Thursday, June 30, 2022

Mowing the Lawn

—Poetry by Matthew McGuirk, Langdon, NH
—Public Domain Photos


I wonder about
the sort of movie scenes that slip through,
just missing the cut or ones too rough for stardom.
I imagine a sort of
scrap yard for clips:
stars that ended up with minor roles
and settings left to memories.
I wonder if
we take these missing scenes and throw them together
a Frankenstein or jumbled Picasso
of the film world,
a collage of the not-quite,
the misunderstood,
the misplaced
or the almost forgotten
if we’d have an award winner
buried in those snipped scenes and unwatched reels. 


They say the first time you wash blue jeans
you should wash them by themselves,
but like everything else in life
sometimes it doesn’t work that way.
Just like you’re supposed to slowly work that dream girl in
with the family and friends,
but really everyone wants to meet her all at once
because you’ve already talked about
how she’s got you hooked on Dunkin’ Donuts
and how she’s an animal whisperer
and loves fluffy things.
Like a pair of new jeans in with all the other laundry,
there’s already so much of her in you. 


The man mowed the lawn
before she arrived.
He knew a well-manicured lawn
showed attention to detail
and he wanted to impress
with his finely clipped blades of grass.

The man mowed the lawn
before the wedding,
wanting the yard to look its best
when she walked down the aisle
and everyone snapped photos of
their memorable day.

The man mowed the lawn
because it was the routine.
Just like he raked the leaves in the fall
and shoveled the snow in the winter.
The perception of the lawn
was what the neighbors thought of them
and that was important to her.
The man mowed the lawn
because it was something to do,
a place to go when things
were too much.
The lawn continued to grow
even when other things in his life
had withered away and died.


Today's LittleNip:
Stone, steel, dominions pass,
Faith too, no wonder;
So leave alone the grass
That I am under.
A.E. Housman, 
More Poems

Matt McGuirk teaches and lives with his wife and two daughters in New Hampshire. Over the last year, he’s been nominated for BOTN [Best of the ‘Net], been a regular contributor for Fevers of the Mind, had stories and poems in 50+ lit mags with 100+ published pieces, and a debut collection with Alien Buddha Press called Daydreams, Obsessions, Realities, available on Amazon. Find his work on his website: and connect with him on Twitter: @McguirkMatthew and Instagram: @mcguirk_matthew. Welcome to the Kitchen, Matt, and don’t be a stranger.

Straight Out Scribes are reading tonight at Poetry Unplugged at Luna’s Cafe and Juice Bar—click UPCOMING NORCAL EVENTS at the top of this column for details about this and other future readings in the NorCal area.


 Matthew McGuirk

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—
and collaborations are welcome.
Just remember:
the snakes of Medusa are always hungry—
for poetry, of course!



Wednesday, June 29, 2022

Hoopla Bird

Fay L. Loomis
—Poetry by Fay L. Loomis, 
Kerhonkson, New York
—Photos Courtesy of Public Domain


cold pale sunlight 

warms tentacled branches

greening baby leaves 

burgeon thicket and tree

rowdy colors puncture sky

spring tarries in my forest


she wears hand-me-down

saved for special occasion

to Sunday school picnic 

solid purple dress

soft, bumpy

crepe, mom said

wide-eyed, she and sister feast: 

buns made just for hotdogs,

potato chips, red pop

gazelle girls

arms, legs giddy

gambol across picnic tables 

leg crashes through rotted board

she screams, tentacle-armed 

ladies yank child, drop to ground

teacher shrills: good lord!

has the devil gotten hold of you,

made you misbehave?

should have known,

unsuitable dress, 

harlot’s color.

sisters foot-slog home

dark silence

no jabbering

she strips away torn dress

shrouds self in farm clothes

strikes out for barn to feed animals

veers toward rusted trash barrel

throws wad on coals, flames curl

around dress like shame around her heart 

she watches purple turn to ash

(prev. pub. in
Stick Figure Poetry, 4-1-22)
Hoopla Bird


hot pink joggers

hotter pink tee

orange and fuchsia paisley

cardigan, navy squiggles 

tangerine flowers

grow on pale pink socks

two-tone sneakers

robin’s egg and navy blue

eighty-something dressed 

to trot, nowhere to go



(prev. pub. in
Mad Swirl, 2-6-22)



nipped my quilt

to the line 

voracious wind set

pendulous swing

beyond Minkowski





Lie abed, fine lady

until ready.

Sip tea from porcelain cup

pinky finger up.

Dine on quail

and lobster tail.

Dance into dawn

barefoot on lawn.

Never know sorrow

in the land of tomorrow.

Dream on, my beauty,

dream on.


Today’s LittleNip:

—Fay L. Loomis

leaves color the air

lazily spiral earthward

settle into fickle mounds 

how to know when to let go

loosen stem from branch

accept death, decay


Welcome to the Kitchen, Fay! Fay L. Loomis lives in the woods in Kerhonkson, New York. A member of the Stone Ridge Library Writers and Rat’s Ass Review Workshop, her poetry and prose appear in numerous publications. A stroke (2017), combined with the pandemic, have woven quietude into Fay’s life. Again, welcome to the Kitchen, Fay, and don’t be a stranger!




For upcoming poetry events in
Northern California and otherwheres,
click on
in the links at the top of this page.

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—
and collaborations are welcome.
Just remember:
the snakes of Medusa are always hungry—
for poetry, of course!


Tuesday, June 28, 2022

The Light You Need

—Poetry, Photos and Original Art 
by Joyce Odam, Sacramento, CA

Something waits to be found. I feel it,
slow myself to be ready.

I sense the presence. Whatever lurks
out-waits me.

It is the edge,
and I am the center.

It intuits me—
as if I am a spiral.

How will I know if I am caught—
there is only the idea—

the sensation. It is watchful.
I am moving outward—inward.


A lone black bird on a sudden quiet path—south to
north across the field outside my window as I glance
out at just this moment of this day—the field a make-
shift canvas of brimming shade in sunlight—how
sharp its flight against that shadow-wash of gold—
how quick and silent on the morning.

(prev. pub. in Manzanita Quarterly, 2001)



What are roses when they wilt—
wilt and die—scented and soft,
as the softest words to say this—

expensive when alive :
roses for lovers
as token,
as symbol,
perfection without claim—
roses with long green stems,
innocent thorns, warning against touch.

Roses cut from bushes are for sacrifice.
Shrubs cannot hold them against this.
Vases will oblige them—present them.

or by the dozen,
roses will pose for you with their presence—
admire them,
sigh over them,
take their picture from bud to fullness, to petal-fall,

trash now—
tossed away—given to loss—
leaving a trail of sadness behind them.
Now The Dream


Come to me, Love. The room is cold.
Stars line the window ledge.
The mirror holds you
much too long—
would you go in—
enter some other world?
You say you hear a loon cry
on the lake.
There is no lake.
The wind groans through the tree
outside the window.
There is no tree.
The window glints
to the mirror.
You look at me
through the glass.
But you are staring
at yourself.
Tree branches shake.
A loon cries on the lake.
The room is cold.
You do not see how I’m not there—
afraid and lost in the room’s shivering.



At once the season changes. Every tone
of light is on another plane. The day
constricts. A shiver in the air finds bone.
        Trees shudder and release the birds
that flutter out and briefly fly away.

Then time resumes its count, shifts back in place.
Summer continues, canceling what was there :
a touch of winter in some kind of race,
        something to mock the lack of words :
which season choose, with no time to prepare?
 Waiting For January

After Child, o/c, Yasuo Kunihoshi, 1923

Wooden child, wooden child,
in flawed perspective—

once a doll—
now a child,

or so
it thinks—

eyes painted

looking through the shadowed light
to find its life.

It…  It…  
figment of whimsied mind.

Forever’s darling, mouth buttoned
from cry or word—

not heard.


After Self Love by Winslow Homer

It’s not the curious self-deep mirror now,
or this wide field that’s yours for the scything,
it’s more the vast expression on your face,
the way you pause and seem to listen—

knee-deep in daisies—wearing the sky
like an inner movement
as you lean from your shadow—
it’s more like that : you, absorbed

in a moment of self-admiration,
proud of your thoughts, of your grasp
upon the infinite, and the power you think
you have—it‘s more like that.


dance now
in circle of self-watching

self holding self

all that darkness measured
and made easy to lead and follow



I am in a room of many women
each alone from the other
each a container of stories
each a silence worth listening to…

our dresses touch when we pass each other
in soft aversive movements
when we are waiting our turns,
when we are measuring our restlessness…

shall we escape…
shall we be here forever in our
alien kinship—who are uniquely alike—
who are divided by our difference…

(prev. pub. in
Calliope, 1992-93)



It’s the very randomness of some thought that
flickers like some wing that gets caught in wind-lift,
brief as thought’s own teasery, grayly touching
surfaces and depths;

it’s the strange elusiveness of the teasing—
shifting—as we reach for it—just as it fades,
that we seem oblivious to, and just miss—
mysteries like that

always leave us wondering what was really
touching, moth-like, there at the mind’s own margin,
fluttering the emptiness with its vagueness,
gathering away—

some thought, briefly important—some thought that we
almost capture—fingertipped—fleeting, just missed.
Losses like that—whisperings, side-looks, movements,
stillness’s disturbed—

hauntings—thoughts that nag at us when we lose them,
thoughts we failed to recognize; thoughts that snag on
deafness, blindness—maybe some passing poem,
honoring itself.  


After The Collected Poems of Weldon Kees,

Who was Sarah—who was John,
that they were dedicated
in a book of poems,
the poet dead now—
missing from his life,
a mystery to solve—
and leaving us to wonder :
Who was Sarah? Who was John?

(prev. pub. in
Medusa’s Kitchen,  4/02/2015)


How often do you need this to be true? You are such a
tragedy—sitting alone—in the rain—at the little side-
walk table since you love moody atmosphere.

You sip your drink of rainwater and ask for the bill, and
the waiter comes indifferently toward you, but you keep
receding into the old pathetic story.

You love the ancient way you feel. You love the misery
of your own eyes in the distortion of the window. Inside,
patrons are looking out at you, but they don’t hold

together any more. You have been here too long, wear-
ing yourself thin with repetition—boring everybody—
even the long-dead artist you conjure for effect.

And now we leave you there in your private reverie, the
waiter never arriving, the rain falling into your glass—
you, shining so deeply, like a wet tree.

(prev. pub. in
Parting Gifts, 2004)



Know this of me, that I will search the wind for
your last touch. I will become a scavenger of
every breeze for something of you I have

Often I hear compassionate grass lean to a
sound and mourn against the soil in ravaged
listening, then sigh against my legs and tell me
you are here.
Our energies converge. Nothing of what we are
to one another is spent, but borne through all the
filters of awareness.

My hands enclose the living emptiness to
treasure you; the bending of my fingers makes
a sound of love upon the wind for you to hear.
My pulse works thunder.

The chasm of our distance storms with angry
love, and I can feel you miss me in the lashing
of all growing things. There is a wailing in the

air when love shreds on the pangs of loneliness.
Nothing is lost. I answer with a yielding you
will feel upon the wind’s return.

(prev. pub. in Prairie Poet, 1963)
 Purity of Mind


You become real again,
you become wary of life,
you become dissatisfied
of hope,  
and effort
and wasted praise,
on yourself and others,
what is the use of fire on the tongue,
anger in the eye,
forgive the thought that got away
because you were too slow,
or too selfish, or

Everything is the lie, except truth
which is too expensive and weary
of its search—oh—all has the element
of failure after all the experience of life,
and love, and all the words you counted on
to save the soul, the life, the love, it all waits
until you release yourself into the light that has
lengthened around you, and you—you are the
light you needed to be the answer to everything
you wanted to know, to be where you are, made
of sorrow.    


Today’s LittleNip:

—Joyce Odam

Let’s hope for a happy ending
this time,
that long list of wanting,
things to work out,
come true,
all wishes
that are good wishes—healings.

Let us no longer lose what we need,
no matter how expensive
or out of stock,
when all we need
are things
that feed, clothe, and shelter—
enough not too much—even love.


Sanctuary is what we’re all seeking in these troubled times, and Joyce Odam responded to our Seed of the Week: Sanctuary, with her probing poems and pix, as we wind up the month of June, 2022. Thank you, Joyce—all of us taking sanctuary in her beautiful words and thoughts!

Our new Seed of the Week is “You are what you drink”. 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. And see every Form Fiddlers’ Friday for poetry form challenges, including those of the Ekphrastic type.

NorCal poets will be saddened to learn that poet Luz María Gama passed away Sunday night. Our thoughts are with her friends and family.


 “Let’s hope for a happy ending. . .”
—Public Domain Photo

For upcoming poetry events in
Northern California and otherwheres,
click on
in the links at the top of this page.

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, June 27, 2022


—Poetry by Michael H. Brownstein, 
Stephen Kingsnorth, Caschwa, Joe Nolan, 
Sayani Mukherjee, Daun M. Wright
—Public Domain Visuals Courtesy of Joe Nolan

—Michael H. Brownstein, Jefferson City, MO

Putin tries to poke holes into the body’s work of a nation
but the body’s work of the nation cannot be poked through—
gut-shot punctuation, terrorist renderings, vocabulary of madness
and Russia bleeds fire, cruelty, vocabulary of an insane man's mind.
He walks into the noise more than once,
and now he must exit from the room:

You do not have to follow a leadership lodged in evil.
Following orders is not a defense.

How do you fight a courageous people, Putin?
You do not. Genocide is murder. Murder is murder.
Russian Polar Bears
—Michael H. Brownstein

Let us say the colorful hummingbird symbolizes peace.
Let us say the two-legged giant with weak arms is the gray of cruelty—
The hummingbird swift and agile, a glitter of texture;
the giant clumsy and slow, the creator of tools of destruction.

Let us say they meet in the field of wild flowers blossoming.
After the fires fade, only a thick fog of death remains.
Let us say the hummingbird tries to symbolizes peace.
Let us say the giant with weak arms tries to be the master of extinction.

The field will regain itself, flowers will bloom, hummingbirds will sing
their soft whisper of a song: I do this work for you,
two-legged giant with weak arms, so you will have many fields
colored with beauty and sweet perfumes to scent the air.

(prev. pub. by Visual Verse)

—Michael H. Brownstein

(based on an image by artist Vony Razom,
who is currently producing art from
a bomb shelter in Ukraine)

in the madness of the fertile lands,
a red blossom and its red leaves—
and from its seed, red caterpillars
bending into Red admirals, strong
in wing and shape, rugged Vanessas

do not mistaken fractures in the sea
for weakness of the heart, soul sickness—
she knows the beauty of self and water

from her place on the shore of power,
a current: she flips into the air, sails
within the wind, reflects on strength
and courage—sometimes a butterfly
becomes human and changes the world.

(prev. pub. by Visual Verse)

—Stephen Kingsnorth, Coedpoeth, Wrexham, Wales

Altar surround, the sanctuary—
it’s holy ground, bared soles, atone,
for I have trod with loosened thongs,
where even angels fear to tread,
and souls exposed, by spirit fed
a sentinel, saint sentry point.
Yet killing field those turbulent—
Becket, Luwum, Romero, priests,
for shame exposed, unwelcome voice,
seed martyr blood, fools, Christ their king—
with multitudes, their names unknown,
except to God, whatever creed.
Those altars stripped, not altered much.

Shunned prophets, scared, seek safety nets
in sacred havens, sanctum space,
immunity, asylum rite,
from refuse dump, safe refuge site,
till thugs, known shades, raid spirit life—
as desecrate inviolable.
Protection lost from wild attack—
yet nurture, nature’s threatened wild?
Is that how march to promised land—
this strange globe where extinctions feared,
assuming that our commonwealth—
fresh sunsets rise and fall again,
yet enemies, cast outer dark?

—Caschwa, Sacramento, CA

I hold in my hands a collection of bricks
that comprises one tranche
other people will bring other tranches
and together we will build a wall

did we forget something important?

maybe some mortar would be helpful,
along with instructions and recipes
or else all these tranches of bricks
won’t be a wall, just a pile of bricks


senior citizen, retired,
I am only open to trying
things that have a 50-year
history of product safety

driverless cars will have
to wait 50 years just to
get on the OK-to-try list
I keep in my sanctuary

and if I were to use assisted-
steering to get me into a tight
parking spot between 2 other
cars, those other cars better

have assisted-steering also,
or else they are going to ram
right into my car trying to get
out of that tight spot, right? 


          will that be our sanctuary?

          will that be our sanctuary?

          will that be our sanctuary?

          maybe this will work,
          we already have laws written 


—Joe Nolan, Stockton, CA

Earth is cool
When sun is hot.
Neptune is far
Colder, colder, still.

Earth has its own will
And turns away
From sun, too hot,
To spread its heat
Across its circling surface
To raise the falling rain.

Great rivers once ran east to west
Across the vast Sahara.
We can see their river-beds
From satellites in space.
No one in our current times
Would know this,
Were it not for traces
Left behind,
Beneath deep desert sands.

Now, we cry out
Beneath monsoons
That flood our lands
And wash away our farms.
How can we manage in this mayhem,
Season after season,
For no reason,
Except the way it is?

—Joe Nolan

I dreamed I was lost
But it was untrue, it seems.

A shadow
In a parallel track
Paces along with me,
Angry for some slight
Not taken back.

It seems it will pursue me
No matter how lost
My track may be.
It is derivative.
I must have given it birth.

Perhaps the shadow better knows
A fortune bound irrevocably to fate.
Together though we feel the pace,
Our outcomes will be for one
To well outlast the other. 

—Joe Nolan

Anyone who wanders
May not wane,
When he feels
The onset of pain,
If he binds
His feet up
In tight cloth
And pulls himself together
Against his sloth
And bears himself
Down the long highway,
As thought his every step
Was toward some magical goal. 
Mountain with cloud cap

—Joe Nolan

You don’t deserve it.
I don’t deserve it, either,
But here we are
In the middle of
A mad adventure.

Sails are set out for the wind,
To carry us away.
We worry not.
We long for flight!
We know our dreams
Have surfaced from our night,

When we were together
In our dreams
And we remembered,
Which is more rare
Than to have vague feelings of connection,
Which is common,
Before making love.

Brilliant, roams the flight
Of waves, abandoned,
Into the spray of sea into your hair!
Sunlight sparkles
Effervescent marvels,
Into ecstasy,
On the run!
Are they being pushed forward so
it is easier to jump out of the water?
Biggest game in town. . .

—Michael Ceraolo, S. Euclid, OH

I never said to myself
be careful what you wish for,
though once I came very close:
during negotiations
after Seitz's decision
in Messersmith/McNally
Charlie Finley suggested
making everyone free agents:
my nightmare scenario
But owner shortsightedness,
or maybe just the person
making such a suggestion,
insured it wouldn't happen
Generations of players
continue to benefit


—Michael Ceraolo

One of us a dove, one a seagull;
we both met the same fate as Ray Chapman
The bird of peace exploded into pieces
by a Randy Johnson fastball,
a tragic accident, while I,
the bird who scavenges by the water,
was murdered by a Dave Winfield throw
If I had been a human
he would have waited until my back was turned
before attacking me

—Michael Ceraolo

It was a good life as a team mascot;
it was sure better than pulling a plow
And I didn't mind being called an ass,
though I didn't like it one little bit
when the human ass gave me his own name

—Michael Ceraolo

I was worried
baseball would shut down in '43
because of the war, and I felt
those on the homefront deserved
some form of entertainment,
so I started a girls' softball league,
though early in that first season
we started calling it baseball
It was okay for the girls to play
all-star games at Wrigley at night
using portable lights;
I never desecrated Wrigley with permanent lights
After two years I got out of the girls' game,
selling it to Meyerhoff for peanuts

—Sayani Mukherjee, Chandannagar, W. Bengal, India

Ten minutes to write a poem
A juggling springing ball game—
A great initiative, a middle pause
A balanced middle
The ending ad infinitum
To keep open the buttons.

The fallen meters have woken up
A gray-scaled punishment
And discipline
A liberal adherence
To rules and penalties
But if not
Then meshed with
Slumber, a cocooned peace
Then impulse and romantic
A high-strung burning sky
Of looking ahead
Peony and shrubbery feast
A caravan of quiet moments’ sleep
A tiptoed dance with
Card players
Until the swoosh gets fallen
An eternal dance
Both awake and asleep.

In big cities,
We read between the lines
Self-referential, a lying machine
A post-truth gazebo
Truths drop out of the stage show
Then all is a faded hat
The joker and his tap dance
Keep beating around the bush
His mask a serpent coil
Small tickets to a merry fair bush
Of looking left and right
Until the last fear of
Angels that will tread on—
A masked quill
Just for ten minutes
To beat around
To tuck a drumroll high.

Mocking flames and snow leopard drops
Then come back
Every summer
In our heat-waved city sky.

Words that we play often
A pitpat to leave and not to leave
Until the ten minutes
Melt in a vapour plane
Or a sand watch of
A quick drumroll high
A question and a non-question
Until we drop out of the mocking lies.


Today’s LittleNip(s):

—Daun M. Wright, London, Ontario, Canada

I lay here thinking of nothing and images of you pierce my 
consciousness and deliver the sweetness of you

Your kind eyes and ready smile but mostly

your presence invades my space and

the entire experience is etched in time

* * *

—Michael H. Brownstein

And to the victors a parade—
but how do you win when so much is gone—
and where are the men?
Where are the men?


Welcome to Monday Madness, as we wind up the last week of June! We have another new poet today, this one from Canada: Daun M. Wright, aka The Permissible Poet, Podcaster & Freelance Creative Writer. Daun pens poetry that speaks to the heart of our being, while allowing each reader to reflect on their life's journey. She resides in London, Ontario, Canada.

As always, our poets have much to say—about the Ukraine, about our nation’s midsummer madness, about the craziness of the human condition, and about our Seed of the Week: Sanctuary. Caschwa (Carl Schwartz) found a word he didn’t know: “tranches”. He writes: “Was reading some FaceBook entries about the January 6th hearing schedule, and noted the expression ‘tranches of evidence’, which I had never heard before. Apparently ‘tranches’ are smaller parts of some larger entity, usually referring to financial instruments. In this case, they had new ‘tranches of evidence’ to examine, causing them to wish to postpone further hearings… until July.”

NorCal readings continue this week, with Sac. Poetry Center Zooming tonight, Poetry Unplugged at Luna’s Cafe and Juice Bar on Thursday (Straight Out Scribes), and a Nevada City reading on Friday. Click UPCOMING NORCAL EVENTS at the top of this column for details about these and other future readings in the NorCal area.


Daun M. Wright

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—
and collaborations are welcome.
Just remember:
the snakes of Medusa are always hungry—
for poetry, of course!
  “she knows the beauty

of self and water. . .”