Saturday, November 30, 2019

Letting In The Fresh Air

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

California is cold tonight, and it feels like my friends are all a thousand miles away. The clouds are full, it will rain before bedtime. From the stove, the aroma of the chicken I am baking fills the room, forcing the loneliness outside. Good riddance. From the window I can watch the loneliness move down the dark street, walking with its head down and its hands in its pockets.

Yes, I am free. And with this freedom I am watching the sunbeams break through the branches, leaves, and shadows of the many trees. I am free to be one with the light, and I am free to be one with the shadow. 

Welcome to America, we have a little space
In the cage for you, squeeze in.
You came to America for freedom? Yes?
For you, freedom is a locked cage
And a cruel guard.
You came to America for justice? Yes?
For you, justice is a punchline to a weak joke
On a television sitcom.
The studio audience will laugh, but not you.
You won’t get the joke. You are the joke.
Freedom and justice are for the white people
Born here, not for you.
Now get in your fucking cage.
It’s showtime.

I am reading The Beatitudes in Matthew when a ghost rises up from my Bible. "Live your life like a cycle of the moon," it tells me. Going outside and looking at the dark sky, I see that the moon is pretty full, and the stars are spread out like soldiers before their commander. "Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy." I say that to the moon and stars, because there is no one else there. The ghost stays inside the house, hovering above the floor, rubbing his translucent hands together the way my mother always did when she was worried. 

Notice the people, half of them
Are searching for a place to hide
While the rest cry out, "Look at me."
And where are you, James?
Somewhere in between, looking up,
Watching the sun shine out
From behind that cloud.

To give thanks and praise is the thing. Be welcoming. Anyone can complain. Greet the people in your life with an embrace, and likewise, tell everyone goodbye with an embrace. Open your heart like you would open a window on a beautiful day. Let in the fresh air.


Today’s LittleNip:

That I might let go of any judgement, it is so easy to judge. That I might learn to respond with kindness and forgiveness: to people, to life, and to myself.

—James Lee Jobe


Thank you, James Lee Jobe, for this morning’s fine offering, as we pass through this weekend of Thanksgiving. 

Today at 2pm, Creative Minds spoken word gathering of artists of all kinds will meet at GOS Art Gallery , 1825 Del Paso Blvd. in Sacramento. And a reminder that Poetry on Sunday meets in Turlock tomorrow, Dec. 1, featuring Lee Herrick, Said Shlah, and Ash Young. This is an on-going series which is hosted by MoSt (Modesto-Stanislaus Poetry Center), which is very active with readings, contests, their annual Poetry Festival (this year it’s Feb. 1), and other events. See for details, including info about their Poetry Festival Contest —deadline to submit to that is Jan. 11.

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, grateful for every bit of fresh air ~


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, November 29, 2019

This Chapter

—Painting by John Bennett
—Poems by Jon Bennett, San Francisco, CA


They should bring back DDT
the city is full of vermin
roaches were hiding in the LED of my microwave
I popped out the lens
they scampered down my shins
there’s rats everywhere
and the bedbugs jump from the ceiling
when you put your bedposts in water glasses
mattresses on the street like corpses
labeled "BEDBUGS" instead of "Plague"
homeless sleep on them anyhow
then ride the bus
“what’s that on your shoulder?”
and in the SRO, the cracked mirror
and my face there
among them.



Some people break their lives
into chapters
kids work well for this, jobs,
for me it’s writing stories,

I take what I see
soup it up a little
and leave it behind.
A long time ago
I started thinking about my mom’s death.
She’s dying now for real.
What I do with it
not being able to write a chapter
big enough to contain it
is stay drunk and high,
but you can only do that for so long.
I move her to the shower
I bathe her and she’s embarrassed
and I see exactly from where I came
but she is still a mystery.
I think it is good
my imagination
will never do her justice.

 —Painting by Andrea Hasko-Marx


When the shakes came
I knew what it was
my mother had them
and died paralyzed.
I have no children, no people, really
and I live in a bad part of town.
The shakes got worse
and I decided.
The dealer had intelligent eyes.
“I seen you around,
never wanted anything before,” he said.
“I’m sick,” I said.
“You don’t like doctors?”
“Doctors can’t help.”
“So you want to feel good,” he said,
and sighed, I think because
of all the people who wanted to feel good
and ended up feeling worse.
“No,” I said. “I want to die.”
This was a new deal for the dealer.
“Take this,” he said
and gave me
four tiny, black balloons
which I’m holding now
in my shaking hands
but thankfully
they’re not shaking
too much.

 —Painting by Jon Bennett


“I realized why go
to all the trouble,” he said,
“when I can just fuck guys?”
I had him in my nice car
and was taking him to see
if he could do a thing for me.
“Men will fuck a pumpkin,” I said,
“men will fuck a hole in the mud,
a man will kill you
to have sex with your corpse.”
“Yeah,” he said, “so I was like
‘enough women!’
Now I’m fucking
9 different dudes.”
We couldn’t help each other,
I couldn’t change sides
and he couldn’t do the thing I needed.
On the ride back
he sucked on a couple
Clamato tall boys
and was quiet
while I thought of all
the mud and pumpkins
waiting for me
back home.

(previously published in In Between Hangovers, 8/23/2017)



I go to the last
truly fucked-up bar in San Francisco
the cops call the block a “containment area”
crack dealers from Antioch, Oakland, Richmond
all over the Bay Area
come to the corner where the bar is
They only come inside to use the bathroom, though,
and that costs a dollar
I walk over there through human waste
rats and cockroaches run from my shadow
people on their last legs
shit in doorways
and I go there on purpose
Sometimes I wonder
what is wrong with me?
There’s plenty of nice bars and nice people
am I drawn to the drama?
the rawness? and isn’t that
perverse, voyeuristic and somehow
an affectation?
One of the regulars
filmed himself shooting speed in the bathroom
on my friend’s phone
she doesn’t know why he did it
I told her it was because
he felt the need to confess
I have, too, always felt
the need to confess
and there’s something about
talking to people
beyond redemption
that is as honest as
last call.

 —Painting by Jon Bennett


“I had a good Saturday,” he said.
He had circles under his eyes
like always
and he never smiled
having been sober for 7 years.
“What’d you do?”
“Took my son to the beach, barbequed,
can’t sit around with an 11-year-old.”
“I haven’t been to the beach
in 1,000 years,” I said.
I had been in a bar all Saturday day
and into the night
An irregular there tried to strike a friend
so I held him in a horse hold
until he bolted for the door
then, if I recall correctly,
someone tried to make time
with my blonde
and I told him, “go,”
and he, too, went.
“Having a son must be
a good incentive
to stay sober,” I said.
“Yes,” he agreed.
But what of the nights?
What of the thousands
of long, long, nights?


Today’s LittleNip:

—Kevin Jones, Elk Grove, CA

             "Too late, Boone, you killed him."
                       —Frank Burns in MASH



Thanks to Kevin Jones for his LittleNip, and welcome back to Jon Bennett, who was featured on Medusa’s Kitchen on May 1 of this year. Most recently he’s been in
Punk Noir Magazine and Ariel Chart, and he’ll be performing music at Armadillo Music in Davis on December 8th from 2 -3pm. Check it out, and tell him Medusa sent you!

Tonight at the Avid Reader on Broadway in Sacramento, Speak Up: The Art of Storytelling will feature readers on the theme of “Thanks”. That’s at 7pm. 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.


Form Fiddlers’ Friday  

It’s time for more contributions from Form Fiddlers. Each Friday for awhile, there will be poems posted here from those of you using forms—either ones which were mentioned on Medusa during the previous week, or whatever else floats through the Kitchen and the perpetually stoned mind of Medusa. If these instructions are vague, it's because they're meant to be. Just fiddle around with some form and get it posted in the Kitchen. 

The Haiku form is very controversial, as you know—do the syllables translate to English? does it have to be about nature? and so on. Some American poets just prefer to write in the structure of 5-7-5, such as Carl Schwartz (Caschwa), who says he sends, “A poem in the general structure of a Haiku with liberal distortions.” Here are some of the poems he has sent:

—Caschwa, Sacramento, CA

Tripped on sandy trail
eyes more engaged with subjects
predicated fall

* * *


I had this sure-fire
way to lose lots of pounds, but
they changed to Euros

* * *


I pledge allegiance
to the flag, on the eighteenth
hole of the golf course

and to the clubhouse
with sandwiches and chicken
they know my name there

to OJ Simpson
hundred percent not guilty
I know what you mean

one round of golfing
with cofeve and justice
did you find my ball?

* * *


Haiku modified
for artificial intelligence
looks wrong, is wrong, bad

the old masters cry
nine syllables is far too many
cut it short or else!

this formula wins
the top prize to stigmatize the eyes
yeah, that’s way too long…

now some nature, please
the whole point of this poetic verse
is…uh…I forgot

here I sit between
two empty coffee mugs, no service
no caffeine this late

cross my heart and hope
to win an electric menorah
that about does it

* * *

Carl is also trying other forms; about this one he writes, “Here is my two cents for a Golden Shovel. At this point, I will leave well enough alone and refrain from breaking mirrors,” a reference to the Mirrored Refrain form mentioned by Taylor Graham a couple of Thursdays ago:


Fermenting brew in the heat of still summer
my reluctant toast consenting to brown
I amassed a heap of somewhat polite
and visited the old town of lost halls

found unending sagas of lechery or love
well cleaned and groomed for new affairs
kissing the big window were marbles and dolls
high price tag for pairs to leap and die

* * *

Another form that came in this week was the Triversen (triple verse sentence of variable accents—each stanza is one complete sentence, broken into three phrases: three lines of three phrases equals one stanza), sent to us by Joyce Odam:

—Joyce Odam, Sacramento, CA

All night, the unseen mockingbird
       shared its lyric singing,
               making sleep impossible.

All night, the slow red moon
       rose through the smoky sky
               and became a white moon.

Now morning bristles
       with raucous bursts of song
              from the numerous crows.

* * *

For more about the Triversen, see

For more discussion about the Americanization of the Haiku, go to:





—Medusa, who still retains her lovely, poetic form, even though her hair is a bit unruly~ 

 Medusa painting found in Mediterranean ruins

Photos in this column can be enlarged by
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Thursday, November 28, 2019

What Shall We Begin Today?

—Poems and Photos by Taylor Graham, Placerville, CA


Scrub Jay balances on deck support, bright & gay
as blooming bougainvillea, though the calendar
says November. Jay screams on-stage raucous
to rescue a play otherwise jinxed or, on a parallel
plane, begging peanuts, kettle-corn, potato chips.


Smoke from our chimney spreads away
like an underlayer of cloud
this November dawn gray on gray,
muffling soft whatever was loud.
Oh what shall we begin today?

    an inverted terza rima

It’s morning by a single solar lamp
I recharged yesterday, a be-prepared
against another outage, volt and amp.

I like the dark, its secret closeness shared,
and natural daylight when sun limns the hill—
the pale rind of a fruit that’s freshly pared

for morning. Trees are going leafless, still
and waiting. Anything can be, today.
A woodstove fire to warm the indoor chill.

I’ll walk outside to greet a cloudy day,
its filtered glow through clean unscented air.
No smoke, no wind, just subtle dawning gray.

A day for savoring each glint of bright
and each illumination like a prayer;
a day for opening the eyes to light. 

         a paradigm

Why does fire love wind?
Red-gold wings lift off and fly.

What good is cold ash?
He scattered his wife’s remains
and they blossomed daffodils.

We watched dead faces
on the news, burned-out families
home-hopeless—and now
look, they’re coming back, they call
that place home again,
Paradise out of ashes.

Our mountain ridges
ravaged by fire, a moonscape.
A year later, we
walked among skeleton pines—
new green bursting underfoot.

She fell to her knees,
beat the charred ground with her fists,
saw nothing but loss.
Tears like so many seeds,
she was rooted to the place.

Fireweed blazes in
the meadow, and soon lupine
blue as smokeless sky.

      for Brigit

Did I tell you about the Tunnel St turkeys? They saunter down Spring now, as far as Hwy 50—maybe even visit your old Cottage neighborhood. They have the right-of-way, travel lane or centerline. 2 wild tom turkeys (dad & son, I hear) in the midst of rush hour traffic. School bus halted at 4-way stop, turkeys stonewalling intersection; no one honking—this is Placerville. But now it seems the turkeys are under arrest. A friend took photos: police on turkey-roundup with a trash barrel. Turkeys being deported? or Thanksgiving dinner for the homeless rousted off Quartz Hill? They’ll be missed.

traffic stopped 4-ways—
wild turkeys strolling crosswalk,
law-abiding birds


Sun inhabits cottonwood leaves
briefly yellow before they fall;
lights a roadside cross that grieves
its passings, which the earth receives
with promises of springtime’s call.

       an Imayo for Hatch

Blindness may smudge your poems but the lyrics stay
beyond mischief of writing, typos, blurred vision.
We gather to share our words, from memory you sing
a tune pulsing words to heart—and we remember.


Today’s LittleNip:

—Caschwa, Sacramento, CA

for those tiny bits of food

that we are lucky
to have
at all

which get stuck between our teeth

that we are lucky
to have
at all

and are hidden from our sight

that we are lucky
to have
at all


Taylor Graham sends us a lovely spread for Thanksgiving Day, and we are so grateful for her poetry and photos of wild turkeys and displays on Main Street in Placerville. Today she’s talking about smoke, our recent Seed of the Week, and she sends us several forms, too (can you spot the quintillas?). About the turkeys, every now and then somebody decides that wild turkeys in this area are “too many”, so county officials come in and swoop some of them up and “deport” them to someplace else. (The parallels with national government are endless here…) And thanks also to Caschwa for his insightful and appropriate LittleNip!

For more about the Japanese poetry form, the Imayo, see (Note, while you’re on
Writer’s Digest, that Robert Brewer has “Poetry Form Friday”, plus a year full of “Wednesday Poetry Prompts” and other good stuff at And here’s an article about writing Haibun:

—Medusa, wishing you a wonderful, thoughtful Thanksgiving Day!


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, November 27, 2019

Trusting the River

—Poems by Ann Wehrman, Sacramento, CA
—Photos by Chris Feldman, Pennsylvania


soft as a lambswool boa
fuchsia clouds stream across blue sky
that darkens each moment
vision soars upward
within deep azure expanse
too early for stars
looking down, black trees
pine or deciduous
hide their identities
as night expands



nature takes a collective breath
light fades, edges blur
temperature drops, night falls

on the porch step, aged companions
warm in rough jackets, shoulders touch
backs of their hands maps of wrinkles
sharp bones lead to fingers
blue veins, brown spots

deep, dark blue night sky
crescent moon, winking stars
chill, electric

time passes in a parallel space
the two walk among the stars
golden sun ascends horizon
their hands brush brows
smooth, strengthen
hearts of the living



cheap wooden chest of drawers,
holding Dad’s worn socks, T-shirts, briefs
rolled-up belts, tissue-thin PJs
yellowed with age and cigarettes
like his skin in the final years
when his kidneys failed

none of it new; he’d stopped buying new clothes
“laid off” at age 59, retirement pay lost
struggled for years more
old boxer reluctant to leave the ring

at the end, he’d been flown out to California, to Mom’s
from the Illinois VA hospital where they’d taken him
after finding him passed out on the floor of his solitary rented room

maybe he came to her knowing it was time
a few weeks later, he died in the night
on a twin bed in her pocket granny cottage

when I called from LA, he wouldn’t talk to me
maybe reluctant to let me hear the sickness in his voice
maybe just too hard to say goodbye

they came and picked up the body the next morning
he’d donated it to science
a tree was planted in his name back in the Midwest
where he raised my siblings and me
his extended family, first wife and children, still there

I stand here in Mom’s bedroom
dark pit of her loss
fear, loneliness, pain, betrayal
decades of partnership that divorce could not break
my words will not heal her
she lets me rummage in Dad’s chest of drawers

in the top drawer, a cigar box
inside a heavy ring packed tightly with hundreds of keys
ancient, all sizes, some rusted
where are the locks they fit—
what are the stories behind them?

 Merry Metal


chattering, pushing each other, racing
teenage girls at the mall
shopping for Christmas--families, beaus,
for themselves

falling over each other, scanning their phones,
put-downs, confidences, checking each other out

exiting Macy’s, one stumbles
trips over a bag of rags by the door
the bag exclaims offended obscenities
girl, frightened, drops her pink iPhone, spills her coffee

man shakes off his ragbag
hands her the iPhone
brushes her spilled coffee from his greasy sleeve
grimaces ruefully, Don’ worry, here!

she grasps the phone, digs in her purse
drops a ten-dollar bill onto his bag
turns, runs to her friends and car 

 Fortunate Fall


people gather on the hill
small groups, families and friends
on blankets, lawn chairs

some walk from group to group
in late afternoon sun
warm like honey
unseasonable for November

a few strum guitars
play hand drums, singing bowl
chicken gives way to bean salad
cornbread to traditional turkey
yes, the dogs get their share

cooling sky turns pastel, darkens
sun drops below the hill
stars wink into focus, toenail moon

leftovers packed, blankets rolled
hand-in-hand, people wind down the hill
return to their round earthen homes

peaceful vision or wistful dream?
may it be so; may we survive

 Cedarbrook Buddha


come home by bus
feel the blocks roll past
familiar speed bumps, potholes
watch houses pass
warm afternoon sun through trees
my stop: grasp mat, purse, backpack
Thank you, sir!

use rail on the door
careful feet find the curb
wind down the block to my apartment
inside, soak washcloth in hot water, clean my feet
munch buttered toast
don my old robe, turn on soft music
try to work online but eyelids sink, mind empty

shut it down, all but the music can wait
nestle in bed, deeply relax
emotions still, trust the river
let sleep heal 


Today’s LittleNip:

—Ann Wehrman

sits on your face
licks your ears
impudent stranger
guest or vagabond
you found him, let him in
now he comes every morning
knows you love it


Thank you, Ann Wehrman and Chris Feldman, for a lovely presentation of poems and photos on this pre-Thanksgiving Wednesday. Ann says her ”Ring of Keys" began as a response to a recent Seed of the Week, “In the Drawers of Old Desks”, but the poem deviated quickly… Yes, they do have minds of their own!

Tonight in Grass Valley, 4th Wednesdays Words w/Friends: Poetry & Pizza features Kathryn Smith, Gene Berson plus open mic at Wild Eye Pub, 535 Mill St., Grass Valley, 6-8:30pm. Hosts: Nevada County Poet Laureate Chris Olander, Wild Eye Pub, Nevada County Arts Council. 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.

Calif. Poets in the Schools is working to raise $60,000 by Dec. 31 for their work in bringing poetry  to over 300 schools, hospitals and juvenile jails in 2020. For details, and to make a donation, see

—Medusa, celebrating poetry!


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in the top right corner to come back to Medusa.


Tuesday, November 26, 2019

Where There's Smoke

Smoke Before Fire
—Poems and Original Artwork by Joyce Odam, Sacramento, CA



So I am sitting here
on this chilly Friday
burning incense from Chinatown,
trying not to turn the heater on.

It will be hot today.
But this morning
I am surviving in sweaters
and cups and cups of coffee.
A draft from the door
pulls the
musk-scent away . . .
twin lines of smoke,
lifting and breaking as I watch,
twine curving patterns in the air.

The gray ash tower
(though I have not breathed upon it)
falls from its tiny coal.
Not enough to warm its own life.
(Or mine, I smile.)

(first pub. in Calif. Quarterly Magazine, 2000)

 Rain Against Flame


another sad singer
                            steps up to another microphone
and stands there amid the music
                            and sings his song
and sings his song
                            and sings his song
to the microphone
                            and the smoky spotlight
turning on for him
                            he stands there
in the lonely light
                            his face so tense and haunting
and the music knows
                            all that he sings
and harmonizes back to him
                            the musicians all but hidden
in the background of it all
                            he musicians hidden
while the lonely singer stands in the smoky light
                            and sings his song

(first pub. in Nanny Fanny)



After Francis Bacon, Man in Blue

When he sings, he sings blue,
sings to the black piano,

sings to the hushed audience
of his memory.

Soft smoky light swirls through him
and away—

diffuses into
the surrounding darkness.

Beyond the aura of his tragic face,
the stale dark listens—

leaning forward with admiration.
He braces for the applause.

(first pub. in Red Owl, 2006)


The fake owl sits on the service station overhang above
the gas pumps on the corner of Franklin and Florin,
watching for the audacity of city birds that would dare
his imposing presence. He never ruffles a painted feather
or closes his fierce eyes from the tireless position.


Underneath the bird-chattering tree, a large Calico cat
leisurely inspects his paw—seems unperturbed at the
ruckus above him—looks anywhere but toward the sound—
stations himself against the old leaning fence and seems
to be merely enjoying the morning sunshine.


Perched on the long telephone wire going to the house,
one tiny red-crested bird lets go a burst of song so beau-
tiful it seems too much for its size.  It waits a listening
moment—then sings again before flitting to another wire—
all but invisible against the sunset sky stretched out in long
smoky strands of red behind him.

 Peak of Recognition

(The Old Gods...)

It is as quiet as the shimmer of gold.
And timeless. The moment holds :

A deer and a crow
looking at each other in a knowing.

There is no menace.
Why fear?

The old trees flex their shadows against
the golden patch of sunlight.

There is no evil.
Why fear?

 Clean Air Through Bright Windows


It was too much light; I could see everything;
the room swarmed with it, though my eyes

remained closed. My eyelids were too thin.
The light burned through to my trance—this

was not real. I was without power to move
or cry out. I was without power. The light

came down and touched me—traced me
for its knowing of me, as if I were a memory.

Then the dark came back. How much time
had passed? Why was the room so cold? 

It was love, I said, though I felt empty.
The room was shuddering, then went still—

still and heavy. The light fell over me like
a great exhaustion, which I could not explain.

 Hurry Toward Rumor


take this incident of love—this love
that is so perfect—that you believe in,

take this round thought—let it blur,
gaze into the first desolation,

O, take this love—this hesitation—
this round thought, this blurry passion,

—alas! you take this blinding shape—
repeating to a blur—becoming fire.


Today’s LittleNip:

—Joyce Odam

here comes death now
on its little gray wing

I can hear it down the hall
I have lit a
low candle for it…

oh moth… oh moth…

(first pub. in
The Hearkeners, 1973)


Many thanks to Joyce Odam for her smoky poems today, fiddling with our Seed of the Week: Smoke. For more about Francis Bacon and his
Man in Blue series, go to

Our new Seed of the Week is When All Else Fails. 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.

—Medusa, who, when all else fails, eats cake ~

Photos in this column can be enlarged by
clicking on them once, then clicking on the x
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Monday, November 25, 2019

Where Oh Where Is Buffy St. Marie?

—Anonymous Photos

—Joseph Nolan, Stockton, CA

Oh! Medusa!
My darling, Medusa!
My sizzlin'-hot babe
From Tuscaloosa!
I love you more now
Than I ever-ever used-ta!

I love to see
Your snakes a-shakin'
When we're bouncin' on the springs
It really gets me goin'.
It really shakes my thing!

Oh! Medusa!
My darling, Medusa!
How come you don't love me
Like ya used-ta?

I'm sitting here
Learning this flute
To charm your snake-hair
High up in the air.

When it's way up high
You're gonna be so cute!
If I don't get bit
I may still die!
I hope they don't mind
If I kiss your ___?!?

Oh! Medusa!
My darling, Medusa!
How come you don't love me
Like ya used-ta?


—Joseph Nolan

Wouldn't it be nice
If the skies were always
So clearly blue
As they were
In Sutter Creek, yesterday,
Framing you in the brilliance
Of that gentle, blue light?

I remember one tree
Had white leaves
In the Spring,
And cast against
The bright, blue sky,
I knew there was hope!
Hope for there to be Heaven
Up there, somewhere,
Where flowers fill the sky.

—Joseph Nolan

I paid the six-dollar toll
With a bag of nickels
And made the toll-taker smile.

“It’s been a while, she said.
It’s been a while!
I’ll let you through
Without counting,
Because I’m crazy,
Just like you!”

“Jobs like this
Are what we have to do
Just to stay alive
And feed our kids.
But sittin’ on this cash-lane
Has just about drove me insane!”


—Joseph Nolan

In my magic golf-cart
I roll around the greens.
I don’t have any windows;
I can smell the scenes,
Since I am
Among them.

I drift past all perdition
Of sand-traps;
I’m pristine!

As I look through
My simulex windows,
In search of strange, obscene.

Like girls
Who have sex
In the bushes
With ball-scrubbers,
All washed clean!
It’s a clabber-blastic daydream
Out here
On the greens!

—Joseph Nolan

“Let’s cross our own private Rubicon
And set the Senate on fire!
We won’t let them get us this time.

It’s just a matter of the meter of murder
Beat out to a Roman rhyme:
“Et tu, Brute?”
The unkindest cut of all!
Up into my under-groin
To let my testicles fall
Onto the Senate floor.

‘Oh! Brute!
You’ve started a civil war!’”

I told a Star Wars fan at work
     it bothers me that, just like Star Trek, there appear to be “Christians” in science fiction
     With the exception of C.S Lewis’s tales, including his The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe
     Where Lewis’s Lion, “Aslan”, rules over Narnia and made absolutely corrupt laws in favor of himself—
     Aslan would have become like George Orwell’s pig, Napoleon, in Animal Farm
     I mean the Lion would have also declared himself “more equal than all the other animals” of his land
     And the true Messiah of Narnia would perhaps be some despicable creature to Aslan, like an ass
     The Lion, Aslan, would accuse this ass, as well as his followers, of being in line with the Witch
     Even though the ass would say “My Kingdom is not of this world, but the next...”
     For this, Aslan would demand that the ass must die
     However, it would be the ass who would be the real “savior" that would bear forgiveness of sin

—Michelle Kunert, Sacramento, CA

I finally got around to looking at the Sesame Street 50th-anniversary reunion on the DVR
     They had returned surviving members of the original cast such as Bob, Louis, and Maria
     But I wondered where was Buffy St Marie,
     the outspoken Native American activist and musician who was on the show in the ’70’s?
     I have to wonder whatever happened to her
     and if she’s still writing new songs—
     is this 78-year-old woman “banned” from Sesame Street for being too “controversial”?
     I had to look on YouTube to find a few examples of Buffy St. Marie singing on Sesame Street
     Her country songs drawing on nature appealed to adults as well as children, such as “The Moon”  
     along with “Gonna Be A Country Girl Again “ and “Listen to the Wind Blow”
     Also “I am an Indian Wherever I Go” where she was shown singing near a beach in Hawaii
     and “Cripple Creek” which she sang along with a Native American mouth-bow
     Buffy even brought her infant son, Cody, on the show
     and apparently was the only mother they showed breastfeeding
     I wish she had come out of retirement to host the reunion show, instead of some guy named Joseph-Gorden Levitt 
     Seeing Buffy singing on that kid’s show was one of the fondest T.V. memories I remember as a little girl

—Michelle Kunert

—Caschwa, Sacramento, CA

We had private discussions
inside of our house that we
later heard repeated by our
next door neighbor

who apparently had enough
money and/or connections
to be at the helm of some high
tech surveillance equipment

sadly, we ourselves did not
have the means or connections
to engage the right gear and
brains to de-bug our house

and of course no publicly funded
agency would send over trained
people and devices without some
concrete proof there was a crime

we sold that place and after the
bittersweet experience of a few
rental apartments, we got another
house, among good neighbors 


Filthy Rich And Never Knighted
don’t ask me to prove the wrongs I’ve righted
I steer clear of areas blighted
lost count of places where I’m not invited

fond of generous foreigners
rich and powerful dictators
ships that fly their Jolly Rogers
shh! don’t mention those draft dodgers

rose from worthless bottom feeder
to become our nation’s leader
of daily briefs, I’m not a reader
I’m now the top rule of law impeder

I am FRANK the ever, all knowing
whipping the backs of men who are hoeing
adding more burdens on women who are sewing
taking the country where it was not going 


(We the People
to insure domestic tranquility
to promote the general Welfare)

pairing a maximum efficiency gun
with any person can get one
creates a scenario in which
mass killings occur without a hitch

in the blink of an eye
many innocents die
while blame lives on and on
like feeding pigeons on the lawn

owning bombs is forbidden
its true meaning remains hidden
as legal guns with similar potential
wreak massive terror consequential



Ukrane capitulates to Russia and is
ready to recapitulate to anyone else
while the US plays a deadly shell
game with promised military aid

the Kurds bled and died to help us
but those actions didn’t come close
to matching the ear splitting scream
of money from Russian oligarchs

and our POTUS is preparing to host
a Gonad-7 meeting at his failing golf
resort, inviting leaders with large gonads
to luxuriate on our taxpayers’ dim


The Constitution and its
Bill of Rights
came from the pens of
white, adult males

Notwithstanding more
recent amendments
(freeing the slaves
and giving them the
right to vote)
a strong contingent of
white, adult males today
is still dead set on using
deadly force to put down
a dreaded slave revolt

The wrongful killing
by a police force
of one black man
holding a cell phone
resulted in a civil court
settlement payable
to his kids
(and their lawyers)

Although no amount of
printed currency
can ever compensate
for the value of any
human life,
we amuse ourselves
thinking at least
it will be a deterrent
to longstanding hate 


I senryu to
grandstand seats very haiku
football season, rah!

too cold for shorts, so
bring me a tall, black, coffee
take smiley selfie

preoccupied with
automotive maintenance
housework disappears

all about the dog
nothing about the poet
all about the dog

the dull, rote task of
sharpening a lawnmower
blade all morning long

look it up, I did
way too much information
back to sleep, I fell

six is unlucky
so welcome to hot dogs and
seventh-inning stretch 

Today’s LittleNip:

—Joseph Nolan

There’s a wire
With a socket,
And a clip
That’s meant
To lock it
Into place,
So electricity
Flows with grace,
Exactly in the way
It’s meant to go.

But if
The clip
Is broken,
It won’t.


Thanks to today’s contributors for musings about muses and medusas and Buffy St. Marie, among other things—including Joe Nolan's poem in which he rhymes shameslessly with "Medusa". I'm warning readers, however, not to draw comparisons between today's politicians and turkeys, unfair as it is to the birds....

Poetry readings in our area begin tonight in Placerville at 6pm with the Poetry in Motion read-around at the Placerville Sr. Center on Spring Street, then continue at Sac. Poetry Center with Maya Khosla and Bob Stanley, plus open mic, 7:30pm, on 25th & R Sts. in Sacramento.

If you’re up Grass Valley-way on Wednesday night, stop in at Nevada County Poet Laureate Chris Olander’s 4th Wednesdays Words w/Friends: Poetry and Pizza at Wild Eye Pub on Mill Street in Grass Valley. This week features Kathryn Smith, Gene Berson plus open mic, 6-8:30pm.

Friday is Speak Up: The Art of Storytelling at Avid Reader on Broadway in Sacramento, 7pm. This week features readers on the theme of “Thanks”.  And Creative Minds spoken word gathering of artists takes place this Saturday, 2pm, at GOS Art Gallery on Del Paso Blvd. in Sacramento, hosted by Straight Out Scribes. 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, thankful for poets at their wonkiest ~

 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.