Saturday, July 20, 2024

Coyote's Children

Feeding the Gray Mare
—Poetry by Michael Dwayne Smith, 
Apple Valley, CA
—Public Domain Photos Courtesy
of Joe Nolan, Stockton, CA
 
 
DAYBREAK

These mornings
my aim is to go outside

& take the world literally,
simply, genuine—

blue jay sipping from
water pooled beside a sprinkler,

my grey mare giving me the ol’ side-eye.

Of course
I am bum-rushed by life’s fear & anxiety.
Of course
I am ashamed of the secrets I have kept

(I so wanted to give them each away.)

Waking comes earlier every day.
Am I in a hurry for someone, something?

To make morning tea means time & care.
To drink invites sitting—

reverent gaze into desert hills
from our front porch,

horse whinny and birdsong
all the annotation I require. 
 
 
 
 

SCARCITY

Young couplets branch,
ripe with flowering fruit.

A turn, and then dry leaves
parachute to the ground,

ochre, carmine, plain shoe
brown. Scarcity begets plenty,

plenty a flamboyance,
a splendor, light, the sun the

basis for its being, ours, the
concealment of absence, the

nothing, which always prevails. 
 
 
 
 

DIVINATIONS

A Polaroid portrait, Janie’s buoyant smile,
eyes closed, head tilt dramatic into empty sky,
a fading creased survivor from 1974—
I place this on a table beside the handful of

multicolor river stones pocketed on an Arizona
reservation in 2004. I pick up a pen, pause,
listening, allegro moderato, Sibelius, Violin
Concerto in D Minor
. A Sunday morning rises

inside me, days and years and rainstorms, a
slender white vase holding a single sunflower.
Back in my apartment, 1979, I am furiously
painting in dreamy afternoon sunshine, and Janie

does not suspect, for neither do I, that I am
painting the rugged road through treacherous
mountain terrain that leads me first to madness,
then to divorce, now to this window overlooking

an amiable grass, a venerable mulberry tree,
these six chattering ravens on a lax fence. 
 
 
 
 

REDEMPTION

Even at St. Hilary’s Episcopal they
peer over hymnals like I’m my father’s ghost,

shrink from my Peace be with you hugs like
leery children. O charming, sun-bleached

adobe, cloistered church, how am I not my Self,
sacramental tears not real enough,

little poems inaudible. Thus, I pray solo,
Sundays. Afterward, with a whisky, I spin

Monk again, to testify in high fidelity,
putting down what I will pick up, as lovely

untroubled Bonnie glides around the house
watching over a simmering soup,

resurrecting in me an angelic, dissonant smile,
as in Who needs anyone else’s heaven?
 
 
 


LOST LETTER TO EMILY

Everyone here is drinking beer, big whooping clouds
passing over, Mojave sun microwaving us all,
everything
hot to the touch, so the beer gets warm fast, meaning

Jimmie & Vero & all that crowd are gulping
Modelos,
letting out circus-tent laughs on the picnic grass
here by
the stables. I’m keenly watching horses stroll,
mostly, or

yipping when I stroke their necks. Last night
Jimmie’s
sister, Tina, found me on the back porch of my little
faux-adobe duplex & full-on kissed my stray mouth.
I have

missed her & it was a gift. I’ve missed you, too, but
differently, like a ghost limb. Tina split this morning
with ass-hat photographer you-know-who. No 
surprise, that.

Remember him hitting on you, after your broken
ankle
bareback riding the Narrows? He’s still got the scar—
man, I was proud of you. I am now quitted on the
warm

beers & have started on a bottle of bourbon. Yes, 
the Heaven Hill Green. Yes, still having that same
dream:
summer in San Gabriel Valley orange groves,
scooting

around on the banana seat of my Schwinn Sting-
Ray,
& Jesus steps out from behind a tree to say, That,
right there, that’s the poem, right now, in your 
mongrel head!
 
 
 


GHOST CHASING

As if I am a boy again, the moon following me
everywhere, like light reflected in my mother’s

green eyes, or the still surface of Silverwood Lake
at midnight. “No one alive is alone,” according

to Helen, perpetually upbeat, but her opinion
counts less because she is so much prettier than

the rest of us. Still, she has a point. I’ve lived in
Alaska’s birch cathedrals, late of the great state

of Americans trying to get away from everything,
but Hey, surprise! People already live there, and

runaways are just toting their problems around
to splash on unsuspecting souls. I’ve tried to run

away from you, too, but of course give in. I keep
a photo of you in my wallet—your beaming

face right after I kissed you. Your death is a
perplexing beauty: this welcome obligation to

cinematic memory, emotional mythos, flights of
stairs in my sleep that lead through lusty shadow

or flowery grief, nights slightly longer, mirrorless
halls full of doors randomly locked or unlocked,

rooms empty of ghosts, but still I feel the delicate
warmth of a wood fire from some chamber or other,

catch feints of ember and ash, and so I search on,
resolute, calm, moon watching through a window.
 
 
 


LONGING IS FIERCE

if you’re a windy tree.
The forgiven grove is closed.

Done for
like the rowdy horse on your father’s farm.

Gallop storm, gallop empire, gallop vinegar sky—
the King’s shoulders are broken,

blessings bent like pounded nails
in the long-broken tree,

redemption barking, moon-lidded, hounded by
October
down in the Paiute caves among some pines.

We are all become Coyote’s children
living in a muddy ditch.

Palestine sparrows nest around it.
We are disappeared.

____________________

Today’s LittleNip:

Whenever the pressure of our complex city life thins my blood and numbs my brain, I seek relief in the trail; and when I hear the coyote wailing to the yellow dawn, my cares fall from me—I am happy.

—Hamlin Garland

____________________

A big Medusa welcome to Newcomer Michael Dwayne Smith, who haunts many literary houses, including
Bending Genres, The Cortland Review, Gargoyle, Third Wednesday, Heavy Feather Review, Monkeybicycle, and Chiron Review. Author of four books, recipient of the Hinderaker Poetry Prize, the Polonsky Prize for fiction, and multiple Pushcart Prize/Best of the Net nominations, he lives near a Mojave Desert ghost town with his family and rescued horses. Again, welcome to the Kitchen, Michael, and don’t be a stranger!

____________________

—Medusa
 
 
 
Michael Dwayne Smith
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 








 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
A reminder that
Modesto-Stanislaus Poetry Center
presents a workshop today, 1pm;
and tonight, 4-8pm, Placerville
authors will sign books at the
Third Saturday Artwalk.
For info about these and other
future poetry happenings in
Northern California and otherwheres,
click on
UPCOMING NORCAL EVENTS
(http://medusaskitchen.blogspot.com/p/wtf.html)
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 kathykieth@hotmail.com. 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!
 
When mares give you the side-eye...
 

























Friday, July 19, 2024

Looking For Shade

 —Poetry and Photos by Taylor Graham,
Placerville, CA
—And then scroll down for
Form Fiddlers’ Friday, with poetry by
Nolcha Fox, Stephen Kingsnorth,
Joe Nolan, and Caschwa
 
 
PARCHED JULY
       at the Fairgrounds

Old boots
not at pasture—
where are their old cowboys?
Boots gathered here to grow new life
but those sprouts have withered.
Boots wait for seeds—
next spring?
 
 
 
 
 
TRUSTING HOPE

Consider the legends of glory—the quest
for gold between uplift and erosion, a land split
by so much natural trauma and the wilds
of weather. It’s summer verging on triple digits.
Those old adventurers didn’t have air
conditioning. This is the cool of morning,
set to rev up the heat. I’m busy locking things up
against the sun—windows, curtains—
trusting in ceiling fans and ice-maker, hopeful
of making it through this day without
the power going out.
 
 
 
 

OTIS AT HOME, SUMMER       

Is he grumpy or just bored? Another day
of summer-on-steroids. We call it climate change,
but what does a dog know about that? In the garage
I discovered a stuff-bag of old dog & puppy gear,
with a fuzzy squeaky ball for our tiniest pups.
Otis is no puppy, but he’s bored or wiped out or
just grumpy. Give it a try. He’s infatuated.
He wants to squeak it to death. I toss it,
he brings it back full-speed gut-level, drops it
in my hand. He could keep this up until
I’m tired, bored, and grumpy.
 
 
 
 

FREE FOR THE PICKING

How luscious these black berries
in trailside bramble—
oh yes, they have thorn-guards but
don’t let that stop you.
These berries won’t wait,
they’re ripe and
sweet!
 
 
 
 

BILDUNGSROMAN

odd occurrences
felicitous failures
curious coincidences
tragedy traversed
serendipitous sidetracks
happy happenstances
change a life
 
 
 
 

MORNING DOG WALKERS

Humans with partners
purebred or mongrel, each one
sniffing out Sunday.

Work-week starts with dog-
duty before the commute—
just follow your dog.

No more wildflowers,
it’s sultry summer—Rover
lifts leg on dead weeds.

The week’s heating up,
put your palm down on pavement—
too hot for pooch paws?

You’re trying out yet
another collar-harness-
leash rigging—good luck!

From above, Raven
comments on how you’re dancing
with that wild young pup.

Saturday brings out
more dogs tugging their partners
on adventure rounds.

____________________

Today’s LittleNip:

OAKS IN JULY
—Taylor Graham

heat dome has settled
over the trail—look ahead
blessed pool of shade

____________________

Taylor Graham is parched in July like the rest of us here in California—even her pal, Otis!—fried to the gills from ten days of record-breaking heat. No wonder we’re grumpy… But in spite of it all, TG has sent us fine poems and pix to help get past this hottest of months, and thanks to her for that.

Forms TG has sent this week include a Dribble (“Bildungsroman”); a Haiku (“Oaks in July”); a Word-Can Poem (“Trusting Hope”); an Eintou (“Parched July”); an Epulaeryu (“Free for the Picking”); and an Ethnographic Haiku chain (“Morning Dog Walkers”). The Epulaeryu and the Ethnographic Haiku were last week’s Triple-F Challenges, and mentions of grumpiness here are in response to last Tuesday’s Seed of the Week, Grumpy.

Tomorrow night in Placerville will be Third Saturday Artwork Authors Night, 4-8pm, with local authors (including some of our poets) signing their books at various businesses around town. El Dorado County also has a regular schedule of workshops, weekly and otherwise; go to Medusa’s link, UPCOMING NORCAL EVENTS (http://medusaskitchen.blogspot.com/p/wtf.html) and scroll down to the section on workshops. For more news about El Dorado County poetry—past (photos!) and future—see Taylor Graham’s Western Slope El Dorado Poetry on Facebook at www.facebook.com/ElDoradoCountyPoetry or see Lara Gularte’s Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/groups/382234029968077/. (Poetry is Gold in El Dorado County!) And of course you can always click on Medusa's UPCOMING NORCAL EVENTS (http://medusaskitchen.blogspot.com/p/wtf.html) for details about future poetry events in the NorCal area.


And now it’s time for…  


FORM FIDDLERS’ FRIDAY! 
  
It’s time for more contributions from Form Fiddlers, in addition to those sent to us by Taylor Graham! Each Friday, there will be poems posted here from our readers using forms—either ones which were sent to Medusa during the previous week, or whatever else floats through the Kitchen and the perpetually stoned mind of Medusa. If these instructions are vague, it's because they're meant to be. Just fiddle around with some challenges—  Whaddaya got to lose… ? If you send ‘em, I’ll post ‘em! (See Medusa’s Form Finder at the end of this post for resources and for links to poetry terms used in today’s post.)


Check out our recently-refurbed page at the top of Medusa’s Kitchen called, “FORMS! OMG!!!” which expresses some of my (take ‘em or leave 'em) opinions about the use of forms in poetry writing, as well as listing some more resources to help you navigate through Form Quicksand and other ways of poetry. Got any more resources to add to our list? Send them to kathykieth@hotmail.com for the benefit of all man/woman/poetkind!


* * *
 
 
 Last Week’s Ekphrastic Photo


Last week’s photo brought out several responses to this yummy photo; we received Ekphrastic poems from Nolcha Fox, Stephen Kingsnorth, and Joe Nolan:


SWEET MYSTERY
—Nolcha Fox, Buffalo, WY

Strawberries hide
the sweet treat inside.
I confess, I can’t guess.
Just a taste, I won’t waste
this surprise.

* * *

BUT A TRIFLE?
—Stephen Kingsnorth, Coedpoeth, Wrexham, Wales

There is no common language here;
one shortcake is another’s fare—
an iced confection, fruit atop,
not Scottish crumbly biscuit form—
for that is shortbread, not a cake,
as if what’s ‘short’ is pastry bake?

It can’t be size that’s so adjudged—
this more than bitesize for the mouth;
the lexicon has whipped cream top
while I see icing, sugar rich.
I knew not, till today’s frame came,
that this concoction carried name.

Its unseen neighbour, drizzled brown,
some syrup, maple, chocolate,
or coffee, mocha (enzyme prompt—
I feel erupt, juice under tongue).
A weighty subject here, it’s clear,
cholesterol, insulin fear.

It was Dad’s birthday, end of June,
tradition in our family,
first strawberries in England’s year—
’fore foreign plastic punnet turned.
How did this kid eat sprinkled fruit,
save English berries sour to boot?

Here’s achene, rarer pillowed seeds,
embedded, floating sea of red,
and passed, nay soiled, if luck prevails—
far distant from its manger straw.
It’s just desserts for ripe repast,
concluding dish quite unsurpassed.

Our global appetites at stake—
some rotten fish, delicacy,
so rat and dog, or locust, worm;
as buds bloom, varied ways to flower.
Survival does not feed our taste—
no trifle that much goes to waist.

* * *

FORGIVENESS WITH A CHERRY ON TOP
—Joe Nolan, Stockton, CA

Forgiveness
Is so much easier
With a giant dollop
Of sexy cream
On top
Of a hot-fudge
Ice cream sundae
Or three-scoop
Banana split

Who could ever refuse it?
After all,
We all need to eat.
We all need
A special treat
Something cool and creamy
To make us
Appreciate heat.

* * *

Here is another Ekphrastic from Stephen Kingsnorth, this one based on this photo which was posted in the Kitchen on Monday, 7/15:
 
 

 
CLAPPERBOARD SCENE
—Stephen Kingsnorth

If anywhere, surely it’s here—
expect a road of yellow brick;
between two rows of petal fall
from roses, some ‘Good Morning’ call.
Yon primrose cott of clapper board,
like hanging gardens, Babylon,
with white frames, angled architraves,
a counterpoint to golden blooms.

A broom, maybe, cleared channel through—
and, by the way, that’s yellow too—
but are they pruned, as ladder used,
both bushy shrubs and garland swags?
When winter comes and these retreat,
as arbours necklaced jasmine gems,
do bloomers rise, like Christmas rose,
or is that Lenten, Easter pose?


* * *

Like Taylor Graham [see above], Carl Schwartz (Caschwa) tackled the Ethnographic Haiku, one of last week’s Triple-F Challenges, and sent us a chain of them:
 
 
 
 
NOBODY WINS
—Caschwa, Sacramento, CA

the fastest pitch by
Nolan Ryan: one hundred
point eight miles per hour

a pitching machine
hurls the balls 29 to
146 mph

Donald J. Trump spits
lies out faster than
a pitching machine

bat readied, sweet spot
carefully aligned to hit
the pitch, feels right, now!

swing! miss! over and
over, there is no chance to
repel all the lies

one can only watch
them gather on the ground till
they’re carted away

no contact at all
no roar of the crowd, just left
smelling the resin

* * *

Carl also used Joyce Odam’s Three Moon Pattern:
 
 
 

THIS IS NOT THAT
—Caschwa

No, this is not political
no flags were burned in the first draft
on one side is the Gun Lobby
notching lots of wins in the shaft

On one side is the Gun Lobby
funneling tons and heaps of dough
They’re not playing penny ante
like the Secret Service, so slow.

They’re not playing penny ante
they own the house and set the rules
use the latest technology
leaving the rest of us as fools

* * *

And here is an Ars Poetica from Stephen Kingsnorth, about pulling poems from one’s “hoard/horde” of memories:
 
 

 
HOARD
—Stephen Kingsnorth

I hanker for the early days;
though recognise not so for all—
the privilege when love enwrapped
such busyness which filled my life.
Now space allows recall of scenes,
crown jewels of coronation years,
before her advent, spouse beside—
she cannot know those wistful hoards.

Now time hangs free, so much I see—
and hear, feel, sense was close to me—
the songs we sang that lifted hope,
associated props, key prompts;
brief glimpses, momentary clues,
exemplars of new learning gifts
that drew me to a further stage,
with retrospect, the pilgrim root.

That trove was never buried deep,
but even shallow soils need spades
to scrape or dig, so free the tilth
that covers, now reveals the chest.
Like pumping heart beneath the cage
that pulses blood, sets rhythmic breath,
those furrowed grains brought sprouting life
so needs must graft the future stock.

But when is hoard, a horde in fact,
a treasure, dormant, brought to life
by storing notes as sounding board
so holding what we knew before?
Sheet music, scale, chromatic chords
we sang around piano stool,
the colour of old melodies
when family sang harmonies?

Forgotten instruments of pledge
that held us tight through listening
to tones, for our task, partner tune.
You think nostalgia everywhere,
but hearing, taught that we should care
beyond expected boundaries,
to rhythms foreign to our ears,
find our nation shared commonwealth.

___________________

Many thanks to today’s writers for their lively contributions! Wouldn’t you like to join them? All you have to do is send poetry—forms or not—and/or photos and artwork to kathykieth@hotmail.com. We post work from all over the world, including that which was previously-published. Just remember: the snakes of Medusa are always hungry!

___________________

TRIPLE-F CHALLENGES! 
 
See what you can make of these challenges, and send your results to kathykieth@hotmail.com/. (No deadline.) This one looks cute on the page and is relatively easy, after all we’ve been through:

•••Eight-ette: https://poetscollective.org/poetryforms/eight-ette

•••AND/OR first, last, and always:

•••First and Last (devised by Rebel Coyote): https://poetscollective.org/poetryforms/first-and-last

•••AND/OR maybe give a Feghoot a shot (for those who love puns and shaggy dog stories):

•••Feghoot: https://poetscollective.org/poetryforms/feghoot

•••See also the bottom of this post for another challenge, this one an Ekphrastic one.

•••And don’t forget each Tuesday’s Seed of the Week! This week it’s “Mama Doe and her two fawns stole my tomatoes”.

____________________

MEDUSA’S FORM FINDER: Links to poetry terms mentioned today:

•••Dribble: https://poetscollective.org/poetryforms/dribble
•••Eintou: https://poetscollective.org/poetryforms/eintou
•••Eight-ette: https://poetscollective.org/poetryforms/eight-ette
•••Ekphrastic Poem: notesofoak.com/discover-literature/ekphrastic-poetry
•••Epulaeryu: www.shadowpoetry.com/resources/wip/epulaeryu.html AND/OR https://poetscollective.org/poetryforms/epulaeryu
•••Ethnographic Haiku: https://poetscollective.org/poetryforms/ethnographic-haiku
•••Feghoot: https://poetscollective.org/poetryforms/feghoot
•••First and Last (devised by Rebel Coyote): https://poetscollective.org/poetryforms/first-and-last
•••Haiku: www.shadowpoetry.com/resources/haiku/haiku.html
•••Three Moon Pattern (devised by Joyce Odam): Syllabic, three quatrains, 8-syllable lines; x a BR a  |  BR  c  DR  c  |  DR  e  x  e  | DR  e  x  e. Content based on the Chinese Quatrain, as follows:
    ▪    Opening line introduces an idea.
    ▪    Second line extends the idea
    ▪    Third line introduces a new idea
    ▪    Fourth line brings first three lines together
•••Word-Can Poem: putting random words on slips of paper into a can, then drawing out a few and making a poem out of them

___________________

—Medusa
 
 
 
 Today's Ekphrastic Challenge!
 

 Make what you can of today's
picture, and send your poetic results to
kathykieth@hotmail.com/. (No deadline.)

* * *

—Public Domain Illustration




















 


For info about
future poetry happenings in
Northern California and otherwheres,
click on
UPCOMING NORCAL EVENTS
(http://medusaskitchen.blogspot.com/p/wtf.html)
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 kathykieth@hotmail.com. 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!
 

 


















 
 
 
 
 

Thursday, July 18, 2024

Dance, Data, Deception

 Lighteater
—Poetry and Visual by Smith, Cleveland, OH
(next to the Zoo)
 
 
Sunlight slips between the leaves
sparkles in their shadow

Spring slides into summer
aspecting earth side flow

Seeds grow apples fall
rot returns as red

All hail Schrödinger's box
in bet on life and dead
 
 
 
The Way is Not Straight


I live at the corner
of Crooked Tree & Branch
near Random Avenue & Marginal Drive
not far from Lost Nation Road
though no one knows how to get there
or how it was named
there's no there from here anyway
so when I go I'll go real fast
down Vroomin Road
foot heavy on the petal
mind easy in its load
 
 
 
 Webwork


Young groundhog that side of glass
playing on our deck
kitten this side crouches
wanting
I turn to net, news
too much stupid
go back to deck
groundling's gone
but squirrel scampers atop rail
kitten quivers
I in I eases
 
 
 
Set


Love blood mars my arm
like bad unreadable alien poetry
from soft paw cat claw clutch
and fang
and believe my thin old man skin
love hurts
 
 
 
 As Was Foretold


Outside Heat Dome hot
bath window open
in tub
water steams
sweat oozes everywhere non-stop
purging sin
of my human verminal destructions

Oh credit card country
give me plastic or give me waste
 
 
 
I Want


Go until pooped
then sit in charge body reboot
getting old's a hoot

Weary, worn, and wary
hopeful, but not unworried
now next unscary

I used to drink
until I turned to blood
woke in Intensive Care

First I drank to go out
then drank at home
then stayed home to drink

Thrashed about
in and out
acted lout

There's dance
there's data
there's deception

Now 33 years sober
15 seconds since caffeine
10 minutes from toke
 
 
 
 Comfort Station


WALKING EDGE OF EASE

Add some caffeine to that THC, Mr Smith
and we'll get down to bidness

You can bid on this you can bid on that
wins depend on which what fed

You're alive, so something's dead
that's the Ying Yang yodel

Here just means another want there
their's the selfish model

Entropy regrets us high or low
so toke and sip I follow

It's the moments between sear and fear
I use to soothe the hollow

The rest? perhaps tepid, to be tasted
tested

A bit of abyss, please
 
 
 
Meatbeast


THE COFFEE BIN
(18 pocket notes for future poems)

Does one consume the reflections
floating atop one's cup of black coffee?
If so I'm only drinking
at the Neon Diner from now on
get more buzz per cup

Ching ching ching goes the coffee
slow slow slow goes the will
must coffee clink before brain links

That's a poor pour
so pour more
more caffeine
pour faster so I'll walk faster
and won't fall
gotta go gotta go gotta go
can’t stop can’t stop
or rat wheel will rust
and we'll all fall down
like sadsack clowns
limp in limb
laying around
let's fill my form with vroom
gimme some Zen zoom
caffeinate me over the hill
in mind/body will

3 pm
time to lose or chose
third cup of coffee or no
knowing I've no weed
to slow caffeine's carom

My, my, hot milk and honey chai
stained masala beige
a dance for tongue and caffeinated mind

Thanks for the buzz
Thanks for the love

Coffee, marijuana, cat, and wife
I have a nice life

Caffeine rings my ears
buzzes brain
electric exclaim

Weak cup coffee to pry my weary lids open
this freezing so-called spring morning
with weed running out and money not enough
and wife stressed with boss-lady worries
and the cat wheezing much and vomiting often
and the politicians in a race downhill
to dumber meaner cheaper
and decent folk so amazed not to be
locked away in concentration camps
they keep their head down and fear unsaid

Ahhhh, the first sip of pre-dawn coffee
the first toke of pre-dawn grass

Black pool of night before sun
surrounds as I drink black pool
of coffee in cup

Caffeine in my brain
need in my node

Drinking coffee from Kathy's cup
it's another day in Paradise
in the temple of the ample

Brain fuzzy cuzza not enough coffee

The push of coffee, the pull of grass,
the swoosh and soothe all bound
around untight to firmer ground

A black cup of black coffee
raised to my white face

And if you really want to up the ante
try a cup of cowboy Costa Rican pan coffee
Fair Trade of course.

Neon Coffee, please

___________________

Today’s LittleNip:

If there's life after death
first thing I'll realize
is WOW no flesh pain

And I wonder
does brain pain go too?

Looking back it's miraculous
almost scandalous
that that-me survived at all
that I got to be me-me
though me-me ain't next-me
so far

I've seen too much magic
not to have a bit of belief


—Smith

___________________

—Medusa, with thanks to Smith (Steven B. Smith) for sending us glory in the summer. Steven, who lives by the Cleveland Zoo, writes to us from his
own zoo, and we’re mighty grateful for it!
 
And we're glad to hear that yellow lab Marlowe Smith is recovering from his recent illness.
 
 
 
 Mean Smith Blue
—Selfie by Smith










 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
A reminder that today is
action-packed in NorCal poetry:
Voices of Lincoln Poetry Contest
deadline; Poets & Writers Workshop
in Cameron Park; and Poetry Night
in Davis, featuring Rina Wakefield
and Carol Lynn Stephenson Grellas.
For info about these and other
future poetry happenings in
Northern California and otherwheres,
click on
UPCOMING NORCAL EVENTS
(http://medusaskitchen.blogspot.com/p/wtf.html)
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 kathykieth@hotmail.com. 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!
 

 






















Wednesday, July 17, 2024

Dragons amd The Ghost Girl

 
—Poetry by Joshua C. Frank
—Public Domain Photos Courtesy
of Joe Nolan, Stockton, CA
 
 
THE GHOST GIRL

One sunny May, I ran to play,
When I was twelve years old,
Upon the hill.  I miss her still—
A girl with curls of gold
In ribbon ties, big sky-blue eyes,
And waving, dark-red dress
Soon ran my way and asked to play—
How could I not say yes?

“I’m Beth,” she said.  “My mother’s dead;
I’m hiding from her ghost.”
I thought, “A shame, her gruesome game,”
But soon I was engrossed.
We laughed and played along the grade,
Cavorted up the hill,
And soon rolled down, clothes turning brown,
Collapsed, and then lay still.

Then Beth and I stared toward the sky,
Then wrestled, then caressed,
And very soon that afternoon,
Our love began the rest.
We hoped our playing would one day
Give rise to married bliss.
I gazed into her pools of blue;
We leaned in for the kiss.

A woman’s ghost gave off the most
Horrendous, ghastly chill.
We stood upright in cold and fright;
Her ghost-hand reaped the kill.
I saw Beth die.  Her ghost stood high
And quickly shed its shell.
Her ribbons fastened to the grass
As down her body fell.

Both, hand in hand, flew off the land.
Beth’s ghost was forced to go
Away from me like Annabel Lee,
But where, I’ll never know.
Then Beth up high bid me goodbye;
She waved as she looked back.
The two ghosts flew into the blue,
And everything went black.

I felt Mom shake me wide awake;
She’d found me on the hill.
“Are you all right?” She yelled in fright.
I sat up feeling ill.
I told her of my one-day love
And how she met her death.
My mother deemed it all a dream
And said there was no Beth.

So I believed I’d been deceived
And never met the lass,
Until I found, upon the ground,
Her ribbon coiled on grass.
The ghost who took her didn’t look
And left it unawares.
I picked the band up in my hand
And three blonde, curly hairs.


(First published in
The Society of Classical Poets)
 
 
 
 

UNDER THE UMBRELLA

Inspired by “Le Parapluie” (“The Umbrella”)
—Song by Georges Brassens (1921-1981)


Rain fell in waves throughout the street;
A woman walked with no umbrella.
I offered mine; in voice real sweet,
She answered, “Thank you, sir.  I’m Stella.”
She dried her young, angelic face
Under my umbrella space.

I stood with Stella, side by side.
We heard the rain sing A cappella,
A pretty choir chant outside,
Atop the roof of my umbrella.
Oh, for forty days together
To hear the concert of the weather!

Yet sadly, even in a storm,
Midnight strikes for Cinderella.
Rain stops, roads go, and that’s the norm.
Foolishly, I’d hoped that Stella
Would stay; instead, she went her way,
Shrinking as she walked away.


(First published in
New English Review)
 
 
 


GOD’S FINGER ON WHITTAKER CHAMBERS

Based on Witness, autobiography of
Whittaker Chambers


My baby miracle so dear
Smeared oatmeal on her face;
I saw her perfect seashell ear,
Curving like a vase,
The pinkest little fiddlehead,
In spiral like a scroll.
How could blind chance, inert and dead,
Make such a pretty bowl?

My little Ellen is my heart
That crawls in human shape.
How could this masterpiece of art
Be just a baby ape,
Just random carbon molecules
Assembled here by chance?
Such bland beliefs are fit for fools,
I gathered at a glance.

This bubbled up against my will;
I shooed the thought away.
Such anti-Communistic swill
Could lead me far astray.
For if her ear was by design,
Then Who was the Designer?
Design must mean a Hand Divine;
No other hand is finer.

Through all that time, the thought remained
As little Ellen grew.
My faith in Godlessness grew strained;
God slowly changed my view
Through Ellen’s ear, which He designed,
And now the angels sing—
I left the Communists behind;
I follow Christ my King.


(First published in
The Society of Classical Poets)
 
 
 
 

BALLAD OF THE VIDEO-GAME HERO

I rode in a mine cart, back home from the land
Of my favorite video game,
Through the pixelized prairie and vast seas of sand,
Over rivers of lava and flame.

The hero sat there in the rickety cart
Staring off into pixel-sky space,
Much older than on the game cartridge’s art,
With tears on his wide, wrinkled face.

“I’m leaving and never returning,” he said.
“Come listen and hear my sad story.
The princess and I, we hoped someday to wed,
Way back in the days of my glory.

“The dragon would kidnap the princess, then I
Would run through an obstacle course
To his minions’ dark castles in mountains up high
And take back their strongholds by force.

“My princess was in the last castle I’d raid;
I always found treasures to haul.
The Kingdom would welcome me with a parade
And a sumptuous banquet for all.

“But after some years, the dragon found ways
To undermine me and my quest.
He gave up the tactic of ‘pillage and raze’—
Bribed the people with treasure-filled chests!

“My princess then fell for the dragon’s top minion;
The Kingdom surrendered the war
And exiled me out of the dragon’s dominion—
They don’t want to be saved anymore!”

We came to my world, and we sealed up the gate
To the land of his video game.
My world is secured from his land’s tragic fate,
But I’m worried for us just the same.

For evil has bribed all the people here, too,
With shiny new gadgets galore.
No more do they care for what’s good and what’s true—
They don’t want to be saved anymore!


(First published in
The Society of Classical Poets)

__________________

Today’s LittleNip:


GOD’S WAY AND MY WAY
—Joshua C. Frank

I thought I could cheat the system
And fight all the rules and resist ‘em,
But God has His way
At the end of the day;
Now I’ve too many problems to list ‘em!


(First published in
The Society of Classical Poets)

________________

Our thanks to Josh Frank for his fine formal poetry today. About the poems, he writes: “‘The Ghost Girl’ and ‘God’s Finger on Whittaker Chambers’ are ballads (complete with ballad meter), whereas ‘Ballad of the Video-Game Hero’, while technically a ballad in the sense of being a narrative poem and having tetrameter alternative with trimeter, does not have true ballad meter. ‘God’s Way and My Way’ is a limerick.” Well done, Josh, and thanks again.

To hear George Brassens sing “La Parapluie”, go to https://www.bing.com/videos/riverview/relatedvideo?&q=le+parapluie%e2%80%9d+(%e2%80%9cthe+umbrella%e2%80%9d)++%e2%80%94song+by+georges+brassens&&mid=916D312DC988C828687C916D312DC988C828687C&&FORM=VRDGAR

__________________

—Medusa
 
 
 
 —Public Domain Illustration Courtesy of Medusa

















For future poetry happenings in
Northern California and otherwheres,
click on
UPCOMING NORCAL EVENTS
(http://medusaskitchen.blogspot.com/p/wtf.html)
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 kathykieth@hotmail.com. 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!
 

 
















 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Tuesday, July 16, 2024

Dancing the Dance of Blue

 The Dark Center
—Poetry by Joyce Odam and Robin Gale Odam,
Sacramento, CA
—Original Art and Photos by Joyce Odam
 
 
THE DAY HANGS DARK
—Joyce Odam

Touch me again with sadness.
Teach me the gray moan.
Tell me how to hold my head—just so,
before the raining window.

Remind me
of sighs and great regret,
the way light
lies along the sill before it goes,
what darkens next.

Tell me with patience what to do,
what to do…  what to do…  
because I forget.

Don’t come with black drinks for my mouth.
I have no thirst for suicide or drunkenness.
Not yet.

I want to stand in absence from myself,
creating time and
sorting out the death.

If there is news for life
tell it again this winter,
for the day
hangs dark
and rain is always wet.
 
 
 
What It Says
 

DISCONSOLATION
—Joyce Odam

…ah, here is someone to love,
someone playing a piano
out in the rain
in the way of
a wide sunbeam
claiming the music
and the one listener  . . .
       
here is only the sad memory of
a stranger who has wandered
into this scenario,
to whom
love is not given,
only taken from the wild
reverberations of the music . . .
       
…and here is someone
looking out a window
at the piano which is ruined
by the music of the rain and the
encompassing sunbeam that takes
these pictures—these words—
and blends them into this rain-story
and makes the window glass shimmer . . .
                               
     
(prev. pub. in Medusa’s Kitchen, 2/14/17;
4/12/22; 1/16/24)


_______________________

DANCE OF THE BLUE ILLUSIONS
After Three Nudes, 1943, Henry Miller
—Joyce Odam

Three nudes perform
the dance of blue
in time with light and light’s pale hue,

in tone with dark
and dark’s disguise;
don’t look in their romantic eyes—

how they come close,
and then recede—
don’t look at them, or else believe

you’ll never love them—
nor they you,
three nudes who dance the dance of blue.

                                              
(prev. pub. in Medusa’s Kitchen, 6/18/13) 
 
 
 
 The Distance of The Moon

 
DANCERS ON A SMALL DANCE FLOOR
—Joyce Odam

Rhythming-off to be a dancer, she rises from her
chair, holding the tips of some man's fingers that
have gestured 'will you dance', and the music
separates to let her through, and she fits onto the
crowded floor, and the lights and liquor make an
intimate harmony to move within . . . .

Even strangers can love a song together—not
knowing each other's face or name—just a body
and feet that move the same—that find a place in
the writhing people to writhe within—and it doesn't
matter—it's only a spinning floor to be caught upon,
and the music is loud till it ends in the dancers' last
touch of hands—then back—like a finished love, to
the tiny table . . . .


(prev. pub. in Medusa’s Kitchen, 5/18/21) 
 
 
 
Childhood


QUONDAM
—Robin Gale Odam

I heard you whisper, “Where are you?”

I’m over there, looking like that.
I’m over there, watching us standing
here the way we used to do.

Did you remember us?
                          

(prev. pub. in
Brevities, May 2014) 
 
 
 
The World
 
 
EFFORTS TO PLEASE
—Joyce Odam

I gave you the yellow bowl
and the yellow cup
with the red design,
but still you were unhappy . . .

I put raisins in your oatmeal
with a dash of nutmeg on the milk,
but still you would not give up
your sadness,

I sang a song and made a speech,
but you were still quarrelsome
and your eyes would not
give up my face.

And I went breaking like a dish
slipped out of
failing hands
and I went crashing to a cry,

so angry now
that both of us,
of your dark moodiness,
could die.

____________________

I DREAMED YOU WERE WEARING
MY DRESS
—Joyce Odam

I dreamed you were
pulling
my dress off
above your head.
You were
glaring at me.
I wanted you
to be
careful with the dress.
It was an old one.
Its sleeves
Were torn.
It was
faded and thin.
Almost a rag.

Why were you
wearing
my dress,
I wanted to ask.
but you were
so angry
standing
in front of me
with the dress caught
on the bind
of your shoulders.
Help me out of
this thing,
you said.
But before
I could help,
you had pulled
it off
and flung it
in a heap
between us
on the floor.

               
(prev. pub. in Medusa’s Kitchen, 12/5/17) 
 
 
 
Times of Time
 

THE SKIFF
—Robin Gale Odam

Between the light and the deep,
between the self and the reflection,
the skiff stays time like the placeholder—

the punctuation, the cypher, the syntax
of arrangement, the catch of the breath,
the gravity of separation.
 
 
 
 And That Was A Prayer

 
WHO IS BREAKING IN ME
—Joyce Odam

Which of my sullen selves is in danger now;
which one
will sleep while another cavorts and creates
madness?

I am the Many-One; waves of minds wash over
me, pull me
in and under, thrust me out and away.

I am Sea, and Sea-Child, with a soul of water; I
smash
myself against breaking land.

I pray myself alive. I consult dreams and dreams of
dreams. My center self is at risk. Who will believe
me?
                                                               

(prev. pub. in Medusa’s Kitchen, 5/14/19)

____________________

Today’s LittleNip:

RAPTURE
—Robin Gale Odam

My heart soared into the clouds—the wind
had layered them above the setting sun
and then had become motionless.
I prayed as the last day passed.
I am still here—not remembered, not taken.
The sky is clear today.
                                  

(prev. pub. in Medusa’s Kitchen, 5/23/11)


____________________

Joyce and Robin Gale Odam have captured cranky/grumpy for us this week—our Seed of the Week, that is—and we thank them for today's poems and pix! Our new Seed of the Week is “Mama Doe and her two fawns stole my tomatoes”. True story: our local doe has two brightly spotted newborns, with whom she actually came up onto our deck and ate all my cherry tomatoes! (The fawns aren’t old enough to eat such things—but still, they were accomplices.) Write a few riffs on this or similar shamelessness and send your poems, photos & artwork about this (or any other) subject to kathykieth@hotmail.com. No deadline on SOWs, though, and for a peek at our past ones, click on “Calliope’s Closet”, the link at the top of this column, for plenty of others to choose from. And see every Form Fiddlers’ Friday for poetry form challenges, including those of the Ekphrastic type.

____________________

—Medusa
 
 
 
... the music of the rain ...
—Public Domain Photo Courtesy of Medusa









 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
For future poetry happenings in
Northern California and otherwheres,
click on
UPCOMING NORCAL EVENTS
(http://medusaskitchen.blogspot.com/p/wtf.html)
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 kathykieth@hotmail.com. 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!
 
 Don’t even THINK about it, 
LittleSnake!