Friday, November 30, 2018

Fragments of Life

—Poems and Photos by Ann Christine Tabaka, Hockessin, DE


The dream becomes real
before my eyes.

Golden sunrise,
blazing vermillion sunsets,
lush green savannahs.
I have witnessed all.

Great Rift Valley,
Cradle of Mankind,
prehistoric memories
reverberate throughout.

At Lake Nakuru,
a thousand diamonds dance
as flamingos march the shoreline
of shallow water. 

Breathless rush of wings
rising from the marshes.

Leopards crouch in wait,
while mischievous baboons
and monkeys tease from above.

Crowded villages filled
with friendly smiling faces,
and the laughter of children
playing ancient games.

Amazing sights, creatures,
landscapes and people,
catalogued forever in my mind.
A journey of the heart fulfilled.

The dream becomes real
before my eyes.

(first pub. in Atunis Poetry, September 2018)



Parting rivers.
Parting ways.
The truth laid bare
at my feet.

Deep dark secrets hide
within converging storms.
A cadence of emotions
marching by.

My words are not your words.
We speak in different tongues.
It is as if you know the answer
before the question is posed.

You know me so well
yet not at all.
Fragments of life
falling into oblivion.

Forlorn and forgotten,
forsaken and lost.
Death closes the door
that love once opened.

Parting ways,
there is no turning back.
Time does not allow
such luxuries as that.

(first pub. in Ariel Chart, June 2018)



The rhyming and the not,
as if I had forgot
my words of many years,
embedded in my tears.

Days of youth have passed.
The die has long been cast.
Pieces of my life
still wading through pained strife.

Time has come and gone.
I waited far too long.
My words have all grown stale,
now lost beyond the pale.

A fire that once burned
has long ago been spurned.
My passions, all I gave,
lie cold beyond the grave.

(first pub. in Indiana Voice Journal, July 2018)

 —Drawing by Ann Christine Tabaka


Pencil to paper,
an image forms.
Delicate curves,
sharp lines,
soft shading.

The eye knows what it sees,
the hand follows suit.
Through all ages
artists pour out their hearts
in crisp lines and muted tones.

Telling stories,
immortalizing faces,
capturing love and beauty.
Roundness of a shoulder,
gleam in an eye,
hair flowing in the breeze.

Rustling leaves on autumn trees,
bilious clouds above,
sensuous landscapes,
breathtaking rise of a mountainside. 

Still life and models,
all brought into being
by the stroke of charcoal,
graphite, or brush,
as the artist breathes life
into all he touches.

Music without sound.
Poetry without words.
Visual magic.
Life as art.
Art as life.

(first pub. by Synchronized Chaos, October 2018)


Today’s LittleNip:

You must have chaos within you to give birth to a dancing star.

―Friedrich Nietzsche


Our thanks to Ann Christine Tabaka for her fine poems and artwork today. Chris, as she goes by, was nominated for the 2017 Pushcart Prize in Poetry, has been internationally published, and has won poetry awards from numerous publications. Her most recent credits are:
Pomona Valley Review, Page & Spine, West Texas Literary Review, The Hungry Chimera, Sheila-Na-Gig, Synchronized Chaos, Pangolin Review, Trigger Fish Critical Review, Foliate Oak Review, Better Than Starbucks!, Mused, The Write Launch, The Stray Branch, The McKinley Review, and Fourth & Sycamore; her books may be found at Chris lives with her husband and three cats in Delaware, and she loves gardening and cooking.

About today’s photos, Chris says, “The two photographs that I included are of a conte pencil drawing that I did, and a photo from a safari in Kenya that I took with my adult son in June of this year.” Welcome to the Kitchen, Chris, and don’t be a stranger!


 Ann Christine Tabaka
Celebrate poetry—and poets!

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, November 29, 2018

Some Kind of Magic

—Poems and Photos by Taylor Graham, Placerville, CA


We’re sitting at manual typewriters 
inside the gallery’s open door. November
cold draft off the street. People come
and go, no one asks for a poem. We’re about
to pack up when a lady stops, considers;
she’d like a kaleidoscope poem.
In this gallery of white walls and bright art
prints, I remember. The magic tube of colors
shattered, mirrored to designs almost
beyond imagining then gone
with the slightest twist of wrist, never to
repeat; almost brighter than real.
In time my magic tube disappeared,
maybe to Goodwill while I was away
at school. Now, volutions of technology,
my iPad camera turns reality
to kaleidoscope, repeating designs
to puzzle the world-bound eye.
Same kind of magic? bright as imagination.


I love turkeys. I don’t mean the 19-pounder
from the supermarket that came vacuum-sealed
and had no attitude. I mean the five turkeys
who parade around our house, almost venturing
up the back steps. They act like they belong here,
and they do—though they vanish a few days
before Turkey Day and won’t reappear
till sometime in January. Wild fowl, they
won’t be vacuum-packed this year.


Do wild turkeys protest the festival
nicknamed Turkey Day?

No, from field and fringe of oak wood,
from roadside and rural homestead

they take a vacation
to tangled deeps of wild land.

They simply disappear
until the New Year.


Late November before the first big rain,
the pond still summer-baked hard
and dry. No blue heron on the lagoon;
egret is gone from the wetlands mouth.
This landscape looks dead. But—

from oak and buckeye woods
comes a march of prehistoric silhouettes
scuffing, kicking up dead leaves in search
of acorns. Turkeys. Such a mess life makes.
Turkeys on the march, head-pumping

forward along the edge of what once
was water; not complaining querulous
when-will-it-rain? Dinosaurs among us;
passing, gone—up the hill where oaks
still let acorns fall, their living food.


June: female with 3 chicks; 1 day-roosting
in the oak that overhangs the field.
August: 7 by fox den, 1 calling from creek.

September: 7 strolling oak-rock hill
pecking acorns—watchful of Cowboy
padding softly, giving turkeys wide berth.

October: mornings and evenings, 8 toms
circled & circled the house. Early November,
3 toms did a circle-dance around the flock.

Was it a farewell dance?


On every boulder
the mosses are opening
their green mouths to sing
and the leafless twigs
gleam, rain-beaded with diamonds.

The eucalyptus
dances with all its leafy
feather-boa boughs.

 Placerville Festival of Lights

    Festival of Lights, Nov 23

The rain stays on Main Street pavement,
traffic lanes a-blaze with soft reflected flame—
holiday lights, the same I recall from long-
gone ways—and people passing gaily walking,
calling, strolling in light rain. Some stop amazed
to see—in our awning’d bay, alcove of Ancient
Gold across from Custom Frames—our manual
typewriters of good-old-days. Does poetry pay?
Someone hands me a candy cane. We came
to type poems on request, on the spot.
Donation jar goes to charity. Pavement glistens
with rain, festive-day cheer, refrain of Sleigh
Ride, and I’ve lost my train of thought.
Rolling paper on platen, typing away, see where
it takes me. This man claims a poem for Alayne,
for twenty-eight years of his lady’s holiday-
radiant smile, soft and steady as snowflakes,
as rain. And still it rains, the first in half a year,
our winter blessing. See how the lady smiles.
My poem is the rain.


Today’s LittleNip:

—Taylor Graham

Along the roadside
these Burma Shave-type signs that
Tune-Up Special,
Catalytic Converter,
Burritos, Eggs Benedict.


Thank you, Taylor Graham, for some rainy-day fare this morning! She writes, “I wrote "Rain on Main" for James Lee Jobe's The Other Voice Poetry Group online, and I just found out he's posting it on his Yolo County Poems blog at” For more about joining TOVPG, write to James at

Poetry in our area tonight includes Poetry Unplugged at Luna’s Cafe in Sacramento at 8pm; or get funky at The Funky Good Time Poetry Event in Old Sacramento at Laughs Unlimited, also 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.

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Restless in Time

Shasta Slope
—Poems and Photos by Katy Brown, Davis, CA


just out of Burney, my ears popping,
the road cuts through white layers
of chalk.  I am in the realm
of ancient volcanos: Shasta, Lassen.

The pressure of altitude makes my ears
ache—pressure from elevation above
sea level, while all around me, chalk strata
murmurs of an ancient sea bottom.

Ancient secrets formed in early darkness
thrust skyward into mountain sunlight
by subterranean volcanic forces—
deep sediment restless in time.


I watched her land on the very top
of a swaying cedar tree
with the sun, bright behind her.

I recall the hawks my brother kept
when I was just a child. The
two injured hawks he helped

rehabilitate from the injuries
that took them from their flight.
They resented being weak.

I remember the fierceness
of their look:  warriors, seeking
a way back to the gathering clouds.

They returned to the mountain wind,
with lessons of the almost-loved.
Tenderness is a luxury of the hunted.

The hawks soared beyond
the need for gentleness:
reclaimed their untamed hearts.

 Abstract Red

I have an ugly scar

where they stopped my heart
and cracked me open like a lobster.
Nearly 20 years ago, they plucked
my stunned heart from its dark
place behind my breastbone,
mended it, and put me back together
with surgical grommets and sutures.

My mended heart remembers old wounds.
Injuries that I thought I’d buried rise like ghosts
to haunt dreams, stalk reverie, attach meaning
to current incidents—the heart is a dynamo,
generating a charge that attracts memory.
Scars of a wounded heart run deep.

They cut through bone to reach my heart—
bone and the ramparts I’d carefully constructed
all my life to wall-in memory, to wall-out risk:
my defenses, physical and emotional—breached.
The wounded heart will take revenge for such affront.


They move through these woods,
the spirits that time forgot to name,
inhaling the cool breath of giants.

I see them as a flash of twilight through
darkly barred shadows in fading light.
I hear them breathing just beyond

the screen of evening ferns.
I’m drawn over and over again
to this stand of trees.

Something ancient, benevolent
glides through the world here,
whispering stillness in the mossy light.

To stop, to breathe the quiet air,
to listen to the rusty call
of a distant raven—
these are gifts worth traveling for.


You have to want to go—
to find the little road that
climbs out of Ferndale—
a deceptively charming
country lane through mist
that settles in distant hills.

You have to want to see
the end of this continent
on our western coast—see
the Pacific driven by
Oriental winds.  Hear
the roar of unstopped waves,

the sharp artillery-crack when
the glassy, cresting sea
collapses—the boom of breakers
hitting the rocky shore. Taste
the mist of salt water driven
on a relentless wind. 

You will need to take
the Lighthouse Road, a gravel
track that runs through
stands of pole-thin ghost trees.
Keep moving if the ford
is full of water or ponding mud.

You will be the first
to breathe this air that has
come so far on a restless sea
—the first to see water
driven half-way across the globe.
You have to want to go.

And then you have to want
to return to the paved world
—to go back to your walls
and silent solitude, embracing
the memory of this last land
to treasure in your reverie.   


I no longer have faith in a nest of potentials:
those rounded mysteries that may burst
into something vibrant and alive.

There are no packages waiting for me under
some future tree; no tomorrow to unwrap.
Today, with all its shadowed corners

is all I am given.  The dust of yesterday
clings to my windowsill, Time sleeps
in the doorway.  Tomorrow, if it exists,

is playing with rollicking children
in the schoolyard across the street.
Possibilities? No, there are none today.

5 AM, pushing a wall of opaque light

up the twisting road, climbing
out of Fort Bragg.  No other cars
intrude on my moving cell of light.

A startled doe freezes
by the side of the road, one leg lifted,
ready to cross to the greener side,
if you could see color this dark, this fog.

I have left my wallet somewhere north
and am desperate to find it.
I hope to be at the last place I used it
before they open the bistro.

In the dark, alone on the road,
I have a lot of time to think about my
habits, the people I can count on,
how hard it still is to ask for help.

I feel so incompetent—in the dark,
alone—mostly alone.  No shoulder
to cry on.  No two-heads-better-than. . . .
No hanky offered with compassion.

This is what I tell myself:  if I can
come out on the other side of this
with my wallet and my life in hand,
I can stop looking, stop longing.

I can make it through the night,
appreciate the dawn, and gather the bricks
that once protected my younger heart—
start rebuilding that seamless wall again.  

Today’s LittleNip:


under a paling sky
from the dark cypress
beyond my back fence
two owls calling
each to the other
until they join
in haunting harmony

—Katy Brown


Many thanks to Katy Brown for her seamless poems and photos! Katy is a frequent contributor of photos to the Kitchen, but it’s good to have her poems on the table, too!

Yesterday was the #GivingTuesday Fundraiser for California Poets in the Schools. I don’t know if they’re still accepting money, but check it out at At least you’ll be able to read more about this wonderful organization. See also


 “…the rusty call of a distant raven…”
Grandfather Raven
—Photo by Katy Brown
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.

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

I Am The Place You Come To

Well, Hello
—Poems and Photos by Joyce Odam, Sacramento, CA


come at me from the morning
I will meet you like a

slip under my arm
I will tell you my heart lives
and you must
save it

hear me tell
of my beautiful lame life
that I am comparing
to this hard life that no life
can follow

you are in wonder-light
a real hero
such a long mountain away

but we will marry
I am the place you come to
I am not tired of waiting
you are faithful



In the rich-blending odours
of the garden
where flowers vie for preference . . .

In the stimulations of the mind
for the immaculate view of white birds
ascending into a white sky . . .

In the icy feel of water on the hand
from a flowing stream where tiny fish
dart through your fingers . . .

How a taste will linger
beyond the
hunger for a food—as with a kiss . . .

How love only listens
for what it wants
despite the resistance of another . . .

How hard is this to realize
when all is nothing at the end of being
— a profanity to the mind

that cannot comprehend the sorrow
of the soul—or the figurement
of whatever God it needs    and refuses. . . ?



It is no longer true that
I am direct descendent of goodness.
I am old nude in shadow attire.
Light falls upon me in
apologetic appreciation.

I hold my pose for the artist
who is nearly blind,
all of my rages cast down
under my eyes which are
closed in sympathy.

I ache for the gods to hold me
as when I was among them.
I am good. I am good.
I am perfect.

See how others like to look at me,
holding here so still
so I can be patient and
faithful to my artist
who tries so hard.

“Once more,” he sighs,
though we both
are weary of the attempts.
“This time,” he promises.
And once more I believe him.



I like the way the cover is torn
against imagination,
a sort of artifice of design—

a deliberate tear to look real,
a corner of thought,
or afterthought,

to touch in chagrin
and frown with disapproval :
Books are to be respected!
on one side of the argument, and,
Books well-read, well-used!
from another point of view.

So why this
pretend tear, drawn there,
or photographed from a real tear,

in simulation—hard to know.
Somehow, though, I’m glad
the tear is not real—and only faux.


After “Empire of Dreams” by Charles Simic

Wakings are paragraphs, page-turnings.
Always ‘what next’…

Wantings are hollow at both ends.
Never filled.
Like hungers.  Like answers.

Truth is like time.
Hard to reach / grasp / explain.

Let us not talk about sleep.
Let us not talk about dreams.
In this dream—

the experience is urgent—
has yet to get through to the dreamer
who will not allow the knowing.



like a hard rain,
or a dash
for an exit
across a sweaty
dance floor—
any shortcut
from one to another
or situation.
It’s all about
that wound of balance
or last embarrassment
of failure—not just
a sad direction
made of vertigo,
or body-tilt
against wind—
more like a glance
in a falling mirror
as it takes you with it.



In the room of grief there are two walls.
The third and fourth ones do not matter.
From one side comes the empty promise

—from the other the promise of the lie.
There is enough time to cry and wait
for clocks to stop and mirrors shatter—

two walls impose themselves upon the
grieving figure at the corner of the eye.

 The Way It Is


If I could take words into my silence,
I might call you love, I might call you
ragged witch of  heaven.

But words are hard to hear. We never
speak. Great vowels of pain take form
and we are lost again in one another.

Once there were two of us, spitting and
snarling like cold water on hot stones.
It was a wilderness. We were the beasts.

Even the cities ignored our strange ways
of walking with shadows at night,
and dreading the lack of them by day.

What’s in a silence
that must be given form—
that must be taken apart  to be solved?

There is a loon cry—I have never
heard one—and an owl cry I think I heard
once. That comes closest to what I mean.

I am one lonely town. You are another.
How come we stayed, or left
and returned?

All is
confusion now.
Even the walls have stopped listening.


Today’s LittleNip:


Dumb-Dog’s dreaming that he’s off the chain;
once again he’s running with the pack . . .
running beyond the calling of his name . . .
he hears us calling, but he won’t come back.

(first pub. in
Poets’ Forum Magazine, 2004)


Many thanks to Joyce Odam for today’s fine poetry and photos. Charles Simic’s “Empire of Dreams” may be found at

Our new Seed of the Week is another ekphrastic one: 

 —Anonymous Photo

See what this scene stirs up in your Muse, 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. 


 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, November 26, 2018

Bring Me My Space Shuttle

—Photo by Ann Privateer, Davis, CA

—Ann Wehrman, Sacramento, CA

driving up with a roar and flourish
somehow Arden found me
hitchhiking home like a fool
18 years old, Illinois highway
Get on, he grinned, and
I wrapped my arms around him
no time for fear

stopped at his relatives’ home on the way
Thanksgiving spread, relaxed ranch house
they welcomed, fed us
kindly ignored me

at my lowest weight then
just 99 pounds on my 5’4” frame
proud of having starved for months
mind empty, cold
all desire gone, body shutting down

the family’s casual banter
easy generosity
encouraged me to nibble
turkey, vegetables, bread

after dinner, we raced
few miles home to Quincy
where my divorcing parents
made war within our house
dissolution, despair seeping

I grazed through that weekend
then back to Urbana on Greyhound
shrunken belly bloating
six months-long, self-imposed diet broken
grasping at food, at life
to feel, desire, survive 

 —Photo by Ann Privateer

—Ann Privateer

When the world was younger
And so was I, we laughed
Without thinking, and cried

Unabashedly, while the cows
Roamed free and we played
At cards or other games

Those days are gone
The cows are lost
Fires take a toll.

 —Photo by Ann Privateer

—Ann Privateer

Have ever loved
Another? It seems
We were born yesterday

Never knowing any other
Insularity together
When now is all there is.

  —Photo by Caschwa

—Caschwa, Sacramento, CA

However many words
you put into the same poem,
it only matters once


Could I have just one more
syllable to lullaby my
rough draft had a hard day?


At the doorstep, stumbling
over the iambic footprints
forcing obedience


I swear, I am okay
to drive myself home from this place,
Bring me my space shuttle


Had I won the Lotto
alienating all my friends,
maybe not so worth it


I try to remember
to put a shirt on before I
face the Paparazzi


Experimental verse
can be its own very worst curse
unless it is divine

  —Photo by Caschwa

War brings us heroes,
Torture brings us martyrs,
which in turn brings us spelling bees

Each year we highlight the bombastic
nature of our glorious Revolution and
celebrate with huge, fiery explosions

as if that is the key to making things
better for anyone who’s had insufferable
grievances to bear

In His infinite wisdom, God gave us
the Ten Commandments as traffic
signals to guide us on the path of life

Then Man, in his infinite pomposity,
embellished those rules etched in stone
as if it was soft dough, ready for us

to shape and squeeze into millions of
laws, bylaws, rules, ordinances, statutes,
codes, regulations, canons, mandates, etc.

God’s revenge will be swift and ironic:  He
will simply replace all of our color-coded
traffic signals with rainbows…just watch.

  —Photo by Caschwa


A serious malfunction was
detected somewhere in the body
and so great numbers of helpful
antibodies responded to the call

one by one, each boasting that it
alone was the savior, it alone had
the best cure, it alone owned the patent
rights; all glory to this one antibody!

Sounds a bit foolish and selfish, and
still does, looking at the finite groupings
of health-care institutions who
partner together to fight cancer

instead of it being a universal collective,
a veritable shopping mall of rival entities
working together for that win-win result,
and in the meantime, we all lose.

 —Photo by Caschwa


Others see
complete ethnicity,

geographic and
cultural origins,


only what we have
in common

  —Photo by Caschwa


The piece started quietly, below
the staff with a humble arco;
long, learned fingers holding
dutifully tuned strings hostage

followed by woodwinds silently
switching octaves, surfing high
ledger lines like birds darting
from tree to tree with no injury

enter a hint of percussion, using
bells to complement the melody
and asserting bold visceral powers to
salute the one and only downbeat

and there at the back of the risers
sits the low brass, counting each new
rest sign like a trail of laboring ants.
The baton is lowered….. Oops!

 —Photo by Caschwa

—Joseph Nolan, Stockton, CA

It’s getting bad out there!
We can hardly breathe
With all the crap in the air.
It’s even hard to drive through.
It’s even hard to see through.
It would be hard to read through.
So just stay home.

We hope you don’t
Feel too alone
Hunkering down
Against the smoke?

Maybe you’ve got some pot?
This might be a good time to smoke it.
Your lungs may not notice the difference.
As without, so within.
What’s a little extra fog-bank
Inside your home
To get you through
A smoky time alone
Hunkering down
Against the smoke-storm?

 —Photo by Caschwa

—Joseph Nolan

Loop the pine-treed lake,
Sweep the horse-flies
Off your nape,
Who come to make your
Patience dive, and swat
To stop their biting,
Mosquitos then, alighting,

And don’t forget the deer-flies
And no-see-ums
That make an evening walk
A major mayhem!

It’s just a summer
Adirondack lake’s
Normal evening.

You can always wear a head-net
Over broad-brimmed hat
And get along with that,
Unlike Gentleman Johnny Burgoyne,
When he and his men,
Were driven half-mad, when
They traveled this way toward Saratoga,
Where they were sore defeated!
Half-undone by the mosquitoes.

  —Photo by Caschwa

—Joseph Nolan

Let a blizzard seep into every pore
To cool the waves of madness
Overwhelming the agitated populace
Driven into streets in desperation
To undo the prelude to what
Must turn out to be a reckless season
Of divisive rhetoric spewed
Like fertilizer onto
Planted crops of nescient violence,
Growing like spores of fungus or mold
That overgrow and poison
Slowly at first,
And then all at once,
When the edges fold
Over themselves into over-posted envelopes
And bombs are mailed
To every American household
Just in time for the mid-term elections.

What madness is this?!?

  —Photo by Caschwa

—Joseph Nolan

In summer’s
Early morning
We play with
In between!

We love red tomatoes,
Dangling on vines,
Juicy with sweet
Running juices
When we nip
The tender skin
And stick our
Lick-tongues out
To catch the drips
Upon our lips, and
Slipping down our throats,

We feel the summer!
So warm,
So loving
And so fine!

Later on,
We’ll get buzzed
On Cabernet wine

And linger
Softly in the
Summer shade,
Where pledges of
Eternal love
Are so easily made,
When feeling fine!

 —Photo by Caschwa

—Joseph Nolan

A day was lost.
Away it slipped;
It never touched
My grip!

I never touched
Its slipping sun,
Its flying moon,
Its fleeting love,
Lost beneath!
Lost to me,
Lost in grief,
Lost to none,
Save me,
Lost only,
To this one!

I’d give
A thousand killings
Of feasting lambs
With meat so sweet
For another chance
To live again
That fleeting day,


Today’s LittleNip:

—Ann Privateer

I am a dragon
Dragons breathe fire
Fire could kill people
People like you and I

I am me, you are you.


Many thanks to today’s fine contributors as NorCal poetry begins the week with Placerville’s Poetry in Motion tonight, 6-7pm at the Placerville Sr. Center. Then Susan Kelly-DeWitt and Julie Bruck will be featured at Sac. Poetry Center, 7:30pm tonight.

A busy weekend begins on Thursday with The Funky Good Time Poetry Event at Laughs Unlimited in Old Sac., 8pm; and Poetry Unplugged at Luna’s Cafe will present featured readers and open mic, also 8pm. Then on Friday, SpeakUp: The Art of Storytelling and Poetry will meet at The Avid Reader on Broadway in Sacramento, 7pm, this month featuring stories and poems on the theme of “At the Table”.

The Miller Party (the Sac. Poetry Center annual fundraiser formerly known as “The Annual Burnett and Mimi Miller SPC Fundraiser” before Burnett passed away recently) will take place this coming Saturday from 6-8pm at the Bob Stanley/Joyce Hsiao home, 4010 Random Lane, Sacramento. Food, libations, camaraderie; music by Elizabeth Unpingco Duo; poetry by NSAA (Lawrence Dinkins). $30 at the door. And on Sunday, the MoST Poetry Association reading will feature Joseph Nolan and other readers plus open mic at 240 N. Broadway in Turlock, 2pm. 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.


 Devour books! And 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, November 25, 2018

I Am The Weaver

—Anonymous Weaver

—D.R. Wagner, Locke, CA
The Winter came.  For awhile
It seemed difficult to realize
That every cell in my body
Was a complete universe.

Then the snow began.
I could barely stand.
My blood blew through
My body with no regard
For vessels or peristaltic tides.
I became a blizzard, a supernova.

I could inhabit endless planets,
Knowing them as I know your name.
All languages were at my service.
Dreaming and not dreaming were
The same waters to me.  I was stars.
I was firelight.  I was the sparkle
In all eyes.  All my moving was music.

Even now I am all rivers and all
Winding roads.  All that travels
Travels through me.  I am the weave.
I am the weaver.  I am the whole cloth.


—Medusa, with thanks to D.R. Wagner for weaving us today's fine poetry!

Saturday, November 24, 2018

The Heron

—Poems by James Lee Jobe, Davis, CA
Photos of the Sacramento River Courtesy of James Lee Jobe 

Dawn is its own reward.
To watch the little teeth of morning
Nibble away at the meat of the night,
Bite by bite.
When the dark corpse is finally gone,
Heaven blesses us all with light.


This heart of mine is like a tree
In the springtime; new buds grow
And blossom.
A new life, a new season.
All around me the world spins
And orbits the warmth of the sun.
A new life, a new season.
Everyday, rebirth surrounds me.

How old is my valley?
Millions of years, I suppose.

How old is my iris?
Just a few days.

One grows from the other.
Time means nothing.

Life goes on,
With us or without us.


So it is this way. 600 nights since you died
And I am still pushing against the entire world
In a futile effort to stop it from turning.
I was turning the first corner of old age
When you died, and now I am an old man.
I can live with that. If you live long enough,
That’s what happens to us all. Not you.
You will always be young, and I, your father,
Will never see you marry, settle down,
Or become a father yourself. It is this way.
A year has passed. I failed to stop the world
From turning, just like I failed at fatherhood.
How many times have I wished those ashes
In that box on the table were mine, not yours?
That I was gone and you were still here, living?

The heron hides her head under a wing; she doesn't care to see the humans standing there, watching. The reeds in the shallows are rattled by a cold, wet wind. Fresh raindrops begin to trouble the surface of the dark green water, and so the water seems to be shivering. Winter has come to the slough, stark and fascinating. The heron moves on, but not us. We'll stay for a while longer.


Hello, are you now on the path
You have always wanted to walk?
Is there still kindness in your skin,
In the part of your hair?
When you sleep, are the dreams
More real than waking life?
And what of the feel of steel,
The kiss of wood on your face?
That ache in the small of your back,
That ache in your knees, friend,
Is that where you whisper your true name?
The name you wanted from the very first day?
Will you whisper it again right now?
To me?


May the cruelties of the world pass through us and do no harm,
Like a child walking through fog.
May even our bruises and scars be healed.
May the hope for a better life never leave us.
May we have sunlight and showers in equal measure,
And may we be blessed with kindness,
Both in giving and in receiving.
And friend, when the end is near,
May we be able to relax and welcome it
For the rite of passage that it is.


Today’s LittleNip:
For people, and for nations—
May we cease competing and begin sharing.

—James Lee Jobe


Many thanks to James Lee Jobe for today’s fine poetry and photos! James facilitates a writing group in Davis called The Other Voice Poetry Group, which meets on the second Tuesday of each month—plus, James is now emailing writing assignments to members throughout the month, which members may do if they choose. For more details, go to

Today in Placerville, Poetic License meets from 2-4pm at the Placerville Sr. Center lobby on Spring St. Today’s theme is “dancing”, but other poetry by yourself or someone else is welcome. 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 heron hides her head under a wing…”
(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, November 23, 2018

Always a Beginning

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


We plant seedlings of pine
and of compassion
for every stitched-on name.
We lure flocks of gulls
over feverish neon,
dispel for awhile shadows
of yet another fallen.

We smash down skyscrapers,
rip out concrete streets:
For these remembered
let there be country lanes,
poppy fields, apple trees
and morning glories.

We envision
the afflicted restored,
pushing flower carts,
doves on their shoulders.


The moon is a flower we wear,
a sacramental wafer
held on our tongue, a
promise kept, an instantly-clear
foreign language.
We frame it with a keepsake ring
gaze at gold through gold.

Fully waxed,
the moon lights
a million candles,
communes with shadows,
disperses evening incense,
quickens the blood.

When we walk around
a night lake, our lantern leads
then follows
on cool water's
cobbled silver become
as radiant as one of God's

(first morning in Sonoma)
Grapevine leaves outlined in white
hold greens and amber which invite
our sojourn in this monastery,
fragrant, spring-like, quiet, airy,
consecrating prayers of night.

While chapel windows stained and tight
pastel the pews as monks recite,
our open parlor casements carry
grapevine leaves.

Arterial markings crisp and slight
retrace Da Vinci malachite.
We poets had arrived here, wary.
Offered cheese and crafted sherry
we mellow...Now in riveting light
grapevine leaves.

(A Rondeau first printed in
Poets of the Vineyard
yearly anthology, 2004)


In autumn they leave the Umbrian flat
for their cottage in Tuscany where
ripe grapes reflect on windowpanes.

Breakfast is red and purple grapes,
rolls, sweet butter, soft cheese,
coffee in white porcelain cups.

They gather easels, palettes, pigments,
ride a horse cart into outskirts
of Florence, walk to the Uffizi.

Cosimo and Bianca are copying one
art piece. It will take each autumn
for the rest of their lives.

(Printed in author's collection,Trails of Naming)


As a newborn I wailed
one tremendous wail
to prove I was hardy & hale—
a kind of celebratory prayer
for mom & the clever cord
that fed me well, "in there."

Now when I consider
the fleshy button bump,
the elemental lump
that rides my belly jello,
I fall asleep in seconds,
old & odd, but mellow.

(Printed in Chaparral
Prize booklet, 2010)


Within the spirals of life's rousing ride
we carry DNA and spirit prints,
feisty drama, foibles, freedoms, talents
through every primal and transcendent fire.
Attempting to master loop-the-loops, we lean
to milder turns, away from jarring dips,
grow mellow everytime we compromise,
cast sun on polar views and clear the fog,
practice acts reflecting care and courage.

When joy bear-hugs and we hug warmly back,
we sip the tasty tea of miracles,
believing we will thrive on earth forever...
Yet somewhere on the journey, planets which
circled and marked our birth, will whiz on by;
the helix starts to memorize our glow,
our brief or extended melody. When we
can cling no longer, the spiral gives us wings
for soaring on...We rise, become the sky.

(Grand Prize, Dancing Poetry Festival, 2005)


* A rainbow, colors sliding off
both ends...
* Leaves stroke leaves stroke leaves
in sensual green tides of trees...
* Climb onto a moment,
that molecule, that mountain...
* A cove harboring clouds, clouds
harboring coves...
* Child, at that request for space from you
we sent a kite & all the wind that view...
* Bright clouds glide over foothills
like flocks of white birds...
* Catch a Winslow Homer wave,
ride it across the canvas...
* A hummingbird riding the wind from
its own wings...
* Moonlight falls asleep in a calla lily...
* A softness on the poet’s shoulder—
love approaching?...
* Poppies rise from meadow grass,
or are poppies monarch butterflies?...
* In the end, always a beginning...


Today’s LittleNip:

—Claire Baker

When we are numbed,
shocked clear through
by tragedies in our
home of homes,
may somehow we find
a way to keep plucking
the harp strings of hope—
using, if we must, our teeth!


—Medusa, with many thanks to Claire J. Baker for her fine poems today, and her harp strings of hope… And to Katy Brown for her luscious photo of afternoon sun on a grapevine, posted below.

 Afternoon Grapes
—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.