Monday, December 02, 2019

Oysters, Woodchucks, Eagles

Woodchuck Inspects His/Her Toenails
—Anonymous Photos

—Joseph Nolan, Stockton, CA

We sheathed ourselves
In oyster shells
And lived below the seas
And learned to hold
Onto our pearls
Whenever we might sneeze.

Rough and nubby
Hard and stubby
By briny broth,
We’re pleased;
Between our shells
We let it pass
And eat by
Sense of smell.

How could you
Ever tell
If you are doing well
When you are living
Inside a shell?

Well, well,
It’s hard to tell
If an oyster is in heat,
But when you pull one open
It’s slippery to eat.

I only need
To soothe my brains
Since life in shells
Is just insane,
So, I suck in hope,
Since down here,
I can’t smoke dope.

We dressed ourselves
In feathers and wings
And lived in trees,
In nests, we’d bring
And build from twigs
And branches;
Feathered words we’d sing
Since we were sky-bird-kings!

We lived below
The gloaming-loam
As woodchucks
In the grass;
Problem was
We broke cows’ legs
When they would overpass.

So, the farmers sought
Our hides
And sent the shooters
To hunt us down
And wipe us
Most cruelly, aside!


—Joseph Nolan

Where do pillows go
In the night,
When they wander
As you sleep?

Down behind
The head
Of the bed,
Into a crevice
So deep!

Pillows quietly fall
Upside down
Along the wall
Leaving no trace at all!

—Joseph Nolan

Crashing-down towers,
A prelude to war,
This chapter of our history
Is still being written.

The fires of wars
Are still burning,
Burning, far too long,
Like the fires underground,
Near the Hudson,
That burned on for months,
Under water,
Under the wreckage,
Melting the boots of firemen
Who tried to put them out.

Who, now, will put out these wars?
When will there be peace?
Or will America, also, crumble
Under the burden of unending wars
Into a smoldering rubble,
With subterranean fires
That can’t be extinguished,
Making our soldiers
Walk across burning coals,


—Joseph Nolan
Your measure of caring—
Your measure of pain.
If you cared not at all
It would all be the same:

Ça m’est egal!

You might be punished for caring
If you’re with someone perverse.
You try to pull the thorn out
Since indifference is worse.

The worst is not caring, at all!

At my work the boss plays on the radio Sacramento's “Classic Rock Station, The Eagle”
     The station just turned thirty and I swear it’s kept the same play list since it started—
     Its official “theme music” is Bob Seger’s “Old Time Rock and Roll"
     Anyway, I heard it play a recording from one of its DJs that was apparently old and outdated
     It said, “Here’s Runnin' Down A Dream” by Tom Petty—
     "Tom Petty is in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and is currently on tour…”
     No mention of Tom Petty’s death in 2017
     Just like there’s no mention either of Ric Ocasek’s death in Sept. 2019 when they play something from The Cars
     I’m seriously thinking at this point that The Eagle’s radio studio is probably covered in cobwebs
     because nobody must have been in there for years to switch out and update any programming
     I've fantasized about storming into The Eagle’s studio with some friends
     and breaking onto the air and declaring The Eagle has a new format—
     a variety of both old as well as new music, including hip-hop (which its some of its racist listeners won’t like!)
     I guess I'd even warn its listeners, like Laurie Anderson said in her performance movie, Home of the Brave:
     “Get ready for some difficult listening music… but it’s got to be done!”
—Michelle Kunert, Sacramento, CA


so pretty to gaze at
multi-colored swimmers
not a care in the world
easily gliding over
periwinkle and pink
aquarium gravel

they will stop and stare
as if some kind of
communication event
was taking place
then suddenly swim away
to another spot

sprinkle in some food and
they are back in a flash
of you-don’t-want-to-know
exactly what that is swirling
around them finally drifting
down to the gravel

steady vibrations from the
pump harmonize with a hum
from the light bulb, chanting
the silent, persistent calls
“Clean me” “Feed me”
“Please don’t leave”



The main course was salad
and so a search for the right
wine with which to pair it

donned my jacket, descended
to the cellar, and found what
turned out to be the last rosé

a bright off-dry variety with a
traditional Portuguese accent,
this is how you say rosé 


The ultra-radical right
takes credit for the innovations
of Orville and Wilbur Wright
whatever they write is right
and they reinforce right with
this and that rite

then whatever is left
is assigned to the left
trickle-down politics
discount glue that never sticks
painting the left as expendable hicks
suit up for war, step off with your left


(a money coup parading as a Haiku)

snail mail and email
bring me hollow compliments
from total strangers

and it never fails
that they will solicit a
handsome donation


the memories of
dear family now deceased
don’t ask for money

all they really want
is for the work they started
to continue on


if bills were reduced
by collection expenses
debtors could pay them


the market value
determines whether or not
to fell a large tree

nests and the like are
not part of the equation
sorry, green is gone


Today’s LittleNip(s):

—Joseph Nolan

Love always hurts a little,
At least, at first.

There has to be some hardness;
There has to be some thirst,

Some roughness in the claiming
That brings out your worst.

* * *

—Joseph Nolan

On his grave stone, it reads,

“Here lies so-and-so.
He was O.K.,
Most of the time.
He had some issues.

What can we say,
More than that?
It looks like everything
Has worked itself out
In the end.”


Thanks to our contributors today for showing up in the Kitchen in very early December! To answer the question, “How much wood would a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood?”, go to

Poetry readings in our area begin tonight at 7:30pm with the Sac. Poetry Center Poetry Slam on 25th & R Sts. in Sacramento. Prizes! Then tomorrow at 5pm, Poetry Off-the-Shelves meets in the El Dorado Hills library on Silva Valley Pkwy. in El Dorado Hills.

Thursday, Poetry in Davis features Len Germinara and Frank Dixon Graham, plus open mic, at 8pm at the John Natsoulas Gallery on 1st St. in Davis. And Poetry Unplugged at Luna’s Cafe and Juice Bar in Sacramento begins at 8pm that night with featured readers and open mic.

Friday from 6-8pm is the Sac. Poetry Center Holiday Fundraiser at Mimi Miller’s lovely home, 1224 40th St. in Sacramento. Food, libations, music, raffle. $40 per person/$30 for SPC members (pay at the door).

And Saturday at 8pm (come for the reception at 7pm) is a specially staged poetry show by the Ladies of the Knight at the California Stage (across the way from the Sac. Poetry Center) on 25th St. in Sacramento, including music and the poetry of those dynamic Ladies of the Knight. 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.
The Art of Awe (book series) by Natica Angilly and Richard Angilly is available at And go to for information about their annual Dancing Poetry Contest; deadline in 2020 will be April 15.

—Medusa, thinking that some days make her want to CHUCK it all, yes? 


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.