Sunday, December 08, 2019


—Anonymous Photo, Starlings in the Rain

(from WT Webb, ‘Science Fantasy no. 47’)
—Andrew Darlington, Osset, W. Yorkshire, England

she paints me
rain falls in heavy squalls,
the far side of the garden is hidden
the orchard is a writhing quagmire of birds,
I open the door, pace unsteady down the path,
the rain stipples my skin as I walk,
the birds lurch into the air ahead of me,
they fly in a half-circle on either side
in a dark bow-wave among murmurations
of starlings settling on bare branches,
I lose sight of the house among the trees
squint through an aviary of watery haze,
the bird-cries change pitch and tempo
I understand their words, their language,
a million wings in vengeful flight
rebellious as children at a saturnalian rite
to which my feet dance in sympathy,
the rain ceases, the sky has cleared
the starlings rise, a dark reverse snowstorm,
a night blackness of ascending wings
a lid that lifts from this garden
a vital part of me lifts with the swarm
sculpted in vibrant feathers, no longer
distinguishable among a pyramid of birds,
at the garden’s centre
she paints only a
formation of bones


—Medusa, and thanks to Andrew Darlington from over the sea ~

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 07, 2019

Bucketful Of Hope

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


The sound of the wind. Tree branches rubbing together. Dried leaves blowing across the ground. Listen harder. From somewhere in the distance is the sound of one bird singing. Tiny moments, sweet and small, rest in the quiet corners of being alive.

O sad world, cheer up.
The world today is dragging
Its feet in the sand as it walks.
It looks dejected.
The world keeps its eyes
On the ground as it moves around,
Ignoring the sky and the sun
And the birds and the trees.
Ignoring everything lovely or sweet.
Something in me
Wants to console the world,
To cheer it up a little.
It's going to be OK, world.
You're going to be just fine,
I promise.


The stream knows that the way to the river is downhill, and likewise does the river find the sea. It doesn’t matter if it is day or night, the journey continues. And you? Where are you going, and how will you get there? Follow your heart.

Open yourself to your life
The way a window opens
To let in light and air.
To welcome life
Is to meet that which is divine.
That which is divine opens her arms
And holds you like a lover.
Friend, that which is divine is a lover.
Open yourself to your life.
Don’t wait any longer.

Like blood on the hands of a policeman, like the screams of a beaten prisoner, a cat cries out in the night. It is the sound of my life spreading out in the darkness. It is the sound that says, “Now. At last.” I cannot swallow this midnight with my mouth bound by a gag. I cannot breathe from behind this choke-hold. The cat cries out again and again. The night drags on like a life sentence in a cold, cold prison.

Love and hope walk together
Down the same street.
Sunset, sunrise, midnight;
It doesn’t matter.
Step by step they walk, arms linked.
Strength and faith nurture each other.
People could learn from this example.
There is strength in faith,
And through faith, one can find
Immense strength.
Love. Hope. Strength. Faith.
Open your heart, open your arms,
Open your eyes.
We are the universe, and the universe is us.
Go now, live your life.


Today’s LittleNip:

That I never fail to see that even mistakes are grace. That I seek the equal, middle ground with everyone. That I always value commitment, support, and stability. This I pray.


Thank you, James Lee Jobe, for this morning’s recipe of hope in the Kitchen! We can all use a bucketful of that during this cloudy season. Besides, how can you be sad with all those mules grinning at you?

Tonight from 8-10pm at the Calif. Stage on 25th St. in Sacramento, Ladies of the Knight will present a full-length staged poetic show with music. Also tonight, at Sac. Poetry Center: Poetry & Prose Debut Reading from the 10th chapbook by Team Haag:
Soul of the Narrator, at 7pm with Jan Haag. Scroll down to the blue column (under the green column at the right) for info—and tickets—about these and other upcoming poetry events in our area—and note that more may be added at the last minute.

—Medusa, celebrating the good which can come from this 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.

Friday, December 06, 2019

There You Go

—Poetry by Linda Imbler, Wichita, KS
—Photos Courtesy of Linda Imbler


Stop tearing your hair
you frightened child, young sad boy.
Pressure cooker
meal is the thing you smell,
pressure cooker family
you see and hear.
Household dysfunction,
all things blowing up,
screams of parents bouncing off the kitchen’s walls
and you sob as you rock madly
back and forth within your invented universe,
the pressure cooker whistle is all around you.
Yours, they shriek, blaming each other.
Just admit it this time,
your fault, they howl.
Under this roof
beside the metal stove,
then all noise ceases at once.
You wake from this shrill dream.
Please, come sit,
the family is broken still, but hungry.


The land of Cowboys and cattlemen,
The land of bankers and Baptists,
The land of bless your heart and there you go:

They say it's the city where JFK was killed, a friend
once told me at NorthPark Mall that her father knew
Jack Ruby back then.
They say it's the land of mortgaged extravagance: Yes, there
you go, I have seen lavish hotels built upon
former ranches.
And they say to me Dallas town itself is quite small: My reply
is there you go, for there are suburbs both rich and poor
that surround it.
And there is both bitter hunger and keen gluttony;
poverty and great wealth, and I match their snide remarks
and say to them:
This is also the town of my youth, the place where the Crossroads
Club and the Dairy Queen gave me solace and refuge.
It's the town of my latter years where my father died, and later
still, those whom I had once been close to fell away from me,
sadly, so there you go. 


When I am old,
And called across the sea,
And beauty, peace, and ecstasy unfold,
Make no sad laments for me.

A quiet shore awaits,
Those long passed, I’ll meet again,
Within majestic open gate,
The happiest I'll ever be.

I'll walk the pathway,
Abounding sights,
Shoreline blue and silver gray,
Days and nights now finite.

And when you come
And call and look for me
Follow the silence to my sanctum
On the shore along the sea.


I clutch tightly
your urned cremains.
If I put them down
you might disappear.
I put them in triple-layered plastic bags
while I shower.
Strap them into the car seat
ever so snugly,
carry them into the store,
in that very large beach bag
that now serves as my purse,
when I can make myself buy food to eat.
At night, with you beside me
I dream of our life together,
careful not to knock you off the bed
to be scattered.
That I could not bear.
I recall the reasons I’ve loved you;
the magnitude of your heart
for all things living,
your capacity to forgive
both my naive foolishness and my purposeful obstinacy,
your feverish defense of truth and justice.
There is much to cherish.
And while the way I am acting may seem strange,
there is a method to my madness.
If I hold this reliquary
close enough to me,
perhaps you will reappear.


Today’s LittleNip:

How did it get so late so soon? It’s night before it’s afternoon. December is here before it’s June. My goodness how the time has flewn. How did it get so late so soon?

—Dr. Seuss


Thanks and welcome to Linda Imbler today, who joins us for the first time, all the way from Wichita! Linda’s poetry collections include three published works by Amazon:
Big Questions, Little Sleep; Lost and Found; and Red Is The Sunrise. Soma Publishing has published her three e-book collections: The Sea’s Secret Song, Pairings (a hybrid of short fiction and poetry), and That Fifth Element. Examples of Linda’s poetry and a listing of publications can be found at  Again, welcome Linda, and don’t be a stranger!

Tonight from 6-8pm is the annual Sacramento Poetry Center Holiday Fundraiser at Mimi Miller’s home on 40th St. in Sacramento, with food, libations, music by the Soft-Offs, and plenty of good times to be had by all! Tickets are $40 ($30 for members); purchase them at the door. 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.


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.

Carol Louise Moon sends us two poems for FFF today, and she writes: "I have two forms to share. The first is a Pleiades. And we can remind our readers that Pleiades are also 49ers, so that a 7-line poem with seven syllables per line does not have to have any other considerations. The other poem is a Tanka. (Modern Tanka aren't necessarily the 5,7,5,7,7 pattern, but they shouldn't contain more than 31 syllables.)" Here are her two poems:

(a Pleiades)

matted tangle of snakes. A
minute now, I wonder if
managing her headdress she
mangles her tangles even
more by raking through her "locks."
Mirrored by each other, these
monstrous snakes compete for space.

—Carol Louise Moon, Placerville, CA
* * *

forest fires
insects fly out—
roller birds dive into smoke
feasting on mice, lizards
and bugs fleeing flames

—Modern Tanka by Carol Louise Moon

Some poets like to make up their own forms, following some inner ear that carries them along through rhythms and rhymes. Here is one such poem by Joseph Nolan, written in response to our current Seed of the Week: Tongue Twisters/Alliteration:

—Joseph Nolan, Stockton, CA

She is unwell,
So, to tell:
She glares and stares
And bristles.

Has anyone
Any whistles?

If I were but
To play a tune,
Perhaps she might be
Normal soon,
And stop
Her crazy stares.....

But it seems
That no-one cares,
She stares and bristles.

She is a poet
But we don’t
Know it?

Likewise, Tom Goff sent this Octet for us, which uses an interesting 5/7/5/7/7/5/7/5 syllable rhythm that is not a traditional Octet form, but lovely music anyway:

—Tom Goff, Carmichael

Haze brightens autumn?
How is it, filtered by smoke,
reds, yellows in leaves,
pine branches, come to take on
glow, perhaps gleam, perhaps glint,
while air, cheesecloth-wise,
strains out lint, motes, gnats? What beam
sticks in my eye now?

Caschwa (Carl Schwartz) sent us a Kouta, which was introduced yesterday on Medusa by Taylor Graham, and also uses 5’s and 7’s:

—Caschwa, Sacramento, CA

Some put stock in lots of hope
cheery thoughts abound
many lives are being saved
happy days are here

But look at a calendar
the days are always numbered
all holidays included
darkness will prevail

And there are lots of ways to rebel against forms, too, or find other ways to make them our own! Caschwa writes: “I checked out the examples given for a Triversen [Medusa’s Kitchen, 11/26/19] and found several departures from the form of each line being an independent clause. One such line was only one word: ‘diminishing’. As a result, here is my popularly imperfect version of a Triversen”:


Church confessions abound
sending the truth round and round, till
all the priest hears is flabbergasting speech

Confessions made to the police
are motivated much less by truth than by
the need of everyone to end dissent

Staunchly inquisitive, investigative news reporters work hard to
fill in the missing confessions of
those who only offer silence

Ah, Carl—what can I say? It’s an imperfect world. But of course the poet is the ultimate boss of what goes onto the page; we can have our ways with any form we want to, as long as we’re not entering some contest somewhere that might get picky. Here is Carl having fun with the whole concept of forms: 


You really don’t need to know
what is in the Secret Sauce
to fully enjoy and savor its taste

nor do you really need to know
that some counterpoint is in fact
a fugue at the fourth to fully
enjoy and savor the music

nor do you really need to be
well schooled in anatomy or
related disciplines to have a
most satisfying sexual encounter

the point is just this:
do it, love it, repeat, that’s
all you need to know


You got it, Carl—the key is to love it. We don’t need no stinkin’ forms, anyway. Or do we…….?

—Medusa, always looking for the recipe for that Secret Sauce ~

 Linda Imbler
Welcome to the Kitchen, Linda!

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 05, 2019

When All Else . . .

—Poems and Photos by Taylor Graham, Placerville, CA


Wildfire’s on the news, a galloping blaze
consuming hills, homes, this field of horses.
Red-glow daylight as it leaps and courses—
or is it night? a dead black overlays

the picture, everything’s a smoky haze.
And here’s a human against such forces—
wildfire on the news, a galloping blaze
consuming hills, homes, this field of horses.

Human leads a black stallion through the maze
away from stable and herd, its sources
of comfort, safety. Man reinforces
his halter-tugging with words of horse-praise.
Wildfire is the news, a galloping blaze. 


Look for a shop door flung wide
to let natural daylight in—
here’s the used bookstore.

Browse the back shelves by flashlight,
buy your book with exact change—
cash-registers/card-readers are dead.

Back home, feed the wood-burning stove,
make whatever supper you can,
and in lovely dark quiet, sleep. 


Our clever black cat plays with matches,
pens, pencils, whatever he snatches
that used to be mine. Plots he hatches:
unplugs bread-maker, then detaches
external backup drive, and catches
claws on couch, shredding it to batches
of fabric now ragged as thatches.
Mend it with thread, needle and patches?
No foiling him, he just outmatches.
Look at the doorsill—full of scratches.
Nothing’s safe, he’s master of latches. 


dark-eyed juncos feast
on birdseed kicked down by finch
at hanging feeder 

Hail and Birdseed


dull November sun
strikes dead oak leaves on dry grass,
makes scatter-crystal


I woke up in the dark wondering why? Why another Thursday, everyday everyweek prosy stuff needing doing? Our black cat materialized out of dark, tickling my cheek with his whiskers, purring. Hungry? I got up, shoveled ashes, crumpled old news in woodstove’s ashy bed, added twiggy tips of oak that fell in last winter’s storms. So much work, dismantling what’s left of a great oak carcass. Remember how beautiful standing in the woods. Strike a match, miracle of instant fire. Get coffee perking. Lucky—power’s on, this dark morning. Dog’s curled with cat on the couch, patiently waiting for the room to warm. They’ll be wanting breakfast.

If all else fails, be
thankful for these everyday
prosy Thursday things. 

Today’s LittleNip:

—Taylor Graham

When the ancient parchment turns
to worn-out carbon paper
wordless and lifeless and gray—
walk outside and breathe.


Our gratitude to Taylor Graham for today’s poetry about our recent Seed of the Week: When All Else Fails. She sends us many forms today, including the Kouta for a LittleNip. Check it out at; those of you who love counting syllables might have fun with it. Her "Master of Latches" is a Monorhyme (

Tonight is Poetry Unplugged at Luna’s Cafe and Juice Bar on 16th St. in Sacramento, this week featuring Jen & Sho plus, of course, lots of open mic. Or head over to Poetry in Davis, featuring Len Germinara and Frank Graham plus open mic at the John Natsoulas Gallery on 1st Street in Davis. Both events start at 8pm, with open mic sign-ups at 7:30pm. 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, celebrating inspiration, wherever it finds us!


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 04, 2019

Time To Drive

—Poems by Neil Fullwood, Nottingham, England
—Anonymous Bussery Photos


To illustrate the importance
of the rear end swing check,
one of the instructors set up in the yard
three traffic cones, introduced them
as Doris, Fred and Bob the cyclist.

Doris was a lovable auntie type,
not too good on her feet anymore
but a smile for everyone. Fred
was the instructor’s five-year-old nephew.
Bob was a cyclist. The instructor

pulled the training bus abreast of them,
swung the wheel in a not-particularly-sharp turn
and I watched Doris and Fred disappear.
Bob remained upright, but swaying.
We doubted his ability to cycle again.

The lesson I took away: always
check your rear end swing—don’t kill
Doris and Fred, don’t put Bob’s cycling days
behind him. Last night, I ran light
into the garage and looked around

for the cones. Wondered how many
trainees had learned the lesson, how many
times Doris, Fred and Bob the cyclist
had disappeared under the training bus
in the name of road safety.


My first week of supervised service,
World Cup cricket on at Trent Bridge.
“Cricket’s not a sport,” was where
my supervising driver stood on the subject:
“Sport doesn’t involve cups of tea
and cucumber sandwiches." I remember that—

that and the incessant rain, the scrawk
of the windscreen wipers, bus-fulls
of disappointed fans, oceans of glum faces.


Squint and there’s maybe
a hint of some former Soviet republic
in its colourless walls, its ranks
of long tables and arse-flattening benches;
how utilitarian it is, ill-lit,
just clean enough.

Try the phrase social condenser
on the guy mooching over
from the counter, plate swimming
with grease-englobed breakfast items,
or haul from your rucksack
a paperback copy of Owen Hatherley

on communist architecture
and see where it takes the conversation.
A dead end is where I’m guessing
or a fast swerve back
to the lowly trinity of politics, telly
and bitching about the job.

Formica table tops, occasionally wiped.
Rudimentary condiments.
Cutlery counted in and out, as if
this were a prison dining hall
in a James Cagney flick.
Someone brings up Chernobyl,

The TV series: “Good, like, but fuckin’ grim.”
You could mention that the buses
used to evacuate Pripyat
were returned, irradiated, to active service.
But you’ve done it once already:
shoved talk out of its safety zone,

slopped it everywhere like spilled coffee.


The canned voice won’t shut up today.
In addition to singing out the stops,
reminding us what number bus this is,
its destination and the tourist attractions
and local landmarks it passes,

the canned voice discourses on a minor diversion
as if it were the stuff of epic poetry,
exhorts students to take advantage
of advantageous travel offers
and plugs the mobile phone app

with an insistence a Disney publicist
might find overbearing. And I wonder,
an hour into my shift, what Mr Talkative
will get started on next: news headlines,
horoscopes, the lottery results,

statistics on Ukranian tractor production?


Roy Batty’s valediction in Blade Runner:
seminal moment in genre cinema
or the prosaic witterings of someone
who never drove a bus? Discuss.

… Because I’ve seen things you people
wouldn’t believe. A chavette happy-slapping
her boyfriend on the back seat of the 15.
I watched a dropped kebab gleam queasily
in the gutter near the Rise Park turning circle.
All those greasy chips, lost in the rain.

Time … to drive.


Today’s LittleNip:

Success in its highest and noblest form calls for peace of mind and enjoyment and happiness which come only to the man who has found the work that he likes best.

—Napoleon Hill


Our thanks and welcome back to British poet Neil Fullwood, who, for his own sanity, recently exchanged a white-collar job for training as a bus driver. Of course, being a poet, he had to write about it, so today we have a few of his offerings on the subject. Congratulations, Neil, on recognizing what you really need in life!

And watch for a poem by another Englishman, Andrew Darlington, in the Kitchen next Sunday.

—Medusa, celebrating our British poet-friends!


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 03, 2019

Storm Building

The Plot Thickens
—Poems and Original Artwork by Joyce Odam, Sacramento, CA


the field full of blackbirds…
     wind roaring high…the long
          green grasses bending, full of rain…

the curtains flutter in some draft, and we
     peer out…from window to window…room to
          room, to a sky so full of movement…

the ceiling lights flicker…winds moan down
     the stovepipe…tree branches scrape and shudder,
          shudder and scrape, above the house…

sirens slip through, wavering thin and far, but
     where?     the wind-howl swallows them,
          cutting the ragged day apart…

the windows stream, distort, and fling
     cold images about…we move, subdued, to the
          holding-center of the house…safe and sound…

we watch and listen…the day darkens down
     with storm-shadows, driving sheets of rain,
          the field full of blackbirds…nervous…loud…

 Enough Already


I push through barrier after barrier with my life
which is crowded with intention and failure.

I am huge, I fit everywhere, for I am forceful.
I am my own jungle of resistance.

Trees crowd into me—
challenge my right to be among them.

I push them aside—
as long as I am strong I can do this.

At night I sleep among
the sleeping trees.

Each morning
we begin again.

 On Such a Day As This


albino peacock
stone woman in fountain
statue of love
carnival night
and sighing flesh-woman
entering the blue garden
in shadow by the pillar
lover watching with mask removed
lace collar caught in moonlight
they will not meet…they are shy…
rose petals flutter behind her
as she strolls
albino peacock
ambles beside her
assuring their lack of vanity
waiting too long by the dark pillar
lover is held
in tendrils of Bougainvillea.



young and wild
wine and confetti
danger in the alleys…

intoxicate each other
the night is drunk with you
and fickle unto others…

morning will catch you
in a smothering wing,
sink and dream the pretty sleep…

your masks
will also sleep
and remember none of this…

 I Don't Know, Tree, Moon and Big Baloon


Misfortune—that old hag, her gleaming presence,
what she wears to introduce herself, those semi-
precious birds she keeps on risky pedestals, the
charming echoes they have learned.

What does she want of me, I’ve nothing more to
lose or give. I’ve paid my dues to her demands—
those lies she told—those mis-directions that she
gave when she was all cajole and promise.

But now that I see her true face in her own mirror,
I all but lose my nerve : her costume in rags, her
makeup ruined. She turns to me again—this time
contrite—and once again I ask her to save me.



I, writing good news,
make you worry—
you have known me
too long—you
read beneath words
for what I am saying.

I tell you about
the seasons and the
domestic cuteness of the day,
skim-off the surfaces
like fat from a
simmering pot of chili.

I send you an easy recipe
using wine     and recount
all the latest
household disasters
to make you laugh.

And because it is time to
start dinner
I close with love
and start

cutting up
with a     newly-sharpened
making insignificant wounds
on my only life.

(first pub. in Squeezebox, 1975)

 A Kiss For The Villain


She is in the white trance of sleep.
All color is drained from her dream.

She holds a death mask in her hand
as if it will guard her absence.

She lies upon a dark mirror.
She must duplicate herself.

Her shadow resists.
Her eyes do not flicker.

She does not feel the room go cold.
The mask takes on a new expression.

Her shadow leaves her body.
Her eyes refuse to open.

She must go through the glare to return.
She is in the white trance of sleep.



may we stumble into love
if that is wise
go where it is holy room
and compassionate eyes
let the window watch for
time to do its passing
we will have a soft place to lie
where we can hold each other
from twice the loneliness

if we blunder well
and it is good
we will permit ourselves
one happiness apiece
if that is what we find

(first pub. in Suttertown Good-Time News)

Today’s LittleNip:
—Joyce Odam

You have us tangled
in your love.

In writing poems to one
we both slip in.

You want us one,
but we are two.

In writing poems to one
you do not separate us.



Thank you, Joyce Odam, for today’s wonderful poems and art!

Today from 5-7pm, Poetry Off-the-Shelves poetry read-around takes place at the El Dorado County Library on Silva Valley Parkway in El Dorado Hills. The suggested topic for December is "birds," but other subjects are also 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.

Tongue twisters!—better known as Alliteration on Steroids. Knowing when to use—and not use—alliteration is an important part of the sounds of poetry, yes? So our new Seed of the Week is Tongue Twisters. Check out these articles:



•••maybe check out Sound Maestro Gerard Manley Hopkins, too, at, and watch for how he sculpts little sound bites that fly through his poems like songbirds.

Then play with sound, flex your sound muscles, see what you can come up with. Send your results (twisters, poems or otherwise), 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.

—Medusa, tying her tatty, tawdry snakes into a terpsichorean tangle over too many, too silly tongue twisters ~

 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 02, 2019

Oysters, Woodchucks, Eagles

Woodchuck Inspects His/Her Toenails
—Anonymous Photos

—Joseph Nolan, Stockton, CA

We sheathed ourselves
In oyster shells
And lived below the seas
And learned to hold
Onto our pearls
Whenever we might sneeze.

Rough and nubby
Hard and stubby
By briny broth,
We’re pleased;
Between our shells
We let it pass
And eat by
Sense of smell.

How could you
Ever tell
If you are doing well
When you are living
Inside a shell?

Well, well,
It’s hard to tell
If an oyster is in heat,
But when you pull one open
It’s slippery to eat.

I only need
To soothe my brains
Since life in shells
Is just insane,
So, I suck in hope,
Since down here,
I can’t smoke dope.

We dressed ourselves
In feathers and wings
And lived in trees,
In nests, we’d bring
And build from twigs
And branches;
Feathered words we’d sing
Since we were sky-bird-kings!

We lived below
The gloaming-loam
As woodchucks
In the grass;
Problem was
We broke cows’ legs
When they would overpass.

So, the farmers sought
Our hides
And sent the shooters
To hunt us down
And wipe us
Most cruelly, aside!


—Joseph Nolan

Where do pillows go
In the night,
When they wander
As you sleep?

Down behind
The head
Of the bed,
Into a crevice
So deep!

Pillows quietly fall
Upside down
Along the wall
Leaving no trace at all!

—Joseph Nolan

Crashing-down towers,
A prelude to war,
This chapter of our history
Is still being written.

The fires of wars
Are still burning,
Burning, far too long,
Like the fires underground,
Near the Hudson,
That burned on for months,
Under water,
Under the wreckage,
Melting the boots of firemen
Who tried to put them out.

Who, now, will put out these wars?
When will there be peace?
Or will America, also, crumble
Under the burden of unending wars
Into a smoldering rubble,
With subterranean fires
That can’t be extinguished,
Making our soldiers
Walk across burning coals,


—Joseph Nolan
Your measure of caring—
Your measure of pain.
If you cared not at all
It would all be the same:

Ça m’est egal!

You might be punished for caring
If you’re with someone perverse.
You try to pull the thorn out
Since indifference is worse.

The worst is not caring, at all!

At my work the boss plays on the radio Sacramento's “Classic Rock Station, The Eagle”
     The station just turned thirty and I swear it’s kept the same play list since it started—
     Its official “theme music” is Bob Seger’s “Old Time Rock and Roll"
     Anyway, I heard it play a recording from one of its DJs that was apparently old and outdated
     It said, “Here’s Runnin' Down A Dream” by Tom Petty—
     "Tom Petty is in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and is currently on tour…”
     No mention of Tom Petty’s death in 2017
     Just like there’s no mention either of Ric Ocasek’s death in Sept. 2019 when they play something from The Cars
     I’m seriously thinking at this point that The Eagle’s radio studio is probably covered in cobwebs
     because nobody must have been in there for years to switch out and update any programming
     I've fantasized about storming into The Eagle’s studio with some friends
     and breaking onto the air and declaring The Eagle has a new format—
     a variety of both old as well as new music, including hip-hop (which its some of its racist listeners won’t like!)
     I guess I'd even warn its listeners, like Laurie Anderson said in her performance movie, Home of the Brave:
     “Get ready for some difficult listening music… but it’s got to be done!”
—Michelle Kunert, Sacramento, CA


so pretty to gaze at
multi-colored swimmers
not a care in the world
easily gliding over
periwinkle and pink
aquarium gravel

they will stop and stare
as if some kind of
communication event
was taking place
then suddenly swim away
to another spot

sprinkle in some food and
they are back in a flash
of you-don’t-want-to-know
exactly what that is swirling
around them finally drifting
down to the gravel

steady vibrations from the
pump harmonize with a hum
from the light bulb, chanting
the silent, persistent calls
“Clean me” “Feed me”
“Please don’t leave”



The main course was salad
and so a search for the right
wine with which to pair it

donned my jacket, descended
to the cellar, and found what
turned out to be the last rosé

a bright off-dry variety with a
traditional Portuguese accent,
this is how you say rosé 


The ultra-radical right
takes credit for the innovations
of Orville and Wilbur Wright
whatever they write is right
and they reinforce right with
this and that rite

then whatever is left
is assigned to the left
trickle-down politics
discount glue that never sticks
painting the left as expendable hicks
suit up for war, step off with your left


(a money coup parading as a Haiku)

snail mail and email
bring me hollow compliments
from total strangers

and it never fails
that they will solicit a
handsome donation


the memories of
dear family now deceased
don’t ask for money

all they really want
is for the work they started
to continue on


if bills were reduced
by collection expenses
debtors could pay them


the market value
determines whether or not
to fell a large tree

nests and the like are
not part of the equation
sorry, green is gone


Today’s LittleNip(s):

—Joseph Nolan

Love always hurts a little,
At least, at first.

There has to be some hardness;
There has to be some thirst,

Some roughness in the claiming
That brings out your worst.

* * *

—Joseph Nolan

On his grave stone, it reads,

“Here lies so-and-so.
He was O.K.,
Most of the time.
He had some issues.

What can we say,
More than that?
It looks like everything
Has worked itself out
In the end.”


Thanks to our contributors today for showing up in the Kitchen in very early December! To answer the question, “How much wood would a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood?”, go to

Poetry readings in our area begin tonight at 7:30pm with the Sac. Poetry Center Poetry Slam on 25th & R Sts. in Sacramento. Prizes! Then tomorrow at 5pm, Poetry Off-the-Shelves meets in the El Dorado Hills library on Silva Valley Pkwy. in El Dorado Hills.

Thursday, Poetry in Davis features Len Germinara and Frank Dixon Graham, plus open mic, at 8pm at the John Natsoulas Gallery on 1st St. in Davis. And Poetry Unplugged at Luna’s Cafe and Juice Bar in Sacramento begins at 8pm that night with featured readers and open mic.

Friday from 6-8pm is the Sac. Poetry Center Holiday Fundraiser at Mimi Miller’s lovely home, 1224 40th St. in Sacramento. Food, libations, music, raffle. $40 per person/$30 for SPC members (pay at the door).

And Saturday at 8pm (come for the reception at 7pm) is a specially staged poetry show by the Ladies of the Knight at the California Stage (across the way from the Sac. Poetry Center) on 25th St. in Sacramento, including music and the poetry of those dynamic Ladies of the Knight. 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.

Interested in workshops? Check the green box at the right for a listing of local ones which will be held this week and/or later.
The Art of Awe (book series) by Natica Angilly and Richard Angilly is available at And go to for information about their annual Dancing Poetry Contest; deadline in 2020 will be April 15.

—Medusa, thinking that some days make her want to CHUCK it all, yes? 


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Sunday, December 01, 2019

The Bridge

—Anonymous Photo

—Walt Whitman (1819-1892)

A noiseless patient spider,
I mark’d where on a little promontory it stood isolated,
Mark’d how to explore the vacant vast surrounding,
It launch’d forth filament, filament, filament, out of itself,
Ever unreeling them, ever tirelessly speeding them.

And you O my soul where you stand,
Surrounded, detached, in measureless oceans of space,
Ceaselessly musing, venturing, throwing, seeking the spheres to connect them,
Till the bridge you will need be form’d, till the ductile anchor hold,
Till the gossamer thread you fling catch somewhere, O my soul.

(from Leaves of Grass)


—Medusa, celebrating poetry and that gossamer thread ~

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Saturday, November 30, 2019

Letting In The Fresh Air

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

California is cold tonight, and it feels like my friends are all a thousand miles away. The clouds are full, it will rain before bedtime. From the stove, the aroma of the chicken I am baking fills the room, forcing the loneliness outside. Good riddance. From the window I can watch the loneliness move down the dark street, walking with its head down and its hands in its pockets.

Yes, I am free. And with this freedom I am watching the sunbeams break through the branches, leaves, and shadows of the many trees. I am free to be one with the light, and I am free to be one with the shadow. 

Welcome to America, we have a little space
In the cage for you, squeeze in.
You came to America for freedom? Yes?
For you, freedom is a locked cage
And a cruel guard.
You came to America for justice? Yes?
For you, justice is a punchline to a weak joke
On a television sitcom.
The studio audience will laugh, but not you.
You won’t get the joke. You are the joke.
Freedom and justice are for the white people
Born here, not for you.
Now get in your fucking cage.
It’s showtime.

I am reading The Beatitudes in Matthew when a ghost rises up from my Bible. "Live your life like a cycle of the moon," it tells me. Going outside and looking at the dark sky, I see that the moon is pretty full, and the stars are spread out like soldiers before their commander. "Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy." I say that to the moon and stars, because there is no one else there. The ghost stays inside the house, hovering above the floor, rubbing his translucent hands together the way my mother always did when she was worried. 

Notice the people, half of them
Are searching for a place to hide
While the rest cry out, "Look at me."
And where are you, James?
Somewhere in between, looking up,
Watching the sun shine out
From behind that cloud.

To give thanks and praise is the thing. Be welcoming. Anyone can complain. Greet the people in your life with an embrace, and likewise, tell everyone goodbye with an embrace. Open your heart like you would open a window on a beautiful day. Let in the fresh air.


Today’s LittleNip:

That I might let go of any judgement, it is so easy to judge. That I might learn to respond with kindness and forgiveness: to people, to life, and to myself.

—James Lee Jobe


Thank you, James Lee Jobe, for this morning’s fine offering, as we pass through this weekend of Thanksgiving. 

Today at 2pm, Creative Minds spoken word gathering of artists of all kinds will meet at GOS Art Gallery , 1825 Del Paso Blvd. in Sacramento. And a reminder that Poetry on Sunday meets in Turlock tomorrow, Dec. 1, featuring Lee Herrick, Said Shlah, and Ash Young. This is an on-going series which is hosted by MoSt (Modesto-Stanislaus Poetry Center), which is very active with readings, contests, their annual Poetry Festival (this year it’s Feb. 1), and other events. See for details, including info about their Poetry Festival Contest —deadline to submit to that is Jan. 11.

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, grateful for every bit of fresh air ~


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Friday, November 29, 2019

This Chapter

—Painting by John Bennett
—Poems by Jon Bennett, San Francisco, CA


They should bring back DDT
the city is full of vermin
roaches were hiding in the LED of my microwave
I popped out the lens
they scampered down my shins
there’s rats everywhere
and the bedbugs jump from the ceiling
when you put your bedposts in water glasses
mattresses on the street like corpses
labeled "BEDBUGS" instead of "Plague"
homeless sleep on them anyhow
then ride the bus
“what’s that on your shoulder?”
and in the SRO, the cracked mirror
and my face there
among them.



Some people break their lives
into chapters
kids work well for this, jobs,
for me it’s writing stories,

I take what I see
soup it up a little
and leave it behind.
A long time ago
I started thinking about my mom’s death.
She’s dying now for real.
What I do with it
not being able to write a chapter
big enough to contain it
is stay drunk and high,
but you can only do that for so long.
I move her to the shower
I bathe her and she’s embarrassed
and I see exactly from where I came
but she is still a mystery.
I think it is good
my imagination
will never do her justice.

 —Painting by Andrea Hasko-Marx


When the shakes came
I knew what it was
my mother had them
and died paralyzed.
I have no children, no people, really
and I live in a bad part of town.
The shakes got worse
and I decided.
The dealer had intelligent eyes.
“I seen you around,
never wanted anything before,” he said.
“I’m sick,” I said.
“You don’t like doctors?”
“Doctors can’t help.”
“So you want to feel good,” he said,
and sighed, I think because
of all the people who wanted to feel good
and ended up feeling worse.
“No,” I said. “I want to die.”
This was a new deal for the dealer.
“Take this,” he said
and gave me
four tiny, black balloons
which I’m holding now
in my shaking hands
but thankfully
they’re not shaking
too much.

 —Painting by Jon Bennett


“I realized why go
to all the trouble,” he said,
“when I can just fuck guys?”
I had him in my nice car
and was taking him to see
if he could do a thing for me.
“Men will fuck a pumpkin,” I said,
“men will fuck a hole in the mud,
a man will kill you
to have sex with your corpse.”
“Yeah,” he said, “so I was like
‘enough women!’
Now I’m fucking
9 different dudes.”
We couldn’t help each other,
I couldn’t change sides
and he couldn’t do the thing I needed.
On the ride back
he sucked on a couple
Clamato tall boys
and was quiet
while I thought of all
the mud and pumpkins
waiting for me
back home.

(previously published in In Between Hangovers, 8/23/2017)



I go to the last
truly fucked-up bar in San Francisco
the cops call the block a “containment area”
crack dealers from Antioch, Oakland, Richmond
all over the Bay Area
come to the corner where the bar is
They only come inside to use the bathroom, though,
and that costs a dollar
I walk over there through human waste
rats and cockroaches run from my shadow
people on their last legs
shit in doorways
and I go there on purpose
Sometimes I wonder
what is wrong with me?
There’s plenty of nice bars and nice people
am I drawn to the drama?
the rawness? and isn’t that
perverse, voyeuristic and somehow
an affectation?
One of the regulars
filmed himself shooting speed in the bathroom
on my friend’s phone
she doesn’t know why he did it
I told her it was because
he felt the need to confess
I have, too, always felt
the need to confess
and there’s something about
talking to people
beyond redemption
that is as honest as
last call.

 —Painting by Jon Bennett


“I had a good Saturday,” he said.
He had circles under his eyes
like always
and he never smiled
having been sober for 7 years.
“What’d you do?”
“Took my son to the beach, barbequed,
can’t sit around with an 11-year-old.”
“I haven’t been to the beach
in 1,000 years,” I said.
I had been in a bar all Saturday day
and into the night
An irregular there tried to strike a friend
so I held him in a horse hold
until he bolted for the door
then, if I recall correctly,
someone tried to make time
with my blonde
and I told him, “go,”
and he, too, went.
“Having a son must be
a good incentive
to stay sober,” I said.
“Yes,” he agreed.
But what of the nights?
What of the thousands
of long, long, nights?


Today’s LittleNip:

—Kevin Jones, Elk Grove, CA

             "Too late, Boone, you killed him."
                       —Frank Burns in MASH



Thanks to Kevin Jones for his LittleNip, and welcome back to Jon Bennett, who was featured on Medusa’s Kitchen on May 1 of this year. Most recently he’s been in
Punk Noir Magazine and Ariel Chart, and he’ll be performing music at Armadillo Music in Davis on December 8th from 2 -3pm. Check it out, and tell him Medusa sent you!

Tonight at the Avid Reader on Broadway in Sacramento, Speak Up: The Art of Storytelling will feature readers on the theme of “Thanks”. That’s 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.


Form Fiddlers’ Friday  

It’s time for more contributions from Form Fiddlers. Each Friday for awhile, there will be poems posted here from those of you 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 form and get it posted in the Kitchen. 

The Haiku form is very controversial, as you know—do the syllables translate to English? does it have to be about nature? and so on. Some American poets just prefer to write in the structure of 5-7-5, such as Carl Schwartz (Caschwa), who says he sends, “A poem in the general structure of a Haiku with liberal distortions.” Here are some of the poems he has sent:

—Caschwa, Sacramento, CA

Tripped on sandy trail
eyes more engaged with subjects
predicated fall

* * *


I had this sure-fire
way to lose lots of pounds, but
they changed to Euros

* * *


I pledge allegiance
to the flag, on the eighteenth
hole of the golf course

and to the clubhouse
with sandwiches and chicken
they know my name there

to OJ Simpson
hundred percent not guilty
I know what you mean

one round of golfing
with cofeve and justice
did you find my ball?

* * *


Haiku modified
for artificial intelligence
looks wrong, is wrong, bad

the old masters cry
nine syllables is far too many
cut it short or else!

this formula wins
the top prize to stigmatize the eyes
yeah, that’s way too long…

now some nature, please
the whole point of this poetic verse
is…uh…I forgot

here I sit between
two empty coffee mugs, no service
no caffeine this late

cross my heart and hope
to win an electric menorah
that about does it

* * *

Carl is also trying other forms; about this one he writes, “Here is my two cents for a Golden Shovel. At this point, I will leave well enough alone and refrain from breaking mirrors,” a reference to the Mirrored Refrain form mentioned by Taylor Graham a couple of Thursdays ago:


Fermenting brew in the heat of still summer
my reluctant toast consenting to brown
I amassed a heap of somewhat polite
and visited the old town of lost halls

found unending sagas of lechery or love
well cleaned and groomed for new affairs
kissing the big window were marbles and dolls
high price tag for pairs to leap and die

* * *

Another form that came in this week was the Triversen (triple verse sentence of variable accents—each stanza is one complete sentence, broken into three phrases: three lines of three phrases equals one stanza), sent to us by Joyce Odam:

—Joyce Odam, Sacramento, CA

All night, the unseen mockingbird
       shared its lyric singing,
               making sleep impossible.

All night, the slow red moon
       rose through the smoky sky
               and became a white moon.

Now morning bristles
       with raucous bursts of song
              from the numerous crows.

* * *

For more about the Triversen, see

For more discussion about the Americanization of the Haiku, go to:





—Medusa, who still retains her lovely, poetic form, even though her hair is a bit unruly~ 

 Medusa painting found in Mediterranean ruins

Photos in this column can be enlarged by
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