Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Full of Light!

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


claim the universe
with a glance;
elders send forth sparks
of awareness that
perk up a whole room—

people as real
as the butterfly migration
down the California coast,
wings fragile
yet linked for flight
in a mist of gathered pollen

the entire congregation
full of light!

(for Natica Angilly)

After rereading Mary Oliver's
"What does the world mean to you
if you can't trust it to go on shining
when you're not there?" our dancer
finds the pressed rose grown
in her childhood garden...
On her 18th birthday, angels enfolded
her essence in a scarf which she wore
each time she performed.

She tells us: markings on the moon
are ancient shrines for reincarnation
we may turn to for comfort...
When she rides Velvet Night, hooves
cushioned for tender landings,
angels light her way across the sky.

If she's not able to ride—
maybe reincarnated as a bluebird,
the starry steed will find other
optimistic riders. Yes, she smiles,
the world will go on shining
away from darkness!

 Vintage Christmas Card


Under snow-whitened peaks
a doe and fawn pause
between a meadow
and an evergreen forest.

Hidden by boulders
a young boy and I watch
as the fawn learns about
native grasses, pine nuts,
seeds, shallow roots,
shade for camouflage.

As the sun slips lower
a peak's shadow
inches across the meadow.
Head lifted, the doe
listens, then the pair
prance into the forest.
Such simple glory.


Two boys drive up, park
between my truck
and railroad tracks.
Soon they stroll from sight
behind a thick hedge.

Inspired to feed the horses
in a nearby stable, I head
toward the tracks. The boys
stand merged, torsos hidden
by a dangled jacket.

Reaching the stable, I pull
long grass by paddock fence,
make a bouquet of green stems,
let a mare sniff my hand
before I feed her, stroke her warm
head, pull more grass, let time
gracefully slow down.
Then I return to my truck
and Jane Kenyon's poetry.


What makes and separates the clouds?
What causes them to fade away?
Why do some people weep in crowds?

Should we pick the garden flower?
Step back and simply let it grow?
It's a human time, no ivory tower.

Can we tell these two apart—
what arises from an avid mind
and what from an ample heart?

A quirky question: call it small.
Yet, world, we are the only species
we know to wonder this at all.

(first pub. in Blue Unicorn, 2018)


Troubled friend,
will you accept the kite we made?
Its rag-tied tail sails free
from tall trees and tears,
transcends prayers,
pills, potions.
The string has already known
fingers that claw at rock.
Its thin skin knows closeness
and wonder, thunder and rain...

We envision you flying the kite
atop a green hill,
your trauma unwinding
with the long string, the wind
rising and falling at your will.
The string finally let loose,
the kite uplifts
nearly out of sight, changed
by time, space and height
into a speck of sky.


Fly along with lady bugs
land on someone's arm
who needs more luck.

Raft down whitewater
ride the rush
into rainbow mist

See poppies, blowing
over a mountain meadow,
suddenly go still

Wander into wilderness
make eye contact with a bear
and both move on

Sunset over an ocean
is a rampancy of roses
mingled with hollyhocks

On a beach, pry
open a sealed bottle
let its haiku save your life.

Today’s LittleNip:


there disputably are 11
openings in my body—
some not "fully open."
The belly button
anchored a feeding
cord to mom, who

launched me into
the revelation
of living a life!

Thanks, mom.

—Claire J. Baker


Our thanks to Claire Baker for her lovely poems today, as we celebrate her doe and fawn in photos!

A reminder that today is the deadline for Sac. Poetry Center's annual issue of Tule Review. For info, go to

And a note that Katy Brown will be reading in San Francisco this coming Saturday, Aug. 3, from 7-9:30pm at La Promenade Café, 3643 Balboa St. near 38th Avenue. 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!

 “Fly along with lady bugs…”
—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.

Tuesday, July 30, 2019

In Dusty Shadows

Surreality Explained
—Poems and Visuals by Joyce Odam, Sacramento, CA

ANOTHER DAY (A Rainis Sonnet)

You ask me why the windows go so dark;
I tell you there is no more light to lose.
You pull the shades to their old measure-mark,
I watch the night take on its somber hues

as one last flock of doves flies from the trees
with flutterings of white that seem to spark
and then go out. We feel the moment freeze.

This is the day we entered with such praise.
It dwindles down like all the other days.


(After Nude in the Sunlight by Renoir, 1876)

Nude girl in sunlight—
flickering shade—the way the light
enters the leaves with touch.

Sunlight always loved her,
even as now,
more than a hundred years later—

forever golden in sheltered leaves
back-grounding her.
And her composure—

knowing her power,
the distance of that look,
captured by Renoir.

 Lost and Found

(After Portrait of Gerti Schiele, 1909)

She has become a model for the talent of her brother—
sharply edged, as if with scissor-marks, where she has
been cut to a collage—but she is tired of posing,

her confining layers of clothing forever falling in a
careless crumple about her feet. Her colors smear. She
bends her unfinished face toward her shoulder.

(first pub. in Poetry Now, 2008)



She strolls the garden
with its ever-winding path

two peacocks strolling alongside
through the blue shade

and the small blue trees—no one
watching though she wears

a rose in her hair
and a long red gown—her mind

on her thoughts
the peacocks endear themselves

leisurely beside her
she murmurs lovingly to them

and they seem to be listening—
a small stirring

of something
following noiselessly behind them.


(For Ann)

Turning a corner onto your street (long ago)
close to twilight, and summer, a shade of
blue light under the sunshine—or better,

over—since what I saw was part of this :
the goats—I still don’t know how many—
kneeling their delicate white legs down

to the ground in a slow sequence
as of a single confirmation, and I felt
a chill of time in that moment—

a surge of something at my heart
to witness this, and it was
as I remember (long ago) I swear.



     My sad son is somewhere in his life, being
lonely. The house of his childhood is sold and
gone. We speak about it, ask how we feel about
the “Home” of it, and say it’s okay.

     He cooks for his friends tonight. We con-
tribute vegetables from the dry and waning gar-
den and speak of recipes with the bags and boxes
standing full between us.

     He starts up his father’s motorcycle and
they talk to each other through the noise of it
in the dusty shade of the grape arbor. They talk
about the snap and the power.

     Neighborhood children stand around and stare
at his long blonde hair. We fill their questions
with our clanny eyes. We are all long-haired and
blonde. And we do not dress for others. We are
dressed for the twilights that come early and cool,
that come sneaking in with shadows.

     Behind us the tall dry corn patch rustles.
We make up a silence so we can hear it.

     He says he must go. But he sits for awhile
where he is, touching the handles and knobs of
the motorcycle that used to be his, staying awhile
in his moodiness, that he says he will get over.

(first pub. in P.O.W. Mother Poems, 1980)

 Ways In, Ways Out

In the painting, the children are asleep in the quiet afternoon.
They lie across each other like tossed dolls—two rumpled girls,
having worn themselves out talking and giggling.

And now the hour loosens its light around them and they stir. 
They realize I am watching them, though I have been sitting
here drowsily making sketches. It is as if they knew that I

would come and find them there. It is how they look at me.
They rise from their sweaty pillows and move, dream-like,
toward me, their eyes holding my eyes, their faces strangely

serious, and when they reach me, they take my hands and draw
me back with them toward the shaded porch. But we must
hurry, for a border is closing in around us—a feeling

only—for the yard stretches clear to the formless and spacious
end of itself. I do not speak to them for I do not want to break
the curious spell of their acceptance of me.

They pull at my hands to get me to go faster. The day’s light is
changing and they seem alarmed, insistently tugging. They
keep looking up at me, and I realize they are pulling me from

a familiar distance that has separated us until now. I move with-
out sensation. For a moment I wonder if I should be afraid of
them. Now we have reached the house—still not

having spoken—where they pull me inside the old screened
porch where we lie down together—three time-blessed children,
asleep in the quiet afternoon.


Today’s LittleNip:

—Joyce Odam

Once a weariness came
upon my being
and I surrendered to a yearning
and I sought a tree I knew
that had vast shade and quiet
and I brought myself to its healing
and lay on the ground
looking up through its branches
and silently moving leaves
and I slept for a long while
unwinding and renewing,
under the flickering sunlight.


Thank you to Joyce Odam for capturing such shadowy tones this morning in our Seed of the Week, “In Gathering Shade”! Our new Seed of the Week is Palm Trees and White Sand. 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.

Today from 12-1:30pm, visit the American Haiku Archives with former Sacramentan Dr. Judy Halebsky, Cal. History Room, 900 N St., Ste. 200, 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!

 Portrait of Gerti Schiele (Postcard, 1909) 
by Egon Schiele

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, July 29, 2019

Battling Onward

Carl's Chihuahua, Caught in a Snooze
—Photo by Caschwa, Sacramento, CA


It is long past bedtime
for school kids
an occasional train
passes by, filling the
viscera with mighty
vibrations as it shuffles
along the tracks

that is when my Chihuahua
and I steal outside for a
short walk across the
back lawn, me inspecting
fruit on the trees and
vines, and she pointing her
brushy nose toward a
palette of stars

the season itself provides
ample shelter from rain
and hail, with triples in the
forecast and lows that
don’t sink too low for

then we retreat inside
where she gets some
water and kibble, and I
brew a cup of decaf to
enjoy while reading
about the fabulous
exploits of other poets.



Achieved senior citizen status. Check.
Cataracts removed. Check.
New lenses implanted. Check.
No longer acrimoniously nearsighted. Check.
Cheap readers handy everywhere. Check.

But after a lifetime of getting used to using a
myopic approach to sizing up one’s world, the
rote act of shoveling coal in the engine room
affixes itself to one’s shoulder as a vociferous
metronome, even though one may later get to
stand at the helm and admire the vast ocean.

 —Photo by Caschwa, Sacramento, CA


There have been a few
occasions when I needed
to hire an attorney at law,
or an attorney at plumbing,
or an attorney at poetry,
or an attorney at astrology

but lacking the funds, I
became pretty proficient at
DIY projects, which thankfully
do not include a vanity mirror
to betray all those horrid
expressions when the ever-
present miscue arises

Let’s see now, where was I?
Why do so many loose parts
still abound when the project
is clearly finished? I can’t go
to court looking like this



In America it is a given that a man of color
will face a lifetime of discrimination, but
when he goes on to distinguish himself in
exemplary fashion as a student and a professor,
that becomes an honor he owns.

It is also a given that the POTUS will face all
kinds of challenges and naysaying, but when
the opposing party subjects him to eight years
of daily, impenitent obstruction and refuses to
allow him to lead the nation as the voters had
chosen, that becomes not his failure, rather a
sad dishonor the opposing party owns.

So far, a significant, outspoken segment of the
nation has not yet set out the welcome mat for
a black or woman president, and indeed, they’ll
bring out every trick in the book to foil such a plot.
Stay tuned, America…



In grade school and in college

Never could any
report just state, ho-hum, that
something was “unclear”

In today’s local newspapers

A reporter who
lacks information will claim
nobody knows that 

 Wall in Placerville
—Photo by Carol Louise Moon, Placerville, CA 

From The Sports Complex Within the Tattoo Garden of Capella: The Sports Complex in the Garden of Capella
—Michael H. Brownstein, Jefferson City, MO

icicle skating

avalanche skiing

thin ice sledding

leaf climbing

dead tree carry and throw

mud swamping


Almost five,
the sun still brightens the sky
Winter in the Tattoo Garden of Capella,
the ink less obtrusive,
its coloring calm and clean,
soft white cotton linen,
fine lined with the nibs of fine pens.
But it is never cold,
even with drifts and white ice,
icicle skating,
tobogganing down frozen falls,
cross country snow boating,
carving tunnels beneath richly deigned snow.
Almost five,
The sun still brightens the sky.

 Chung Mei Lion Dance Troupe
—Photo by Michelle Kunert, Sacramento, CA

—Joseph Nolan, Stockton, CA

I had not see one this color before.
I was wondering if it was a cricket,
Instead of a roach,
But, since it was crawling
Toward my kitchen floor
I could not let it go,
Lest there be more,
And no-one is kind to roaches,
Since they are untoward,
And not to be mentioned,
So it was done quietly
As you might imagine
It would be,
And a paper towel
Was thrown away
Surrounding its smushed-up remains.


—Joseph Nolan

Waiting for my promotion,
I am standing in line.
I have to wear a tie
And act like
Everything’s fine.

Laugh at all
My boss’s jokes;
Seem like I really care,
Get a normal haircut
At least twelve times a year.

This is what it’s like
When you’re waiting in line—
Waiting for your promotion,
Pretending everything’s fine.

—Photo by Katy Brown, Davis, CA

—Joseph Nolan

There’s a man
Who rented
There before,
Many children
His wife
Had borne,
Now, all
Grown and gone.

I used to watch him
Living there,
His life
A swirling
Storm of care,
So much
Coming and going!
But now
All grown and gone.

I wonder where
His kids have gone
If they manage
To get along
They are living?
Do they give
To a father who
Came back from a war
Only to battle onward?


—Joseph Nolan

Never say a nasty word
You wouldn’t want to be heard
Over and over again,
Into eternity.

The echoes never stop.
They echo out in whirling rings
Throughout the universe
And never stop.

People in distant galaxies
Can hear your every word
On their Earth monitor radios,
But it doesn’t stop there.

It just goes on and on,
But thankfully,
They don’t really care.
It’s up to you
What you do
What you say
In any particular way,
But don’t say a word
You wouldn’t want heard
So very far away. 

 —Photo by Ann Privateer, Davis, CA

—Ann Privateer

My mind is a canvas

Spilling cities, pushing

Boundaries, shouting colors

A cornucopia transcending 

Motion, stealing stealthfully 

Through a megaphone

Of mind's eyes and ears

Touching, in service. 

 —Photo by Taylor Graham, Placerville, CA


perched on the end of my spindly finger, lighter
than goosedown, a thousand rainbows swirling

on a paper-thin meniscus—blown by an angel,
maybe, or a pimply ogre with bad breath, or maybe

just some Puck of a kid trying to kill a rainy
Saturday afternoon. . .  Today it balances

on the tip of my finger, bounces colored light
into my shiny eyes like some eager seal's striped

circus ball: me, this lucky juggler pulling off
my latest trick while I hold my breath: quick-

silver planet poised, ready to pop or fly—burst
and spray me with millions of sticky dewdrops,

or float off into the wide sky, leaving me all alone
with my empty, grieving hands. . .

—Kathy Kieth, Diamond Springs, CA
(In response to Taylor Graham’s bubbles,
Medusa’s Kitchen, 7/25/19)


Today’s LittleNip:


One fellow had credit history
that was so bad he could not
get a loan of any kind from
anyone. He was absolutely

Just to cover all bases, he
tried again, and sure enough,
at the end of the day he was


Thanks to our contributors today for their eclectic array of fine words and photos as we wind up July this week.

A reminder that July 31 is the deadline for Sac. Poetry Center's 2020 issue of Sac. Poetry Center’s
Tule Review! See

Speaking of SPC, their Monday reading this week will be a fundraiser for River City Food Bank, featuring Patrick Grizzell, Cassandra Dallett and Aaron Bradford. Bring a non-perishable food item, or just write a check! That’s 7:30-9:30pm at SPC on 25th & R Sts. in Sacramento.

On Tuesday at noon, visit the American Haiku Archives in the Cal. History Room at 900 N St. (Suite 200) in Sacramento for a tour led by Dr. Judy Halebsky, Director of the MFA Program in Creative Writing at Dominican University and specialist in Japanese forms.

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, facilitated by Bob Stanley.

And Saturday is Second Sat. Art Reception at SPC, 5-9pm, featuring artist Heather Judy. For more about Heather and her art, go to

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.

Sunday, July 28, 2019

Food For Thought

—Anonymous Photo

—Mark Strand (1934-2014)

1 If a man understands a poem,
he shall have troubles.

2 If a man lives with a poem,
he shall die lonely.

3 If a man lives with two poems,
he shall be unfaithful to one.

4 If a man conceives of a poem,
he shall have one less child.

5 If a man conceives of two poems,
he shall have two children less.

6 If a man wears a crown on his head as he writes,
he shall be found out.

7 If a man wears no crown on his head as he writes,
he shall deceive no one but himself.

8 If a man gets angry at a poem,
he shall be scorned by men.

9 If a man continues to be angry at a poem,
he shall be scorned by women.

10 If a man publicly denounces poetry,
his shoes will fill with urine.

11 If a man gives up poetry for power,
he shall have lots of power.

12 If a man brags about his poems,
he shall be loved by fools.

13 If a man brags about his poems and loves fools,
he shall write no more.

14 If a man craves attention because of his poems,
he shall be like a jackass in moonlight.

15 If a man writes a poem and praises the poem of a fellow,
he shall have a beautiful mistress.

16 If a man writes a poem and praises the poem of a fellow overly,
he shall drive his mistress away.

17 If a man claims the poem of another,
his heart shall double in size.

18 If a man lets his poems go naked,
he shall fear death.

19 If a man fears death,
he shall be saved by his poems.

20 If a man does not fear death,
he may or may not be saved by his poems.

21 If a man finishes a poem,
he shall bathe in the blank wake of his passion
and be kissed by white paper.



For more about Mark Strand, see

And a note about the Sac. Poetry Center Fundraiser for River City Food Bank: it will be held at SPC tomorrow, not tonight. I mis-spoke earlier in the week…  Hear Patrick Grizzell, Cassandra Dallett and Aaron Bradford, and bring one non-perishable food item—or just write a check! That’s 7:30-9:30pm at Sac. Poetry Center, 25th & R Sts., 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.

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, July 27, 2019

Stay Close to the Light

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

The first moments of dawn slowly illuminate the room. It's something I enjoy. I close the book and get up to make the coffee; my wife will be up in a moment. How does one grow old living with the loss of a child? Stay close to the light, embrace it. Keep faith in the new day, live one day at a time. As the coffee brews I walk through the old house opening the curtains for the day. Letting in the light.

—for David Hinton—

 Oak Tree

To the fields of this valley, we say glory. And to the stars of midnight, glory. Praised be our labors and praised be our children. Praised be our very breath. Glory, glory. Life is a blessing that we all share.


Over sixty years on this planet. Somewhere along the way I learned to exit the calendar and make a sharp left turn onto a place and time to simply live the life of a human being. Being young, middle-aged, and old all became the same; now I just live whatever day happens to surround me. There is an army of clouds today. The spring breeze is sweet and cool.

 Ash Tree

Have I gone far enough? I would prefer to finish it all right here. No, I am not talking about dying, I’m talking about living. And I’m talking about not needing ‘more.’ If anything, I need less. There is only one thing left I want: to be of some use. Right here, right now.

 Bonsai Tree

A hot day in the valley. The sun shines on our noses and our necks. Children in the parks, the sun is also upon their flesh. An old dog sleeps in the sunshine, a young one in the shade.


Our noses tell us someone is barbecuing meat. From behind a nearby house smoke rises in a thin line.

 Pine Trees

We are walking, with every step our shoes caress the broken sidewalk. An old song comes to mind and when we are sure we are alone we begin to sing aloud.


Bring life to the planet. Help to heal that which needs healing. Teach the children, feed the hungry. House the homeless. Love each other, be kind to each other. It isn’t complicated, why we’re here.


Autumn doesn't bother to knock, it opens the front door and boldly strides through. Winter quietly slips in behind, just before the door closes. A few leaves blow in with the wind as I pour us all some coffee. Would you like a cup?


Today’s LittleNip:

As we destroy this earth with oil wells, fracking, wars, coal mines, and far too many people, where will the last little field mouse go to catch a nap?

—James Lee Jobe


Thank you, James Lee Jobe, for your thoughtful poems this morning, and for the blessing of trees! Wil-low, weep for me...

There’s lots to do in our area today, poetry-wise, starting at 9:30am with Writers on the Air, featuring four poets plus open mic at Sac. Poetry Center. Then at 2pm, there are three more events: Creative Minds spoken word meets at GOS Art Gallery in Sacramento; The Francisco X. Alarcón Book Celebration meets in Davis on Albion Place; and Poetic License meets in Placerville at the Sr. Center lobby. Three choices, all at 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 the light of 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.

Friday, July 26, 2019

The Pursuit of Contentment

—Poems by Ian Lewis Copestick, Stoke On Trent, England
—Anonymous Photos of Trentham Monkey Forest



I sit here tonight thinking of all of the
Friends of mine who are no longer
With us. It's a fucking sad roll call.
The one I find myself thinking about the
Most is Steve, who drove himself into
An old stone bridge at high speed.
I suppose it's like they always say,
It's always the ones you don't expect to
Do it that carry it through. I know
Some people that have "attempted"
Suicide loads of times. Suicide isn't
Something that you “attempt”. You either
Do it, or you don't. Another Steve I know
Used to slash his wrists at 4:25 knowing that
His parents got in from work at 4:30.
If you're going to do it, and I'm not
Condoning it in any way, you just
Fucking do it. You drive into the wall
At 80 mph, you hang yourself, you
Take the pills, whatever. As I say,
I can't condone it, I've seen too many
Times the destruction it causes to the
People left behind, but at least he
Fucking meant to do it, and he did.
He wasn't playing at it. Of course he
Was a selfish bastard, he had young
Kids. Just think how fucked up they
Will be. I don't know, I don't know
What to think, I don't know what to
Say, and I don't know how to finish
This poem.


It's a long, long
Time ago now
But I wonder if
She ever thinks
About it. I know
That I do. Not all
Of the time. Not
Even often, I'm not
A freak. Or obsessed
Or anything. But now
And again I'll hear a
Certain song and I'm
Back there again. I won't
Say what song it is,
I don't want to embarrass
Anyone. I just wonder if
She gets the same kind
Of bittersweet feeling
That I do when I think
Back to those days
Nearly 30 years ago.


I'm getting soft
In my old age.
I was watching
A T.V. programme
About the RSPCA
And the work
They do rescuing
Mistreated animals.
There was this
Puppy and some
Fucking sick freak
Had been putting
Cigarettes out in
The puppy's eyes.
I'm big enough
To admit that
I broke down,
I was inconsolable.
My wife tried to
Cheer me up.
"Look, Ian, look.
It's completely
Cured." Still my
Body was shaking
From my sobbing.
I'm getting soft
In my old age.
There's nothing I
Can do about it.
I don't know if I
Would if I could.
If there's anything
The world has
Never had too
Much of, it's


I was thinking about it earlier
And really, I've got to thank
George W. Bush for saving
My life. Back in 2001 I had
Been addicted to heroin for
Nearly 10 years and I was
Reaching the end of my tether.
I had been trying to give it up
For a couple of years with no
Success. Then of course in
September of that year, the
Al Qaeda scumbags flew the
Planes into the World Trade
Centres. George W. declared
War on Terror and invaded
Iraq and Afghanistan. In doing
So, he must have really fucked
Up the smuggling routes for
The heroin trade because, for at
Least 4 or 5 months, it was
Absolutely impossible to get
Hold of any gear. I remember
Days of driving around all day,
Trying every dealer we knew, or
Had even heard of. But it was
Impossible, there was nothing
To get. It must have all been
Stuck in Afghanistan. Well, I
Got so fucking sick of trying to
Score that I just gave up and
Started buying methadone off
The black market, and after a
Few months I had finally broken
The back of my habit.
I’m not going to lie and say that
I've been clean ever since—I
Haven’t—but I have never had a
Habit since.
So as much as I despise his
Politics and everything else
About him, I've got to thank
Him for getting me clean.
Thank you, George.


When the sorrows
and sadness of
life start to get you
down, all you have
to do is think of
the miracle of life.
That's what it is,
whether it's an
act of God or
a fluke of nature,
it's a true miracle
either way. That
life has sprung
up on this blue and
white ball of rock
whirling through
airless, dead space.
There isn't any life
anywhere else in
the universe, as
far as we can see
anyway, yet here we
have air to breathe.
Trees that grow
naturally take our
waste C02 and pump
out oxygen that we
need to survive. Fruits
and vegetables grow
naturally to give us
food to eat. It really
is a miracle how
lucky we are to be
alive. Whenever I
feel depressed, I
should remind
myself to re-read
this poem. The odds
against it are millions
to one, yet here we are.
It really is a miracle.


It's a good night, for a change
It's been a good day,
The first day in a while where
It's been sunny and warm
With uninterrupted blue skies.
I feel, not so much happy,
But definitely content.
I couldn't ask for more,
I feel like I have just eaten a
Huge meal, roast beef, Yorkshire pudding
Roast potatoes, the full works.
Mentally, emotionally, I mean.
Satiated, that's a good
Word for it. To ask for more
Would be greedy.
I'm not a greedy man.
I'm content.
That's good enough for me.

Today’s LittleNip:

—Ian Copestick

It's suddenly hit me, an epiphany,
A realisation. After all the years of
Depression, drug addiction, misery,
Anti-depressants and grim existentialism,
I now know that all I need to be happy
Is a hot bath, a strong drink, a good
Book and a some good music to listen
To. I don't know if this equation would
Have been enough for me back in my
Younger days, but it certainly does
The job for me now.


Our thanks to Ian Copestick for returning to us with his tough poems from over the sea. His new book,
Detritus Of The Drunken Night (Cajun Mutt Press), is available through Amazon ( Congratulations, Ian!

As for the monkeys, well, maybe we’re all just monkeying around… For more about the Trentham Monkey Forest outside of Stoke on Trent, see

—Medusa, celebrating first books of poetry!

 Ian Copestick’s new book!

Photos in this column can be enlarged by
clicking on them once, then clicking on the x
in the top right corner to come back to Medusa.

Thursday, July 25, 2019

Reality Poetry

—Poems and Photos by Taylor Graham, Placerville, CA


Every week, those summers, I’d drive
up Iron Mountain to wilderness patrol. Years
before internet and cell-phone. My dog
loved running unleashed, out of reach.
Frankly, so did I.
Where would we go today? My dog
leading the way, a stretch up-trail, maybe
cross-country; lacy phlox at edge of boulder;
long views of that steep bare ridge
where pioneers pushed
and cursed creaky wagons to over-
haul the great Sierra.
Our path rising through lodgepole,
earth still weeping a winter’s snowpack—
patches of duff-studded ice
that stays in sheltered places.
A lake so tiny it seems to gather
the whole sky’s blue.
No radio contact, no phone.
Out of touch except
with my dog, the earth and heavens. 

a panel discussion

Get up really early, before dawn—
best time for writing, before the first
cup of coffee, before the editor wakes up—
you know, the one who lives in your
brain. Editor, critic… they have
their time, their place.
The critic wonders at your use of
“horse poop.” Consider Kumin’s poem
about worming her horse
in the Summer of the Watergate Hearings.
She writes “droppings” and counts
worms exiting her horse; on TV
she watches worms fall out
of the government. Reality poetry. 


Behind the library, what a ruckus! The backdoor’s open as if library personnel might march out to enforce library silence. But look, they’ve gathered to watch kids dipping wands in a bucket then running back and forth in clouds of bubbles. The head librarian warned us about this: Get Messy and Blow Things Up, a summer fun event that’s noisy. We’d come on serious business: books. I was holding mine in my hand.

bubbles everywhere—
one lands on my book which bursts
wide open with joy 

“Words can not be owned.” —Katy Brown

It made me wonder if stolen words
aren’t the sweetest, plucked from a neighbor’s
bough before they plummet to earth of their own
gravity. There must be an anecdote,
a fable to illustrate: words destined to be
consumed syllable by syllable like the seed
a waxwing digests after eating the apple,
preening in the shelter of leaves;
sun casting feather-sheen in all directions. 

a statue outside Twelve Bridges Library

Arriving, I was too preoccupied to notice,
among shrubs and lilies blooming
outside the library, the stone gray man rising
out of soil. Walking back out, my load lightened,
I saw him: hungry eyes under hawk brow,
book in left hand, right index finger punctuating
a word. His monkish aspect, Renaissance-
revenant, timeless; a torso bursting
through the stone frame of his fashioning.
Who made him, planted him ungraved here?
What is the word under his finger?
What, in the world of knowing and not-yet-
known, might he show me? His image
follows me home. 

for Rob

A hike to where you can see
the whole continent. Follow the leader:
she’s mannequin-thin, windbreaker
over shoulders like a midnight cape.
Trail skirts a dry creek, one small
pool: a phoenix birdbath among rocks.
The group’s strung out of sight.
Where’s the leader? You worry, then
whistle; hear a faint answer; follow
it up the poetic heights. There
she is. “I hate old poet-men,” she says.
“Too much imagination.” But you
can turn adventure into a poem anyway.

Today’s LittleNip:
—Taylor Graham

Breakdown miles from home.
By luck, shop has the right part.
A 2-hour wait.
Take a walk with dog out back
and find blackberries, just ripe.


Our thanks to Taylor Graham for the big bubbles and for her poems about our recent Seed of the Week, “Where Shall We Go?” Her poem, “Out of Range”, is from her new book,
Windows of Time and Place from Cold River Press (

Head down to Luna’s in Sacramento tonight for Poetry Unplugged at Luna's Cafe and Juice Bar, with featured readers plus open mic beginning at 8pm. Free, but please partake of Art Luna’s fine food and libations. 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.

I mis-spoke last Monday, saying that the SPC River City Food Bank Fundraiser was on this coming Sunday. But actually it's part of the SPC Reading Series this coming Monday. There will be no SPC event this Sunday. Mea culpa!

—Medusa, celebrating poetry—and blackberries!


“. . . blackberries, just ripe.”
—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.

Wednesday, July 24, 2019

Handprints of Ghosts

Fountain of Light, “Chalk It Up” in Sacramento, 2017
—Poems and Photos by Cynthia Linville, Lincoln, CA


We sit at the edge of this fountain
mourning the death of poets

We gather up sadness by its edges
finger our joys and regrets—

handfuls of coins
rubbed until shiny

tossed into this water
that transforms our wishes

The fountain reflects the sky
purples, golds, and reds

Uncompromisingly glorious

Sunrise or sunset—
it is enough



No place is safe
for this skin,
these bones
out west,
out here on the line

No blue here
in this desert
so far from the Pacific
where dust is all
that rises

No hope
no rivers
even the trains are few—
the last came through
some time ago

I often think of Lawrence
in his desert,
remember his green green eyes
as I try to find
a way out

* * *

I need a way out
to the Pacific
I need the deep blues
the green greens

I need a train
to carry away
this skin
these bones
out west
out to the end of the line
out of this desert

I’m tired of playing Lawrence
I’m tired of the dust
the snakes

I should have sailed
on the last river
that crested
on the river
that carried away
the last of my hopes

* * *

No one left to tell me
my last hopes
No one left to remind me
of the prettiest train
I ever saw

Am I more than just
skin, bones
and dust?

Green is the color
of rivers rising
the color of
a fair man’s eyes
(your eyes)

Blue is the color
of the Pacific
the color of hope
the color of
the way home

(This poem uses the words from titles on the album, Blue Pacific, by Victor Krummenacher)

 Triple Foam Carwash


That sure is a big apple
he said
I nodded

It looks really firm and juicy
I took a big bite
I nodded again

He sat watching me
listening to me

That really makes me want an apple
he said
I smiled around a mouthful

What kind of apple is it?
he asked

I just kept sinking my teeth
into the apple’s firm flesh



I just kept crunching
kept chewing

Pink Lady?


As I swallowed the final mouthful
I whispered

 Sacramento Sidewalk


We crumbled apart in hard plastic pieces
scattered on the floor
so broken
we don’t even know
what once was

* * *

The glimpse of a strong jaw
the curve of an ear
The harsh flash of exposure
blurs the atmosphere
to white mist

* * *

My body doesn’t know
that we’ve been over
for eleven years
My hands still want to grab your hair
my teeth, to nip your ear

* * *

Love sinks strong teeth
into the back of your neck
and shakes you
and shakes you
and shakes you 

 Hailstorm in Sacramento


The rain welcomed us in electric blue waves
thick against the apocalyptic sky
I can’t see for the light in my eyes

Three hours till tomorrow
Everything means something different here
The handprints of ghosts stroke my hair

Somehow we have survived long enough
to bring these ashes to sanctuary—
stardust to stardust

A gift of wrong turns
until we are erased by shadows
Inside my head, it starts to snow

*   *   *

Snow falls thick against
the apocalyptic sky
I can’t see for the light in my eyes

Everything means something different
now that we have survived
all the wrong turns

Three hours till tomorrow
till we bring these ashes to sanctuary
till we return to stardust

Ghost-hands stroke my hair
into electric blue waves
until I am erased by shadows

*   *   *
Erased by shadows and light
we are stardust

We enter the apocalyptic sky
in electric blue waves

Out of ashes in sanctuary
we become ghosts

Every gift means something different here

We welcome the rain
We are the snow


Today’s LittleNip:

—Cynthia Linville

You are an old sweatshirt
and faded jeans
worn soft in the curves
fraying at the seams
resting in a box marked


—Medusa, thanking Cynthia Linville for bringing us her fine poems and photos today!

Victor Krummenacher and Cynthia Linville
For an archived poetry-and-music performance at Luna’s 
by Cynthia and Victor, go to 
Victor’s website is
—Photo by Jennifer Temple

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.