Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Poor Old World

Children Reaching for Petals
—Poetry and Photos by Joyce Odam, Sacramento, CA


A small, white, fluttering moth wavers
past the car and over the fence—and there
at the first weed-flower—hovers a moment,
then seems to vanish in a white shudder of air.

It re-emerges in lower leaves
of the pear tree—tangles a moment—then
lifts into a shimmering path of sunlight
that takes it in, and the white moth is gone again.

But no, it still flickers in and out
of its own quickness—tangible or not—
a white movement, teasing the mind to follow,
like words of a poem found in a fleeting thought.



It is too bad that it’s raining.
I have felt sunshine all day,
floating around in my head like a light.
                   / / /
Now little splatters of water
are hitting against the glass.
My mind is becoming gray.
                  / / /
The paper is loud under the quick pencil
but little drops of rain-words
make the poem go away.

(prev. pub. in Bay Area Poets Coalition Anthology)

 So The World Won't Cry


I saw an animal about to die, the realization made me cry
another extinct creature on the edge—held in the tender
hold of someone’s expressive arms, holding with real
love and care on the TV feature—warning us—all
about the world—about to fall around us with
the guilt we share—with the old familiar
plea ! doesn’t anyone care ! enough !
how can we let this happen !
decade after decade with
so much gone, not even
so much
       — poor old world—       
              terribly sad about us now,
                     no more room or time
                             to fix it all, till it is
                                        no longer anywhere    



mending glass
with glue

saving all the
pretty figurines


the headless bird
the vase

things I break
when I am out of love

(prev. pub. in Writers Showcase, 1971)

 In The Now


It was one of those rare nights when even love
seemed possible. Reach was allowed and magic
was sure to happen. The bird of my poem ap-
peared again, slower this time, wary of glass,
but with a message. Again, the lack of language
was between us, though his manner—his eyes—
allowed the mental question—the riddle of his
presence—his lack of urgency. Why did I feel
breathless, as if an ending was happening, even
at this promising moment? He perched on the old
limb of a branch that barely swayed. I felt the
loss happen, the solving of the one fairy tale I
failed to understand. The effort felt so far away,
and how could the bird live to be this old?



I sink back into tall green grasses.
A soft breeze bends the grasses over me.

Sky-clouds form,
and reform. Voices call my name—

my name that I do not want to hear.
I will not remember my name.

I am in my dreaming.
Awake. Floating in the sea of grasses,

I, and the motioning green shadows,
borne upon the width of forever.

I will never come out.
I am green grass and green shadow.

Even the sky makes room for me—
all energy—one wide presence

without form—
everything alive in my thinking.

A child wants to be alone with child-self. 
No voice. No calling.

(prev. pub in Medusa’s Kitchen, 2011)

 Note How Roses Never Die


It was the lift through the wings of sorrow
that drew us upward, and we allowed the
transformation, and did not know ourselves . . .

we were awe and vanity . . . a train poured
between us with its haunting . . . I would have
spoken of this, but it was gone . . .
You were indifferent. “Look at this,” you said,
and put your finger to the glass surface of the
mirror, and we broke like water.
Abruptly, I come back to the moment—or
near enough. (How long had I been gone?)
I looked around, and someone lowered a glass,

and someone was saying something just before
the laugh, and someone was turning toward me,
urgent and consoling.

After Bathers and Columns (1980) by Lester F. Johnson

three figures
scribbled together
roughly joined
at shoulder,
sketched quick
as impulse—
a cross

upon each face
instead of
exercise in
speed and

to catch
the essence
not the person
a study
in three
that seems
a variance
of one

 For All The Tears


How we tire of each other,
as in the ordinary ways—
the quick ways—
in which
quarrels begin
out of
important nothings,

It’s in the ways
amenities are lost
and habits become
more habitual—
that old excuse.

It’s the windows and the doors
and of course, the mirrors
which are all synonymous
with claustrophobic thoughts,
all stretched to exaggeration with
the various regrets the Self explores.

It’s what we know of love that can’t
explain itself, gets mixed-in with the way
the mind distorts to misery and tired refusals
of the heart, so righteous and unyielding that
take so long to heal from all the woundings.

 Something For The Blues


the quick or gentle swerve,
debris all around,
no clear path across the
grieving and remonstrance,
how it all licks together in a sob—
that cry—oh, that cry
that resonates.


So what will grief do
but cry—inwardly and long—
for whatever grief can’t forgive.


Expound. Expound on this—
as if this can
be fixed.


A mockingbird is still singing—
in the backward tree—
How can this be . . . ?


Today’s LittleNip:

and now there will be nothing to say

too easily the parting moves away from the holding
the long journey away from goodbye,
so easily the tender sorrow after sorrow
torn now into aftermath—
a long word apart,
nothing said,
just the last connection of eyes
so full of what they want from each other—
what they need,
the quick kiss on the cheek and the waving goodbye

—Joyce Odam


“Expound,” she says. “Expound on this—as if this can be fixed.” Today Joyce Odam is expounding on grief, as her long-lived mockingbird friend weaves in and out of these poems—bringing us solutions, maybe? Or just the wings of sorrow? Our SOW for last week was “Quick Fixes”, and sometimes, Joyce seems to say, there just aren’t any…

Anyway, our new Seed of the Week is a form of meditation for next Saturday—Liberty. Go wide, go deep on the subject of liberty—even get a little patriotic if you will, or personal, or hopeful. We need it! Send your poems, photos & artwork about this (or any other) subject to kathykieth@hotmail.com. 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.

Join Facebooks groups for on-going submissions info, such as www.facebook.com/groups/156020074604805/. Other current submissions possibilities include: 

ActiveMuse calls for poems for Varsha (rainy season, 2020): www.activemuse.org/submit.php. Send quicks, shorts, poems about Healing. Deadline is July 15.

The West Review (quarterly) wants year-round submissions of poetry, prose, art (www.westreview.org/submit.html). See link for info about pay! Next issue comes out in September.

•••Silver Birch Press invites submissions to its LANDMARKS Poetry and Prose Series for their blog, which begins in July. Send prose or poetry about landmarks you have visited, famous or otherwise: silverbirchpress.wordpress.com/. Previously published is acceptable, as well as non-published work. Deadline is July 31.

•••Locally, Voices of Lincoln Poetry Contest deadline is July 18; early submissions appreciated. Entry Forms and Contest Rules can be downloaded from friendsofthelincolnlibrary.org/wp-content/uploads/Voices-of-Lincoln.pdf/.

And thank you, Joyce, for wrapping up this wild and crazy month of June for us!



 —Public Domain 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.

Would you like to be a SnakePal?
All you have to do is send poetry and/or
photos and artwork to

Monday, June 29, 2020

That Daily Dread

Otters Sheltering-in-Place
—Poetry by Joseph Nolan and Caschwa (Carl Bernard Schwartz)
—Public Domain Photos Courtesy of Joseph Nolan

—Joseph Nolan, Stockton, CA
From rainbow bridges
Fly across a star-lit sky
On moonbeams.

Gnomes and elves
Are fast at work,
Building castled-dreams

For princesses,
Who drop bright, silk scarves,
Dipped in sweet perfumes,
To start the knights’ a-jousting.

The winners
Will take a knee
With no-one’s neck

—Joseph Nolan

The onset of ecstasy,
When the mouth
Drops open
And spit drools out—
That is the best moment!

Until the next—
When pleasure
Grows stronger!
Stronger and longer
Than you hoped it would;
That is a better moment
Than first,
It should
Be remembered,

Compared to the evening news
When the world
Mourns its dead
As the new report
Is read
To cap-off
Our daily dread.

—Joseph Nolan

Is it time, now?
Is it time, yet,
To make another start,
To start all over?
We’ve been so far apart—
On a social vacation.

Is it possible
You’re still there,
After all?
Do we have no inclination
To come out from our little holes,
To find the light outside
Too terribly bright
For little moles
Whose eyes grew used to shade,
Since shade and shadow
Were most our dreams were made,
While we floated along, alone.

—Joseph Nolan

The problem with stars
Is that they drift apart,
Farther and farther apart,
Into forever,
Into eternity.

All the stars
Are light-years apart!

But every star,
Ever made,
Is still
Inside our hearts,
Since hearts
Are just that large,
Our memories of stars
Are just that bright! 

—Joseph Nolan

They destroyed the world
For envied beauty
And let the prairie burn
The entire Town of Paradise,

As if we’d ever learn
The meaning of deliverance
From dreams of having earned
A simple place
Beneath the sun
To rest
As the world turned,
Restless, throughout the night,
Memories, nightmares, were,
Never to return.

Sealed off,
Shut down,
Maybe just a
Practice round
For how to kill
A village
To save it.

 Have Chisel, Will Carve

—Caschwa, Sacramento, CA 
kids out of school
families take them to
river parks and regional parks
for fun

I will
go there also
to take pretty pictures
have a nice stroll and enjoy the
fresh air

may be closer
than is comfortable
when a juvenile rattlesnake
rests near

right on the path
basking in the sunlight
not allowing any human
to pass

the snake
hissed at me once
then slithered off the path
leaving room for me to proceed

by providence
that I wish I could share
with all the children everywhere


were we
supposed to just guess how long it
would take for racial heat
to rise and boil

innumerable rap sheet of
cruel and unusual
brutal actions

children left without their loving
fathers on Father’s Day

signs say
Black Lives Matter, All Lives Matter
Wall Street says the bottom
line is all that

on investment is why slaves were
brought to America
in the first place

count it
put it where it will work for you
realize a good gain
count it again

handwritten on parchment paper
easily forgotten
keep them in a
safe place 


boo ha ha shoe ha ha
anarchist President
total incompetence
easy to see

voting results will be
thankfully different
female VP


wishy washy oh my goshy
Science negated by
miracle remedies,
amateur docs

thumbs down to quarantine
lessons of history
most arbitrarily
tossed to the rocks


golly gee willickers
Cops can’t communicate
have to kill subjects they
cannot condemn

maybe we all need to
sit down and talk about
proliferation of
us versus them


everything is different now, oddly so
calm and peaceful, had been sailing along
in the wake of a freighter, very slow
a penny in my pocket, and a song

in my heart, decided to divert to
what was supposed to be a good fishing
spot, and it sure was! caught the limit, who
gets that lucky? maybe, just the wishing

of good thoughts brings good results, but if I
hadn’t then gotten so lost until a
flagship appeared nearby which caught my eye
and unleashed a memory of the way

back to where I parked my car, in the whole
big lot it was over near the flag pole


Today’s LittleNip:


tiny children from migrant farmworkers
happy I let them call me Mister S.
sure didn’t need any further duress
their stories a book of real tearjerkers
the school was out in a strawberry field
where no one worries about having less
by manners alone, I’d grade them well-heeled


Our thanks to Joe and Carl for today’s early-morning feast!

And wow! It’s almost July!

Here in our area, Sac. Poetry Center uses Zoom for weekly readings and workshops. For more info, go to www.sacramentopoetrycenter.com/. Tonight on Zoom at 7:30pm, SPC will presents A Reading for Black Lives Matter, hosted by CharRon Smith and Frank Dixon Graham. That’s at us04web.zoom.us/j/7638733462/.  Meeting ID: 763 873 3462 ("P O E T R E E I N C”), Password: spcsdv2020. Again, for more info, go to www.sacramentopoetrycenter.com/.

Also this week, on Friday at 7:30pm, check out the video poetry reading on Facebook by Davis Poet Laureate James Lee Jobe at youtube.com/jamesleejobe or on his blog at james-lee-jobe.blogspot.com/.

For more about El Dorado County poetry events up the hill, check Western Slope El Dorado poetry on Facebook: www.facebook.com/ElDoradoCountyPoetry/.

—Medusa, trying to stay off the banana peels ~

 Is it Monday already?
—Public Domain Cartoon


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.

Would you like to be a SnakePal?
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photos and artwork to
The snakes of Medusa are always hungry!


Sunday, June 28, 2020

Will There Be Wednesdays?

—Poetry by Andrew Darlington, 
Osset, W. Yorkshire, England
—Public Domain Photos


I don’t want to see this movie,
this is the house where the stairs go all the way to the moon
where to step from bedroom to kitchen is to leap continents
where dimensional gateways open into realms beyond time,
and for Vincent Van Blacklight, there are always more doors,
a spiral of firefly nebulae hang above the lampshade
the trees in the garden have teeth, they mutter conspiracies,
Amethyst Moonflower spins dark matter out of nothingness
with all her confused paper structures lost in the ozone
while Daubaway Weirdsley plants moonseeds
in the basement which grow into a fruit
of Phobos, Titan, Oberon and Callisto,
the old gods are rising from the windowbox,
we are about to become immortal,
a gastric tube feeds Medusa Fannypack
a diet of ripped hobgoblin dreams,
last night I watched myself sleeping,
I know this is how it begins,
yet I don’t want to see this movie


it starts late evening,
I crawl from our bed
down rooming-house stairs,
intent on retrieving a condom
from the machine across
the night-drizzling park, but
there’s a wounded sparrow
cowering in the gutter,
so soaked and stranded
it hardly moves in
the cup of my hands

I bring it back to our room
where you wait, and we
place the bird in a warm box
between us on the bed,
last thing I recall is
your eyes in darkness,
and the sound of
its scrabbling claws

when morning comes
the sparrow is dead
and you’ve gone


 —Public Domain Photo


Hello Kathy,

I have a Ganesh on the shelf beside my chair. It is carved from wood. I bought it while I was browsing in a craft shop in Leeds, although it was made in India.
I also have a Buddha made from jade. It was brought to me by a friend who visited Sri Lanka a few years ago. I don't actually follow any religion. But why take the chance?
Perhaps some of their spirituality will seep over into my poems and letters and words?
I believe in people. We are confused and scared, messed-up and fearful about so many things in the world, but we learn year-on-year. We are getting there. We are all going to share a beautiful future. This is what I believe.

Here are some new poems for you. It would be wonderful to be part of the Kitchen again.

Best Wishes in Wine, Poetry & Madness



—Medusa, with many thanks to our British pal Andrew Darlington for showing up in the Kitchen today! I have posted his letter to me as a third poem, just as he sent it to me, a gem of a "found" poem~

 —Public Domain Photo 
Courtesy of Joseph Nolan
Stockton, CA

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.

Would you like to be a SnakePal?
All you have to do is send poetry and/or
photos and artwork to
The snakes of Medusa are always hungry!

Saturday, June 27, 2020

No More Secrets

—Poetry by James Lee Jobe, Davis, CA
—Public Domain Photos Courtesy of James Lee Jobe

So very late. Starlight. Moonlight. The crisp feel of the March air. So much time has now passed, so many years that age is now catching up with me. Finally, tonight, something is achieved, something long and painful is over. Father, I forgive you. Now. At last.


I am moving through a lifetime covered with flesh. I don’t believe in time or in fate, just in these random events of the moment at hand. When, at last, I shake off this flesh, the moment will be gone.

The wind has no need of secrets, neither does the current sliding down the creek. I don’t keep secrets anymore. Life is what it is. And now, this moment? A morning is here, halfway between sun and rain. Somewhere a new child is born, even as I write these words. And again, another child, as you read this.

I feel too old to let go of hope, to give up, even though the number of loved ones that I’ve lost keeps on growing. And look up there, the moon is at its finest.

For me, this valley is a place where life is in balance. The land, the watershed, the climate, the flora and the fauna; it all fits together. If anything is out of place, it’s us, the humans, but it doesn’t have to be that way. We could worship and respect the balance. We could choose to live in the valley and not just on it.

South Fork. Yuba River. A redtail hawk glides above the canyon. Slowly circling, circling. Deer shit on the trail below. A man and a boy hiking, with their lunch in their daypacks. I remember you, William, my beautiful, late son. I remember us.


Today’s LittleNip:

My choice, if I have one, is to live like rain, bringing life, covering the earth, covering everything.

—James Lee Jobe


—Medusa, thanking James Lee Jobe for his poetry and pix on this sunny summer morning ~

—Public Domain Photo

 Would you like to be a SnakePal?
All you have to do is send poetry and/or
photos and artwork to
The snakes of Medusa are always hungry!

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, June 26, 2020

Canyons Full of Ghosts

—Poetry and Photos by Taylor Graham, Placerville, CA—
plus our weekly fun ’n feisty Form Fiddlers’ Friday!

        the old 4WD Ford Ranger
bill of sale July 1998
2 decades of DMV registration, proof of insurance

letter of permission (exp 2001) for SAR K-9 training in State Parks
DOT encroachment permit (1997) for bird-nesting boxes on hwy r/w

tire pressure gauge, windshield scraper
roll of electrical tape, roll of glo-orange surveyors tape
multi-function camper’s tool
owner’s manual for Minox film camera long gone

2 decades of roads and off-road
white-knuckle jeep paths above the cow camp
now, the old truck’s broken by a smog test

we’ve signed the papers, transferred dog crate to our little car
you walk away on 2 sticks trustier than your 91-yr-old legs
pavement wavers in June heat—or is it just my eyes?


I saw the hawk droning that weedy plot
outside our window; eyes fixed, not
regarding me but as a landscape feature
too large for prey. She’s on hunt, I imagine.
I imagine Arctic sun outside its range,
dipping slightly toward midnight in mid-
day, skimming horizon, treeline
of our rocky hill, then rising to make
morning on the other side. Hawk hides
herself in images of my own making. 


We gathered in horseless pasture,
sitting in open circle
cooled by liveoak breeze,

each in our private distance

webbed by eyes and voices.
I slipped into shadow of a poem.


(a book spine poem)
The world is charged
sailing alone around the room
the waking
rungs of the ladder

these canyons are full of ghosts
interrogations at noon
fire weather

above the river
the genius of birds
memories, dreams, reflections
barbs, prongs, points, prickers, & stickers

the language of life
delights & shadows
in the palm of your hand

words for the wind
coming into the country
astral light
the verse by the side of the road


The boy slipped away.
His sister was beguiled with jasmine
blossoming, a star blazing secrets. Whose
secrets? Worlds of possibility unrecognized.
She looked away for just an instant—
her brother was gone.
Did he find some jagged edge,
a break in familiar neighborhood
giving on Unknown
where he might dash through?
Or was he taken? A missing fence-slat,
crack in pavement. This sudden absence
ravels unravels
into necessary but impossible knots
never tying things together.


Mowing this morning, you found Yerba santa among pioneering plants taking over your field. Yerba santa, holy herb used as medicine by local tribes long before the missionaries came. It unclogs the lungs, it poultices hurts; anti-inflammatory; it might even fix a broken memory. It welcomes you today, trumpet flowers in bloom against sun-burned annual grasses. You mow around its edges—

so easy to miss
holiness in the midst and
overgrowth of life.

Today’s LittleNip:

—Taylor Graham

Our world is opening again
though contagion’s still in the air—
If my mask is out of style, just
look at this yellow bud.

* * *

A merry morning to Taylor Graham, and thanks to her for terrific tales of the foothills on this Form Fiddlers’ Friday—the last Friday in June, signaling that this dreary first half of 2020 is almost over!



Astrocat with Fiddle
It’s time for more contributions from Form Fiddlers! Each Friday for awhile, there will be poems posted here from some of our readers 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 forms and get them posted in the Kitchen. 

This week, Taylor Graham sent us a Cherita (see last week’s Kitchen at medusaskitchen.blogspot.com/search?q=cherita); a Ryūka (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ryūka); a Book Spine Poem (law.marquette.edu/facultyblog/2020/04/national-poetry-month- create-book-spine-poetry); a Haibun and a List Poem. Check out her post above for examples of these.

Also from Placerville, Carol Louise Moon sent two Pleiades (www.shadowpoetry.com/resources/wip/pleiades.html), including one using the challenging letter X. Some poets use six syllables per line for this form, some use seven; Carol Louise and her Pleiades group go for the latter:

—Carol Louise Moon, Placerville, CA

Nature vs. Nurture, this
naturalist suggests. He’s
new to teaching school. He is
navy-retired, so it is
nautilus shells and the odd
narwhals: single tusks. Hope he’s
not just a substitute here.


—Carol Louise Moon

X MARKS THE SPOT—Friday night
Xavier was here. He brought his
xylophone and his band named
Xanadu. Lots of friends... no
xenophobe here, he claims; makes
xylographs: engraves on
xanthic wood of yellow hues.

Green Apricots
—Photo by Caschwa

Here is Carl Schwartz (Caschwa), waiting for his fickle apricots to ripen. His first form uses a repeated line, a device which works very well for this subject. The second poem is an Imago chain; each stanza is 7-5-7-5-7-5-7-5:

—Caschwa, Sacramento, CA

Staring at the tree
waiting for apricots
they came early this year
at least a month too early

squirrels and birds also
staring at the tree
we had a handful
picked right off the tree

let the good neighbor know
some fruit was ripe and ready
staring at the tree
a few branches cross the fence

a lot fell to the ground
we weren’t ready yet
no more are showing
staring at the tree

* * *


past the patio, and the
small strip of lawn, stands
a wooden shed made to look
like a barn with loft
no irrigation lines reach
that wall of the shed
but weeds flourish there, grow tall,
sassy, weedy, tall

beyond the shed our back wall
features a grape vine
black, seedless grapes, years in the
making, sharing the
fence with aggressive morning
glories, stretching out
over the grass, under trees
cutting renews them

apricots and plums grow on
their separate trees
while the aprium, itself
has yet to produce
it is upright and flimsy
secured to some posts
so it doesn’t tip over
and lie in the grass

* * *

And in the next poem, Carl says he has “employed the Tanka (poets.org/glossary/tanka) for Medusa’s current Seed of the Week, ‘Quick Fixes’ ”:


in the good old days
of boomer photography
there was a fixer
darkroom chemical agent
to keep the image desired

we see that today
with “fixer” press releases
stopping an image
from developing into
political disfavor

oh—the very thought
of turning on bright, white lights
in the dim darkroom
could be enough to ruin
anyone’s reputation! 

Next Wednesday, our new SnakePal, Linda Klein from Los Angeles, will be bringing us some more of her poetry. Meanwhile, here is a Sonnet variation from her:

—Linda Klein, Los Angeles, CA
How do I make a friend of time?
He's nothing but a garish mime
who mocks me.

He traps me with his playful dance.
I can't escape his stubborn stance.
He blocks me.

I'm frightened by his painted face.
His bulbous nose is out of place
It shocks me.

If I greet time with open arms,
pretending that his teases charm
and rock me,

will he accept me as a friend,
and ease my way until the end?


Okay! Stay cool, stay safe, and be sure to greet our friend, Time, with open arms!


 —Public Domain Photo Courtesy of Joseph Nolan

Would you like to be a SnakePal?
All you have to do is send poetry and/or
photos and artwork to
The snakes of Medusa are always hungry!

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, June 25, 2020

High Noon on a Summer's Day

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


It’s high noon on the pond.
I surrender to the warmth of green,
green grass. Tiny pink flowers
tickle my cheek.

A ladybug buzzes past my eyes.
Dragonflies hover over lily pads.
Jumping fish chase gnats circling
the rippled pond.

The breeze rustling through pond
reeds now joins the music of
dragonfly wings. A chorus of frogs
adds rhythm to Nature’s symphony.

Dabbling ducks dive under algae
and rest on moss-laden rocks
which line half the pond.

The sun, filtering through sparse
white clouds, spotlights the first
swim of ducklings nudging small
green turtles in their wake.

A racer snakes past me through
wet grass, announced by a
red-winged black bird.

The bare soles of my feet
bear witness to the goodness
and greatness of this day.

I whisper to a duck near the
mud-brown rocks that I’ll not
be driving into town. 


I knelt beside a bush of tiny roses
and wished my mother back into my arms.
As I knelt the silence of the breeze
said she is gone and never coming home.

Petals soft and sweet, her face to greet me;
leaves of green, the truth she taught and lived.
The stems, her sturdy-back determination;
thorns, corrective words she spoke with care.

I know my life’s reward is to have known her
and shared a love with her for all those years.
As this bush gives out its many roses,
the lessons that she taught I’ll try to live.

(Prev. pub. in
The Voices Project)


I love you baby pit bull—
you hind-legged pudgy dog,
you near-eyed familiar face,
you canine yap of a doggie.

When did you stick your
kissable lips into pink Jello?
Why do you smell so
baby-fresh? You’re a dog,
for dogs’ sake!

Abana, come.
Come sit in my lap for
half-an-hour and let me
stroke your short-haired
collarless neck, as if you
might sit still for an old
lady in your toddler years.

How is it that you suck in
your belly and squirm
to escape my affections?
Allow me to hoist your
warm, plump body over
my shoulder as I rise from
the couch to fix tea.

I should sling you in a
sling at my breast while
I wash the dishes.

Why do you lick my
ankles with your bubble-
gum pink tongue before
bounding away in haste,
as if a preteen running
from Grandma’s kisses.


I see them in quiet moments
of a well-lit room, like tiny bits
of yarn flitting about but never
flying away,

rising a little higher with every
blink of the eyelid. A twig
slowly sinking in a slow-flowing

then lifting, as if over an
invisible rock. And tiny yellow
lightning strikes—no hot
summer storms brewing—
just floaters,

says the optometrist, little
floaters in my eye. 

Today’s LittleNip:

—Carol Louise Moon

Wakamatsu sun.
Flycatcher bird lights on farm
fence wire. Why does he
search out flies here? There are tan
cows and manure there,
bedded down in yonder field. 

(Prev. pub. on Taylor Graham’s website,
March 2019 


—Medusa, thanking Carol Louise Moon for today’s summery poetry and photos!

—Public Domain Photo
  Don’t forget our Seed of the Week, “Quick Fixes”. Send 
your poems, photos & artwork about this (or any other) 
subject to kathykieth@hotmail.com. 
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Photos in this column can be enlarged by
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in the top right corner to come back to Medusa.

Wednesday, June 24, 2020

Drunken Pianos in Crisis

—Poetry by Tom Goff, Carmichael, CA
—Public Domain Photos


Through it all I endured… accumulating impressions
for future service to my art…
            —Composer Arnold Bax, in
Farewell, My Youth

Not a bottle, not a brand, a pianist.
British pianist Duncan Honeybourne here,
safe at home, introducing pieces
he passes round, like small aquavit
flasks for imbibing on FaceBook.
Today, spirits from 1915
(a very good year for British music):

Arnold Bax’s “In a Vodka Shop.” Written
as early as 1910? Young Bax has run
off from County Connemara
to Russia and Ukraine, so in love
with Natalya Skarzhinski,
he’s left sister Evelyn Bax to cadge
return fare from Ireland, purse empty.

Natalya doesn’t see love or life quite Bax’s way.
So early in the pianist-composer’s career,
is this where the drinking urge took earliest hold?
In Kiev? Moscow? St. Petersburg? Lubny?
While “Natalie” consorts with a new beau,
or gives herself to the chattering, chaos-minded
creatives in her Lubny homestead,
lovelorn Arnold departs by rail for Kiev
just to rent a Bösendorfer upright
(a good one) so, seated there, he can
set his heart singing to his heart.

Somewhere, too, there are vodka shops,
noisy ones, comforting souls who have nothing
but summer night stars, Gogol, and liquid
consolations. Too songful a boy to hear
only noise, though he does, in the sickle-fisted
“droves” of peasant Ukrainian farmwomen;
hears only their “howling,” so like
the howling in Bax’s own head is it.
Uncanny the wallbanging brio from Duncan
Honeybourne’s piano: Bax, despondent,
albeit the comedic note-clangor clangs on, in denial.

Honeybourne’s piano, sequestered at home
like its master, could use a retuning,
especially right around treble-clef C,
D, and E, so ill-suited to Chopin, so right
for vodka shops, for vodka drinkers,
for drunken pianos the world over
in crisis, whatever nonchalant bluff
the blustering bass notes may put up. 

 Duncan Honeybourne (www.duncanhoneybourne.com)

from Four Orchestral Pieces (1912-1913)

Biographer Lewis Foreman thinks the rhythm
could be that of Bax’s bicycle wheels.
Something too of Ireland’s native dance:
glances at step-dance, or the clog dance.
But, whether from shuttling feet or shining spokes,
what fun! whatever clever deceptions, ear-traps:
Even the melody, at its beginning, charts
first downbeat sixteenths as odd “pickup” notes,
as wheelspins forward may look like backwards floats.
Then rhythmic carriage-return with its bell-ring,
pranked with comedic downward-flurried strings.

Then there’s that tip-o’-the-wink sly offset cadence,
one more of the “adopted Irishman’s” hemiolas.
It ends with a lightsome stomp or stamp. Displaced,
the accent. To a poet, it’s a trochee.
Trying saying some trochees now. Repeat after me:
“Hef-ty, Hef-ty, Hef-ty.” That’s the idea.
Note: foot-light, that same downbeat accent’s shifted,
pitch-shifted, first-note E to upbeat F.
What’s trochee’d hefty hefty comes disguised
as anacreusis (“pickup” to you and me)
as laughing, we collapse, wrong-footed. Hef-TY!
Elfin and “Irish,” that mischievous young man, Bax. 

LOST TO COVID-19, 2020

Great scholar of our “William Shake-Speare”: Love
For that exemplar of the Renaissance,
Bone-deep, drove all you spoke and wrote, above
Mere orthodox Bard-worship, skill and nuance
Your touchstones. Antique curiosities
Led you toward him by traces; yours the will
To pursue down trails where only the keenest sees.
There you met De Vere on even terms; your fill
Absorbed (his darks, his lights), you yet explored.
Our thanks; a Price of Denmark his desires,
His motives, you could decrypt, you did record:
How Hamlet’s griefs and grievances require
Their answer, in English law. Now rise, report
Where earls and all meet equal, in utmost Inns of Court. 

(First named the Tanning Prize for Poetry, now the Wallace Stevens Award)

Good thing Dorothea’s a famous artist
In paint, her poet status wrenched from her
Strong grasp. Her life-pursuit, with almost Chartist
Intensity, spilling so signally into verse,
They named a poet’s prize with her name, Tanning.
By what conniving Old-Boys-Network curse,
Is honor remanded? Rebranded, Wallace Stevens.
Yes, history doles out prizes by unevens:
Strokes ever the male ego, in no need of it.
Ah, po-biz…hope, Dorothea, through the greed of it
You see, from wherever you sit. Well I’m for banning
The “Stevens” title (superfluous praise!), unmanning
That moniker. Spin those tumblers back to Tanning. 

Today’s LittleNip (with free shot of vodka):
—Caschwa, Sacramento, CA

(reconfiguring the marching band

from Tom Goff’s "Cover Design",
Medusa’s Kitchen, June 17, 2020)

OK, listen up! We’re going to take conventional
score order and flip it over backwards, putting
percussion (including a battery of cannons) right
on top, followed by low brass, cornets, and then,

while your heels are clicking and ears are still
ringing from those cannons, a vast meadow of
woodwinds producing high atmosphere tones
among a treasure trove of trills and tremolos.

So now, instead of having just one big vibrating
column of air, we have the whole set of Doric,
Ionic, and Corinthian columns, plus the Five
Pillars of Islam all strutting their stuff together.


—Medusa, with thanks to Tom Goff for his musical poetry this morning, and to Carl Schwartz for his saucy LittleNip!

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in the top right corner to come back to Medusa.

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