Monday, September 30, 2019

The Persistence of Marmalade

Ballet Chicken
—Photos by Katy Brown, Davis, CA

—Cynthia Linville, Lincoln, CA

(Written for Dennis Schmitz, 1984)

Nervous tension prickles through the air
like static electricity.
Conversation buzzes in pairs
dotted here and there around the room.
A few suppressed giggles tickle ears,
but mostly only
tapping toes and
twitching thumbs and
sidelong glances.
The first day of class.

—Caschwa, Sacramento, CA 
Knock, knock
Who’s there?
Autumnal who?

Autumn equal knocks 

—Joseph Nolan, Stockton, CA
There is dried orange marmalade
Solidified like amber
Clinging to the outside
Of a cabinet door.

It’s been there a long, long time.
I know I’ve seen it there, before.
It knows its place in life.
It’s gone as far as it can go.
It will stay right there forever
Or until it is removed
When the present tenant moves out.


—Joseph Nolan

The festival is coming!
I’m getting ready to have fun.
I’m fun, I’m having, getting ready,
When the festival comes.

Festival days are fun!
We’re having festival,
Are we having fun?
Fun we’re festival,
Feeling, we’re in fun!

Buy me a hot-dog on a bun
For some fun in festival!
A hot dog is having fun
Being swallowed down!

At a festival
No one wears a frown!

—Joseph Nolan

If I had a chisel
And a hammer
In my hand,
I could carve
A lovely image
Out of
Frozen sand.

Sand, frozen
Into solid stone,
Sand with a soul
Cast all alone,
Sand that shines
Into beauty
When smoothed
As though to bone;
Beauty as an image
Of stone as living bone.


—Joseph Nolan

Why is it so hard
For us to simply say
How we really feel?

Are we so afraid
To be seen?

We feel so all alone
Since the geese
Have flown
South to warmer weather
For the Winter.

Come flight-time in the Fall
The sky was full of sound,
But now it has gone quiet.
We are so very quiet, now!


Wherever teachers
walk, swarms of pupils will try
to fill their footprints

one of my all time
favorite teachers was a
short fellow student

who stood up tall to
present a different set
of facts that was right



Everyone in Congress swears
they love the Constitution, but
when a wedding date is finally
set they congregate in small,
diametrically opposed groups
to debate the invitation list, the
seating chart, inside or outside,
vegan-friendly or taboo, whom
to choose to officiate, et cetera…

We save the ashes of pets we
loved with all our hearts, our
fond memories living on and on

Remember to use extra care in
how to juxtapose lefties and

Sometime, somewhere, someone
will come across that stash of red
pens and pencils we hid from our
favorite teacher, and yet be
deprived of the stunning moment
she pulled a spare one from her


(one o’ them dechnad cummaisc things)

Heavy eyelids fight to stay shut
sunlight prevails to unlock them
A.M. will sing

coffee is brewed, hot and steamy
just the right cream
cup rests on the breakfast table:
a fabled dream



beneath the House of Commons
extends a 5-level underground
car park

reaching one way to an arcade
and other ways to government

it gets quite a bit of use as one
may imagine, what with all the
shopping to do

and that little business of running
a nation of people dedicated to
following rules

there are tunnels this way and that
frequented by important people,
trying like

the palace guards to stifle their smiles
and convince you it is all most serious


(from the perspective of
a Baby Boomer)

We used to get enlightening
news reports on the radio that
we “heard” as black and white

then along came the television
which has been continually
reinventing itself until now, TV
news is a product that has been
so thoroughly

ill advised

it leaves the audience none
the wiser 

When my grandma died
     My family and I never got condolence letters from any of her doctors
     But the vets for my mom’s deceased cat sent a card with a handwritten note
     “Thanks for giving Hurley a great life..” the Arden Animal Hospital wrote  
     So many families of people who pass away are never given such similar tribute
     I do wish I had gotten something such as, “Thank you for helping your grandma live a great life,
     we will keep you and your family in our prayers…"

—Michelle Kunert, Sacramento, CA


Walking back to where I parked my car at the Fair Oaks Chicken Festival
       A lady pulled up to me in her car and said, “Hey, would you like a picture of Jesus?”
       I answered, smiling, “No thanks. He is already in my heart—I received Jesus when I was five—been ‘saved’ since then.”
       I then told her I don’t need any mere “picture” of Jesus because I’m already in Him, just as He is in me
       I kind of thought afterward and realized that I’ve sometimes wished that people could see in me a “picture of Jesus"
       but on this earth I can only give only a very dim reflection of the image of my heavenly Savior   

—Michelle Kunert


Today’s LittleNip:


If you try real hard
and have rich sponsors, you can
be a star athlete

not athletic? you
will still have what it takes to
be a drug dealer


Good Morning, America, on this last day of September, 2019, and a hearty thank-you to today’s contributors!
Thank you, Cynthia Linville, for your fine poem for our CSUS professor/co-poet laureate, Dennis Schmitz, who passed away in September. Michelle Kunert mentioned the Fair Oaks Chicken Festival, so I dug out some of Katy Brown’s chikkin-piks, plus a few of her waterfowl thrown in. Joseph Nolan writes about the persistence of marmalade, about which I did not know. Our Seed of the Week is "My Favorite Teachers", so Carl Schwartz riffed on that, and he also tackled the Welsh form that Taylor Graham showed in her post last Thursday (bravo for guts, Caschwa!). (His equinox poems reminds me of the old shaggy-dog story about how the piano tuner, Mr. Opporknockity, never tunes twice.)

Tonight at 7:30pm, Sac. Poetry Center will present a fundraiser: A Reading for the Sac. Homeless Organizing Committee, featuring Joey Garcia, Angelo Williams, and Renée Moffet Thompson. Then Thursday night from 8-10pm at Laughs Unlimited in Old Sac., the Big Battle spoken word team competition will take place between poets from Elk Grove, North Sac., and Rancho Cordova. This is also a fundraiser for the “From a Boy to a Man” program; admission is $10. 

On Saturday, another fundraiser takes place for the Sac. Fine Arts Center in Carmichael on Saturday from 5-7:30pm: six area poets who have written poetry to paintings on display in the gallery. That’s 5330B Gibbons Dr. in Carmichael; admission is $20. Later that night, from 8-10pm, the Love Jones “Late Night Version” features sensual poetry and smooth ballads at Celebration Arts, 2727 B St., Sacramento. Admission is $10. Scroll down to the blue column (under the green column at the right) for info about these and other upcoming poetry events in our area—and note that more may be added at the last minute.

Interested in workshops? Check the green box at the right for a listing of local ones which will be held this week and/or later.

—Medusa, who is too chicken to tackle one o’ them dechnad cummaisc thingies ~

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Sunday, September 29, 2019

The Artifact of Great Value

—Anonymous Photo

—Michael H. Brownstein, Jefferson City, MO

If we are to believe the Bible, all of us came from the dirt of the earth. Can this be why God created so many colors of mud?
                        —Deborah Wymbs


Everything present, first mud.
Everyone in place, first mud.


a dimpling of clouds/a shadow of sunshine
like the farming wife’s farming husband,
the nurse who somehow knows of him,
and their easy way of talking.


A ghost is always in the equation,
near death but not dying,
or a remembered dead, sasha,
or the hunter who went into the forest
and never came out,
zamani, the forgotten dead,
until his grandson asked,
“What ever happened to Granddaddy?”
and the grandchildren of the great snake
near the bones by the dry stream bed apologized

and venom that took a life, healed it.
            Muscle knitted to bone.
            Blood vessel attached to muscle.
            Layers of skin protected lifelines.

            A wind threw itself up.

The man gasped,
            sat up,
            felt the need to run.

He was able to fly.

When he arrived home,
he held The Artifact of Great Value.
His family lined up to receive it,
and his neighbors, friends, an enemy or two.
He had eyes only for his grandson
and he reached for him,
his hands slipping.

He could not hold weight.

But The Artifact of Great Value was real.
The boy picked it up, placed it to his ear,
heard the digging of the dead.
He went on to be a great healer of The People.


A bridge is necessary most of the time.


Here we only found blonde sand
and over there, sand gray with age and wrinkled.
Elsewhere dried beds of water offered nothing.
Near the quarry, red clay, and under the tree,
rich blackness full of worms and beetle larvae.
In the cave and near an opening, just mud.


When my son digs the pond for his garden,
earth and grass and small branches stain his skin.
The rains come with thunder and brilliance,
the pond fills with water, twig and turtle.
Frogs avoid it, but snakes come to drink,
and the King of Deer leaves its track in the torn grass.
The pond is a great success and water lettuce takes root.
Many days he watches an egg become
whole and living and dead. He remembers
many things and keeps neatly printed journals.


My wife studies wood,
            a shape to root and decadence,
            the forms of men in grain.

What color superman when his strength comes from a tree?
What hunger photosynthesis? Carbon dioxide? Radiant energy?

She sees a man go into the tree,
            find a sleeping place safe within its folds,
            and she draws him a power over rain,
            directions for sun-heat and light-fire,
            strength over the movement of root.


My daughter expresses color in algebraic equations.


And my grandson holds his hand out to be cleaned.
Inarticulate, he waves it like a wand,
an incoherence we understand to mean:
“Please, take this mud from my palm.
I only meant to see how it felt,
but now it is a part of me.”


Somewhere ash is running,
Building waters,
A great turbulence underground.


The importance of life
            is always in the remembrance of the dead,

not the hell we fall against,
            but the blazing heat of the Laplanders,
            the fierce fire that cannot go out in Vinland,

a prayer to wood and fresh kindling,
the anger needed to warm a soul,


how mud bakes itself into brick


—Medusa, with thanks to Michael Brownstein for his fine epic poem today ~

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Saturday, September 28, 2019

Like Diamonds

—Poems and Photos by James Lee Jobe, Davis, CA

Mountain woke up in the morning, alive with beings and sunshine. Tree stretched her leafy arms to the sky and blew a clear musical note into the air. Stream busily made his way down to the river, and so eventually to the ocean. Time was eaten for breakfast and the taste was like diamonds that shimmered and sparkled. That day was a delight, and they all are, if you want them to be, if only you allow them to be.


Truly hot, 105 degrees. On the oaks, not one leaf stirs. No breeze at all. Even the squirrels just sit there. An afternoon moon today, moon rise is at 2:32 PM. The sun will make the moon sweat. I do not envy the moon its job.

We leave the porch-light on at night, but I am not sure why. No one is coming. This light weakens at sunrise, as if the lamp itself is tired from its long hours of labor. And something in the air tastes of change at dawn. Whatever this is, it doesn’t require my permission. I turn the light off and put on some coffee. All the while the entire planet has been spinning, as it does throughout all the years of our lives. Think of that.

South Yuba River, several days of rain. To watch the racing water churn through the rock canyon and splash under the old Highway 49 bridge is to see power in its purity. The river is strong enough to wash out a freight train and yet it is really carrying life to the Sacramento Valley far below. My goodness, what a wonder, this world. 

I live here on the surface of the planet like any other beast. I cook the flesh and eat it, often tearing the pieces apart with my bare hands. Sometimes I even growl when I eat. I admire the owl and the hawk and the birds of prey, they live in the moment and what they kill, they eat. Time passes like the stars crossing the sky, like the layers of a vast onion, peeled away slowly, one at a time. Does the wind know my name? Of course not, don't be foolish. The wind is here to bless these things, to bless everything I have ever told you, with its blustery kiss.

Morning. City Park. Davis, California. The glows of the long and dry valley summer fill me with power. The touch of grass on skin. Warmth. I know the trees, I know the flowers. The flush of blood and sweat and energy. And from my bare feet, roots. And from my flesh, leaves. The universe offers her hand to me. And this time I am finally ready to take it. 


Today’s LittleNip:

That I might awaken to the blessing of knowing my own true nature, and be able to use this knowledge to help others and to help the planet. This I pray.

—James Lee Jobe


Our thanks and good morning to James Lee Jobe for some thoughts about autumn! Today is a busy day for poetry events in our area, beginning at 9:30am at Sac. Poetry Center with Frederick Foote and guests (plus open mic) featured at Writers on the Air. In the afternoon at 2pm, Straight Out Scribes and Gary Gos host Creative Minds #4 at GOS Art Gallery on Del Paso Blvd. in Sacramento. Also at 2pm, Poetic License poetry read-around meets at the Placerville Sr. Center on Spring St.

Then later today, at 5pm, head down to Sac. Poetry Center for the premiere of Episode 2 of
Drop in with Frank, a film about the life and times of Sacramento poet Frank Andrick. Check out for details and the schedule, which also includes showings of Episode 1. 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… “and from my bare feet, roots”…

 —Photo by James Lee Jobe

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Friday, September 27, 2019


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


Let there be light—and there was
light—just like that, right after
Lord spoke those words. And before?
Logic tells me the mind thinks
loads before it creates. It's
like energizing love thoughts—
Love demanding human change.


Sunset now, and the lamppost
seems to take a bow. Tonight
silence sets in with sunset.
Simultaneous wonder—
such stunning electric light
show, as marina dock lamps
shine across rippled water.

(Yablochkov Candle, 1878, Paris)

Yes, that was the name used in
Yellow, electric street lamps
yielded light brighter than those
yule logs at Christmastime. And
you could walk home safely—walk
your dog under those arc lamps.



Let's not speak of yule logs this
late in summer. Let us not
leap into fall so quickly.
Leave off making Christmas gift
lists, and walk down memory
lane under avenue lamps—
lampposts adorned with flowers.


Lincoln read law books in his
little cabin—not by gas
lamp, but at night by candle
light. His dedication to
learning was so strong that he
leaned on opportunity
leveraged into greatness.

Today’s LittleNip:

—Carol Louise Moon

Lenard, "Lamppost" friends called him;
laid-back and lanky. Mary
loved Lenny but refused him,
lamenting his lack of drive.
List of complaints included
loss of truck—sighed, "He'll be the
light in someone else's eyes."


Our thanks to Carol Louise Moon today for her Lantern Series, including her illuminating lamplight photos and her poems in the Pleiades form.

Today from 1-2:30pm, there will be a Poetry Appreciation Class about Walt Whitman at the Hart Sr. Center in downtown Sacramento on 27th and J Sts. Class will be presented by Marie Taylor; fee is $5. Call 916-808-5462 to register.

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. Let there be light! ~ and plenty of it ~

Yablochov's Candle
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Thursday, September 26, 2019

Considering Ghosts

—Poems and Photos by Taylor Graham, Placerville, CA


Circling shadows and a spiral-down
of wings over two-lane
to roadkill skunk fresh this very
morning. The buzzards come,
swooping; cluster; then
lift off again—
a biker speeds through,
accidental intruder
maybe catching a whiff as he
rushes by. And now
they begin again to settle—
how many? I lose my count of birds,
buzzard-blessing at our pasture fence. 


It took this morning’s rain—just a drizzle—for me to notice how the creek leaves town. Main Street dwindles, swerves its straight-away in a curve banked by guardrail. Creek’s invisible on the other side, engulfed in willow thicket dusty-dull all summer—this morning, bright-washed green.

September drizzle
sets autumn-dreaming—how rain
changes everything 

  a dechnad cummaisc

Bats wing-wispering in the eaves,
then streaming out as the sun drops,
treetops mutter

rumor the bright of Harvest Moon
as bats zigzag
their nightly hunts in day’s last light
their flight ~ dark flag. 


When will we again see a Harvest Moon
perfectly full on Friday the 13th?
an unspilled globe of light balancing-
the dark supposed by superstition.

Strange practices of mortal mind
in the presence of mysteries of the heavens,

our physical world—
our awkward attempts at pinning
cycles of seasons to recorded calendar,

this flip-chart
of weeks and months on my desk.
So many days of September
already crossed out

and out the window, this wonderland
of fairylight illuminating
our summer fields already stubble

waiting for first rain. 


TV news: the Paiute cutthroat trout—
almost extinct before it was discovered,
mystical rainbow-shimmer fish

about to be saved for posterity.
The rest of the news is gun-
control or not, impeachment or not.

I walk outside after rain, point
my iPad at Homer’s rosy-fingered dawn
and, in the other direction,

a departing no-longer-full
Harvest Moon, silver-shimmer
in clear blue. 


But the Hunter replaces the Harvest.
A first rain settled dust and now there’s
a haze like smoke over the pasture
in September’s waning lunar light, presage
of winter in waiting. A half-moon night
for sleepwalker shadows, migration
of birds high overhead passing, gone.
Open the pane, elbows on window-
sill. Feel autumn in the bone.
Consider your ghosts. 

Today’s LittleNip:

—Taylor Graham

Is this the first rain
or possibly the year’s last?
Counting from July
to June, or October to
September? Hydro-
logic year or rain year? Ask
the hydrologists.
Ask Google. It seems to be
a hydro quizzy-quibble.


Taylor Graham sends us poems (and pix!) today of first rain and the Harvest moon and of the ghosts of autumn that are inching toward us, and we thank her for that! For more about the Welsh form, the dechnad cummaisc, see As for “hydro quizzy-quibbles”, well, you’re on your own, there…

—Medusa, considering my ghosts ~

 … Feel autumn in the bone …
—Anonymous Photo

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Wednesday, September 25, 2019

Songs of Autumn

—Anonymous Photos of Fall

—Dante Gabriel Rossetti

Know'st thou not at the fall of the leaf
How the heart feels a languid grief
Laid on it for a covering,
And how sleep seems a goodly thing
In Autumn at the fall of the leaf?

And how the swift beat of the brain
Falters because it is in vain,
In Autumn at the fall of the leaf
Knowest thou not? and how the chief
Of joys seems—not to suffer pain?

Know'st thou not at the fall of the leaf
How the soul feels like a dried sheaf
Bound up at length for harvesting,
And how death seems a comely thing
In Autumn at the fall of the leaf? 

—John Keats

Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness,
   Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun;
Conspiring with him how to load and bless
   With fruit the vines that round the thatch-eves run;
To bend with apples the moss'd cottage-trees,
   And fill all fruit with ripeness to the core;
      To swell the gourd, and plump the hazel shells
   With a sweet kernel; to set budding more,
And still more, later flowers for the bees,
Until they think warm days will never cease,
      For summer has o'er-brimm'd their clammy cells.

Who hath not seen thee oft amid thy store?
   Sometimes whoever seeks abroad may find
Thee sitting careless on a granary floor,
   Thy hair soft-lifted by the winnowing wind;
Or on a half-reap'd furrow sound asleep,
   Drows'd with the fume of poppies, while thy hook
      Spares the next swath and all its twined flowers:
And sometimes like a gleaner thou dost keep
   Steady thy laden head across a brook;
   Or by a cyder-press, with patient look,
      Thou watchest the last oozings hours by hours.

Where are the songs of spring? Ay, Where are they?
   Think not of them, thou hast thy music too,—
While barred clouds bloom the soft-dying day,
   And touch the stubble-plains with rosy hue;
Then in a wailful choir the small gnats mourn
   Among the river sallows, borne aloft
      Or sinking as the light wind lives or dies;
And full-grown lambs loud bleat from hilly bourn;
   Hedge-crickets sing; and now with treble soft
   The red-breast whistles from a garden-croft;
      And gathering swallows twitter in the skies.

—James Whitcomb Riley
When the frost is on the punkin and the fodder’s in the shock,
And you hear the kyouck and gobble of the struttin’ turkey-cock,
And the clackin’ of the guineys, and the cluckin’ of the hens,
And the rooster’s hallylooyer as he tiptoes on the fence;
O, it’s then’s the times a feller is a-feelin’ at his best,
With the risin’ sun to greet him from a night of peaceful rest,
As he leaves the house, bareheaded, and goes out to feed the stock,
When the frost is on the punkin and the fodder’s in the shock.

They’s something kindo’ harty-like about the atmusfere
When the heat of summer’s over and the coolin’ fall is here—
Of course we miss the flowers, and the blossums on the trees,
And the mumble of the hummin’-birds and buzzin’ of the bees;
But the air’s so appetizin’; and the landscape through the haze
Of a crisp and sunny morning of the airly autumn days
Is a pictur’ that no painter has the colorin’ to mock—
When the frost is on the punkin and the fodder’s in the shock.

The husky, rusty russel of the tossels of the corn,
And the raspin’ of the tangled leaves, as golden as the morn;
The stubble in the furries—kindo’ lonesome-like, but still
A-preachin’ sermuns to us of the barns they growed to fill;
The strawstack in the medder, and the reaper in the shed;
The hosses in theyr stalls below—the clover over-head!—
O, it sets my hart a-clickin’ like the tickin’ of a clock,
When the frost is on the punkin and the fodder’s in the shock!

Then your apples all is gethered, and the ones a feller keeps
Is poured around the celler-floor in red and yeller heaps;
And your cider-makin’ ’s over, and your wimmern-folks is through
With their mince and apple-butter, and theyr souse and saussage, too! ...
I don’t know how to tell it—but ef sich a thing could be
As the Angels wantin’ boardin’, and they’d call around on me—
I’d want to ’commodate ’em—all the whole-indurin’ flock—
When the frost is on the punkin and the fodder’s in the shock!

Today’s LittleNip:

Summer ends, and Autumn comes, and he who would have it otherwise would have high tide always and a full moon every night.

—Hal Borland


—Medusa, celebrating the turns of phrase of the classics


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Tuesday, September 24, 2019

Dreaming & Tall Tales

The Lost Umbrella
—Poems and Original Artwork by Joyce Odam, Sacramento, CA


It was only a glimpse, a high window,
a low light on
and her shadow passing back and forth.
It was only a passer-by
hunching in the rain without a destination,
It was only a hallway outside a room
in which the occupant was never known
by any but the one with the key.
The shadow of the woman
stopped her pacing
and looked out at the rain.
Cars drove back and forth
catching the rain in their headlights
and splashing it with their wheels.
The hallway had no drama to reveal.
Shadows played on the carpet from
the window light at the edge of the hall.
Under the hallway doors lights were on or off.
Same thing with the transoms. Nothing much
going on around there, only dreaming and tall tales.



the soft rain
the pulling clock
darkness surrounding

the sleepless window
of the house which
shines for itself
under a patient streetlight

oh, night…
oh, rain…

such perfect companions
and those who are awake
get the first experience

the soft rain
patters and streams
through a low tone of wind
near and far away
one or the other

the clock turns its radio on
and breaks in
with music…
with time…
with its reality…

altering everything
pulling everything away

(first pub. in Chrysanthemum Magazine, 2000)

 The Rain in Spain


the wet birds in the rain
along the dripping fences
on limbs of saturated trees
on signposts and on wires

and some in flight
                           from there
                     to there
         with purpose
as any sudden change of mind

the day is dark with them
black bodied silhouettes
that make
a mark upon the slate of time

                           their spark
         on winter’s list
an eye    of dry
upon them    in this rain
(first pub. in Poetry Now, 1999)



Two drops of rain make use of stillness
to explain how things can change—
be taken from themselves :

the way the water holds
the rippled light—the drowning trees
the quiet pond becomes—

an agitation where the startled moon
must watch its roundness quiver—
lose the vanity of its perfection.

(first pub. in Ekphrasis, 2004)

 Umbrella Dance


In a halo of rain
the man under his umbrella
trusts his umbrella to save him
from the drowning he is beginning to feel.



What a lonely rain. What a strange night for a lonely rain
to fall. What a sad shame that the lonely night has to end
under such a lonely rain.

What a cold sight to see two leaning people under a strug-
gling umbrella—leaning into and away from the cold sad
rain—pressing hurriedly together as they cross the rain-
dimensioned street and disappear into a flattened doorway
where the white moon casts an image that reflects and then
shreds back against the night.

What a slow-moving night: the rainy window, the cold
room, the remnants of beauty still on their faces as they lie
together—almost in love—listening to the rain.

 Walking in the Rain


It was the way into darkness,
a trickery of rain, a collage of shadows;

a form, then another, merging into glass light;
a sound like a laugh; then no one there.

You left your umbrella hanging on a knob.
I dropped a quarter under a chair.

We left the others, knowing the night
would hold them a little longer,

laughing, they waved goodbye
and blurred together.

(first pub. in Poetry Now, 2001)

 There Are Blues in the Rain


This is not the hour of pretense.
This is the day after rain.
This is the hour of old light.
Old notions blunder forth
and cause old pain.
Nothing will suffice.
This is the day after rain.
An old man sobs and
an old woman stares into life
with a stony face . . .
she peels a potato
and another one . . .
looks through window glass
with her stony look
and pours water in a pan.
This is the day after rain.
In different light,
through thinning days,
to one side of each other,
they go through life
as if they were together.
But they are not.
They drift away
upon the
far beginnings of their own,
as different
as once they were the same.
(first pub. in Mockingbird, 1996)

 Rain as Promise

After “The Message of the Rain” by Norman H. Russell

Anywhere there is rain after a dry day of long
hot hours with the slow clock turning on its
upside-down numerals, as if time made
no sense at all and has forgotten
how to read or hold onto its
private reasons for
winding around
like that.

I would like to fill the town with rain, for I
like that sound, and the wetness, and the
coolness, and how it suits my thought
of it in summer, which has grown
long and tiresome, and I feel
heavy as a stone at the edge
of watering, and all the
trees are dusty and
for rain.

(first pub. in Rattlesnake Review)


Today’s LittleNip:

—Joyce Odam

Tears on many faces,
some aglow in window lights—
tears made of rain.


Joyce Odam brings us rain today (our Seed of the Week: First Rain) in her poems and her charming sketches, and we thank her for that—we’re ready for rain! To read “The Message of the Rain” by Norman H. Russell, go to For more about Russell, see

Our new Seed of the Week is Favorite Teachers. 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.

The Autumn issue of
Canary: A Literary Journal of the Environmental Crisis is now available at

—Medusa, celebrating the poetry brought by the rain


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, September 23, 2019

Hello, Autumn!

Debris in the Wind
—Paintings by Douglas Polk, Kearney, NE 

Opera star Placido Domingo is facing charges of "sexual harassment”
      There are claims he gave women “undesired” kisses and groping
      But I personally think that if I was going to commit sin of a sexual nature
      It would be with a “sexy” opera star such as Placido Domingo
      Probably better and less regrettable than doing it with a “rock star"
      Anna Netrebkos defends Domingo and probably would agree with my premonition  
      Indeed there are some men in the world who it totally would not be cool to have an affair with,
      and it’s not like Domingo is a politician or a president        
      For instance that’s why it’s totally not cool to “hump” President Donald Trump
      (Sorry Stormy Daniels, you bimbo, white trash porn star!)  
      And, worst of all, comedian Bill Cosby just raped women without consent after knocking them unconscious
      It’s also not cool to make out with a star who could infect you with HIV like, say, Charlie Sheen
     Yep, a lot of guys would hope they, too, are, at around 80 years old, as “hot” as Placido Domingo

—Michelle Kunert, Sacramento, CA


—Joseph Nolan, Stockton, CA
The human race
As just a planetary daydream
A random permutation
With capacity for survival.

Evolution from fermentation
Of pond-scum set on silt,
In heat of summer sun,
Baking into something tasty
For tiny critters
Who live in mud and play
And like their diets dirty.

How could we possibly
Ever get here from there?
Or, how could we not?

A daydream can be unimaginably powerful
When dreamed by an entire planet.
What if this dream should overheat?
What then would be left to eat,
For creatures great and small,
Who only know how
To go on dreaming?


—Joseph Nolan

How could you tell
If a shadow
Passed across
The face of the sun?

It wouldn’t stand a chance,
No more than a snowball in Hell.
There’s only so far
A shadow can go
Into light.
Shadows don’t get on too well
In the light. 

 The Outsiders

—Joseph Nolan

We, who carry shadows,
Wander into the moon,
Feed ourselves starvation
And drink up dying thirst.

Our greatest need—
To bleed, or else regret,
What hasn’t happened yet
But someday, will
Of course, someday, it will!

Amnesia would be a blessing.
Memory’s a curse.
We wish it were just a dream,
But know it’s something
Far, far worse!


—Joseph Nolan

What’s the point of pointing?
We can point things out,
Point toward where you should go,
Point into the darkness,
Point toward the light,
Toward the door,
Toward the future,
But don’t point toward one another
Or it is considered rude!
In intimate social circles,
Pointing is eschewed.

 The Eye

—Ian Copestick, Stoke on Trent, England
I once knew a man
With whom I was schooled
Bullied, beaten
Wanted to prove he was a man
I once knew a man
Indoctrinated and fooled
I think he went
To Iraq or Afghanistan
I once knew a man
His parents, they loved him
Worried, fretted
Him they wanted to shield
I once knew a man
Tricked by those above him
His guts were strewn
Across the battlefield
I once knew a man
He was dumb, he was proud
Believed in Queen and Country, all that
When it happened
It was quick, blinding and loud
I once knew a man
But he'll never come back

 The Party

—Caschwa, Sacramento, CA
flashing planes

some are ours

planets lit

muffled moans

darting rats

laughing girls

dragon flies

lost and founds

oh so dire

crickets chirp

 Stuffed Toys Come Alive


History has given ruthless imperialist,
pest control agents the glorified name
of explorers to record their exploits to
tame land that had not yet been settled.

They came to America and sought to
eradicate those Indian savages.

They came to Texas and sought to
deport those Mexican invaders.

They came to Sacramento, California
and sought to rid the downtown parking
garage of rats.

They came to the hills of Culver City,
California and sought to remove an entire
population of skunks that had long before
called those hills home before real estate
developers put in a glut of condominiums.

No doubt, we are on the path to find life
on some other planet, and we will for
sure give the whole event the spin that
it is we who are the victims of invasion.



I am the very best candidate
running for office because
I will fail
for sure
and I will fail for you

because we know there is
simply not enough public
money to properly fund every
worthwhile program

so I will take the national
budget to the track and bet it
all on one horse

consistent with what the polls
and the trends say I should do

Civil Rights
Cutest Baby Picture
Global Warming
Gun Control
Zero Tolerance

pick your horse 

 The Scream


Climate Change
That whole Russian thing
Green New Deal
Allegations vs. Kavanagh
Puerto Rican death toll from Hurricane Maria

But if you really want to see the real deal
come look at the marvelous leadership skills
of Russian President, Vladimir Putin, and
Supreme Leader of North Korea, Kim Jong-un

In fact, since you’ll believe anything I say, work
is already in progress to entirely redesign the
U S of A to more closely resemble those great
nations I do so admire

Come along, sheep



It was a bright, sunny day at the ball park
and there I was, high in the grandstands,
a beer in one hand, a fielder’s mitt in the other
waiting for a souvenir to come near

Finally, my moment had arrived! Sunglasses
on, visor down, I saw the ball leave the bat
and head in a high arc toward my area, just
a little bit ahead of my row

I got up and moved to the aisle way, stepping
down to the optimal position to make the catch
leaning over the fencing, stretching as far as
I possibly could…one last sip of beer…mitt open

I made the catch!!...but in doing so must have
also fallen over the fencing…and it didn’t feel
like a hardball in my glove, but something
square like and plastic…

Honey, you fell out of bed again, with your
alarm clock


Today’s LittleNip:




Welcome to Autumn! The equinox took place this morning at 12:50am (see (We don’t turn our clocks back, though, until Nov. 3.)

And a mighty autumn thanks to today’s contributors for their comments on the world around us.

Poetry events begin in our area tonight at 6pm with the Poetry in Motion read-around at the Placerville Sr. Center on Spring St. in Placerville. Then at 7:30pm, Sac. Poetry Center features Alexandra Mattraw and Margaret Ronda plus open mic on 25th & R Sts., Sacramento.

Saturday will be a busy day, starting at 9:30am with Writers on the Air featuring Frederick Foote and guests, plus open mic. That’s at 25th & R Sts., Sac., hosted by Todd Boyd. Then at 2pm, Creative Minds #5 spoken word gathering of artists of all kinds meets at GOS Art Gallery, 1825 Del Paso Blvd., Ste. #2, Sacramento. Free; all ages welcome. Door prizes, open mic for various art forms. Hosts: Straight Out Scribes and Gary "Gos" Simpson.

Poetic License poetry read-around also meets on Saturday at 2pm in Placerville Sr. Center, 937 Spring St., Placerville. The suggested topic for this month is "snuff" but other subjects are also welcome. Then at 4pm, back at Sac. Poetry Center, Episode 2 of
Drop in with Frank, a film & animation show about the life of poet-writer-psychonaut-runaway Frank Andrick, debuts at 25th & R Sts. 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.

Interested in workshops? Check the green box at the right for a listing of local ones which will be held this week and/or later.

—Medusa, celebrating the poetry of Fall

 Apple Season!
—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.