Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Howling at the Moon

—Anonymous Photos

—Cynthia Linville, Sacramento, CA

Written with members of English 5, section 36
at Sac State in Fall 2018

Jack Skellington socks
Crunching through the leaves
Lady Gaga costumes
Cinnamon Hot Tamales

Alice in Wonderland, Spider Man
Butterfingers, Hershey’s
Trick or treating in rich neighborhoods
Counting up our money

Staying up past midnight
Telling vampire stories
Riding our bikes through dark streets
to the park with spooky trees

Apple Hill apples
Fudge and caramel
A mountain of candy in the living room
Watching Legend of Hell

Magic Mountain Fright Night
Chased by scary clowns
My little cousin peeing his pants
My best friend falling down

Spending the night in ER
with Chewbacca and L3
It wasn’t what we’d planned
but it makes a good story

—Joseph Nolan, Stockton, CA

The four-legged woman howls
At the two-legged baboon
To whom
She is married.

Sound is well-carried
Across a blue lagoon
Where coyotes
Howl at the moon
All night
If it feels right. 


Twas the evening before
All Saints Day, porch light on,
sweet candy at the ready,
sainthood quite set aside

A robed medicine man
prepares his enticing spiel
inside your front hallway
awaiting the knock on the door

Tap!  Tap!  Tap!
the door creaks open slowly
Trick or Treat!!!
shouts the murder of crows

barely old enough to stand
upright and walk, still nursing
the sores of new baby teeth,
costumed as zombies and

angels and everything, escorted
by flashlight toters.  A wrinkled,
old hand picks up the prize and
feeds their precious bags.

This is the really good stuff, top
choice. You wouldn’t at all mind
having a stash of this for yourself.
Leave me alone for a moment.

Deeper into the night the porch
light is extinguished, and all the
tricksters, all the treats, and the old
medicine man happily melt away.


even though there is a big one living
under the bed: sleeping all day

down there between the dust motes
and the candywrappers: flipping

the corners of his quilt out
of boredom in late afternoon: lurking

just beyond the brave beam
of his flashlight. . .  Of course ghosts

don't exist: it says so in musty
library books: in the tall legs

of grown-ups: in windy sunshine
and kids that tease: in the bland drone

of the TV flickering blue in the next
room after he goes to bed. . .  Of course

ghosts don't exist: all that nightly
grunting and rustling is just

wind from the open window: thump
of his heart keeping time in

the dark: ragged edge of a dream
he can't ever quite shake free. . .

—Kathy Kieth, Diamond Springs, CA


is a job for the night shift: bloody journey
into the Cimmerian: slimy black tunnels

into the underground: damp mossy walls
and that fetid odor of oozy flesh not yet

living, not yet dead. . .  Follow the rank
smell of inky ignorance: find the heart

smudged with self-loathing, pulled out
of its chest still beating, then turned into

a witch-tool by a rain of painful days. . .
Find all those lost hearts and show them

the grace of a witch-finder—some small
whisper of light to draw them back

out into the day—draw them past
the boggy walls of this pitchy, pitchy cave. . .

—Kathy Kieth


and its merchandising, retailers
pound stakes into the heart
of Labor Day: black cats and pumpkin-
grins at every checkstand: rows of candy
to sweeten the coming darkness. . . 

Scraggly finches, relieved
by cool nights and the egress
of demanding chicks, leave cobwebby
tombs where noisy nests used to be,
take time to focus on fattening
themselves enough to slip past
the graveyard of winter. . .

—Kathy Kieth


Today’s LittleNip:

It's said that All Hallows' Eve is one of the nights when the veil between the worlds is thin—and whether you believe in such things or not, those roaming spirits probably believe in you, or at least acknowledge your existence, considering that it used to be their own. Even the air feels different on Halloween, autumn-crisp and bright.

—Erin Morgenstern


Our thanks to today’s contributors—though of course we all know that ghosts don't exist . . .

This just in: on this coming Sunday, Nov. 4, from 10am-2pm, Taylor Graham and Katy Brown will facilitate a poetry writing workshop called, Observing Autumn at Wakamatsu Farm. 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.


The Morning After 
—Anonymous Photo
(Celebrate Poetry in All Seasons!)

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, October 30, 2018

Pursuing the Dark Unease (The Fear Collection)

Where Am I?
—Poems, Photos and Original Artwork 
by Joyce Odam, Sacramento, CA


Fear comes tapping toward me with a long stick,
pointing and swaying, tapping its way
through my hiding;
fear with its blank face and glazed eyes rolling,
making me cower deeper into the shadows;
fear with its caneless hand out-stretched and groping,
feeling its way
toward the sound of my breathing.
I close my eyes,
but fear is still there,
its white cane sweeping;
I melt through each swipe of the cane
and manage
to avoid being touched,
but the space we both fit is so small;
and fear can sense me—feel my nearness—
and is ever so deliberate now.
The wall shadows are not dark enough to hold me—
though I press so deeply into them.



Mother gave it to me,
her first fear.

It will protect you
she told me,
and it did.

She bought me a tiny cupboard
to keep it in
and told me to keep it dusted

Each year
she added another,

and when I broke one
she was so hurt…
I never broke another.

(first pub. in CQ [California State Poetry
Quarterly], 1996)



See how this is important,
how I know these things?
You will leave me for this.
But you have given yourself to me
and I must consider what this means.

I must consider what this means:
It’s the way I seem to go mad,
then quiet; it’s the way I look at you;
it’s the way I look away from you;
it’s the way you close your eyes and moan.

It’s the way you close your eyes
and moan that excites me.
Did I do this to you?
Do I have that power?
I must consider what this means.

You will leave me for this.
But you have given yourself to me
and I frighten you.
See how this is important?

(first pub. in Mobius, 2004)



My fear talks to me in a different mirror,
haunting my image with his,
if indeed there is a gender. 

His under-voice is a hum in my head
as though thinking to himself
but knowing I hear.

is behind me in the glass
is behind him in the opposite glass.

Why two mirrors
for this? I think. And his eyes
respond. Must I console him? I wonder.



this morning the crow, with its cold gray voice, cawed

and cawed until the second crow came to the bare pear
tree, and perched—and the first crow cawed some more,

until the third crow came, and the cawing stopped—and
there they balanced, nervously, a monochrome of winter,
three crows, passing the ornate silence back and forth.



A flow of sadness moves down the long blue sides of
her ancient body and she shudders with ecstasy.
The sampler on the wall uses black embroidery thread
only, symbolic of nothing.
The gold songbird under the silence-cloth of its cage
must wait and wait for permission to sing.
Two blue ravens sit in the stark black tree of misery
and tell each other terrible things.
The blood on the floor makes a beautiful collage
she walks through with her cold bare feet.
She washes herself under red water and wonders why
it takes so long to run clear.
Two blue ravens huddle together in the rain for so long
they turn transparent and begin to disappear.


(for my Grandmother)
A letter would come,
       formal with portent:
death’s black envelope,
       by duty sent—
blurring across the page—
      that by the time received
the news was old,
      but old news was still grieved,
though cold with time and distance—
      news of someone’s dying.
Opened.  Read.
      Responded to with crying.

(first pub. in Nanny Fanny, 2004)



How were we to know that dark was so long, and so low
to the ground; how it took our shadows to itself and hid us
from all sound; how far it went to muffle what we almost
said in time.  It was so simply every-where.  It caught us
in a mood, precisely right —precisely toned—with last
light trembling near—so like a last chance that we took.
I do remember fear—the way we some-how pulled our-
selves away and out—and how the dark snapped shut and
swallowed back.  Mygod, we could have disappeared.

(first pub. in Parting Gifts, 1998-99)

 That Was Fun


Ah, sweet cloister,
shadowed stone wall
pocked with sunlight,
open doorway darkened,
the wide steps narrowing,
a potted plant on each one,
full-grown ivy—thick along
 the lower wall, the iron railing
firmly attached—no sound—this
is a silent day—not a rustle—not a
drift of motion of anything or anyone.
If you are ready to ascend—pursue the
dark unease,   climb each stair,   cross the
threshold,   peer inside,   call out,   and enter.


Today’s LittleNip:

—Joyce Odam

A black leaf outside my door,
a rain-leaf hiding from the rain

—glossy as fear, or its opposite,
release—but to what end—

I am the sympathetic one
who loves it.

(first pub. in
The Aurean andMedusa’s Kitchen, 2013)

Our thanks to Joyce Odam for today’s fine, scary poems and pix on our Seed of the Week: Halloween! Our new Seed of the Week is an ekphrastic one:

 —Anonymous Photo

Let this anonymous photo play on your heartstrings, then 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.


This witch's familiar is a trickster . . . 
—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.

Monday, October 29, 2018

Electric Breeze

—Anonymous Photos 

—Ann Wehrman, Sacramento, CA

electric breeze invites street dust to dance
flips red-yellow-orange leaves akimbo in air
lifts birds into flight
warms dragonflies and my spirit
rich turquoise sky dome poked
by redwoods’ peaks swaying with dignity
interrupted by sparrows, mockingbirds,
and a displaced gull
who strayed too far inland during rain
yellow-white sun lights russet leaves
on smaller trees’ limbs
gnarled olive trees’ ripening fruit peeks out
another gust, leaves swirl across the road
I sit and watch, warm in autumn sun
let the wind dry my just-washed hair
bake aging joints until I want to
skip and dance with the leaves in autumn’s glory

—Caschwa, Sacramento, CA
Admittedly, the media’s popular subjects of
my poetic voice up in knots, so instead of
inviting all that TENSION, I’ll quietly remove
those DEMONS and FOOLS from the copy.

Just for a moment, lights gently dimmed,
I can now focus on me, my favorite pillows,
that stack of UNPAID BILLS, the little dog
needing some big attention RIGHT NOW! 
Who turned the lights back on?

Ahh, that was refreshing.  In that little, blank
space between stanzas, I actually got to
experience a tiny bit of sleep.  Too bad the
favorable REM was replaced with RAVING,
EXPLODING,, MANIA,,, (DAMN comma rule)

Thinking back, the epitome of peaceful was
on the trail behind the Nature Center, so
beautiful, serene, problem free, until the up
close and personal HISS and RATTLE of a
snake basking a few feet in front of me….

So I’m waiting for cooler weather and cooler
heads to prevail before taking that same trail
again.  Much thanks for allowing me to grab
a short nap.



Took someone’s great
suggestion to start at
the end point and not
spend too much effort
on preliminaries.

So here I am, my bare
toe on the finish line,
while others in the race
are still settling into their
starting blocks.

We skip due diligence,
DNA tests, and execute
the wrong suspects, so
why make such a fuss
at the beginning?

When the goal is clear,
just go straight for it, no
excuses: burn the witches,
burn the truth, burn the
city down to the ground.


Anyone who claimed to know
that this was coming was
rudely discredited

We now have awarded the
position of President to a self-
admitted sexual predator who
has never before held a public

We have also awarded the
position of Associate Justice
of the Supreme Court to a man
so thin-skinned he cannot take
criticism without bitterly lashing
out at his accusers.

This ship of state has made it
through troubled waters before,
but the new on-the-scene danger
of Cyber attacks and hacking by
hostile foreign nations has now
torpedoed giant holes in our
defense, and sinking looks more
and more imminent.

Each of us makes our own choices
but it is the action of the group
that wins elections, so
get out and vote!
Partner with other voters,
help someone else get to the polls,
Make it happen!!

—Joseph Nolan, Stockton, CA
True believers or
True deceivers?
Red and
There’s some green in between.
There’s always some green in between
Because they only pay 30 to 1
On a wheel with 36 slots.

The House always wins
In the long run.
In the long run,
It’s mean for your green
To be seen
Playing roulette.


—Joesph Nolan

So many things collect on floors!
It’s none of my doing.
It’s the work of gravity.

Everything, it seems, collects there:
Little pieces of useless things,
Dead bugs,
Dirt, dust, smudges, shoes, feet,
People who try to take it
Others who try to hold it
People trying to get in on the bottom
People ambitious to climb above it.

Floors don’t discriminate.
They uphold whatever gravity delivers.

—Joseph Nolan
Dharma bums
Take what comes
From across the
Lonely See
Of Sadducees and Pharisees
And Pharaohs’ time, undone.

Mystery, wrapped in legend,
Circumscribed in rum,
With wheels set loose
Upon the ground
To overtake
And run,

Running down a road
Into the vacant space;
Where time is immemorial-
Ego leaves not a trace!

—Joseph Nolan    
What if your head
With bliss?

Would you
Call it
A hit
Or a miss?

A guru’s bullet
Sent straight
To your brain,
To render you
Every time
You tried
On shoes,

But what
Have you
To lose?

Any explanation
Might miss
The gist
Of what you
Had to say,

In a circular,
Circular, way,
Where any
Away from the
Major point
Would only prove
The issue:

That Bliss
Is something
That hits you
When you
Get in
The way!


Today’s LittleNip(s):


Sit in easy chair,
watch TV, maybe doze off
while dishwasher runs


Black toner covers
all five fingers of both hands,
do it yourself:  done


Proactive game plan,
reach into bag of cookies
and take a handful


I’ve had some good sex,
good pizza too, appetite
continues for more


I am sincerely
devoted to avoiding
all of my chores:  Done.


Gather and load clothes,
add detergent, set timer,
begin wash and nap


nothing stands to reason.  Oh
my, what have I?. . . . Done.


Thanks to this morning’s contributors, and welcome to a week of be-witching poetry, starting tonight at Sac. Poetry Center with Witches Warlocks and Weenies, a reading with Josh Fernandez and Janne Marlies Maron, plus open mic, 7:30pm. Wear your costume!

Don’t be shy about sending Halloween poetry to Medusa’s Kitchen for posting on Wednesday; that’s

And Thursday, Poetry Unplugged at Luna’s Cafe will begin the month of November with featured readers and open mic, 8pm. Scroll down to the blue column (under the green column at the right) for info about these and other upcoming poetry events in our area—and note that more may be added at the last minute.


 Celebrate poetry!

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

Sunday, October 28, 2018

At the Fall of the Leaf

—Anonymous Photo

—Dante Gabriel Rosetti, 1828-1882
Know'st thou not at the fall of the leaf
How the heart feels a languid grief
Laid on it for a covering,
And how sleep seems a goodly thing
In Autumn at the fall of the leaf?

And how the swift beat of the brain
Falters because it is in vain,
In Autumn at the fall of the leaf
Knowest thou not? and how the chief
Of joys seems—not to suffer pain?

Know'st thou not at the fall of the leaf
How the soul feels like a dried sheaf
Bound up at length for harvesting,
And how death seems a comely thing
In Autumn at the fall of the leaf?


For more about Dante Rosetti, go to

And here’s a LittleNip by him:

ASPECTA MEDUSA (for a Drawing)
—Dante Gabriel Rosetti

Andromeda, by Perseus sav'd and wed,
Hanker'd each day to see the Gorgon's head:
Till o'er a fount he held it, bade her lean,
And mirror'd in the wave was safely seen
That death she liv'd by.

                                Let not thine eyes know
Any forbidden thing itself, although
It once should save as well as kill: but be
Its shadow upon life enough for thee.



 Cactus Medusa
—Photo by Katy Brown, Davis, CA
(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, October 27, 2018

A Simple Man, Breathing

—Poems by James Lee Jobe, Davis, CA
—Artwork Photos Courtesy of James Lee Jobe 

Using the space heater like a stove top to heat beans and cook hot dogs. Beer outside on the windowsill to stay cool. A common bathroom down the hall. A dump of a room in a hotel full of the lost and the broken. And you and I? We were the lost. We were shadows against a city street. We were the rain that rinsed the dirty sidewalks and the gutters. Yesterday and tomorrow were just words with no meaning. No one knew where we were, and no one cared anyway. Life was lived by the day, and by the night. If we wanted to leave, we could be gone in minutes.


In the fourth and fifth months the leaves return, reborn, the flowers bud and bloom—and who am I? Just a man. I have no words worthy of being carved in stone.

If you argue Right and Wrong
You will always be one or the other.
Live by cultivating.
Live by nurturing.
Live with awareness and compassion.
Even on the grayest of days
The sky is vast and beautiful.
The sky is endless.

Here. It's a good place to be.
I no longer dream of new places to go,
And I no longer miss the places of my youth.
To be where I am is enough.
This patch of earth.
Here. This place.

Dawn sitting.
I breathe in peace,
I breathe out kindness,
And again.
In this life I am a simple man,

That the earth might go on, that the rain might go on, that the sun might shine on, that the forests might still grow; as these things continue, so will life continue. This is my prayer.


Today’s LittleNip:

Even the birds have gone silent.
My son's ghost must be passing by again.

—James Lee Jobe


Thanks, James Lee Jobe, for today’s fine cuppa poetry and photos! Today is a busy one in poetry in our area, beginning this morning at 9:30am with Maceo Montoya, Javier O. Huerta and open mic at Writers on the Air, Sac. Poetry Center, Sacramento. Then in Placerville, Poetic License will meet from 2-4pm at the Sr. Center lobby on Spring St. Tonight, Three Men & A Mic will feature three poets plus comedian Marcelis Flores at Magnus Opus of the Stars on 12th St. in Sacramento. 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.

Friday, October 26, 2018

Sacramento Poetry Day #32

—Photo by Katy Brown, Davis, CA

STATE COLLEGE—Sacramento, 1960’s 
—Jeanine Stevens, Sacramento, CA

Anthropology teacher with ice blue eyes, smokes
marijuana in class, not saying much, gazing
     at some tiny spot on the back wall.

American Lit teacher sings “Wobbly” songs
     in a brown suede miniskirt.

A fictional boy drills holes in his mother’s coffin,
     letting in yellow butterflies.

History of South America—an assigned text
—boys make love to ripe, red,
     flesh-filled melons.

English Lit teacher discusses Goldsmith’s
“Deserted Village” and, in the same breath, shouts down
     demonstrators from second floor windows.

Prehistory of North America—a place in Kentucky
so rich in game, Native Americans refuse to establish
     camps or settlements.

Learn the tragedy of kings—Shakespeare teacher
     with a Scottish name and southern accent.

Culture and Personality—babies in four cultures
have a bath, and a Balinese man in trance bites
     the head off a live chicken.

Social Anthropology—I write “pubic” recognition
     instead of “public” on my essay, I get extra points.

African Literature—Achebe watches Things Fall Apart
     in other time zones.

California Prehistory—at the time of white contact,
     Native Americans inhabit all available eco-niches.

Graduate seminars—discover symbolic wounds, purity
and danger, the mystery of Chaco Canyon, unmapped
aboriginal trade routes in Borneo, Malinowski’s
     disgust with the novel.

Master’s Thesis—I explain my version of ritual pollution
in the Solomon Islands. Last chapter needs a rewrite.
     I ignore this.

Newman Center—Anthropology Dept. wine and cheese
parties, living it up with chunky cheddar and jack on
colored toothpicks, Annie Green Springs, Gibson Rose,
     Dashikis and polyester.

(first pub. in
Rattlesnake Review, 2007)

 —Photo by Caschwa, Sacramento, CA

—Joseph Nolan, Stockton, CA
A large, verdant garden
Lies along a low-flowing river
In a valley just above the sea
There for you and me to wander.

And we do
On sunny days
With little wind
But just a gentle breeze.
We listen to a woodpecker
And track him down
By his pounding sound
And see the red top of his head
Beating out the rhythm
Through his long, pointed beak
Only then, do we speak. 

 —Photo by Caschwa

—Kathy Kieth, Diamond Springs, CA

Slow dusk on hot nights:  pitchy
darkness seeps through summer
heat, like black ink spreading over

a yellowed page:  then mosquito clouds swarm
into this heat, melt into the dark-
ness;  and crickets start to scratch

their rough legs together in a steady sound
that crawls slowly into houses alongside
the heat and the darkness. . .  Windows

are open as far as they’ll go:  but windows
only let in more heat and darkness
and the steady creep

of the scratching:  open windows only let in
what they’re supposed to push out:  the heat
and the darkness

and the mosquitos and the scratching:  all
pushing back against the windows, pushing
through the tattered screens, pushing into

the helpless house. . .  Then the heat
and the darkness and the mosquitos and
the scratching all ooze

themselves into the bedroom, creep
along its musty walls, and finally crawl onto
damp, peevish, still wide-awake skin. . .

 —Photo by Caschwa

—Kathy Kieth

Midnight fur slides along Plexiglas zoo
walls as he passes right by me, eyes

brushing mine: quick scan of me while
his offspring mug, touch fingers to tourists

through transparency, and his mates roll
on the dewy grass, stretch long arms at

spider-angles.  He passes right by, bigger
than a man: taller, wider, but mostly just

bigger— taking more space than a man as he
patrols this small patch of borrowed land

edge by edge: builds his daily nest: spins
today's web with old, old amber eyes . . .

 —Photo by Katy Brown

—Kathy Kieth

Summer mornings when I was little, my mother
and I would head downtown, past the hop fields
and railroad tracks into Sacramento.  We’d park
in the city lot, then walk to Hale’s to shop
for shirts or slips or sandals.  But there was a price

for this adventure: we had to cross the park,
where old men sat in clouds of smoke and flannel,
bragging like conquistadors at checkerboards,
smelling of stale cigars and dirty laundry.  I doubt
they even noticed another haus frau towing

a skinny kid with glasses, but we’d tuck our heads
just the same and sail through the bushes and
benches and strange accents, relieved to finally
arrive at the crosswalk.  After our spree at Hale’s,
we’d stop at the deli across from the park and buy

cold ravioli pillows lined up in grids under
filmy clouds of flour, their tidy boxes safely tied
with string. Then, parcels clutched close, we’d plow
through the park again, past all the smoky old men
nodding in the sun.

My mother and I never did figure out the punch-
line to the cosmic joke that hooked us together. 
But for a few years we agreed on some things,
like Hale’s, and ravioli, and scary old men. . .


Today’s LittleNip:
I can promise you that when I go to Sacramento, I will pump up Sacramento.

—Arnold Schwarzenegger


Thanks to today’s contributors on this 32nd Sacramento Poetry Day! Jeanine Stevens wrote about Sac State (back when it was called "Sac State"); I, too, went there, though none of my professors smoked weed in class—that I knew of. Joseph Nolan is actually in Stockton, but poems about rivers and valleys do apply. I wrote about the heat, the zoo, and downtown Sac back in the '50's; I included my gorilla poem about the Sacramento Zoo because I hear “they” are thinking of moving it. Wow…. I grew up on the zoo. I had a piano teacher in Land Park, and every week after my lesson, my mother would take me to the zoo to hang out and ride the ponies. That was, well, at least 3-4 year ago….. And thanks to Caschwa and Katy Brown for evocative photos of the City of Trees.

For more about Sacramento Poetry Day, go to Patrick Grizzell's article at

Speak Up: The Art of Storytelling and Poetry takes place tonight at Avid Reader on Broadway in Sacramento, 7pm, on the theme of “Holy Ghosts, or NOT!!” 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.


 City of Trees
—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.

Thursday, October 25, 2018

Tales of October

—Poems and Photos by Taylor Graham, Placerville, CA


Pumpkins arrayed in front of Home Depot
are color-coordinated this October morning
with shiny new chipper-shredders and
pots of autumn mums. Everything’s orange
including the corporate logo. Orange
of Halloween. Orange was Cowboy’s color.
Old ghost-dog now, who sensed—by nose
or ear or maybe ESP—when I slid open
a certain dresser drawer in dark before dawn
and soundlessly withdrew a certain
orange T-shirt with Search-and-Rescue logo.
His shirt. Instantly from a far corner
of the house he was beside me, panting
anticipation. We were going to play his game,
hide-and-seek, dog-go-find! In chilly
Friday air, in front of Home Depot, I feel
his spirit through that permeable membrane
of time/place, death/life, breath warm
as fall sunshine, scenting for me to find him.


Farmer’s Market’s in full leafage under a blue
bowl of sky. On the edges, green canopy of trees
flushing into their fall. It’s the fruitful season and
just out of sight sits the lady of harvest in all her
colors. Midday she selects the shady corners for
gleaning. Sun has scribed her face with fortune-
circles, calls her by name no one knows. I call
her Lesen. These early weeks of fall still saving
daylight, mothers herd kids toward realms of
letters, numbers, figures; cities of progress, their
future. The lady of harvest keeps to a corner of
her choosing. I keep walking, not to be late.

blackbird’s sweetest song
shimmers silver as it flies
against slanted sun


Power’s turned off lest wind blow down a tree
to hit live-wire, to spark conflagration
through the countryside. I drive back home—
through the gate, before part of a great live-oak
crashes at our edge of driveway. Lucky
I am, to escape what the north wind conjures.
I hurry down to see—the oak split between
main trunks made weak; under the bark,
a ring of red—rot, insect damage, who knows?
I snap photos, and find a sort of valentine.
Time has conjured of the oak a broken heart.


Wind slapped the house broadside
then went still, along with daytime TV’s
stream of idiotic laughter. Power
out. The only illumination
was sunlight filtered through hectic
foliage out the window.

Weather’s a matter of chance
in this quirky little canyon, measured
by an hourglass beyond
our knowing. Storm passed, leaving
one great oak toppled across
our driveway.


Walls two feet thick—“rock and rubble”
construction of Gold Rush days. It’s dark inside
even with iron shutters open. The stairs give
a hitch to the pelvis on cool mornings, arthritis
knocking at the joints of an old structure.
Articulate knee and shoulder. On a downstairs
shelf, a potpourri pie, its aromatics long
faded, like the lady who made it, and topped
it with a cornhusk bow.


She stopped me along my way—
ancient mariner of the land-waves, traveler
of earthen paths she was, wrapped in a scarf
embroidered as a garden of vines sun-
warmed against October cold. She had a tale
she had to tell me, words soft as falling leaves,
leaves ecstatic in their fall from tree to earth,
accomplishing the cycle of lives they leave
to become again in the rot and meld of soil.
She was so old and toothless speaking softly
as wind through leaves, I couldn’t catch
her drift of words but just the way
they drifted beyond language conjuring
the drift of man from land to land,
all history in her tale of passing.

Today’s LittleNip:

—Taylor Graham

Pickups whizz past two
boys walking the road shoulder.
Ears pricked as tall as
they grow, burro in pasture
marvels at travelers on foot!


Thanks to Taylor Graham for conjuring up a few tales for this October morning, and photos to go with them! If you’re looking for a poetry event in our area tonight, Poetry Unplugged at Luna’s Cafe is happening at 8pm in Sacramento with featured readers and open mic. Free, but please partake of Art Luna’s fine food and libations.
Poetry East is currently accepting submissions for the Fall 2019 issue. See

Don’t forget to send me some poems/photos/artwork about the Sacramento environs by TONIGHT, in honor of Sac. Poetry Day tomorrow. That’s

And while you’re sending me poem/photos/artwork, add something for Halloween (next Weds.)! The scary snakes of Medusa are especially hungry for news about and tales of All Hallows’ Eve…


 —Anonymous Mums
(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, October 24, 2018

Even Though . . .

—Anonymous Photos of the Sea
—Poems by Allison Grayhurst, Toronto, Canada


Even attempting to climb the perilous cliff,
I am not afraid of falling.
The sensual rhythms of this lonely morning
devour me, reconciled
to my private chamber, suspended.

Far under the cliff, the gulls
are united with the ocean, as that
deep blue speckled-white
beckons me to its bed.

Wolves and warriors are rooted to the hunt.
I am rooted to this risk, edge-clinging,
fated to ultimately rest
in the body of a miracle.

There are miles below and miles above,
awakening sounds of insects burrowing,
of swallows nest-emerging—
a holy vapour all around that fills
the void with necessity.


     A drowned fish, silver, snared
with an expression of permanent ache.
Eyes, fish stunned, fish glass
glaring from a window in the market
in the dubious afternoon.
    The shattered green
of ocean from a storm-struck sky,
lightening-flesh tipping, ripping the lid
and letting in the rains.
    Mountains of harsh winters, opaque
like the wings on a featherless angel.
Mountains, male in their faith and in their marriage
to moonlight.
    Chains, slate grey and criminal
as clouds over rainbows, as necessary
as a first childhood dream
laughed at, forgotten.


Tonight, the void creeps
in, with him, through
the wood framed doors.
like a heap of ash after
a day underground.
the bone, the eager heart, the eyes
that follow every gesture.

What survives now of the tower dream,
the stone skipping and the wishing well?

Both hands pressed against the T.V. set,
trying to block the talk
                   and hold
the cut and thistle.

Both lovers glancing at the street lights’
glare, waiting
for the other to give
            the word—
a blue blue touch


Mostly possibilities
return a million times
over: the chance
in every life cycle
to escape
patterned destinations.

I could tear my breath
in half attempting
a different rhythm.
I could be burning, bloated
on mistakes and bad beginnings.

Nightmares flail across the void,
sinking through
unimaginable universes.
Then tomorrow, the television,
the zodiac spin, anger at circumstances.
It is the condition that makes sway
dandelion leaves, breaks
the stem of the sunflower.

As dusk denies every pent-up demand.
As morning cleanses every hard-held need obsolete.


         We rise to deliver
our final wounds.

         I hang from an inward thread,
frayed by storm. You
sit in your chair, plastered
with brittle privacy.
        Neither of us moves to warm the air.
The floor between turns to quicksand
with a thick layer of hovering mosquitoes above.
Anger with a voice too tight to speak
takes the form of ant-like apparitions, covering
our four-corned walls.

        It will be done. We will be bone
and nothing else when this is through.
It will not matter,
the scent of our first or final kiss
        for the proud demon-martyrs
embracing our ribs,
taking seat on our laps
have all but swallowed us whole,


Today’s LittleNip:

Good writing is supposed to evoke sensation in the reader—not the fact that it is raining, but the feeling of being rained upon.

—E.L. Doctorov


Many thanks to Allison Grayhurst for returning to the Kitchen this morning with her fine poems, all the way from Toronto! Read more from Allison at

And don’t forget your Sac. poems for Sac. Poetry Day this Friday! Send them—and photos and artwork—to

 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.