Thursday, May 31, 2018

Wild With Spring

—Poems and Photos by Taylor Graham, Placerville, CA


An undecided mid-spring day, not yet
entirely sunburned. Creek has given up
on cleansing last year’s deadfall;
what’s left is muck in the low spots.
Last night, distant lightning flashes
without thunder over the mountains;
too far away to charge our foothills sky.
Inside the barn, still air. Must of long-
gone cattle, natural dim. Warped boards
can’t fit tight. Only one crack—one
narrowest gap
grants the common grace of
celebration—luminous recharging
of this ordinary day.


I drove that road again, the one I tried to catch in a poem recalling waves of green—in April, wild growth gone willy-nilly. Today I see I got the details wrong. No orchards in sight, Graham’s Pear Shed’s out of view. But here, new vineyards encroach on pasture; they aren’t in blossom. My mind was busy with plans—so imagery goes wild in some corner of the brain.

white waves of blossom
surging against the ridge-road—
buckbrush wild with spring


The old familiar sign on Main Street, big enough
so drivers can read it: Antiques. The new
little shingle above the door says Art Gallery.

Which are we? three poets sitting at temporary
tables with antiquated typewriters—mine’s
an old manual portable, and for lack of chairs

I sit on its upturned case—waiting for someone
to ask for a poem, one-of-its-kind written-on-the-
spot. Who came up with this idea? Why did

I say OK? A lady admires my machine, For her,
a brand-new old-typewriter poem. And this girl
who almost stepped backwards into my

table for a better view of that owl print on
the wall—I’ll write her an ode to the silent raptor
of the dark. Across the way, under an abstract

lizard, my fellow poet is too busy typing to
notice the guy standing in the doorway looking
skeptical of all this business, this art gallery.

Maybe he expected to find old chamber pots
or an antique typewriter. I’d make him a poem—
pounding one key then the next—of empty space

becoming beautiful mind-itch, room to breathe
a new image in and out, each breath like the last
but suddenly surprising; no carbon copy;

unique to this moment, this temporary place.


He’s walked these hills till his feet wore off.
No matter boots or barefoot, the flesh gives out
above the sole. The soul keeps rising, faster
as the flesh grows thin. These hills alive
with the voice in never-ending wander-songs,
refrains—child at her rhyme, blacksmith
at the forge, the mason at his stone. Hands
that fall asleep at the wheel still turning, feet
still keeping rhythm climbing the divide.



Imagination takes you back in memory—
summers past—as muscle-memory negotiates
ruts and fords to the cow camp. First return
of the year, snow gone but in sheltered patches.
Imagination might run gauntlets of chances,
but it’s late afternoon, you’ll set up camp
by the old barn. Just off this ridgelet, surprise
scrap of snowbank across the road.
Wheels sunk in rotten snow. You’re stuck.
Camp here. New puppy snuggles against
your mummy bag, old dog on guard outside
the tent. Old dog sleeps sound in old-dog
dreams as coyotes raid your camp, scour
the empty stew can, trash the bag of kibble.
Old dog embarrassed to have slept through it
all. Coyotes still howling through the holes
in your imagination.


I avoid the tallest trees. No lightning
punctuates dark clouds, but drumroll thunder’s
pretty close. I bow my head to small hail.
        Would my umbrella policy cover this?
I keep swinging my motor-scythe,
trying to make my piece of God’s garden
fire-safe, make my peace with weather.
Monday was a red-flag warning—too early
in May.
                He gave us mastery—
husbandry—over all this green growing wild,
more flammable each day. I must keep mowing.
At last, thunder moves along,
        a bit of blue pushes through cloud.
I’ll not check my comprehensive just yet,
but thank heavens once more.


The earthen doormat beckons—
so many years of boot-stomp
in its fibers, Come outside!

For hours you’ve been sleeping,
the clock is a wheel for turning.
What remains now of the night?

Crocus pulses up on pressure
of its corm and rooted plumbing
counting springs and not the clock.

But already it’s near summer,
seasons wheeling while you sleep.
The gate post is your sundial

while so many scarves of clouds
are floating, wishing
to go flying on an updraft, away.

Wake up, you on the doorstep.
What will you call yourself
this very morning, this today?


Today’s LittleNip:

The two most powerful warriors are patience and time.

—Leo Tolstoy


Our thanks to Taylor Graham for her fine poems and photos today! Tonight, Poetry Unplugged at Luna’s Cafe features Angela James, Allegra Silberstein, and Paul Robins, plus open mic, 8pm, hosted by frank andrick. 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 Taylor Graham
Celebrate poetry and its unknown destinations!

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

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Squirrels? In Hammocks??

—Anonymous Photos
—Poems by Ryan Quinn Flanagan, Lake Eliot, Ontario, Canada 



She picked up this silkscreen printing
apparatus at a garage sale back
in Kingston

so she could make
her own shirts

and that first Halloween
I got an idea and told her to
make up two back t-shirts
with white lettering,
one that read: Premeditated
and another that read:
Crime of Opportunity

and since we already had
the shirts and the letter stencils
our costumes cost next to nothing

which was good
because we were both still at school
and had no money

and when we went to that Halloween party
out by the train station
everyone was dressed elaborately
and couldn’t figure ours out

We’re first and second degree murder,
she said.
They didn’t understand.
He’s premeditated and I’m
a crime of opportunity.

Blank stares.

Later, I borrowed her silk screen
printer and made a yellow shirt
with black lettering that read:
Debbie Does Romulus
across the front

and those who understood that one
got a good laugh
and those that did not
didn’t matter

I really liked that shirt
although it was cheap
and never fit right

and when we moved up north
her silkscreen apparatus
got lost in the mix

which is why she orders
from Old Navy

which isn’t nearly
as fun.

 Attack Squirrel

I was still quite young when my father
said that to me for the first time:
“your friends should be your enemies”
and I didn’t know what he meant by that,
he wanted me to have friends,
told me a child without friends is
a throwaway.  Then he would point
to the garbage can beside the house.
I had this friend whose parents were divorced
long before it became fashionable
and my father would call him unwanted garbage.
He was not allowed over at the house.
So we played at his house or in the park.
His mother was always working, so she was
never around.  I met her twice and she seemed
like a very nice lady.  She gave us freezies and let
us watch movies I wasn’t allowed to watch.
I always sliced the side of my mouth on
the freezie package.  The blue ones were my favourite
because they turned my lips purple.
But “your friends should be your enemies,”
that strange thought never left my mind.
It made me quiet and suspicious,
then withdrawn.  What did my father know
that I did not?  Maybe nothing.
But nothing can be everything when you
are young and worship your father.


I walk down the middle of the road.
Dupont St., Little Current.
Not a single car drives by.

Halfway down the street
I see this blue thing hung in a tree
in the front yard of a home.

It is strung up between two branches.
A blue squirrel hammock right by
the birdfeeder.

And there appears to be a squirrel inside
the hammock.

Swaying back and forth.
It is early afternoon.
I smile.

 Squirrel Thugs


I bent down to pick up the fork
in the road
mangled by miniature tragedies

missing one of its prongs
and rusted up one

I searched
for a spoon,
but there

only the



Elvis left the building.
There was a car waiting.
No one knows if he used
the elevator or the stairs.

Both are plausible options.
I am in the building.
On the 17th of floors applying
for this job.

The man who wants to be my boss
sits in front of a large window
that looks onto other windows.

One of the buildings is green
so that I think of glass leprechauns
shattering each other’s jaws.

The man who wants to be my boss
knows I am not right but
strings me along.

It is horrible what a man will do
for employment.

And failing again,
I also leave the building.
Like Elvis before me.

Taking the elevator down
because I am lazy
and like to watch the


no beard went sailing
missed connection

jowls Verne submarine
sandwich Thomas
mandibles death in

mother’s pearls
no beard swells with

take on water 
take off, leave town

reward money is
one nasty



He was not my friend.
He was a year ahead of me in school
and his mother was my babysitter.
And we’d cut through the woods
because it was shorter
and one day he fell into a giant
bat cave in the ground.
He was surrounded by bats
and screaming and reaching for
me to give him my hand,
but the bats flew up in such numbers
that I couldn’t see anything
and the sound of it more than anything else
made me run off in fear
shimmying under the fence
behind the old-age home.

I told myself it was okay,
that he was not my friend.
But I felt a great shame as I
sat in class.

Watching the clock.
Wondering if he was alive.
If there was really such a thing as vampire bats.

And we never walked to school together
after that.
We never even talked.
I think we were both ashamed.

He was older and meant to be brave.
I was the coward that had run away.

We were each a reminder of what had happened.

His mother stopped babysitting me soon after that.
I think I know why.


Today is not a good day to die,
I have decided.
Sitting on a chipped red park bench
listening to the birds sing.

There is a slight wind off the water.
And a flagpole beside me.
The flag is at half-mast.
Rattling against the pole.

Someone must have died.
It could be for that hockey team
that crashed their bus.
I cannot be certain.

And the birds keep singing.
They seem most pleased with themselves.
I fill my lungs with air and exhale.

Today is a good day.
I have decided.


Today’s LittleNip:

—Ryan Quinn Flanagan

Those people
that tell you not everything
is a joke

have never once threatened
to tickle each other until
they pee the bed

or made mincemeat
of the blues

with all their hours of
simple laughter.


Many thanks to Ontario’s Ryan Quinn Flanagan for today’s fine poetry! Good to hear from our SnakePals up North!

Today from 11:30am-1pm, Cal. Lawyers for the Arts presents a free workshop/discussion about the programs they offer which can help artists with legal issues. 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.


Celebrate poetry, squirrelly or otherwise…

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, May 29, 2018

What Swirls Beneath

Are We There Yet?
—Poems and Original Art by Joyce Odam, Sacramento, CA


Today I went through aisles and aisles of crowded noise.
The moon was not full. The creaky cart I pushed was not
to be tamed. My list was too long to fill and I forgot to
take off my dark glasses. I seemed to be going against a
tide. My cart filled and bumped into other carts. Its wheels
strained against direction. The checkout line was long and
slow. The lady at the register wore a frown. We wept and
held each other as the reluctant hour waned. Reaching a
completion of transaction, we wished each other a nice day
and parted like strangers.



This morning I saw
a wren,
by the wheels of my car.

This morning I saw
a tense girl walking.
She was going the other way.

The wren
did not move
when I drove by.

The girl was walking
with her head bent down.

Today is such
a fragile day.

The wren’s feathers
did not shine.

Today is a day
of tiredness and escape.

There is no way
to go
but through the patterns.

I don’t know
where the girl was going.
I don’t know
if the wren flew away.

 Bridge Over Water

And in the clouds,

the image-heavy clouds,
taking me 
from here to there—
too far—each time too far.

I long for flightless shoes
for walking in the fields
and climbing low hills
in tempo with me.

I long for stillness
to hold me from
the whirling
that I live from year to year.

And here . . .  here . . .  I am again
in clouds, in brimming clouds,
that know me as a weary bird
afraid of flight.



you at the edge of everything
I in the center
a shining wheel that turns
on my life
and your eye
how I spin
to dizziness and meter

and from the blur
you throw knives at me and
laugh from the praise of your talent
an audience cheers
you raise your arms
to the applause
all your fingers are knives

Roadside Blur


The jagged fence-line pokes into the fog-line,
that low to the ground.

I can’t see the street through the dripping gray
with only the old wooden fence

in focus—and down the street—coming out of
the fog now, two fuzzy headlights,

making out the soft blur of some ghost-like figure,
out walking alone.

 Motel Stop-Over


In wet green light we out-race each other on the wavery 
blue freeway. “Surreal!” you say, and laugh, and take
your hands off the wheel. I marvel at the blending of speed
and light and settle back for the ride. “Where do you want
to go?” you ask and press faster. The other cars drift back,
leaving long wet trails of thinning light between us.

In the lead now, I marvel at the beautiful blue motion, at how
we blur, and still hold eerily to the core of stillness. Droning
forward, we become source of pure momentum; concentrate
on the sensation; take in the defining quiet; lift and soar; catch
up with ourselves.



. . . when we were driving that night, our car ending up in the
ditch—on its side—in that scary, sleep-thin hour on some un-
familiar road—me on the floor of the front seat, under the dash,
squashed under a pile of pillows (“that saved me", you said),
standing there crying in the echoing night on that mishap-road
to wherever we found ourselves. And I don’t even remember
it—though I think I do sometimes—when I can feel myself
being on the floor of the car under those life-saving pillows and
hearing your muffled voice crying my name and someone
(who?) standing off the road in the cold and total darkness—
the ringing silence—the wheels of the car still turning, and no
headlights from anywhere . . .

 Night Vision


Shall we dance, old lady,
on the walking bars,

oh, shall we dance together?
Lift up that leg and give it a swing.

Now do the other.  Look,
we’re one-foot closer

to the length it takes
the reach the wheelchair,

wheeling, wheeling in response.
Dance to the chair.


derring do

ahead of death, a dancing darling
racing up a hill,    flirtatious   
pretentious,    out for a thrill

mere shadow on the sky,
star-twinkle in her eye,
her heart,    a cry.

death follows as fast as it can,
rounding corners on a squeal
in its fancy automobile.

who knows
which way a race

a trip of the foot
      or catch of a wheel
            . . . who   knows   when . . . .


Today’s LittleNip:

—Joyce Odam

this swirl of almost-known forces
that one must penetrate—this tangle
of sleep, so thick with effort and terror—

how probe the mind for this—the mind is
asleep—only in dreams does it let its levels out

waking is not release—only what swirls beneath


Many, many thanks to Joyce Odam for today’s fine poems and artwork, as she riffs on our Seed of the Week: Asleep at the Wheel. Our new Seed of the Week is The Thief. What did he/she steal from you? Your wallet? Your heart? Your planet? 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.


 —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, May 28, 2018

Ample Sweets

—Photo by Ann Privateer, Davis, CA

—Ann Privateer

The cat's camera eyes
key in, peek, wink, twinkle,
explore more;
in its unavailability. 

  —Photo by Ann Privateer

—Ann Privateer

Glaze clings to doughnut
frosted cake bars
the sea twists
and rolls to shore
whips hot froth
sprinkles it
with Jimmies
as I can my heat
with ample sweets.

 —Photo by Ann Privateer

—Ann Privateer
the ranger tells whale tales,
says they remember
when we slaughtered
their families, up the coast
near Alaska. I wonder
how many lifetimes
it takes to forget.

 —Photo by Ann Privateer

—Ann Privateer

Sunlight sleeps in dreams
cutting through fog
beneath the covers.
I see other days, ways
beyond that merge
with now; how vast
dreaming can be.

 —Photo by Caschwa, Sacramento, CA

—Allegra Silberstein, Davis, CA

Neruda asks us to keep silent
as he counts to twelve.

I have kept the silence
now I ask one word.

In the beginning
the void evolving

tempests of being
spiraling into story

I imagine each creation
with only one word:

the morning-glory’s one word:

the moonflower’s one word:

the door’s one word:
open or is close. . .

the day’s one word:
sunrise or is it sunset?

Outside my window a brown bird
singing more than one note

the world, mourning,
awakes again to morning light.

By the path outside my door a
purple violet  

rests in my eyes

tell me my one word . . .
is it yes or no

(In reponse to Neruda's poem,
"Keeping Quiet", on Medusa's Kitchen
yesterday, 5/27/18) 

 —Photo by Caschwa

—Michael Ceraolo, S. Euclid, OH

"free speech for me but not for thee"

insert your favorite saying for hypocrisy

an early American example of such hypocrisy
was the case of James Callender

As long as he was attacking Federalists
all the way up to John Adams,
when he was convicted of violating the Sedition Act
he had the support of Republicans,
including financially,
                             all the way up
to the slippery wizard Thomas Jefferson himself

But when he attacked Virginia Republicans,
including now-President Jefferson,
on things that hit way too close to home
("it is the right and duty
of every man in society,
to expose to public view
all the vices and improper practices")
he was beaten by one of the very men
who had defended him in his sedition trial
and initially held in custody
in lieu of a bond for good conduct
Though Callender was soon released,
there being no basis in law for such a bond,
the hypocrisy has hounded him
long after his death

 —Photo by Caschwa


Two diverse creatures met on the trail.
One was an old, human, photographer,
quite enraptured with the scenery—
bearing long, heavy, noisy, smokey,
rumbling, freight trains of daydreams,
occasionally punctuated with a rare
moment of age-appropriate wisdom.

The other creature was a young rattle-
snake, sunning itself on the pavement,
not quite knowing what to make of
this towering biped with its enormous
shadow, but surely felt the slap of the
glove challenge to take prompt action.

So the juvenile snake summoned all
of its “home” schooling techniques,
hissed and rattled at the human, then
quietly slithered off of the trail into the
underbrush where the lunch menu
was much more thoughtfully arranged.

 —Photo by Caschwa


(Response to Smith, Medusa's Kitchen,

In 1983, city boy teller at the Miracle
Mile corporate headquarters branch of
a savings & loan, where 20 some floors
above ancient tar pits was a special,
separate “executive” elevator to reach
the heliport on the roof, from which the
top boss,

his pilot, his driver, and his bodyguard
would ascend, into and beyond the gazes
of farm boys lying on their backs in fields
that their families had owned for generations,
but now were the titled property of big,
corporate entities that couldn’t care less
about laboring hard to grow healthy crops to
feed the masses now populating the

In walks a contingent of business reps
from a popular singing group to ask for
a cash advance in the amount of
$35,000.00.  My personal limit was less
than 1% of that, but they had phoned
ahead to make the arrangement, so the
supervisor approved it, the cash was
produced and dispensed, and they left

End of shift, balanced my drawer, signed
out, said the usual goodbyes to the usual
coworkers, readied my music system and
walked the mile to the bus to take me home
to my meager rental apartment close to
where I was born;  pause, rewind, repeat

 —Photo by Caschwa


Accused half a dozen times
of extracting sex
from a dead language

*On Colbert’s "Late Show", they did a skit about 
purists deleting “cum” from Magna Cum Laude.

 —Photo by Caschwa


(A template for stalemate)

Every faction calls for action
some quite forceful, some in traction
big money talks and boasts about no flaws
since the rich are carefully shielded by laws
all pledge allegiance to the corporate covenant:
profit and growth are the spine of our government

Lobbyists gloss over horrific loss
what it comes down to is who is the boss
elections are bought like used furniture or cars
candidates vetted by spirited toasting at bars
sure every vote counts, some more than others
but names disappear that were really our druthers

Grieving taxpayers must settle for extra prayers
while real money is reserved to go to key players
we are proud of our modern democracy
guns for all, from sea to bloody sea
Revolution—one step forward, Civil War—ten steps back
tell Congress your demands, and this time cut them no slack!

 —Photo by Caschwa


(Inspired by the direction of Nick LeForce’s
poetry on Medusa’s Kitchen, May 23, 2018)

Sometimes we meet people who have
smarts not taught in school, or athletic
talent far beyond what good coaching
and practice regimens can produce,
or pure natural beauty that demotes
even the priciest of beauty aids to the
status of fool’s gold.

With all due respects to our nation of laws,
it kind of makes one want to tear out every
single page of strict rules and guidelines
found in institutional handbooks, toss them
into the biggest dumpster, and lock the lid. 
Let us leave the vast universe of twinkling
stars in the night sky where they belong. 
Take that urge to discover new rich veins
of stars in all and sundry other places, and
just give it a rest.  That said, this could be
the big one!  I am still waiting patiently for
the Pulitzer Prize people to knock on my door…

 Canada Family Swim
—Photo by Caschwa


New mothers do this all the time,
walk around fully loaded, their
ammo being towels, tissues, and
a magazine of clean diapers.

When baby leaves behind an
offensive trail, mother just picks
it up and moves on because
nonjudgmental bonds of love

are the building blocks of the
perfect world she is trying to create
for her tender bundle of joy.  Amen.
There is no more powerful strength.


Today’s LittleNip:

T_ _  P _ _ R

N_t  en_ _ gh  c_sh
t_  b_y  _  v_w_ll,
en_rgy s_  l_w, c_n’t
m_st_r  _ gr_w_ll

G_mbl_ing  _v_ry  d_y
_s wh_t  m_d_
m_  th_s  w_y
t _ _  p _ _ r


Many thanks to today’s fine poets and photographers on this Memorial Day, 2018! Poetry events in our area begin tonight, 6pm, with the Poetry in Motion read-around at the Placerville Sr. Center in Placerville, or at Sac. Poetry Center for a Memorial Day BBQ and reading by Dave Boles and D.R. Wagner (plus open mic), BBQ at 6pm and reading at 7:30pm.

Interested in what Cal. Lawyers for the Arts has to offer? They’ll be having a free workshop on Wed. from 11:30am-1pm on J St. in Sacramento, discussing how their programs can help artists with legal issues.

Friday will be busy, with a book release at Sac. Poetry Center by Kathryn and Laura Hohlwein at 6pm, as well as The Good Earth Movement Poetry Night in Placerville at 6:30pm, featuring Patricia Wentzel plus open mic. And Friday and Saturday, the fifth annual Sacramento Black Book Fair will take place, with Straight Out Scribes’ opening panel discussion on Friday at 7pm.

Road trip! On Saturday, head over to San Andreas for the book release/reading of
Voices of Wisdom: Preserving the Stories of Our Elders, 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.


 —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, May 27, 2018

Count to Twelve

—Anonymous Photo

—Pablo Neruda

Ahora contaremos doce

y nos quedamos todos quietos.

Por una vez sobre la tierra

no hablemos en ningún idioma,

por un segundo detengámonos,
no movamos tanto los brazos.

Sería un minuto fragante,

sin prisa, sin locomotoras,

todos estaríamos juntos

en un inquietud instantánea.

Los pescadores del mar frío

no harían daño a las ballenas

y el trabajador de la sal

miraría sus manos rotas.

Los que preparan guerras verdes,

guerras de gas, guerras de fuego,

victorias sin sobrevivientes,

se pondrían un traje puro

y andarían con sus hermanos

por la sombra, sin hacer nada.

No se confunda lo que quiero

con la inacción definitiva:

la vida es sólo lo que se hace,

no quiero nada con la muerte.

Si no pudimos ser unánimes
moviendo tanto nuestras vidas,
tal vez no hacer nada una vez,
tal vez un gran silencio pueda
interrumpir esta tristeza,
este no entendernos jamás
y amenazarnos con la muerte,
tal vez la tierra nos enseñe
cuando todo parece muerto
y luego todo estaba vivo.

Ahora contaré hasta doce
y tú te callas y me voy.


—Pablo Neruda

Now we will count to twelve

and we will all keep still.

For once on the face of the earth,

let's not speak in any language,

let's stop for a second,

and not move our arms so much.

It would be an exotic moment

without rush, without engines;

we would all be together

in a sudden strangeness.

Fishermen in the cold sea

would not harm whales

and the man gathering salt

would not look at his hurt hands.

Those who prepare green wars,

wars with gas, wars with fire,

victories with no survivors,

would put on clean clothes

and walk about with their brothers

in the shade, doing nothing.

What I want should not be confused

with total inactivity.
Life is what it is about;
I want no truck with death.

If we were not so single-minded

about keeping our lives moving,

and for once could do nothing,

perhaps a huge silence

might interrupt this sadness

of never understanding ourselves

and of threatening ourselves with death.

Perhaps the earth can teach us

as when everything seems dead 

and later proves to be alive.

Now I'll count up to twelve

and you keep quiet and I will go.

(trans. from the Spanish by Alastair Reid)



For more about Neruda, see

Saturday, May 26, 2018

Hammering the Nails

Boards to Build a Life
—Poems and Photos by James Lee Jobe, Davis, CA

I am hammering the nails that hold the boards of my life.
My friends will tell you that I already know what to do.
I have had the dream where my teeth fall out.
Do you know the one? Dreams give us visions and rewards.
I have seen the rays from a sun that is not our sun,
And the rays from a moon that is not our moon.
I am ready now to walk down to sea
And rest in the cool air of the shore.
My feet are railroad cars, cover in soot. Look at them.
The children are all grown and gone,
And my wife is a person of great strength.
They all have my blessings, and I have theirs.
I have four more nails and one more board to go,
And then this life will be built.


Jupiter has announced the death of the ice.
Vast bergs break off from Antarctica and float away north.
The sea is praying, forehead to the floor,
For a larger database, Inshallah.
The world's heart is breaking. Even sharks long for love.
The sea carried the bergs to the shore of New Jersey.
Dick Cheney says this isn't so, but the sea isn't listening,
And neither is Jupiter. No one is listening anymore. 

 Greetings from New Jersey

And I like it when The Voice says to lay down all reason.
We are alive because of the animal in our blood,
The beast that walks through the soul.
The fur of this animal is coarse and warm,
The claws and teeth are sharp.
When the animal stalks across our time on this planet,
We feel rich and strong.
The grace of the animal shines out through our gaze.
Our blood pulses and throbs.
The Voice knows what we need. Lay down all reason.
Don't waste time wondering why.

 A Lion in the Street

There is a lion in the street waiting for that moment
When you discover your own nakedness.
Where is there to go now?
Fat, stupid men carry rifles into restaurants.
They ask the waiter for respect,
But they want really red meat and fear.
There is a sad song on the wind.
You take a hammer and beat the clock to pieces
While keeping time to the music.
The lion is waiting.
You see that you are naked, and you know
That someone will be crying before this night is through. 

 First Baptist Church, Orland, CA

A dog Sunday, broken like the stalks of harvested wheat.
No one is watching the remains of the field.
In the country church, the book is lifted,
And the word is spoken.
People look for the truth the way a hawk looks for mice.
Often, the truth is hidden; you know that already.
The search might take a very long time.
Failure can be your friend, it calls you every now and then.
It is a dog Sunday, the harvest is over,
The congregation is small, and the hawk is hungry.
She flies low over the field, circling, again and again.
Move along, neighbor, there is no truth to be found here.


Today’s LittleNip:

That I might learn to replace guilt with humility,
Fear with courage, anger with forgiveness, greed with generosity.
That I might use my time to do some measure of good.

—James Lee Jobe


Our thanks to James Lee Jobe for today’s fine poems and pix! For his Davis workshop during the month of June, James will be teaching from Robert Bly’s book,
Leaping Poetry: An Idea with Poems and Translations. This will meet on all on four Tuesdays in June at 7pm in the Senghas Room of the Unitarian Universalist Church of Davis, in the main building. The sessions will run between 60 and 90 minutes, with a break. Bring whatever writing material you prefer, be it pen and paper or a laptop. You do not need to buy the book, but if you want to, James says has the better prices. James will bring copies of various sections to the workshop.

This workshop is free, but registration is required. Once it begins, no new members will be added. Register with James through email at The workshop will be repeated at some point next year; if you cannot attend all four sessions, James asks that you wait until you can.

This morning, from 9:30-1pm, Writers on the Air will feature Victoria Blanco and Jesse Dewhurst (plus open mic) at Sac. Poetry Center, hosted by Todd Boyd. Then this afternoon, 2-4pm, Poetic License poetry read-around will meet at Placerville Sr. Center in Placerville. Scroll down to the blue column (under the green column at the right) for info about these and other upcoming poetry events in our area—and note that more may be added at the last minute.


 —Anonymous Photo
Celebrate the poetry of the hammer!

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

Friday, May 25, 2018

Flight Plans

Three Fates
—Poems and Visuals by Smith, Cleveland, OH


There are dark things that live in caves
and real trolls beneath real bridges
that'll eat you
eat your brother
your sister
your parents
your dog
some of them aren't even monster monsters
just humans mis-wired or mis-raised
the bad side of Darwin
trash compact
low class low act
it ain't personal
it's just you're food
and they're hungry
or inadequate
or bored
perhaps it's karma
you're eaten by what you once ate
so you move up or down the food chain
reborn soft and chewy
or teeth and chomp
and maybe it's pure chance
you're here
hungry stomach's there
just the way it goes
nothing to worry about
but you might want to get
some good running shoes
rear view mirrors
and say your prayers to the players of fear

 Lotus Blossom


I play this game
where I get up before dawn
sit in dark brooding
sipping coffee
taking a toke if I'm lucky
pop pain pill
trudge to mountain
see which rock I've been assigned
which worthless route up which hell hill
and begin the begin again
roll rock up
watch it slip back down
roll rock
lose rock
aim't no rock 'n' roll
just me up here and loss below
day after day
again and again
pain in brain
pain in body
pain in pay
today... and today... and today
forever and ever

 Che Day


Life's this big one-way tree
you're born at bottom
crawl up trunk
get to first branch
and pause in worry wonder
this way or that
that's if you're paying attention
cuz sometimes you miss
and vectors carry
but once past
no going back
done do been did
so work the forward
prepare for branching
higher you climb older you get
till branches thinned smaller weaken
disappear into sky
where flesh falls
spirit flies

 Cover, Artcrimes 1


And speaking of the emissions of sin
and their moist ever after
what's with Dorothy of Kansas
defeating the Wicked Witch of the West
by throwing water on her
making her melt?

Makes me wonder
how Witchy got though years previous
without getting wet.

She couldn't walk in the rain,
or go swimming,
nor take the bath,
which means not only was she wicked
but smelled bad.

In fact how could she urinate
without melting her nether regions?

No teenage French kissing,
no getting hot and wet with sex,
no sweat no tears
nor water dare she drink,
moist cookies probably scared her,
as did cunnilingus and fellatio,
and tearjerk movies were a fatal horror set.

Couldn't cry couldn't salivate couldn't spit
and god forbid one of those flying monkeys
got the shits



Happy is
farm 62 years ago
wild grass and flowers
between the wheat and woods
lying on my back
sun on face
eyes closed
buzz of fly
lowing cow
chicken cackle
wick wick of windmill
distant drone of dog bark
and propeller of plane
growl of tractor
people miles away
no there where to be
all here
all now
all me

Safe is
four years old
lying on back in back seat
soft glow of headlights
and dashboard light in night
late ’40's car swaying side to side
motor droning
tires moaning old highway
parents protection in front seat
no fear
no where
no why
no safe since

Now is
CEO crooks
death by cop
rape by priest
thug in White House
customer-killing corporations
dying body politic
cancer water
cancer dirt
cancer air
movies music TV
no there
no fair
no fly



With wife and cat,
I'm the man with two sweeties
and we paid $100
to have one of them killed.

We were told she would let us know
when it was time to go
and the day before she rubbed my ankles
looked up into my eyes
let out a piteous howl of enough.

At the vet's
I got down on knee
put my fingertip in her paw pads
looked her in eye
she looked back
squeezed my finger
they injected
she looked up startled
and left.

Old kittencat girl
go to sleep
dream love that's yours
from she and me
which always will be
dream deeper
sleep slower
slip from ache of day
unburden bones
free fly from fur
sleep and slip
sleep and slip
away to play.

(for Mandy, 2002-2016)



On street unlit in town unknown
nowhere here to somewhere gone
looking for the light
after hours over
time moved on
down the line
awaiting the unarrived
grateful for disaster's delay.

I see sad women
husbands fallen from hope
exit failing houses
to meet at the well
where forgetting pain
they laugh in gossip giggle
wetting buckets
warming heart
knowing they are not alone.

Darkness sparkles stars
harsh with heart
pearls of diamond night.



I flew in 1953
when I was seven and fell 50 feet
down a hundred-foot cliff
in Mullen Idaho
if my knee hadn't wedged into an outcrop
I'd have hit the rapids below
in hundred-foot belly flop
not knowing how to swim

Seven years later
I flew in my hundred-foot Ponderosa Pine
atop the tallest tree
on the highest hill of our farm
outside Spokane Washington
I'd lay back in my trunk-branch seat
and sway with the wind
with the tree
with me

I tried to fly a prop plane
into a cloud in Navy flight training
Florida 1967
but my instructor wrenched control
told me it'd rip off our wings,
then handled a helicopter,
and passengered in a jet
landing and taking off
an aircraft carrier
boy are they small
from high

1977 left the road upside down 100 mph
in high arc of first motorcycle crash
landed in meadow with minor scratch
but 1977 hit concrete speed bump
too fast on last crash
too high on grass and alcohol and acid
killed bike when I landed
broke collar bone, ribs, cracked pelvis

Little minor flights when
I rolled my first stolen car
1960 in the golf course
and 1977 when I rolled my second car
in my driveway

Finally 2002 jumped from airplane
two miles high
thought I went for the mile freefall
but the treasure is when ‘chute opens
you hang in silence
floating in the wind with the wind
motionless    weightless    quiet
looking down on Amish farms
green-jeweled fields
sun-danced ponds
slow-sway trees
people too far away to bother you
until you land in the ache
of wanting up again

And I fly high in my head every day
waiting for the fame that never comes

 Scar Tissue

Today’s LittleNip:


Clean sheets
New-made bed
Bathed body—
Joy drops in the sorrow

We weep when a child is born
Make merry when they die
For freedom to prison to freedom they fly


Our thanks to Smith (Steven B. Smith) for today’s poeting/posting, and may he fly in peace. And a reminder that Speak Up: The Art of Storytelling and Poetry meets tonight at The Avid Reader on Broadway in Sacramento, 7pm, where storytellers and poets will riff on tonight’s theme, “Making a Home”. 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.


 Pick a Card...
....and Celebrate Poetry!
—Collage by Smith

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.