Monday, May 27, 2024


 Bowl of Soul
—Photo by Cynthia Linville

* * *

—Poetry by Cynthia Linville, Nolcha Fox,
Stephen Kingsnorth, Michael H. Brownstein,
Sayani Mukherjee, Caschwa, and Joe Nolan
—Original Photos by Caschwa & Cynthia Linville
—Public Domain Photos Courtesy of
Joe Nolan and Medusa
—Cynthia Linville, Rocklin, CA

She writes until her mind is empty
trying to outpace regret.
She remembers writing forty years ago
in a hard bound journal just like this,

remembers a pen shaped like a lollipop
scented turquoise ink
smelling of hopeful ambition—
a little salty, a little sweet.

She revisits that imagined future
that version of herself she’d forgotten:
she wasn’t that far off—
fame, no
success, yes
wealth, no
love, yes—several serial loves
(her young self would be fine with that)
beauty, briefly
health, mostly
respect, yes.

She salutes these memories, closes journal
number 279.
She senses her younger self’s forgiveness.
Both past and present are smudged with light. 
—Public Domain Art Courtesy of Medussa
—Nolcha Fox, Buffalo, WY

She’s a bird
that bounces hard
against a window.
She’s a dare that
is an arrow
through a grape.
She’s a memory
that turns to
wind between
your fingers.
She flies away
before you
hold her by
her wings.
 —Public Domain Illustration Courtesy of Medusa

—Nolcha Fox

No picnic can be called complete
without a little army
that strides in march-step
when the burgers
and fried chicken
are set out for munching.
Mom screams when she
sees little critters strutting
straight towards us.
But I’m ok, hip-hip-hooray,
there’s much less food
to put away when
ants come join our picnic.
Mermaid Skeleton
—Public Domain Photo Courtesy of Joe Nolan

—Stephen Kingsnorth, Coedpoeth, Wrexham, Wales

That overwritten register,
full index file of ancient scrawls
needs filter, limit, what’s on call,
priorities in journey’s steer.
Until dragged up in trawling nets
from buried deeps, in black art murk—
some craft log thought lost long ago—
we do not know what lies below.

Abandoned, scuttled, left to sink,
what treasure trove, or fool’s gold chest,
has settled, drifted, rib cage hulk,
or skull, flagged crossbones, pirated?
But what claims worth from settled berths,
those standout issues brought to fore,
red-ribbon files amongst the rest,
the cases judged as paramount?

Is it of pleasure, families,
those friends who shared in fellowship,
communities were counted part,
that land us on more stable shore?
—Public Domain Photo Courtesy of Joe Nolan

—Stephen Kingsnorth

To float off dross for further use
as not all dregs are scum, assume—
deoxidising slag for steel;
to winnow chaff from fruitful ears—
the year’s good crop in harvesting,
detritus offered, compost loam.
That is how metal purified,
or art of sifting grain from husk.

Like wheat and tares together sown,
that darnel’s as its neighbour’s grass
so difficult to ascertain
the one from other in the field.
Thus with that minefield of my own,
the good and bad together borne,
as pleasure known in nurtured plot
is neighbour to hard learning growth.

Retained, stored moments, grim back when,
were grist for teaching, lessons learned;
a treasure trove, experience,
reminder, dark days overcome.
So is there scrap to cast aside,
a death, without which risen hides—
as in that lore I count my guide,
or any law which wisdom rides?

Is not their recall, side by side
the very mettle in life’s stride?
But yet I stretch too far, I think
on father in depressive mood,
those finger points on forehead frown,
support lead head as staring lap;
my fear his sad could anger burn—
rebuke more pain than slap unknown.

Unable, forgive self, his sin—
this boy not knowing till a man.
Is that worth keeping, valued store,
those searing years, that wear he bore?
 —Public Domain Art Courtesy of Medusa

—Michal H. Brownstein, Jefferson City, MO

a murder of crows
dive bombs her birthday party—
the warmth of fresh blood

* * *

noon, a thick blue sky,
whispers of cloud shadows, then
rats fall to earth

* * *

a fog of locusts
the sun bathers
 —Public Domain Photo Courtesy of Joe Nolan

—Sayani Mukherjee, Chandannagar,
W. Bengal, India

The autumn windfall of fallen leaves
A shadowy misty river water
Sat by the upfront, the river cried
A dozen zenith-full of wavering sadness
I churned the fall from the seasons
Of Tulip's most unkempt secret
A lonely hazardous blush-garden
All around a thorny buzzing
Fall came with its basket
By the river it was
As I carried the leaves with the moist touch
So all were symphony of a cacophonous haze. 
—Public Domain Photo Courtesy of Joe Nolan

—Caschwa, Sacramento, CA

this was supposed to be America
home of the free, land of the brave,
government by consent of the people
who could make their own choices

and yet here she was, lying in a
hospital bed of all places, escorted
from one procedure to another
treated like a statistic, like a number

being told by people she would never
choose to share company with
that she had no choice, her mammaries
were not worth keeping and had to go

no longer could she hold the dream of
bearing a child and nursing it lovingly;
she might as well be a cigar store Indian
beloved only by people with addictions

they made sure she was fully awake to
let her know that they were taking her
dream away, permanently, and it was
for her own good to act immediately

how could she ever sleep again? knowing
full well that she was incapable of ever
having any dreams…all was lost
they would only save the shell of the

body, like a classic car with no engine
stuck in a museum of car bodies for
visitors to stroll by and admire, just
another day like all the others 
 —Public Domain Photo Courtesy of Joe Nolan


we have all kinds of metrics
to show the supposed health
of our economy, usually
set forth in dollar figures

this is aptly suited for describing
corporations, which live longer
than human beings, and have no
limit on structural rules and by-laws

so they present us Dow Jones and
Standard & Poor’s ratings, indexes,
and netadvantages to help us feel
good about the strength of the dollar

but they all but ignore the strength
of the workers, instead imposing
goals and targets to beat yesterday’s
admiral achievements on each new day

it is only management that gets a
Retreat, wherein they can separate
themselves from the stresses of the
job, relax, and renew their energy

yes, union contracts ensure workers
get paid holidays, but these sometimes
serve to replace one set of stresses
with another set of stresses

workers need a real Retreat, where
they can disappear from the work-
place, get all kinds of freebees and
perks, and come back feeling better

unless and until our economy is
measured by both the strength of
workers alongside dollars, it will
fail to tell us what is really going on
 —Public Domain Photo 
Courtesy of Joe Nolan


(Every so often I visit the “attic”
in my brain where I keep old
memories, some of which were
more pleasing than others)

Empty pizza boxes, I made sure
to get my fill

Empty wallet, the usual outcome
from shopping at the mall

Empty car seat on date night

Empty sidewalk outside a busy
convenience store where a friend
and I left our bicycles for only a
couple of minutes, and never
saw them again

Empty baseball mitt, when I failed
to catch a ball hit right to me

Empty fish hook, despite a great cast

Empty tire after blowout

Empty grandstand seats during
marching band practice sessions

Empty cavern of pure nothingness
when I try to roll the r’s to say
Spanish words

A once-empty gutter filled with my
bowling ball that went off course 
—Public Domain Photo 
Courtesy of Joe Nolan


        Day I
I lay naked on the beach
someone gave me a spray can
of sunburn block

they said it was a free trial, I’d
have to subscribe and commit
money to get more

        Day II
I lay naked on the beach
God brought on darkness

He said it was a free trial, I’d
have to subscribe and commit
greater faith to get more

        Day III
I lay naked on the beach
arrested for indecent exposure
a lawyer took my case pro bono

he said the next time I’d have to
fork over bundles of money

        Day IV
I lay naked in my jail cell
no one offered me any protection

I was hacked and violated all day long
sure miss that spray can
—Photo by Carl Schwartz (Caschwa)


Chica, our Chihuahua, loved
to be the center of attention
she would dance in circles
chasing her tail, and then
gesture for me to join
her, trotting in circles
around the partition
that divided the
kitchen from
the living

each moment or so she would
pause and look back over
her shoulder to confirm
the tail was still there
and that I was also
still there, then
resume the
 —Public Domain Photo Courtesy of Joe Nolan

—Joe Nolan, Stockton, CA

Weak-winged bird
That cannot fly,
Lacks the strength
To beat the sky,

Hops the ground,
Runs and hides,
When humans
Come near,

Acting out
Of natural fear—
So large they are,
So strange,
So naked without feathers,
Cased in shiny skin.

God knows what
They have in mind
When they try
To hold me?
 —Public Domain Photo Courtesy of Joe Nolan

—Joe Nolan
Every salmon swims
Upstream to spawn.
So what?

It worked before
It can work again.

Somewhere up
Around the bend
Is a waterfall.
We have to jump it.

Why can’t we choose
A different stream—
Something easy
Might work just as well?

We do not know.
Time will never tell.
We only go
The way we know
As all our ancestors
Preceded us—
Up and down
The same old stream.
This to us
Is what life means—
How momentum holds us. 
—Public Domain Photo Courtesy of Joe Nolan
Today’s LittleNip:

—Joe Nolan

Tiny drops of
Trembling mercy—
Dew on a windowpane,
Appearing in a desert
Where there is no rain,
Healing drafts of liquid,
Disappearing pain,
I wish you this transcendence,
Like a shaman flies at night,
Like a rain-man prays for rain.

—Medusa, with thanks to today’s contributors for poetry and photos today, some of which are based on our Seed of the Week, Memories Worth Keeping. And, like Joe Nolan says, here’s wishing you a season of transcendence (and, with Cynthia Linville, revisioning)~
 —Public Domain Art Courtesy of Medusa

A reminder that
Sacramento Poetry Center
will present
Michael Gallowglas
tonight, 7:30pm.
For info about this and other
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.

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