Congregated spectators of fish wait,
standing in gravel and sandy outcrop.
low-tide watchers on temporary shoals,
small river islands and peninsulas.
Erstwhile gull-flocks swoop in, squawk,
nab insects and splash in warm tidal pools,
feathers bright-white and dove-gray in sunlight,
wings open to evaporate feathers.
Tidewater inches up, slowly higher;
tiny island inhabitants encroach
on one another’s claimed territory,
preciously staked land, closer together
than is their preference- some push off
to nearby rock ledges, they overhang
on limbs, gulls and cormorants contrasted
dark and light against the river backdrop.
Birds grab remaining food from crevasses,
then even the most persistent stragglers
erupt in a whoosh from the stony pools,
scream terse farewells until the next low tide.
upside down on
mugs with too-
small finger holes
hands, or burned
them when you
Strong black coffee
a little burnt-taste
lingers, even with
extra cream, poured
from tiny metal
pitchers with the lid
that plink down
when poured out,
set under bent-tined
fork, spoon, knife
on napkins, one
to a customer, please.
Menus still a bit
sticky, even though
they get wiped with
a wet towel once daily,
when they fill little
glass pepper and salt
shakers, rice to prevent
clumping in summer.
Low murmurs prevalent,
an occasional laugh
breaks the monotony
of dish-clatter and cook’s
bell when an order is up.
Even if you've lived here 30
years, you’re still a newcomer
in this diner, this little town,
holding a thick white mug,
pouring over a thin local
newspaper, town gossip
whispers around you,
best eggs anywhere,
they say. You agree.
I could never
The very odor
made me wheeze
not that anyone
even in the car
till I was choking
I was nauseated
but they still
the car, cloudy
to ceiling, not
before I breathed
it, but in high school
to be popular,
to smoke, carried
Winstons, in case
have a cigarette?
Shade my eyes from that blasted
Winter sun rising on morning drive,
bigger eye-opener than breakfast or
the extra-large coffee in my hand—
even sunglasses don’t help much,
blinded vision, squinted into slits,
startled as truck runs up behind.
Light directly into my eye, shocked
into consciousness, some shadowed
figure asks unintelligible questions,
but the light! Can’t move my arm,
blinded, I can’t focus my addled brain
on words or coherent thoughts, can’t
make sense of where I am, lying
supine, where? On the ground?
Months pass, lying now on chaise,
lounging languorously, beach sand
blows gently across my battered body,
arm still encased in itchy plaster cast,
eyes peer from behind Ray Bans, close;
blinded again, sun spots on my eye lids
dance in an amusing macabre comedy.
JUST A WHISPER
What is that, just a
scant fragrance on my pillow
I grab the edges and breathe in
the essence of you, not there
but still there somehow, did I
dream you were here beside me
it was much too long ago to leave
such a trace, I smile, realize
your leaving was just a whisper
of fragrances, memories I would
know, imprints of you, long
before you ever thought of going
Not a trailer park, please
don’t let it come to that
but I did it, moved in
right next to the pink
one, mine was dull
in comparison, beige.
Bonnie always said
hers looked like a
with its turquoise trim,
reflecting ball out front,
stone gnomes, spinners.
I was the new girl,
the ladies whispered
when they thought I
couldn’t hear, or perhaps
I was supposed to know
that I wasn’t part of their
little troupe. Bonnie was
my only friend there
for years until she died.
Bob moved in, arrogant
and puffed up, a parade
of women in and out
of his place, now
painted bright red.
The ladies stopped
talking about me.
I looked out back
discreetly, of course
at something he built
in the backyard,
four up-ended pallets
as back-drop, tiki lights
on the ends, sandy
pretend beach in front,
reflecting ball there, and
a plastic pink flamingo.
I saw chairs, a fire pit;
The gnomes and spinners,
craned my neck to see,
until he caught me looking,
beckoned to me really,
to admire his little
paradise, no thanks
I waved back, going
back to my dull beige
If you are a dreamer come in
If you are a dreamer a wisher a liar
A hoper a pray-er a magic-bean-buyer
If you’re a pretender come sit by my fire
For we have some flax golden tales to spin
—Medusa, with thanks to Julie Dickson for today’s fine poetry, and for the photos she has found for us!
Northern California and otherwheres,
UPCOMING NORCAL EVENTS
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.
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the snakes of Medusa are always hungry—
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