Friday, August 31, 2018

Moonrise and the Discus

White Diamond Discus
—Poems by Tom Goff, Carmichael, CA
—Anonymous Photos



Muse, tell of the time I sat
and watched the White Discus fish
in the Chinese restaurant
aquarium gallivant
within the bright glassy slats,
eyeing its futile swish.
All purity, all pearl skin
lit iridescently up
idling inside that foursquare cup,
that clarity-walled one bin.
Unblinking innocent eye:
gold shimmer. An eye of content?
Or a fish-saint patiently pent?
As a lamb-placid eye rolls mildly,
a woman appears at the glass.
The hostess, the takeout-bringer?
No, she’s awaiting her dinner.
She, charmed by the odd white fish,
charms it to her with a caress.
Such is the dulse of her mood
(might she be forgetting her food?)
her fingers caressing the glass
seem to penetrate to the fish skin
via atmospheres perfumed and thin.
She strokes glass—thinks of a furred cat?
And the catfish-deep fish, at the tact,
seems to yearn toward touch on its skin,
through the medium, liquid-and-bin.
She murmurs…in Mandarin?
Never is hers the mischievous din
children clink at the fish they would fright.
Discus will not relinquish the wet;
Aquarium clings to its light.
Undissolving lit windowy vat.
Can confinement inside that penthouse
yield an opening into the Real;
the tank’s castle, the kelp shreds, the keel
of coral, all doldrums, no souse,
admit of a bond with this creature,
this aqualess fingery reacher?
Neither of us, I won’t overstress,
will be feasting on watercress…



Look for more radiance in the sunset rouge.
The “noon’s a purple glow” in this new weather.
The lunar rainbow is the midnight feather
flame, our flame, seen far away as Bruges.

Moonrise and sunset.
Ash-rise and dust-set.

The violet-haired cloud, hours before sundown.
The mummification of the fountain spray,
the splash whose drops are butts in the ashtray.
The Fanta Orange rides cloud above the town.

Foretastes of nuclear winter,
if that scenario is what you remember.
Earth shreds, forever ember?
Decanted from residue, air charged with burning glue.

Moonrise and sunset.
Ash-rise and dust-set.



Dermot O’Byrne, I must make words of you.
What famous composer’s alter ego
so drank of the first self’s second-home brew,
the essence of mind-drive, inner stream-flow,
diverting song floods to word-polyphony?
Absorbing the Celtic story stock,
starting from Irish twilight euphony,
yet spiking with tart wit the shock

of legend and tragedy gleaned from Yeats and Synge.
Your bravest poem, “A Dublin Ballad,” intenser
not just for the Easter-Risen martyrs it sings,
but (Englishman) baiting Ireland’s British censor.
Your best work, perhaps, in Wrack, your story-trove:
The title-item, of course, and in “Before Dawn,”
your clever gun-runners ironically rove
toward fates implied; yet purposefully, cunningly on.

“The Vision of St. Molaise” surmounts
the rest, I think, in delineating how art
defies the skin’s and bone’s death—yes, it counts—
yet, tough and fragile as the abbot’s heart-
won task of illuminating vellum, most potent,
it dissolves (like confronting a basilisk?) at one portent…

 White Butterfly Discus

(posthumously completed)

Your Symphony One seems unsurpassable;
G Minor, worthy of Mozart’s crowning work
in the same key. Now, write a pleasurable
Symphony Two. The sophomore jinx, the curse,
the spell of immanent live death heavy upon you.
Frightful, to be dubbed fraud without a fresh opus,
never mind all your fine other works. Lost focus,
alcohol—whatever scatters effort—to daunt you,

as nothing, now that you are gone. Pitched dead
into the Kenmare River. Mere scraps remain
of your new symphony. Yet these bits, read
by Martin Yates, now metamorph back to grain
from grass. Your E-Flat Symphony Two reshapes
under his hands. Authentic? Cavilers
abound to decry resurrection, sour grapes
bobbed for in communion wine. Sore levelers

slight second chances, posthumously granted.
Yates, himself no small composer, hedges,
terming his work of reconstruction Sketches
for Symphony Two.
His diligence unstinted,
Yates voices triumph self-effacingly.   
Symphonic writing—is it not like chess?
Each use of primal note-cells deliberately
pressed onward, to draw or to win, fewer moves to guess.

The living man and the dead man do seem to fight,
the fragments of the deceased resisting day,
the cunning man seeking retrieval from the deep bay,
teasing drenched scraps to cohesive form and light.
This wrangling of motifs (two forceful wills)
binds two distinct visions, disaggregates twin skills…



John Ireland, I admit new thoughts of you,
just having finished Toilers of the Sea.You meant to lead life with a protected view,
I think, from atop a beachfront tower in Guernsey.

What stirs thoughts of tall towers more than Sarnia,
An Island Sequence
? Written for the wistful,
the cognoscenti knowing it no Narnia.
Guernsey is Sarnia, Roman for that fistful

of terrain stuck in the Channel, with Victor Hugo.
You knew his poetic novel emblematic
of all sea-reach prosceniums where too few know
what depths they sound, yet ventures—acrobatic

as self-taught engineer Gilliatt’s rescue of
a ship’s steam engines, waged barehand against Fate,
whether as trials of self for fortune or love—
transpire quite oft; in fact, proliferate.

Your great piano suite was your depth-sounding.
Do Narnias wage war? Sarnia fell soon
to the Stahlhelm, the jackboot; the abounding
grace, fleeing St. Peter Port in time, our boon,

especially now that Sarnia’s orchestral:
in your score sweetness, sadness bound together,
with Hugo epigraph. What wonder, claustral
thoughts: that, not only proof against tough weather,

but safe from imagined stormtrooper platoons,
you sought your Rock Mill. Like a Martello tower,
Guernsey-reclusive. Scant land-miles from dunes,
enough salt air to redouble conjuring power.

You should have lived when Sarnia was arranged
for symphony orchestra by Martin Yates;
from your fine ivory methods unestranged,
yet translated through eerily shadowed gates…


SUMMER MUSIC (symphonic poem, Bax)

Much summer rain in the form of solar shine.
Needled below by grass points we lie prone,
with few or no clothes; air, to the palate, wine
traversed by drunken dragonflies at drone.

Rain down on us, you summer shower, as wet,
or up: two-pronged assault by grass and air.
Prickle our flesh, you summer ants, who get
our heedless crumbs, yet not our love’s full fare.

Your rapturous face on my face, early dew
dissolves like wind-lost words in all the sheen
pressed fine from skin, ecstatic moisture you
bestow as rich ones rain largesse, my queen.

With excellent warrant we lie drenched in rain,
if the rain comes, or if instead more sun.
Intoxicate or saturate: seed-grain
spills generous from your flower-head, vast hot One.


Today’s LittleNip:

When you fish for love, bait with your heart, not your brain.

—Mark Twain


Thanks to Tom Goff for today’s fine poetry! For more about Dermot O’Byrne (aka Arnold Bax), go to To see Discus Snow White cruising, go to

The latest issue of
Sisyphus is now available at

Noon today (and tomorrow) is the drop-off time for art submissions for the City Of Trees Art Invitational at Sac. Poetry Gallery. Info: Then, if you’re in Angels Camp this evening (or thereabouts), drop in on the One Hot August Night Romantic Poetry & Prose Reading and open mic, 6-9pm, Vino Metate Tasting Room on Main St. 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.


Oh well, celebrate poetry anyway!
—Anonymous Ominous Photo


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

Thursday, August 30, 2018

Summer of Fire

—Poems and Photos by Taylor Graham, Placerville, CA


Parched forest—
flames crowning and choke
of ash. Wind
not sighing
but parsing its moves to the
syntax of landscape—

smoke entwines
with air on fire,
epic as
Homer’s gods inscrutable
and still unappeased.


We came to a kink in the road, kind of
a dog-leg kicking east.
        Pulled off, parked the car.
Kanaka comes from Hawaiian for human being.
Past a hanging snag that fell hugely in storm
we hiked, our dogs hankering wind.
               Kanakans? They’d dive into
the rivers, pick up gold nuggets.

But we came for clouds, a kiss
of keen breeze against the hot hunger
of this valley.
                      Rivers? Seems they
picked a place parched, lean. Key
to the heart, keeping secrets weightier
than gold in the pan.

 Sophie & Coaler


The skin of a lamb should be made parchment*
to tell his story. “Charcoal,” our black-
sheep of white parents, nubbin-wooled to warm
him in January storms. Dropped among rocks
by his dam, sheltered under her belly. Look
how he pursues the barren ewes, believing
all the world gives milk, and earth springs with
water in the parch of summer. How he chases
our shepherd-dog Cowboy—does he think
a dark dog could be his father, his best friend?
The dog drops to his elbows, tail in the air,
grinning to play, till mother-ewe stamps her foot,
drives dog away. A world’s prejudice in these
distinctions. Skin innocent as parchment.

*paraphrased from Shakespeare


Almost evening, foothills cooling off; sun-wash
on Stone Mountain. The dry canyon’s
filled with gold-motes. I turn on the well to water
my garden. Unprosperous—tomato vines
weighed down by countless small green globes
with no intention of ripening; gigantic
burst of zucchini leaves hiding fingerling
squash with no thought of growing any larger;
cucumber vine in estivation.
But where my hose connection drips,
life hops. Tiny frogs leap to prove this
is no imaginary garden, and it has real frogs.


Hyla of some sort, our
little masked treefrog so
secret, concealed

creviced in garden till
hose brings a rainstorm and
hopper’s revealed.


I’m trying to get into her head—
this lady pausing through the gallery
of beautiful landscapes,

where I perch on a borrowed chair,
at my old Royal typewriter
on an upturned apple-crate. I’m typing

to request of strangers.
The lady wants a poem about a hill
burned golden by bludgeoning

August sun. She loves our summers.
The heat. The parch.
She grew up here, her father

ranched this land.
Outside the art gallery, intense
focus of sunlight edges every shard

of shadow. Picture the single
spot of shade under a hilltop oak;
birdsong at dawn parching

to silence. Imagine water
in the stillness of sky and land
waiting for storm. Imagine a poem.


Today’s LittleNip:

—Taylor Graham

Hummingbird hovers
at hanging wire basket
dry as our parched fields.
Where is the peavine of June,
the purple vetch of April?


Thank you, Taylor Graham, for today’s fine poetry and photos!

Poetry readings in our area tonight include Poetry Unplugged at Luna’s Cafe, 8pm, with featured readers and open mic, plus Reverberation, a reading with poets and instrumentalists sponsored by Sac. Poetry Center and Crocker Art Museum, 6:30-9pm (open mic at 8:30pm) at the Crocker, 216 O St., Sacramento. (Go to to reg.)

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.


 Late Summer's Bounty
(Celebrate Poetry!)
—Photo by Taylor Graham

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

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Vampires & Other Carnivores

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


She wanted to watch Interview with the Vampire
because it was her fortieth birthday
and she didn’t want to get old.

And I watched it with her,
running my fingers through her hair
as she lay in my lap.

Even though
I thought the whole thing
was stupid
and that the little girl
who couldn’t die

to be the only other one
who knew it.


it is light
and then it is not
the window holds the sun for a time
then loses it
like the errant throw
of a baseball
dirty wet drippings
from the eavestrough
collecting in muddy

murder crouched over coy ponds
studying the movement
with a fluffy crazed

claws balling out the melons
of wasted blood-shot

spooning in dark bedrooms
hands over hands, the cracked
knuckle precipice

in all my years of searching
I have only found


cringe worthy
James worthy
sponge worthy

we are not

the amphitheatre crowd
before its time

alpha waves
behind the eyes

Akashic records
sold as vinyl

and what a name for a store

it is good to slow the mind
and have the words want to say

is a gangly

as much yours



The sound of drill holes
and I sympathize with lumber

lay in bed for fourteen straight hours
imagining death rays large enough
to incinerate the Romantics

to take language
and throw it in a shopping cart
with the rest of the cans

so everyone
can see everyone

on a mattress on the floor
that could almost
be a bed.


My house was never haunted
and I kind of resented ghosts
for that

for the longest time

was I not good enough?
just another another…

seven innings of chewing tobacco
working on a no-hitter

the fire alarm pulled instead
of my leg

those idiots on safari
that insist on getting out
of their cars

surprised when they are mauled
to death
by apex predators

and when the mosquito bit my leg
I thought of tow trucks waiting
for the markets to crash

enough plastic in the oceans
to reconstruct Hollywood
ten times over

closing airspace
fast as Blockbuster

Hemingway got up early
for rewrites, I guess I’m lazy

the way it meets the page
is the way it is;

one of us is right
and he has an estate

children and lawyers
that squabble over the scraps

I think noses
should be cleared like names
if you can

is the historical record
with ego

banker’s hours
and a shortage of

closing the highway
so you miss your dentist’s



I’m so close to being a vegetarian,
she says.   

I can tell she has stayed up all night
watching all those slaughterhouse videos
on YouTube again.

She knows I can’t stand steak
or pork chops
or even sausages which she
has a soft spot for.

Anything but ground meat
is beyond me.

As long as I don’t have to see it,
I fully admit.

Guilty as charged.
I am closer to being a vegetarian than her.
But I like my meat.

And she does too
even though she won’t
admit it.

We are carnivores, I say,
why do you think I bite down
so hard on your nipples
each time you moan?

She smiles
and that is how things


What came out of the taps
was elbows,
the Greek money shot of Byronic love
opening a savings account
in the Andorran Pyrenees,
funnel cake to money laundering
bakers with at least two dogs
in the fight and one in the audience,
a frosted window voyeur in the classic
stalker sense, on a Hollywood watch list
because of high-powered binoculars into
plush A-list bedrooms,
rehydrating on cups of stark
raving drinking water,
imagining window washers
as King Kong enthusiasts
with buckets,
new to the country
and the popular etiquette,
and when he turned on the television
he looked for clues,
the channels were there to trick you
into a comfortable numbering system,
sitting in the dark knowing there was
no such thing as vampires.

Today’s LittleNip:

—Ryan Quinn Flanagan







—Medusa, with our thanks to Ryan Flanagan from above the border for his fine poetry today, reminding us that Halloween is just around the corner! 

 Celebrate poetry!

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

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Night Bird

In One's Mind
—Poems and Original Art by Joyce Odam, Sacramento, CA


These are the wet wings at the door
this hanging bird
fallen about the house
its pulses beating to get in
its heart complaining.

The marksman stands in a field
looking for it—
its hound uncircled and howling—
but he has lost the look of it.

Its eye is at the chimney
glowing thin
its talons grip the shrubbery
its beak is gasping at the kitchen window.

What shall we say this winter
with such a conversation piece?

We name him wrong.
He is our love
so helpless and heavy.
And we cannot move our pressure from our days.
He will not heal or die.
He is our helplessness.

 Once Loved


You swore you would stay mysterious,
let the rooms hide you, train the windows
not to see when you looked out of them.

You would retreat into one of the shadows.
You would not answer the disguised voice
with the edge in it.

You would use light for deflection;
silence for absorption,
you would drift out of yourself.

You would adapt to everything,
shed and layer yourself with each evasion.
Your scream would stay in your throat.

Your breath would become shallow
with listening. You would perfect your
surface, practice normalcy for its disguise.

Who would know you like this,
who would want to find you, even now,
for all your antiquated secrets.



From the breath of cities comes the old dark
and its favorite night bird that
chitters once outside my window
and is gone—gone to what other darknesses

there are between it and its swift reflection,
that myth of substance—and I feel the night

close over where the night bird was
and erase the memory of itself—and now
the porch light shifts back into place,
and I turn back from that sound that I imagined.

 Blue Dreaming


Eddie-Lou says, Oh, I’ll do it, and dives under the water
in her dress, her hair just done, to attach the rope-line to
the rock. I can’t see where or how she is going to tie it,
but she does—and still under water—taking her time—
she reattaches her ear-ring though I fret and gasp above
her on the long and slippery planks of the narrow path—
the rest of the rope-line stretching out behind us . . . .


Theodore Roethke

Imagine the long dark of morning, the slithering aside,
the soundless whisperings heard above growing :

the ghost : come from the skeleton, come from the
flesh, come un-weighted by all, save death, moving
in deep sea-rhythm, made of the same stuff as wind,
looking around with new force—being both seed and
withered conclusion, both orchid and moss—moving
now to the source of love : memory and its rhyme . . . .

looking toward the glass distortion to the sky
(made of that light) the images in the glass :
fragmented eyes that are green, struck blind by light,
glancings of time in shock-value of
timelessness . . . turning that look aside . . .

so out of death (whatever death is) the ghost, male
and aware, knows all that it gave old question to,
dreaming back to all the error and concern—
teaching again, whatever next comes to learn :
all that moves here—all that is alive in the
grave-like dark, damp as a forest—are
transmutations, in stubborn life (whatever life is)

celebrating this most perfect place that is
everywhere, but here most especially :
Ghost of Roethke—putting it all back—
whatever was out of order—whatever was harmed.



Words on stone—abbreviations of life,
succinct, or falling short—

that celebrate
(or delegate) to history’s recall.

Cemetery walkers wander here—and here—
reading these measures of esteem:

the names, the dates, the outworn plaudits, 
and marvel at how faint, how worn

they have become, communicative now
to scanning eyes—to whispering voice—

perhaps with bits of reverence
for sentiment most prettily engraved.



Sometimes the call is faint
and from a distance unrecalled,
the first reminding,
a pleasing thought that tried to hide.

But a call was there,
sifting between the silences.
I strained to hear it.

It had words, muffled and tender.
It had urgency.
It made a promise too thin to hear.

Had I time enough I would have followed
the first echo. I counted on the loyalty
of love that was as fragile.

What in this terrible moment of loss
took precedence—what did I lose
that mourns so heavily in me now?

I search the golden end of every sunset,
feeling, knowing, and remembering—
but all the sunsets glow like this,
and none remember me.

 Three Flamingos

After Time and Eternity by John Haberle, c. 1890

Torn notes and one small photograph
—all thumb-tacked inside a frame
to mean what they mean.

Pocket watch full of lost time.
King of spades and nine of hearts.
A crude cross on a wooden-bead chain.

The watch says 2:27.  It hangs on a nail.
The cross is a rosary.
Or not.

The nine of hearts and king of spades
have no significance
out of the deck.

Bent nails stick up from their shadows
there used to be glass—

the backing,
a wall of yellow—
the frame, a thick-door brown.

A tarnished plaque is tacked
at the bottom with some words
too faint to be read.

It’s all there
to be seen.  And we look. 
What is Art?


Today’s LittleNip:

 —Joyce Odam

Here is a gray thread pulling me back through
reams of somewhere as old and far

as all faint memory—blue with age—
following itself along old routes and mazes

dense with detail heaped in the oily shadows
of night as it stitches the ragged years together.

(first pub. in
Sustenance, 2001)


Many thanks to Joyce Odam for today’s fine poems and original artwork! For more about painter John Haberle (see below), go to

Our new Seed of the Week is, in honor of Labor Day, Hard Labor. 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.


 Time and Eternity
—Painting by John Haberle

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

Monday, August 27, 2018

The Dog Ate My Haiku

—Photos by Caschwa, Sacramento, CA

—Rhony Bhopla, Sacramento, CA

To denuclearize, or not to denuclearize
that, is the question             Kim Jong-un.

Trump: There is no longer
      a nuclear threat from North Korea

Mr. Assaulter-in-Chief, cool off
in the White House fountain. That mediagenic
signing ceremony between you
and Dangerous Dictator
was useless.

International Atomic Energy Agency,
U.N. nuclear watchdog, agrees—North Korea
continues production of fissile material
for  n u  c   l    e     a       r   weapons.

of liquid-fueled
ballistic missiles
outside Pyongyang—
business as usual.

To denuclearize or not to denuclearize
that, is the question     Hassan Rouhani.

Mr. Chaotic Tweet-Meister exits
the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, without cause,
and exerts sanctions, no clarity of purpose,
and defies allies.

The deal is dead.
Mr. Demander-in-Chief: IAEA* inspectors
in Iran provide U.S. intelligence
monitor uranium enrichment
that fuels nuclear reactors
that create  n u  c   l    e     a       r   weapons.

The deal is dead.
Hemorrhage will ensue
along ill-advised solutions
to prevent war.

*International Atomic Energy Agency


A left-handed pitcher
expertly releases the ball
to arrive over the plate,
teasingly high, fast sinking

the batter swings, connects
and sends a bloop grounder
just beyond the strained
reach of the short stop

over comes the center
fielder to back up and he,
also, fails to secure the
ball in his trusty glove

not to worry, they have gone
over this in practice hundreds
of times, the left fielder will
hustle over to back up the play

What’s that?  He is out near
the fence, sitting on a tall chair,
not wearing a glove, applying
white powder to his nose


My son lives in a community replete
with organic farms; a scrap of plastic,
fantastic, that is NOT for the landfill,
send it to be melted down and

I like that

Here in the suburbs, they hit us with
endless laws, labels, and internet links
about what particular items will be
accepted in which of a collection of

Can’t stand that

Like petty thieves want only contraband
they can quickly and easily convert to
cash, our civic leaders set the same
goals for our household recyclable

But time is money

Consumers who don’t happen to have
law degrees or encyclopedic memories
see a triangle with a number imprinted
on plastic and do their part to save the

Recycle bin, discussion over.


Along Miracle Mile there is
one large city block which
includes three popular
attractions: La Brea Tar Pits,
Page Museum of La Brea
Discoveries, and the Los
Angeles Museum of Art. 

Casual observation proves
that children who are
small-minded and fidgety
when they are brought in to
these attractions are no
less small-minded or fidgety
when they are brought out. 

Conversely, parents who
may have looked quite
anxious at the outset of
their visit demonstrate at
least some elements of an
aura of relief upon their exit. 

The tar pits and museums
do offer many educational
displays of items that are
“countless ages old”, to
borrow a handy, poetic term.

In actuality, they have workers
on staff who pride themselves
on their ability to tell you more
precisely than you ever cared
to know about the true age of
every single fossil, artwork, or
relic, while the real objective
of each new group of visitors is
to sample for themselves the
raw experience of putting one’s
foot in the tar.


Perhaps replacing
the Electoral College
with a big tumbler

*** ***

Low frequencies in
Liverpool spawned flexible
times, do freight trains, too?

*** ***

I have readied the
guest room with a bold rainbow
come, leprechaun, come

*** ***

This is the exact
same place I got to when I
last sat here to write

*** ***

I may be correct
one hundred percent, for sure
but lies own my tongue

*** ***

Not another day
can go by without hunger
for truth that is pure

*** ***

The editor ate
my haiku about the dog
eating my homework


Today’s LittleNip:


That last lover
who did you wrong
you two didn’t rhyme

shut the books
open the windows
let the poetry sail in

under your clothes
under your skin
any insidious path

the sound of birds
the scent of leaves
a cocktail of fallen pollen

decorate the house
with herbs and flowers
no clocks, no time

no fault, no blame
or Olympic flame
peaceful reverie.


Our thanks to Rhony B. and Caschwa for waking us up so charmingly this Monday morning!

This week’s poetry in our area begins tonight, 6pm, with the monthly Poetry in Motion read-around at the Placerville Sr. Center on Spring St. in Placerville, then continues at Sac. Poetry Center in Sacramento at 7:30pm with The Poets Quartet (plus open mic).

On Thursday, Crocker Art Museum and Sac. Poetry Center present Reverberation: Poetry, Music, Translation, featuring poets and pan instrumentalists from 6:30pm-9pm (open mic from 8:30-9pm) and hosted by Rhony Bhopla. Or drop in at Luna’s Cafe in Sacramento for Poetry Unplugged, with featured readers and open mic, 8pm.

If you’re in Angels Camp on Friday, Manzanita Arts Emporium will present One Hot August Night Romantic Poetry & Prose Reading at the Vino Metate Tasting Room on Main St., 6-9pm. Friday and Saturday are also the art drop-off days (at noon, Sac. Poetry Center) for artwork submissions for the City of Trees Art Invitational to be held at SPC in September.

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.


 Monday Morning
—Photo by Caschwa
Celebrate poetry that stings!

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

Sunday, August 26, 2018

Like the Wild Geese

—Anonymous Photo

—Mary Oliver
You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.

Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.

Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting—
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.


—Medusa, reminding you that if you’re down in San Francisco today, stop at Fort Mason (Bldg. C) from 1-5pm for the Two Autumns Reading by the Haiku Poets of Northern California.

Saturday, August 25, 2018

The Taste of Darkness

Coffee at 5 A.M.
—Poems and Photos by James Lee Jobe, Davis, CA

This is the taste of darkness,
The taste of metal in the air,
The taste of electricity.
You close your eyes
To the sunlight of noon.
The taste of your eyes.
The taste of sunlight,
The taste of day.
Walking with your eyes closed,
No they're covered,
And one arm is reaching out.
The taste of walking.
The taste of an arm in the air.
Now it is night,
You can taste the darkness,
Like metal, like electricity.
This is the taste of being alive.

 Morning Joe

It’s clear that the saucers aren't coming
To take us away after all. Let’s all let go
Of the old humiliations and move on.
Yes, the father was a raging alcoholic
And he never really loved the mother.
And yes, the child was wounded and scarred
At birth; this was intentional. We are all
Perched on poles waiting for the crows
To come and peck at our flesh. It’s a tough job,
And it doesn't pay well, but there is one perk;
Pity and denial don't work anymore, so
Now we all get to feel again. For many
Of us, it is for the very first time.

 Out For Coffee

You have a small non-speaking role in this film.
You are walking across a busy plaza, past stalls
Where people sell things; fruit, vegetables, scarves,
Crafts. Like that. Everyone is speaking Spanish.
In the distance, festive music. As you walk,
You are carrying a heart in a lovely blue bowl.
The heart is bloody, and as the camera zooms in,
One can see that it is still beating. With each beat,
There is a small squirt of blood. The bowl is half full
Of this blood. The sound of the beating gets louder
As the camera gets closer, until finally it booms
Like a kettle drum, and drowns out the noise
Of the plaza. The camera rises up to a close-up
Of your face. You are smiling, at no point
In this film do we ever find out why. Just past
Your face, a small flock of pigeons takes flight.

 Iced Coffee

The weight that we each must bear.
The needle and the thread.
The left and the right.
Something that is and something else that is not.
Up and down.
Within and without.
Which light is for you?
How much weight can you bear?
Don’t speak now, save your answer
For when the fog covers the river and the valley.
Tell your tale; the balance of your life
Aligns with this watershed of place,
This home that you have claimed.
Look, on the low horizon,
Below the clouds; that is Venus.
Walk towards that minuscule dot of light.
Thread your needle, and do not look left or right.
Take with you that which is,
And leave behind you that which is not.
The only weight you have to bear is your own soul.

Mishka's Coffee in Davis, CA

The full moon is hidden by clouds
And I am mistaken for someone,
But I am not anyone at all.

I am crawling under the porch
To count on my fingers the number of times
That I was actually needed.

I am wearing a veil like a grieving woman
And cutting my arm with broken glass.

I am hidden by Tule fog and scarred
From old wounds and from the diseases
That failed to end me.

I do not fear the consequences.
I am burying my regrets under the porch.

The clouds that cover the moon are clearing now
And the fog is a brilliant white in the moonlight.

I am coming out now to wash the blood away
And to return this body.
This body is a loaner.

I am putting one foot in front of the other.
I am not looking back.


Today’s LittleNip:

That we might find compassion for every person in our path.
That we be warmed by four kinds of light:
Starlight, sunlight, moonlight, and the light within.
That we can live every day as though it were the last.

—James Lee Jobe


Many thanks to James Lee Jobe for his morning light shining in the Kitchen today! James writes that the date for his inauguration as Davis Poet Laureate has been moved up; now it’s Sept. 11.

Head over to Sac. Poetry Center this morning, 9:30am, as Writers on the Air presents TJ (aka Brother Hypnotic) and Elaine Fine, plus open mic. Then this afternoon, Poetic License will meet at the Placerville Sr. Center from 2-4pm. Scroll down to the blue column (under the green column at the right) for info about these and other upcoming poetry events in our area—and note that more may be added at the last minute.


 —Anonymous Photo
Celebrate poetry, and the taste of darkness and of light!

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, August 24, 2018

The Gardens Inside You

—Anonymous Photos
—Poems by Claire J. Baker, Pinole, CA


Hope is a falcon
I trained for years to glide
from my gloved fist,
land on a far gate,
fly back for raw treats.

One day, grateful for
long obedience,
I unfastened his bindings,
ripped off the leather glove,
watched hope wing high,
taste nuances of the wind,
steepness of the sky,
leave blue shadows over
the meadow where I waited.

About three weeks later
my falcon flew back
more familiar than my hand
and as if he had never
flown off to taste another life.


In another life
she was patina on Tibetan
prayer bells
monks gazed upon as
slowly they gathered
before they set
monastery bells
echoing through
the Himalayan range.


The elegant two-level span
offers arched alcoves
just above water, where lovers,
prophets, artists gather...
A young woman sits
safely alone, sketching
her version of paradise...
A man plays refrains
on a mandolin attuned
to the key of rapture.

Kajou Bridge,
its ambience mystical, serene,
is less about crossing the Zanayeh
and more about realizing
a bridge to and from one's soul.

Rumi and prophet friend Shams
surely had known a Kajou Bridge
of their own, quick to retreat
into its niches,
river-ripple patterns reflected
on walls like quaking mosaics,
the two reaching down on sultry
Persian evenings to bathe brows.
Surely on such a bridge Rumi wrote:
"You will see gardens
with secluded rose bowers,
and they will all be inside you."

(for Linda)

Along the Machu Picchu trail
my American friend buys a shawl
from a Peruvian weaver whose shuttle
has traveled farther over wool
than my climber's bootsteps!

A cell-phone photo shows Linda sitting
at Machu Picchu looking weary and proud...
Miles back, the weaver had spread
her shawls over bare earth, the colorful
designs melding like borders of countries.

Acclimated natives seeking their Incan
ancestry, easily explore the ruins,
while my brave senior struggles to
breathe, to move, in high altitude
and steep terrain.

I, an elder with only dreams
of such a feat, am honored with a shawl
with photo of the artisan standing over
her work—from my climber friend
who day-after-day ascended
into thin air of Machu Picchu.


A man's left arm dangles
from a pickup truck
as he waits for green light—
a strong tan arm,
blue shirt rolled to elbow.

His curved fingers relaxed
on steering wheel exude rich
experience, a fellow who needs
no help, but who helps others go
an extra hundred miles.

When light burns green
my fantasy yields to freeway
on-ramp where the stranger
glides, entrance signal
friendly as a handshake.


We've this quiet place
to reread chapters, revise
or add stanzas, relive
shared themes, preserve
translations on shelves
within accessible reach.

all covers/pages
are mended. No one looks
over our should to censor
what we read or write,
whether we make notes
in margins, what content
we choose to dismiss
or further preserve.

We relax—
no overdue penalties,
no closing time.

(first pub. in Song of the San Joaquin)

Today’s LittleNip:


A hummingbird
zipping past
our picture window—
seemingly dotting
each "i"
and crossing each "t."

—Claire J. Baker


—Medusa, and thank you, Claire Baker, for your poetry today about exotic climes and the falcon of hope!

Celebrate poetry—and the garden inside you!

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.