Sunday, June 30, 2019

The Storm

—Poem by Michael H. Brownstein, Jefferson City, MO

            (for Todd and his store, TNT)

Is this a TNT moment,
a stick of dynamite to tear down the entire thing too close to the river,
a rambling set of shacks and one large water-logged warehouse?

It’s near New Year’s,
too close to last Christmas,
and he tells us he will be opened on the holiday, maybe.

We might pilgrimage to his front door
over the large expanse of bridge, a wide highway,
then a right turn onto a smaller blacktop road leading to the airport.

We will not be seeking the planes.
We have no need for helicopters.
We will enter his establishment of everything but TNT.

And we will stay awhile.
It is never too cool inside or too hot.
Water drips from tarps and gutter holes.

Pathways go from wood to nails to screws—a hundred kinds of screws—
a hundred kinds of nails—a hand-built model of a ship rigged in string
and everywhere books for sale by the pound.

Go in with nothing and come out with something.
Enter at your own risk.
Nothing costs so much you cannot afford to purchase it here.

So it gets on into the late afternoon,
the sun crowded out by evening clouds and a bird or two,
the surprise of dynamite is, it is so loud.


                 (for Todd)

In the spring, the rains came and did not come,
but the melting snow from up north and thunderstorms
jammed into the narrow straits of the Missouri
eating its land on either side, slipping over levees,
an appetite so great it took over so much—
and right before the tornado of 2019 hit my town,
the Missouri threw off every caution it had,
entered TNT one sunny afternoon—we were there—
and the waters slipped in and through, crossed
the nearby road, flooded the airport on the other side,
and as police began blocking streets, we scattered
into cars to cross the only way out to safety. Todd,
forced to leave, locked his fence and followed.

When he came back, when the street was partially opened,
when the blockades were lifted so a survey of damage
could be completed, we called him. I'm on my kayak,
he told us, inside the store. We asked if he needed help.
No, he said, don't come. The stench is unforgiving,
my fence is down and broken, there is still a current.
A few days later we came anyway, surveyed what was left,
the fence on the ground, his parking lot gut-shot and potholed,
but the water was down, his kayak no longer floating,
and he had help lifting the destroyed to a place of debris,
gathering undamaged items—almost everything had damage—
to the safety of shelving. Here, he said, you need a mask,
and be careful, he said, some of the rooms are haunted.
Water moccasins and other breathing things. I have not
been brave enough to chase them away. We bought
tile from him. He told us, I'm OK for now, but I'll let you know
when I'm not, and we told him, We're here. Let us know what
needs to be done. The city came by then, dumping gravel
on the other side of the street where the roadway
had washed away, where the grass grew mud brown, where
a huge water moccasin rose up, looked our way and dived.


Our thanks to Michael Brownstein as he continues to write to us about the tornado that came through his town of Jefferson City, Missouri, just before midnight on May 23. He writes, "...the tornado has passed, we're still cleaning up. In the end there were two fatalities. The flood from the Missouri River hit us a week before the tornado and became really bad over the next two weeks. Now—almost a month later—the water is receding, but quite a lot of the other side of the river really smells badly. Todd is a friend who owns TNT, a warehouse that was under water. Water moccasins are in his back rooms and all over his outdoor shelters.

“I was by there yesterday to see how I could help out, but I didn't bring a mask or gloves or even boots, so I was fairly useless. Anyway here's a poem I wrote 'way before the flood for him—he has not seen it yet.”

Since his first poem was written before the storm, I asked Michael to write about the water moccasins and damage to TNT, so that’s Part II—in other words, a commission about all this intense imagery! (Thanks, Michael. It’s awesome!) And we on this side of the States will be thinking about you and your family (and Todd!) in the weeks ahead.

—Medusa, celebrating the weathering of the storm

 Water Moccasin, Anonymous Photo

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Saturday, June 29, 2019

One Page At A Time

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

Spring returns to my valley with green plants, breezes, and blue skies. A flowering begins, almost as if life here is following an invisible schedule. And so it is. And so are we.


The Sacramento Valley, it can seem so empty
And vast that even this rain could never fill it.
See now as this storm stretches out
From day into night, and into another day.


Huge, flat, long, and wide, often the Sacramento Valley seems much lonelier than I ever am, even though at that moment I might be standing where the valley and I are totally alone. Flat land, empty sky, and a man.

Was I a man? Did I lift the fruit
To heaven like a treasure to be offered?
Did I do more good than harm?
Am I forgiven for what harm I did
Shall I forgive myself?

Was I a man? Did I connect the earth
To the sky with the length of my
Leave only footprints that fade with
   the rains?
Did I nourish, teach, help, give?
Did I learn how to truly receive?

Was I a man? Yes. And at the end

I can face myself without shame.


 up at precisely the right second
 see a mockingbird fly by my window.
 lovely, how perfect,
 I stopped writing my poem
 begin writing this one,
 to give thanks
 the marvelous randomness

I can’t explain the wind, and why bother trying? Like us, it begins somewhere and ends somewhere else. Always traveling, and in a hurry. Does the wind need a reason? No, it just is. Outside just now, the wind felt fine touching my face. And I am not traveling anywhere, I'm staying right here. Why? I just am.


A break now from the winter rains;
Perhaps a few days or a week
Of sunshine. A couple of hours
Past sunrise, wild finches
Peck in my yard and on the patio.
I give them names and address them so,
But they are far too wise to care.

What is it to be a human? Well, we have love, sorrow, laughter, and music. And tools, language, and the craft of culture, among other things.  And like all beings, we have the cycles of being alive, the cycles of life. Just as I wrote that, a lovely breeze blew in through the open window.


The Sierra Nevada Mountains,
The eastern wall of the Sacramento Valley,
Dates back to the Paleozoic.
Now, that’s a lot older than this Valley Oak
I am sitting under. Two hundred million years
Against maybe two hundred years, but still
This old oak feels just as timeless to me.
How deep are these roots?
How deep are mine?
Some of my son’s ashes sit here in this valley,
Like this oak, passing time, and in time
My own ashes will join them.
That’s life.
Time. The mountains. The valley.
What goes on.

A high-school boy asked me today about Zen.
“Things should make more sense,” he said, and,
“I feel like I might be asleep… all the time.”
I told him how to meditate, maybe
Two minutes of instruction, period.
He said he would try, and set off to order
A copy of Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind.
It’s the first day of autumn, officially,
But here in the valley that means little.
A truly hot day. Walking outside,
I watched the sky for a few minutes.
Vapor trails from endless jets
But also this, a turkey vulture circled,
On the hunt. At a distance
It can be hard to tell them from hawks,
But for some reason I felt sure.
The turkey vulture and the boy.
Both hunting, but for different kinds of food.
Meat for one, reality for the other.
May they both be fed.
May they both be well.

Life is a book, my friend,
And we can only read one page at a time.


Today’s LittleNip:
No one to be seen, and no one to see me; this valley farmland goes on and on. Peace. The sun at noon, crops growing in the warm light. As far as the eye can see.

—James Lee Jobe


Good morning and our thanks to James Lee Jobe for his poems encouraging us to wake up! Gasshō, James.

A reminder that tomorrow (June 30) is the deadline for submissions to the up-coming issue of
Sacramento Voices 2019 from Cold River Press. For info, see

And today at 2pm is the second installment of the new reading series, Creative Minds, at Gos Art Gallery in Sacramento on Del Paso Blvd. 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!  

 Gasshō: A Mudra of Coming Together
—Anonymous Artwork

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Friday, June 28, 2019

Looking Beyond Surfaces

Mug and Buckeye
—Poems and Photos by Carol Louise Moon, Placerville, CA


Intent on gleaning secrets I could see
my own reflection, instead of the marine
life in this tide pool—its surface intoning,
pulsating—insisting on its own rhythm,
insinuating my face between its depth
and my inquisitive mind.  In this instant,
I realized I must look beyond surfaces,
incessant distractions.  I plunged my bare
face into the pool, invasive in my efforts
to discover its unique interpretations—
its immense treasure—its soul.

 Sea Stars


Barnacles had the look of cupcakes
to her, and sometimes “mini Martian
volcanoes,” she said.  But barnacles
were never strange to her as she
wrapped up in woolens by the sea.

We knew her to be a little strange,
single-minded, and in her older years
very eccentric.  When she spoke of
barnacles her eyes peered and leered
as if gazing into a tide pool.
“Nothing matters to barnacles but
water,” she said as if all she saw
up close could be summed up in a
simple statement. 

It is the observer of marine life who
must learn the difference between
breathing water and breathing air,
between facts of truth and facts of
conscience.  She taught like the best,
by offering herself and her own
observations.  And the student must
search and know according to his

We see her now turning a shell over
and over in her delicate hands.  We
remember her lectures, her upturned
lips, her scanty brow, her squinting
and peering as if gazing into a tide pool.

(prev. pub. in Time of Singing, 2014)

 John Rides the Range


The afternoon is buzzing with some
kind of noise as I race the old blue
pickup truck across the dust past white
pipes lying in the field.  I see a red and
white fox darting from under a fence
into a nearby shrub.

6-year-old Billy Kondrat tells me that
foxes are descended from dinosaurs,
and that he, too, has seen this
particularly odd creature “making like a
fox, yet being cleverly dinosaurian.”

Unloading a few groceries is tedious;
I’d rather visit Ricardo, the next-door
neighbor who has proudly unloaded
three old refrigerators onto his carport. 
I skip the fence to get a closer look at
him folding his short-sleeved shirts
neatly into a beige refrigerator.

As Ricardo croissantly folds poorly
washed socks which smell of a hint of
cheese, I think to myself, food does not
belong here.  I mouth the words in
English and mime the words with my
fingers, One must not freeze cheese,
before noticing the lack of electrical
source to each refrigerator.

Glancing across the field I see the
yellow lab chasing the red fox.  He,
too, has heard the rumor that perhaps
the fox is a dinosaur.

(prev. pub. in Poetry Now, 2008)

 Eider Duck


A casual walk today in mid-July
past daisies in my garden fading fast—
as Birds of Paradise seen fading, too.
I walk a brick-lined path down stairs, past
tiny drooping pansies in their pots.
It’s summer now, I knew they wouldn’t last.


The party’s over, and now for the cleanup.
I survey my backyard of what-it’s-not.
There beneath the grief-stricken willow
I see the stub-my-toe stone, the laughing
gnome, and the dead-as-a-dead-garden-
snake hose I forgot to coil in a threatening

the cremains of the chicken barbeque; and
Great Aunt Edie’s brilliant birthday pastry
with a million-and-eighty-one burnt-out
tiny torches; an over-flowing brown bag
full of frosty paper plates filed helter-skelter;

six flammable Japanese lanterns exploding
into shades of red and greenish-yellow
with a hint of hot blue flame; wadded
tissues whispering the phrases “Hap... “,
“Birthd... “, and “Congrat... “ in silver.

Much ado about nothing, I say, as I fall
headlong into a fully-clothed pool,
stark naked.

(prev. pub. in Peeking Cat Poetry)


Today’s LittleNip:
—Carol Louise Moon

Very clever, these en vogue
vehicles; crank arms and pedals;
variations of a bike
visibly lacking the gears;
veering through parks at a low
velocity.  They’re on the
verge of some new invention!


Thank you, Carol Louise Moon, for bringing these poems and pix to the Kitchen today, winding up another week for us in fine style!

Tonight at 7pm, Speak Up: The Art of Storytelling and Poetry presents a performance evening with poets and storytellers on the theme of “Lost and Found” at The Avid Reader, 1945 Broadway in Sacramento. 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!

 For more about velocipedes, go to

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Thursday, June 27, 2019

Moon Riding

Doe in the Oaks
—Poems and Photos by Taylor Graham, Placerville, CA


We keep to ourselves here, no need
of male or female company. That was before
the doe got inside our defenses. Not by headlong
charge, but hugging the side of rocky hill,
a bit off-balance in her gait as if
she didn’t understand how this whole business
happened. Soon a tiny spotted fawn
was lurching to untangle its legs on our weedy
lawn, newborn all curious/a-tremble.
The doe his mother stays spooky, her babe
hidden like speckled fawnskin fading
into beaded dew. I glimpse her from great
distance, sometimes down by the almost-dry
creek where she might moisten her muzzle
in what remains of a pool. So have we become
keepers of a beast who’s not for keeping. 


My wits more tangled
than a newborn fawn’s four legs—
I missed the photo.
Mother and fawn disappeared
in the blink of my surprise.

This iPad photo—
Impressionist doe beyond
focus of digital space.
Watercolor from the brush
of distance, dreaming. 

for Margaret

High country summer: your gelding
twitches his ears on-trail, guided
by the way you lean in the saddle and
his own instincts and senses—
mysterious as butterfly wing, hovering
between steadfast and flight, heat-
shimmer on blinding white.
Love of horse on the land—
decomposed granite under-hoof as you
thread a way between boulders
and huckleberry oak, orographic lift
to an overlook
where land lies a jumble
of devil’s-garden impenetrable
by horse. You rein him around, back
the way you came.
There’s always the line
between knowing by feel—contact
of hide, sweat, boot-sole, breath—
and seeing the whole from a distance.
Love flits between. 


Driving down Hwy 50 I saw a herd of horses—bays and buckskins, sorrels, paints and piebalds in a hilly field. Not a herd; a rough circle, a compass rose pointing inward. At its center, a white horse on the ground. Neck outstretched on grass. The time I saw my black mare flat like that, she needed a vet. Was that pale horse in trouble? The other horses gathered round, heads low, motionless. A comfort group, a wake? Already I was past in the slow lane. By the time I drove back up the hill, the horses were gone.

a brief vision wakes
behind my eyes, a question
of speechless horses 

Pony Express Re-Ride, 2019

I was driving Hwy 50 east out of the Valley,
head-on toward a full moon, while, on the far
side of mountains, a horse and rider were
following that moon west. The Pony—already
one week on-trail, relay day and night,
bound for Sacramento. Back home, I checked
on the Pony’s progress, not by letter
in a horse’s saddlebags, but cyber Trail
Report that keeps on running in imagination:

Black horse flat-out galloping, its life-size
shadow keeping pace—blue-white sand
under white-blue full-moon night. Up ahead,
a fresh horse waiting saddled, pawing, snorting,
impatient for the oncoming rush—black-
horse shadow advancing west under moon—
eastern rim of sky turning gold behind
them, turning ground to gold under hooves,
rising sun trying to catch the Pony.

inspired by Cindy Furse’s Trail Report 

Pony Express Re-Ride 2019

Map on my screen showed a squiggly line
moving west with loneliest Hwy 50, where wild
mustangs cross like a train in dead of night.
Along that squiggly line, a horse and rider tried
to make up time; 2 hours behind schedule.

On my side of Sierra, a rider hoping that deficit
would disappear before she swung into the saddle,
and have to make up time by running her horse
on pavement. Duct-tape wrap to keep him
from slipping, she explained—still, she hoped
she wouldn’t have to chance it.

I’d gone to bed with the Pony running late,
and woke up with Pony rushing down
our Western Slope an hour ahead of schedule.

I was out the door, down Green Valley
to Rescue PO. There were my poet-friends,
bags full of poems to read while we waited.

There was ChessMaster with duct-tape hooves,
waiting for saddlebags full of mail.
Securely four-square
grounded—just look at his eyes
already flying. 

Today’s LittleNip:

—Taylor Graham

The cake looked luscious
but I couldn’t stay. Outside
night was falling—dark
the mountains ghostly haloed
with this moon rising full, full!


Our thanks to Taylor Graham, who writes today about the doe on her property and the 2019 Pony Express Re-Ride ( She writes, “I was practically glued to the site—OK, duct-taped—for a day before the Pony arrived on Thursday!”

—Medusa, celebrating poetry!

 "...this moon rising full, full!"
—Anonymous Artwork

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Wednesday, June 26, 2019

My Tangle of Vines

—Poems by J.D. DeHart, Chattanooga, TN
—Anonymous Word Bubbles


Travel with me a moment
into a place where our thoughts
become action.  Yes, this sounds like
the introduction to a ‘60s science fiction
series.  Pardon me.

There are some ideas I wish to
keep secret.  They are my tangle of vines,
grounding me in reality.  Reminding me
that I don’t have to throat-punch someone.
All I have to do is smile, listen, nod.
Adjust, move on.

But I love comic books, how
dialogue happens.  The lines are dotted
when the characters whisper, or
the words begin to fade.

I can see, in a cloud above
someone’s head, their inner truth.
This might come in handy, but is there
a way to turn it off?  Ever?


And this is why I love
film.  No one stutters
unless they mean to.  They
represent themselves in the best
take of all.

I am a silent performer.  When
I drive down the road, I belt out music
like a professional.  I wish I
hadn’t told you that.

In my mind, there’s an auditorium.
Figures from my past sit and listen.
Wow, are they impressed.  In my
hypothetical universe, I’ve always got
the perfect line.

How often do I get to enact
it?  Almost never.  Rarely.  Sometimes.

Maybe it’s the audition
that’s worthwhile.  Or maybe one too many
long walks in the woods, meditating
on the structure of stories I would one
day forget.


I’m tired of the high-minded voices
I know talking about not being of
the world.

Like, what does that really
mean?  I’m the substance of this known universe.
I have dirt under my nails.  I eat from the ground.

Get used to it.

It’s not that I disagree with their stance
on life, the universe, and a number of ideas.
I’m all for grand philosophizing.
I’m just rooted in this place.  I know where I come
from.  It’s not so bad.

The earth of the mountains and the concrete
of the urban jungles are full of truth.
Or something like it.

Let it ring like the chiming of the car
behind me that wants me to move on.

I don’t want to move on.  Let me take
in this roadside attraction.  Stop for some
chicken that is so cooked it will kill me.

Now, that’s the world. 


From the flashing pages of my youth,
I have wanted to be in a comic book.

I designed my suit, considered my powers
and weapons.  I imagined a damsel in distress.
Even thought of my perfect lair.

On my swing set, I would consider this
universe of my making.

I set about on notebook pages to construct
a story with myself as the heroic center—
but age and time wore these dreams down.

I began to see myself as a character whose
bright intentions were mingled with dark ink.

No one needs to be the hero all the time,
or so I reasoned.

Nevertheless, even today, I sometimes yearn
to see myself as a protagonist in my own story,
written or visual.


Is it possible?

Yes, child.  It is possible.
I’m living proof.
The past does not matter
all that much.  We press

But, what if my decisions
come back to haunt me?

I say scare your own
hauntings away.  Those eyes
that judge you have their own
list of wrongs.  Listen carefully
to the anger in their words.
It’s pointed back at themselves,
like toenails that grow too long.

What do I do to be free?

Just be.  Fully who you are.  This
new day is a thousand years from
yesterday.  Breathe.


Today’s (Longer)Nip:
—J.D. DeHart

Just as one poet
once wrote about a last
duchess, so did the poet
write about the first Wilbur.

The brown clothing, smell
of moth balls, scent of age
of rows of books that Wilbur
rested within.

You have to wonder—
did he read all those books,
are they in progress, or are they
simply stacked like a protective
barrier, never opened?

Empty glass bottles
that suggest some dismay.

A clip of speech that
played with a Southern accent,
these days
it’s hard to find someone
named Wilbur.


Many thanks to J.D. DeHart for stopping by the Kitchen today with his thought-balloons of poetry; we are, of course, mighty grateful!

Don’t forget tonight’s poetry reading at Time Tested Books, featuring Robert Clawson, Kane Clawson, and Betsyann Duval. That’s at 7pm at 1114 21st St. in Sacramento. 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, in word bubbles or down on paper!

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Tuesday, June 25, 2019

Tearing at the Darkness

Depth of Blue
—Poems and Photos by Joyce Odam, Sacramento, CA

PRISMATIC GHAZAL                          

In the morning, the eastern sky fills my kitchen with
first light, so pleasing to the touch.

Stained-glass window-light startles the room. Crystal
is like that when it gets in the way of sunlight.

Sometimes a sunset spreads such a beautiful soft glow
it fills my joy with sadness.

Tearing at new darkness with my ruined eyes, I notice
how jagged everything has become.

Only the encroaching monotone stays the same, a blurred,
gray winter-light that will make no effort.

Oh, to see obverse darkness like that—as a sheet of
memory so powerful, nothing is written upon it.

(first pub. in Poets’ Forum Magazine, 1998)



When I was a cynic, young and sad and longing,
swearing all future loves I would disdain—
and you were a hero—no one to attain,
not even someone I could blame for wronging
my sweet innocence. Love was thought of then
as something which would always be a longing.

Love was a movie. I would be its actress—
all I could gauge by played out on a screen
larger than life—and I an awe-struck teen.
For secret hours I would pose and practice
romantic conquests so it could be seen
how you would love me, once I was an actress.



Here is where a stream of gold light falls across the morn-
ing like a prayer—like a path—like a silence more beauti-
ful than a chorus of sweet voices. It is alive with dust motes.
You breathe into them to watch them flurry. The stream of
old light makes no shadow. It is alive with purpose. You
enter and become warm and golden and fragmented into
billions of light spores—your own brilliance fills the morn-
ing with sweet joy.



Here is where the lonely bring
their lucid prayers to face the four directions
with devotion to the soul
and charm the gods with their surrender.

The hills roll out toward
the far blue mountains—
the churning skies beyond—
where all the winds assail with all the forces.

The lonely ones are pure of spirit now.
Nothing will save or harm them.
They know how to plead.
They learn to love.

 An Old Promise


We are sent to kill each other but we fall in love.
Whatever is wrong between us is confessed and
forgiven, though we have nothing to confess;
though there is nothing to be forgiven.

        I leave a trail for you to follow. It is an am-
bush. You dare not trust me. I dare not warn you.
Nothing is changed between us. We are old fash-
ioned, used to our old methods which others love
about us. We are always “The Entertainment”.
Tonight we are summoned again for our sadness.

 Faux Bird


as in the brevity of thought, as in the brevity…
of words that speak that thought…


…and then the long careful silence afterward…
while the mind…   reconsiders…


oh haste and hesitation…   which one obey?…
to have the say and…


wish not to have spoken…
or speak and be…    misunderstood…

what right have you to…
impose upon…   pleasing fragments of


…a lightness in the tone…    unguarded…
uneasily,  therefore…



and from a distance unrecalled,
the first warning,
a pleasing thought that tried to hide.

But the call was there,
sifting between the silence like dust.
I strained to hear it.

It had words, muffled and tender.
It had urgency,
and made a promise too thin to hear.

Had I time enough I would have followed
the first echo. I counted on the loyalty
of love that was as fragile.

Who was it? What in this terrible moment
of loss took precedence? What did I lose
that mourns so heavily in me now?

I search the golden end of every sunset,
feeling, knowing, and remembering.
But all the sunsets glow like this . . .


Today’s LittleNip:

—Joyce Odam

Come back to me
when the envies are put away
like guilty death.
We have torn all the darkness
and found no light.

We are sane.
Forgive us.


Our thanks to Joyce Odam for her luscious poems today! Her “Sweet Innocence” is a Dragonfly, devised by Edna St. Vincent Millay as: a b b a b a   |  c d d c d c  (1st & last words repeated in each stanza).

Our new Seed of the Week is Waiting For Daylight. 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. Do remember, though, that this is a family blog. . . .  sort of. . . .

—Medusa, celebrating poetry!

Joyce, writing by the sea
—Anonymous Artwork

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in the top right corner to come back to Medusa.

Monday, June 24, 2019

Time to Pop the Hood

—Photos by Caschwa, Sacramento, CA

—Joseph Nolan, Stockton, CA
The horrible contamination by inevitability.
The implicit condemnation of an expiration date.
Approaching the end of your warranty period,
Or, worse yet, you just passed it.

A “Service engine soon” light shows on your dash.
Your engine is running rough;
Maybe it’s had enough of you and/or the way you drive?
Is it personal,
Or not?
One wonders, sometimes......

It starts smoking.
Hate smoking!
It’s time to pull over and pop the hood.
Time to check, but where?

Google, we have a problem!


—Joseph Nolan
The human race
Is lost in space.
Turn left at the pyramids!
Watch out for the Roman Legions—
They slaughtered half of Gaul!
Uh-oh! Genocide up ahead!
Oh, but history is oh-so awful!

What’s that?
You want to go to the moon?
You can’t handle the moon!

Let’s be honest:
We haven’t a clue as to how
The pyramids were really built,
When, or by whom.
If we could build one now,
Trump would build one
In the middle of Central Park
And put his name on it

The human race
Has not a trace
Of pyramid-
Building technology.
Maybe that’s a good thing?

—Joseph Nolan

Spirit in a body
In a corner
Of a sky
Of a world that’s
Always spinning,
While no-one
Knows quite why.

Winter’s birds
Are flying
To summer’s
Warmer clime;
When it gets
Too cold,
It’s time!


—Joseph Nolan

Oh, my God!
It’s so beautiful,
The way trees
Grow into sky!

How fruit-trees
Are so bountiful,
For our poor,
Who rely!

—Joseph Nolan

Got any junk you need removed?
Just call Jack
Jack the Junk Man
Jack can haul it all away
Or his name’s not Jack.
Only thing is,
Once it’s hauled away,
You can’t get it back,
No matter how hard you try.
Sort of like ex’s.
No need to cry.
Just say “Bye-bye!”
And call Jack!


“Fireball Fergy” was our fourth-
grade teacher, known for her
matching, garish, pointed-toe
shoes and horned-rim glasses,
a different color each new day.

In the mall, shoppers wear and
vendors sell shoes for every
occasion: work, sports, casual,
fancy, marketed to meet the needs
of mainstream people who visit
shopping malls.

All of that is very fine footwear,
no doubt, until one views images
from the natural, forested, Earth
and espies a family of deer,

completely at peace
striding barefoot among the
haiku wishing trees



What a l-USC-ious temptation it was
for the star running back to come
running back to the scene of the crime
where the opposing side had so sadly
cheated and fumbled the ball, to once
again pick up the pigskin and run with it.

Gone now is an entire career of cheer
leaders, roaring accolades, rave reviews,
product endorsements, and good karma

Instead there remains little shred of doubt
that this fellow has somehow managed
to get away with the murder of two people
he knew all too well.


The Great Barrier Reef: light my fire

The Great Derriere Beef: rump roast

World Peace: time to reload

Whirled Piece: pirouette

Eternal Salvation: tanning cream

Eternal Salivation: doggie heaven

Thoughts and Prayers: no check enclosed

Shots and Players: performance enhancing drugs

Past Due: hurry to beat the penalty

Has to Do: rules, rules, rules!



Steven, an orvan phrom
phreindly viladelvia
phound money, phame,
and lophe ephery liphing

A graduate oph Uniphersity
of Caliphornia, Phresno,
Steve is a liphelong member
oph the ephal phillain
phraternity Phee, Phi, Pho,


1 might only be able
2 comprehend the intent of our
4 fathers in terms of “the dog
8 my homework” before
16 agers with an IQ
32 many pretended to be
64 sneaking into adult movies.


Today’s LittleNip:

Thank you for the warm welcome!
Let me just start by saying this:

I know you are very tired and
your patience has worn thin

so I’ll make this very brief,

“The End”


Many thanks to our contributors today as we begin the last week of June, finishing up the first half of 2019! (Shazam! Where did those six months go???) About his poem, “One Good Pair”, Carl Schwartz writes that he “Very much enjoyed [last Thursday’s] Wakamatsu presentations by Taylor Graham and Katy Brown, and here is my response.”

Poetry events in our area begin tonight at 6pm with Poetry in Motion in Placerville at the Sr. Center on Spring Street, then continue tonight at Sac. Poetry Center with Lee Herrick, Clea Roberts and open mic, 7:30pm. 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 for writing poems, 6-8pm on Wednesday in the Women’s Wisdom art room at SPC, facilitated this week by Bob Stanley.

On Wednesday, SPC and Time Tested Books present Robert Clawson, Kane Clawson, and Betsyann Duval at Time Tested Books, 1114 21st St., Sacramento, 7pm. Then on Friday, Speak Up: The Art of Storytelling presents a performance evening on the theme of “Lost and Found” at The Avid Reader, 1945 Broadway, Sac., 7pm.

Saturday will be the second installment of the new spoken word venue, Creative Minds, held at the Gos Art Gallery at 1825 Del Paso Blvd. and hosted by Gary “Gos” Simpson and Straight Out Scribes, 2pm. Scroll down to the blue column (under the green column at the right) for info about these and other upcoming poetry events in our area—and note that more may be added at the last minute.

—Medusa, celebrating poetry!

 —Anonymous TomFoolery

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, June 23, 2019

Throw Out Your Best Lines!

—Elisavietta Ritchie

If you would write a villanelle

Choose two of your most brilliant lines, 

Ones you should have jettisoned.

Repeat them till you're bored

And so's your reader if he's stuck

This far through your villanelle.

Do likewise if you find a perfect rhyme.

Have no illusions that you are the first:

Whoever was, he should have jettisoned

All his favorite rhymes and lines.

So should you. Try fancy foreign forms

If you would write a villanelle.

As with new lovers: you repeat a line

Till you are bored and so is he or she,

That line you should have jettisoned,

For soon you may suspect that he's or she's

A villain/villainess who does not care
If you would write a villanelle.

This one you should have jettisoned.


—Medusa, celebrating poetic tongues firmly in cheek, and the ability to edit oneself...

For more about today’s poet, go to, and be sure to check out her other poems there, such as: 

•••Chickens Are Not Emotionally Satisfying Pets
•••House Lions
•••Sorting Laundry

See also her advice to poets at 

 —Elisavietta Ritchie

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, June 22, 2019


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


I wake to the sound of heavy rain;
Is it afternoon? It is daytime,
But dark from the storm. Look at me,
An old man asleep in my chair
With a book I dropped on my chest;
Bashō’s travels and poetry. Well now,
Bashō has his journey and I have mine.


Every morning
I empty the old seed from my bird cages
And give fresh seed to my parakeet and my conure.
I do not throw the old seed in the trash, no,
I toss it out on my back patio, where wild finches live
Among the jasmine and the crape myrtle.
Tiny and beautiful, they devour this meal with gusto,
Like loggers after plates of ham and eggs.
As the finches hop about, I admire them,
So full of life, just like you and I.
They bless the world with their smallness.

Even at night, roses.
Roses in starlight, moonlight.
Roses standing upright in the dark.
Come morning, we will rise
And love them.
Then we will love ourselves.


Water and land, the cycles of season,
Weather and the deeds of humans;
The changes that made this valley.
There is much to take in.
An ancient inland sea between ranges
Dries up into fertile soil,
Crisscrossed by the creeks and rivers
That now feed it all fresh water.
The climate, a rainy season and a dry one
Blessed with little freezing.
Levees and dams to channel the water—
It isn’t what nature built,
But it does indeed feed millions of people.
And me, a poor poet, blessed
With spiritual wealth and financial poverty.
I do not know if I am happy man
For settling here, or if I am just in love
With the walnut blossoms year after year.

Almost no money, but there’s plenty of food
And there aren't any bill collectors seeking me.
I finished the outside chores before the rain began
And my wife smiled at me quite a lot;
Perhaps I am a rich man after all.

Wife, I wrote your name
Just to see it on the page,
And I cast several spells
For your health and happiness.
Together, we endured the years.
Tonight, we’ll eat chicken
And play Mahjong.
And tomorrow? Ah, what tomorrow?
There is only tonight.
You’ll see.

Today it was shower time for the Planet Earth,
At least the part of the Earth where I live.
A long, steady rain, washing it all;
The sky, the trees, the ground—all was washed clean.
A good rain always feels like a fresh start to me.
Even Putah Creek and Cache Creek were flushed out.
It’s a good thing;
I’ve always heard that cleanliness is next to godliness.
Pass me that soap, Sister!


Today’s LittleNip:
Love comes from love, life comes from life. Looking up, by chance, at just the right moment to see the red tail hawk disappear behind the stand of valley oaks.

—James Lee Jobe


Thank you, James Lee Jobe, for today’s gentle poetry journey alongside our turkey friends.

Gail Entrekin, Editor of
Canary, writes from the Bay Area that the Summer Solstice issue of Canary: A Literary Journal of the Environmental Crisis is now available at She says, “Canary is a literary journal that explores one’s engagement with the natural world. It is based on the premise that the literary arts can provide an understanding that humans are part of an integrated system.”

Poetry in our area today begins with Writers on the Air, featuring Capital Story Tellers Sue Hobbs and Suzi Boyd, plus Poet Mary Zeppa and open mic at Sac. Poetry Center, beginning at 9:30am. Then this afternoon from 2-4pm, Poetic License read-around takes place in Placerville at the Sr. Center on Spring Street. Suggested topic is “water color”, but other subjects 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!

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.