Friday, May 31, 2019

Under the Desert Sun

Brian Rihlmann
—Poems by Brian Rihlmann, Reno, NV
—Anonymous Photos of the Nevada Desert


I dreamed I was perfectly happy
my head was a quiet place
I sat in a room with people
who talked and smiled
someone laughed
and it struck me funny
so I laughed too

the tv was on
a show about a family
they argued a lot
but they loved each other
I just watched and felt content

then a voice said
“It’s a nice day, let’s go outside!”

someone wiped the drool
from my chin
ran their fingers
across my scalp
and said,
“This is healing nicely.”

then they patted my cheek
and pushed my wheelchair
out the door
onto the front porch

it was glorious—
the sunshine
the blue sky
and the bright flowers
in the little garden

I made happy sounds
grunted and moaned
like an animal
but no words
came from my mouth 


i’ve overheard it referred to
as “bipolar asshole disorder”
and endured a barroom chat
where someone’s big mouth
assured me
that mental illness was a ruse
a hiding place for cowards

“if these people
got a screw loose
or something rattling around up there
they should just keep it to themselves”

i smiled and nodded
and didn’t crush his skull
with my barstool

later i killed him
with hundred-proof shots
and beer backs
until i’d forgotten
my own name


It may be this question,
above all others,
that keeps me from parties
and family gatherings,
particularly the sort
with those semi-estranged
who seem soooo happy
to see me,
and say how often
they wonder about me,
though my phone hasn’t rung
in two years, going on three.

The question bores me,
and the “why not?” that follows,
every bit as much as the ones
about the new job, the new car,
or other things supposedly momentous,
and worthy of discussion.

And I steer the conversation towards
questions about the meaning of things—
the country, the universe,
or even a single, brief blossom
withering under the desert sun.


I’m not very good
at being alone anymore
and I was never very good
at being with someone either

if I could find the place
halfway between “with”
and “apart”
I’d happily live there...

Oh, maybe I have—
It’s called “the internet.”


you just want an honest man
you say
one that won’t play games
like the others

you don’t

trust me on this

as for me
i now realize
i can be a poet
or someone’s boyfriend
but not both

i suppose i could
write in secret
use a pseudonym

or else write nothing
but love poems
praising you
and us

or about strangers i see
on sidewalks
at the supermarket
imagining their truth
their joys and sorrows

i could write about anything
but my own guts
and marrow
the heart that sometimes feels
like an alien presence
inside me

that tugs me
down strange roads
past signs that read
“do not enter”

all those shocking
and seedy tales
which drew you in
but now...

you’re having second thoughts 


face it, my friend
they don’t want the real you
and they never did

your inner truth
was a thing they laughed at
like a clown

an absurdity that
made them feel
less broken, more whole

they want clever memes
idiotic videos
and photoshopped reality

they want cute pictures
of kittens and puppies
and hallmark cliches

they want the regurgitated opinions of others
more famous and successful
and even dead

the last words of a suicidal celebrity
on a meth bender
are worth more than yours

they don’t want your heart
they treat it like a half-eaten rat
dragged in by the cat

they may smile politely at the gift
but when you leave
they grab it by the tail

and with pinched faces
carry it outside
and drop it in the trash


Today’s LittleNip:

If a poem isn’t emotionally honest…then what the fuck good is it?

—Brian Rihlmann


Brian Rihlmann was born in NJ, and currently lives in Reno, NV. He writes mostly semi-autobiographical, confessional free verse. Folk poetry... for folks. He has been published in
Constellate Magazine, Poppy Road Review, The Rye Whiskey Review and has an upcoming piece in The American Journal Of Poetry. His work can also be found on Welcome to the Kitchen, Brian, and don’t be a stranger!

Today’s a busy day in poetry readings in our area as we celebrate, among other things, Walt Whitman’s 200th birthday. For more about that, see In our area, there will be a reading in the Old City Cemetery on Broadway in Sacramento at noon, followed at 7pm at the Sac. Poetry Center with more reading from area poets, 7pm.

Also tonight at 7pm, and also on Broadway in Sacramento, Speak Up: The Art of Storytelling and Poetry meets at The Avid Reader with a reading on the theme of Summertime. And at 7:30pm in Sacramento City Hall, 915 I St., Renegade Literati features readings of fiction (Jodi Angel), music (Ross Hammond), poetry (Chad Sweeney), along with visual art (Daniel Schoori). 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.

Today is another birthday worth noting: Medusa’s Kitchen was born on May 31, 2005. Happy birthday, bad girl, and thank you to all the hundreds of contributors who’ve graced the Kitchen with their work in 14 years!

—Medusa, celebrating poets from today and from the past!

 Happy Birthday, Walt!

Photos in this column can be enlarged by
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in the top right corner to come back to Medusa.


Thursday, May 30, 2019

Dreaming of Wings

—Poems and Photos by Taylor Graham, Placerville, CA


It’s California, late May. The rain comes down
like a soldier who didn’t hear the winter war
is over. It shrouds the trees and improves silence
with supernatural white noise drumming
on a back room roof, drumming like the beak
of a post-historic bird. It crosses, re-crosses
the waking mind like nightmares of dry-creek
flooding, bodies of water rising to swallow
Earth. Rain falls to bring-down-the-house claps
of thunder, filling a fragile dish of sweets
from a land that knows no drought. You’ll recall
this rain in August like a promise, or an omen.


Gray envelops us
in Sierra spring foothills—
Roadside elderberry and
buckeye in full white May bloom.



Stormy-dim morning
three dark figures at roadside
three black capes flapping
in wind, red-blue flashing lights—
mystery I won’t solve.


Early morning. I’m weed-eating again,
before sun reaches our little canyon
and the mercury heads for summer.
My trimmer-head spins circles of cut grass,
tangles of vetch garlands spiked with
filaree and brome, seed-heads sharpening
in sun. Morning’s a good time to see
what happened in the dark. Another rock
surfaced from underground. Strewn feathers—
some night-raider on silent wing or paw.
Mysteries of our land that never sleeps,
dark or bright—sun growing grass,
wild creatures biding through the heat
of day, out of sight. New blue-oak saplings
hoping to extend the woods into treeless
field. At last, evening, golden slanted
spring light when you’d think the day will
never end, there never could be enough dark
to recover from the sun. And here I am
again, early morning, weed-eating.


I’ve tried to map the route on Google—scrolling down into canyon. Here’s the Rock Creek ford, Point A, famous in Nisenan history. Point B, a village long-abandoned, is off the screen. Two points connected by a zigzag line to cliff, switchbacks into gorge, through geologic ages to the river that made this place. The canyon revised by miners rearranging bedrock with pickaxe and shovel; a panned- and shafted landscape. Somewhere in sky-earth-water is unknown Point X. A treasure. Code to the river’s never-ending affair with rock. A triangle I haven’t solved.

awake under stars
the river keeps its secrets
eroding through stone


A purple flower hosts an orange butterfly—
I don’t know their names:
what flower, what butterfly? Beautiful
without question.


Today’s LittleNip:

—Taylor Graham

Just ten days ago
in the nest-box six blue eggs.
Now, six feathered chicks
soon to fly. A mystery—
but it happens every year.

Thank you, Taylor Graham, for your whispers about mysteries today—including this year’s conundrumous weather in our area! Taylor writes, “[Husband] Hatch the old forester tells me grasses don't have flowers, so I don't know what kind of plant the bug is on. Another mystery….”

Poetry Unplugged at Luna’s Cafe and Juice Bar meets tonight, 1414 16th St., Sac., 8pm, with featured readers and open mic. Free, but please partake of Art Luna’s fine food and libations.

This just in, another addition to Friday’s poetry reading options: besides the Walt Whitman Bicentennial Celebration at SPC tomorrow night, as well as Speak Up at the Avid Reader on Broadway in Sac., you have another choice: Renegade Literati at City Hall (yes, City Hall) at 7:30pm, hosted by Indigo Moor and Carol Lynn Stevenson Grellas. 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 [have been, this week!] added at the last minute.

And don’t forget the 4-day WakamatsuFest150 in Placerville, the 2019 Sesquicentennial Wakamatsu Farm festival which will take place June 6, 7, 8, and 9, 10am-4pm each day, sponsored by, among others, the American River Conservancy. There is a lot of information online at, including their fine WakamatsuFest150 Commemorative Festival Program:, which includes haiku from some of our poets up here in El Dorado County. So check it out, and save the date(s). Remember: there will never be another sesquicentennial for Wakamatsu Farm!


 Our new Seed of the Week is Spring Chickens.
(And all their pals...)
—Anonymous Photo

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Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Neil Goes to Scotland

Neil at Dunnet Head, the Northern Tip-top of England
—Poems and Photos by Neil Fullwood, Nottingham, UK


The guide rattles off facts about casks,
their provenance, what they held
before the raison d’être of Scotland’s finest:
bourbon, sherry, wine. Names drip
from the script he’s delivered three times
this morning—Oloroso, Ximenez, d’Yquem,
the expression bottled from the latter
available in the gift shop. The price?
Well, if you need to ask, etc, etc.

If anybody on this tour picks one up
and slaps down the Mastercard,
it won’t be me. Out of budget, out of mind.
I’m more taken with the level of detail
around firing the casks. Who knew
there were gradations of charring?
Number one is toast. Self-explanatory.
Number four is crocodile, on account
of the pattern and texture left on the wood. 

This sliding scale with something scaly sliding
into a bayou at the high end
and a very English breakfast item
lightly buttered down at the other
amuses me. I can see the crocodile
forsaking the distillery for a quaint tea room,
struggling with the teapot and the cup’s
dainty handle, toast demolished
as it tries to spread a rock-hard pat of butter.



We move on to the warehouse.
I’ve heard it called the barrel store
on other distillery tours. Either way,
this is how believers must feel
in a great and ancient cathedral. 

The temperature is calibrated
by goosebumps; hairs on the back
of the neck. An echo might spend
decades fading between the barrels.
The angels’ share is claimed here.


“All persons using this harbour do so at their own risk”—
the paint-peeled sign bolted to the low stone wall
states the obvious. The warning’s already there:

in the stone steps grooved by use and slick with lichen,
in a jetty the casual gaze might mistake for flotsam,
in the boats rolling like drunkards on oil-dark water.

Thunderheads roll in, form a tight holding pattern.
A container ship moves out past the headland.
Gulls shriek across the harbour, the “fuck you”—“no,

fuck you” of loudmouths at closing time. The sea goes
from ruffled to choppy in less time than it takes
to step back from the harbour wall, not bother with the selfie.



Wake early. Take a cafetière
through to the conservatory.
Mist blanks out everything:
the road, the firth, the sea
beyond the curve of headland.
The oil rigs are vague shapes—
storybook monsters; phantoms.
Plunge; pour a mugful. Take
your first sip of the day. Feel
the bitter kickstart of caffeine.
The day hasn’t come alive yet.
Give it time. The sun will burn
through the mist. Landscape,
sea and sky will correlate.

 Disused Rigs at the Cromarty Firth


Red raw from remonstrating
with an unmoving cork,
the palm of your hand laid
against the side of a champagne bottle
that shows no sign of opening.

Grab a just-dry sock from a radiator,
slip it on like a glove puppet—
it’s a pair of cartoon eyes
and a silly voice away from a star turn
at a children’s party—

and reapply yourself. Fabric
shades the burn to minor inconvenience
as the man versus cork battle
steps up in intensity
and looks increasingly embarrassing

unless you’re throwing the bout
to clean up on a bet.
Then: movement. A tad of a fraction
of a millimetre. All that’s needed.
An uprush of pressure and the cork

describes its own happy ending.


Today’s LittleNip:

Mony a mickle maks a muckle.

—Old Scot Proverb


Welcome back to the Kitchen, Neil! About his work today, Neil Fullwood writes, “The poems were all produced during a recent holiday in Scotland. ‘Barrel Store’ and ‘Toast and Crocodile’ were inspired by a distillery tour at Auchentoshan in Glasgow. It was my birthday while we were there: ‘Champagne Polka’ was written after it looked like the celebratory bottle of bubbly was going to resist being opened.

“I’ve also included three photos from the trip: the warning sign at the harbour, a shot of some of the disused oil rigs (the Cromarty Firth is kind of like a car park for decommissioned rigs), and one of me at Dunnet Head, which is the most northerly point on the British mainland. Dunnet Head is actually closer to Norway than it is to London.”

What a treat to take a little trip to Scotland along with you, Neil! Thanks for all of these.

For more about our LittleNip today, see And be sure to scroll down on that site to see why "mickle" should technically be "pickle".


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clicking on them once, then clicking on the x
in the top right corner to come back to Medusa.

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Spells, Teasery & Other Sneakiness

—Poems and Original Artwork by Joyce Odam, Sacramento, CA


She wears peach satin that falls in soft pleats and folds
and hangs to the rug with a whisper-sound as she moves—

as she moves slowly toward you, raising her gun
and making her explanation in a flat dry voice. You have

caught her in the act, and she is guilty. The story
is coming to an end; and you are about to believe her

confession, or disbelieve your own eyes and absolve
her. You love her, of course, and that is why everything

goes in such slow motion. It is a movie. It is a movie.
But is it only a movie? She is still coming toward you,

in peach satin, rustling her gown and pointing her gun
at your heart; and what is she saying—what is she saying,

that you can’t hear—her eyes in a deliberate, set stare—
her flat dry voice droning and droning as she fires?


After Mystery by Odilon Redon (1840-1916)

Her name is Mystery. She has no past. She always
looks at you through a bleak expression—

disembodied in room after room of mottled light—
the time of day never important. When she vanishes

again, the whole room glows, and there is a sound
like a curtain falling back against an open window.

It is not so much her presence, as the lack of it
when she is gone. She would make you her own

and you would surrender whatever she says is hers.
She always leaves behind a musty smell of flowers.

(first pub. in Ekphrasis, 2001)


After Landscape from a Dream, 1936-38
by Paul Nash (1889-1946)

It’s not that I love this dream, but I can’t get
through the mirror to the sea. The sky is a flat
and painted blue, and a huge white cloud is in
the way. A pane of glass becomes a cage. A
boulder of fire creates a second, retributive
sky—blood red and near—and a lone dark
gull is flying right at me.

A frame of fear surrounds it all and I don’t
know what to do. I can’t awake, and I cannot
sleep. Mirrored in metamorphosis, I am turn-
ing to a fear myself : my own face holds my
feathered face. My arms have turned to wings.
My shoulders hurt, and my mouth is cruel. My
frozen eyes do not believe this metaphor, of
which I am both abstract mystery and indefin-
able clue.


(An Abracadabra)

Dare we trust conditions of this masquerade?                 
Eyes of warning watch us in our dreamlike dance      
shadow-hidden with their masks removed they stare 
as if we were not figments—as if not made                       
of our illusions—as if their eyes could guess                     
beyond our air of mystery—as if they’d                         
reached the end of midnight while we still refuse           
to go back to our other selves—too afraid—                  
too changed by costume’s guise, wanting the romance, 
loving the pretense, the brazen way we dare                 
test rules Forbidden-Love has never obeyed.    

(first pub. in Poets’ Forum Magazine, 2000)



How long ago was that?
There was the sensation
of holding.
So necessary.
Life was in a hurry.
So was time.
We were in its grip.
Swift. Intoxicated
and uncertain.
What did we know?
We held each other
in the dark mysteries.
Was this love?
What did we know?
We were practice.
Tremble. Young,
with the loneliness
of the young.
We were pulled away
into the swift years.
We forgot each other.
Our faces would fade.
We would become shadows
reaching through shadows
and find nothing but
our own selves
dancing to the mirror.
Music returned with this.
Music came back
to remind us.
Oh, vanished ones,
of my memories,
which side of memory
are you on?
It seemed like love.
Time is aloof, suspended
somewhere like a spell
put upon those
who believe in spells.



How could I know you’d leave me with lament.
A suffering word. I name you “My Lament”.

Even when we promised with sweet words
they always leave me with the same lament.

Love hurts, and hurts again, and won’t forgive.
Thus tragic love becomes its own lament.

Blame is the power. Blame becomes a tool,
offense—defense—the woundings of lament.

After the loss, the ashes of the loss,
come all the shroudings of the new lament.

Defenseless now, surrendering is next,
hammering now, the old and new lament.

How can joy and sadness reconcile
when all becomes lament, lament, lament.

(first pub. in Poets’ Forum Magazine)



As if drawing an outline of a body
in chalk
in the rain . . .

As if fading back
into doorway after doorway as if
you were guilty . . .

As if you have simply come
a moment after
and have nothing to tell them . . .

As if you have simply risen
out of the mediocrity
and become famous . . .

Now they are looking for you.
They have questions,
you were last seen . . .

The fact that this is your time and place
to be an innocent bystander
is wrong . . .

You are suspect, even though you saw
no one pushed, or fallen—no one stabbed,
or shot—no one merely ended. . .

You have simply come
a moment after
and have nothing to tell them . . .

You will have to pay for this—
you will remember it all your life,
the chalk,    the rain,    the resemblance . . .



It’s the very randomness of some thought that
flickers like some wing that gets caught in wind-lift,
brief as thought’s own teasery, grayly touching
surfaces and depths;

it’s the strange elusiveness of the teasing—
shifting—as we reach for it—just as it fades,
that we seem oblivious to, and just miss—
mysteries like that

always leave us wondering what was really
touching, moth-like, there at the mind’s own margin,
fluttering the emptiness with its vagueness,
gathering away—

some thought, briefly important—some thought that we
almost capture—fingertipped—fleeting, just missed.
Losses like that—whisperings, side-looks, movements,
stillnesses disturbed—

hauntings—thoughts that nag at us when we lose them,
thoughts we failed to recognize; thoughts that snag on
deafness, blindness—maybe some passing poem,
honoring itself. 


(Reading Alain Bosquet)

A walk through the mystery that is sold here,
make it your own.

Buy it now
Pay any price. Take it home with you. 

It is real enough
to walk at your side like a beautiful woman.

Name it nostalgia; it will love you.

It will slip its arm around your waist
and walk in harmony with you.

It will not miss its show window where
it lived in admiration.

Name it souvenir.
It will be all you have to remember.


Today’s LittleNip:

—Joyce Odam

I want bead curtains to hang in my doorway
like those in old movies, tinkling softly
when someone brushes through.

(first pub. in
Brevities, 2009)


 Landscape from a Dream
—Painting by Paul Nash
For more about this painting and Paul Nash, go to 

Thanks to our mysterious Joyce Odam today for her haunting poems and beautiful artwork about our Seed of the Week: Mysteries! And what form is most appropriate for this SOW? The Abracadabra, of course! For some dandy info about it (sometimes called the "Magic 9"), go to

Our new Seed of the Week is Spring Chickens. Are you, or aren’t you? (I sure ain’t!) But spring is the time for regeneration, so write about it and send your poems, photos & artwork about this (or any other) subject to No deadline on SOWs, though, and for a peek at our past ones, click on “Calliope’s Closet”, the link at the top of this column, for plenty of others to choose from.

This just in: this coming Friday, May 31, 7-10pm, you are invited to the Walt Whitman Bicentennial Celebration at Sac. Poetry Center, featuring readings from Whitman and related writings by Kathryn Hohlwein, Julia Connor, Susan Kelly-DeWitt, John Allen Cann, Traci Gourdine, Mary Zeppa, James Anderson, Mary Barbara Moore, and Stuart Canton. Violinist Morgen Prestel will play some period music. Other presentations will be made as well. 25th & R Sts., Sac. Host: Patrick Grizzell. (There will also be the usual annual reading in the Old City Cemetery among the Civil War veterans graves at noon that day.) 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.

—Medusa, celebrating poetry and its sister, art! And those feisty spring chickens, too….

—Painting by Odilon Redon 
For more about Odilon Redon and his Mystery, go to

Photos in this column can be enlarged by
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in the top right corner to come back to Medusa.

Monday, May 27, 2019

Many Mysteries

Where Will It Take Me?
—Photo by Chris Moon

—Kevin Jones, Elk Grove, CA

Got my
Got my fedora.
All I need
Is something
To solve.

 —Photo by Ann Privateer, Davis, CA

—Ann Privateer

What can be food for deep thought
When someone gets stumped
Who knows the answers?


—Ann Privateer

too much data spills
from my boss, the giant bell
pepper, who prepares to be ill,
ambles the quai near the mill
until lunch hour ends, sells
my polka passes on ebay, hell
dancers dance farmer-in-the-dell
direction unimportant,

too much data
from my boss, the giant bell
pepper, I shall prepare to be ill
amble along the quai near the mill
until lunch hour ends then sell
my polka passes on ebay, hell
dancers move to any farmer-in-the-dell
direction unimportant, well...

 —Photo by Ann Privateer

If you listen to the mainstream radio
      You’d think for Memorial Day
      that America’s soldiers died for retail sales
      So many kids nowadays probably think consumerism is what it’s about
      My Dad when he was young had to “perform” in ceremonies for the fallen dead—
      (such as play a musical instrument in a band or sing in a choir)
      he didn’t just “get the day off” from school as children do today
      In the ’50’s they didn’t want kids to forget what our fallen soldiers fought for—
      including that America's “freedom wasn’t for free"
      and Americans sacrificing their lives freed Western Europe from fascist tyranny too      

—Michelle Kunert, Sacramento, CA

 Little Rocks, Not in Arkansas
—Photo by Michelle Kunert

—Joseph Nolan, Stockton, CA
Somewhere in the middle
Of a daydream
Was a nightmare.

It didn’t last too long.
I woke up.

Nightmares are
At least good for that:
To make you wake up.


—Joseph Nolan

I sneeze like a machine!
Pistons up and busting,
Every five seconds,
Like metal, always rusting.

Where comes from, this?
A horror, awkward,
On a slant-board,
On a downhill slide,

My Mother
One time
Told me
Are for the

In her word
I trusted,
At least
Until today,
When sneezing
Will not go away.

So I lay a wager
That an evening stranger
Who sneezes
Will not get laid.

 —Photo by Michelle Kunert

—Joseph Nolan

The problem with our relationship
Is that we are dealing from different decks.
We are also dealing with different decks.
Some cards are sadly missing from each.

In mine, every third-numbered card has been removed.
Thus, the impossibility of obtaining a straight.
In your deck, many hearts and diamonds are gone.
It’s hard to get a red flush
Or to blush.

We strive for a full-house.
Royal cards
Are very hard
To find
In our line
Or lineage.
Spending nights
In badinage,
We miss the thrust
Of something more lush.
We fear
What calling brings:
Suicide Jacks and Kings.


—Joseph Nolan

There’s so much noise around music
It seems it’s hard to hear,
But when music knows
It’s time to move in
It will,
Straight into the dance.
Music is the dance of life!

—Photo by Michelle Kunert

—Joseph Nolan

Let your dream
Be-loft and hover
Over your chosen land
Your life, your dream,
Your children’s playing,
All that you have planned
And carry all
Your daydreams, calling,
Echoes, faint, command—

Mercy is
That any are still beside you;
Your dream,
Still inside you. 

 Mel Silva Weaves
—Photo by Michelle Kunert

—Caschwa, Sacramento, CA
the waste cans are emptied
the flour is milled
the bread is sliced
the wine is chilled

all bills are paid
all deadlines are met
all bedbugs are absent
all blood, tears, and sweat

powerful love is ours
powerful emotions free
powerful hormones do their trick
powerful as the tallest tree

Ospreys catch trophy fish, while
Ostrich eggs sit in the rough
Ostensibly waiting until that time
Osmosis will say it’s enough



I used to get ridiculed daily
for being too thin
before thin was in

by the time skin-tight pants
were making the rounds
I had put on some pounds

lately I sport unsightly bulges
in all the places that draw the eye
I’ll be ridiculed daily until I die

Now I spout the ridicule
and make others kneel
because it’s all about how I feel 

 —Photo by Michelle Kunert


May my worst misfortune be
fleet enemies every day
who dash in to cleanse me of
all that stands in their way

may they steal the treasured peanuts
from my box of caramel corn
or pick the raisins right out of my bran
that fortifies me each morn

or swipe away my dinner plate
piled high with griddled fish
but leave me a small bottle of iodine
to rub and make a wish



It could be just me, or maybe I’m not alone
in this point of view, BUT

after decades of propaganda suggesting
that a good, bright smile was indicative of
a daily personal regimen emphasizing good
oral hygiene

today’s mass marketing of implants on my
HD TV presents so many perfect smiles
that when I see a mature adult step out of
their luxury car and sport a flawless 32

The first thought that comes to mind is:

Where did you buy your teeth?


Today’s LittleNip:


Volumes and volumes of
chapter and verse
boil down to one sentence
hearing: legal format for curse


A Memorial Day thank-you to today’s memorable poets and photographers for starting off the last Monday in May for us. What?? Where did all those months of 2019 go???

Our poetry week starts at Sac. Poetry Center tonight, 7:30pm, with the End of the World Project Anthology, featuring readers and a short film by Chip Lord, plus open mic.
SPC workshops this week include Tuesday Night Workshop for critiquing of poems at the Hart Center (27th and J Sts.) on Tuesday, 7:30-9pm (call Danyen Powell at 530-681-0026 for info), and MarieWriters Generative Writing Workshop at SPC for writing poems, 6-8pm on Wednesday.

And on Friday, Speak Up: The Art of Storytelling presents a performance evening on the theme of Summertime, at The Avid Reader on Broadway in Sacramento. Scroll down to the blue column (under the green column at the right) for info about these and other upcoming poetry events in our area—and note that more may be added at the last minute.

—Medusa, celebrating the men and women in the past and present U.S. Armed Forces for all they have given for our country

 —Anonymous Photo
For “44 Facts About the US Armed Forces”, see 

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Sunday, May 26, 2019


 "Hear the Leaves?"
—Anonymous Photo

—Rita Dove

(Belleau Wood, 1917)

“A soldier waits until he’s called—then

moves ass and balls up, over,

tearing twigs and crushed faces,

swinging his bayonet like a pitchfork

and thinking anything’s better

than a trench, ratshit

and the tender hairs of chickweed. 

A soldier is smoke

waiting for wind; he’s a long corridor

clanging to the back of a house

where a child sings

in its ruined nursery…
                                    and Beauty is the

gleam of my eye on this gunstock and my spit

drying on the blade of this knife

before it warms itself in the gut of a Kraut.

Mother, forgive me. Hear the leaves? I am

already memory.”



Saturday, May 25, 2019

Just This Moment

The U.C. Davis Arboretum
—Poems by James Lee Jobe, Davis, CA
—Photos Courtesy of James Lee Jobe

I went out at first light and gleaned
The final eight peaches from the tree.
It had been a good peach season this year,
Rain, light, and love in equal measure.
The birds didn’t ruin too many.
The level of sweetness was perfection,
And both the size of the peaches
And the size of the crop were appropriate.
I say eight final peaches,
For that was how many I held in my shirt-tail,
Which I used as a basket, but truly there are nine.
That final peach I ate as soon as I plucked it,
Dew-wet and cool in the morning air.
My house was dark and silent,
Only I was up so early, 5:30 AM.
The street was empty as well.
Just me, in my 'grove' of three fruit trees.
My goodness, it was delicious.


A windy, wet day
And I see my son through an opening
In a stand of pines
          Two years since the funeral

 The Woodland Opera House

I dedicate this next sip of coffee to life.
My next thought is for life.
Call it a toast, but with coffee.
Whatever love I can muster from within
To share without is for you, life.
Sky above, earth below, for you.
Daylight and moonlight.
The kindness that grows, grows for you.
As much as I love living,
I offer my next breath, and my last breath,
To you. Life.

—for William—

The Sacramento River

Walking the trail between the mountains and the cities
The path of being a true human being
The way between the light and the darkness
You can see crows and owls and lizards
Skyscrapers and bridges
Trucks laden with nothing important that drive
From nowhere that matters to a place without a name
Look for the rivers
Look for the desert
Learn the names of the plants
Sunrise and moonrise and the stars across the sky
This trail, this path—it goes on for one lifetime
You can stop where you want
Or turn aside
And you can choose to walk to the end
But whatever you decide to do
Keep your heart wide open
So the love can flow in and out

 Isleton Bridge, Sacramento River Delta

Shivering on the north bank,
Putah Creek rolls on under my reflection.
The creek moves along
But my reflection remains still.
A cold winter morning in Winters, California.


Opening my front door, the past
Blows in, uninvited.
I open the back door,
So it can blow back out again as well.
No past, no future, just this moment.
May I pour you some tea?

 Cache Creek

It was a colder, wetter winter this year,
And hot water in a tub never felt better!
So light the candles and join me, dear.
Just let that old wind howl.


Cold gray
Winter day
The world is lovely


Today’s LittleNip:

Winding the old clock, I ask it about all of the hours it has shared with me. No answer, just the sound of morning rain.

—James Lee Jobe


Our thanks to James Lee Jobe for his comfortable words on this May morning! Yesterday, Carol Louise Moon and her brother mused about the wind; and now today the wind weaves itself into several of James’s poems. Must be the rainy, windy NorCal spring we’ve had this year that’s inspiring our poetry pals.

Lots of choices for readings in our area today, starting with Writers on the Air at 9:30am at Sac. Poetry Center; then the beginning of a new series at 2pm for Spoken Word: “Creative Minds”, hosted by Straight Out Scribes and Gerry Simpson at GOS Art Gallery Studio on Del Paso Blvd. in Sacramento.

Also today, Poetic License meets in Placerville at the Sr. Center on Spring Street, 2pm. The suggested topic for this month is "drought" but other 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, celebrating poetry!

 —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, May 24, 2019

That Constant Shifting

Bitter Water Windmill
—Poems by Carol Louise Moon, Placerville, CA
—Photos by Chris Moon

A WINDY STROLL                

Even now I feel the shifting connected to
green non-mown lawns and the routing and
rerouting of large maple leaves in the yards.
Squirrels had sought us out, and were still
searching us out.

My dog and I weren’t always there, in front,
when the shifting began. We had sought out
the shimmer-green sunshine between maple
branches as it was flowing through trees and
between neighbor houses, which were firmly
planted on foundations, like the solitary tree
in each front yard.

The color offering of our tree was olive-green.
Neighbors had sought out our olive, even as
we sought their elm-green sunlight shining
through green fallen leaves which were
covering my large dog’s tracks.

He had sought out his favorite rest stop,
avoiding the skittering windy leaves by
rerouting his tracks away from sidewalks.
Because of maple leaves fallen there, other
considerations for “resting” options were
sought as we strolled, moving onto leafless
lawns which were green as envy is green.

I had engaged in a collection of five-pointed
leaves while picking through piles. And still
I feel connected to green non-mown lawns
and the routing and rerouting of large
leaves in the yards… the constant shifting.

 Pacific Coast Windmill


and a hail, and
another sharp noise
and a soft noise
and a bright light
that was too bright—

and soon I was
running home and
running in and
shutting the front door tight.



This scream-green season,
these phantom clouds, this
static electricity air enhancing
one’s breath of awe.

I venture in quick steps
around to the backyard,
shoots of grass soaking my socks.
Oh, the smell of rotten squash.
The old oak rocking chair
rocks empty.

Guardian crows call out—
then swoop, as time slips into
dusty dusk.

Hell hail. Then, the awesome
sound of train-not-train.
Now, here she comes, Boys.
I crouch to reach for the
brass-handled door.

 Nebraska Prairie


A white moth in summer heat
perched on weed stalk—
gentle sway of near breeze
stays awhile—a pause in breath.
Crimson ladybug below
a shadow of simmering summer song—
crimson ladybug below
stays awhile. A pause in breath,
gentle sway of near breeze.
Perched on weed stalk,
a white moth in summer heat.

 Nebraska Windmill

      After a line in “Night Winds”
      by Ezra Pound (1888-1972)

The old winds blew when chaos was.
The osprey in her shoreline tree,
her eggs secure in wind-blown nest.
The rain, the tide make crashing sounds.
Through misty sky her mate soars high
above, and sure. His raptor eye
upon his prey, sees nothing on
the roiling sea. He circles round,
another try—a great fish surfacing.

What do they tell, these clattered trees,
the smattered clouds, the dense gray fog
where osprey nests reside? These white-
crowned birds with talon-cut will hunt
despite the might of nature’s force.
Great trees that stand, the birds that soar,
the crashing waves which then reclaim
the sandstone bluffs—they all attest
to wild old winds which blew
                     when chaos was.

 Parkfield Windmill


Where is the deep river of my ear that
I should hear the song of the bassoon?

Why do my eyes vibrate gently with
the inhalation of flute breath?

When the piccolo bird song rises, does my
hair grow a little faster, a little stronger?

My feet now feel securely anchored to
the floor when receiving clarinet news.

But it’s the French horn greeting that
wraps affectionately around my heart.


Today’s LittleNip:

The pessimist complains about the wind; the optimist expects it to change; the realist adjusts the sails.

—William Arthur Ward


Thank you, Carol Louise Moon and Chris Moon, for today’s offering about the wind and for Chris’s windmills! For more about Chris Moon's photography, see

Unfortunately, today’s visit to the American Haiku Archives in the Cal. History Room of the Library and Courts II Building in Sacramento has been cancelled. (See for more about that.) But Josh McKinney will be presenting a poetry class at Sac. Poetry Center from 6-9pm. And tonight in South Sacramento, T-Mo Entertainment presents the MIC on FIRE poetry/comedy/music show with poets Alé Hernandez, Elton McWashington, Ronnie Jones and Hip Hop artist Deeno plus comedians and singers. That’s at the KAST Academy,10481 Grant Line Rd., Sacramento. Tickets: $10. Host: Terry Moore.

Scroll down to the blue column (under the green column at the right) for info about these and other poetry events in our area—and note that more may be added at the last minute.

—Medusa, celebrating poetry and reminding you that, as Catherine the Great said, “A great wind is blowing and that gives you either imagination or a headache”

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.