Thursday, March 14, 2024

I Am A River

 —Poetry by Nolcha Fox, Buffalo, WY
—Public Domain Photos Courtesy of
Nolcha Fox

Any time I want to do
what’s easy, not what’s right,
I know I’ll find myself
locked in the Restaurant of Hell.
Servers could take centuries
to notice I am there.
They pour my coffee down my neck
instead of in my cup.
The roast beef is still mooing,
and bleeding on the plate,
and leaves a cake of poop
before it wanders out the door.
The salad sags and vibrates.
It grew from nuclear waste.
The bill is triple even though
I sit here all alone.
I’m paying for the privilege
of gagging up my food.
Best to choose some better moves
before it is too late,
and make my reservations
for a seat at heaven’s gate.


It’s true that we must take a side,
left or right, up in the sky
or down below.
But I can choose another place,
perhaps the center of the room.
Or I can choose to hold my ground,
to claim what’s mine,
refuse to yield.


A sickly sun behind a cell tower considers being swallowed into the mouth of a sullen steel bridge. A rusted shopping cart, the only vehicle parked in an empty lot, steels itself to roll into the concrete river under the bridge. Gone are the sticky fingers, the heavy loads, the metal-on-metal collisions. In this desolate world, it dreams of basking in warm, green water, of sparkling in the sun. It dreams of beauty.


You swaddle me in fuzzy crush,
you keep me from the snow and ice.
You don’t mind acrylic stench
when my wool socks are in the wash.
I love you more than you are worth.
I swoon for you when days turn cold.
You are my only darling
til your laces break or soles wear out,
dear winter boots.


I thought I left everything behind when I walked out with two suitcases and a typewriter.

I thought I left behind the blinds that rippled from too many days with a humidifier, and too many summer evenings I pushed them aside to watch my friends play when I was supposed to be in bed. I thought I left behind the confusion I was for the woman I wanted to be. I thought I left behind a shattered marriage, anger, and neglect for something better I’d never seen.

I opened my suitcases. It was all there, everything I thought I left.


I heard a voice inside my head
that was dissatisfied.
You’ll never learn to cook a steak.
You’ll never be house-trained.
You’d fail as a mother.
You barely rate as wife.
Your hair’s too gray to wear so short.
Your butt is way too wide.

I tried a bribe of Reese’s
to make that voice go quiet.
The voice was unimpressed
and snarled she’d only eat Godiva.
I gave the voice a ticket
to a tropic paradise.
She said she went there yesterday
and prices were too high.

I joined the local marching band.
I played the music loud.
The voice gave up and went away,
but now I’ve lost my hearing. 


Rivers empty into the mouths
of other rivers that kiss the sea.
The sea spits up water into the mouths of clouds.
Clouds open their mouths to drench the land with
I am a river, drinking the rain, thirsting for the sea.

You stare for hours at the waves,
your feet tangled in kelp,
sea and sand in soggy shoes.
Sun or rain or heavy seas,
you let the cold into your bones.
Perhaps you see your younger self
splashing in the surf.
Perhaps you see the ship
you never took sail out to sea.
Perhaps you’re waiting for the time
you turn to salt,
to melt into water.


You were the one I went to
when I could not recall
silly things. What do I take
to make congestion go away?
What remedies can ease
the aches of living every day?
Family stories, recipes,
you kept them in your mind.
My soggy brain was free
of all the weight of memories.
You left with all your treasures,
and now I have to find
a box to keep what I retained
before it slips away.


My family was never a model of clear communica-
tion. I had to ferret out the meanings on my own.
Closed doors, silence, facial rictus, walking out the
door. Most often, I was left alone, puzzled by the

They’ve refused to tell me what it’s like when
bodies turn to ash and bones, to tell me of their
wanderings now that they’re only souls.

Or maybe I just miss the little things they send to
tell me they’re ok, to let me know they’re helping
me when I don’t know what to do.

Or maybe they do now in death what they did when
alive. Just leave without a wave goodbye, to never
speak of where they are, to travel on their own.


Today’s LittleNip:

—Nolcha Fox

Decay of plausible resignation,
vanquished regret,
exit from a circus of addiction.


—Medusa, with thanks to Nolcha Fox for today’s fine poetry!
 —Public Domain Photo Courtesy 
of Joe Nolan, Stockton, CA

For future poetry happenings in
Northern California and otherwheres,
click on
in the links at the top of this page—
and keep an eye on this link and on
the daily Kitchen for happenings
that might pop up
—or get changed!—
 during the week.

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.

Find previous four-or-so posts by scrolling down
under today; or there's an "Older Posts" button
at the bottom of this column; or find previous poets
by typing the name of the poet or poem
 into the little beige box at the top
left-hand side of today’s post; or go to
Medusa’s Rapsheet at the bottom of
the blue column at the right
 to find the date you want.

Would you like to be a SnakePal?
Guidelines are at the top of this page
at the Placating the Gorgon link;
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!