today’s haunting prose poetry!

 Celebrate the poetry of the moon!

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, December 29, 2017

Can't Be Bought

Sacramento Jazz Festival Collage
—Poems and Photos by Caschwa, Sacramento, CA

—Caschwa, Sacramento, CA

‘Neath every poem
Is a dream of
Unknown proportions
Laden with dubious

Which tell dormant lies
Like an intricate network
Of sleeping train tracks
One moment enjoying mild

Suddenly asked to carry
A tumultuous nightmare
The burned ruins of an
Exemplary, well-planned

Have we lost all we built?
Are we heading to war?
Will our survivors survive us?
Is there any hope for

To Hitler and trickle down
We tried it your way
And it didn’t work, now
Let’s open the window for some

In response to “Oak Hollow” by Taylor Graham

We’ll just leave those ferocious dinosaurs
With multiple rows of teeth
In the dusty history books

The issue is how much guns and ammo
Does today’s hunter need to prove
His rightful place on the food chain?

First he strolls into a gun store
And hunts for a good rifle
With a comfortable grip

At home he visits online to hunt down
A more comfortable price
Adds long-rifle bullets to the cart

Faithfully noting the warning on the box
That their range is over a mile
Offers up an assumed name, and Sold!

‘Cause we’re going to go hunting
With our noisy rifle or dozen, and
Let the recoil serve to pound our chest



After Philip M. Raskin’s
“Hanukkah Lights”

“The names of our heroes immortal,
The noble, the brave, and the true;
A battlefield saw I in vision,
Where many were conquered by few”

These are the guiding words of
Those holding ranks so high
They claim to own 100 percent
Of all that is the American Pie

They let others do the dirty work
That is so below their class
For they are David, mighty conqueror
Who kicked Goliath’s ass

And now they have a tax plan
That benefits the few
Funded by taxpayers immortal,
The noble, the brave, and the true


Response to Taylor Graham’s “Big Country”

(Medusa's Kitchen, 12/21/17)

We are a nation of laws
Cutting, grinding, polishing them
To replace every Mother Nature’s gem

Just because

The freedoms many of us seek
Go to those with gated lots
Country clubs and pleasure yachts

Fineries abound until they reek

Tall fences, constant imposition
Unilateral laws galore
Led us to a Revolutionary War

Which we won, or is that a fiction?

A mere painter’s helper was I
Standing atop a scaffolding
Masked, sweating, sanding

The best boat bottom that money could buy

At the end of the day
Worn out and spent
Though ready for more, spirit unbent

All for a minion’s pay

My treasure was not
Soon to be forgotten
One bite of fresh fruit, the rest is rotten

Priceless, can’t be bought


Today’s LittleNip:

If liberty means anything at all, it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear.

—George Orwell


—Medusa, with thanks to Caschwa (Carl Bernard Schwartz) for today’s challenging poems and his equally fine photos!

 Celebrate the dreams 'neath every poem...!

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, December 28, 2017

Hunting the Lost

—Poems and Photos by Taylor Graham, Placerville, CA


A temptation, to just start pulling wrapping 
paper, snuggy, Batman t-shirt, already broken
doll off the heap of who-knows-what.

The living room was a mess. Search the house,
maybe put a quick end to this midnight mission—
assuming the little girl hidden in her own home?

No, it was winter, chilly night. Our assignment
was acres of woods for our dogs to search.
Remember that other callout—

crawling through manzanita in a freezing rain,
looking for a Christmas-tree cutter who, it turned
out, had caught a ride to town.

At last, the deputy called us back. Search over.
No debriefing. We never learned what
happened to that little girl.


A man with hunting rifles walks into the wood
whose trees are nets of twigs and fingers catching birds.
Soon, dark may quiet them from singing, as it should.
The hunter soon is lost in dark for all his words,
his rifles—and how many does a hunter need?
The birds in arias of singing against dark,
with wings that batter, as if frantic to be freed
for dawn; as if forgetful of night’s treasure: arc
of sun into forgetful sleep. But what’s become
of hunter with his rifles wandering the wood?
He must be following a voice—that ceaseless thrum
that is the forest of man’s searching, lost for good.
The hours of a night are countless. Birds are still.
The hunter crouches with his rifles, come what will.


She was born out of soil like a brown filly,
not knowing right from left except as sun
moved across fields and hills beyond.
She could never be lost, but always searching
for those who needed pointing in the right
direction, sky overhead, good clean dirt
in boot-tread. She could read the woods like
an outstretched hand but not a logical
sentence on the page. Building fire-line
She knew how the woods go to smoke, ash. 


Poor-born to a family rich in soil—
pastureland, fresh air, room for horses
and deer to roam. The bank account was slim
but they got along.
Then the cattle were gone but they
kept the horses who gave him purchase
and voice to volunteer. He taught kids to ride;
took to the trails, searching when somebody
got lost.
None of it paid. He did seasonal
work—a forest rich in trees, fresh air, room
for wild creatures to roam. No job benefits
and the pay was slim but he got along.
When snow sagged
the barn, he couldn’t afford to fix it. When he
felt something growing cell to cell, rippling
outward—gathering purchase—he waited
for Medicare to kick in, till the thing
had gone too wild to fix. Chances were
slim and the end of a trail is for gettin’ along.


upper Broadway
on the forested hill
there’s a cold path leading nowhere
but down.

You’d think
a haphazard
scatter of cardboard, tarp
and blanket. It’s where someone slept
one night.

If the
town evicts its
Homeless, then where do they
go, I wonder. My old dog sniffs
cold ground.

Clip your
coupons and move
on to checkout. What is
our participation in all
of this?

of unease in
leaves fallen on pavement.
Thanksgiving occupies the town.
Give thanks.

the Grocery
Outlet I’ve seen
a man and woman walking cold

Today’s LittleNip:

—Taylor Graham

Atop a tall pine, in sagacious gray robes
the bird presides, ringing out his name
to all the surrounding peaks:
Clark’s Nutcracker, he announces
as he extricates nut after nut from a pine
cone. How else might they be freed
to sprout, to ensure the species survives?
Besides, he might be hungry.
Thus continues a script of ages,
letter by letter on the fragile paper
of generations. Far below, a deer mouse
searches for fallen nuts, to stuff her cheeks,
writing her own history in the annals of pine.

—Medusa, with thanks to Taylor Graham for today’s fine photos and poetry about some of her many searches for the lost.

 —Photo by Taylor Graham
Celebrate poetry!

Photos in this column can be enlarged by clicking on them once,
then click on the X in the top right corner to come back
to Medusa.

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Kissed by Gossamer

—Poems by Tom Goff, Carmichael, CA
—Photos of the River City Quilters Guild Show, 
(Sacramento, CA, Nov. 17-19, 2017) by
Michelle Kunert, Sacramento, CA


I want sunlight now,
the brightest winter affords,
shine enough to cow

clouds from robin’s-egg
imperial windless sky
bare as a nude leg

tan in strong June light.
I want abnormal warmth now
to touch off song-flight

in the shyest birds.
Pour music in me, daybreak,
blue that summons words,

not this chalk-milk strain:
low nebula or nova,
stalled galactic rain.


Diaphanous, the layer of slight mist
that veils these Folsom hills from morning slightly.
A bride’s face hides in gauze that dims but lightly
her bloom and contour, no less lovely kissed
by gossamer that distances the blissed
curved lips yet stirs at puffs of air. Forthrightly
breath bells out that veil faintly. Vows meant brightly
scarce penetrate her mask yet still persist
drawn up from a dry throat. A husky voice
murmurs her I thee take. So nearly silent,
we strain to catch the Bible poet’s verse.
So dawn, release each hill, each granite island
to strain adoring vows through winter haze.
Shy birds sing distant turquoise from strange bays. 


It takes so very little effort to see you
as gifted among all women of this earth.
Yet hard to describe how vital that from your birth
sprang thought that bloomed and branched so fiercely true
it wells from your speech and in everything you do,
not easily convenient but of great worth
when honesty serves as fodder for cheap mirth
among the wrong and strong—who are not few.

And yet you grace your force with improvised humor:
your mimic’s intuition can channel my thoughts,
our family’s, total strangers’, even our pets’:
by face and voice, you clarify far-off rumor,
make comical sense of animal secrecy.
This gift, of your truth: no small dexterity.


You left at just the time we drew more close;
friend bonds to friend, mysterious in a way,
but just as ought to be when we suppose
our tastes and interests harmonize: the clay
you contour signals your talent, music mine.
Yet different without difference as all arts
prod artists up or down a like incline.
Then you flew far; we might be vectoring darts,
sent scattershot from one’s fingers, left hand, right.
The sun is warm, yet now the books I read
seem written gray the shade of rain-gorged clouds.
Not funeral gray, and yet words, letters bleed
dull gray. Their jackets, gray, yield up some light,
the dim light crypts emit, strange radiant shrouds.


No stranger to anger from others, you can calm
the Celtic upsurge that wells red within
ancestral veins I blame. Call it my sin
to let fly Irish cholera and no qualm.
I hate, though, how you must maintain your charm
or wit or deal what talking-to squelches the din
of coarse complaint that sparks beneath my skin.
Let truth be you sustain no lasting harm
from my wild moods. Let clement days suffice,
let human sandstorms pass over you, disperse.
One more thing: please believe the so-called ice,
that splinter thought to lodge in the heart of all verse,
sticks not in me, or softened at your first gaze.
Your slow heat melts man-glaciers: such, your ways.


In Portland, Oregon, in 1920,
a sword is proffered, sheathed in brilliant silk.
After some hesitancy, in tones of milk
poured into whiskey, Yeats accepts the bounty
from the reverent hands of Junzo Sato.
Ancestral samurai keepsake, one of plenty
lovingly swaddled, carefully stored, but not to
relish its dangerous edge. Imagine the Henty
boys’ yarn into which Yeats must translate that
gift of blood ethos, feudal politesse.
Ceremony (Yeats’ play at Noh). Mere swords
exist not so much to brandish, hilt and flat,
but to keep silk-involved, all gore and mess
potential, oblique even in the most pointed words.

Who, Yeats or Sato, wields more edge-bright beauty?
Or discerns, wound in a silk scroll, the sharp essence duty?

(Earlier version previously posted on Medusa’s Kitchen
and published in the chapbook,
Twenty Two)

Today's LittleNip:

And now we welcome the new year. Full of things that have never been.

—Rainer Maria Rilke


—Medusa, with thanks to today’s fine contributors: Tom Goff and Michelle Kunert!

 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, December 26, 2017

To Charm the Bird

In My Shadow
—Poems and Photos by Joyce Odam, Sacramento, CA


This morning the moon rose too high in the west—
round and parchment white—yet shining bright
upon the windowsill, filling the pulled-back curtain;

it was early—and I had risen into the too-dark
earliness to find the moon staring down like that;
and I stared back—filled with its silver light—

my hand on the sill transparent and cold and
bright with energy—my heart felt like parchment.
Dared I touch this day with anything but love?

(first pub. in Hidden Oak, 2004)


After back cover photo, "Book of Longing" by Leonard Cohen

Sitting off to the edge of music, you watch her
play the piano—your expression as oblique as ever.
Your concentration is on the surface.
But something about the silence of her eyes
says more than silence.
To put a soft word in your voice
would be as startling
as the sudden burst of song from a bird on a wire
singing its heart out for the love of singing.
You—who are master and student now—
find the very least of music brings you
a child-like joy that you finally have no words for.

 The Broken Stem


She is captive to the song of the nightingale.
It is a trick the forest plays on her—to keep
her here—to charm the bird so it will sing.

It is a ruse of twilight to linger past the hour
so she will forget time and lose her way back.
And the nightingale conspires, singing sweetly,

sweetly to her, from its branch. And the forest
settles its slow shadows over the path, and
flutters the sunlight above her with its leaves

that flicker for her eyes, until only a small patch
of closing light remains where she leans against
the comfort of the tree, where the nightingale,

with all its heart and praise, is singing.

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



Ah, sweet bird,
sweet yellow bird,
with such keen eye and forest-heart,

wherever you go
a tree waits for your resting;
when you rest, tree calls to forest
and forest listens.

Your eye leads, and
the sky follows.

 Speaking to the Wall


A bird winds slowly skyward
lifting a bronze shadow out of the murk.
It is heavy and lonely,
the last thought of a dying dreamer
who has heard the faint call outward.

What follows is grief, freed of weeping,
though it is heavy too
and folding like a weariness,
too much effort needed
to be free of truth and imagination.

A fan closes as if by itself, ending
the escape. The sky goes dark again.
Or stays bright. Who can say?
The delicate art is saved from eyes.
Nothing depicts.

Everything moves in relation
to everything else, even the stillness
which must breathe and wait.
A word is being offered to the silence.
A listener must make a choice.

Who am I to grieve over such things?
A dream cannot live without the sleep.
Let the bird go.
It is only your thought of it.
If it loved you, you will know.



is glass,
imaged by night

is part glass
and part river

each night a small boat
drifts dreamward,
carrying its sole passenger

each night
the passenger
is prison to the dream

each night the depth
pulls the dream

each night
the boat
is prison to the river

 The Wall Listens


Here is where the dark thickens. I reach in and pluck one
silver thread of light from the center to let my hand and
eye be amazed at my skill. I take it to the heart of the mirror
where the other waits . . .

                                            the other is in need of proof,
something to verify its need of existence. The light shatters
when it touches glass. The dark closes its wound. I don’t
know what has just happened.


This wound of man,
made of sand,
I need to re-write him,
make him real—

not an ocean man
edging toward land,
but a real sea-man with sad human eyes.

The tides erode him,
taking years—
taking a life-time.

His heart is open to love,
to despair,
to every reason to care—

more or less,
as the tides

he is free to become,
or return, to his beginning.

 One to Bear All

After Rumi (“to form one pearl”)

unknown myth of being, what is he?
impenetrate mind—
blesséd heart and soul, what is he…

if he is insentient,
if he is neither kind nor cruel,
but just there, in the perception…

if there is nothing.
if there is all,
how does one prove the difference…

knowing is the same
as unknowing,
each absolute, each wondering…

that abstract word
without elaboration…

god of
miraculous response
or fathomless disregard…

of what is belief comprised?
of fear?    of dread?
connected to the great what if…

only the mind,
against, or with,
the mind of the unanswerable…


After “Ars Poetica” by Jorge Luis Borges

There are some words that are only words,
until they are pressured into meaning—
there is always that struggled search for meaning
to be understood with the quizzical use of words.

Sometimes the reach is made of echoes,
intensely listening beyond hearing
until each sound is out of hearing,
ghosts of voices given to echoes.

Words can be made of speeches and babble,
oratorical with persuasion and power,
until the speeches run out of power,
sounding at last like only babble.

Words, the tools of such potential
to plead,    or threaten,    or exploit for love.
Oh, that words can be used for love,
else fail the heart and the mind’s potential.

Words that are only words…? Oh, never—
there are shades of intention when words are spoken,
with only silence, then, for words not spoken.
Words that will never hurt you…? Oh, never.

 The Following Light

Let it be new to your heart, and old
to your mind—long-hidden—seeming new.

Let it be meant to be unforgotten
for it is as true as new discovery can be.

Let its words be easy on the eye that sees them
and the voice that reads them out loud.

May you recognize it and receive it with
gratitude. You alone can receive it.

And if it comes to you, and you let it go,
it will be mourned, for it will never be.

(first pub. in Sr. Magazine, 2014)


Today’s LittleNip:

—Joyce Odam

If I can make the cat purr,
might I, then, also praise
some silent heart
to love . . .


So many thanks to Joyce Odam for her poetic and photographic meditations today, as we end another year. Speaking of which, our new Seed of the Week is Reboot, Restore, Renew. Send your poems, photos & 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.

—Medusa, wishing you a Happy Kwanzaa (Dec. 26-Jan. 1)! See the official Kwanzaa website at

 Making the Cat Purr...
—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. 

Monday, December 25, 2017

Creating Love

—Anonymous Photos

—Joyce Odam, Sacramento, CA

“To move a tumbleweed you must push it,
preferably with wind.” —Dale Odam

He has lashed and staked
the tumbleweed to the yard,
a gift for his lady of whims
who next year would have one
as her xmas tree.

But now the big green
wild one
is a prisoner for her delight.
She looks at it through her window,
shows it to her friends,
watches the wind try to roll it free,
watches the rain try
to penetrate its brambleness.

Perhaps it breathes more brokenly
than most, having exhausted
all its one direction.
At least it knows which way
it cannot go.

(first pub. in Folio, 1974)

—Taylor Graham, Placerville, CA

In our local pizza joint, in the wood-grain
veneer of our table, there’s an eye
aimed at the far corner by the restroom
alcove where sits the flashing-light machine
that vends cheap junk nobody buys.
Year-round, wreathed in circling reversing
jitterbugging blinks like a holiday light-
string on steroids. Last year, it almost
obliterated the Christmas tree whose lights
glowed steady but self-effacing beside
the machine. The tree, topped by a flightless
angel; I wondered if the tree wanted to root
right through the floor into earth and raise
its crown through ceiling, opening up
the pizza joint to stars; if it wished a raven
to alight, dark angel with real wings.
What would I find this year? The Christmas
tree brightened the far corner with festive
glow. The neon machine was dark—
maybe dead. Maybe a raven atop the tree.
Maybe it killed the neon.

On a Christmas-time episode of “The Flash” (CW TV show)
       Only the bad guy mentions the celebration of Jesus’ birth
       The Flash, or Barry Allen, never acknowledges having any faith
       Notice how superheroes never seem to believe in God anyway
       and never read The Bible, nor do they pray?
       Well, a “saved” superhero might convince villains to change their ways
       but born-again Christians don’t show up in most comic book fantasies—
       the superhero and not Jesus gets the praise for saving the day
       and if Jesus’s name is mentioned, it’s a curse in vain        

—Michelle Kunert, Sacramento, CA

I dreamt I woke up and saw I was surrounded in a neighborhood of mansions
     These places even had parking lots filled with nice cars
     I looked to see that all I had was a small house in the midst of it
     I was once told that in heaven there are many mansions
     but of course I would be happy with just a little place that I could call my own
     and I pray and hope that God will let me have that on this side of paradise

—Michelle Kunert

—Michael H. Brownstein, Chicaco, IL

        for Deborah who I love dearly

How do we create love?

Four days from the start of winter, five days from the great
Ursid meteor shower, six days after the temperature climbed
into the sixties, rain fell, froze on contact, changed everything
to white ice, clean and smooth, clean and crunchy rugged. The
man and woman stood outside their small home, logs burning
in the fireplace, candles lit in darker corners, thick sunlight
heating everything through thin windows. It was cold outside.
They listened to the scents around them, saw the sounds of life,
smelled the fresh breeze swinging through the bare trees, arms
around each other, scarves across their throats, hats light on
their heads, heavy jackets open to the day. Christmas comes in
the morning, he said. I know, she answered. I never asked, he
continued. I did not ask either, she replied. I do not need any-
thing, he said. Nor I, and she smiled and paused and let out a
fog of air that dissipated quickly. We are not like that, he began
again. We are not like the air you see in this weather when you
breath. We have something stronger and we have something
greater. She turned her head to him. A glitter of light flashed
through a nearby evergreen, its needles ripe with color, each
branch flickered then stopped—a pause in wind. I know, she
answered. We have all we need. We have this forest and this
house and we have each other. He kissed her lightly. That is all
I have ever needed and will ever need, he said. That was all
they needed to say to each other, the day fresh, the forest clean
and white and bright, water dripping from the eaves, and slowly
the night's ice fall melted, leaving behind the colors of winter's

Love is created in many ways. This is one of them.     

—Michael H. Brownstein

       for the David Sheltons working against the grain in the 

      Chicago Public Schools

This Christmas, I hope for the best for my students—past and present:
May Mildred Johnson find her pace in life, her baby quiet gratitude.
May Timothy Stewart put down his armor, enter his library,
check out his cool character, his kind being, his calm and resourcefulness.
May Deidre Miller discover her inner peace, her wants and fears,
her staircase away from always needing, always attaching herself to another,
the ability to stop walking down the up escalator. She deserves to reach the top.
May Mark Edwards understand words are as strong as sharpened iron,
strength from inside is better than anger, restraint and kindness is best of all.
May Michael Smith find his way home. His mother needs him. She is crying.

This Christmas, may all of my prayers for all of my students be answered.

Today’s LittleNip:

—Taylor Graham

Behind Stone Mountain, dawn
is gathering tinder, twigs of winter-
brittle oaks. Frozen ground’s littered
with brown leaves
blown against dredged-rock walls.
But there’s a light up the hill,
neighbor at his barn; hay
for the manger and he’s singing.
Horses don’t care if he’s off-key,
if he sings a carol older than
warmed-over coffee. Even in this
dying year it packs a jolt
to the heart that makes a body
feel like singing.


—Medusa, wishing you and yours a holiday season full of poetry and contentment!

 —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.

Sunday, December 24, 2017

Scotch Before Breakfast

—Anonypus Photo (or is that Anonymouse?)

—Judith Viorst

They let the children out of school too early.
I left the Christmas shopping till too late.
Each day we had a holiday excursion,
Which gave us the entire week to wait in line for
Movies by Disney,
Gift-wrapping by Lord & Taylor,
And everyone's restrooms.

On Christmas Eve we started to assemble
The easy-to-assemble telescope
And fire truck with forty-seven pieces.
By midnight it was plain there was no hope without
An astronomer,
A mechanical engineer,
And two psychiatrists.

We rose at dawn to three boys singing Rudolph.
We listened numbly to their shouts of glee.
The kitten threw up tinsel on the carpet.
The fire truck collided with the tree, requiring

One rug shampoo,
Several Band-aids,
And Scotch before breakfast.

I bought my husband shirts—wrong size, wrong colors,
And ties he said he couldn't be caught dead in.
I'd hinted Saint Laurent or something furry.
He bought me flannel gowns to go to bed in, also
A Teflon frying pan,
A plaid valise,
And The Weight Watchers Cook Book.
The turkey was still frozen at eleven.
At noon my eldest boy spilled Elmer's glue.
At five I had a swell Excedrin headache,
The kind that lasts till January two...but
Merry Christmas
And Happy New Year,
I think.



Saturday, December 23, 2017

The Monkeys Will Help You!

Putah Creek, Davis, CA
—Anonymous Photo
—Poems by James Lee Jobe, Davis, CA

The monkeys will help you.

In the dream I am worried.
There is some unnamed danger
in traveling to the back of the island where I live.
Most people take primitive rowboats
because the jungle has many wild animals,
but lately the ocean is rough,
and several people have been killed either way.
I spend many days working out a way to travel
through the treetops with the help of friendly monkeys.
"The monkeys will help you!"
I go through the village streets shouting this,
and the elders welcome me with a dance.
It's not bad, this dream, as dreams go.

 Lake Solano, Putah Creek

Lake Solano, Putah Creek. A ghost picnic.

Early afternoon, passing the dried cornstalks
in the fields that reached across the flat lands
to the hills drained by the green water creek.
We drive with the sun straight overhead
and Emmylou Harris sings through the speakers,
this in a car so old it creaks and groans
from the labor of driving us, both in our sixties.
We find a place to be and spread out
our picnic lunch under an old oak with bees
and blue jays investigating our food.
A beautiful day, an old husband and wife
eating and chatting in the shade near a creek.
The ghost of the son we lost is here, too,
and when the food is done, we break down
as we do everyday, everyday, everyday. 

 UC Davis Arboretum, Putah Creek

James, you're awful quiet.

She was quiet for a long, it seemed like years,
and I was patient, I knew I could wait her out.
Finally she said, "Every tree on earth is a grave marker
for the invisible dead. You could dig and not find a body,
but the bodies are there. They're invisible bodies."

So that was done. She looked down at her feet
and sort of dug one heel down in the dirt.
I watched her and I didn't say one word.
In fact, I never spoke again.  

 UC Davis Pedestrian Bridge, Putah Creek

Starry Night, August.

Look at this night sky,
I am older, I am younger,
the universe spreads out and I am alone,
untouched and cold.
What lasts forever? Even the stars die.
The universe is me and I am the universe.
Nothing can hold me down.
Nothing can touch me now.


Today’s LittleNip:

 The three messages.
—James Lee Jobe

Beneath this flesh, a message flows with the blood;
be kind.

And from the heart, another message—no, it says;
be even more kind than that.

And from the head, still more—the kindness needed in this life
is almost beyond the reach of comprehension.

Three messages, now they are yours.


So many thanks to James Lee Jobe for his fine poetry on this day before Christmas Eve, 2017!

Writers on the Air will not meet today, but Poetic License read-around will meet in Placerville at the Placerville Sr. Center on Spring St., 2-4pm. 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.


 —Photo by Katy Brown, Davis, CA
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.