Thursday, February 28, 2019

Who Follows the Wind?

—Poems and Photos by Taylor Graham, Placerville, CA


         for the Belltower Girls

I meant it to be a love poem for the girl
they were looking for thirty years ago,
disappeared off Main Street.

It was front-page for weeks. They searched
all over the forest till a camper found her
behind a fallen log. Dead.

But my poem wasn’t just for her, but also
for the other girls found miles apart,
behind logs in the forest. Mostly it was

for that girl discovered on a ridge just above
where I’d walked my dogs, thirty years ago,
a forest road in June, dogwood blooming,

columbine and foxglove on the creek.
I felt a shiver. I hadn’t heard of the missing
girls. Did my dogs sense it on the wind—

her scent, her spirit? I called them back,
drove quick as I could away, to town. Some-
thing in me didn’t want to know

what it knew; what poems can’t save.
No love poem; a poem of loss.
There’s foxglove and columbine in it.


We set out to count our losses.
It wouldn’t take a long walk to see how much
a profligate storm can break: big oak fallen
on the driveway; barnyard a gooey mess. Creek
running, leaping in swirls and coils gouging
a new path through rock—rimrock, river rock,
boulders. Any of it volcanic? unknown histories
of this place we call solid earth. Stop
and listen. From down-swale, wander-gobbling.
Without a roof against storm, wild turkeys
have lived to talk about it, and peck
fallen acorns, and talk about it some more.


No memorial at the foot of hillside,
this far from the land those people came from,
to end up here under grass where nothing
is level as a homely platter but all canyon and
ridges, hollowed-out mines. Here was pest-house
in the epidemic—gone now. An eerie place
but not frightful in the way of superstition
or horror tale; a hospital where those indigents
died. Breeze whispers a brotherhood
under soil. Annual grasses cover their bones;
the iron-spoke markers have rusted away.
Today the homeless have pitched a tent
as if they mean to stay.


The waiting room reminds me of my vet’s,
not a tax service. Ladies at the counter
are discussing rodents. Beagles are great
at ferreting out ground squirrels, but would they
accept a garage cat to deal with mice?
Ground squirrels—one lady’s son’s a whiz
with airgun-darts; is he for hire? I add
my 2 cents on mice shredding important papers
for their nests. I guess I’m more at home
with vermin than with the tax code.
In the exam room—sorry, this isn’t the vet’s—
in the cubicle with tax expert,
somehow our conversation gets around
to dogs and horses. The lady loves
Morgans and German Shepherds. I walk out
in a glow—nothing to do with taxes.


Wind is a blade that scythes the sky
and my dog was first to run out
catching fragments of news up a swale,
up canyon, from the far valley
then leading me on trail—off any trail but
wise to the wind—
the track a man might wander, lost.
How wild sky sieves through underbrush
and swirls in a pool with light
glazed ice-brilliant, so many colors
of scent.
That dog would range
below the campanile hill, up
scree slopes above timberline
where westerlies wing over the crest.
Who follows the wind
disappears in a gust or a long exhaling
always finding the way to go.


A dog’s lost in dream,
running the ditch between speed-
way and winter green,
running undetected and
unseen—faster than
car on ice, the glitch of care-
lessness, a sleight or
twitch of physics—fallen in
ravine? A dog lost
in dream won’t be found by dream-
ing. The witch of night-
mare holds that dog pristine but
gone. Wake up! The dog
is keen for daylight, in bed
beside you. Your mind
is the hitch, still caught in its
story, dog lost in your dream.


Today’s LittleNip:
—Taylor Graham

In such winter storm
watch the loss of just one flake
joining the snowpack
forming a ridgeline cornice
waiting to rush down the slope.


Thanks to Taylor Graham this morning for her haunting poems of loss and snow and buildings long-since fallen. We’ve had two good-sized snowfalls in the foothills this year, and the Grahams’ dog, Loki, seems to find it all very interesting.

Just a reminder that tonight at 11:59pm is the deadline for submissions of artwork and poetry to Crossroads Reading Series and Amber Moon Press’s for their annual chapbook series celebrating National Poetry Month in April. Email 3 poems and/or 3 jpeg images of artwork to Drawings and paintings in any media are preferred. Photographs will also be considered. Info:


 “Wind is a blade that scythes the sky…”
—Photo (and Quote) by Taylor Graham


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, February 27, 2019

Glimpses of Glory

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


Nuns power-hose a tall
Madonna and Child
blasting off street dust
and bird droppings

Smiling, they work
nonchalantly in front
of their chapel
in this small town

give "habits" a workout
just as I pass by
for anything Holy.


At entrance to church
a mother dove claims
an outside rafter
of bonded twigs & straw.

We gaze in awe at the
lofty feathered ring—
a mother dove cooing
who cannot sing.
Some, now entering

the sanctuary, pause
to wish the birdlings well
who know nothing of faith,
sacred space, the sky

yet one day they will fly.


Born not immaculately
but messily & miraculously
the earth transcended
that fiery start, finally
cooled, coalesced
into a slightly tipsy
orbit around the sun.

Planet earth
a curious sphere
in an airy atmosphere
a universal hurrah
a heavenly ha-cha-cha!


Adam's       and
God's          index
fingers        extended
nearly         touch

The             finite
and             infinite
space          left
between      those

two             fingers.

 Common Ground Dove

(for my American Indian ancestors)
Place the drum on a pedestal
turn it toward the sun
watch as leafy patterns
slide across the leather

Move flat hands slowly
over drum's looseness, feel
the skin tighten with warmth
toward fuller tones

Rub palm and finger oils
into the grain
Stroke with thanks whatever
anchors the leather

Bless the pedestal, tree stump
or sky backdropping the drum
And bless the animal 
which gave the drum its heartbeat.

(from author's collection, Trails of Naming)

 Rock Dove


Through all the ease-ons after work,
on raw-nerve weekends when teens
had harshly teased and tears welled;
on nights of mother's dying,
and on trips to strange places
where I didn't fit in,
these mellow-grooved slippers
befriended like loving pets.

Now my helpmates are a wreck—
stains, run-over sides. If laundered
the blotches would remain
but the seams would split.
Last week, I kicked them aside
and swallowed hard.

Today I drop
the embattled pair
in a trash can. Surely
there's a slipper heaven.

(from Poets of the Vineyard
Contest Anthology, 1995)

 Mourning Dove

ROBBY, 2016

Lost son,
we keep glancing
into the garden as if you
returned from war
as a gritty robin...

Or you might stroll
the cornfield rows, stand
among tassels, fair
like Julie Anne's
flaxen hair...?

The orchards of apple
and peach miss you.
Robby, are you the breeze
when blossoms flutter-fall
like pink and white snow?
True, the seasons get mixed.

We envision you waking
in the smaller haystack when
"collie boy" nudges you to
take him off leash
for a long long walk.

(for Tomye)

Friend, can you come out and play—
surely we are not too old
and it is not too late.
I've complicated things to say,
so please come out again and play,
bring your pictures, photos, stay
to share a hot spaghetti plate.
Surely we are not too old
and it is not too late.


love remains all
after all we go through
or within our own story

as heaven's curtain rises
just high enough
to offer
a glimpse of glory.

(from Street Spirit,
Dec. 2018)


Today’s LittleNip:


a falcon
we train
for years
to fly back
to our hands
& flex wings

—Claire J. Baker


Thanks to Claire Baker for her comforting poems today!—and for giving me a chance to post photos of the dove of peace, who comes in many forms and shapes and sizes. . .

Tonight, 6pm, you can either head over to Sac. Poetry Center for the MarieWriters Generative Writing Workshop, facilitated this week by Patricia Wentzel; or you can attend Cal. Lawyers for the Arts' “Relax w/Tax for Artists & the Self-Employed”, 2015 J St., Sac. (Be sure to register at 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.



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, February 26, 2019

Where To Put The Loss?

—Poems and Photos by Joyce Odam, Sacramento, CA

“Listen to the sounds of waves within you.”

A bell.
A feather.
A string of white nerve.
Your mind in a frame of thought—
deeper than deep, where you are now,

in curve of blue, in shine of light. 
Don’t go too far—
stay in the real,
know where each is,
eyes closed for inner balance—

letting life go into un-life,
mystery of who and where,
the push and pull
of real and unreal—
you between.

How ancient you are.
How new.
One is the same,
except for the difference,
except for the fleeting loss of self,

except for the knowing
which will forget.
The bell
makes a sound.
The white string twists.

The white feather loses connection,
floats down as you float,
your mind
continuing its curious journey.

 Breathing Light


Wearing the light now
you are illuminated and
your edges shine.

All around you
is a path
that winds softly under your feet.

You are turned
both toward me
and away from me.

I can see you are transparent.
The mist of your presence
is very fragile.

I want to touch you,
but you shudder.
I am afraid I might break you.

You become filled
with energy
and compress.

You enter shadows
that escort your darkness
into their hiding place.




It was, and then it was nothing.
You were out of proportion.
Your eyes looked away.
Where was my face?

Two mirrors claimed you.
You were a broken illusion.
Was it love—the broken dream—
the sigh that died before it reached?

Only your eyes could say,
but mine looked inward
before you could answer.
Where were the words we needed?

They were the stillness now.
You were torn by window light—
gashed and bled of all color,
except for the pale flush of silence.



Picture this : rain falling on the sea, a small boat
rowing an impossible distance, three vague occupants,
self-absorbed and straining against their own endurance.

Or maybe they are only figments of the distant eye of time
scanning this desolate reach, the sun low enough to reach
if one could touch the horizon or calculate the distance to

some unseen shore, just as far, the sun not having moved
from its position. Which choice will prove worthy of
the dream—surely this is a dream : the soundless air,

the everlasting breathing motion, the sea is barely real,
a wish, the boat placed there for struggle, for conflict,
for isolation, for being the center of some mystery.

Never mind the intention of some other mind, like yours,
at a loss for meaning other than what is surface-caught—
a quick glance into death—that eternal patience.

 Asking to be Remembered


is she not the one
in the long wet dress
shivering through life

covering her shoulders with her hands
pressing her forehead
against cold glass

where bright lights, windowed,
do not warm her
nor night’s shadows cover her enough

do not think her only a ghost
wearing the blue glow
of your imagination

threading through the curtains of night
till there is no more left to be torn
her children will never be born

each year she fades a little more
into the sad memory you keep
wisping and wavering

in the least movement
of your thought
she is only your loss

the one you know will love you forever
if you can only hold her
closer than she is real

she is the old shadow now
touching you where you are shivering
covering you like a cloth


After Origin of the Greek Vase, painting by Auguste Rodin,
and “You Who Never Arrived”,  poem by Rainer Maria Rilke

She enters through your mind,
caught unaware
unready for the pain

that thinking lets return—
after yearn—

more perfect now
by all that absence,
all that loss.

She enters through your mind
in flawless reproduction,
sensing your recall

and happy to return
to love that is ever restless for
perfection such as this.

 Another Time

(Upon reading May Sarton)

How can we take love
into memory again,
spend it twice, like a rare coin

How make room for it
in a dead heart 
(echo...  echo...)

How can we lose the words for it,
worn like a ring
too tight for a finger

When does the pain numb
beyond sensation,
which, itself, is memory

How does the mind know
when to let go—
where to put the loss

give it back—
to the one who does not want it
in the same regard? 



The curtains hang damp at my windows—heavy as silence.
I lie upon my own heaviness. Ghosts of the room melt toward
me. I float toward the ceiling which is wavering away. I do
not know if I am sleeping or if I am awake under my sleep.
Tides of desolation wash over my dreams.  Sounds of the
world drone away. I grow into the curving shape of air—
the ghosts dissolving around me in the slow persistence of
these gathering hours.

 With All My Heart


In the immensity of loss, to be a small figure at the edge of
a flat sea—forever at calm for a flattened eye; to stand in a
brief forever with a far-reaching stare into the loss of possi-
bility through air that is gold with sunset and as far as the
soul’s horizon—to stay here with no need to make one more
fierce or melancholy cry where there is no ear and there is
no answer—this timeless moment that stays in the suspension
that is mind in memory—sorting the self out from the enor-
mity of despair. This is a moment to pluck out of God’s own
eye that will not see the soul’s dark power—that even out of
this dissolving of hope into hope’s failure, there is still the



muraled here for contemplation—or discovery,
whichever is moot—aside from the paleness,
rendered theatrical and sad—with curling

white ribbons—floating—catching on snags
and corners—the faux surface peeling through
the under-painting (the past?) a staircase

and a fence and one high window showing
through. Alongside the largest tear, a clown
and maiden who seem to have gotten free of

the curling picture, standing awed and tentative,
still in costume, not knowing what to make of
change and loss and stunned by circumstance:

How long has it been? Where are they? And
who? And how do they just step from there
into real existence with the night door closing,

its familiar shadow easing over them once again.


Today’s LittleNip:

Morning and evening
Someone waits at Matsushima!
One-sided love.

—Matsuo Bashō


Joyce Odam has painted some vivid pictures of loss, our Seed of the Week, in her poetry today, and we thank her for that and for her as-always evocative photos! Our new Seed of the Week is Mix-Ups, suggested by Carl Schwartz (Caschwa). 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.

To read Rilke’s “You Who Never Arrived”, go to


 Origin of the Greek Vase 
(Watercolor, Gouache, and Pencil)
by Auguste Rodin

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, February 25, 2019

Molting Season

—Photo by Sue Crisp, Shingle Springs, CA

—Sue Crisp

A winter’s sunset sets the stage
for nightfall.

Clouded skies boasting a myriad
of vibrant hues,
resembling vintage wines.

Rose, Blush, Chablis,
shot through with a hint of Cabernet.

The perfect combination
for a cozy fire, and a glass
of your favorite wine.

 —Photo by Sue Crisp

—Sue Crisp

Bare branches in the winter are a form of writing.
—Line from Billy Collins poem, “Winter Syntax”

Each season trees, of leaves, are bare,
as nature nudes their branches.
Their rustle no longer heard in
brisk breezes or sighing winds of the
changes brought by approaching winter.
Limbs, a former shadow of themselves are
only a changed part of a
centuries old form
that reminds us of
barren limbs reaching up in the wind, sky writing.

 —Photo by Sue Crisp

—Sue Crisp

Looking for the season past.

Snow has started to fall.

Hail is pinging against the window.

Has finally come to call.

 —Photo by Susan Sigge, Martinez, CA

—Ian Copestick, Stoke on Trent, England

Winter's retreating back to from where it came
The country is getting ready for springtime again
Every evening is a little bit lighter
The sun seems to be shining brighter
I feel almost giddy with relief that winter has passed
And with anticipation that spring is nearly here at last
You'd think by my age, I'd be used to seasons turning
But every spring sees the excitement returning
I never get bored of seeing buds growing from seeds
Or watching the leaves appear on the trees
And I hope that I stay this way until I die
As the earth renews itself, so do I


—Ian Copestick

Life and the passing of time
Are strange, things that were
Once so important that you
Couldn't live without them, now
Mean nothing, or even less
Than that. The woman you
Thought was the love of your
Life, who broke your heart into
A million pieces, now you see
It as a lucky escape. All the
Years and money you spent
As a heroin addict, now you
Wouldn't go near it, even if it
Was free.
I suppose things like this give
Me hope for the future; I made
It through those mistakes, I
Can make it through more, and
As I get older and presumably
Wiser, I think there may be a
Chance for me to make it
Through to salvation.

 —Photo by Susan Sigge

—Caschwa, Sacramento, CA

Sun and soil fed
plucked from its nurturing bed
green, yellow, white, red

Like cigar smoke, its aroma will be shared
with all around you, bringing enjoyment to
some, and upset to others;  just don’t dress
your onions in gym clothes or people will
get the wrong idea

Farmer in the dell
tough meat under flimsy shell
sharpen that knife well



Not so fast!
say counsel for the amalgamated union of dots

You’re going to need to meet with our delegates
and work out a contract before you can claim any
rights to expressions containing IZE, JAYZ,

Let us know when you are ready for a deal
and you can sign on the dotted line

 —Photo by Susan Sigge


Recently the POTUS stood under the official
motto of the USA: “In God We Trust” to
deliver the SOTU Address. One small glitch:
this individual has willfully and repeatedly
broken what he regards as the relatively weak
bond of holy matrimony in favor of the much
stronger lure of personal

GRATIFICATION!!! (deserves special recognition)

In my book, he has forfeited and lost any
credibility, authority, or standing when it comes
to preaching on any subject to anybody else.

Do as I say, not
as I do, and I will keep
God in my speeches



When we go to take a bath we rightfully
expect there to be faucets that let us access
both hot and cold water. And when we take
a drive into town we expect traffic signal lights
to indicate both stop and go. So how come
those geniuses who designed houses only
provided down spouts from the roof?

Duh! We also need
some up spouts mounted to flush
extra leaves away.

 —Photo by Susan Sigge

—Joseph Nolan, Stockton, CA

I want to disappear
Into the boondocks
When I retire.
A place
Without locks,
With keys
Left in cars
All the time,
Atop the visor,
Where everyone
Was ever the wiser
And knew they
Had nothing to lose.
Dogs let to roam
Around the streets
At their leisure.
Kids played outside
At their pleasure.
We never were worried.
Our jobs were secure.
I want to go back
Where I came from—
Back to the boondocks!
But though I’d like
To disappear
Into nostalgic air,
The boondocks
Are no longer there!


—Joseph Nolan

“At the end of the day.....”
Here’s the message
To take away—
Whatever follows next
Is what you’re
Supposed to remember!
How many times have you heard it said?
It’s like, “Listen up, people!
Here comes your social programming!”

At the end of the day,
The sun goes down,
The moon comes up
The stars come out
And we’re expected
For dining, dancing
Singing, shout,
As though we were all happy,
As though we ever were happy,
As though we’re still happy, now,
And knew what it was all about.

At the end of the day
I feel I’d like to crawl away
Someplace dark and warm to sleep
To lay me down, my soul to keep.

—Photo by Susan Sigge

—Joseph Nolan

Something drew away,
Quickly, suddenly, silently,
As though by vacuum,
Which I could not bear to lose.

The world feels so empty
When you no longer feel
Anything more than the
Emptiness of loss.


—Joseph Nolan

In reverent undulation,
A snake will shed its skin,
But not before the new one
Is ready to begin.

Such is the way of change:
Too soon,
And it’s too painful!
Too late,
And it’s too strange.

When it’s time,
Get ready,
Feel the signal:
Might be your early sign
That nature is moving
In its order
Briefly toward disorder
To re-arrange.


Today’s LittleNip:

—Joseph Nolan

Flowers, grass, trees,
Buzzing bumblebees,
Gentle summer breeze,
Days spent at ease,
By these
Will you be pleased
Colored leaves
Signal winter’s coming.


Thanks to today’s Monday crew of cooks in the Kitchen for their fine poetry and photos! I do notice that we seem to be on the cusp of spring; some are saying winter is here, some say she’s done. Well, that’s the truth!

Anyway, Sue Crisp is back with us with her lovely pix and poems; Ian Copestick has sent us two intriguing poems by virtual steamship from Stoke on Trent (including a sonnet); Caschwa has made our recent Seed of the Week, the Haibun, part of his poetry skin, skillfully writing lots of them as we approach the Ize of March; Joseph Nolan sends us smooth elegies on various types of Loss, our current Seed of the Week; and some of Susan Sigge’s additional (wonderful!) photos grace these poems. (See yesterday’s post for more about Susan.)

I don’t usually wax so poetic about our SnakePal Stars, but I do feel gratitude for each and every one of them: poets, photogs, those who send announcements for the calendar; those who send weekly posts and those who are more sporadic; those who live down the street and those from across the county and across the sea. One of my British pals called us “eclectic”, which was my goal scads of years ago when I started this blog. I appreciate poets who write in all sorts of styles about love, politics, spirituality, nature, history; silly poems; serious and painful ones; things and places and people I know or don’t know. Our community has grown over the years, and every day my email brings me surprises—like Christmas! And you’d be surprised how little I censor or reject.

So keep ‘em coming, and know that you’re appreciated. Once a SnakePal, always a SnakePal! All you have to do is send your work to I promise to treat it with care…….

Poetry events in our area this week begin tonight, 6pm, with Poetry in Motion poetry read-around at the Placerville Sr. Center lobby, 937 Spring St., Placerville. Then at 7:30pm, Sac. Poetry Center presents Arturo Mantecon and Ivan Argüelles plus open mic, 25th & R Sts., Sac.

SPC workshops this week include Tuesday Night Workshop for critiquing of poems at the Hart Center (27th and J Sts.) on Tuesday, 7:30pm (call Danyen Powell at 530-681-0026 for info); and MarieWriters Generative Writing Workshop at SPC for writing poems, facilitated this week by Patricia Wentzel, 6-8pm.

“Relax with Tax for Artists & The Self-Employed” with Jon Martin on Wed. night, 6pm, at Cal. Lawyers for the Arts, 2015 J St., #204, Sac. Be sure to register at And Thurs. is Poetry Unplugged at Luna’s Cafe, 1414 16th St., Sac. with featured artists and open mic. 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.

Squaw Valley is tuning up again for their Summer Workshops, and if you wish to attend, March 28 is the deadline for submissions to the June 22-29 Community of Writers at Squaw Valley Summer Poetry Workshop. Info:

Hey! Send Medusa stuff, too!  

—Medusa (Celebrate Poetry!)   

 Elizabeth Bishop
Speaking of loss, check out “Elizabeth Bishop’s Art of Losing”

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, February 24, 2019

Ships in the Fog

—Poems and Photos by Susan Sigge, Martinez, CA

The naked branches
Of the scrub oak tree reach out
Toward the ground toward me

I hear the low moan
Of lonely ships in the fog
Greeting each other

Winter evening sun
Reflected in cool waters
Black birds call good night

I see the still dark waters
that reflect the trees
perfectly blurring the lines
between reflection and reality

The gold light of dawn
shimmers through the fog droplets
cool breezes kiss me

Sunlight shimmers
on fresh green grass
as it waves
giddily to me

Speedy clouds above
Race across the bright green hills
Grass below waves back

Strong February winds
Push clouds to race across the hills
Who will be first?

On my swing on a sunny cold February day
I am at peace.
The seemingly dead scrub oak upon closer inspection
teeming with life.

Sun tickles the tips of the pine needles
Sending sparks to my eye

This is the dawning of our lives
We sit and drink wine
Listen to Green Day.
The sun is dying.
Laughter continues.

Stepping stones out back
Forming a path between our gardens.
We don't walk alone. 


Welcome to the Kitchen to Susan Sigge, a professional flutist for 30 years, performing in orchestras, chamber groups and as a soloist, teacher, adjudicator, Master class teacher, and clinician. She is also an Inclusion Specialist and Autism Spectrum teacher at the high school level, and loves to garden, bake, travel, hike, ask questions, and eat good food and drink. Welcome, Susan, and don’t be a stranger!

—Medusa (Celebrate Poetry!)

 —Photo by Susan Sigge

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, February 23, 2019

Living Well

Yolo County Flyway, Autumn, 2016
—Poems and Photos by James Lee Jobe, Davis, CA

Yellow fields under white clouds.
It is September and the corn is ready to harvest.
Driving through the Yolo County farm lands
I can see that it was a good summer.
Tomato trucks moving slow on the farm roads.
Tractors moving farm equipment.
In a pasture north of town I can see
That the colt that was new in the spring
Now runs and plays, sometimes even hopping.
The road is empty for a few minutes
And I pull the car over and get out.
Sixty-one years old with a birthday approaching.
I am no farmer, but I love good tilled earth.
White clouds float over yellow fields.
I scoop up some dirt in my hands.

 Coffee Time

Chilly dawn, jacket zipped up, on the patio
Typing edited poems and sipping
Black coffee from an old Stanley thermos.
The express commuter bus
Going from here in Davis to Sacramento
Zips by—the buses are quieter nowadays
With cleaner engines and better fuel.
In a way I have it all: poetry, strong coffee,
The workings of industry and science
Driving the economy, and a crisp sunrise.
All at the same time. Good morning, folks!


Walking in the park
Just after the rain ends,
I see an earthworm,
Moving slowly across my path,
Seemingly at one with the earth.
So I ask him,
"Why did Bodhidharma come from the west?"
He ignores me.
Absolutely perfect answer.

 Sacramento Valley Farmland

Putah Creek, west of the city of Davis.
I park my old Volvo in the lot at Pedrick Road
And walk down to the creek path.
Strolling east, toward town,
Less than a mile in I see a sweet spot
Under a valley oak and spread my mat
To linger for a nap among the roots,
In the cool shade. There are bright flowers
And the breeze smells sweet.
Hours later, I am still lingering.

Knight's Landing, Old Door

Do you wish to learn how to live well?
Watch the oak trees through the seasons.
Glorious all summer, every autumn
They let go of all they do not need
To survive the winter cold.
And in the spring, rebirth.
Beauty, strength, persistence.
A long life followed by a graceful death.
Who could ask for more?

 Lake Grapevine, Texas

Lake Grapevine, Texas.
I held you naked in my arms
Under the dark, warm water,
Where no one else could see.
All the trouble that was coming,
I could see future pain in your eyes,
I could taste a delicious sorrow on your tongue.
—And I chose the trouble anyway.
Many, many years ago.


Yes, friend, the oceans rise
And wash away the land.
Yes, friend, the sun falls from sky
And pitiful man dies.
Yes, friend, the armies are ready
To attack and kill us all.
Yes, friend, things are happening now
That are ‘way beyond anyone’s control.
Yes, friend, the hungry.
Yes, friend, the homeless.
The poor, the weak, the victims.
Yes, friend, those who hate
Seem to outnumber those who love.
And yes, friend, I am still sitting here
And meditating. Try to remember—
Yes, friend, the sun will rise again
And warm the earth.
Yes, friend, the moon and stars
Will bless the night with light.
Yes, friend, a child was born,
And then another. And another.
Hope lives, my friend,
Because we still live.
Death will come, my friend,
But life is already here.
Be here with it.


Today’s LittleNip:

Even your mistakes are grace.
Seek the middle way
With easy steps.

—James Lee Jobe


Good morning yourself, James Lee Jobe, and thank you for your usual fine poems and photos!

This morning, beginning at 9:30am, Writers on the Air presents Jennifer O’Neill Pickering, along with
Sable and Quill writers Bethanie Humphreys and Heather Judy, plus open mic. That’s down at Sac. Poetry Center, hosted by Todd Boyd.

Then this afternoon, 2-4pm, Poetic License poetry read-around takes place at Placerville Sr. Center lobby, 937 Spring St. in Placerville. 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.


 Hope lives, my friend...
—Anonymous Photo

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, February 22, 2019

In The Moonlight

—Anonymous Photos
—Poems by William S. Gainer, Grass Valley, CA


Worked for an outfit
over in Watsonville
years ago.
Three kids
and a house payment.
They gave us a turkey
and a ham,
Thanksgiving and Christmas—
eleven years on the job.

I'd give the tickets
to Kae St. Marie,
she'd go over
to the little grocery
in Pajaro,
pick out
what was right
for us,
write the boss
a thank-you note
invite him over
he never showed.

We ate good—
all the way down to
the carcass boiling
for late-night soup ... 


Yes, the yard is small
but it is yours.
A sanctuary
of sorts
a place for the stars
to rest their wings
hide in shadows
and dance—
as the song goes—
in the moonlight.


We had red meat
Prime Rib
and the other
all the other
14 ounces
we ate about ten
and the other
stuff —
all the other
Took the rest
and sandwiches.
Our bloodlust


Painted the shed
a deep forestry brown
so in the dark
it disappears.

Tonight, it’s gone.

If this works
as planned
in the morning
it will be returned.

If not
we lost
another one.

        IT DIDN’T HELP

My barber’s wife
is dying.
It was the saddest



I’ll sit in the car
wait for you.
Sip a little bourbon
take a little
We’ll drive home
talk about
something else. 


I like my marinara
with bow tie pasta.
You don’t have to
fuck around
getting it on the fork
just stab it once
and it’s done.



My world lives purely
in my imagination.
Love, fear, hates
as in plural—more than one—
battle for their lives

My days are their milk
my nights their cradles.
I don’t know
if my therapist believes
my stories ...

She wants to know
if I loved my mother.
As if
there is more
to tell.
I finally said yes.
She seemed happy.


The kid in line
looked shifty.
I didn’t trust him.

Asked me to sign
his book.
I figured he was—up to

These days
things happen.
You never know.

No sense
taking a chance.
I forged
my name. 


No room
for big cars
cigarette-smoking woman
or bourbon-sipping
old men—
the page has turned on us.

Some days
I talk to old men
who don’t breathe
gray-skinned women
who only
exhale ...
and anxiety-ridden children
who never learned
how to spit properly.
They’re all hated
by somebody.
Me too
I guess.

I park my car
anywhere I want
two spaces sometimes.
Go inside, order up a double
straight, on the rocks
sit at the window, sip
think about a different time
a different kind of noise
wonder how the world
got so goddamn quiet.


To walk away
pocket change
a simple
and the taste
of neon
on your lips
is a good thing.
I guess.
Luck, if you will.
Then again
if it’s her
it’s best to let luck
surrender early
and the taste
of the neon
pull you both
into the night.


When they kill the sun
I’ll know it’s over.
Until then
I adapt ...


Today’s LittleNip:

            the day Kavanaugh got the job, 9.7.2018

I've been in this fight
too many years—
all losing does
is tell me
I'm on the right side ...
I'll sit in the back,
tell myself to rise up.
The fight ain't over—
you're still in it ...
and I am ...


Welcome back to SnakePal Bill Gainer, who is a storyteller, humorist, award-winning poet, and maker of mysterious things. He earned his BA from St. Mary’s College and his MPA from USF. He is the publisher of the PEN Award-winning R. L. Crow Publications. Gainer is internationally published and known across the country for giving legendary, fun-filled performances. His new book is
The Mysterious Book of Old Man Poems from Lummox Press; check it out at Then visit Bill at

Tonight at 6pm, Sac. Poetry Center will feature a book release by Lawrence Dinkins (NSAA):
Warrior Poet. Then at 7pm, Speak Up: The Art of Storytelling and Poetry will present works on the theme of “He (She) Loves Me, He (She) Loves Me Not”. That’s at the Avid Reader on Broadway in Sac. 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 (Celebrate Poetry!)

 Inside of every poet lies a wolf, howling at the moon…
—Anonymous Photo


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.