Saturday, October 31, 2020

New Sunrise, New Hope

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

A new sunrise, new hope. The blessing of first light comes in soft and easy over the bottom rim of the black sky, real pretty, and it gives you the feeling that this day will have some goodness to it. Of course, that’s all in your head. Whatever goodness is to be, or isn’t to be, comes from what you do, not what you see. Still, it is lovely, and there is some hope for goodness to be found in beauty. Perhaps it’s best just to enjoy the sunrise as it comes to you.


The most basic of human needs,
          that next breath of air.
          Air is life. 
Today the Sacramento Valley is covered with smoke
from California’s many wildfires,
          like a hat covers a head,
          like a blanket covers a baby.
          A fog made of poison.
May you have the wonderful blessing of your next breath.
Sacramento Valley

Summer, the sun cut and burned
      like a dagger seared in a campfire
      and the valley slowly cooked in its wound.
I have better hopes for autumn.

Just beneath the earth’s surface it is cooler,
      even in summer, and the tangled roots
      reach down, down, down
      to the woman who lives below.

This is the woman who is one with the valley,
      not owning the valley,
      and also not owned by the valley,
      but one. Together.

The earth is her flesh,
      and the plant-roots are her hair.
Valleywoman. Womanvalley.
And then, far below, miles and miles,  there is fire, the magma of the planet. The fire of life.
Roots under the earth, sun above.
Flesh of the woman, flesh of life. Life above, and the stuff of life.

I don’t need money or fame, and I have no use for a flashy car. My 1995 Volvo is fine. I wear old clothes and my house is rather time-worn. Not a problem. The one thing I do need is myself, I need to keep myself. To be fully me, Jobe. And that will do.


Respect the earth, respect the beings that live here. Make your strongest effort to do what’s right in this life, be a positive force to everything around you. No past, no future; just what you can do, the choices you can make right now. And that is a life.


Today’s LittleNip:
A summer day in the Sacramento Valley. The trout is thirsty, and the redtail hawk craves fresh air. I am a simple human; what do I want?

—James Lee Jobe


—Medusa, thanking James Lee Jobe for new hope—“better hopes for autumn”, in fact ~ And James wishes you a Happy Halloween: See
—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 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!
Trick or Treat!


Friday, October 30, 2020

Skeletons & Headless Roses

—Poetry and Creepy Photos of Downtown Placerville 
by Taylor Graham, Placerville, CA

 —And scroll down for Form Fiddlers’ Friday!



We cup our hands around the possibility
of fire. Frost has nipped our ankles, touched a hunger
at the dug-up root. Headless roses can’t explain

how they ever could have been an easy beauty.
Dried herbs beg to be incense, or a witch’s brew,
pulverized and potent, and finally let fly

on wind and wishes. The shriek you heard
last night was nothing but a shrew being changed
in the horned-owl’s grasp; and in the field,

one misshapen pumpkin put aside
waits for everything it might become; waits
for someone to carve its own true face.

(prev. pub. in
Harmonics by Taylor Graham, Poets’ Corner Press)




PG&E cut lights. Dark!
Inside, land without a mark.
Coffee? Build a fire:
kindling and a spark,
then small woods, then logs.
Outside, cold and stark.
Black sky full of energy,
Star-maps laid out bright for me.




a crescive moon over ossuaries’
arcanum: os incus (o curious ear, o arias),
sacrum, ossa coxae (arise, come);
arm (axis, an arc) no more in irons;
vomer (nose, o sensuous
aromas rose-azure-cerise, air
a caress); cranium
(arcaic memories, a cosmic crown)
now numinous as moonrise,
amazes, anima answers

(prev. pub. in
Pulverized Diamonds, James Lee Jobe)





The raven’s perched
whispering in a dead man’s ear.
The raven’s perched
like the answer to what he’s searched
all his life through the now-and-here.
And, as avian tongue makes clear,
the raven’s perched. 




The creaky door balks as if struck by fear
but you persist in opening, in spite.
You guess no one has dared to enter here.
Beyond the lintel shines a pallid light

but you persist in opening in spite.
While Covid has the world locked safe at home,
beyond the lintel shines a pallid light.
A shot of coffee makes you brave to roam

while Covid has the world locked safe at home.
Your heel on entry makes a creepy click—
A shot of coffee makes you brave to roam
in silence broken only by—a snick!

Your heel on entry makes a creepy click
like knee-bones laid down joint-to-joint, as deep
as silence, broken only by a snick
like coins tossed in an empty dungeon-keep,

like knee-bones laid down joint-to-joint as deep
in ghosted dark as gibbous moon, and yew,
as coins tossed in an empty dungeon-keep
this spooky Halloween. The owl pipes Whoo

in ghosted dark. The gibbous moon, the yew—
beyond the lintel shining pallid light
this spooky Halloween, the owl pipes Whoo!
The creaky door balks as if struck by fear. 





Main Street
I dodge ghosts,
skeletons and

Cat in
store window
wears smiley mask—

aged down
to its bones
howls: my name isn’t

face just needs
a hot mug of



Today’s LittleNip:

—Taylor Graham

We flushed her, my dog
and I walking the woodlands—
and then off she flew
leaving us earthbound creatures
to our hunting of wishes.


Thank you and Happy Halloween (tomorrow) to Taylor Graham, with spooky talk of spirits and worlds beyond this one. She mentioned James Lee Jobe, poet and publisher (in the past), Poet Laureate of Davis and poster of poems each Saturday in Medusa’s Kitchen. Don’t forget that James will be posting video poetry readings on Facebook tonight (no later than 7:30pm) on or Tonight he will read from Robert Bly.

Also online tonight, 6pm: Laura Martin presents David Iribarne: Poetry and Memories: an evening of David's poetry, and memories of our friend and SnakePal who passed away recently from COVID-19. Zoom: Meeting ID: 880 0664 1622; Passcode: 859411. Info:

Taylor Graham sent us some poetry forms today in her fine post, including a Prisoner’s Constraint (“Spirits Dance in Their Bones”); a Pantoum (“Covid Haunts”); a Lanturne chain (“Halloween Downtown”); a Rondelet (“Foyer”); a Sandwiched by Sevens (“Star Maps”); and a Tanka (“Swifthawk”). (See Medusa’s Form Finder at the end of this post for links to definitions of the forms used this week.)

And now it’s time for Form Fiddlers’ Friday!



It’s time for more contributions from Form Fiddlers, in addition to those sent to us by Taylor Graham! 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, by golly! (See Medusa’s Form Finder at the end of this post for links to definitions of the forms used this week.)

Carol Louise Moon has sent us a lovely Pentina, sister of the Sestina. Carol Louise writes that “a Pentina is made up of five stanzas of five lines (“pent!”), plus a 2-line envoi; this form is 27 lines long. The Pentina was created by poet and songwriter Leigh Harrison; its description can be found online, or in Lewis Turco’s
The Book of Forms/Odd and Invented Forms, which was published in 2011. The Pentina, like the Sestina, does not utilize rhyme, but relies on the use of repeated end-words, properly called teleutons.” 

By the way, if you're a form-a-fanatic, you might consider investing in Turco, both his Book of Forms that Carol Louise mentions, and his New Book of Forms. All available on Most form descriptions are available online now, but one can never have too many resources at one's fingertips to thumb through, yes? (Notice how I didn't mix my metaphors...)




Here is Carol Louise’s perky Pentina:

—Carol Louise Moon, Placerville, CA

Fireflies light up along
her country path. She comes
in flow of golden moon high-
rising above a shimmer-mirror
lake. Circles rise like elusive

morning mists, like elusive
ferns she finds along
her path. Each step mirrors
the next, as she comes
steady and light-hearted—high

hopes abounding. High
time she find this elusive
promise. Evening comes,
she finds herself a long
way off from home—no mirror

there—nor here a shadow mirror.
Hollyhocks rising high
crowd in pinking rows along
the meadow fence. Elusive
in grass the butterflies come

close enough to touch. One comes
and lights among the mirrored
patterns of her dress; elusive
lines now blurred. The moon is high
above an evening blue. Along

comes a solitary hawk, mirrored
along his favored lake—high, elusive. 



Joyce Odam and I have had a conversation about the Ghazal form this week, since she sent her “husbands knew me” poem for last Tuesday’s post. I asked her if it was a Ghazal, and she wrote back that it could be. She even sent me some more of her Ghazals and some more information, so I’ve posted this one (which even happens to fit our Seed of the Week: Dry Leaves Underfoot). See Medusa’s Form Finder at the bottom of this post for several links to Ghazal sources, but don’t get frustrated; this form is kind of subjective, and different people (and cultures) have different takes on it.

Here is another one of Joyce’s smooth Ghazals:

—Joyce Odam, Sacramento, CA

Somewhere a bell rattles and dry leaves hurry to their deaths.
Come, let us take the world by the horns and shake it into fury.

Is it not true that all distance travels farther than itself?
I have unfolded the map and this is not where I thought I was.

A man with heavy shoulders is waiting for another burden.
See how his reflection in glass is mistaking itself for another.

Sometimes I feel the anguish in the air and cry remembrance.
Once an old blue shadow stepped into my life and stayed.

Oh, I was so sure of my beauty. I knew all the poses.
The shadow began to crumble and fall away.

I would never have believed that I would cry out in such a voice.
The old faint echoes carry and admonish, “Rejoice! Rejoice!”


Carl Schwartz (Caschwa) has sent us a Villanelle, a Lanturne (last week’s Form Fiddler’s Challenge) and a Pantoum—more noble forms with which to keep your poetry chops in shape. About his Villanelle, Carl says: “This Villanelle can serve as a metaphor for the steady diet of unproven statements a certain presidential candidate is trying to feed us.”

—Caschwa, Sacramento, CA

you have ignored the lessons I have taught,
imposing your tastes on my good chili
I sampled a spoonful, good it was not

to make matters worse, you made a whole pot
swarming, spicy peppers till it’s silly
you have ignored the lessons I have taught

with flavors too exotic it is fraught
raw cuttings just floating like a lily
I sampled a spoonful, good it was not

you went past the point where food tastes good hot
and just added torture willy nilly
you have ignored the lessons I have taught

yours made me ask what disease I had caught
as my skin became itchy and hilly
I sampled a spoonful, good it was not

my own chili mix I enjoy a lot
as fun as the circus, Piccadilly
you have ignored the lessons I have taught
I sampled a spoonful, good it was not 




This is Carl’s Lanturne—a chain of them, in fact, like Taylor Graham’s (see above). Betcha can't write just one:


all have their own


fastest way
it’s already


in a mug
endless refills


used drop box
now it’s your turn


under God



And his slightly naughty Pantoum:


we were getting it together
and then she donned her pantaloons
social distancing, you know
survival of the species

and then she donned her pantaloons
with no one next to her
survival of the species
both of us wore masks

with no one next to her
I wore loose jammies
both of us wore masks
we were very happy then

I wore loose jammies
we were getting it together
we were very happy then
social distancing, you know


Many thanks to our SnakePals for their brave fiddling! Would you like to be a SnakePal? All you have to do is send poetry—forms or not—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!


NEW FEATURE: Fiddlers’ Challenge!  

See what you can make of this week’s poetry form, and send it to! (No deadline.) This week's challenge (for Halloween): Skeltonic Verse:


MEDUSA’S FORM FINDER: Links to poetry forms mentioned today:

•••Ghazal: OR OR  OR  
•••Prisoner’s Constraint/Restriction/Multiple Lipogram:
•••Sandwiched by Sevens: 7,7,5,5,5,5,5,7,7, rhyme scheme aaxaxaxbb (Carl Schwartz)
•••Skeltonic Verse:
•••Villanelle (rhymed; can be done unrhymed):




—Public Domain Cartoon 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.


Thursday, October 29, 2020

HairKu Debate Summary, 2020

—Poetry by John Stickney, Wilmington, NC 
—Public Domain Photos by Joseph Nolan, Stockton, CA

Rake da forest clean
Don’t lose the cows, Hunter Biden
pray for us, amen

Trump says:
Let’s lay a wreath
At the tomb
Of the Unknown Loser
Let’s say a prayer
For all those suckers
Put no other
Before me
March into the Valley of Death
Keep the Russian Bounty
Out of mind
All for my glory

Really hugely
Enjoys pee play
Has been paper-trained
To defecate on
The Constitution
Will chew up
The scenery
The law
The White House
Little Puppy Donald
Digging up the trees
In the Rose Garden
Bad Little Donald
Melania says
Hitting him on
That Mushroom Dick
Watch little Donald
Wag his tail
Only Putin
Gets that reaction
Little Donald
Makes all the boys proud
Not tonight, dear, I have a headache....

Flinging poop at you
The clown smiles through your pain
Proud Boys are such proud boys


An unidentified
Flying object
Putin’s Puppy
Flinging poop
Wonder how
A century
Of interstellar
Explorer’s manuals
Got it so wrong
To miss
Opposable thumbs
On a puppy’s
2020 Wolf
Two Chris Wallace HairKu
In Fox mind there Is
only one True hand, heed the
sound of white hands clapping
* * *
Be the wind flowing
The river and water, this
Empty suit flutters on hanger


Only in front of a Grand Jury
Only in a Courtroom after asserting the Fifth
Only when Melania pushes me away
Only when you ask me to recite the Lord’s Prayer
Only when Stormy Daniels spanks me
Only when sarcastically mainlining bleach
Only when Ivanka pushes my hands away
Only when my hair stylist praises my flowing locks
Only when eating KFC
Only when Putin speaks
Only when Fox shows their polls
Only when snorting hydroxychloroquine
Only when you talk about my tax returns
Only when Eric asks for money money daddy daddy
Only when 200,000 dead citizens sought help
Only when I am on the ventilator
Only when I am asked to renounce white supremacy


My $75,000 hair deduction
Written off like 200,000 dead, what
Can I say—It is what it is


Today’s LittleNip:

Free speech is not to be regulated like diseased cattle and impure butter. The audience that hissed yesterday may applaud today, even for the same performance.

—William O. Douglas


Welcome back to the Kitchen, John, and why don’t you tell us what you really think about Trump?
😜 There are some things I’ll defend to the death, though, and free speech is one of them. Thanks, John, for sending us your work today.

Speaking of free speech, SnakePal Tom Goff wrote yesterday and reminded me that it was Sylvia Plath’s birthday, a day on which I serendipitously (and because of Marc Tan Low’s mention of her) chose to post a comment of hers about free speech. Below is a letter that Tom wrote once upon a time to Sylvia Plath’s biographer, Anne Stevenson (who has, sadly, passed away). Go to to see the original.

Tom's letter said: Some years ago, I wrote to poet and Plath biographer Anne Stevenson (the author of
Bitter Fame), on the subject of Sylvia Plath. She responded cordially from her home in Wales by a blue aerogramme (readers of Janet Malcolm’s “The Silent Woman” will recognize this type of mail). The gist of her response was this:

“Your letter pleased me particularly when you suggested that ‘the great poet’s cause is served best when her harsh and abrasive qualities are freely admitted, honestly, and without exaggeration.’ Yes, exactly. How could some saint or fantasy of ‘our culture’ have written Ariel? That volume seems to me to stand as a monument to UN-niceness. It explodes as no one else ever did, the fiction of the possibility of a ‘nice’ perpetual civilization. Poetry will never be the same again. Plath was important because she opened Pandora’s box. The question is, where now do we go? What can we say about ‘hope’—all that was left, you remember, after the insects of evil flew out to sting the world.”

Free speech seems to me to be one of those subjects that will never be clearly defined, yes? Does you knows it when you sees it? As Anne Stevenson says, “Where now do we go?”

—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?
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!



Wednesday, October 28, 2020

The Moonfish & The Astronaut

—Poetry by Marcus Ten Low, Brisbane, Australia
—Public Domain Photos

of a moonfish called “wonder”

the astronaut’s headpiece was a fishbowl,
his head the circular domain of a metaphorical fish.

that’s one small step for man,
but if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree,

you can see exactly how few neurons whizz by
on a craterous surface of utter desolation.

behold, a zillion miles away, the infant terrible bashing
at the piano. behold his mother, like virgin Mary,

wailing in the backdrop for someone to save
their punitive souls. in the convex mirror

the astronaut, proceeding swimmingly,
left dusty footprints and stuffed up his one moment of fame

and we see, as if in soporific motion, the terrors
of the depths of space, as if that were a choice

and the sea were only up to our necks.
the lanternfish planted the US flag in the dirt,

a grimy thing that symbolised nothing
but patriotic pride. disgusting, in an age where

the oceans will be fishless by 2048,
unless Jesus returns to spawn the last one into thousands. 

in the mental institution on an ordinary day

tessellations lived on the gowns we were required to wear
knowing we wore nothing beneath those gowns;

but the patterns grew in our eyes, too,
mesmerised by the fear of the needle—

and the invirility that the drugs would so cause
to our rising erections. queer

were our considerations, we tottered around barefoot
supping over trays of flat or packaged meals thrice a day,

flimsily rousing a stage-presence among other patients.
splitting conversations like delicate matchsticks, into two or more.

the veils of smokers clouded our nostrils and visions,
keeping nonsmokers at bay. we looked out

at a fragment of the sky, sharded by the rooftops.
the most colorful of birds visited our little tree,

and for that brilliance, they became drunk on the sugar
in little sachets left out for them, chortling. 


Of a child that died within me
(a treatise on the relative value of feminism)

We always left the modern art galleries
With a sense of dread:
Never fully understanding the experience,
Yet regarding it as a cultural ticket to keep existing.
To keep returning, occasionally.

Typically they portrayed the birth within oneself
As a gollum, shrivelled, almost a carcass
Growing within the womb of a virginal, beautiful girl.
I felt like that girl.

They say men will never comprehend what it means
To be the bearer of new life.
Women walk manfully in the spell of feminist
Protestation, the blood being—if not on their hands—
Then in their vaginas as if from the penile “swords” of men.

Many women have tried—and failed—to achieve
Greatness. For it is in affectation of men that greatness
Can be insurrected, like that gollum of a fetus,
Rearing its fragile, writhing head, and clambering from within.

God himself is a man. The patriarchy of millennia
Holds benevolence with a strange shadow
Cast upon nonhuman sentients,
Somehow bestowing them with lesser importance.
And yet the female vegan, frail, veiled

By societal norms, exists as a marblesque representation
Not of strength, not of virility,
But of the most surprising forms of endurance.

If the world were to achieve peace,
It would be merely a piece, surreptitious and trembling,
Of what has been. A half-mask of the identity of men,
Seen within the mind’s eye, but never fully understood,
Never fully gleaned. 


reflections of a human pig

in the dormitory menu was “pigs in a blanket”.
waking from his dream, Ralph took this literally,
inferring pigs wallowing in a “blanket” of clouds,
whiffling and nuzzling each other.

the boys and girls ate their ham
without questioning its origins, whereas Ralph,
he carefully removed and stored his chorizo slice
and mincingly devoured the thin bread slices only.

reading Solomon Grundy, which was a very short story,
but reciting it repeatively for its mirth, Ralph
realised he too had a piggish nose, snobby in a way,
and sensitive to both wafting odors and the sounds

of ridicule, if any might think him a pig.
pigs were, of course, denigrated for being evil
(“nazi pig” was used offhand), and humans romped around
in delightful wearing of pigs’ heads on their shoulders,

mostly as a symbolic mask of menace,
as well as signifying life after a horrid death.
grotesque, some realised, but they ate in silence,
devouring piece after piece of remnants of a pinkish life.

Ralph reserved slices of ham remained within
the fridge compartment. before they could putrefy,
perhaps they should have been stolen and devoured
by some hungry coward rummaging in the contents there

one night, or perhaps even looking for scraps to feed
the birds. Yes, Ralph was in many ways a runt
of the humans he associated with, and never quite realised
that symbolising his respect for pigs was utter madness. 

Random fact

If you’re weird enough,
Doubtless you’ll be a pioneer.

Smoothing the edges of this manuscript
Made the reader think, something she
Never really did before. It was not so much
A case of adore, but

The poet lives in our hearts, striking at
The most plaintive truths in a new and

Eyes jitterbugging across the page;

The way you might stroke a baby and his
New tufts of hair, readying it to a life
Of conformity. Banal and twisted,
How we always do it. It looks at you

Bulbous; aware.

Wisdom is not a state of being,
But acting to enable the enlightening
Of all in your wake. (

One can be venerated, but a degenerate
Fool. We all fart, but make of these
What you desire. We all emit waste.)

What we draw on the page
Has a past: construed, vicious, untame.

Frightening was how we defined ourselves
In terms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder,
Intrinsically associated with victim status and power.
But if you were tenacious (
Like Sylvia Plath)

That was not what you suffered. You created.


Today’s LittleNip:

I took a deep breath and listened to the old bray of my heart. I am. I am. I am.

—Sylvia Plath


G'day and welcome to the Kitchen to Marcus Ten Low, writing for us all the way from Brisbane! Marc is a writer-poet, musician vegantinatalist, failed (but revived) comedian and the inventor of the dubious concept of livingmodelling. Based in Brisbane, Australia, Marc was born in Canberra, 1979, and excelled at school throughout his childhood. But, upon reaching senior school at Canberra Grammar School, he became distracted and tormented as a result of unexplained esoteric experiences and fell out with the rest of his family from that point.
Disillusioned with society yet keen to help repair the world’s great problems, he became almost fully vegan from 1996, and in 1998 wrote his poetic masterpiece, "Inland Surfer". In May 2005 he was arrested cold by police and since then incurred more than 20 incarcerations and has had numerous altercations with the police and Mental Health Authority in Australia. He remains their involuntary client.

Marc has been producing videos for his YouTube channel, “Vegan Marc”, since September 2017. He commenced an online law course in mid-2020 with the University of New England, Australia. In the world of poetry and journalism, he has been published multiple times in journals such as
Quadrant, The Big Issue (Australia), and by the famous fantasy author, Piers Anthony.

Welcome to Medusa’s Kitchen, Marc, and don’t be a stranger!

For more about the moonfish, see


Marcus Ten Low

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!



Tuesday, October 27, 2020

Coffee Cups & Words

Reach of Meaning
—Poetry and Photos by Joyce Odam, Sacramento, CA


         balanced in the hand   the narrow spout   up-lifted
      pouring through the filter
    in the second filter—
    the brown
     of the
           the steam
                    white swirls of art
                    to the following eye
                of the one who pours,
             steadily and slowly
          to hear the sound
        of the pouring—
      and be the one
     who does this
    morning ritual
   with grave intensity
  and peaceful repetition
 of keeping the hand steady—
letting the filter receive and the cup fill



In the mornings she wanted
her small blunt cup with the
wide handle,
a soft matte white,
no design or picture,
no cute wording—
a silent cup
that she admired
for its unobtrusiveness—
a small white cup that would
gleam and be warm in her hands.
But For The Background


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.)

(prev. pub. in CQ Magazine [CSPS] , 2000)



Black Mood Number Seven
of chin on hand
black stares
cold mouth . . .

no doubt . . .
is dangerous.

(prev. pub. in Brevities, 2005)
To Ask


You bring me a cup of

Thank you.

It is almost
a love.



getting excited

this new line
and that
old poem
these images
these typewritten pages
these published books
these manuscripts
until the table is
covered with coffee cups and
soft gray ashes—

no place for food,
no need—


Eating a white dessert, all by myself,
with small red bites of strawberries in it

—rich as a sugar—disguised in many
ways.  I savor

the treat, melting against my tongue.
Outside : the threat of rain—

not here yet—at this gray window
with its ominous gathering of clouds

and glassy blur of people.  Sated, I linger
over my cup of lukewarm coffee.

Every day I try to diet. When I am thin
again, I may forgive the obesity of tears.



Sarcastic-toned and smiling, biting with her eyes, 
rathering elsewhere, she tends the table of noisy patrons 
who will not tone down to order—who ignore though 
she waits at their edges with her pad and pencil poised, 
with her professional way of keeping track, while they 
call out, over the table, over each other, crisscrossing 
what they want, or mumbling amid the chatter and the 
laughter they have brought, but she keeps her temper 
tight in her smile and somehow wades through them 
all—even telling a small joke to them, though they 
are loud and private and they look at her in a
friendly way as, yesthankyou, they accept 
more coffee, and stay and stay.

(prev. pub. by Nanny Fanny, 2001)


There is a tear in the world that fits you—
like a mind-rip made of cynical regret

that you stir like bitter coffee, as though you
forgot the sugar, or refused the sweetness.

Some days you like the gray air that
surrounds you. You linger against the tide

of going through it—turning cold where
every gray thought gets through, and nothing

gets sewn back together. Life is raw
today. The tear widens and you must not

add to the tearing which is bloodless.
You accept the wound as you always do

as part of its condition—and you shudder
like a knife-rip that goes through you.



Does the fly remember death in its little struggle
in the dregs of a bedside coffee cup, or in the

floating ceiling web, or caught between the screen
and window glass
in summer—or even winter when there’s no chance

of an opened window, there with the withered moth
and the crosshatch view—does the fly remember?
Something Remembered


I lift my eyes to Mother’s
every morning
above my coffee cup,
my hands arthritic,
needing to be coaxed
and exercised
before they

Hands around my cup
I sip
and close my eyes
then lift my look
to Mother’s 5 x 7 gaze.

Her young face.

(prev. pub. in No Name Newsletter for Poets, 1991)


Today’s LittleNip:

—Joyce Odam

Tangle of hairpins
in a coffee jar . . .

and your hair so short now,
your thrift so valuable.


Thank you, Joyce Odam, for poems about coffee (our recent Seed of the Week)  and the ways it weaves itself into our lives, like it or not ~ !

Our new Seed of the Week is “Dry Leaves Underfoot”. 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.

For more coffee cartoons, see 

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.