Monday, June 17, 2024

Listen to the Silence

Gardening always starts with digging~
—Original Photos Today by Caschwa
* * *
—Poetry by Gregg Norman, Caschwa,
Sayani Mukherjee, and Joe Nolan
—Gregg Norman, Manitoba, Canada

sensory overload in a dark basement
below an old hardware store
black painted ceiling piped and ducted
unwindowed walls cracked and sweating
after a heavy fall of rain
tables shimmed level on a cracked
and heaved concrete floor
the smells of tin flask whiskey
cigarette butts and urinal cakes
pools of yellow light from lamps
hung low over a dozen faded felt surfaces
blue-chalked tips and sweat-sticky grips
with competition for unwarped cues
click and clack of called shots
clatter crash of sledgehammer breaks
folding money bets draw small crowds
high stools reserved for aimless old men
who come every day to drink smoke
reminisce and commiserate
in a man’s world frequented
by pimple-faced boys
with pockets full of change
and nowhere else to go 

—Caschwa, Sacramento, CA

spent quite a lot of time
navigating Face Book, only
to discover that for every
like-minded connection,
there are several more that
put up insurmountable

hoping to trap you in their
cul de sacs so that all you
can hear or see is their spin,
while they have no intention
of ever giving audience to
your side of the story

it is not the stage for a useful
discussion or argument, just
one side’s filibuster, repeated
ad nauseum, like a lot of the


Our Spangled Banner
now streaming at your
favorite war zone


chop sticks and gall stones
may break my wish bones
but compound words
will never harmonize


your Daddy Deep Pockets
can go to the toy store
and buy you a game where
you own a bank, houses,
hotels, utilities, railroads,
and the real estate on which
they are situated

and you can play that game,
have a great time, feel good,
all of that, until you try using
some of that toy money to
pay your real bills, and then

and you may face some real
jail time 

—Sayani Mukherjee, Chandannagar,
W. Bengal, India

Morning’s a bemused lullaby
Today’s muse is God itself
Eden Los Angeles Calcutta Brooklyn
He showered his gifts of plenty
Mavericks are born out of thorns
He knew he knitted his warm blankets
Precisely a coin folded butchered mastery
Slavery's independence Russia's green-flagged
No I don’t write about Nations
Politics too costly for God’s sake
Purity is noble
It’s simple
A retreat in God’s ambush
Learn Art if you reached God
A soothing palette
Beyond Borderlines
Learn Art in God’s precious hands
Earth In Eden’s palette. 

—Sayani Mukherjee

An epiphany of mossed cottage
The outlandish prairies lease high
For over the high altitude of dreams
A sparrow of leaden-washed thought
I spare time and murmur earth’s song
A long visitor of Alpine wine
For brownish chestnut thought
A magdalen tower of higher spree
A beaver stranded upon a shooting collapse
I know not what to thee
I muse of an eponymous hero
An unsung heroine that leaves yonder thee
A blasting music came through the cottages
We were grey and happy
For the earth’s gate was high-sprung elysian
As I stood with the mossed tree. 

—Joe Nolan, Stockton, CA

They must be ripe
They’re falling from trees
All around the ground
Underneath the canopies
But when you go to pick them
All are not equally ripe.

Some are still
A tiny bit hard
So many different degrees
Of succulence and sweetness
Meant to delight and please

Golden color
Bright and round
If they were music
What would be their sound?
Maybe “E,” for
“We’re here to please.”

—Joe Nolan

A river ran down
Through our paper-town,
Down from the Adirondacks,
Past the Battlefield
At Bemis Heights
That helped win
Our war for freedom.

The river shone down
Through our paper-town
Past two paper-mills.
Railroads ran
Across our downtown streets.
There was a lot going on.

Cobblestone streets
On Park Avenue
Were dug up and
Paved with blacktop
As part of Urban Renewal.

Environmental restrictions
Made the paper-mills move
Somewhere far away.
My best-friend’s Dad
Couldn’t get a job
So he shot himself in the head.
At least that way
Social Security
Was paid
And somehow
They got on
Without him.

A mean-old neighbor
Gassed himself in his car.
Later, a brother took pills.
It was three suicides
In the space of four homes,
All on the same side
Of Grand Avenue,
But it seemed like a peaceful place.
A river ran down
From the mountains
Fed by creeks and streams
And by springs
In the highlands.
The Hudson ran down
Past our paper town,
But its waters were foul
And it could not be swum.
It carried away
Bundles of pulp
And every kind
Of industrial scum.

These days,
The river runs clearer
Than when we were young,
But it’s hard to say
How things have held on
After the mills were gone.

—Joe Nolan

We’ve shredded the silk
That held back the tide
Of the worst that was inside

The lubricant
That allowed us to touch
Without rubbing
Each other

There were things
We hoped not to see—
Darker aspects
Of you and me—
The wrong ways
We were going.

Now, we’ve slipped away
It seems,
Different rivers
With only
To guide us.

—Joe Nolan
Stand still silent
Still silent stand
Silently stand-still.

We pray for peace.
We hope we shall.
Shall we
Hope for peace?

Stand still, silent
Silently stand still
Listen to the silence
When the war has stopped.

Still, we hear the crying.
The crying never stops.
Moan and moan,
So all alone.

Stand still silent
Still silent, stand
Silently stand still


Today’s LittleNip:


card-reading machines
should ask customers to
“Move your card”, if
later they purposefully
instruct the customer to
“Remove your card”


Good Monday Morning, and thanks to today’s contributors for all the finery they’ve sent, including Caschwa's delectable produce photos from former years, and those of Joshua Tree! Gregg Norman first joined us on Mother’s Day of this year; welcome back to him.

As usual, the NorCal calendar’s a-poppin’ with readings and workshops this week. And book releases, too! NorCal book releases in June include Bob Stanley’s new book,
Language Barrier, and there will be readings: the first one will be in Davis this Thursday, and check for more on our calendar at  If you can't attend one of those events, Language Barrier (which is published by CW Books) is available to order on the Random Lane Press website (, and they’ll ship it to you for $19.25 plus shipping and handling.

NorCal native Todd Cirillo will be back here (from his now-home in New Orleans) to read and release his new book,
Disposable Darlings from Roadside Press (; see in Grass Valley on June 29.

And Patricia Caspers will have several readings over the next few months from her new book with the intriguing title,
The Most Kissed Woman in the World. The first of her readings will be with Moira Magneson on Saturday, June 22, in Auburn. Check the book out at

Don’t be shy about letting Medusa know ( about your readings and book releases. I live to publicize poetry!

SnakePal Charles Mariano wrote to us about the above photo which I posted last week, after it was sent to me by Carl Schwartz (Caschwa). Charles says:

“Here's an interesting bit of personal history regarding the Snake Lady image you shared a couple days ago on MK.
“When my tia (aunt) Molly was 23 years old, she used to be in the L&G Barnes Circus who toured all over California in the 30s. There's a story about her in a book I wrote back in 2013 titled, Piece Work. Coincidentally, the story that goes with this 1933 photo [below] is titled, The Snake Lady. "I was the Snake Lady for three years," she told me. "I used two different snakes, a boa and a python."
Left to right on photo:  Close friend standing, Emilia Huizar, standing with striped dress in the middle, is tia Molly. Little girl in front is her daughter, Kathy.  Kneeling next to cousin Kathy is Joe Lopez, The Fire-Breathing man. As Kathy used to brag about years later, "The Fire-Breathing Man and the Fat Lady of the Circus baptized me."  

Connections. Carl finds a photo of an old poster, sends it to me, I post it, and it rings a bell with Charlie. Granted, there are plenty of obstacles, but the world is full of connections, yes? Six degrees of separation? I think not—zero degrees of separation, says I…


 —Public Domain Squirrels Courtesy
of Joe Nolan, Stockton, CA

A reminder that
Poetry in Motion read-around
meets in Placerville this morning;
and AE Hines and Jeff Knorr
will read at Sac. Poetry Center
tonight, 7:30pm.
For info about these 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
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by typing the name of the poet or poem
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Would you like to be a SnakePal?
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send poetry and/or photos and artwork
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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!
In stillness and in silence…