Wednesday, September 30, 2020

Castle Beekeep

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



I.  Its Abuses

If eyes in photos are “windows of human soul,”
Look into the gaze of lost Breonna Taylor
Or George Floyd, all those lives lost from a whole
Humankind. Yes, angels we are, and the betrayer-
Jailors of their potential and of ours:
All that young-undone life, against the grain
Of sacred harvests, payment for short hours
In which to enlist the heart’s blood, nerve and brain,
Too often squandered, that achieving good.
In favor of? Racist perversions, evils, horrors.
In midlife, says a poet, lost in a wood.*
The shadows of that wood, the shapes of error.
How can we weigh these lost lives with full sense?
Touch them, study to know each fine, compacted difference.† 

* Dante   

† From “Epitaph” by Thom Gunn
(carved in the AIDS Memorial Grove, Golden Gate Park)

II.  Its Right Uses
(Who Owns the Sonnet?)

We speak of privilege, white, or otherwise
Presumed high elevation, birthright, power;
The sonnet form that Shakespeare knew, one guise
In which to project imperial swag, a bower
Of greenest insulation from the market,
The crowded tenement, and, yes, the crowd.
Passed hand to hand in manuscript, who’d hark it,
The sweetness of that music to the endowed?

But some subversion, conned from Shakespeare’s wit,
Implied that this was stuff of the Everybrain.
Sauce for the goose of privilege, was that it?
Was that all, or could others from it gain?
—Ganders by courtly standards, yet still sauced
With savor. Not writ by bosses, but the bossed.



(Pope Leo X, with Two Cardinals, 1519)

In Raphael’s Pope Leo, exquisite
In each detail of drapery and flesh,
That dark sheen on each prelate’s face, is it..?
—Five o’clock shadow. Must beard-growth enmesh
Each double chin or lantern jaw or jowl
On otherwise reasonably semi-young
Skin? Would such look nicer under a cowl?
Proof that the Pope and sidekicks, their robes flung
Quickly on, work through hours of water-clock clicks?
Devotion weighed in pints of midnight oil?
Is this a papal politician’s optics?
Are Roman Bishops humbler than most royals?
Luigi de’ Rossi, Giulio de’ Medici,
Won’t tell what shadows tinge their finery.

2020 is the five-hundredth anniversary of the Italian artist, architect, and humanist Raphael’s death (Raffaello Sanzio da Urbino, 1483-1520).



From Great War Poet to Goodbye to All That (1895-1929)

I.  Robert Graves and T.E. Lawrence and Laura (Riding)

Robert Graves and T.E. Lawrence,
Thicker than Ali Baba’s thieves,
Quickly spread long leagues of distance,
Captain Graves from Colonel Lawrence,
Not through any one grudge-instance:
He whom Arabs praised as “Aurens”
Shrank back first when (Riding), Laura,
Shook long friendships through her sieves,
Would stamp and sneer and coldly shriek,
Turn Graves himself opaque, oblique,
Shock clear air tense with Laura-aura.

II.  Seven Pillars of Wisdom

Great Lawrence’s great book,
So dashed with sand, salt, heat, and the surreal
Of that strange, fragmentary Arab Revolt,
With intermittent rainless lightning bolts
And thunderheads of blood
And quicksand-flood,
It fairly dares you to take a quick first look
And not get sucked into his long ordeal.
Not one detail is empty-desert-filler.
I can’t discern where stands the central Pillar.

III.  Graves and Me

For my first thirty years alive,
Robert Graves paced the green earth.
Thirty years on past my birth
The poet (wed to his second wife),
The famous Graves above the grave,
No notion of him in my head
Who’d barely learned to scrape a shave:
This man of force, of verse, of life,
Whose bees-buzz syrup swells his hive.
Immortal bees whose sweet-spilled thread
Gilds the plain grain of my bread
In Castle Beekeep thrive, they dive
And whiz where cell on cell of wax
Drips singing stings, wing-struck soft thwacks,
Noise those bee-squadrons knit into lives
Like Graves, whom the Great War had bled.
Their hive, his hive, thrums in my head. 



I struggle to make sense of Robert Graves:
His early childhood, rapturous, all comfort,
Broken into by schools and bruised by slaves
To teenage lusts to punish, quests for consort
In boys of rude or shapely bodies. Meant
To stir or divert strong urges toward a Muse
Whose gold hair and whose ice-floe skin is lent
To Ganymedes great wars rouse to abuse,
To drill, to scar, and to dispose of. Raw fright
“Unseaming from the nave unto the chops,”
Binds them in allegiance, chary of the Night
When star shell or concussion never stops.
Unceasing press of coins to boys’ eyelids.
To souls of these She beckons and She bids.

In plenilunes and silences She comes
Corpse-touching with scents of chrysanthemums…




Her smile tensely stretched on the lips,
With never an open grin.
As sensual, her lips, as hips.
Dimples rose to her cheeks from her chin.

Oh but she was agile and quick.
In photos her hands were her art.
All fingertips touching, one flick,
And her palms joined in a hand heart.

Her agile, alluring large hands
From her meeting thumbs curved a heart-top.
Her hair brown, long, silken twin bands
From a central part. Hopeless. Sheer art-stop,

This helplessness: try to define
How strangely her smile would enlace his
As he watched her hands form an outline
Hatched from ovoids, half-circles. Slim traces

Tapered to her heart’s point. Empty-aired,
No two palms can contain a heart’s core
Of the red blood and pulsebeat that’s flared
In each heart since whenever before.

But to witness her—hand heart and lips,
Dimpled cheeks, tumbling-water dark hair—
Was to fill those palms, those fingertips
With her pulsebeat and blood, there / not-there.  





Film versions two, of Shakespeare’s Henry the Fifth,
One by Branagh, one by Olivier:
In one, the solemn moment, grandeur, pith
Of statecraft in the audience chamber, sway
Of a young king many seek to sway or school;
Against the other, earlier film: the laughs,
The rain of writings tossed at the throne of rule,
“The farcéd title running ’fore the king”
In parchment scatters, crumples like Falstaff’s
Doublet-and-jerkin creases. Such a thing
Of farce, in this “cockpit” condescension lurks.
The Salic Law, read right, Elizabeth’s right
And title, they make confetti, lawyers’ quirks,
Word-macaroni. Branagh’s version? Night
Flares danger to Harfleur and Henry’s men,
Famed Agincourt’s a mud-and-blood pigpen;
This king by counsel of wisdom and of light
Admits high devious priests who can support
Royal Henry staunchly as a gate-rotted fort.  



OLIVIER’S ASTUTENESS (in Henry the Fifth)
For all that I prefer the Branagh film,
Olivier’s film is frequently astute.
Smug critics with random “errors” have their qualms:
The Constable of France does not from foot
Spring lightly to his saddle, but by hoist
Of pulley is lifted ponderous to his seat.
Yet let not lightly go by a Shakespeare jest
On “stars” that gild the French lord’s armor plate:
Like Goldfinger’s “divinely heavy” gold,
Embossed into his thick black armor, stars
Weighty enough that—cuffed by angry-bold
Royal Henry—he falls like one swept by a spar
From ship’s deck into a heaving sea of death.
Poor Constable, flung off his destrier*
(That proud high steed), concussed from his last breath.
Meantime, the Dauphin, he of giddier
Valor, hangs back, mounted on his “palfrey,”†
“All air and fire.” Dauphin’s hot air? Paltry.

* The classic, more massive warhorse, as opposed to a palfrey.
† The smaller-framed horse for ordinary riding, often termed appropriate for ladies.


Today’s LittleNip:

—Tom Goff

Superb the actor, atmosphere of dread
Amid shadowed stairways cameras alone can climb;
Danger crouched at each pillar and bulkhead
Equal to each ominous chunk of rhyme.
Yet so slow is the pacing of each scene
The viewer questions the moves of this “machine”
That is, to him, Hamlet. Line upon line must vanish
Till we think Olivier’s baked us up Rune Danish.


—Medusa, with a good Wednesday morning to you, and many thanks to Tom Goff for talking to us with his fine poetry!


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

Would you like to be a SnakePal?
All you have to do is send poetry and/or
photos and artwork to We post
work from all over the world, including
that which was previously-published.
Just remember:
the snakes of Medusa are always hungry—
for poetry, of course!


Help save the honeybees!


Tuesday, September 29, 2020

Entering the Mirror

Through the Meaning
—Poetry and Photos by Joyce Odam, Sacramento, CA


Misfortune—that old hag, her gleaming presence,
what she wears to introduce herself, those semi-
precious birds she keeps on risky pedestals, the
charming echoes they have learned.

What does she want of me, I’ve nothing more to
lose or give. I’ve paid my dues to her demands—
those lies she told—those mis-directions that she
gave when she was all cajole and promise.

But now that I see her true face in her own mirror,
I all but lose my nerve : her costume in rags, her
makeup ruined. She turns to me again—this time
contrite—and once again I ask her to save me.


    After Young Girl Writing at Her Desk with Birds
                                 —Painting by Henriette Brown

Let not the cage
confine the thought, door open,
bird released, much like a poem, uncaught.

To trick the word, prepare another word.
Coax it.  Let it surprise.
Say thank you.

Begin with daydream.  Begin with stare.
Begin with pen raised over page.
Wait for page to rustle with excitement.

The page lies flat.  Refuses.  Songbird   
becomes Muse—pulls your attention
to its nearness—does not sing.
Summer Wane


She is in the white trance of sleep.
All color is drained from her dream.

She holds a death mask in her hand
as if it will guard her absence.

She lies upon a dark mirror.
She must duplicate herself.

Her shadow resists.
Her eyes do not flicker.

She does not feel the room go cold.
The mask takes on a new expression.

Her shadow leaves her body.
Her eyes refuse to open.

She must go through the glare to return.
She is in the white trance of sleep.



And now the arrogant stone
in its lambent light
lies in the path and thinks itself
superior to common rocks

and gleams its soft gleam
for all who pass
admiring the path
with its glints and glimmers

and the vain stone preens
to its mirrored self
and the very light that
gives it this enhancement.
Bouquet, Formal Pose

      “Zero Plus Anything Is A World” 
                 —Poem by Jane Hirschfield

I am the world, as well as zero,
and I do not rue
or yield
the risk of this.

I always assign myself
to simple truth
lest I be stricken
to some ailment of the mind
in need of solace, if not love.

I only trust the self I can identify.
Why mis-perceive such matters.
I search the wonderings.
and find them vague.

I trust the way my mind is true—
true to my myth and not the rote
of absolute and only-proven fact—
faith is the haunt of everyone—
the war of difference ever lies between. 
Something About Truth


I make promises you may never believe.
I embroider my thoughts all over you.
I use the smallest stitches and the brightest yarn
until you forgive me of all my lies
and become happy again.

I adore you but you avoid my eyes.
You cannot stand
such brimming.
The intensity of my love is a suffocation.
I open all my windows to let you fly away.

How useful now my shrine of memories.

I give it fresh rose petals every day—
the wonderful softness when they fall
from the vase to the table top—
the bruised perfume of them.

    After “Two From Gallup” from
         Pieces Of A Song by Diane di Prima

Wore the soft light of evening for awhile. Dressed
up in neon. Admired my arm at rest on a quiet table.
Went for the mirrors with my eyes. Broke my own

Who is my sorrow now, sweet person?—one with
new lies. Don’t ask me to squander a moment. I am
too far. Don’t ask for my story or tell me yours.

I took the care out of caring and left it where it lay,
like a precious coin for somebody’s rainy day. And
I walked away—oh, new person—

I walked away, with the music still blaring and the
night too full of something I wanted to say, but the
neon world had begun to shiver, so I walked away.
Just the Blues

        After Seashore Idyll by Heinrich Kley

        On that god-forsaken, barren length of beach,
there was nothing left to do but make the best of
things.  He was ugly, but maybe she could make him
beautiful, for she believed in lies and spells.

       “If I love you, will you become beautiful for
me?” she would ask each time he came ashore.  And
he would say he would.  She was happy after that,
and each day at the same hour she would lean against
her lonely sea-rock, and scan the gray length of the
sea from one end to the other, and wait for him to
come out of the water.

       And he would lumber out and sit on the sand in
all his grossness and sing to her with his loud and
mournful voice which carried so far away it broke
beyond their hearing.  The sky would churn with stormy
echoes, then settle back to the flat and desolate gray
monotony of this place.  And he would droop his head
again upon his chest in some old melancholy.

       She would listen until he was through, then ask,
“How can you be so sad when I love you—you who are
so beautiful to me?”  And she would turn aside and
weep at her own boredom and sadness.

       But he would sit on the sand in all his ugliness,
and he could not lift to her his heavy arms or his
massive head, and he would sigh from his heavy heart
and tell her that she must come with him, then, into
the weightless sea, if she must have an answer they
could both believe.

       And she would lean against her old sea-rock and
think of this and wonder how it would be if she followed
him into the wide gray unknown water.  Until the sun
went down she would think of this, while he would bask in
the low cold western light and make his impression in the
sand for her, which she would later curl into and sleep.


What quarrel is this that I have
with the unremembered self
that derives in fragments.
Dare I say again what I say to it,
that it could have saved me,
which it denies.
And we go round again
in our game of truth
and our game of lies,
which each says
the other is.
What is
this dark exchange
that envelops like a shroud :
metaphor of fear, that void,  
that grave, that crumbling year,
as if life did not exist, except in
burrowings, returning as we do
to the old battleground of self against self—
unrecognized—unyielded to—wearing the
skin-shiver of the other in an old exchange,
the mirror entered, locking both of us inside.



It’s not as if a sob can tear your throat
the way glass can shatter in a hand
or lies from a mouth of words.

You know the difference.
Constrict that urge. Turn it into a laugh,
one that is sharp and full of danger.

Madness holds
for the moment it takes
to switch from one rage to another.

Let go the tender thought
for one more bitter.
Life is a scar—and so is love.

Remember this lesson.
Look how the searchlight tears the wall,
looking for you, crumpled now,

moon fallen into your eyes,
the night gone blank,
the room too small to hold you.


Today’s LittleNip:

—Joyce Odam

Edgar Allen Poe
              —Edmund Dulac (1882-1953)

Upon a high bed now, she lies,
underneath the brooding skies,
huddled figures writhe below
huddled in their robes of woe
—woe to beauty, lying there
in the ghosted, roiling air—

ghost of beauty, ghost of love,
silent soul that will not die—
rising gently now into
the invisible heavens of the sky.


Lots of good stuff from Joyce Odam today, and our thanks to her for that! She’s talking about lies and truth, and she says it’s up to us to figure out which is which in what she’s telling us. The Seed of the Week was “Lies”, which I was assuming meant untruths, but Crafty Joyce has also flipped that to its homonym, lies, as in “lies down”. Surprise!

For Jane Hirschfield’s poem, “Zero Plus Anything Is A World”, go to

Our new Seed of the Week is “Orange”. My first choice was “Obscene”, but I decided that was too obvious, given our current political situation… so I went with orange, a Fall color with lots of other options, too. So 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.

JOY HARJO! Sorry for this late announcement, but today at 5pm, U.S. Poet Laureate, Joy Harjo, will be reading from her newest book,
An American Sunrise. For more info (and be sure to register), see OR Then, on Thursday at 5pm, she will be in conversation with environmental writer Terry Tempest Williams, discussing the first comprehensive Norton Anthology of Native Nations Poetry, ed. by Joy Harjo, called When the Light of the World was Subdued, Our Songs Came Through. Again, be sure to register. This program is produced by Poetry Promise, Inc., the Las Vegas Jewish Film Festival, and The Clark County Poet Laureate.


—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.


Monday, September 28, 2020

The Season of Old Light

—Public Domain Photo Courtesy of
Joseph Nolan, Stockton, CA

—Kimberly Bolton, Jefferson City, MO

Night bumps day off the calendar way too early for my liking.
The orb of the sun disappears without a fare-thee-well,
As the moon bears down with its loony, punch-drunk grin.

Stars peer down like bright blinking eyes, peering through
A part in a black curtain, curious as to how many of us are out and about,
And what we are up to tonight.
But (sigh), there is only me, alone of all my neighbors,
Sitting on her front porch tonight.

Just over there, in the house across the street,
I detect the flickering glow of a television screen
Behind gauzy curtains.
The black eyeless sockets of the windows in the house
On the corner tells me its occupants have already bedded down
For the night.

And here I sit, watching the moon watching me,
As a fleet of small black clouds passes across the face of the moon,
Like a tiny flotilla of witches on their brooms.

My neighbors don’t know what they’re missing. 


The same autumn that came the year before

And all the autumns of generations past the same.
This is the season of the tree, the season of the leaf,
Of leaf meal and leaf mould covering the ground.

Autumn’s soul is aged and ageless,
Yellowed and mellowed and yielding,
Like the soft, mealy insides of a bruised apple.

This is the season of old light,
And the season of ancient dark.
The season of the horned moon.

Fields are harvested with the crow picking the leavings
From the furrowed ground before the first bite of frost,
And the pumpkin is to be cut from the vine.

Again, there is the promise of a full table,
With enough chairs to go around,
With wine to warm the blood,
And a place by the fire.

—Kimberly Bolton
—Public Domain Photo Courtesy of Joseph Nolan

—Sue Crisp, Shingle Springs, CA

Lies slip so easily, from your lips.
Whatever you think I want to hear.
It doesn’t seem to cross your mind,
your intentions are unclear.

Mixed messages are tossed about,
a combination of yes and no.
I’m not sure if I’m getting red or green light,
whether to stop or go.

Please stop being coy.
It’s no longer the days of your youth.
All I’m asking for...
Is one simple moment of truth.
—Public Domain Photo Courtesy of Sue Crisp

—Sue Crisp

Time flutters by so quickly,
like on wings of the Butterfly.
So many dreams we leave unfulfilled
we let them slowly wither and die.

Time is of the essence
to make those dreams come true.
Like the fluttering Butterfly,
our time of days and years are few.

Cast aside your procrastinations,
grasp your dreams and reach for the sky.
No longer dream of what could be,
spread your wings and soar like the Butterfly.
—Public Domain Photo Courtesy of Sue Crisp
—Joseph Nolan

The Beauty of Grace
Is a zippered-pocket
That allows for a mini-padlock,
In a train-car
Full of pick-pockets,

And you are the only one
With the key,
Which is hidden
In a place
Even you
Can’t remember!

But when you get home
And undress for the night,
You notice it
Under a piece of tape
Right between your boobs. 
—Public Domain Photo Courtesy of Joseph Nolan

—Joseph Nolan

We shadow on
Through life,
As though we
Were not shattered.

We were only
And not smashed.

Running for
The cash,
Highly overpowered,
Lost, before
The pirate Press,
Behind the rocks,
We cowered.

There was only so much
We could touch.
Most of us were lonely,
Despite the ghostly lyrics
That we’d sing.

We were all
Hoping for some rescue
From some holy Baba,
Some holy-man from India,
Who could let us all be free.
Some fell for Sexy Sadie
And some for Shree Rajneesh.
—Public Domain Photo Courtesy of Joseph Nolan
—Joseph Nolan

There is foulness
That besmirches the Earth
That deserves to be destroyed.

It’s an old,
Habitual habit,
The least
Among us
Have employed,
For centuries and eons,
To drag us down,

Down into abyss,
While they preach
In hollow anthems,
In ambergris and mist. 
—Public Domain Photo Courtesy of Joseph Nolan

—Joseph Nolan

I, who gather footsteps
In the dark,
Have an idle hobby
Of wandering the park,
Hoping for some strange thing
To appear
And draw near,
Of Capsicum and Ivory.

Red and White,
Red and White,
Something hot and passionate,
In the night.

Before we drop down
From the light,
Let’s spark an angel
Of our stripe,
To bless us
And stand guard.
Intolerance is hard. 
—Public Domain Photo Courtesy of Joseph Nolan

—Caschwa, Sacramento, CA

who had a most admirable
painting things was his

specialty electric guitars
the finest of all cars
luxury yachts
never ersatz

took all the time that it took
to prepare for just the right look
wouldn’t settle for second best
only just right would pass the test

and then he became a Trumper
dull, dented, garbage truck bumper
supporting a candidate
won over by second rate

go figure 
 —Public Domain Photo Courtesy of Joseph Nolan


“We are unapologetically Black in our positioning. In affirming that Black Lives Matter, we need not qualify our position. To love and desire freedom and justice for ourselves is a prerequisite for wanting the same for others.” (excerpt from BLM’s “What We Believe” statement)

we are surrounded by everyday examples
of target practice:

for archers it may be the flimsy paper
images of circles affixed to bales of hay

for fishermen it may be the stock of fish
confined to a lake

for firearms enthusiasts it may be most
anything that can be penetrated by a

for American white supremacists, it is
people of color, no matter what their
deeds or endeavors are

it is unsettling when a torn target stands up
and asserts their rights to not be a target

because there will always be target practice,
but we don’t need to use people as targets 
—Public Domain Photo Courtesy of Joseph Nolan


(my modesty constrained me from
performing this solo, without costume)

blessed are we to have two great
religions merged in one family,
we get to celebrate more holidays
that way, some lasting several
days each

over time we’ve occupied
at least 3 second-story units
in our younger years before
different occurrences that
unsettled our bones

more recently we’ve gravitated
toward ground-floor quarters;
no stairways to navigate with
our walkers and canes, level
steps at each doorway

grilled food from the back patio
is easily transported to dinner
table without requiring handrails
to steady the cook, and our
miniature dog can take a miniature
leap over the threshold to do her
business outside

the garage, of course, is ground-
floor also, and plans are currently
tabled re: putting a heliport on the
—Public Domain Photo Courtesy of Joseph Nolan


he found out too late
that leaving one lover
for another was oddly
similar to leaving one
amusement park for

you don’t get to use
all the rides you bought

you’ll never get back
that great parking spot

say goodbye to that lock
box with all that you got

manhood is history,
you’re now just a tot

gone are all those idyllic
dreams you had wrought

you are no longer amused,
it is not like you thought


Today’s LittleNip:


somewhere between little white lies and
gobsmacking black-hole-in-space lies
a manila envelope
cabaret of all lies
oral or gestured
yes it’s that one
he found it
sings it


Our thanks to today’s poets for their contributions, autumnal and otherwise, to another Monday-Kitchen anthology, and to Joseph Nolan for, in addition to his poetry, the phine photos he discovers for us. Speaking of Joseph Nolan, my gratitude to him for catching my mistake yesterday in saying that Marchell Dyon was first posted in the Kitchen in 1913. Unlikely, since the Kitchen only started in 1914. But as the centuries roll on for me, I find my brain gets a little dusty, and I am no long—well, never was—the queen of catching those flies (is that a mixed metaphor?). So Joseph and some other SnakePals have been catching them for me from time to time, and it is much appreciated. Feel free to join the flycatchers!

Bill Gainer over at R.L. Crow Publications ( is pleased to announce the release of a new book by Evan Myquest, entitled
Cold Blue Roses, available from Amazon. Check it out, and congratulations, Evan Myquest (and R.L. Crow)!
And check yesterday’s "Lifestyle" section of the Sacramento Bee for excerpts from Sacramento Poet Laureate Andru Defeye’s new book, Illicit, available at his website,

Here in our area, Sac. Poetry Center uses Zoom for weekly readings and workshops. For more info, go to I don't see any listing for tonight, but their usual area online poetry events this week would include:

•••Mon. 7:15pm: SPC Monday Night Socially Distant Verse online, featuring . Zoom:;  meeting ID: 763 873 3462 ("P O E T R E E I N C”); password: spcsdv2020

•••SPC Tuesday night workshop hosted by Danyen Powell: Bring a poem for critique. Contact for availability and Zoom info.

•••Wed., 6pm: MarieWriters workshop (prompts):

•••Fri., 4pm: Writing from the Inside Out workshop led by Nick LeForce. Reg. in advance at: After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting. (If you have registered before, use the same link.)

* * *

Also this week:

•••Wed. (9/30), 7pmEDT: Billy Collins will read from his new collection,
Whale Day, followed by audience questions. Online at

•••Thurs. (10/1), 8pm: Dr. Andy Jones' Poetry Series features Susan Kelly DeWitt on Zoom.

•••Fri., 7:30pm: Video poetry reading on Facebook by Davis Poet Laureate James Lee Jobe at or

For more about El Dorado County poetry events, check Western Slope El Dorado poetry on Facebook:
* * *
THIS JUST IN! On Tuesday (tomorrow) at 5pm, the 23rd U.S. Poet Laureate, Joy Harjo, will be reading from her newest book, An American Sunrise. For more info (and be sure to register), see OR Then, on Thursday at 5pm, she will be in conversation with environmental writer Terry Tempest Williams, discussing the first comprehensive Norton Anthology of Native Nations Poetry, ed. by Joy Harjo, called When the Light of the World was Subdued, Our Songs Came Through. Again, be sure to register. This program is produced by Poetry Promise, Inc., the Las Vegas Jewish Film Festival, and The Clark County Poet Laureate.


Here comes rutting season!
—Public Domain Photo Courtesy of Joseph Nolan

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 We post
work from all over the world, including
that which was previously-published.
Just remember:
the snakes of Medusa are always hungry—
for poetry, of course!



Sunday, September 27, 2020

Her Prayer Has Wings

—Poetry by Marchell Dyon, Chicago, IL
—Photos Courtesy of Public Domain
                   (For Katie)

Like tattered sails,
She unfolds her hands
Hands full of tears
See her as wind screams through her
See her as she stands,
Her toes tipping over the rock’s edge
She wonders if she falls
Will heavenly hands help her glide over
Life’s many waves?
Hear her as she calls to Heaven
Her voice sharp as rocks
Her spirit full of storms
As seagulls catch hold to her cries
Seagulls call back, 
As light slips through like
The clouds pierced with sun
Her prayer has wings now,
She can move on

                  (For Katie)
Septembers have always made her sad
The dying of sun and the fall of Apollo
No longer does his brilliance gleam in the sky
No longer are his steeds whipping fire
Through the air
His mighty horses stabled
All are bedded down for the cold
This she knows must be
But she cannot surrender to Autumn
Summer’s flair
She knows she must say
Farewell to the crisp

And burning star
‘Bye bird’s song among the clouds
Goodbye to the trees and its floral crown
She holds her jacket close
Arms cuddling around
Herself for warmth
The wind tries to blow her down
Sharpen is its howl
The wind is a wolf waiting

To devour
Every fleeing moment
For now
Contented to let her fear its growl
While summer sails sweetly out to sea
Leaving her small and alone
Her soul will struggle out of its bed
A soul suffocated in flannel
She stares past it all
The cars parked
The younger busy with their days
Like their days will last forever
She contemplates winter, that
Long deep slow season
When every word spoken coughs
And smokes in the cold
Every utterance entombed
Bound to silence
The once swinging clock of nature  
Whines down its time to mere seconds
The door of life once singing closes mute
With frosty hinges and sickle knobs
She feels winter in her bones
The familiar pain of that dark desolate nothing
Soon all cycles of her seasons will be spent
When winter shades ever more
She thinks of this in September
She thinks of this
As she looks out into
Her concrete world and
Sees all she remembers.

                (For Katie)
The early gray-blue silence
She dares not touch it
Because it cracks easily
Like an egg
Like a womb flexing
To give birth
Knowing its peace will be disturbed
By given life so noisy
Silence—she dares not touch it
For it’s as pure as air and
As fleeting a thing
As clouds sure of foot
Balanced on a prayer
Awaken any moment
Like butterfly wings
Quickly lifted away.

               (For Katie)
She waits for you with outstretched hands
She welcomes you to her ample embrace
You are weary when you meet again
You’ve walked the dirt road
Flat feet against the gravel and the dust
It matters not how hard the road
It matters not how deep the pain
It matters not how much
Your footprints blood dyes stain
You will make it home
You will make it
To your grandmother’s house made of cherry wood
The scent that arrays
Rising like those cane flowers
Like sunlight gently touches the porch
Where light halos the house
Like fairies’ sparkle
And everything is alive again
Beyond just memory
While bluebirds out on limbs of trees 
Sway and sing and greet you back sweetly
The whistled wind drifts
You beyond the wilderness
Beyond life’s pains
You keep moving forward
For the arms of the woman
Who gives you joy
Higher than angels
Higher than the clouds
Her wings invisible
But you know they are there
Wrapped in her cotton wings
Blanketed in her embrace
Warm now, from life so cold
She cradles you back to her
Before your life took its toil
Full are all the feelings joyful cries
You’ve found her again to be cuddled to her heart
And see again the fondness for you in her eyes
In your elder years you’ve missed
Now a babe, again you know only bliss    

Today’s LittleNip:

In prayer, it is better to have a heart without words than words without a heart.
—Mahatma Gandhi


A big thank-you and a welcome back to Marchell Dyon this morning! Marchell says she enjoys reading poetry wherever she can find it, and she also enjoys learning more about the art of poetry. Her work has been published in many magazines and journals over the years. She has been nominated for the Best of the Net award, and she also won Torrid Literature Journal’s award in 2012. She is a disabled poet from Chicago, IL, and her poetry first appeared in Medusa’s Kitchen on August 29, 2013. Welcome back, Marchell, and don't be a stranger!


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 We post
work from all over the world, including
that which was previously-published.
Just remember:
the snakes of Medusa are always hungry—
for poetry, of course!




Saturday, September 26, 2020

Dance Partners

Leap of Faith
—Poetry by James Lee Jobe, Davis, CA
—Public Domain Photos Courtesy of James Lee Jobe
It’s the last month of spring and the flowers are talking among themselves. The bottoms of my feet are getting hard from never wearing shoes, and the breeze smells like a tossed salad. That’s all fine with me. Now the days become a kind of music. And look at me, still alive. 

In dreams I sometimes fly above the treetops of a jungle, or maybe above a boulder-strewn river that races down a mountainside. And in these dreams it is my inner-strength that lifts me, that holds me up. Consider that with your morning coffee.


In the end, COVID-19 covered the earth like night, or like a blanket covering a small and trembling child. This virus filled the sky as if it were smoke from a tremendous fire, a fire that burned for a thousand years. It flowed with swift rivers and filled the oceans. Entire oceans of COVID-19. We are simple people. We touch the virus, we breathe the virus, we wear the virus like a suit of the finest silk, perfectly cut to fit. And so now we embrace COVID-19. We embrace death. We are Little Red Riding Hood embracing the wolf at last. Come. Let me hold you. Die with me tonight.

I fear what the businessmen will do, in the end, to the Earth, so I need stands of trees around me, to walk beneath, to measure with my eyes and my heart. Movement beneath the limbs and branches returns me to myself. I am grateful for that. To be in silence there in the woods, and also there in the nearby fields, rich with this year's corn and alfalfa. Good, tilled soil with crops; that is a match to the untamed and unchecked woods, dance partners, each flourishing with the strength and grace of the other. The woods and the fields. My eyes and my heart. The world of business has nothing on us.

In one lifetime, how many raindrops touch your skin? How many heartbeats, breaths of air will be yours? You never know which heartbeat will be the last one; try to enjoy them all. Right now, this moment, you are alive. And that’s something.


Today’s LittleNip:

Courage can be more important that life, likewise, life can be more important than courage. Could it be that grace is knowing which is more important at the moment?

—James Lee Jobe


Thank you, James, for images of dreams and hearts and raindrops on this last-of-September weekend. Don’t forget Fridays, 7:30pm: Video poetry readings on Facebook by Davis Poet Laureate James Lee Jobe at or


"In my dreams I sometimes fly..."
—Public Domain Photo Courtesy of Joseph Nolan

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 We post
work from all over the world, including
that which was previously-published.
Just remember:
the snakes of Medusa are always hungry—
for poetry, of course!
"How many raindrops 
touch your skin?"