Thursday, September 30, 2021

Trying to Restore Ourselves

—Photo by Gerard Sarnat
—Poetry by Gerard Sarnat, San Francisco, CA
—Photos Courtesy of Gerard Sarnat and Joseph Nolan


Four generations’ tradition
Interrupted last summer
Because of Corona

This year we’ve re-gathered
On that Nor Cal inland
Working family farm

To try to restore ourselves.
Each morning starts at
Dawn with milking

Setting laid eggs in baskets
Then sampling picked
Berries, stoned fruit

Tomatoes etc on saunter back
Before those of us on AM
KP duty convene in

Kitchen to whip up expected feast. 
—Photo Courtesy of Joseph Nolan

Sequester nostalgia already set in;
sentimental, irritating, obviously too wordy
waste of your own precious time…

despite consulting manual, website,
YouTube videos plus multiple calls to Miele
technical support line; double-vaxed

now so can have repair person come
inside kitchen; how I miss not having to bail
out our dishwasher each morning run.
—Cartoon Courtesy of Joseph Nolan

Days trapped in infinity
of endless housekeeping, feather
dusters plus scorching kitchens,
then each night for the week
none of us Jewish women
      sat all-male shiva.

When that minyan of men
finally emerged for their
customary cigarette-and-a-half
plod around my block, another
one of them had his heart attack
     g-d bless our sons.
Virus Lockdown
—Cartoon Courtesy of Joseph Nolan

Stiff-hipped infinite
number of kitchen-counter
COVID-year sponge-downs

serried ranks smelled of
unique stench human manure/
limestone were undressed.  


After a [too as usually] exciting Shabbat
With all the geegaws and fixins’
Passed on by my grandkiddies
Who instead were playing
Toward crowd of guests

I popped each of them on their risers
In our daughter’s kitchen to fill
Up on various nuts plus berry
Goodies ‘til we three toddled
Upstairs to read some books

While they down last milkie ba-babas
Alongside pet rabbit George/Dotty
(Nobody can tell apart), closing
With fave Five Little Monkeys
Before now put boys to bed.
—Photo Courtesy of Gerard Sarnat


i. Los Angeles Veterans Cemetery

Sped by hundred times
—suddenly you realize
classmates died in Nam
lie there like rows of dominos
—theory of war proved untrue.
—Photo Courtesy of Gerard Sarnat

ii. Unhoused, Forgotten

West side of VA
hospital, Veterans Row
Tent City’s allowed,
institutionalized ‘steada
rousted—national disgrace.


Today’s LittleNip:

—Gerard Sarnat

Penetrative sex
ain’t your only form cooking
but kitchen gets hot.

Gerard Sarnat
As promised last Sunday, we have more from Gerry Sarnat today, as we finish off September. Gerard Sarnat won San Francisco Poetry’s 2020 Contest, the Poetry in the Arts First Place Award, plus the Dorfman Prize, and has been nominated for handfuls of 2021 and previous Pushcarts, plus Best of the Net Awards. Gerry is widely published, including Hong Kong Review, Tokyo Poetry Journal, Buddhist Poetry Review, Gargoyle, Main Street Rag, New Delta Review, Arkansas Review, Hamilton-Stone Review, Northampton Review, New Haven Poetry Institute, Texas Review, Vonnegut Journal, Brooklyn Review, San Francisco Magazine, Monterey Poetry Review, The Los Angeles Review, and The New York Times, as well as by Harvard, Stanford, Dartmouth, Penn, Columbia, North Dakota and University of Chicago presses. He has authored the collections, Homeless Chronicles, Disputes, 17s, and Melting the Ice King.

Gerry is a Harvard-trained physician who’s built and staffed clinics for the marginalized, as well as a Stanford professor and healthcare CEO. Currently he is devoting energy/resources to deal with climate justice, and serves on Climate Action Now’s board. Gerry’s been married since 1969, with three kids plus six grandsons, and is looking forward to potential future granddaughters. He lives in the hills above Stanford and Silicon Valley. See more about Gerard at 
Welcome to the Kitchen, Gerry, and don’t be a stranger!


—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!




Wednesday, September 29, 2021

Looking Back

—Poetry by Linda Klein, Playa Vista, CA
—Public Domain Photos Courtesy of Joseph Nolan, Stockton, CA


Words are multi-faceted jewels.
They can be blunt or sharp tools,
used to express feelings and thoughts,
to calm fears and expel doubts,
to drive home points when opinions differ,
or to offer solace to those who suffer.

I keep mine in a silk-lined box,
and use them often.  No need for locks.
Every day I scan and sort,
consider their value, what each is worth.
Some may sparkle like pendants emitting light,
others soothe, smooth as pearls.  They fall just right.

My objective is to select them
so those who hear them don't reject them.


Many of us are afraid to use them.
We cower at words as at claps of thunder.

Those who would speak fear how their words
might be perceived, perhaps misunderstood,
afraid of the changes they may bring,
or the commitment they may carry.

Those who might hear them are hesitant
to discover how the words will affect them.

New ideas, plans, or opinions are held back,
hidden golden nuggets, they bounce around
inside us like painful, imaginary gallstones
that linger long beyond any need or use.

It takes courage, also willingness to listen.
To speak is to risk challenge or ridicule.


They say I'm a hoarder.
I may be just on the border.

Saved pieces of tangled string
for tying up everything
from packages to meats,
boxes filled with years of receipts.

There are newspapers and magazines,
bill stubs, still, from my home in Queens.
Closets stuffed with vintage clothing,
old letters that tell tales of love and loathing.

I never know when I may need them
to prove, to show, that I received them.
I cannot part with even one speck.
To do so would make my life a wreck.


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

You look back at your life,
and 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 that rascal work with you,
and direct him with your will;
instead, you gave him reign.

You waited and reached this sad hour.



My life is a walking shadow, its light casts none.
I try to walk in sunshine, beyond the normal run,
pleading now to linger as does a longer day,
but life keeps walking swiftly and slipping fast away.

I cling in desperation to what I still can hold.
The shadow creeps in closer.  It reaches to enfold.
One day I'll lose the struggle.  My life will be no more.
Though I pull and scuffle, there's a scratching at my door.

Despite my fight, life will leave me.  The shadow will move on.
Will my light be undistinguished, extinguished, and gone?


Today’s LittleNip:

Books have a unique way of stopping time in a particular moment and saying: “Let’s not forget this.”

―Dave Eggers


Thank you, Linda Klein, for today’s retrospective-thought poems. She writes that her last poem [above] was inspired by William Shakespeare's phrase. "life is a walking shadow". 

On Facebook, I ran across an anthology from Finishing Line Press that sounds interesting, entitled
Poets With Masks On. Here’s the info: And here’s the cover:




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, September 28, 2021

Midnight Pen and Paper

Music of the Spheres
—Poetry and Original Art by Joyce Odam, Sacramento, CA

 July 25/26, 1999

Today it still is summer, last night cool enough
to think about the change of season still to come,
though not yet August, not yet those
unbearable days and nights that swelter
when we yearn
for rain,    for rain,    for rain,
like some denial that one must endure;
and last night’s moon, so full,
outside my window—
so full it seemed
to move—it
seemed to move
in the mild night,
—a pearl-white
moon of midnight—
perfectly arranged for me
to blubber on and on about—
the full moon—window-framed—and I—
attuned to everything, not limp and weary,
but drifted down to one day’s closing hour,
yielding to it, like a comfort ritual, and then
this morning, groping for these words with
which to celebrate in simpler admiration.


The horses come to drink in the quiet hour—
all sound hushed to fill the long moment
as the horses bend to the water—
beautiful to watch.
1am here with my midnight pen and paper
imagining them, though I don’t know
how many they are—if they are
only two. I settle on two.
The horses are brown and glossy
in the low summer light.
I make the shadows long
and the woods behind them deep.
I watch the water after they have
finished drinking, how undisturbed.
I watch a white butterfly insert itself
upon the scene, becoming translucent
and pure with its briefness. I hold my breath
as it drifts into a white moment that sparkles
like the light upon the water. But the butterfly
has startled the horses and they snort and quiver
and work their way across the field toward a fence.  
I think I see a figure there...   but no...
I choose not to.  I will l leave them alone now.
I yawn and close my eyes. I am out of paper.
So Quiet in the Night


O silver moon on dark water,
you alone
make all this beautiful :

the sea
in its quiet
where you make a path

and dark churnings build
while the sky
sleeps on the horizon

and everything looks like
a black and white photograph
that one might send home

for the great silence
under the low sea sound
in the peculiar calm of loneliness . . .
Strange Moon


the midnight cat slinks
through the yellow moonlight
trailing its enormous shadow
night smudges the dark,
rustles the leaves,
muffles the sounds that follow
the white fence gleams
the lane curves
the stars inspect the gravel
the late night warns
night sounds crunch
the slow moon loses its yellow
the hushed leaves listen
the cat returns
dragging its ragged shadow 
To Sing At Dawn


Soft chirping on dark morning, barely listened,
only once, oh, sweet loss, barely owned by ear
and heart—and where is the lonely center,
entered and left, intrusive with exquisite
recognition, and why only once?  

Was it a dreaming? Is it extinct, gift of nostalgia,
all else that is gone, gone like all else, a treasured
moment? I probe silence, hurt with haunting.

Once more the bird speaks, sweet return—safe
in the late summer tree—a dark green voice—
calling to itself, since there is no other.

Can it know where it reaches,
only to me, beyond its need—
it speaks and speaks through the under-
listening of other sounds, I isolate this one,
find the unknown language of its singing.


i in my little black dress
went mourning

went sea-sickly
down to the sand

went neon-griefed mourning
down to the city

took everybody’s hand

told them where
i was going tomorrow
when the sun came over the sky

told them where i had been today
with my deep-looking eye

then i winked when they
opened their mouth
for a pity

told them midnight was waiting

and i must run forth
to deathlessly marry

(prev. pub. in The Hearkeners [Chapbook], 1973, Charas Press
Medusa’s Kitchen, 2015) 
Looking Back


When I go
violet-motioned through the hour
I go alone
without your smile or kindness.

I am a century removed from here.
I feel my flesh sing cool
with evening.

My tamed wild animals
step through the leaves.
I am not dangerous to them.

I cannot find the center
but there is no hurry.
I think I am in the mind of a

Green is born
and when I weep for it
my eyes are endless with
unreceivable love.

Somewhere the word I must learn
is drowning under silence.

When I come back to a sound
my poems are as heavy     as trees,
but I put all the thoughts I have gathered
before you
like perfect visions.

Under your sleeping
I dream.

Deep in the water
a bird     strange in its happiness
tells me what it has heard
in the dark of my mind.

(Ina Coolbrith Society Grand Prize, l972;
pub. in
Wind Magazine, l975)


Today’s LittleNip:

—Joyce Odam

The poem has waited for you to grow into it,
to read it at a later time to learn its power,
what it says, and what depths it has.
Not just the words but the force
under the words, the life
that lights up darkness,
reveals the dimension—
the poem has waited for
you to listen—a sound—
time as the first time, what
is here that was always there,
this growth, this maturity, this
acceptance of sadness and love—
this readiness to accept your creativity.

(prev. pub. in Medusa’s Kitchen, Dec., 2020}


Medusa’s latest Seed of the Week has been “Alleys at Midnight”, and our thanks go to Joyce Odam for taking us through the darkness with her poems and artwork! As she says, darkness is one of her specialties.

Our new Seed of the Week is Orange. O stands for October, and October stands for Orange—falling leaves, Halloween, soon-to-be Thanksgiving. 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.

Cold River Press is releasing another
Voices anthology this Saturday, 1-5pm, in Locke at the Locke Community Gardens: VOICES: 2021: An Offering of Fruit. Poetry, music, BBQ, potluck, hosted by Sacramento Poetry Alliance ( Here is the info; click once to enlarge:



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



Monday, September 27, 2021

Is It Sukkot Already?

—Poetry by Joseph Nolan and Caschwa (Carl Schwartz)
—Photos Courtesy of Joseph Nolan
and Michelle Kunert

—Joseph Nolan

Maybe all the lights are down?
Maybe there’s no-one home?
Maybe some disaster
Has befallen
This abandoned town?

Maybe there was a tsunami
That washed in from the sea?
Maybe no-one survived it
Or maybe they all got the memo
That it was time to leave?

—Joseph Nolan

Drive this car.
Go madly mad!
Tell everybody
Every secret
You ever had.

Act like you’re
The honcho.
Eat bacon
And drink grease.
Act like you’re
To do
Just as you please.

Swagger down the sidewalk.
Don’t move aside, at all.
Act like no tomorrow’s
Reserved for you—
You’re ready for your fall.

Accept your own
As though it were a blessing,
That made you an Earthly king
And face whatever
Comes your way,
As the Universe’s

—Joseph Nolan

Maybe I didn’t
Make it to Sligo.
Sligo is by the sea.
Maybe I didn’t
Make it to Sligo,
But I made it to Tralee.

That’s not to say
One is better
Than the other
Or one wouldn’t
Wish to see.

I also made it
To Dingle
And Galway
And both are
By the sea.

Not that any
Of this
Means anything,
Since we
Come and go
In the blink
Of an eye.

Ever stops
To wonder
Why one came by, thus,
Then, went by. 
Can you find the owl?

—Joseph Nolan

You know?
It often goes like that,
Where you cannot find your way,
Where no-one appreciates
Whatever you have to say,

Where nothing,
In particular,
Is given you for
You to call your own,
And you’re forced
Into reticular,
Toward your fall.

Catch the splash of the sun.
The wafting that
Bright light-beams bring
Into the brains
Of everyone
Who is not blind,
Nor left-behind,
As the blind,
So often feel,
When vision has
Escaped them,
Leaving them,
Less real.
Il Commandatore
—Sculpture by Anna Chromý
—Public Domain Photo Courtesy of
Michelle Kunert 

—Joseph Nolan

The hit-man had bad breath.
It might have been the death
Of anyone
He didn’t kill with lead.

From everyone
From whom
He extorted money,
All were heard
To have said,
“If his bullets do not get you,
His bad breath, might, instead.
Either way, it doesn’t matter.
You’ll still be just as dead.” 
Crystal Cave Under Mexico City

somewhere way back in my prepubescent
years the adults at temple tried to inform
all us kids about Sukkot

guess I was just too young to process such
data, along with not understanding or
laughing at the Ernie Kovacs jokes that
older family members did

then more recently when my store-bought
calendar says it is Sukkot, I finally chose to
delve into its recorded history, which arises
from the Old Testament

a double meaning comes to light, as both an
agricultural festival to celebrate the end of the
harvest, and another festival to celebrate how
the Jews travelled 40 years through the desert
during their Exodus from slavery in Egypt and
would set up these plant-covered shelters in
the fields (now we need another festival to
celebrate the end of this stanza)

not done yet with history, this blazing hot
epiphany enters, center stage, announcing that
our own beloved Constitution, in a section
ironically entitled the Bill of Rights, features one
Amendment that makes damn sure white males
have easy access to guns in case there is a slave

It is goodbye tabernacles, hello pickup trucks with
confederate flags and arsenals of weapons, and
by the way, Happy Sukkot, everyone!


Thom Thumb and
his twin Tim stood
together to debate
whether they were
related to arboreal
animals who have
the almost human
ability to grasp limbs
and since they both
were grasping at
straws neither one
won the debate 
Be sure Ting the Tiger is locked up before you
execute a raid!


Facebook is like playing
solitaire on computer
Vegas Style

colorful opinions are sorted
and displayed like colorful
playing cards, while dollar
signs are used to trigger
real feelings about fictional

both share the addictive
qualities of virtual participation
in pursuits that simulate some
of the peripheral markers of
winning an argument, without
ever linking to any actual
contractual commitment

so go ahead, deal out a fresh
hand of cards while dwelling
on the prospect of forcing our
heads of state to donate all
$208 of their winning game
to the charity of our choice 


there is nothing finer
than when police do
their job

apprehend, arrest, and
book suspects who pose
a threat to the community

sometimes it only takes
a Taser to put down
the problem subject

other times the use of
greater force is quite

but when it reaches the
point where it looks and
smells like an execution

when 2 white cops inflict
20 rounds of gunfire on an
African-American man
holding a cell phone

no praise at all will be
forthcoming, it will be held
in reserve, because

there is nothing finer
than when police do
their job 


standing at the clothes dryer
used a sponge to gather all
the lint off the trap, and then
tossed it in a waste can fated
to end up in a landfill

wonder what strange kinds
of monster fabric molds
will sprout from all the lint
from all the households?

it would remain odorless
until touched by a mammal
lined up like appliances
painted with enamel

add to that old mattress toppers
extricated from bedding, just
getting along with new neighbors
at the landfill is an issue of trust

multiply times millions
Heart of the Matter Remains
—Sculpture by Barbara Selland from
Sermon on the Mount Art Exhibit, 
Arcade Church, Sacramento, CA, 2021
—Photo by Michelle Kunert


Today’s LittleNip:


biding one’s time on Lane Three
drinking beer after beer
dizzy from crushing pins
going wild when the pinsetter stalls
hoping the car parked outside remains
standing like a


Many thanks to Poets Joseph Nolan and Caschwa (Carl Schwartz—by the way, last Friday in the Form Fiddlers’ section, I called him Carl Schultz. Though I’ve fixed it, I still apologize. There’s nothing worse than messing up someone’s name…). Also, our thanks to Michelle Kunert and Joseph Nolan for today's photos! Michelle reminds us that Sculptor
Anna Chromý (ý) passed away in September. About his LittleNip, Caschwa says it’s “an Acrostic on the SOW theme.  The first letter of each line corresponds to the initial letter of each of the Seven Dwarfs.” Interesting.

Tonight, (9/27), 7:30pm: Sac. Poetry Center’s Socially Distant Verse features JoAnn Anglin and Jana Moore on Zoom at Meeting ID: 763 873 3462 (Passcode: r3trnofsdv)

Sat. (10/2): Sac. Poetry Alliance ( presents Poetry in Locke, featuring readers from
Voices 2021: An Offering of Fruit (Cold River Press,




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

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


Sunday, September 26, 2021

Hanging Ten on the Left Coast

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


—A Poem Suite by Gerard Sarnat, San Francisco, CA
i. Annotated Coast-To-Coast “Garbage Time”* Hourglass

Last year gotta headache
which ain’t goin’ away

so some hospice doc
came to my studio

apartment because
what with falling all

the time I have not
been particularly fit

and there’s no one
to drive me in.

She examined
real quick then

bit her tongue
to say, You

must come
for tests

which I

after two

months more
they send out

a nurse to urge
this here GOMER**

but after whiffing
the kitchen, he says

Mr. Sarnet, your pain
in the head is just from

smelling rotting trash golly
we must deal with that now!

* term allegedly coined by legendary Los Angeles Laker broadcaster, Chick Hearn (1916-2002), to describe one-sided basketball game blowouts when the outcome has already been decided, and the coaches of one or both teams replace their best players with substitutes.
** Acronym for Get Out Of My Emergency Room, from the novel,
House of God (1978) by Samuel Shem, pen name for a fellow internal medicine house officer at Boston’s Beth Israel Hospital. GOMERS are defined essentially as sickly old people who now, because of dementia, have lost whatever quality it is that makes someone a person. Female GOMERS were always admitted to The Rose Room where all the wilted Jewish Roses chanted Oy!Oy!Oy! in unison.

ii. Northern California Coast

Clear sunny windswept reality
the day after a week
of straight-on rain

deep rocky gray swirling
shitty toilet bowl of
stinking sinkholes

in some from gray hostile
Pacific in all its black
blue blade steely

slate cold majestic bluster,
will I really truly will  
to recommit to you

on our anniversary when
we return to Mendocino
next Thanksgiving?

iii. On My California Coast Men’s Group

Six of us left entering our second quarter century
together, a few already lost to dementia
plus death, we are a fluctuating
multi-cellular organism
that undergoes natural human aging.

Lower testosteroned biologic shifts
both costly and evolving
may be experienced as psychological sea changes
—even occasional apparent fruition
some uncontrived connectedness, intimacy.

At times I am just this bitty cork
bobbing on a less than pacific ocean
whichever way currents dictate.
No longer young palm tree fronds
hula in synch (or not) to the humid breeze’s song.

Aloha means Goodbye as well as Hello.

iv. West Coast Summer Funk Haiku

I felt so sorry
for Manhattanites during
Corona splurge there

confined to their small
apartments dead of winter
but now that wheel’s turned.

v. Third Coast

Discarding “see me” THC cartridge pen,
instead pen put to parchment paper,
much more measured
than if attempted in person

I raise questions whether
after so many years, we two have
a forthright friendship or are still
simply coasting acquaintances?

Do both pull our own weight,
don’t flake while the other
waits half an hour on a corner
outside chosen restaurant once again?

This dunce has been harboring discomfiting
implicit bias not yet front of mind
which feels like you sometimes violate
my personal trust—plus probably vice versa.

Waves of conflict ringing in ears
after summoning such courage to write,
will each of us step up to offer self-disclosure
and emotional support, or drift apart?

vi. Our Surf Town Haiku

Buddies are dopers
who also use hybrid five
milligram gummies.

The bus leaves each day.
If you have the willpower,
make sure to take it.

Today's LittleNip:
San Francisco is poetry. Even the hills rhyme.
—Pat Montandon 

Our welcome to San Francisco Poet Gerard Sarnat today, and thanks to him for this long poem! You can count on more to come from Gerard next Thursday, when he will be featured. Meanwhile, check out AND/OR (Yes, he’s also a doctor.)

Gerard is the first of a new group of poets coming to us from Duotrope (, a resource that I become aware of last week when they wrote to me to notify me that they had just listed Medusa’s Kitchen. I subsequently have received several fine submissions, including Gerard’s. So put on your best manners—we’ll be seeing some new poets in the Kitchen!

Today from 12-2pm: William O’Daly will be celebrating the life and work of his friend, poet, translator, essayist, and publisher Sam Hamill, with several other poets reading poems for, or in remembrance of, or by Sam in this Writing for Peace event (, “Of Cascadia: A Tribute to Sam Hammill”, hosted and curated by poet and artist Juniper Moon, the current Writing for Peace artist-in-residence. Zoom:  Meeting ID: 820 9332 5006 (Passcode: 212396).



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!