Tuesday, December 31, 2019

Blessings of Gratitude

—Poems and Photos by Joyce Odam, Sacramento, CA

looking out the window

thank you,
for the rain
dark bird shadows
hunched on swaying wire
the wind
the wind
takes the blossoms
for the wind   

the pavement glistens
bright new weeds

new green leafage
by the trees
scampering through                 
the branches



When I was the one, the first holy one,
of my other being; when I knew myself,
and the way of myself
and out of longing for myself,
and there was no other,
and even then I sought,
and my own blood was flowing,
and I bled until I was pure of my bleeding,
and this was God
in my pleading,
and I answered,
and was ordained to ever ask
and answer
and still I complained of my prayer
and my conviction,
and I went to the tower of words
and it was a mountain
and it leaned into the falling sky
and even then I signified nothing
for a moment,
for a long, powerful moment,
and was united with my birth
long after I died,
and thus I cried and cried
for myself and others
and nothing came to me
except my ego which was made of words
made of thoughts, and they entangled.
Oh, why do I remember this?
It was all done before it began,
and I was diminished.
My tears drained me and I was a river 
pouring down a mountain in the eyes of God.



If I were the sea
I would use you for a focal point:
your light for my darkness;

I would use you for a boundary
to gauge my edge against;
I would know where I could test
my calm and fury,
let my ships beware,
warn my whales,
and give your shore-gulls praise
for marking stormy skies
with their whiteness.

I would always know where you are
so I could ever surge toward you
with my lonely power.

(first pub. in Poetry Now, 2009)       


at night,
through the night
into morning—

to the listening
of the bothered,
the receptive—

some kind of mystery—
the birds . . . the listening . . .



Angel choirs
of ancient voices—
voices of the harmonies
of all voices everywhere
that sing from heaven—
that place of ethereal music
one hears in the mind of yearning.
Angels do not yearn for listening.
Silence does not yearn for music.

Voices of the wind sing through old houses
where sleepers dream of what the winds
bring to silence.  Only the hours know
of the emptiness that lasts after weeping
—hymns of sorrow—old sorrows
that still live in such houses.



Take this piece of joy and deliver it safely;
offer it to the first unhappy person
that you see, even if it is yourself.

It is a small flicker,
like a match-flare in the dark,
yet still a spark of happiness.

Give it your protection.
It is not for the gods of doom and woe
who will take it from you if they can—

look out for them—they will be the ones
who seem too greedy, touching you with
such sad demeanor, ravenous and pleading.

 Study in Black


I own the century.
I stand on the pinnacle of life’s expansion.

I wrap my arms around the width of my illusion.
Skies are empty of falling. I have wings.

My smile covers my face
for you to see.

I never surrendered my bitterness and question
to your confusion—I am that complicated.

I am the pose of patience and observation
of heart and soul.

I have great offerings of wordless meanings
and gestures.

I tremble with light
that steals my shadow.

I am without substance now.
I am all mind—

separated and combined.
Am I the answer?

 Starry Night


Let things become as they will be.
Fact then assumes fiction.
Dry facts. Exotic fiction.

Rituals need substance.
Holy and unholy. Iconic knowledge.
Let us bless. Let us pray.

The answers come as mystery.
Mystery assumes its own necessity.
Thus do we believe what we believe.


Today’s LittleNip:

—Joyce Odam

Where we are rich is where some happiness
fills a particular moment without reason or
specialty—only its little change of light
that makes its point at some lift of darkness—
and allows the blessing of gratitude . . . .


Thank you, Joyce Odam, for singing about our Seed of the Week: Unexpected Joy (Joys from Joyce!) on this New Year’s Eve, and for cheering up our dark skies with your splendid flowers!

Our new Seed of the Week is Regifting. Send your poems, photos & artwork about this (or any other) subject to kathykieth@hotmail.com. 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. (Check out The Regifter Book of Poems by MarcAntonio Murillo at www.goodreads.com/book/show/43312681-the-regifter-book-of-poems/.)

And yes. there's no apostrophe on "its" in the cartoon below. But I think the message is worth overlooking the typo, yes?

—Medusa, who celebrates the regifting of fine poems over and over in the new year!



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, December 30, 2019

Bees, Bliss, Baseball & Brothers

New Year's Eve in Surabaya
—Anonymous Photos

Three Poems by Michael Ceraolo, S. Euclid, OH,
from his ongoing project,
Dugout Anthology:

Lee Richmond

While I was at Brown
I would play ball for them some days,
then play for professional teams other days;
after the season a rule was passed
prohibiting a player from doing that
Because I was grandfathered,
the sore losers from Yale walked out of the meeting
where the rule had been adopted
I pitched a perfect game (the first ever)
and graduated from Brown in the same week
I played pro ball for a few more seasons,
undertook medical training in the offseasons,
and in 1883 became a doctor
I think I may be the only player in baseball history
with any kind of medical training
who wasn't nicknamed Doc

* * *

John Montgomery Ward

Spalding must have suspected something:
he delayed our league for a season
by sending me and the others on a world tour
in late '88 and early '89
We should have delayed another year
in order to construct proper ballparks
We should have had people of color:
I played with Bill White
and against the Walker brothers and others,
all without incident;
the fans still would have come
because we had the best players
We should have affiliated with either
the AFL or the Knights of Labor
But mostly we should have sought backers
who believed in the producer ethos,
and were prepared to back that belief long-term
instead of bailing the first chance they got
It's possible there might not have been
any such animal even at that early date

* * *

Ed Delahanty

I was one of the best hitters ever,
but that isn't what you want to know about
About what happened on July 2, 1903:
due to my signing contracts and accepting advances
regardless of whether I had an existing contract,
I owed someone a large sum of money,
which I had been trying to get by playing the ponies;
losses there only made things worse
I had finally decided to go with McGraw
and was on my way to New York
But I had fallen off the wagon in a big way
and was put off the train only a few miles
from where I was to catch a connecting train
I tried to walk across a bridge not meant
to be walked across at any time,
especially not on a dark night
A zealous watchman tried to stop me,
but my alcohol-addled brain caused me
to try and get away from him after a scuffle
I know that I had spoken of wishing to be dead,
but I swear I did not deliberately jump:
I fell to my death in a tragic accident

 New Year's Eve in Bali

—Caschwa, Sacramento, CA

Holy days, dreams and memes
add pagan rituals
commercial schemes

Hanukah lights and Christmas,
the giving
we celebrate lost souls, and also
the living

again the popular movie
again the popular song,
greeting cards that look like skirts:
some way too short, others
way too long

sitting at home in an
empty nest
we’ve done the group things, shown
up at the fest

now relaxed and comfortable
enjoying the day
our way, nothing else
just our way



long bicycle rides
Santa Monica Mountains
low gear up, coast down

see friends in valley
ride back same day, up and down
take a few photos

Marina del Rey
and its adjacent beaches
miles, miles of bike lanes

beachfront homes and yachts
so far above my station
free glitter for all

sea air in my nose
nature’s music all around
laughter of the waves

daily bus commute
Mar Vista—Miracle Mile
part I chose to walk

classical music
in the nice cassette player
I wore on my head

bus stop or sidewalk
Beethoven and Bach displayed
their artful genius

courtesy of the
rechargeable batteries
lasting one round trip

each lunch break I would
stroll to La Brea Tar Pits
and watch visitors

drop their jaws at the
site where dinosaurs died and
were frozen in time 

 New Year's Eve, Pullman Phuket Panwa Beach Resort


I listened to Bach with my friends. Almost everyone did.
Sometimes I had too many Bachs. Sometimes others
did. I liked Bach. I still like Bach, but I did not listen to
Bach to the point of blacking out and I never sexually
assaulted anyone.

Yes, we listened to Bach. My friends and I. Boys and
girls. Yes, we listened to Bach. I liked Bach, Still like
Bach. We listened to Bach.

We listened to Bach and still do. So whatever, yeah.

Anyone who’s known me like a lot of these people behind
me, have known me my whole life, know, you know, I got
a weak stomach, whether it’s with Bach or with spicy food
or anything.



The Russians could be watching us:

through those devices that track
our steps and calories

through toothbrushes that send
digital reports to computers

through camera systems at financial

through cell towers and broadband

through our comments on social media

through our consumption habits for
food, medicine, recreational drugs,
weapons, and just about anything else


The Russians are not afraid that we will
write letters condemning them; they are
more like zookeepers encouraging the
big cats to growl. 

 New Year's Eve in Costa Rica


Being that there are
countless varieties of
all forms of matter

we may sometimes reach
a point where we cannot cite
a particular

fish, flower, tree, rock
star, insect, cloud formation
or celebrity

that is when failure
becomes a tool for progress
here is how that works

use the voice of God:
he has a very fine name
one of the finest

and it comes with a
title that commands all to
respect and serve him

when memory fails
who would dare to fact check God?
you’re next up to speak…



Millions upon millions of people have
stopped reading
stopped listening
stopped learning
stopped caring

because so much of what they encounter
from all sources, turns out to be

the general consensus is:
I bought the ticket
I took the ride
I caught just a glimpse
of what you’re trying to hide

no longer are journalists
people we trust
being married to a business
that is sell ads or bust

even the fountains of fables
our parents did recite
are wells that run dry
when exposed to the light

fantasy stories, though
are great entertainment
where lies can thrive freely
with no threat of containment 

—Joseph Nolan, Stockton, CA

What is it about bees?
They buzz and buzz
With furry bodies                
And always
Serve the Queen

And when they’ve
Buzzed their last,
They leave behind
Some honey.

In this way,
They better men:
Some leave behind
No money!


—Joseph Nolan

A shibboleth,
A glazing dream,
Nothing’s nearly
What it seems.

We while
The world

Tell me,
What do dragons say
About the state of
The world today,
When each is against
The other?

It seems no man
Is another’s brother,
But seeks to drag him down,
Into the fetid underground
Of brother against brother
In hatred against their mother!

Oh! But some mothers’ brothers
Declare themselves above others,
And seek to drag them down
And make them walk
The pilloried walk,
Under whip,
To hear them squawk,
As though this were fine day.

Thus, we give our voices
To what the shibboleths say.


—Joseph Nolan

Maybe you are all-stretched-out,
Stretched thinner than the
Thinnest wire,
All shaved-down
To your inner core,

Stretched and shaved,
Until there is no more,
That could be
Taken away
Without breaking?

Welcome to the Harbor-Shore!
Where the vain and upwardly
Have discovered
Their inner weaknesses;
They despise,
Whoever might bear them! 

—Joseph Nolan

Why not admit you are exhausted?

That you need the rest
Of a thousand deep-restings
All woven tightly together
Into a quilt
To cover your fatigue,
To penetrate it and
Illuminate it

As though, like a shadow, it would disappear
And you, just as you were before,
Would be back here with us,

Like we had somewhere to go
Where we wanted to be
More than where we are
Right now,
Riding on this bus,
And worth the wear
To get there.


—Joseph Nolan

There is an armchair
Called divine nature.
Recline into it
From time to time
And surrender to bliss.
This armchair
Is made for this.

Relax and let things
Drift away from your mind.
Leave who you were behind.
A second train is coming
On a separate track.
This one knows no season
And never goes back.


Today’s LittleNip:

—Joseph Nolan

Coffee is so splendid
When it is perfectly blended.
The roast I like the most
Is the one I drink with toast
Covered with jam and butter.
Ooh la-la!

Scones are even better,
But best not eaten alone;
They taste so much better with butter,
Smiles, and good-friends’ banter!


Thanks to our contributors today, helping us move into the new year with skill and panache! There are no readings in our area this week, including at Sac. Poetry Center tonight, but take advantage of the final week of the Journey of Hope exhibit at Crocker Art Museum (www.crockerart.org/exhibitions/journey-of-hope), pairing up Sacramento County artists and writers to share their stories of mental health challenges.

—Medusa, reminding you of our Seed of the Week: Unexpected Joys, and Form Fiddlers Friday—ways to get yourself writing for the new year!

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, December 29, 2019

More Time, More TIme


—Richard Wilbur, 1921-2017

Now winter downs the dying of the year,  
And night is all a settlement of snow;
From the soft street the rooms of houses show  
A gathered light, a shapen atmosphere,  
Like frozen-over lakes whose ice is thin  
And still allows some stirring down within.

I’ve known the wind by water banks to shake
The late leaves down, which frozen where they fell  
And held in ice as dancers in a spell  
Fluttered all winter long into a lake;  
Graved on the dark in gestures of descent,  
They seemed their own most perfect monument.

There was perfection in the death of ferns  
Which laid their fragile cheeks against the stone  
A million years. Great mammoths overthrown  
Composedly have made their long sojourns,  
Like palaces of patience, in the gray
And changeless lands of ice. And at Pompeii

The little dog lay curled and did not rise  
But slept the deeper as the ashes rose
And found the people incomplete, and froze  
The random hands, the loose unready eyes  
Of men expecting yet another sun
To do the shapely thing they had not done.

These sudden ends of time must give us pause.  
We fray into the future, rarely wrought
Save in the tapestries of afterthought.
More time, more time. Barrages of applause  
Come muffled from a buried radio.
The New-year bells are wrangling with the snow.


—Medusa, always scratching for more time ~

For more about Richard Wilbur, go to www.poetryfoundation.org/poets/richard-wilbur/.

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, December 28, 2019

Embracing the Good

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

Late August. Moonrise tonight is at 3 AM. A waning crescent moon above the Sacramento Valley. A very slight south wind. Sometimes I wake up in the middle of the night, and if I am up at 3 AM tonight, I will go outside and have a look. There are three lovely redwood trees in my front yard, forming a triangle of sorts. Across the street in the park, a row of very tall pine trees tickle the sky. Sixty-two years old as I write this, I have no desire to go any farther; I am as rooted as the trees, and about the same age. Moonrise for my neighbors and me. I will hold out my arms like branches.


The wind is passing by, on its way to somewhere, coming from somewhere else. Outside, we whisper, and the wind carries our words away. Oh life, you magnificent diamond.

Raising his head above the water,
The old fish said to me,
"I must have crossed this cold sea
A thousand times already. It’s work.
Working and drinking.
Working and drinking.
Working and drinking.
It’s easy to get caught up in that harsh cycle,
And there is no real satisfaction in it,
No peace.
I’m thirsty for dry land, for the feel
Of the world under me.
I want to trade these tired fins
For the arms and legs of a true human being.
Oh, to have opposable thumbs
And a measure of peace."

I walked away from the shore.
I can't give him the kind of help he wants,
And it's pointless to try to reason with a fish. 

Speak your mind without hesitation,
And live your life without pretense.
Life is short,
And what is the use in pretending?
We come into this life alone
And somewhat on a whim,
And friend, we go out the same way.
Laugh as much as you please,
And as often as you please. Loudly.
Never miss a chance to love anyone.
Anger and hate are ridiculous things,
Like old men who try to hide their baldness
With the hair from the sides of their heads.
Listen closely now, I am speaking my mind
And my wonderful advice is absolutely free.

In the end, the earth reclaims all. Who will honor the late citizens when the city is gone? When the city no longer even has a name. Where an immense urban ghost hovers where a city once stood. When structural ghosts have replaced the crumbling buildings and highways. No one will honor them. Wisps in the night fog and no one to remember. In the end, the earth reclaims all. Wisps in the night fog. Wisps in the night fog.

Only love can explain the devotion in the stars of the heart, in the solar system of deepest joy. Let us open our arms and embrace the goodness of the human spirit. Open our eyes to see the affection that the universe holds for life.


Today’s LittleNip:

May I always do my part to keep the light lit, even though I may never understand what the light is. May I be a help and an asset to those around me.

—James Lee Jobe


Our thanks to James Lee Jobe for his graceful late-December post—including the flattering portrait of Medusa!—as he reminds us of the true meaning of the season.

Creative Minds spoken word gathering of artists will meet today, 2pm, at GOS Art Gallery on Del Paso Blvd. in Sacramento. Also at 2pm, Poetic License poetry read-around meets in the Placerville Sr. Center lobby on Spring St. in Placerville. The suggested topic is “horse mail”, but others subjects are also welcome. 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.

—Medusa, embracing the good ~


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, December 27, 2019

Poet Guests/Guest Poets

Old Country
—Photos by Christopher Moon, Jacksonville, FL

(An Octo)
—Carol Louise Moon, Placerville, CA

I’ll see my precious mom no more;
my mother has gone to heaven.
My grief! so much of it remains—
my grief’s beyond the prairie grass.

I’ll weave a hair wreath to outlast
my grief—so much of it remains.
My mother has gone to heaven.
I’ll see my precious mom no more. 

 Dead Oak

(A Palindromic Poem)
—Jennifer Fenn, Fresno, CA

On deep Antarctic sea,
this upturned iceberg glistens
in aquamarine brilliance,
catching the midnight sun.
It drifts
past scientists living like exiles
amid craggy rocks
carved by ancient, cutthroat winds,
rusted boats fallen on ice,
graves marked by wooden crosses.
Spellbound by blue glimmer, they forget
graves marked by wooden crosses,
rusted boats fallen on ice
carved by ancient, cutthroat winds
amid craggy rocks.
Past scientists living like exiles
it drifts,
catching the midnight sun.
In aquamarine brilliance,
this upturned iceberg glistens
on deep Antarctic sea. 

 Man And His Birds

(A Palindromic Poem)
—Jennifer Fenn

This wooden brown spinet...
it awaits in a back room
in this Clovis museum
till someone can fix it.
Played at a home or church?
Its last song?
How long must it stay voiceless,
its last song
played at a home or church
till someone can fix it?
In this Clovis museum,
it waits in a back room,
this wooden brown spinet. 

 Dragon's Tongue

(A Tuanortsa)
—Janet L. Pantoja, Woodinville, WA

Brahms Sonata No. 1 in E minor—
for Cello or Piano.
Senior Recital done!
Sonata was archived in piles of music.
A pianist asked me to play Brahms
thirty-five years after my recital.
At first I balked...
as we rehearsed, any worry abated.
I accepted the challenge—
I reacquainted myself with Brahms.
It took a year of practice to resurrect.
I approached performance day with joy.
The crowd gathered in anticipation.
Brahms Cello Sonata No. 1—


(A Palindromic Poem)
—Janet L. Pantoja

It’s snowing!
I’m mesmerized as evergreens turn to white.
Trees become whip-cream coated,
as wind whips snowflakes around.
A soft and fluffy blanket covers the ground.
Deep quiet ensues.
A soft and fluffy blanket covers the ground,
as wind whips snowflakes around.
Trees become whip-cream coated—
I’m mesmerized as evergreens turn to white.
It’s snowing! 

 Single Sunflower

(A Palindromic Poem)
—Carol Eve Ford, Kenai, AK

It was all so simple.
The wedding, the flowers, the church,
the love...
all flowed naturally like pouring water.
He prayed the engine remain untouched,
the honeymoon would go without a hitch—
he was no mechanic.
He got his wish.
fifty years have passed full of hitches—
and flowing water.
fifty years have passed full of hitches...
He got his wish.
He was no mechanic.
The honeymoon would go without a hitch.
He prayed the engine remain untouched.
All flowed naturally like pouring water—
the love,
the wedding, the flowers, the church;
it was all so simple. 

 Open Road

(A Palindromic Poem)
—Carol Eve Ford

Travel is said to broaden one’s perspective.
My parents slipped into Nevada
on their honeymoon, giggling,
wanting to say they’d once been out of California.
They didn’t know
he would be flung half way around the world
before their first anniversary.
She crossed the continent alone
to be with him before he left.
They made their lives both broad and deep
by loving the places, the people, the Earth they knew
when he returned.
They deepened their perspective by staying home
when he returned—
by loving the places, the people, the Earth they knew.
They made their lives both broad and deep.
To be with him before he left,
she crossed the continent alone.
Before their first anniversary
he would be flung half way around the world.
They didn’t know.
Wanting to say they’d once been out of California,
on their honeymoon, giggling,
my parents slipped into Nevada.
Travel is said to broaden one’s perspective.


Today’s LittleNip:

A poem in form still has to have voice, gesture, a sense of discovery, a metaphoric connection, as any poetry does.

—Robert Morgan


Many, many thanks to Carol Louise Moon today for getting together some of her poetry pals to send us poetry using these three forms:

••• The Palindromic Poem: Mirror Poetry. The first half of the poem mirrors the second half with a pivotal line in the middle creating the turn. See www.writersdigest.com/editor-blogs/poetic-asides/personal-updates/poetic-form-palindrome-poetry-or-mirror-poem/.

••• The Tuanortsa (“Astronaut” spelled backwards): This is a palindromic poem that reads the same up as it does down. The arrow on the last line indicates to the reader to continue reading the poem upwards. See poetscollective.org/poetryforms/tuanortsa/.

••• The Octo: (Syllabic Verse). The Octo is similar to the Palindromic Poem, except it has a syllabic requirement of eight lines with eight syllables each. Lines 4 and 5 aren’t mirrored, but they rhyme. See poetscollective.org/poetryforms/octo/.

All of these poets have appeared in the Kitchen before, and it’s always a pleasure to have them come back to visit!

Tonight from 7-8:30pm, Speak Up: The Art of Storytelling and Poetry takes place at The Avid Reader on Broadway in Sacramento, featuring a performance evening about “Holidays”. 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.



In addition to the poems posted above, it’s time for more contributions from Form Fiddlers! Each Friday for awhile, there will be poems posted here from some of our readers using forms—either ones which were mentioned on Medusa during the previous week, or whatever else floats through the Kitchen and the perpetually stoned mind of Medusa. If these instructions are vague, it's because they're meant to be. Just fiddle around with some forms and get them posted in the Kitchen.

These first two are in the form of the Paradelle, a “form” made up by Billy Collins that parodies the Villanelle (see www.writersdigest.com/editor-blogs/poetic-asides/poets/poetic-form-paradelle):

—Caschwa, Sacramento, CA

One E and a, two E and a, three E and a, four E and a
One E and a, two E and a, three E and a, four E and a
snare drum, pedal bass, top hat, bell
snare drum, pedal bass, top hat, bell
snare one bass, drum two drum, pedal
a hat, top E, and a three four bell

There was only one trombone player
There was only one trombone player
marching alone in the band
marching alone in the band
The trombone marching band was
only one player, in there alone

All the flautists left the group
All the flautists left the group
fearing the band director’s stares
fearing the band director’s stares
The group stares left fearing
flautists all the director’s band

The director’s hat was all alone,
all alone, left in a snare drum. Only
one, two, three marching flautists
and a top trombone player: four
fearing bass stares there. E pedal,
the marching bell band group

* * *

—Carol Louise Moon

Is it time to write a paradelle?
Is it time to write a paradelle?
Who says it should be summed up?
Who says it should be summed up?
Who says it: “Time should be
summed up”? Is it a paradelle to write?

Do we pretend knowing?
Do we pretend knowing,
as if we could write the right—
as if we could write the right?
Do we write, as if knowing?
Could the right end the pretend?

Pretending gets us nowhere. But
pretending gets us nowhere, but
somewhere. There is that answer.
Somewhere there is that answer.
Somewhere there is us pretending—
but that answer gets nowhere.

Who gets the right? Could time be
summed up? Do we write as if it is
a paradelle knowing the answer?
Somewhere there is us pretending—
but nowhere, it says, should that end
pretend to write.

And yesterday, Carl Schwartz sent me this cro cumaisc etir casbairdne ocus lethrannaigecht (see www.writersdigest.com/editor-blogs/poetic-asides/cro-cumaisc-etir-casbairdni-ocus-lethrannaigecht-poetic-forms), his penning of an Irish form posted yesterday in the Kitchen by Taylor Graham:


Mosaic so colorful
it’s easy to see
and does the job wonderful
for you and for me

following good instructions
put dishwasher pod
sans logical deductions
in the door, though odd

swung the door closed completely
then heard the sound: plop
used artful words discretely
re the pod did drop

with the door now reopened
no pod was in sight
(unkind words best unspoken)
had pod taken flight?

been there before, already
just reach down and fetch
but history’s unsteady
not the same old sketch

remaining so devious
on multiple tries
the answer was obvious
not just for the wise

a white obverse diminished
one’s view of pod’s face
said the dishes unfinished,
“Get on with this race!”

Bravo, Caschwa, and congrats on the cojones for trying the cro cumaisc whatever…! Many forms float through the Kitchen during the week, so watch out for them and give yourself a little dusting off in sound and structure!


—Medusa, celebrating the many arts of poetry!

—Artwork by Bailey Hau Ruth Moon, 
niece of Carol Louise Moon

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, December 26, 2019

Listening to Coyote

—Poems and Photos by Taylor Graham, Placerville, CA


Listen to Coyote, howling
at the Moon, his song reverberating
through canyon, haze-lit tonight.
Cold Moon of December between storms,
its rabbit-face misty as myth. Rabbit
that Coyote chased till it jumped so high
it landed on the Moon, and there
it stays. Mocking? They say, Coyote
howls at Moon because he loves
that Rabbit he chased so fervently.
Could it be frustration, not love,
makes Coyote howl? No more rabbits
on this land. Does Coyote howl
for love of the chase
that is no more? I step outside
into cold damp December,
gaze upward. Inscrutable, the misty-
myth face of Moon. Even after
lunar landings, and Man walking
on Moon—Coyote and I
stop in our earthly tracks and howl.
It’s natural. 

1 line/60 minutes of waking morning

A sock for each foot by light of the wireless box—
the flibbertigibbet of wifi on a dark weekday.
TV news is bad as yesterday, turn it down/off.
On Bedford I’m perpendicular to rush hour,
sadly joining the downstream flow into gray.
Dried apricots in their bin like soft sweet gems.
The cat plays keyboard making sx7y typos.
Measure de-stressing in strokes of a dog’s ear,
poems read by lanternlight in a blackout. 


“Just lie down,” she said. You did, wide awake in afternoon with slant-December light slicing the window, stress ticking the resting pulse bidding it run faster. You got up, walked out the door. A chilly breeze set bare branches waving. Oak cloaked with green-velvet moss. One step and then the next, a new image opens with every footfall. Where did all this come from and what is it for? Scrub-Jay swinging from the feeder; Flicker lifting off the grass, flashing white against red wing-feathers.

what brought you out here?
pulse keeping easy rhythm
with slow-dancing heart 


I drove downtown to photograph Snowshoe Thompson painted in mural-immortality on a shop wall just off Main Street. But Snowshoe, legendary mail-carrier over snowbound Sierra, was gone—all but the tips of his skis —covered not by snow but a gigantic SALE sign. It’s December. Everything Must Go!

So public art yields
to holiday shopping which,
like mail, must go through! 

mural of historic ski-carrier of U.S. Mail, Genoa, NV to Placerville, CA

ALL SALES FINAL! precisely
over public art:
a fine mural concisely
showing our town’s heart.

Snowshoe’s wintery Sierra
by White Sale’s been bleached?
But our timeless Ski-era
his mail long-since reached.


In the fenced garden and fields, in hollows
underneath, ground-squirrels ripen
like cabbages. While we’re not watching,
they scuttle and feed, sleep and multiply.
So many, they fall through the talons
of hawks. Every summer
we curse their daylight dashes, watch
our tended rows vanish, tooth by tooth;
almost give up on harvest.

Is it worth planting a garden
for the new year?
But look, in the field: patient as time,
as if stopped
in its evolution; prehistoric silhouette
of blue heron, hunting
as Time does, as if motionless,
moving without seeming
its yellow eye, its sun. 

Today’s LittleNip:

—Taylor Graham

If all else fails we’ll
get a brand-new Seed of the
Week, come next Tuesday.


Indeed you will, Taylor Graham; our Seed of the Week is definitely a fixture for the next year! About her poetry today, she says,
“New-Year Heron” is from my most recent book, Windows of Time and Place (Cold River Press) and “Public Art?” and “Where's Snowshoe Thompson” are (of course) two versions of the same subject, and examples of how different forms have their very different ways with the same subject (no surprise, but the ‘cro cumaisc etir casbairdne ocus lethrannaigecht’—one of those tricky Irish forms—really took over!)”. Medusa says, don’t bust your brain over “those tricky Irish forms”, but if you, too, get swept up by the cro cumaisc etir casbairdne ocus lethrannaigecht (always a danger in life!), go to www.writersdigest.com/editor-blogs/poetic-asides/cro-cumaisc-etir-casbairdni-ocus-lethrannaigecht-poetic-forms/.

For up-coming poetry events in our area, scroll down to the blue column (under the green column at the right) for info—and note that more may be added at the last minute.

—Medusa, celebrating the Cold Moon of December, and the Rabbit it carries ~


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, December 25, 2019

Creating Love


—Michael H. Brownstein, Jefferson City, MO
There—the ghost trees of the Missouri, gray-skinned and thin,
too early in the morning, winter, but too warm to be winter,
a shroud of white veneer colors them in fog and cloud-wash.
On the other side of the river across from the vast field of
trains, a lone man walks on the mucked flats searching for a
gift. He has nothing to offer, it’s Christmas, but the love he
carries. This is never enough, and he understands, but he holds
its flint and every now and then tries to bend it into a shape he
can give. A light wetness begins to fall, not cold and not warm,
soft like down. He holds out his hand, catches a few drops, lets
them linger on his palm, licks them off, smiles at their taste,
the rain sweet and filling, a pleasant rain and when it stops, he
looks over the river, over the space where he stands, studies
the busy current, thinks of what is deep within him, what
thoughts he holds dear, and then he sees it, a color in the black
tarred mud along the shore.

A flower does not know it is winter. It feels summer’s strength
and lets its seed push it to the surface. There it lets a single
blossom face the sun, lets its leaves touch a warm wind, drink
the lather of dew. It does not understand shorter days, deep
drops in temperament nor does it know its flower formed a
heart-shape red and pink, a touch of blue, honeysuckled, full
of harmony. When it feels the man’s shadowsettle over it, when
the man cuts off the blossom, it does not know to flinch.

There—the great mistletoe hanging over the path, the swamp
vines, the thick huckleberry, and in the distant, ghost trees,
white-haired. He thanks the flower for its blossom, and begins
to sing softly, then louder, a deep bass, and somehow the river
too knows and its current begins to move differently, and some-
how the wind knows and it slows its gait, and somehow a length
of swamp grass knows, and the ancient trees along the
shoreline visible and invisible in the river fog, the cloud fog.

 —Artwork by Andrew Darlington, Ossett, W. Yorkshire, England


Our Christmas thanks to Michael Brownstein for today’s poem; it’s from his newest book,
How Do We Create Love? from Cholla Needles Press, 2019. And thanks also to Andrew Darlington, who sent us these colorful Christmas works of his from over the sea.

—Medusa, celebrating the honeysuckle and the ancient ghost trees and all the poets, who also somehow know what they need to know ~ 

 —Artwork by Andrew Darlington
May you never be too grown-up to search the skies on Christmas Eve…

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, December 24, 2019

Where Shadows Play

Measurement of Existence
—Poems and Photos by Joyce Odam, Sacramento, CA

After Wistman’s Wood in Dartmoor, Devon, England

In the woods, many shadows and
many sunbeams play through trees that
guide me in, and in, till I am deeper in.

The trees grow thicker. The shadows shift.
The sunlight flickers in and out of branches
that replicate their patterns on the moving ground.

Turning circles lead me deeper—hearing now,
the snaps and rustles—the loss of place—
the alien blend of peace mixed up with fear—

the feeling that I don’t belong : shadows turn into night,
unseen birds are closing up their songs, and I am in
the center of a center that has no direction now.

 The Hearkening


when it flew so near
when it brushed my hair
when it held my eye

when it framed the air with its wings
and it heard my cry
from the numbness of my mind

and I raised my hand
for it to rest upon
but it had no need

so I held it with my breath
and it almost touched my face
and I did not move or fear

it was the pain
and the bird told me
to tell the pain to go away

we were mind to mind
with no one near
to say I lied

to say how the bird
took all the darkness
that I could not love, and could not say.



my shadow follows me
from fear to possession . . .

when I sit down
my shadow curls up inside me . . .

when I look in the image-mirror
my shadow appears . . .


After Three Men Walking by Giacometti, 1948

Walking out from the center of the mirror, I face
three directions and am at once at the mercy of
three compulsions. Thus am I split into the three

measurements of existence : I am past, present,
and future. But, still, I am of the mirror—that
mothering eye that will not diminish or release,

but only gives me a glimpse of illusion—that
bordering reach—that drifts off the fathomless
edge around me. If only I can pull away at the

exact moment, I will escape the unguarded blink
that must occur. Even now, I can feel my three
selves slip the magnetic hold of my own fear

and reluctance—that pull at the weakening
center—if only I am that brave—if only I can
break my own trance, and that of the mirror . . . .

(first pub. in Tiger's Eye, 2001)

 The Softness of Silence


A downward wing—something on the
edge of far light, its mute form heavy,

though transparent—like shadow;
like dark thought that prevails;
like worry—which is another wing,

dragging itself everywhere
until you splint or amputate the thing.



when I am once a child and once a crone
and emulate the dark of seven years
and creep into the silences alone
and fill the closet of the room
and find the room not here
and there become the ending to my fear . . .


After “Some Questions You Might Ask” by Mary Oliver

How you would approach an old theme :
  As if I knew it by heart.
    As love. And as fear of love.

How you would address the silence of stone :
    With whispers. And reverence,
    the old language in layers of conclusion,
    as if answers were never necessary.

How you would wear the mask of loneliness :
    With lace. With sequins. With feathers.

How you would walk in rain :
    without an umbrella,
    letting my whole face do the weeping.

How you would explain cynicism :
    Give examples.
    Anecdotes of humiliation.

How you would know truth :
    Truth is two-sided.
    Like your truth and my truth.

How would you enter a feared place :
    Like a memory. Squeeze through its
    small doorway that only exists from the
    other side. Feel the walls which are circular.

 Act Three

After “White Teapot”, c. 1934 by Lilian Westcott Hale

Here is where we took tea—this abstract garden—
winter now. The white trees shine.
The white grass climbs toward the hours of decline.

See how the white cloth does not tear,
layered with snow;
how the cup and saucer hold their pose with grace

while the absent winds declare themselves anonymous.
So, my absent Dear, I fear the tea has gone
cold again—as it did then—when we surrendered

all our time to time’s forgetting. Now I stare
through winter’s window to this
cold setting and refuse to know which death is mine.

(first pub. in Silt Reader, 2003)


Today’s LittleNip:
—Joyce Odam

Braving fear
   that’s ever near—
      awaiting end of day;

needing light
   to brighten night
      and lure that dark away.

What resists,
   and what untwists—
      unleashing its last say?


Thanks to Joyce Odam for today’s fine poetry and photos! Her LittleNip, “Night Worries”, is a Trizad, an obscure poetry form of three tercets that rhyme aab/aab/aab. And for more information about some of her references, see:

Three Men Walking (painting by Alberto Giacometti): www.artsy.net/artwork/alberto-giacometti-three-men-walking/.

••• “Some Questions You Might Ask” (poem by Mary Oliver): www.poeticous.com/mary-oliver/some-questions-you-might-ask/.

Tonight at Luna’s Cafe & Juice Bar on 16th St. in Sacramento, poets, musicians and other merrymakers will celebrate the 37th Annual X-mas Eve Hoot-A-Bash sing-along, starting at 7pm. 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.

Our new Seed of the Week is Unexpected Joy. Send your poems, photos & artwork about this (or any other) subject to kathykieth@hotmail.com. 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.

—Medusa, wishing you some unexpected joy this holiday season!


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.