Sunday, September 30, 2018

Obsession with the Dogwood

—Poems and Photos by Jane Blue, Sacramento, CA


A great wind shakes the Rose of Sharon.
Then a red squirrel leaps out
and all is still. The tree no longer
laden with its lush hibiscus flowers.

It's Fall, the russet leaves of dogwood
bob as in a terrible, Biblical wind.
Until a crow darts out horizontally
as though embarrassed.

Maybe it wasn't a crow.
So many things are fuzzy now
like my father at his typewriter
in a photo from the Thirties.

I know more about the life
of the dogwood.
Most of its leaves are gone or faded now.
Small birds ravish the berries––

You are asleep, and I will be soon.
Then we will get up
and go to lunch.


Tulip magnolias brave the cold mornings
bleed into frost. People take pictures of them
budding, satiny, in layers of magenta and cream.

They are like laundry on the bare branches,
freezing and thawing, freezing and thawing.

It's January in California and spring
pops up everywhere: camellias

dropping petals like ragged petticoats
from the laundry line; flowering quince

flaming from unleaved branches spiky
with thorns. Calla lilies poking up their
shafts, ready to unfurl into flowers.

People also like to snap pictures
of the moon. The moon is so close

they feel an intimacy they don't feel with the sun.
The sun turns its fire to us every day.

The moon hides its face, has phases
like we do, pocked as with some human

disease. With zoom lenses they feel
as close to the moon as to their hung laundry.


Wind howled the rain sideways, horizontal
when I was young. My father

was gone. I walked, head bowed
into the wind.

Oh the elements when you are a child!
How you love them.

Go with me, god of the dogwood
and god of the rose.

My mother
pulled aside the homespun curtains

and showed me the Milky Way
like a storm against the sky.

Go with me, god of the dogwood
and god of the rose.


A tiny hummingbird flies into the hibiscus flowers
of the Rose of Sharon, into the darting bees.

I can't see her drink, she is so quick, her
trajectory so wild, slave to the air's movement

invisible to my eye, my heavy, land-tethered
form. A gulp must be less than a drop

but for her it's a whole meal. Her fast-beating heart
is the size of a fingernail's crescent moon.

Her energy the energy of God; she's always busy
in her heaven. Hers seems a hectic life to me.

It is simply life. A flash of color draws her,
a bit of sweetness. And then she must be off.


Oh the world is strange and varied.
Who you think you are, and who you think

your parents are, who you think your sisters
and brothers are, who you think

the hummingbird is and what she knows--
that is always fiction.


Today's LittleNip:

The flower is the poetry of reproduction. It is an example of the eternal seductiveness of life.

—Jean Giraudoux


Our Sunday thanks to Jane Blue for today’s beautiful poems from her new book,
Obsession with the Dogwood, from Flowstone Press, 2018, available at


 Cover of Jane’s new book!
(Celebrate poetry!)

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

Saturday, September 29, 2018

Eating Life

James Lee Jobe
—Poems and Capay Valley Photos 
by James Lee Jobe, Davis, CA

Call the pigs back from their mud bath. Call the milk cow back to the barn. Open all of the windows and all of the doors. Mama has a song tonight, and her music is as bright as a fire. Bright and hot like the stars in the evening sky, sweet like the corn in the crib.

In beauty and in love, the children join mama in her song. The words of mama's song, like drops of a rain made by god, like diamonds from heaven, are a gift. And now even the chickens join in, lifting their croaky voices up on high.

The pigs do not regret leaving the mud bath. The old milk cow in the barn is humming along. Mama has a song tonight, and her music is a fire, but don't worry, my friend—the water hose is nearby, ready to spray us all down.

You can, if you choose, chop down life
With the machete of your words. Or not.
Anger. Rage. Hate. Indifference.
It’s a matter of choice in the end.
Or—You could choose to just go on.
To have a life of meaning.
Be humble. Live simply,
Attempt kindness.
Try to be a help,
Not a hindrance.
Eat life one moment at a time,
No more, but also no less.

By willing myself to become invisible,
I am able to walk right out of this prison.
But friend, I ask you, are you truly free
If not even one person can see you?

No, we were never friends. You could have been born a maggot or a cockroach, and the world would have been a better place for it. Maggots and cockroaches don't lie. They don't plot and execute acts of evil. You could have been stillborn, or been aborted, and again the world would be a better place today, free of the stink of you. I wish for you.... nothing. I don't wish good things for you, for that would be pearls before swine, a waste. And I don't want bad things for you, that would be an evil on my soul. And mister, you are not worth even one second of my soul. Go now, and be small. May your life be long and average.

Holding a sea shell up to my ear—do you know
That sound? I used to say it was the ocean.
Not anymore. Now I know what it is, it is the sound
Of my son's soul, the son that I lost. And I don't say
Anything at all about it to anyone. I just sit and listen.
Sit and listen.

It's a nice night, so death and I are taking a walk. Stars. A waxing crescent moon. Cool, sweet air. Through the park, through the shadows, until the silent trees, pines and oaks, are all around us, all above us. And there, sitting on the park bench, is my old body. My goodness. I certainly do look worn out. Like a pair of shoes that were worn for far too long. Have I fallen asleep there? Now death is telling me to hurry up, to catch up with him, to not fall behind. Sure thing, pal. I’m coming right behind you. Don’t worry about me.


Today’s LittleNip:

—James Lee Jobe

      Is a god above?
Does it matter? Fresh blossoms
      On my crape myrtle.


Many thanks to James Lee Jobe for his fine poetry and photos this Saturday morning! 

Today from 3-8pm, Sac. Poetry Center will be hosting the 2018
Sacramento Voices Anthology Reading and BBQ, plus 100 Thousand Poets for Change. That’s at 25th & R Sts., Sac. Readers from 3-5pm, potluck BBQ at 5pm. 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 clicking on the x
in the top right corner to come back to Medusa.

Friday, September 28, 2018

Embracing the Anaconda Rain

—Poems by Alan Britt, Reisterstown, MD
—Anonymous Photos

(For Tommy King, William Blake, & Walt Whitman)

Boar whiskers taste like afterthoughts.

Oil the way it mimics stained-glass windows
engulfing staircases gilded by walnut banisters’
scent of dead skin cells anointing humanity.

Saffron eyes rolled up to your rolled down
white Fairlane driver's side & whispered
something off the menu into your left ear;
you swiveled your Southern Comfort head
as I hailed a cab.

All kidding aside, the leopard enjoys
boar but doesn't enjoy killing it,
tusks like kitchen knives,
DNA helix reserved for solitary
leopards & occasional twin cheetahs
that come calling at worst possible
hours when a Kudu calf strays the herd
for extra sweet tufts of something
he or she will never know the name
of, yet risks everything for one
glorious moment of exquisite fiber,
knowing that twins come & go,
but tasting the moment, eternity
in a grain of sand, or leaf of grass,
is worth dying for.


Destroy this temple & I'll ice-skate three days
across your godforsaken forehead.

Keep your mantis mitts, your freshly laundered,
beet-stained fingertips off my block of ice.

Keep your bloody collar to yourself.

Keep your Antiques Roadshow jade symbol
of ultimate creator/intellectual swinging
from your nakedness & mine researching the gunmetal
crevices of midday breasts carved to perfection
below florescent blues inside the Black Rooster Lounge
hours before our high school quarterback staggers out its
front door clutching his chest, liver bleeding, emptying his .38
into posters of German beer models & Southern Comfort.

From muddy ponds, snapping turtles bubble Mississippi adjectives
& Arkansas verbs.

Fusion of nature & language sheds momentary reality
like smegma or the dust from common moth wings;
so, I dissect reflections, geometric paradoxes
posing as king & queen. So much for that. The piano
grows shark teeth; goggle-eyed priests patrol the barnacled pilings;
seaweed tilts a young chin toward oxygen; saxophone, dented
& bruised, sax retaining dignity after centuries of humiliation,
& you ask the coffeemaker stainless steel plated with black petroleum
knobs to foretell what it’s told to foretell.

Violins lacerate shoulders, bare since birth, bare since
the tortoise & the hare, bare since Joan's head rolled down
sticky dimly lit movie aisles sponsored by First Federals
& failed National Banks; violins lacerate men with one thing
on their minds: When's our next meal!

Well, that makes two.

            ★      ♥      neglect ²     (this is diminished)

Factory farming, factory education,
factory farming, ornamental fur collar adorns
the newest Supreme Court Justice (enemy of the state)
fist sinking below smoking pile
of injustice; woe is she who breaks
the spell sending sisters to the incinerator
before revealing her sterling pattern
of justice, before . . . . before . . . . before
& ages before that.


A 14-carat locket with a cracked heart
is a 14-carat locket with a cracked heart.


Love swirls her woolen scarf
from a taxi spraying NYC slush over the curb,
flows into a tavern of topless dancers
& hesitates before scooching her bamboo chair
below plastic netting melted by a flickering 
globe with soot strangling its throat.

Love fluffs her skirt to reveal a diamond netting
of her own. The music
                                                                e    makes
the doorman vomit outside. But strobe lights bruise
rattlesnake hips & emancipated breasts undulating
promises of nasty love.

Bombers in the bedroom giving Mick the shits.

Nickname says give me your underbelly;
underbelly says give me your nickname first,
satisfaction guaranteed.

Supreme Court says don't waste tax dollars
on morality—long-term rewards, notwithstanding,
return on investment is dismal at best
& futile at worse like a soggy Irish match head ripped
from a strip of tavern matches, flaps bent
to imitate nihilism that roams the ether world
[to echo a little-known German Symbolist
in an age when German Symbolists
were under suspicion for all sorts of crimes:
undressing in public, walking pet lobsters
along the Champs-Élysées (oops),
or storing too much grain for a Siberian winter,
or, heaven forbid, demanding the entire
Gulf of Mexico be returned to its natural state
by calendar year 2014 & counting, not discounting].

The way things are going, I'll be 2,068,017 years old
before seeing improvement on the humanitarian front,
much less witnessing PhDs in empathy offered 
at any public institution.

Lemon-lime parakeet with cobalt smudged cheeks
scratches newspaper photos of the royal wedding
before its squish of wet putty blinds one grainy royal eye
while the other oblivious eye waves to all the poor bastards
who'll underwrite her life of extreme luxury for the next
50 years or so, give or take.


I walk around, today,
all misty-eyed.

Why do you do that?

How the hell do I know?

But you said . . .

I know what I said,
and I don’t know.
That’s all there is to it.

Do you fantasize about transcending melancholy?

Assuming escape is a remote possibility—
melancholy scanning the horizon
with its oscillating buzzard vision
haunting the thermals of a low grade fever,
melancholy, pansophical, and flocked
by the omnipresent angels of despair.

Not likely.


Today’s LittleNip:

—Alan Britt

Working his brain to bits & farming too,
said the 6th grader who had to rhyme

but changed his mind just in thyme.
Said a rain-soaked garden hose, coiling

mass of garters. Said the cardinal appearing
two poems ago challenging a Poulenc catbird

whose chirrups resembled the sandpaper
screeches of drunken cicadas smearing

a tropical storm’s gypsy mascara across
the wandering eyelids of dusk.

                    *          *          *
& that’s how four goldfinch cucumber
trumpets embrace the anaconda rain!


Our thanks to Alan Britt from Maryland for today’s fine poems!

SPEAK UP returns to Sacramento tonight, 7pm at the Avid Reader, with poets and storytellers speaking up about the theme, “Rendezvous”. Scroll down to the blue column (under the green column at the right) for info about these and other upcoming poetry events in our area—and note that more may be added at the last minute.  


 Celebrate poetry!

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

Thursday, September 27, 2018


—Poems and Photos by Taylor Graham, Placerville, CA


Chitter of ground-squirrel taunting.
Rattle of dead leaves on the oleander.

My dog pads the deck sniffing crevices
for what’s alive.

Just a hint of breeze.
Summer hangs in tarnished gold of

leaves that will not fall.

But I saw a white dervish
on still air spiraling, inventing dance

of a dead season—a moth
in daylight silver-spin falling/rising

as on cobweb silk,


I walked our September woods looking
for fall colors. Deciduous-oak leaves olive-drab,
just a hint of gold tarnish. Late-summer scarlet’s
already faded from the poison oak. It’s an itchy 
in-between time of year. Live-oak green as ever,
wondering what’s special about the colors of fall.
And our valley oaks, how gracefully they lean
over the hillside without falling. 


Beside the hedge, a car’s up on blocks with
dead pea-vine intertwining, frayed as old lace.
There’s a warped tree house in the blue oak,
a rope ladder climbing up to platforms
like bunks under bare limbs open to sky.
Who would broker such a place?
But garbage goes into the compost heap,
the walk has been swept clean on purpose,
and a well-fed tabby measures the front stoop
whiskers to tail, meditating on autumn sunlight
before afternoon slips the western tree-line.
It’s a place that still loves trees.


Another fly’s caught in the spider’s web,
waiting for spider to take notice, or get
hungry. The new fly struggled against silk
but spider was busy with her lover, high
in the web, the legs of him. Then—small
spider, young and inexperienced I guess—
she cautiously approached the living fly;
touched with one soft foot-tap then another,
closer closer. The next I saw, both flies
were packaged together while, high
in the web, spider and her upside down
mate—was she mourning her dead? taking
comfort from him, with his torso long
gone? Mustn’t anthropomorphize.
This morning, she’s dealing with the flies. 


Our dog’s absorbed in morning duty,
Shepherd ear pressed to hardpan soil, she’s
listening to ground-squirrel burrows
in the sunburnt field. She’s done stirring
oak-leaf tea in the cake pan—water for frogs
in drought—splashing it on the deck.
Where’s she headed now? I call Loki! our
mischief shape-shifter, coyote to sweet-
eyed dog. But always on the move, fence-
runner. Her mind knows no boundaries.
Here she comes bounding, ready to rejoin
her humans inside our walls—until the next
thought passes.


She reminds me of that old photo—years
ago—my dog standing at edge of pond among
oak woods in their falling colors, a meditational
veil of autumn light. Dog testing the air,
taking in scents of seasonal decay
as we searched for an old man missing,
never found. He simply disappeared in fading
of the year. That dog is dead now, and the Muse
of Fall calls her back as lost love does,
filling the empty spaces with elusive light.
The muse of nowhere, everywhere says, Write.

Today’s LittleNip:

—Taylor Graham

Pink-orange on the horizon
gives up to monochrome, just light
enough to see five transitory geese skim
the tips of pines, these last moments
before pond-water gathers them
in folded wings.


—Medusa, with thanks to Taylor Graham for this morning's glimpse of autumn and the colors to come!

—Anonymous Photo
Celebrate poetry!

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


Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Is There A Word For It?

—Anonymous Photos
—Poems by Neil Fulwood, Nottingham, UK


At the end of the known universe
are three portals. The first
opens to a spiral staircase
that corkscrews upwards,
starting as stone and striating
through wood and cartilage
and substances unspeculated on.
Its top step is eternity and the view
is to lose one’s sanity for.

The second leads through a series
of gradually weirder rooms,
of which the one containing
the old man and the Louis XIV furniture
and a model from a Stanley Kubrick film
is easily the most derivative.
The final room is an Amazardoz
fulfilment centre, its racking
clustered with the complete works
of Philip K Dick and holo-downloads
of every episode of Rick and Morty
including all the unmade ones.

Through the third, a bleeding tentacle
thrusts into your hand a report
on how dangerous the simulation is
when poetry is part of the equation.

There are no polarities to be reversed.
There are no flux capacitors to be had.

This is poetry. There is no science to it
and precious little fiction.


It takes a taxi to the airport
and the driver seriously considers
shunting himself and his next fare
into the radiator grille of an oncoming lorry.

It drinks alcohol at nine in the morning
at the airport bar and the bartender
thinks about the sharp implement
used for chipping ice and how else it could be used.

It dozes during the flight and the stewardess
who looks a little like Emilia Clarke and has
three-and-a-half thousand Facebook friends
is spared a moment of crushing loneliness.

It is distracted during the descent
by cloud formations and the patterns of light
on water as the plane skims the bay
and lines up with the runway. Pilot and co-pilot

will wake from nightmares in the next week
or two and keep from each other
the occasional urge to give the fire crews
something to respond to. The driver

of the airport transfer will fail to pin down
the exact moment he stopped thinking of it
as a mini-bus and fancied himself a member
of the Baader-Meinhof Gang, panel van slowing

alongside a Mercedes, machine gun at the ready.


At the bench, he wore a smock.
The bench: vice clamped
at one end, the wall above it
lined with tools and attachments,
arranged according to purpose,
shape and size. The smock:
a stubby pencil in one pocket,
rag in the other. A nail

on the back of the door
for when he shucked it off,
the smock, and hung it up.
Pulled on overalls instead,
slid onto a crawl-board,
swung an inspection lamp
against the shadowy crevasse
of subframe and engine block.


They came up from the depths. From underground. They had abandoned the calendar and in doing so had no measure for how long ago they had been sequestered. Without the delineations of light and dark, time was useless. They came up from the bunkers, from the shelters, from places buried deep. They were losing language: little remained worth naming. They came up through the mine-shafts, the tunnels, finally emerging via a system of ramps. The sky as they had known it was gone. The only building that remained was a church, judging by the shape. A shroud covered it. They stood and looked, maintaining a distance, hesitant to draw closer. The scene had the immobility of a painting. 


Is there a word for it, this sense
of being a long way out, beyond lost,

perhaps as far removed from
anything you could hang a description on

as to have fetched up in some new
landscape or time zone?

Is there a word for it, this feeling
of being a ghost in a town that's unreal,

one of those places put up in the ‘70s
as a practice space for nuclear war.


Today’s LittleNip:

No phone. No pool. No pets. No cigarettes. Ultimate freedom... No longer to be poisoned by civilization, he flees, and walks alone upon the land to become Lost in the Wild.

—Christopher McCandless


Many thanks to British SnakePal Neil Fulwood for his poetry today, black dogs and all. Sorrow is a black dog, they say. And poets around the globe know all about that, of course…..

I hope you didn’t take my bad advice and go down to The Urban Hive in Sacramento yesterday for the CLA copyright workshop. It’s actually tonight at 6:30pm! My apologies for listing the wrong day. 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.

And Carl Schwartz (Caschwa) took yesterday’s dare about using “interloping human malingerers" in a poem. Here is his result:

—Caschwa, Sacramento, CA

We were driving along the interlope
admiring all the colors and humans
working so hard to malinger

a giant billboard features pure soap
high atop golden poppies bloomin’,
the aroma of 5% vinegar

hardly a secret that we’re selling dope
conspiring to plant some on the lawman
breaking news with a middle finger 


Thanks, Carl!


Celebrate our poets across the seas!

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

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Writing in the Color of Now

—Poems and Photos by Joyce Odam, Sacramento, CA


of pre-dawn
just after night’s blue rain.

Winds of no color
break through the night,
sending the dark green trees
and leaves into a flurry.

Even so,
small chirping sounds
of softest yellow
burst here and there.

A squirrel scampers
along a frail board fence
outside the listening window.

I hear all this through
a slow, reluctant waking,
gray threads of
dream-fragments tearing away.

Then comes
the soft gray blue
of morning : 6:00 a.m.
Just like the clock dial said.

(first pub. in Song of the San Joaquin, 2017)

 Red Amid Gold


Sometimes I feel a soft butterfly-shadow and a darting
flicker of light with a movement that precedes the shadow
by a precisive moment.

A flash of color wavers by and enters a waiting mirror
and I feel the compulsion to enter the same mirror as the

A brief flash of color overtakes the shadow and I feel a
change of being as if I am becoming the butterfly that

I am both frightened and enchanted, for there is no time
in the mirror, and I do not know how to follow the van-
ishing butterfly.

 Shadow Depth


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)



to write in the color of now is to avoid the word
at the edge of confusion—calling attention to
itself because it is there

like the need of something vague
like the passing of this moment

select from the center—is it a swirl or a separa-
tion—there must be the realization of color—
an oh, and a where—to write in the color of now

 The Story of Five Yellow Leaves

After Young Moe by Paul Klee, 1938

A small bird on a field of temporary music emerges in a
composition of light which is being painted on a canvas
with a child who watches from a small distance to match
the scope of the bird that did not know of its existence.

Soon everything will fall into place, but for now, silence
chooses a color out of the spectrum to wear against twi-
light, which is a time for calling forth the fears of the day.

The sharp voice of the mother is calling the child, but the
child wants to stay in the blend of time and the perfectly
balanced moment before the bird begins to sing its final
song of time’s duration.

This is the moment when everything fits the intention and
the direction that every force of thought and action has
caused. The hidden child closes its eyes and listens. The
next moment remembers none of it.



What a lonely rain. What a strange night for a lonely rain
to fall. What a sad shame that the lonely night has to end
under such a lonely rain.

What a cold sight to see two leaning people under a strug-
gling umbrella—leaning into and away from the cold sad
rain—pressing hurriedly together as they cross the rain-
dimensioned street and disappear into a flattened doorway
where the white moon casts an image that reflects and then
shreds back against the night.

What a slow-moving night: the rainy window, the cold
room, the remnants of beauty still on their faces as they lie
together—almost in love—listening to the rain.

 They Tell a Story


Now you must do a slow dance
upon your reflection—
a slow dance for the rain
that has left such a shimmering.

Or you must stand in perfect stillness
and look down into your image
that waits for you to step back
to realize how important
such choosing is.

You could lose yourself here—
somehow release
one self
from the other
by a mere decision
of thought that is not yet
ready to give up such power.

You must make
the first disconnection.

But even then
you hesitate at the choice
between resistance and surrender.

So you choose the dance,
and your sad reflection must dance, too.



I would be one with this loneliness
here in this center which can go each way

here where all things coexist—
the light flaring down and the darkness filling

I would be the light as it disperses
and be the shadow touched by the dispersing light

I would be the stillness that watches this
and be the motion that results

Here is a sleeping bird with a silver wing
and a wing of dark.

I want to fall asleep in its eye
and be where it is—

alive and alone
in this perfect center

be no threat
and have no foe

take in a long deep breath and let out a quiet sigh
the way I do when I turn from din to quiet music.


After Spirit of Structure by Edward J. Lavin, S. J.

Go to the barren place—the one with old skies and
nothing for miles but that one white building
standing weather-beaten in dying light.

Go toward it from your little distance—it trembles 
in the constant friction of the air, its foundation
bleeding into the ground.

Take your time.  You will be there for a long while.
The landscape is in pieces.  Its colors smear and
lose perfection, no longer what they represent.

The sky is heavy and may fall, though bits of green
encourage you, there is always a white sweep
of shadow to melt into the dark.

Go into the white building and sleep—and when
you dream, remember the dream—and the
next morning, answer all its questions. 


Today’s LittleNip:

—Joyce Odam

It is always a surprise to find
a swarm of colors come alive—
and separations—
become beings of a new creation.


Many thanks to Joyce Odam for today’s fine poetry and flashy autumn colors, celebrating our Seed of the Week: Fall Colors. Our new Seed of the Week is Household Pals. This is a broader subject than one might think; it could include SnakePals (the poets you see on Medusa’s Kitchen), rodents, insects, pets, or interloping human malingerers. Be creative about what you see in your digs, and 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.

And I dare you to work “interloping human malingerers” into a poem.

Got questions about copyright law? Cal. Lawyers for the Arts will hold a workshop this evening from 6:30-8pm at The Urban Hive in Sacramento. Info/reg at 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.

Cynthia Linville writes: “
convergence: an online journal of poetry and art is currently in transition, and we have decided to stop accepting submissions for a while. My personal focus has changed. I've moved further north to be closer to my parents who need a little more help these days.” Thanks for all the work by Cynthia and the other editors so far, and here’s hoping convergence will be back with us soon!


 Young Moe by Paul Klee, 1938
Celebrate the poetry of lines and spaces!
For more about “Young Moe”, go to 

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

Monday, September 24, 2018

Dear Titanic

—Photos by Caschwa, Sacramento, CA

—Joseph Nolan, Stockton, CA

Dear Titanic,
I loved you
Since before
You were born!
I loved you
Before you were torn
By an iceberg
I sent your way,
To punish
Those who would say,
That you were

Who love the snow
And the Arctic cold!
And know the power
Of frozen things
To tear apart
The Workings of Kings
Who labor,
Down below
Where greener grasses

Oh, yes!
This I know!


—Joseph Nolan

I don’t want
To waste my life
Trying to be
In a house
Where I
Have already
Been rejected!

I’ve a diamond
Up my sleeve:
I know
That I
Can leave,
I choose,
And that
I have
To lose,

To venture out,
A free
Into the
Pouring rain!

No matter
What my pain,
It won’t be
Than the permanent
Of being alone,
At home!


There’s a special place
where correct answers are squirreled
away till too late

*** ***

A minimum of
coffee made you one hundred
percent, and content

(from text found on a Starbucks napkin)

*** ***

Truth be damned, when a
person is eager to tell
what is on their mind

*** ***

The librarian
kicked me out just for reading
in between the lines

*** ***

Missing in action:
detergent that leaves stains, and
the sun when it rains

*** ***

“Fresh Daily” could be
a good newspaper name, or
some kind of excuse

*** ***

Factory slashed their
packages open too low,
now tools cannot last

(from words found on a Harbor Freight
“Tool Disposal Notice”) 


Rotten in Denmark
it’s a new Watergate clone
reeking of silence

a normally live
Congress is gagged by the
fear of speaking out

as if their kinfolk
risk the most brutal death
by foreign powers

or their investments
have been held hostage until
they raise the white flag

sure fishy how the
most valuable aspects
of democracy

the very pillars
of our patriotism
are suddenly gone


It makes perfect sense
if a person can run a zoo
successfully for years,
it is a lateral transfer to
step into the shoes of
the person taking over
running our government.

Love all creatures, keep
everyone safe, well fed,
clean, healthy, happy,
elephants and donkeys
alike.   Put the Trumps
in a gilded cage, visitors
will pay to toss them

Must speak English, but
recognize it is not the
primary language spoken
by the inhabitants.


It is daylight, and visibility is ten miles.  A
large car is motoring down the street and
encounters a family of people crossing
the street, but failing to utilize the marked

There is plenty of time and space to just
pause and let them pass, but the duly
licensed driver stomps on the accelerator
pedal and mows them down. 

Persons to whom drivers licenses are
issued are expected to be fully capable of
the simple act of discerning right from
wrong, as a prerequisite to making choices
that affect the life and safety of others.

Now let’s crank that up several notches to
the individual that the nation has entrusted
with the nuclear codes. 

When the president pompously issues
certain statements as facts, then fact
checks later undeniably contradict those
statements and his press secretary just
dismisses these falsities on the basis that
the president was fed misinformation, it
sure looks like our Commander in Trouble,
whether alone or surrounded by competent
help, is not fully capable of performing the
simple act of discerning good information
from misinformation.


This evening I mounted the
camera atop a tripod and
aimed it at the crescent moon,
low in the horizon.  Zoomed
the lens to maximum and
snapped the shutter.  So far,
so good.

Packed everything up and
came inside, where I linked
the camera to my desktop
computer and viewed the
results:  a banana.

—Rhony Bhopla, Sacramento, CA

snapshot of US economics boasts a feverish need
for raging confetti, candidates in money-filled sleeves

false to project the economy is on a trajectory
for wages sit stagnant, farmers in state of perplexity

bleak Friday will show where the economy stands
get TV, batteries, and stuff before it spirals out of hand

escalation of tariff tactics are causing nations
to leave the US out in the cold, in its masturbations

international leaders watch as Trump tries to show
his bullying works, how to skirt rules of the WTO

disruption in decades-long developed rules
that guide the international trade system
do not just effect politicians and TV moguls
they destroy hope, and make all a victim

hiding behind a racist core, and using protectionism
to push a political agenda is Trump’s single weapon

his voters don’t mind his appalling sexist behavior
but, when the American economy trips
         he will no longer be their savior

—Michael Ceraolo, S. Euclid, OH

Despite the American Revolution
that had ended less than a quarter-century ago,
despite the fact that English common law
had not been enacted by the legislature
during that interval,
                             despite the fact
that the Pennsylvania constitution
and the United States Constitution both
guaranteed the right to peaceably assemble,
in 1806,
             in Philadelphia,
                                    in the case of
Commonwealth v. George Pullis, et al.,

Underl Barnes
John DuBois
John Harket
John Hepburn
George Keimer
Peter Pollen
George Pullis,
and George Snyder,
                              members of
the Federal Society of Journeyman Cordwainers;

the workers were convicted by a jury,
three-quarters of whom were employers,
of a crime that didn't exist
except in the minds of a minority

They were each fined eight dollars
(about one week's wages),
the costs of the trial
(which had been borne by the employers,
not the government)
An observer summed it up neatly:

"they are not at liberty to associate together
for the purpose of fixing the price of their labor"


Today’s LittleNip:


My usual fall
colors, unless I fall from
great height, then add red.


Our thanks to today’s saucy contributors, and to Caschwa (Carl Schwartz) for his fine photos! Michael Ceraolo writes that his poem today is from
American Labor: An Episodic Epic, a new work-in-progress on the history of American labor. And Michael Brownstein sends us a link to his first book (from Cholla Noodles): A Slipknot Into Somewhere Else: A Poet's Journey To The Borderlands Of Dementia. I’m always happy to post links and info about new books, but I’m sorry—I don’t do reviews.

And Sacramento’s Jane Blue has a new book out, too:
Obsession with the Dogwood (Flowstone Press 2018). The Amazon link is More from Jane next Sunday.

Now available online is the latest issue of the Bay Area literary journal,
Ginoska, at Check it out!

Poetry events in our area begin tonight with Poetry-in-Motion at the Placerville Sr. Center in Placerville, 6-7pm, then continue in Sacramento at Sac. Poetry Center with Susan Gubernat and Len Germinara (plus open mic), 7:30pm. Cal. Lawyers for the Arts presents a copyright workshop for creative types Tuesday night, 6:30pm, at The Urban Hive on Alhambra Blvd. in Sac. On Friday, Speak Up returns to The Avid Reader on Broadway in Sac. on the subject of “Rendezvous”, 7pm.

Then on Saturday, the release of this year’s
Sacramento Voices Anthology (from Cold River Press) will take place at Sac. Poetry Center in conjunction with 100K Poets for Change and a potluck BBQ. Readings will be from 3-5pm, followed by the BBQ at 5. Scroll down to the blue column (under the green column at the right) for info about these and other upcoming poetry events in our area—and note that more may be added at the last minute.


Celebrate poetry!

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

Sunday, September 23, 2018


Ian and Pal

—Ian Copestick, Stoke on Trent, England
Aged 33 I had a stroke
I like to say it was a stroke of genius
But, no, that's just my little joke
And there was nothing funny about it
Nothing at all
The doctors don't know why it happened
But my lifestyle didn't help
At the time I was drinking
From the moment I woke up
Until I passed out
At about 3 in the afternoon
I would wake again about six
Eat something
Then keep on drinking
Until I passed out again
Anyway, one day as I was
Following this routine
I awoke at about 7 p.m.
Got out of bed and
My legs just gave way
I collapsed onto the
Bedroom floor and found
That I couldn't get back up
I tried to talk to my wife
And then I realised that
I couldn't speak
   "Blub, blub, blub"
Was what I said
When what I meant to say
Was "Darling, my body seems
Not to be working. I would
Appreciate it if you could please
Contact the Emergency Services".
But no, what came out was
       "Blub, blub, blub"
Several hours later, I was
Diagnosed as having had a stroke
And admitted into the
Neurological ward
They also had to give me
Diazepam to put
Me through a detox
To get me off the booze
I could probably write a long
Long book
About the next few weeks
And what it was like in the
Hospital, the hard work
The recovery, the depression
The struggle
Learning to walk again, painfully
And to talk again, slowly
But at the moment
I just can't be bothered
It's all too painful to relate.
Nurses having to wipe
My arse for me
Because I couldn't do it myself
Isn't one of my fondest
I'm not sure why
I wrote this poem
I haven't got a clue
What it is I want to say.
Something about
Endurance, I think
Or how life can be hard
And how you have to struggle
To get what you want
Maybe just reminding
Myself of the bad times
Should make me
Realise that, no
Matter how bad
Things may seem now
They can always
Get much worse


—Medusa, reminding you to check in to KPFK 90.7FM today ( at 4:30pm for the Poets Cafe Interview with Wm. O'Daly, discussing his translation of Neruda's Book of Twilight. Host: Lois P. Jones.

(And thanks, Ian!)