Monday, May 06, 2024

What In Tarnation~?

 March of the Living, Auschwitz, 2014
—Public Domain Photo

* * *

—Poetry by Michael H. Brownstein,
Stephen Kingsnorth, Caschwa,
Claire J. Baker, Sayani Mukherjee,
Joe Nolan, and Nolcha Fox
—Illustration by Nolcha Fox
—Public Domain Visuals Courtesy of
Stephen Kingsnorth and Joe Nolan

* * *

Michael Brownstein has sent us two poems in honor of Holocaust Remembrance Day (Yom HaShoah), which started last night and runs until sundown today:
—Michael H. Brownstein, Jefferson City, MO

The Torah was smuggled out of Warsaw
by a NAZI officer who hated what Germany had
it made it by foot and car to France and plane to
and somehow to America where it landed in the
When the officer's act was discovered,
he was executed on the spot and the
Warsaw Ghetto
found itself barbwired in, great walls went up,
and all deliveries were blocked. The people
were left to starvation and neglect.
Many sickened, many died.

The sun came out.

People began to live again, growing herbs for
boxed gardens on rooftops and window sills,
a vast array of vegetables, edible flowers,
blossoms, nuts, seeds and a great many fruits.
What was once weeds became veggies—
dandelions turned into greens and flour.
Though milk became a luxury, calcium came from
chickens and rabbits and the sun graced everyone
with large does of Vitamin D. Life grew better,
the Torah safe, and the people began to fight back
everyday thanking God for helping everyone thrive.

* * *

—Michael H. Brownstein

There were Africans too
gypsies, and gay men.
Mental facilities emptied,
the trains heavy with Jews,
children, women, mothers,
men who were strong
and held the weak up.

The dogs were cruel too,
and sunlight was dark gravy,
everything lacking light,
insight, a coherency.
In the ghetto, enough
and enough became strength,
the people took back their lives.

The terror of incredible evil
was not sustainable
and now, today, next week,
a month from now
it will still be unsustainable.
Together, Jews, Africans others
fought their way into sanity.

This was the last time--
there will never be another
--and today we unite,
make the world a better place,
safer, more coherent,
more understanding.
Nazis could not destroy our love.
Our Seed of the Week was "Yolks"~
 —Public Domain Photo

—Stephen Kingsnorth, Coedpoeth, Wrexham, Wales

Full readied troops for battle call,
the soldiers circled—on, their plate—
all uniform, old crusty led,
awaiting choice for mission charged.

Now centred, focus of intent,
beheaded, sliced by bayonet,
attended by apostle shine,
at orange-red rise, yellow dawn.

This foreign field where oxen yoked,
and jokes from whites about surrounds,
their daily tiffin, tea and cake—
or scrambled eggs, quail, duck, swan poached.

Descendants warred ’mongst smashing shells,
the crack or crash of tap or bash;
two sides entrenched, their foxholes dug,
no chicken run for those afraid,

But free-range minefields in their sight,
as bad-egg sulfide, armaments;
an aerial, in optic stance,
of brown-rimmed, white-wide, pupil, gilt.

Those hard-boiled troopers brought to tears
by recall, childhood memories,
their nanny, nursery, rhyme lines,
those toast dip soldiers, runny yolk. 
—Artwork by Lily Prigioniero
—Public Domain Photo Courtesy of Stephen Kingsnorth

—Caschwa, Sacramento, CA

(prompted by “…In Time”
by Stephen Kingsnorth in
Medusa’s Kitchen, May 2, 2024)

several decades ago when I was
growing up, my Mom would use
a Singer treadle sewing machine
to repair our clothes

every so often the drive belt would
break and have to be replaced; this
was ages before Online ordering, and
to make matters even more complicated,
the drive belt was fashioned from leather

today there would be cries of outrage
taboo!! leather comes from animals!
fortunately, Singer was making these
machines with the leather belts well
over 100 years before PETA was
founded, so we were spared the cries
of outrage for a good, long time

I inherited Mom’s Singer treadle machine
and it sits today in a corner of one room
in my house, with a few things stacked up
on top of it, waiting patiently for the
household to once again have a person
who knows how to sew, to put it to use 
 —Public Domain Photo


we’ve seen the signs all over
wherever we’ve put fire hoses
or extinguishers

“In case of fire, break glass”

and now we can add another
message on the refrigerator door

“In case of hunger, break eggs”

both of these scenarios presuppose
that one knows what to do with the
fire hose, extinguisher, or the yolk,
once its container is broken

there is more than one way to put
out a fire or to cook an egg, so we
let experience be our guide, and
lacking that, we free-float in the
Black Hole of space wondering
what in tarnation are we going to do?
 —Public Domain Photo Courtesy of Joe Nolan 


had all kinds of great ideas
to write a mystery novel
that ends in a great, big
gun fight

but we won’t ever know the
ending, because I’m sure
not going to hang around
writing a book if there is
a great big gunfight! 
—Public Domain Illustration
Courtesy of Joe Nolan

—Claire J. Baker, Pinole, CA

Ah, sun held lightly
within a half shell, hello.

I sense you offer an epiphany.
this time I am ready,

here by California’s ocean—
you, balanced, tilted, splashed,

skinny dipping on horizon.
Now, nudged open by waves, you

spread, as if God’s own egg yolk,
into a deepening orange glory

lovers are drawn to follow, flow
into wherever epiphanies go. 
 —Public Domain Photo

—Claire J. Baker

                        In ethereal moments,
a poet singled out a talisman leaf
in a small barren space
her windowed eucalyptus tree—
                                        high clearing: one leaf.

Each day, leaning far back
in her old La-Z-Boy and gazing up,
the poet found her leafy talisman was sending
fresh ideas. She memorized its pointed
shape, tilt, size, the few twigs
                              bordering the now sanctified 
                   tree space.   
The tantalizing leaf clung,
storm-slashed, wind-whipped
sun-warmed into pungency
with the entire tree.

                                        A year later
                                        the goodluck charm had
                                           the magical clearing
                                            Lover of trees
    now commune with air. 
 —Public Domain Artwork

—Sayani Mukherjee, Chandannagar,
W. Bengal, India

The bonnet of eye-masked crowds
The seraphimed joy of knowledge ends
Dust particles on the shore
I masked as a bird of joy
The flowers of beaded darkness
Till the cancerous ocean fell high
A last brimmed-full cup
In Xanadu they sang and ate the heaven's cup
In wilderness comes a divine spree
For the joy of beaded pearl
I overrun a trained footprint
Till the last supper of mahogany sprouts.
—Public Domain Photo Courtesy of Joe Nolan 

—Joe Nolan, Stockton, CA
“It’s O.K., Eddie,
If you want to be queer.
It’s O.K.
If you want to be weird,   
Cut off your dick
And pluck out your beard.”
Said the Life-Coach Counselor
At the pubic school
Who had her nose
In everyone’s pants and
Walked down the hallways
Longing for
A sideways glance.

“It’s O.K.
No one will care.
You can go through life
As a non-binaire
And sort through
Your nightmares
Each mourning.”
 —Public Domain Illustration 
Courtesy of Joe Nolan

—Joe Nolan

To explain a complaint,
A theory of negligence
Had to be offered.

To offer it up,
Concrete was cracked
And the world
Was pulled down.

In front of
Swirling clouds
Of concrete-dust,
Crowds were running,
Hoping they
Would not be entombed
Like the figures
Preserved at Pompeii.

It happened very suddenl—
Something exploded
And the world was
Figures frozen in time.

It was all included
In a theory of negligence—
All it took
Was an airliner with jet fuel
To crash into a tower
And start office fires
To bring the whole thing down. 

—Illustration by Nolcha Fox (with Microsoft Designer)

Today’s LittleNip:

—Nolcha Fox, Buffalo, WY

Is this a joke? This yolk
has wings, a beak.
It’s covered with
some fluffy stuff.
It honks, a tiny truck.
No yolk I ever fried
could do a trick
like that.


—Medusa, with thanks to today’s contributors for fine poetry and visuals based on our Seed of the Week, Yolks, and to Michael Brownstein for his poems in honor of Holocaust Remembrance Day.

Be sure to check each Tuesday for the latest Seed of the Week.
 —Public Domain Illustration 
Courtesy of Joe Nolan

A reminder that
Sacramento Poetry Center presents
A Poetry Month Decompression
All Open Mic tonight, 7:30pm.
For more 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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