Friday, April 30, 2021

Before It's Gone

—Poetry and Photos by Taylor Graham, Placerville, CA


What interloper-grass grows here?
Just see the pathways I’ve mowed clear.
If tufted green turns to fire-fox
of summer flame, it costs us dear.

We fear its spells, and shear its locks.
We pave it, lay down cinder-blocks
and still it’s thumping underneath.
We check our calendars and clocks

for buried roots and fists and teeth.
A blade of grass waits in its sheath
to throw its seed on wind; take wing
and scatter over field and heath.

Small birds will nest on any thing—
a cup of witchgrass, fur, and string
beneath our eaves. Such rites of spring
soon finished as the seasons sing. 


He steps through my gate
hoof by hoof. Alert pricked ears,
nose to breeze, he drops
his head, samples green seeded
years ago, gone wild
now without sheep; orchard grass
a dainty nibble.
He extends his stride, foreleg
reaching for purchase
in unknown pasture, making
it his own. Gully
cut by seasonal creek, dry
now; he considers,
judges the ford; down then up
the far side, sampling
its different greens. At the fence
I stand watch. At last
he moves my way. Slow and easy
hand extends. Nuzzle-
sniff. Stroke forehead. Dark bright eyes
appraise. Peace of my pasture. 


So much depends on the once-red wall—faded to mauve—behind the old piano on the boardwalk entry to the Junction. The historic train hasn’t run for a long time but the tracks remain, wild with dandelion and spring grass soon to fade into summer. Maybe it’s not the wall so much as the piano and its lonesome chair with blue-flower cushion, and the travel brochure come to rest under piano pedals. Maybe it’s a Sunday morning that plucks petals of fado out of April air, nostalgia fading red to mauve,

a silent walkway—
who will sing a time, a tune
I might remember? 


In the far corner well fertilized
by years of long-gone sheep,
this year’s bonanza fiddleneck
has found a partner
in purple twining vetch.
They’re dancing cheek-to-cheek
when I arrive—

with gas-powered
weed-whacker at my side.
Swing your partner right and left—
grand! we cut thru spring’s
green passion. Fiddleneck?
Purple vetch? Both
at once! We’re cutting in. 


Read the label before you open
this door. Here’s the chamber of tablets
and paperclips, metals and plastics
not angry, but needing attention.
Updates and upgrades. The window is
blind to sun. Every color bears a
code. In dark of cabinets lies a dark
history of this place, authentic to
the decimal; a count of those who
entered here, each with number on fore-
head; all their passwords stolen as spring
died from the calendar to no-more.
The ones who came here? never got out. 

Sonnenizio on a line from Shakespeare’s "Sonnet XXIII"

As an unperfect actor on the stage,
one-eyed cussin’ stagecoach driver
Charley Parkhurst mounted the stage’s box.
Nobody tried to upstage her, even
if—in an earlier stage of her life—
she admitted to being female. Stage
whips weren’t “she”s. But a 6-horse stage was hers—
male impersonator on the stage to
Placerville. One of the best stage drivers
in California. A bandit robbed her stage?
she shot him dead: stage gone dark, curtain down.
The autopsy stage revealed her disguise.
On History’s stage—pre-Women’s Lib/#metoo—
tough Stagecoach Charley whipped her way on thru. 

Today’s LittleNip:

—Taylor Graham

We’ve sought the bird—billow-pillow cloud—
fitz-bew from the willow—thrill-oh proud.


Thank you, Taylor Graham, for your poems on spring: its life and death, and photos to go along. Some of her poetry today is written in forms: a Rubaiyat Chain (“Quick, Before It's Gone”); a Choka (“A Borrowed Horse”); some Normative Syllabics (“The Death of Spring”, which is also a Word-Can Poem); a Sonnenizio (“On Stage”); a Tyburn, our Form Fiddlers’ Challenge last Friday (“Flycatcher's Song”) and a Haibun (“Sunday Junction”).

For a history of fado music, which Taylor worked into her Haibun, see To hear some fitz-bew (in the “Flycatcher’s Song”), go to

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.)

Caschwa (Carl Schwartz) has also sent us a Tyburn, last week’s Fiddler’s Challenge:

—Caschwa, Sacramento, CA

dropped his pants, shiny heinie exposed
warlord praise, tiny Pliny disclosed

Carl has been fiddling with forms of his own. Every line in this one has six syllables:


very smart people are
open to suggestions
once they’ve learned the art of
deflecting dumb questions 

Carl calls this a “short list” poem:


got it covered:
on one day I will
wear white socks

because white is
the combination
of all colors

orange—for gun
awareness, green
for ecology, you

name it, ALL the
colors from ALL
the causes that

choose one color
to wear to honor
that cause

on any “wear this
color” day, I put
on white socks

and the next day
I will wear black
socks, because

black is the absence
of color, ALL of them
no bias, every one;

black is the perfect
choice when I don’t
feel like being under

the pressure of one
color or another, so
that’s handy, too 


Then Carl says, “When enough is enough, an Alouette is in order.”


all Americans
free as pelicans
use the social media
but a day in court
is not their home port
cuffed by legal tedia

you’re guilty, do time
to pay for your crime
hope you learn how to behave
you made your life bad
blew chance that you had
now spend some time in the cave

we’ve tried it all, cruel
and unusual,
alternative, other things
confined all felons
till minds are melons
stunned when the prison bell rings

now the system’s due
to get a good clue
listen, this is not far flung
to lie under oath
is bad for us both
so we should cut out their tongue

with no more than eyes
they cannot shout lies
the truth will be long-lasting
hard to be daunting
one’s own tongue wanting
irrelevant, no more sting


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:


This is one of the poems in Robert Brewer’s list in
Writer’s Digest, called “10 Short Poetic Forms”. See Check it out next time you want to write something quick and dirty!


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

•••Choka: OR
•••List Poem:
•••Normative Syllabics: OR
•••Sonnenizio [sometimes spelled “sonnenzio”]:
•••Word-Can Poem: putting random words on slips of paper into a can, then drawing out a few and making a poem out of them.


Spring Crias (Baby Alpacas)
—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.




Thursday, April 29, 2021

Writing on the Wall

—Poetry by Linda Klein, Los Angeles, CA
—Public Domain Photos


Sometimes you can see the writing on the wall,
telling you—you will never get to the other side of it.
[There is the element of time, after all.]

You might try to scale the wall,
or take a run at it, hoping to smash through.
[Personally, I've never had suicidal tendencies.]

My choice in such circumstances
would be to turn around and walk away.
[Whoever built that wall had his own reasons.]

One day when I am far enough away.
the builder may disassemble his wall, brick by brick.
[He might peer over it, looking for someone to join him.]

If it is me he is looking for, he will need to seek me out.
Perhaps he will stay behind his wall forever.
[I might occasionally think about him in the quiet.]

I won't agonize over him.  I will live my life as it is, for me,
deriving satisfaction from my own reality.
[Life, Time, and Death, I respect you.]


At the top of stone steps, rugged, steep, and rough-edged,
I stopped, and looked down at the slab of sidewalk.
I looked nervously from left to right, not seeing railing on either side.

I wanted to close my eyes, but knew I could lose my balance.
I was compelled to look at the cold stone until my body swayed.
My thoughts were to turn and walk back through the arched entrance,
Unable to turn or move, but for my trembling, I was frozen in place.

The others in our group were skipping steps, two or three at a time.
If only one of them had seen me, come over, and taken my hand.
At such times, I am rarely seen.

My voice pleaded softly, desperately for someone, anyone,
but soon they had all moved on, as breeze moves through leaves,
without regard for how it has disturbed them.

An image appeared to me on the cement below.  Broken arms and legs
askew, a twisted, bloody sacrifice, splayed out and offered up
on a cement altar.  I saw my own horrified face, as blood flowed
from my fractured skull out into the street.

I shuddered and walked toward what appeared to be my body,
taking the steps slowly, exactly twenty steps.  As my foot touched
the final step, I bent and reached out to an image gradually fading.
There was no body, or blood, only the wind, debris, and dry leaves.


Can you see the faces in the rock,
feel their pain, see their shock,
etched by time's cruel creases?
They show desire never ceases.

An eternity spent entrapped, they watch
as water falls freely.  If they could catch,
be caught, become part of the fountain,
they'd flow joyously down the mountain.


It is when the sun descends
that you see and feel the shadows
of evening closing in.

Looking back, you wonder
if it ever happened.
The line between illusion and
reality is vague and wavering.

This is the hour of regret.
regret for missed opportunities,
for failure to acknowledge
time's flighty, selfish spirit.

The trick would have been
to make old rascal time work with you,
direct him with your will.
Instead, you gave him reign.

You waited and reached this sad hour.


Dressed in their dark blue uniforms, the young footballers listened to Coach Coleman.  He spoke to them as he had so many times before his long absence.  While the coach spoke, the gymnasium windows rattled in their encasements.  Coleman, still in what was meant to be his prime, struggled to enunciate his words.

The words meant everything.  He needed the boys to understand the importance of how time is spent, to point them toward living productive, satisfying lives, to always do their best and believe in their ability to achieve their goals.  Rain splashed against the building.  It seemed to underline his words as the coach made each point.

When he referred to the illness that had slurred his speech, and would soon claim his life, their tears unleashed sobs echoed in the wet, vicious upheaval outside.

When the talk ended, each of them stopped to thank the coach, shake his hand, and wrap their arms around him in a hug.  Their warmth gave him hope that his message had taken hold.

Coach Coleman wheeled his chair outside to find the rain had stopped.  Sunshine radiated.  It was a sign.  His talk had transformed and inspired the boys.  The coach had achieved his own life's goal.


Today’s LittleNip:

Don’t tell me the moon is shining; show me the glint of light on broken glass.

—Anton Chekhov


Meryl Streep in Sacramento??? Well, no, but you can catch her reading poetry online tonight at 7:30pm—that’s EDT—for Poetry and the Creative Mind: Online readings by Meryl Streep, Lauren Ambrose, Orlando Bloom, Hasan Minhaj, Samin Nosrat, Sandra Oh, Sarah Sze and more. Proceeds support National Poetry Month and the Academy of American Poets Educational Program (resources for teachers). Info/reg:


—Medusa, with many thanks to Linda Klein for her fine poetry today!
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, April 28, 2021

The Tulips Are Open Now

—Poetry by Nancy Haskett, Modesto, CA
—Public Domain Photos

Recently, I heard someone say
that every poet needs a poem about the moon,
and if that’s true,
surely there can’t be many new thoughts to add
to the thousands of words already written,
to the clichés about cheese, werewolves, lunatics, lovers,
tides, gravity, a Cheshire cat’s smile,
but since my poetic legitimacy is apparently at stake,
I guess I could write about the time
I hiked to Half Dome one October,
sunset coming early, around 6:30,
catching us still above Nevada Falls,
our flashlights feeble in the absolute darkness
until the full moon rose over granite walls
like some kind of spiritual presence, 
cast silver light on the trail as we slowly made our way
down to Happy Isles,
grateful for this celestial luminescence;
or I could divulge a secret about
the small window we added
to our second-story bathroom shower,
my favorite place to stand in darkness
unseen by neighbors,
as cool water splashes on tile,
I watch the moon as it glows
and rises over this Central Valley,
waxes and wanes,
sometimes disappearing completely,
other times full and round
like tonight
in almost-summer.
(prev. pub. in two anthologies: Poems of the Super Moon (NLAPW) 
and  The Moon (Outrider Press), plus Song of the San Joaquin)


My son knows death 
knows its power,
its duplicity,
how it can be both desired
and feared,
both merciful and cruel,
how it can move slowly
or strike without warning.
During this time of plague,
his office sits directly across
a corridor of closed doors,
each room an isolated cell
for a victim of the virus;
IV pumps and monitors
outside the doors,
extra long tubing snakes inside,
keeps personal contact to a minimum.
No touching.
No family.
No visitors
except Death
who is always there,
silent, unseen,
the most powerful presence
in that hallway.

(prev. pub. in Song of the San Joaquin, 2020)

Our Dear Lady,
since April of 2019,
it seems that all of France,
and perhaps much of the world,
has wept over your latest tragedy.
At the risk of stating the obvious,
I would like to remind you
that an existence of 850+ years
is likely to be filled with its share
of ups and downs.
Of course, the temptation is always
to focus on the positive memories—
the coronations, Requiem Masses,
the delightful tight rope walk between the bell towers,
not to mention the alleged relics from the crucifixion—
so let’s not pretend this fire
is the worst thing that has happened.
Let’s also remember the funerals,
the suicides at the altar,
the revolution which beheaded your statues,
converted you to a mundane warehouse
for the storage of food.
Don’t forget that it was the fictitious story
of a deformed hunchback
that brought attention to your woeful plight,
saved you from destruction,
supported you in a time of great need
(even more than your flying buttresses),
and even in the midst of liberation
from your German foes,
stray bullets broke glass from the Middle Ages.
So, it’s somewhat difficult
to summon much sympathy for you.
After all,
at significant expense,
you have had an ongoing makeover,
centuries of facelifts and joint replacements;
you have been cleaned, refreshed, updated,
pampered and revered.
No doubt
you will once again
rise above us all.
After some consideration,
I fear I may have maligned you
Compared to the multiple misfortunes and afflictions
you have experienced over the centuries,
this devastating fire seemed, at first,
to be simply one more challenge
you would undoubtedly overcome—
that you would recover completely
and be back to your old self in no time.
The latest prognosis,
I am forced to admit,
looks far less hopeful,
and I can only imagine your distress
at being told there is a mere 50-50
chance of your survival.
Since you are a cathedral,
I would urge you to look toward the Heavens
for some kind of divine intervention,
and please take some comfort,
as we Americans so often do,
in our sincere thoughts and prayers.

(prev. pub. in Penumbra, 2020)

I wake sometimes before Reveille,
canvas tent walls cold and damp,
my breath in clouds,
the clang of cast iron pots as fires are started,
quiet voices of breakfast preparation.
I untie and open the flap,
step outside into a dark blue world,
streaks of light on the eastern horizon,
soldiers sitting together on logs
as I walk toward the warmth,
use a towel to lift the enamelware pot,
pour boiling water into my mug,
sip tea as wild turkeys call to one another,
horses neigh,
dawn breaks.
At night,
we walk up the hill to look at the stars,
gaze down on the camps,
triangles of white tents,
lanterns and fires,
a return to a simpler time
without televisions and cell phones,
like being in a time machine
transported back into history.

(prev. pub. in Song of the San Joaquin, 2021)



The tulips from your memorial service are open now,
the vase sits on the window sill,
yellow, orange, purple, dark red petals, translucent like bone china,
lean on long-leafed stems, a gentle bend from the vase.
Outside in the back yard,
the mourning doves are nesting in our Boston fern,
bright goldfinches eat from the feeder along with white-crowned sparrows,
like your collection of ceramic figurines—
the Lenox china blue bird, robins, dove,
golden crowned kinglet,
displayed on shelves in your apartment,
carefully positioned in the china cabinet,
and I picture the way you fed the birds in Sunriver,
mashed peanut butter into cream of wheat,
spread it on the feeders, stood in the yard,
arms outstretched,
the chickadees landing on your hands,
your palms held upward,
the way you lived your life.
Twice widowed,
you asked that your cremains be placed in the earth next to both husbands,
in a cemetery miles away, rarely visited.
So we saved some ashes before the burial,
mixed them with a few of my father’s,
scattered them in Oregon—
at the base of trees and plants near your two homes,
under the large cross at the community church,
around a bench placed in memory of your closest friends,
into currents of the Deschutes River.
This is how we will remember you—
not in the ground on a Palos Verdes hill,
but under pine trees and bitter brush,
among tiny purple blossoms in the groundcover
that blankets the berm—
a part of Sunriver,
perhaps to be touched by birds, deer, or the squirrels you loved,
at rest under clear blue skies
and at night,
a million stars.


Today’s LittleNip:

—Brian Clark

Write more.
Write even more.
Write even more than that.
Write when you don’t want to.
Write when you do.
Write when you have something to say.
Write when you don’t.
Write every day.
Keep writing.


Tonight from 6-7:30pm, Sac. Poetry Center continues to present the weekly MarieWriters writing workshop, online, with guest facilitators. Zoom:

Also tonight, 6-7:30pm, Cal. Lawyers for the Arts presents Impactful Grant Writing for Artists and Small Arts Organizations, a Webinar available via Zoom. Speakers: Kim Tucker and Dr. Dene Starks. Info & reg. at Sliding scale and complete fee waiver available.

For info about the restoration of France’s Notre Dame Cathedral, see

—Medusa, thanking Nancy Haskett for dropping into the Kitchen this morning with more of her fine poetry, and my apologies for spelling her name wrong and saying she lived in Fresno (not Modesto) on her April 17 post!
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, April 27, 2021

Illusions of Death

Death Just Stares
—Poetry and Spring Photos by Joyce Odam, Sacramento, CA

(after “Draft of a Landscape” by Paul Celan)

Razed. Stricken. Dug up and abandoned.
Graves. Memory’s neglect.
Small histories of small lifetimes—
Here somewhere. Look for it.
Whatever you have lost.
Where is this place. It is cold.
It has no welcome.
It is a place without expectation.
Stones and ruts.
Here and there a weed.
That’s what you came to learn :

the tenacity of weeds
the patience of stones
the caution of ruts
the horizon cannot be reached
nor the end of day
the sky is a separate thing
you wish for a bird and a bird flies by
you are creating this, your own landscape.

(prev. pub. in Medusa’s Kitchen, 2012)
We Talk of Dark


We talk of light the way we talk of dark.
We mention gray twilights for compromise.
But really, it is only light and dark.

Our voices set against each other—shrill
and distant—our gestures rising in a dance,
intense with choreography.

Night flounders down
with clumsiness.  
We fold into its tangled garments and sleep.


I wake briefly to see someone searching
among us for whatever she has lost. She
picks up page after crumpled page and reads.
She nudges each of us with a question.

But that is not it. She picks up a child from
the center of us and carries it away with her.


The window is full of birds. One of the birds
thinks up a song of pure senseless joy
and begins singing.

The sun is after us.
We are hidden in
the wet fog
but now a glow
We feel it grow
against our disbelief.
We are all misty
and made of
moleculed gray.
We cling to
everything we touch.
We move through
one another
as the dawn
moves through the night.
The sunlight burns.
We suffer light.
Death is
too much to hold.
We are squeezed dry.

(prev. pub. in Writer’s Showcase)



we are the dreamed death . . . now we go
silently down old stairs and corridors,
now we go floating in and out of minds
that are terrified of us . . . we leave our
shadows there . . . we touch their eyes closed
and we whisper awful things to them . . .

(prev. pub. in The Lilliput Review, 1999) 
The Time of Place

After the moment has closed the hour
there will be no other.

The clock will close time
as we close a finished book.

We shall be caught in
some foolish moment of our doing :

raising a hand to strike,
breathing, chewing,

all the ticking in life
will stop,

and the eyes of the mind
have a final knowing :

no more metric feel, or sound,
or measure will be—

no deadline to hurry to, or miss—
except this one.

(prev. pub. in Cape Rock Quarterly, 1967
Medusa’s Kitchen, 2013)
Keeping the Night


He takes death in his arms
and dances tenderly with her
in the shadowy drift back
through time’s numb music.

He loves her fraying memory,
the way she feels cold against
him, her heart to his heart,
one heart beating for both.

Death does not struggle nor
comply with his anguish, but
folds limply about him like a
thin layer of cloth in winter.

But he holds death in his arms
and speaks longingly to her, saying
her name, and what their connection
is. But death just stares

past his shoulder and catches
the sight of them in the mirror
that dizzies about them as he
circles the opposite direction.

Death does not remember him,
but she loves this dance,
and she loves this mockery of
conjured self in reaching glass.



This is a time of place; we slip through hours
and shadows of ourselves like outdated guests.

We are enormous in the light of vast windows
that repeat our reflections as we scan the distances.

Birds with bent wings soar in our direction.
They are slow and deliberate. Their beaks shine.

But this is a place of time. We turn back to the rooms
we occupy. We look at each other then look away.

We go to the cages and enter. Sleep receives us. We are
in vast dream worlds, flying into windows of black glass.

Our wingtips shudder as we brace for the illusion of death.
In the morning we rise into sunlight, shining and happy.

(prev. pub. in Medusa’s Kitchen, 2018)
Many of Us


I must not waken her from herself, this mother of sleep
who dreams so far away from me, sleeping toward death.
She lies with her face to the ceiling, under a flowered
sheet. I look in on her—yes, her quivering, soft stomach
is still breathing.

She sleeps later and later—on drifting mornings—on
slowing afternoons, needing more sleep than food. She
says her daily beer does not let her become dehydrated.
(She’s had a few.) It keeps her alive, she says. I’m glad
for this. She needs her sleep.

I, with my seven-minded horse,
go through the visions of its eyes.

How high the night.
We grip and ride.

Three ears east, we listen.
It is the light.

We make a silhouette
and define ourselves against the sky.

The horse dreams.
I guard its sleep.

Later it tells me :
One innocence. One flaw. One kind forgetfulness.

I am its strength,
it, my direction.

Sometimes we feast
on grass and rain.

The rest is hunger.
We are lean.

My mind is one.
The horse is free.

And always, it turns—just before
the fall from where I lead it.

Sometimes we fly,
but only after death.

The rest is sad :
capture and simple grazing.
Old Themes


And now I face an ending not my own :
Today I saw a brown field full of crows
And yesterday the sky was full of gulls
I feel a contradictive undertone.

How can I be the one slow death abhors ;
The crows were stark as sadness, huddled there
The gulls just bright opinions of the air
As life is full of never-ending doors.

I turn away from all but death’s own room.
You turn to say the crows are just a curse—
The gulls for all their whiteness are much worse
—that all will end that ever was begun.

(prev. pub. in Medusa’s Kitchen, 2011)


Today’s LittleNip:

—Joyce Odam

a death in my mirror
a face behind my face
for a moment frightened
to find itself in my eyes


Good morning and many thanks to Joyce Odam for her poems today, as she works around our Seed of the Week: The Death of Spring. And those photos of hers! Explosions of color, right here in the heart of Spring!

The moon is full tonight; good night for all sorts of adventures… Our new Seed of the Week is just that: Stories of the Full Moon. Every poem is a story, right? Even if it has no plot. 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 the Farmers’ Almanac Full Moon Calendar 2021, including Native American names, go to and scroll down.

For the poem, “Draft of a Landscape” by Paul Celan, see

And remember: Medusa accepts poetry, art and photos that have been previously published, even in the Kitchen!


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, April 26, 2021

Bossa Nova-ing Into Spring

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

—Joseph Nolan

Somewhere, deep in scarlet,
Ruled a Dragyn Princess,
Soon, to become,

The countryside
Was all a-buzz
To wonder
What it’d mean?
For the strongest
Female presence
To rule over the land,
With overflights
And fire-bright,
In skies,
Above all
She’d command?

Severe, could be
Her wrath,
Against those who’d
Take advantage
Against the weak
They found along
The path
Of their fragile

And thus she’d bring
Her dragyn wings,
To summon her to flight,
To soar above
Her underlings,
Beneath her,
To give fright
To all the cruel and wicked
Who boarded
In her land,
To warn them
To be fair and kind,
Lest her Dragyn’s fire
Should burn
Their eyes, out, blind!

—Joseph Nolan

I like my tortillas
Un poquito sour,

El maize,
Debe ser,
Un poquito sour,
Ahora, mismo.

Abandoned me
Seven Aprils ago,
When she had to leave,
When she had to go.

Aprils have been known
To leave lovers alone,
When blossoms bloom
On over-fragrant trees,
Overpowering, as though
Your nose were pressed
Into bouquets of flowers
And men bend to their knees,
Begging their old lovers
Not to go!

But time, comes Spring!
For lovers to be wandering,
Because the air is sweet,
Because another lover
Is there for them, to meet.

So, they step into the street
And walk away.

Watch them from behind!
The rhythm of a Bossa Nova,
Dancing off, to meet!

—Joseph Nolan

Who long for love,
But find it
Just in dreams,

Know the way
That waking breaks
The better-way
Things seemed,

When love
Could touch
In bright,
Broad smiles,
We danced into the light,

But, oh!
The pain of waking,
Since our dreams
Were out of sight,

When we went sadly
Back to living,
In worldly shadows,
Far from love, soft, bright

And wondered how
We might ever
Get together
‘Neath the
Moon’s sweet night?

—Joseph Nolan

A snake has wrapped its flank
Around your rising, breathing chest.

When your chest no longer rises,
It will mean your death.

Its weight
Is in place.

It only needs a signal
To sing, “Amazing Grace!”

Health Passports,
Coming soon,
To segregate the willing
From those
Who know the spoon
Is full of poison,
And claim their freedom,

From demands,
Aboard trains,
When you board
At noon,
“Vos papieren, bitte?”

A collection of poems about baseball
by Michael Ceraolo, S. Euclid, OH

        Maud Nelson

I don't want to debate Rube Foster
as to who had the toughest row to hoe in baseball;
that discussion leads nowhere
Now, as to recognition:
I accomplished just about everything he did
in the sport and business of baseball,
yet he's in the Baseball Hall of Fame
and has had several books written about him,
neither of which is true for me

* * *

        Helen Callaghan

Fathers playing catch with sons?  Sure
But what about mothers playing catch with sons?
Or anybody playing catch with daughters?
Obviously, somebody played catch with us
or we wouldn't have become ballplayers
And where well over a hundred fathers
have had sons who also became major-league ballplayers,
I am the only mother who had a son
who also became a major-league ballplayer
And since, as of today, there is no league
where women can play baseball,
I will, sadly, have that distinction
for the foreseeable future

—Caschwa, Sacramento, CA

the Thursday paper’s
7-day forecast for the
Valley shows Monday as

“Warmer with showers

and then Tuesday as
“Chance for a couple
of showers”

of course they don’t have
the cards in their hand to
confidently share what the
odds of rainfall really are…

so they make liberal use
of the Joker card to
tease us with the chance
or possibility of rain

in another 2 or 3 days
they may pull that Joker
card back and just harp
on how hot it will be 
Raindrops on Car Hood


Each day we see a clearer picture
of America's justice system, and
its deeply rooted intentions to
manage and staff our law
enforcement agencies
with petty dictators,
wholly immersed
in seeking
and control, showing little or no concern
for the needs or rights of the people.
The police slogan "To Protect and
Serve" has become just
shorthand for
"To protect
landed aristocracy from people
of color, and serve the
exclusive interests
of the white
The consequence is that
America is looking
more and more
like the
and corrupt governments our
ancestors fled before risking
their lives to move their
families here, the
supposed land
of the


“Help, I’ve fallen and
I can’t get up!” said the tree
on the forest floor

no one heard the tree
no one got the message through
that tree remained there

home to insects, and
rodents, and bacteria
rotting away….gone

no memorial
no documentary show
we just carry on

like it was water
under the bridge, forgotten
who cares, anyway?

a flora Buddha
challenges us to notice
such changes sooner…..

calendar open
OK to sleep in
coffee, coffee, coffee

weeds with flowers
no billable hours
iced tea, iced tea, iced tea

up all night
out of sight
decaf, decaf, decaf

creating poetry
not all would agree
coffee, coffee, coffee 

Today’s LittleNip:


(after Michelle Kunert’s reference
to burros, Medusa’s Kitchen,
April 19, 2021)

My I borrow your burro to take to the
borough to burrow through bureaus?


Welcome to another week of fine poetry food in the Kitchen, this one closing off the month of April, which is the annual Poetry Month. Our thanks to today’s contributors for starting the week off right for us!

Tonight, 7:30pm, Sac. Poetry Center’s Socially Distant Verse presents Spoken Not Slurred, an online poetry showcase featuring Russell Cummings, Alexandra Huynh, Dyvacat, Anna Fenerty, Sho ’Nuff, Heather Rogue, Iso the Poet, Patrice Hill, and special guest Rebecca Blanton. Zoom: 763 873 3462; password: r3trnofsdv    

•••Weds. (4/28), 6-7:30pm: Sac. Poetry Center continues to present the weekly MarieWriters writing workshop, online, with guest facilitators. Zoom:

•••Weds. (4/28), 6-7:30pm: Cal. Lawyers for the Arts presents Impactful Grant Writing for Artists and Small Arts Organizations, a Webinar available via Zoom. Speakers: Kim Tucker and Dr. Dene Starks. Info & reg. at Sliding scale and complete fee waiver available.

•••Thur. (4/29), 7:30pm EDT: Poetry and the Creative Mind: Online readings by Meryl Streep, Lauren Ambrose, Orlando Bloom, Hasan Minhaj, Samin Nosrat, Sandra Oh, Sarah Sze and more. Proceeds support National Poetry Month and the Academy of American Poets Ed. Program (resources for teachers). Info/reg:

I learned this week that Sacramento Poet and Editor
(Ekphrasis) Laverne Frith passed away from COVID-19 several months ago. His wife, Carol Frith, died almost a year ago. This marks the end of their wonderful journal, Ekphrasis—three losses for all of us.

I also learned this week that Lincoln Poet Sue Clark passed away quite recently, a loss to the Lincoln poetry community of a friend and fellow poet.

And Poet Laureate Emeritus Al Young passed away April 17. For more about that, go to

Love your friends and poetry colleagues now. That’s all we've got!



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