Sunday, February 28, 2021

The Mightiest Word

American People Series #8: The In-Crowd
—Painting by Faith Ringgold

—Elizabeth Alexander

A Poem for Barack Obama’s Presidential Inauguration

Each day we go about our business,
walking past each other, catching each other’s
eyes or not, about to speak or speaking.

All about us is noise. All about us is
noise and bramble, thorn and din, each
one of our ancestors on our tongues.

Someone is stitching up a hem, darning
a hole in a uniform, patching a tire,
repairing the things in need of repair.

Someone is trying to make music somewhere,
with a pair of wooden spoons on an oil drum,
with cello, boom box, harmonica, voice.

A woman and her son wait for the bus.
A farmer considers the changing sky.
A teacher says, Take out your pencils. Begin.

We encounter each other in words, words
spiny or smooth, whispered or declaimed,
words to consider, reconsider.

We cross dirt roads and highways that mark
the will of some one and then others, who said
I need to see what’s on the other side.

I know there’s something better down the road.
We need to find a place where we are safe.
We walk into that which we cannot yet see.

Say it plain: that many have died for this day.
Sing the names of the dead who brought us here,
who laid the train tracks, raised the bridges,

picked the cotton and the lettuce, built
brick by brick the glittering edifices
they would then keep clean and work inside of.

Praise song for struggle, praise song for the day.
Praise song for every hand-lettered sign,
the figuring-it-out at kitchen tables.

Some live by love thy neighbor as thyself,
others by first do no harm or take no more
than you need.
What if the mightiest word is love?

Love beyond marital, filial, national,
love that casts a widening pool of light,
love with no need to pre-empt grievance.

In today’s sharp sparkle, this winter air,
any thing can be made, any sentence begun.
On the brink, on the brim, on the cusp,

praise song for walking forward in that light.


—Medusa, on this last day of Black History Month

For more about Elizabeth Alexander, see
For more about Faith Ringgold, see


Saturday, February 27, 2021

Peace is a Dove

—Poetry by Linda Klein, Los Angeles, CA
—Images Courtesy of Public Domain


A large block of clay awaited his touch and imagination. It stood on a solid wood pedestal and was covered with damp cloths to keep it supple and to prevent the studio air from drying it.

Ah, the air, a variety of musty, vaporous odors, a treat for his nostrils as he entered the room each morning.  The air told of the clay's origins and composition.  It brought images of plants, trees, and animals decomposed, and buried deep inside the huge lump of clay.

To the sculptor it was as though there was, in his studio, alive again, a wild forest of long ago, creatures ambling through shrubs and grasses. Behind trees, caches of badgers, beavers, spiraling snakes, foxes and wolves, with their animal scents, co-existing, moving about among the vegetation, consuming it as they went.

He reached inside the moist clay to reveal the scene, first with his hands and fingers, then an arm, and found a baby deer.  The deer looked at him curiously, lovingly.  Its ears curved as leaves curve.  The sculptor caressed its bowed head.  With a cutting tool he carefully carved the rest of its graceful body from the dense mound of clay.

Continuing passionately, he dug in deep to find as many forms as he could.  He must release them all, bring them back to life again.  They were counting on him.


I love paintings of roads and paths
positioned diagonally on a canvas,
a wide strip of road in the foreground,
gradually narrowing, drawing me in.
What lies beyond the horizon?
I am compelled to follow the path
and solve the mystery.

There is such excitement in that.

I wonder if the artist knows what I will find,
if, by some magic, I am able to walk his road,
pass the trees and brush alongside,
stumble over rocks, get back up if I fall,
follow the curves and bends,
and finally reach what can't be seen.
Is he the all-knowing god of his painting,

or is it a mystery to him also?


So much depends upon our wisdom and our strength.
How do we react when violence threatens our way of life?
Do we maintain calm restraint,
or fight till death for what we know is right?
Stand by and watch while the innocent are slaughtered,
or rush to their defense at any and all cost?
Can we still live our lives with such disorder?
Will morality and conscience be forever lost?

Whose bloody, severed head is that, placed upon a skewer,
dripping scarlet rain to soak the ground?
Is someone, somewhere, totaling up the score?
Is there any good solution to be found?
Can we endure having seen his shocked surprise?
What does it mean to tolerate the horror in his eyes?


Peace is a dove with wings that flutter to the beat of his heart.
How sweetly coos that bird, his message to impart.

Can he cover the entire world as quickly as is needed,
and will the import of his song be understood and heeded?

I pray the wind will carry him to all villages and cities.
May his swift strength carry him, and avert further tragedies.

To see him flying overhead makes me feel assured and calm.
If everyone could know that bird, life would be song and psalm.


Today’s LittleNip:
—Linda Klein

Every morning when I wake up
and I see you there beside me,
silvery hair upon your pillow,
so much love I feel inside me.
I could lie and watch you sleeping
more than fifty years—forever.
What we have is so worth keeping.
Would I leave you?  Dear, no—never.


—Medusa, thanking Linda Klein for today’s talk of art and peace and that blessed silvery hair! 

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!



Friday, February 26, 2021

Peace Shrine


—Poetry and Photos by Taylor Graham, Placerville, CA
—And scroll down for FORM FIDDLERS’ FRIDAY!


My internet is out; blame the weather in Texas.
The news has witnessed years of shared
trauma today. Aren’t we all connected by planet
and sky? I carry out my bucket of mop-water,
fling it on the periwinkle—why has it gone yellow
after last summer’s dust has changed to mud?
My presence scatters titmouse and finches
from the hanging feeder. From woods, a sibilant
call—protest from which bird? I turn back
toward the house and there, a new woodpecker
swinging from the feeder—I can’t look him up
on the internet. Has he arrived here because
of our changed and changing weather? Why ask?
The bird’s got a meal ticket for planet and sky. 


My cat’s kept on the cozy side of sliding door.
Her goal is glory on the gopher battlefront.
Listen how night lullabys wail and sing—
how Coyote slips its yip-howl!
How Coyote slips its yip-howl,
or is it Horned Owl always hungering?
The crafty dark is calling our Cat to the hunt,
but is she not the prey for now and nevermore? 


Bundled and masked to the courthouse steps
we’ve come
keeping our distances, holding books and papers
to speak
our protest, our hopes and prayers, our poems—
just words
heard over ages, of brotherhood and peace,
each masked voice separate and making a space
for all. 


We dodge placards parading Main Street. It was Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve. Evening's dark as the inside of a beer-can, cold taste of metal. We come inside and leave the door ajar as welcome to our world. How many chairs does it take to form a circle? We came in with the others; does that make all of us guilty? Moral Majority waits outside. Anti-War=Pro-Terror. Who cares about Polar Bears? I wish to believe there’s not a word that can't transform to song. Peace I ask of thee o river

blue of a boy's eyes
singing to winter—only
the near shore is ice.

(prev. pub. in Verse Wisconsin)



Assorted cars, trucks,
trailers, fishing boat all at
ready for the road.


Grazing pasture at
their ease, two tall horses, one
buckskin and a gray.


At foot of driveway
by mailbox stands one snug
cedar-bark tepee.


We got appointments. Driving in a gray drizzle—
pause for 5 peacocks flashing their colors
in the road. Wild turkeys pecking acorns—
what do they care for Covid shots? Switchback
down to undammed river. Windshield wipers,
oak-studded creek in rain. Green hills lead to
Jackson—hour’s drive for a needle in your
arm. Then two hours north, backroads horse country,
for mine. At outskirts of Rocklin I’m lost—
maze of speeding cars, “driving directions”
wrong. Compass & follow my nose to
pharmacy. Roll up sleeve, get shot. Then, lost
again trying to escape the city.
In 4 weeks, repeat for 2nd dose. But
for now, backroads another hour’s drive home.
What will I remember? oak-wooded creek,
mosses and lichen at peace blessing rain.  


Today’s LittleNip:

—Taylor Graham

Upon the shore a man set stones
one on another in the name
of amity. But hear the moans
of ocean tiding without blame.

His shrine’s become a barren shore
of salvaged stones, a threshing floor.
The breakers polish without cease
the stones he chose to bless for peace.

(prev. pub. in
The Road Not Taken)


Signs of peace (our Seed of the Week), thanks to Taylor Graham this morning! And poetry forms, as well: a Rispetto (“A Peace Shrine”); some Blank Verse (“Roadtrip for Shots”); an Amanda's Pinch (“Cat in the Pinch”); a Waltmarie (a new form! “Words in Winter”); some Golden Trillium Triads (“Scape”); a Word-can Poem (“Planet & Sky”) and a Haibun ( “At the Peace Watch 2012”). See for more about the Waltmarie.

And now it’s time for…

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.)

Joyce Odam has sent us an interesting variation on the Shakespearean Sonnet, called a Smith Sonnet— not to be confused with a sonnet form by Charlotte Smith, called the Smith’s Sonnet. The Smith Sonnet is in 5-foot pentameter, unrhymed except for the final couplet:

—Joyce Odam, Sacramento, CA

Maybe we will flatten to the world,
live out its arrogance, live in its grace,
resist the many shadowings that pull
like any leaf relinquished to the fall…

and maybe face the mirror of reprieve
and tell our stories to the deaf and blind
as if they cared about us or could bear
the giving and receiving of such cries…

and if we pray to silence when some grief
has torn us for some last time, may we bide
forever in redemption made of love—
as if love were not sacrifice enough—

that when life gets too real we may pretend
there’s more to the beginning than the end.

Wise words from Joyce! Caschwa (Carl Schwartz) took the bait of last Friday’s Fiddlers’ Challenge and set us a poem with the intriguing form-name of "Amanda’s Pinch":

—Caschwa, Sacramento

there come thoughts from theories of popular sayings
“God helps those who help themselves” cannot be put as
go to a pie shop and clear all the shelves
had an idea, and off I ran
had an idea, and off I ran
oh how precious is the freedom of elves
own the whole dance floor, do-si-do and all that jazz
the first skinny dip feelings were jellyfish stings

Here is an Argonelle from Carl:


snuck out
early to mow the lawn
the whole household was still sleeping
dog with her clipboard came peeping
measuring what was gone 

Carl is calling this next one a Hairbun: uses a Senryu instead of a Haiku. (Love that pompous palimpsest!)


(inspired by Rufus, by Lady,
by gosh! Medusa’s Kitchen,
February 18, 2021)

    behold bold accounts
    of promiscuous incest
    scraped or washed away

rollicking frolicking
Frebrurary* fun fest
erasers stolen from pencils

all to manifest in a pompous
palimpsest ardently screwing
the black hole of space


Speaking of Senryus, tune into Medusa’s Kitchen next Monday, when Carl will regale us with a whole slew of Senryus! He just couldn’t stop himself!

Carl’s final poem today has to do with Acrostics again this week. Can you find the Acrostic? This poem is as warm and gentle as those tropical waves in Hawaii…


pure peace is self-forgiveness, that
cane of love on which we safely rest our
sugar-grabbing arms, reaching out
from cold urban fortitudes to selfies in
Hawaii, replenishing our warm feelings


And 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!


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


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

•••Amanda’s Pinch:
•••Golden Trillium Triads: 3 stanzas of 3 lines each, 5-7-5; each could stand on its own as a short poem. Each has subtitle that refers to a different aspect of subject chosen, and has brief image suggested by title. Poem is unified by one-word titles.
•••Smith Sonnet: 5-ft. pentameter, unrhymed except for couplet ending
•••Word-can Poem: putting lots of random words on slips of paper into a can, and then drawing out a few and making a poem out of them.


Don’t forget our Seed of the Week: Green
—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.

Thursday, February 25, 2021

Big Foot and the Old Crow

—Harp Photo by Carol Louise Moon,
Other Photos Courtesy of Public Domain
—Poetry by Carol Louise Moon, Placerville, CA


His skull is large.
His skeletal frame is somewhat
… Viking.
His hands are large enough
to build folk harps the size
of kangaroos.
This Big Foot’s fingernails are
… clean.
Today, he made me a sandwich
and we sat under a tree to
read and compose poetry.

Big Foot. I’m in love with him.
He’s hairy, but just enough to
convince me that he is related
… to me.

His feet are really large.
Did you know that Big Foot
doesn’t just show up in the
forest? He has been seen
on the great waters of the
Pacific Northwest. He has
a boat, a 27-foot-long boat,
similar to (but not the same as)
… the Vikings. He’s a mariner!
Yes, Big Foot is a mariner.

I’ve been on the water with
him, and I am a believer. His
feet are bigger than mine.
We have walked through the
forest together many times,
and I have a lot to learn
from him. 


See those crows out there
in the empty lot?
They’re all looking for
carrion, except… there.
Look at that old crow at
the base of the tree trunk.
With his beak he’s
flipping dried leaves.
He’s searching diligently
for bobbles, coins, foil—
anything that sparkles,
teases the eye.

He’s about to retire and
has lost his appetite for
competition. He’s left his
girlfriend behind. He’s
got jazz running through
his veins. Most days he
hums his life story of
so many made-up tunes.

(prev. pub. on
Spare Mule Online, 2016
Medusa’s Kitchen, 2016 )


and tarnished coins. He loved
philosophy: one woman only
until he finds another.
My mother was made of woven
mats and belly dancing. Not much
baking there having closed the
oven door. She ironed out
wrinkles in all my days and sang
off-key an angelic harmony to
the lull of my sobbing.

In melody and rhythm they made
me, placed me in a bassinet,
and went their separate ways.
To this day I hear my mother
weeping in the willow outside
my window.

(prev. pub. in Peeking Cat
Poetry Anthology, 2018)


(A Eulogy)

Gone is the light from faded eyes
of a woman hidden from earthly praise.
No more shall times of promise lure
the wonder of her ways.

No language may explore the shifting
of her thoughts that end in rest,
when grace Divine, definitive,
has called her to His breast.

Her breast, where love has nourished us,
is done with rise and falling—
her breath of song is heavenward now,
and so her heavenward calling.

Know now what we have known before,
that women are Love’s perfection—
be they mothers, sisters, patient wives,
they are God’s loved reflection.

(1st Place Winner,
Poetry Soup Contest, 2021)


Today’s LittleNip:

(A Pleiades)
—Carol Louise Moon

Specialized ground-hunting bird,
she hunts rodents and other
small animals; seen wearing
stylish red-tint glasses, gray
suit, quill pens behind her ears.
Surely, stenography is
second on her to-do list.


Our thanks to Carol Louise Moon for her nimble poetry today! For more about the starry Pleiades poetry form, go to

Tonight, 7:20pm, Sacramento Poetry Alliance and Steve Cirrone presents Macbeth: The Bardes Introduction to The Science of Fiction, a Lecture on the Work of William Shakespeare. Zoom: Facebook info:




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, February 24, 2021

Shyest of Roses

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


Departed dear Jane Blue, poet,
writes down the sadness it is to see
dogs leashed,
dogs like slaves, like prisoners, she opines.
Or say rather, like eighteenth-,
like nineteenth-century
children in leading-strings,
leashed until trained to step
upright sturdily and not stray
or, worse image, trip, stumble,
knee-scrape, bleed until scabbed.

Leading-strings, not very often seen,
exist still, lashing moms to offspring,
offspring to moms, connection
less umbilical than telephonic,
as with the old handset cord, flexing wire coiled
and sheathed in malleable plastic,

coiled for torsion, mom-fist to child-harness
or backpack, coiled for in-gather and outflex,
for ease of retraction
from tolerated anxious outstretch almost
beyond testable limits.

Adults too feel the restraint, the backwards tug,
Keats telling Charles Armitage Brown
as to the play they’ve both plotted,
I’ve been in leading-strings long enough; let me
look to the rest. 

(Aloys Fleischmann—Aloys Og—reminisces:)

Oh, you should have met my Irish non-Irish friend
Arnold Bax. Yes, that’s right: the famous
Non-famous composer. He was a character.
Correction. I should say the great Sir Arnold Bax.
But that just embalms the living soul. Oh, you’d
Have liked him. In Ireland, he knew poets and radicals.
Wrote better than decent poetry himself
On the age-old Irish struggle against the Brits.
At times, he’d seem difficult, a bit hard to reach,
But that was his shy surface. More time spent
With him, he’d ease. He’d keep you entertained
With mimicry or literature for hours.
That, from his phase as Dermot O’Byrne, the writer.
A funny fellow: perhaps shied from revolution;
Took ship back to England prior to the Easter Rising.
Yet sympathized no less. His music’s first fame
Fell upon British ears, a savage gong,
Though, somehow, he failed to fully press his case.
Flinched from the big battle, you say? Take Willy Yeats.
Who holds it against Yeats now he surely did so?
Held that Coole Park white-swan soul high aloof
From the great bullet-fight still pocking the Post Office.
Ach, when I think of Bax, I think of this:
He wrote of it well, those grey-wall bullet gouges,
Pond-pinging splashes turned fossil, for us to inspect and think. 

(Aloys Og signifies Aloys Fleischmann, Jr.—T.G.) 

(years after the affair)

Mary Gleaves, interviewed for radio
By Michael Oliver. Extraordinary.
Shyest of English roses: may we know,
In Arnold Bax’s birth-centenary,
What it was like, your situation, mistress
To that fine, lately seldom-sung, composer?
Uncanny. Elderly Mary, no distress
Discernible save, perhaps, to any who knows her:
Seems almost eager to hint how rapturous
It was to be alive, in secret meet
That great man, trysting along through amorous
“Green and gold days” in Marlow, flesh replete
With sensual satisfaction. Empty out feeling,
Fill from skin-surface to inmost once again.
Time hurtling past in Scotland, Morar’s reeling
Storm-fronts perfectly suiting them, as when
Sex mimics the shingle-crashing rollers. Calm
Suspends then over the shoreline, love and languor…
During which calm they, “bod” and “bod” entwined,
Seem dizzied just lying still, Earth turning over.
How can they be, like fortunate stars, aligned?
Like mirror-doubling, fingers enlacing, palm
His helpless to escape palm Hers, nor wanting to?
All this, yet much unsaid, pique rarely voiced,
Though how can she not know how much she has to rue,
Positioned as Second Mistress, never First?
Shyness of hers, convenient for him: so poised
Her reticence, indiscreet blurts will never burst
From youthful unguarded lips. Every so often,
Or rather, seldom, temper flares. Resent?
Occasionally, the flame; but then, re-soften
Into her sensual giving, giving bent.
But back to the BBC. Of course, she omits
So much we guess about her, emphasizes
Sweet comradeship, expressed with iron decorum,
Expressed so because this is her nature. Rises
To interview with slight anecdotes: Bax composing,
Being read to by her, while scoring, while flame blazes
Behind the fire-dogs in their sitting room
(One may suppose he writes verse while she knits)
Or long spring walks he paces ahead still musing
In silent bliss; she trails him with his gift
Of a botanist’s book, cataloguing blooms
Or parsing various parsleys, umbel by umbel,
Partnered in a silence from which to sift
Perceived perfection, lasting albeit humble.
What can she possibly speak of in this forum
But decorous anecdotes, here with Michael Oliver?
(He probes for details, but never disrespects
That fragile-genteel plate armor that self-protects.)
She relates how she met him. Bax, with friend Grant Oliver:
Bax instantly sizes up the shy girl; must have her…
Yet did male eagerness not sound feminine depths?
Their turn of each to each, in pivot steps,
At that night’s last train stop: unison spontaneity,
Waving farewell (but let us meet again soon)
Done as would-be lovers do under a plenilune,
She-nymph, swept up in the tides of a grander deity.


Today’s LittleNip:

My life is part humor, part roses, part thorns.

—Bret Michaels


—Medusa, thanking Tom Goff for Mistress Mary (shyest of English roses), Arnold his Bax-Pal, and his reference to Sacramento's Jane Blue, keenest of poets and warmest of friends, but now, sadly, passed. 
Mary Rose Tudor
“The Rose Among the Lilies of France”

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, February 23, 2021

Peace Be To The Morning

The Dark Dream
—Poetry and Photos by Joyce Odam, Sacramento, CA

From one moment to another, change :
Numbers clicking on the clock
The air in the room

The dog dreams on the foot of my bed
Making dream-sounds and movements
And does not know of the

Why can’t I sleep—is it the moon
Some old anxiety, some new concern
Is it the moon

Rain—I was not mistaken
The air opens
The world moves
Night is wet with shining puddles
(Does the weatherman know ?)

Were I not a page of silence
I might not know of this
I might not know what the clock knows
I might not listen as hard as I do

Where in the night
Does it say I must sleep
Where in the night
Does my meaning change
From one moment to another 


and there is the white moon hanging
and a dark cat passing under,
prissy-footed in a stubble-field,
and a slow-motioned dog is barking,
far away it seems,
and the moon is sharp and full
and the cat is slowly stepping
through the shadows
and has almost reached the end now
and is just an abstract motion
in the field’s absorption
and the dog has hushed
and the moon has not quite paled
and the soft blue tone of morning
is just beginning
and a slight cold breeze
gets through as a crow takes
its dark silhouette across the window
and a long block away, across the field,
a jogger runs, tiny as a toy, and the cars
flow by him with their headlights on
and the spell is breaking



Today the world is filling with white rain and a long gray
wind and birds with flashing wings and sharpened eyes.
And today the cold is moving in like an old guest, and
the light is thin at the windows, and there is much think-
ing to be done. Something is holding the world like a
cube of ice. And today the leaves, as at a signal, fall and
soften against the ground, and I want to write you a letter,
but a poem is trying to write me. And today, time shortens
itself into dark, and it is winter, and will be winter, until
winter must let go. And we wait for that—with a patience
earned and remembered. And here and there a flock of
words is trying to become a poem—and I know that if I
keep writing, one will come to me—and when it does, I
will send it to you.
Big World, All By Myself


One cannot reconstruct,
the mind is locked,
lost in its mystery
which is sacred.

One cannot undo––the
thought is purely wrought
with option to believe,
or be suspicious of.

Thus is the rot
that fills the world with
evil––as god-given
as a holy curse––the

sinners named and locked
in the name as given––the sin
the forbidden difference
of the mind’s opinion.
Lavender and Green, In Collage


Nothing is everywhere, it moans and listens.
It listens, along with me. We are attuned
and there is nothing everywhere.
Oh there were signs
and confusions one could follow
that had nothing to do with direction.
I have an obsession but cannot say
how dangerous the mind is in surrender.
Hear me through the distortion
of my explanation :
the day is filled with answer,
I bring my questions and my turbulations.
I dance to this, I writhe and bend with agony
and learn to suffer. My mind is flattening again,
still wanting, and still wanting—both are same,
same and different. When did sound become words,
how they misconstrue and blame.
Some words are powerful, some inane,
work against each other. Something stays
aloof, the very thing want needs.
How complicated now the sortings and
the findings. The eyes surrender.  
Effort takes another misdirection. Everything
is plural. Nothing is everywhere, still advising.



Where would I go to hide the self from its great care
—what Innisfree find
to simply love,
and be,
and heal
from the self
that I have made,
and has been made by others.

What mountain, or shore-place—or even city’s core
—what closet small enough
to brace against—
keep in,
keep out,
whatever I want.

Oh, the world is bleak and sore
and I bear all its wounds sometimes
and would heal somewhere in a safe place
of my choosing—hold myself there like a doll—
take myself inward until peace and balance
returned, and once more
thought would not destroy me.

Where?, I wonder, where could that be?
—that simple place that needs
my solitude—,
for I would be my own stone-tossed center
as my layers smoothed, and stillness happened.
In My Solitude


In the politics of love, there is no need for sorrow.
Take what you want and give it your blessing.
It is all earned. You deserve what you want
and your skill is praised. It is a war of win.

In the politics of sorrow, no favor is granted.
You are left alone with your soft pillow
and your tears;
your heart
and words
smear on your mouth.
You have nothing left to give.
You will feel this way all your life.

In the politics of regret
there is no room for peace.
Your walls will be hung with reminders.
Love is an old word you’ll remember and remember.
The World At Attention   

“Zero Plus Anything Is A World” 
            —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. 
Part of the Theme

El-lip-ti-cal-i-ty, alas,

is worth the speak, of which,
much is much, and much more.  
It has a squeak to the intimation—
spoke and spoken—
rather “in” than “inner”.
However, there is ever
a leak betwixt and between
the eves of time.
Ah, time that sweetens
with its own agenda,
which is love,
is always love
is always agenda—
however (once again)
is always smitten by regret.
Sometimes surrender.
All is not lost; all is only all.
The heart is always broken
and the soul is always at question.
Blame and innocence—
one looking for the others
in their duality—
oh, Sweet Life, you are your own
and you belong to us, your bearers.
Nothing is responsible.
God-knows the world is perfect
for awhile and then grows tired
and falls apart, and we, who
want to stay, must go . . .
goodbye . . . hello . . . to whatever else
is known or thought about. One, Two, and Three
always make a trio which is round, and only that.



Peace be to the morning
with its cool announcement of arrival,
pale and thin, on wings of nothing . . .

And peace be to the fading of night
that takes away its dreaming and its sleep
or its long wakefulness . . .

Peace be to the mystery
of whatever is there— or not there—
that turns such pages . . .

Peace be to the memory
and the forgetting of all that needs to be
forgotten and remembered . . .

And peace be to the moment
trembling on the brink of the next one,
and to that mystery, peace, too . . .
(prev. pub. in Say Yes, 1999 and
A Sense of Melancholy,
Rattlesnake Chapbook Press #4, 2004)
Purity as Perfection


A sense of peace
comes over the day
from somewhere,

somewhere thru the streets
and din,
the hard to do, the hard to wait.

Waiting takes
all one can do on such days—
not knowing what else to do.

To do any less is what one must learn
until things get better, or come to term
with the way things are.

Even death takes its turn
and gives you all you need of life.
Here’s to life. Breathe deep and sigh.



When the world is loved, and love is rain, and glass
is the name of truth and fantasy—both sides, out
and in—and light goes through, and glass receives,

returns, reflects itself. And time is soft, personified,
in what it holds—as memories made real again, or
kind forgetfulness, as shift of shadow, changed by dark,

or simple stare imagination’s pose. Perhaps the world
is what it is—ordained, or changed, or just a myth of
love’s sad claim. The world wants, and wants again

with old relentless faith that will persist, with eloquence,
or awkwardly. How best sustain a thought
like this? One hardly knows which way to hold the

night, or hold the day to let the glass be what it is—
transparent shield, on which the rain can see but not
get through the body’s light, the body’s dark, the

mind, protective of the heart, the soul untouched,
or touched too much. Why put a window
in the way of what the poem has tried to say.


Today’s LittleNip:


in the wide
and far-away
and feel  
in the waking
of my reluctance—

I am
as far and wide
as the dreaming
that dreams me awake

it is sun     
and rain

to rinse
the world of all its sorrow.

—Joyce Odam


Joyce Odam has written to our complex Seed of the Week, Peace. Where or where could it be hiding?? Joyce has given us some ideas in her smooth, insightful poetry, and we shall continue to hunt for it, day by day… Thank you, Joyce! Peace be to the morning....!

This week’s Seed of the Week is Green.  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.  



—Public Domain Photo
Got your garden planted yet?

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.
LittleSnake in the Grass


Monday, February 22, 2021

Smiling in Buttercups


—Poetry by Sue Crisp, Joseph Nolan, Michael Ceraolo, 
Caschwa (Carl Schwartz)
—Public Domain Photos Courtesy of Joseph Nolan, Stockton, CA 

—Sue Crisp, Shingle Springs, CA

Peace and tranquility
can be as fleeting as a
white dove in flight at
the shadow of a Hawk
from above.

sky shadow on ground
wings of white flare upward bound
talons miss their mark
—Public Domain Photo, Medusa’s Kitchen's
Seed of the Week (2/15-21/2021), "Peace"


 —Joseph Nolan

I’m just floating smoothly
Atop the water’s sheen
Like a duck
Whose webbed-feet
Blow idle-minded wishes
Into underneath,
Where green weeds grow.
As I swim
Across this lake
Water will record
My tiny wake
That time
Will soon forsake
And smoothness,
Soon retake.  

—Joseph Nolan

There was an honest accountant
Who could never find any work.
Everyone wanted to lie and cheat
To keep all they could
From the government.
No amount of money
Was too small
Over which to defraud:

“It all adds up, you know,
And you must grab
For all that you can!
Did you see our noble Governor
Eating the best at French Laundry?
And he did it all mask-less,
As though he had no shame!
One of two things
Must be true:
Either our taxes were being wasted
Or the people were being screwed,
Since it was just bribery
If the rich-guys were paying the bill.
Our taxes just go
To pay for this shit
And they always will,”
Said the client.

—Joseph Nolan

He learned that he was nothing
When he disappeared.
His friends, too, all gone far away.
The business patrons he used to see
Come, not, anymore.
Even Tule fog
That used to fill his Valley
In the winter
Finds things, now, too warm
To hang around.

It’s been hard
Watching things shut down.
There’s no place left to go.
The world’s all full of fear. 

—Joseph Nolan

I slaughtered a thousand buffalo
Shooting from passing trains,
Leaving them rotting
In August sunshine,
On Indian Country’s plains.

I never felt
Any regret
For starving the Indians out,
Since I was one of the White Men,
Manifest Destiny was all about.

What we wanted
That’s theirs,
We took it.

Whatever was theirs,
We broke it.
That’s the way it goes
When you swallow
A continent, whole,
From shore to shining shore

And have to disperse
All those who would curse
Your national,
Crushing reverse. 

Our sympathies to the residents of Texas for 
the weather problems and shortages they're
suffering from right now.
—Joseph Nolan

I, who smile
In buttercups,
Across a brilliant
Framed in gold
And green,
Upon the hills,

Beckon any traveler
To brush against
Bright florid bushes
In the heat of
Summer’s day

And let
Come what may,
Upon his weary travels,
As though
He could only
Stay one day,
Upon the Earth,

So his sacred duty
Was to live that solo day
For all that it was worth!

A Poetry Collection by Michael Ceraolo, S. Euclid, OH

Ring Lardner

You know me as the author of stories,
many of them about baseball
A popular game that I never wrote about
is trying to figure out real-life models for fictional characters,
so I want to clear this up once and for all:
Jack Keefe was not based on any one player
Though such a thing is frowned upon now,
I was friendly with a few ballplayers I covered:
Doc White and I wrote a few songs together,
and I considered Eddie Cicotte a friend,
which made the events of 1919 hard to swallow
I was already moving away from baseball
when The Great Betrayal occurred,
so it wasn't a sudden disillusionment
but more the final straw that broke my fandom

* * *

Guy Harris White

I was a dentist,
so like anyone with any medical training
I was called Doc
I am proud of my five straight shutouts,
but glad I lived long enough to see Mr. Drysdale beat it
And I thought Ring's and my Gee, It's a Wonderful Game
was better than Von Tilzer and Norworth's work,
but they had a catchier chorus so they've lasted longer
I think there's room enough for both our songs

—Caschwa, Sacramento, CA

the drunken driver
who had no license
no insurance
no permission from
the owner’s son to
drive his pickup truck

had already failed the test,
seen and dismissed all
helpful signs that displayed
rules of the road

had already disavowed
role models
exemplary drivers
good driver discounts
any and all efforts to
reach and teach drivers
who appeared to be at risk

that was the kind of fellow who
didn’t slow when traffic slowed
and careened into my family car,
then rolled the truck over several
times, ending upside down on a
frontage road beside an orchard

the police collared him and the
owner’s son when they sought
medical treatment for their injuries,
but the driver still presented
nothing to work with when it came
to rehabilitative plans: he is and
will always be a scorpion, armed
and ready to sting any learning
curve that dares to confront him


headliner appears
resonating reed sings out
erases our fears

behind the dark curtains
sit music cases battered by
rough modes of travel, holding

empty candy wrappers because
blacks weren’t allowed to step
inside and sit at the counter

but we invited their music into
the deepest chambers of our
hearts, held it there, locked it up

we etched grooves on black, vinyl
disks, poured a drink, lit a smoke
hugged each other and danced

all hours through the night with
no limits as long as there were
coins in our pockets, and music 


was walking along the shore
bare feet in water at low tide
and suddenly a lamp bumps
into my ankles

couldn’t resist, I rubbed the
neck of the lamp and out
springs this smiling genie
who offers me the world

          you get one wish, so
          be very careful what
          words you choose

and so I stood there frozen in
time thinking about my wish

I pondered asking for world peace,
but feared the outcome might be
a most peaceful cemetery, made
that way because everyone in the

whole world is now dead; former
lively places are ghost towns
where all people have returned
to ashes and dust

on second thought, I opted to tone
it down and wish for something else,
and then I thought of it, and blurted
out: I want a stud finder!


Today’s LittleNip:


you may be lucky to experience
love at first sight
but you will never taste real peace on the
very first bite

it’s one of those existential things to
grow day and night
were you paying close attention? if not
go fly a kite


Many thanks to today’s contributors for starting off the last week of February! I’m still pleased to remember the work of last Saturday’s poets from Jefferson City, MO—but am very sorry to say that I misspelled Cory Adamson’s first name. It’s Cory, not Corey. My apologies, Cory—as someone whose last name is so often misspelled (as Keith when it should be Kieth), I do know the annoyance of such things.

San Francisco’s Dancing Poetry Contest is open for submissions until April 15. Three Grand Prize winners’ poems will be danced by the Poetic Dance Theater Company, either on Zoom or in the SF Palace of the Legion of Honor in the Fall of 2021. See for info.

Tonight at 7:30pm, Sac. Poetry Center’s Socially Distant Verse presents a night of three emerging Latina Voices: Angelica Flores, Maria Padilla, Laura Serratos, hosted by Diana Medina on Zoom at Join Zoom at 7:15 pm, reading starts at 7:30 pm; Password: spcsdv2020/. Facebook info:

Your best source for Sac. Poetry Center info these days is The website is permanently closed.

If the weather and other conditions permit, this weekend, Weds.-Sun. (Feb. 24-28), Public Poetry in Houston, TX ( presents REELpoetry, a 5-day online international festival of poetry films and video poems. See for info and to reg. Tix: Give what you can. Schedule and details:



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