Sunday, June 09, 2024

Above / Below

—Poetry by John Rowe, El Cerrito, CA
—Photos by John Rowe

For once
we are quiet
in each other’s presence

Crow perched
on the backyard deck railing
I at the open door

Hello, I say softly
Crow looks at me
I look at him

A breeze
A blue rose in bloom
The garden Buddha

Minutes pass
Crow and I
stand still in silence

When we awaken
from our trance
I am he, he is me

He now watches from doorway
as I spread my wings and fly
to the neighbor’s sycamore tree


Atop the redwoods
sharp calls
of red-shouldered hawks

while far below
where I am

a blue dragonfly
shimmers and hovers
in shared
sunlit space

quieter than
my whisper
if in this moment
I were to make
such a sound


I return to look at
the front step

where the praying mantis
had landed—

it’s still there
and still still

(or maybe something stronger)

after my struggle
the past hour
to commit
a few lines of poetry
to the page

I bow down
to the hummingbird
outside my kitchen window
showing off her
70 wingbeats per second

She’s pre-teen
and the large slice
of yellow watermelon
she holds at eye level
precariously between fingers
is all smiles to mask
her self-consciousness.

That wedge of fruit
mirrors crescent moon,
extending twilight summer night.

“I wasn’t expecting it to be so drippy,”
she announces to her off-balance friend
grasping leash attached to a Golden Lab
pulling other end,
warm wet nose guiding toward
the delicate petals
of a fragrant yellow rose.

Who says happiness
can’t sit and wait
at a bus stop
even if the bus
never arrives?
I see happiness
sitting there alone
scribbling down a poem.
Truth is
happiness is not alone.
A crow in a nearby tree
keeps one eye on happiness.
Happiness is old and wise
but doesn’t feel that way.
Now I see happiness
turn into a child
with an ice cream cone.
Three scoops
of favorite flavors.
Before long
laughter shows up
and sits down
next to happiness.
A certain kind
of music follows
to last a lifetime.

(prev. pub. in the anthology, Ice Cream Poems, from World Enough Writers, 2017)


Today’s LittleNip:


I came back
through the tunnel
and saw the light
at the beginning of it

—John Rowe


Bay Area SnakePal John Rowe has poems appearing in numerous small press journals and anthologies. He is the author of several poetry chapbooks, including 
At My Wit's Beginning, and Winsome Losesome (Eventuality Press), and Beyond Perspective (Finishing Line Press). For over 25 years, John has enjoyed active participation as a featured reader at many venues and festivals, as well as volunteer involvement in the organization/leadership of community poetry events in the San Francisco Bay Area. He currently hosts a monthly (2nd Saturday) open reading on Zoom for the Bay Area Poets Coalition (BAPC). He and his wife, the poet Jan Dederick, reside in El Cerrito, CA with their black cat, Benny, and two backyard ducks. Find out more about John at and/or

Welcome back to the Kitchen, John, and don’t be a stranger!


 John Rowe

A reminder that Poets Club of Lincoln
Open Mic meets today, 3pm.
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.

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!
Got myself all tied up in knots!