Wednesday, November 25, 2020

Reflections on Impermanence

 

 
—Poetry by Linda Klein, Los Angeles, CA
—Public Domain Photos Courtesy of 
Joseph Nolan, Stockton, CA
 
 
 
REFLECTING ON REFLECTIONS

There are differences in reflections that appear in every
polished stone, body of water, glass, or mirror.
I have pondered as to whether such variations
are caused by the particular properties
inherent in those reflective mediums,
their qualities and composition,
or are the differences due to
the amount of light available
at the time an image is viewed.
What is seen might also be effected
by one's state of mind when viewing it,
and might vary from individual to individual,
meant to communicate a unique message to each.
 
 
 

 
                                   
THE LEGEND OF LYMAN

He had a broad nose and agate eyes that looked directly at you.
A golden mane encircled his large face and head like a halo.
Other lions either admired or envied Lyman.  He preferred his 
admirers. He trusted them, for they nurtured his sensitive nature.

Lyman was one of seven siblings.  He had only one brother.
Morgan was slightly older than Lyman, his best friend and hero.
The others were five sisters, whom Lyman judged were foolish 
and flighty.  It was actually not the case. Zyl, Zal, Bara, Dori, 
and Gita were nice, normal, young lionesses. The pride also in-
cluded their father, Moro, and their mother, Rishi.

The young lions were now adults and still without mates.
They were devoted to each other and to their loving parents.
By day the entire pride roamed the veldt in search of prey.
Moro, the leader, along with his sons, Morgan and Lyman,
had the task of cornering and killing small animals which might 
have been spotted by any member of the pride.  Rishi and her 
daughters then joined them to systematically tear the animal 
apart with their claws and teeth.  They then feasted upon it,
right at the site of the kill.

On sunny days, Lyman and Morgan liked to walk together,
down to the marsh to drink from the shallow lake, perhaps to 
have some time away from their ever-present sisters. Lyman's 
stride was proud and deliberate with his head tilted toward the 
sun.  He basked in the sun's warm radiance.

On one such walk, Lyman failed to see a stealthy hunter
hiding in the high grass, neither had Morgan as he walked
beside his brother.  The hunter rose and pointed his rifle at 
Morgan, smiling as he fired, killing the lion instantly.  Morgan's 
body dropped down beside Lyman.  He murmured a soft purr.  
Those sounds—the shot, thud, and Morgan's final whimper of 
distress ignited a fire in Lyman more powerful than that of the 
lethal bullet. The lion leaped into the air.  His body slammed 
the shocked the hunter with great force, discharging a second
bullet that entered the hunter's heart.

When Moro and Rishi learned of their eldest son's death,
a dense cloud of depression engulfed them both.  The family
knew their aging parents would never recover completely.
Without hesitation, Lyman assumed leadership of the pride.

He took on the responsibility of finding mates for his sisters.
At first, he thought it would be difficult, but it went well.
Each of them was paired with a compatible male from
a neighboring pride and went to live with a new family.
Lyman was left with only his parents to care for.  He did this
unselfishly, without regard for his own personal happiness.

Coincidentally, in the process of visiting other prides
to negotiate matches, Lyman met Gala, a lovely lioness,
who was the sister of Kong, the mate he had chosen for his
own sister, Bara.  Eventually, Gala became Lyman's mate,
strengthening his pride and reuniting them with Bara.

They lived happily until a terrible tragedy struck the combined
pride.  Gala succumbed to a serious illness and was suddenly
taken from them.  Lyman felt that life no longer held anything 
for him. Confident that his remaining family was secure, on a
quiet, starlit night, he curled his sad, tired body up under an 
acacia tree and went to sleep, a sleep from which he would not
awaken.

I have heard the nearby villagers speak of three lions they 
often see strolling through the marshlands along the lake, two
males and one female.  One of the males has a broad nose, a
full golden mane, and agate eyes that, when not looking up to
the sun, look directly at you.
 
 
 

 

IMPERMANENCE

In time, everything changes, crumbles, crashes,
or tumbles, and crumples to tiny bits of dust.
All things wither and waste away, while we watch,
            nonplussed.
Some things rust, eroding, corroding,
often exploding, as they spontaneously combust.
Some things grow rotten when they are forgotten,
            or become broken from
overuse and abuse.

We too, stagger, stumble, and mumble
as we fumble in our foolish, humble existence.
Dreary, wary, weary of wearing down badly, in spite
            of our persistence.
Graying and wrinkling, worrying sadly,
with never an inkling of what will happen to us,
            until it            hits,
until it pits us flatly against a wall,
            falling,
                           calling out—
life is appalling.  What is it all about?

Remember when we were bursting with dreams and wishes,
            looking ahead with longing,            thirsting
for the paradise we promised ourselves.  —Wouldn't it be nice?
Perhaps we missed that chance while pondering our pitiable
                           Impermanence.

_____________________

Today’s LittleNip:

No man ever steps in the same river twice, for it is not the river, and he is not the same man.

—Heraclitus

_____________________

—Medusa, with thanks to Linda Klein for today’s leontine poetry!
 
 
 
—Public Domain Cartoon
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 



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.

Would you like to be a SnakePal?
All you have to do is 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.
Just remember:
the snakes of Medusa are always hungry—
for poetry, of course!
 
 

 
 













Tuesday, November 24, 2020

Waltzing With Moths

 
Faith Blossoms
—Poetry and Photos by Joyce Odam, Sacramento, CA
 


THE STAND-OFF
After Turkeys in the Snow  (Painting by Liz Hawkes-de Noird)

1.

We know how the turkeys connect their voices when we
gobble out to them and they gobble back in a racket-
challenge of sound, just milling around and waiting for
us to challenge them again/ and again/ and again/ till we
grow tired of losing the game—and just stand there—and
they just stand there—sizing each other up . . .

2.

Again the turkeys, in the snow, not straw. I wonder what
they think about : which follows, which leads, so aimless,
so unlovable, though they bobble in closeness and tremble
apart by turn, playing look-out, bobbing their heads up at
any disturbance. Curious fellows. So innocent of treachery.
In the snow, in the season of the winter . . .

3.

To make this a triptych : I hear they run wild in certain
neighborhoods where they have built up their courage—
still gobbling in unison to frighten anything that startles
them. Never engage them in any sort of discourse if this
bothers you. They are like clumsy pets, annoyances, un-
approachable. Just ignore them.  Maybe they’ll go away.
 
 
 
Illumination
 
 
 
WHITE MOON IN OCTOBER

Last night I saw the moon—
stark and distant—high above the trees

accustomed to finding it
low in their branches, I noticed the sky :

a strange blue,
gray blue—and cloudless,

a chill in the air,
the night gone still after four days of wind

that tore
and tore itself through everything,

but last night—
going out to take the trash to the curb—

I saw the chalk-white,
faceless moon; it seemed so far and lonely

in the static sky—
I simply stopped and stared.
 
 
 
Emphasis
 
 

SLOW WINTER

This winter starts slowly—season of reluctance—
almost December. Too many days almost warm,
night almost cold in the countdown of the year.
       
A mockingbird has taken over the pear tree, watching
from the very tip. I watched him pecking at the last
stubborn pear a few days ago.
       
The leaves are mostly gone from the deciduous trees,
a pile of leaves is caught in a corner by the front door.
They rattle underfoot.
       
Two wind-storms have come through, knocking down
trees and fences. I listened to the old, familiar howling
corners of my house.

Each year’s end feels the same. A restlessness. Some
healing needed. The strange links of years—so many
different places. Where? forgotten. When? forgotten.

Stages of time like stepping stones in fog. Each year
turning into the next. The gray season will be next,  
days and days of it. Long enough to start the edges
breaking around me.

Such winters are best spent alone—in the self—the silent,
crying self. The short days hurry. The long nights sleep.
Either way is what you time—to follow the clock—how
it measures for you, as if you needed to know.
       
And now winter says be patient, let me work as I work,
summer dies into autumn; autumn slips into fall
and has no way out. Slow winter has hold.
Winter comes when it is ready.

_____________________

WHITE UMBRELLAS IN THE SNOW
Kennin-ji Temple. Kyoto Japan. Modi Galili

What kind of winter needs a white umbrella,
except for the thrill of snow,
silently falling—

except
for the trail of shoes
making long white traces in the snow.

Three walkers,
costumed blue, appear under
the relevance of the white umbrellas.

Maybe
a dance—a ritual—
a planned performance, wrong season.

The world is wide—the stage a
landscape of pure white distance—the
white umbrellas vanishing into more white.
 
 
 
Trust
 
 

THE TUMBLEWEED AT CHRISTMAS
“To move a tumbleweed, you must push it,
preferably with wind.” —Dale Odam


He has lashed and staked
the tumbleweed to the yard,
a gift for his lady of whims
who next year would have one
as her Xmas tree.

But now the big green
wild one
is a prisoner for her delight.
She looks at it through her window,
shows it to her friends,
watches the wind try to roll it free,
watches the rain try
to penetrate its brambleness.

Perhaps it breathes more brokenly
than most, having exhausted
all its one direction.
At least it knows which way
it cannot go.

           
(prev. pub. in Folio, Winter, 1974)
 
 
 
Night-Blooming Leaf
 


AN OLD CHRISTMAS

It was in this forest of souls—the green light covering
the ground through the artificial trees in the pale gold
sunlight of winter, or maybe the bad lighting from

a stage where performers paced as they spoke their
lines. Someone in the audience coughed—or just
another ghost, the old theater being closed, and only

the original memories insisting what was so. Some-
one with a broom kept sweeping up the brown leaves
of the green forest, the hero riding away on his horse,

and the maiden turning backward into the store window
display of mannequins, so lifelike they welcomed her
into their midst. Would she ever look back with regret?

Would she pine away while a spotlight tried to find her?
The curtain was stuck open so the play could never end,
the scenery growing dustier as the years faded and there

was no one left to cry over the sad ending, though the
hero and the maiden were the last ones watching the
play from the back row—still caught up in the drama
and refusing to go home—it was in this forest of souls.
 
 
 
Distance Traveled
 


DECEMBER WITH SNOW     

All along the office hall
white snowflakes in a snowy row
in winding darkness dimly
in the pending dark

of afternoon trying to make
a spark of Christmas in the gloom
that flows from room to room
of offices where end-of-day

depression-edges share
bah-humbugs, more the theme,
halfhearted, or extreme,
with slow attention to the clock,

with Christmas shopping talk
and paper snowflakes all around
and here and there a whistle or a hum
of some uncovered Christmas Carol.
 
 
 
Validation
 


When Christmas Day Bloomed,

bright as faith…  quiet at last…
informed at last… the way
already paved and trod—
I'll not inflict a rhyme
to that—too trite,  
too—easy,
the day
the way
to hear
no sound
in the air that
trembled with your
listening—your quiet
breathing as you listened
to your thoughts. All this I say,
to you, to me, to any in the reach :
Oh beautiful…Oh perfect morning…

____________________

Today’s LittleNip:

SNOW WALTZ
—Joyce Odam

They are the perfect followers of each other. It is a
waltz. Outside it is snowing. They leave the doors
open. They praise the music for its permission. Even
their cats share an old preferred opinion.

They whirl and catch smug glances of themselves
in the heavy mirror with its gold veins. And never
are they breathless—winter has a long way to go.
Their cats waltz with moths in dreams of their own.

_____________________

Last week I suggested we start trying to work up the Christmas spirit early, since we’ve had such a bad year, and I even suggested “Christmas List” for the Seed of the Week.  Joyce has sent some thoughts about Christmas that, although conflicted, do end up on a wondrous note. Thank you, Joyce! We especially need that this year—a little extra wonder on the Kitchen table…..

Joyce is very, very skilled with forms (she had a column about forms in the old
Rattlesnake Review), so watch for her to pop up most weeks in Medusa’s Form Fiddlers’ Friday feature.

Our new Seed of the Week is “Things I should be thankful for but am not”. Like dental floss.
Passwords. Taxes. 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.

______________________

—Medusa
 
 
 
“Stages of time like stepping stones in fog…”
—Public Domain Photo Courtesy 
of James Nolan, Stockton, CA
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 


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.


LittleSnake could use
a white umbrella…
 















 

Monday, November 23, 2020

Shopping For Turkey Wings

 

 
—Poetry by Michelle Kunert, Caschwa, Joseph Nolan
—Public Domain Photos Courtesy of Joseph Nolan, Stockton, CA
 


When I was a kid
          Family Bible study time came before the out loud reading of comic books
          My brother and I were always trying to push for “superheroes” before Bible time
          But my Dad insisted that first we learn the lessons from the Lord and Jesus
          So you could incorporate those lessons from the Bible into (then) Marvel’s Stan Lee, who said—
          “With great power comes great responsibility”           
          After all, consider that some of our favorite superheroes would actually be terrible evangelists
          My brother and I even joked, what if The Incredible Hulk got “saved”
          Hulk would still go around smashing things up, but would instead proclaim something like,  
          “Hulk have Jesus in heart, why don’t you puny humans?!”
          But for frightening off and even killing people, he’d still make no “converts”

—Michelle Kunert, Sacramento, CA
 
 
 

 

VINYL ISLANDS
—Cashwa, Sacramento, CA

shopping for turkey wings
at the supermarket was like
hunting for classical music at
a vinyl records store

totally surrounded by all cuts of
chicken, rock and roll albums,
pork, country western, beef,
folk, baby foods, and children’s
music

ahh, at last! there they were
hidden in the dense forest
of everything else there
could possibly be

destined to be seated in my
slow cooker, a debut at the
dinner table, then to the
freezer for intermission, and
finally, the grand encore to be
put on the turntable of my
microwave oven 
 
 
 

 

NOT ON MY RÉSUMÉ
—Caschwa

recurring dream takes me to
a huge outlet mall, acres and
acres of shops and parking

zero clue where my car is,
or why I find myself in some
enclosed walkway behind the
stores, each sporting giant
metal gates and locks

I am not there to do any
shopping, feels more like
I inherited a business
enterprise and now it has

fallen to my attention to
conduct an inspection and
note necessary changes

well let’s see: the employee
who already knows the names
of regular customers is a
fixture, no change there

better not to tamper with the
“secret sauce” either

I’ll just attempt waking up now,
so I don’t have to spend an
eternity trying to find my car
 
 
 

 
 
THE DANCE
—Caschwa

he put on papa’s pants
to go to the big dance
found a belle in the hall
who answered his call

she passed the little quiz
her hands were holding his
their touching grew a bit
he wasn’t ready to sit

then from out of the blue
burst a hand, howdy do
tapping his shoulder firm
“Not now, you miserable worm!”

he paused, then stepped aside
as the “worm” grinned very wide
the outcome was foreseeable
there were no more gals agreeable
 
 
 

 
 
“JUST WAIT!” SAID THE MONK
—Joseph Nolan

“Just wait,” said the monk,
“Just wait!
You haven’t run out of time,
Yet.

Perhaps the next person
Getting off the bus
On bus-line 555
Will, as she drops down the steps,
Smile at you
And you will be blessed
With true-love,
Forever-after.

Heaven-on-Earth,
True-love can be.
More eternal
Than empty
Rumps of castles,
Long ago abandoned
With the advent of cannon.”
 
 
 

 

AN APPLE FOR BELOVED HORSE
—Joseph Nolan

I keep an apple in my pocket
To feed a horse
I pass
On windy road.

I know
She loves me,
For a little moment,
In space of taste and touch.
I stroke her nose
While she chews.

I love her so much!
I do not count
What I lose
Each time
We’re together.

Her nose is brown,
Its hair is short.
She chews my apple quietly
And when I’ve gone,
She waits for me
To come, again!
 
 
 

 
 
HOW SOUR ARE ASHES!
—Joseph Nolan

How sour are ashes!
Signs of annihilation,
Blown from home to home
As burning embers.

Searing pain remembers
What has burned away,
Leaving only ashes
Starkly mourning,
The sourest clear morning
Of ashes on the day!
 
 
 

 

CONSENTING TO MARRIAGE
—Joseph Nolan

Would you hire
That woman
—Over there——
To fulfill her destiny
By your side
As your wife?

She would laugh with her friends,
Her smile more beautiful than the sky,
Her laughter thrill you
With its bubbles
Swirling on your skin,
As they rose to meet the air.

She would bear your children
And fill you with cares
And grave concerns,
As well as love,
The love that parents feel
That flows on through the years
Like a river
That knows both its source
And its mouth.

You’d have to work to feed them all,
Very hard
And you would learn
How compost feels
When it is eaten by worms. 
 
 
 
Rocket Trike
 


Today’s LittleNip:

SWAMIJI
—Joseph Nolan

Swamiji,
Art thou That?
Hast thou ever been,
Continuously?

Art thou now,
Free?
Jivan mukti?

Is there any hope
For such as me,
Swamiji?

____________________

Good Thanksgiving Week to you from here at the Kitchen table, and thanks to our contributors this morning for starting the week off right! Caschwa (Carl Schwartz) says his “Not On My Résumé” was “triggered by the recent references to dreams made by other poets in the Kitchen”. I think we all think we’re living in a dream right now, and I  don’t mean that in a good way… I’ve posted some of Joseph Nolan’s space visuals in honor of the recent blast-off to the International Space Station. And in case you’re still working on your Christmas List (our Seed of the Week), Michelle Kunert sent a link for you to write Santa a letter: www.macys.com/social/believe/write-a-letter/

California Federation of Chaparral Poets (CFCP) is a historic poetry organization which used to have chapters up and down the state, monthly and annual contests, an annual convention… lots of stuff for poets. Right now it’s down to two annual contests, but here are some updates from Sue Daly, who is currently on the Board:

CFCP sponsors only two annual contests now, not any monthly ones (note that some of CFCP’s website’s pages haven’t been updated yet). For 2021, there is one contest for adults and one for students, and they are accepting submissions for those contests now, with deadlines of February 14, 2021 for students, and January 31, 2021 for adults.

Here are links to each contest form (students and adults), and CFCP also has a Facebook page, entitled “California Federation of Chaparral Poets”:

www.chaparralpoets.org/PDFs/AnnualContest21.pdf


www.chaparralpoets.org/PDFs/StudentContest21.pdf

CFCP also has a hand in the quarterly
Song of the San Joaquin, a lovely journal that wants SJ Valley writers writing about subjects pertaining to the San Joaquin Valley—but that’s all pretty broad, and surely you fit in there somewhere. (Think rivers, fields, birds, etc.) Submission deadlines for SSJ are March 15 for Spring; June 15 for Summer; September 15 for Fall; December 15 for Winter. See www.chaparralpoets.org/SSJsubmissionGuide.html for submission guidelines. There’s a deadline coming up Dec. 15!

___________________

—Medusa
 
 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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.

Would you like to be a SnakePal?
All you have to do is 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.
Just remember:
the snakes of Medusa are always hungry—
for poetry, of course!


 












Sunday, November 22, 2020

On Healing From a Year of Darkness

 
—Public Domain Photo



CARRION COMFORT
—Gerard Manley Hopkins (1844-1889)

Not, I'll not, carrion comfort, Despair, not feast on thee;
Not untwist—slack they may be—these last strands of man
In me ór, most weary, cry I can no more. I can;
Can something, hope, wish day come, not choose not to be.
But ah, but O thou terrible, why wouldst thou rude on me
Thy wring-world right foot rock? lay a lionlimb against me? scan
With darksome devouring eyes my bruisèd bones? and fan,
O in turns of tempest, me heaped there; me frantic to avoid thee and flee?

   Why? That my chaff might fly; my grain lie, sheer and clear.
Nay in all that toil, that coil, since (seems) I kissed the rod,
Hand rather, my heart lo! lapped strength, stole joy, would laugh, chéer.
Cheer whom though? the hero whose heaven-handling flung me, fóot tród
Me? or me that fought him? O which one? is it each one? That night, that year
Of now done darkness I wretch lay wrestling with (my God!) my God.

_____________________

Today’s LittleNip:

It’s not about abandoning everything; it’s about holding on to that which gives you life.

—Anonymous

_____________________

Today (Sunday, Nov. 22, 5pm), William O’Daly will be reading in the Writing For Peace Live Readings series on Zoom, at us02web.zoom.us/j/82898977722, and talking with host Brad Wetzler about William’s work, process, and various commitments. Also go to Copper Canyon Press (coppercanyonpress.org) for info about their new program, Read Generously for Racial Equity (www.coppercanyonpress.org/donate/read-generously) for info about their generous new donation/gift-giving program for the season.

_____________________

—Medusa

Read Hopkins out loud, carefully; listen to his accents (written and unwritten), find his rhythms and rhymes. And see www.poetryfoundation.org/poets/gerard-manley-hopkins for more about him.


















 

Saturday, November 21, 2020

Sit Down, Fool

—Poetry by James Lee Jobe, Davis, CA
—Public Domain Photos Courtesy of James Lee Jobe

 

110 degrees. August. The valley bakes
Like a loaf of bread in a brick oven.
Tomorrow is a whisper and today is sweat.
Standing under a harsh sun,
I say my name aloud
To remind the valley of who I am,
And who I am not.

 


 

It’s a ghost, it comes and goes at random times,
You cannot predict, and you cannot request.

Something will happen and I just know it is there.
It might be with me when I sleep

Or when I take a walk where tall pines grow.
I am glad for the company.

This is, of course, all in my mind.
The ghost of my son, checking in on me.

 




I am wondering if I might find a tomb that I can rent.
I just want to lie down on a marble slab for a few nights
And whisper my secrets to Death.
I really don’t need to move in and live there.
Don’t we all have a secret or two to tell?
Don’t we all have something to get off our chest?
Something only Death should hear?
Oh well, the evening breeze is cool tonight.
It’s refreshing. Perhaps I’ll just lie down right here.

____________________

You can walk or run, but there is really no need to go. Wherever you go, you will still be stuck with yourself. Sit down, fool. Do nothing. The moon is rising even while you worry. 

 


 

If I knew what living meant,
I would have told you.
And if I cared what living meant,
I would have tried to find out.
No matter.
My sunflowers are now all in bloom,
And one of them is seven feet tall.
That’s enough for me.

_____________________

Today’s LittleNip:

The summer caws of a magpie are a reminder
that death is near. That’s alright, friend, life is also near.

—James Lee Jobe

_____________________

Thank you, James Lee Jobe, and a giant bouquet of Fall sunflowers to you for brightening up our day with your poetry and these beautiful photos! Don’t forget Fridays, 7pm: Video poetry readings on Facebook by Davis Poet Laureate James Lee Jobe at james-lee-jobe.blogspot.com or youtube.com/jamesleejobe. Yesterday’s reading of Tu Fu is still available on these links, along with poetry from other past readings.

Tomorrow (Sunday, Nov. 22, 5pm), William O’Daly will be reading in the Writing For Peace Live Readings series on Zoom at us02web.zoom.us/j/82898977722 and talking with host Brad Wetzler about William’s work, process, and various commitments. Also go to Copper Canyon Press (coppercanyonpress.org) for info about their new program, Read Generously for Racial Equity (www.coppercanyonpress.org/donate/read-generously), for info about their generous new donation/holiday-giving program.

______________________

—Medusa

 

 —Public Domain Photo

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 


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.

Would you like to be a SnakePal?
All you have to do is 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.
Just remember:
the snakes of Medusa are always hungry—
for poetry, of course!

 

Wherever I go, there I am ...

 










Friday, November 20, 2020

What Can We Do But Dance?

 
—Poetry and Photos by Taylor Graham, Placerville, CA
—And scroll down for Form Fiddlers’ Friday!



A DREAM OF LEAF DANCE
           for a Special-Ed teacher

From the heap of autumn-fall, take one leaf
and then another. Hold them up to light.
This one, unspeaking, is a mother’s grief.
And joy. A single deep-veined leaf takes flight
from your hand. It rises, aloft it stays
among the leaves all sweeping up in swirls.
You stand there in a speechless wind-drift haze
that changes into living boys and girls—
these tree-leaves dancing in a classroom breeze
like children for a dreaming-instant lost
to pedagogy’s logic. Elbows, knees—
look, you’re dancing too, every T uncrossed.
If these are children of a leaf-fall chance,
what can a teacher do with them but dance? 


(prev. pub. in Red River Review)
 
 
 

 

A HEALING PLACE

Backside of our rocky hill,
lookout point over speeding life,
a play to daydream is a place of grief:
how many accidents at the lethal curve?
Cathedral of trees, a place where
searchers might look for a lost man
grown tired of his life.
A place of grief and healing:
fairy lanterns, and a slash pile hiding
8 turkey eggs, then only broken shells;
and from a stump left for dead
by chainsaws—once a graceful oak—
a spray of tough green branches
leafing out of loss. 
 
 
 

 

JAZZ

Time’s a-wasting on Hold. Finally, How can I help you? A deep dark voice from the other side of phone-waves. Her name is Jasmine. I wonder: Jaz for short? as I tell my problem. She explains how short-handed they are, COVID, you know. She tells me what I should do. I say, COVID is messing everything up. This opens the gate. She’s out of her corporate self, goes on improv, says the only way she’s getting through all this is her little boy, his happy babbling—brook-water. She goes on and on,

her voice becomes smile,
the laugh of a life lifting.
Was this time wasted? 
 
 
 

 

SLOWLY

Alligator
lizard toes

grip one by one
each toe each foot
traversing

this gray stone.
 
 
 

 

MEMORY TILES

The colors of adobe clay!
She scrubs the tiles of kitchen floor
on hands and knees as if to pray,
and tells you it’s a healing chore

reminding her of years before—
the colors of adobe clay,
a hillside overlooking shore
and sea beyond. But for today,

she’ll scrub and put the mop away
and toss the water out the door.
The colors of adobe clay
she keeps in memory, to explore

beneath the skin, a glowing core.
Just see what shine the sunbeams play
on fresh-washed earth like precious ore—
the colors of adobe clay. 
 
 
 

 

LAST NIGHT’S ENCOUNTER

Two wild creatures have written their stories on the woodland trail—
one an eater of grapes, and the other an eater of beasts.
How could such encounter turn out? We might make of it a poem. 
 
 
 

 
 
Today’s LittleNip:

FIERCE HUNTING
—Taylor Graham

A tough week, headaches
with machines and devices—
but now the swifthawk
loop-maneuvers through oak woods,
as graceful as a healing.


______________________

Good autumn morning to those around the Kitchen table who’ve been listening to Taylor Graham’s tales of life and healing in the Sierra foothills! She has sent us lovely lizards and other souvenirs of 2020, some of them in forms: a Shakespearean Sonnet (“A Dream of Leaf Dance”); a Waka (“Fierce Hunting”); a Quatern (“Memory Tiles”); a Sijo (“Last Night's Encounter”); and a Cherita (“Slowly”)—plus a Haibun.

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 for awhile, there will be poems posted here from some of our readers using forms—either ones which were mentioned on 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 forms and get them posted in the Kitchen, by golly! (See Medusa’s Form Finder at the end of this post for links to definitions of the forms used this week.)

We’re welcoming Joyce Odam this morning; she has sent us two poems today, starting with a Canopus stanza:


HEART-EASE
—Joyce Odam, Sacramento, CA

Brooding into silence, you withdraw.
An hour into winter—and you feel
something in the mind begin to gnaw—
something that the heart begs to reveal.
Wet shadows stream against the windowpane.
You let the mind and heart begin to heal.
You sit and watch. You listen to the rain.
 
 
 

 

Joyce has also sent us a Termelay, an unrhymed poem of six lines in tetrameter. Syllables: 4, 4, 4, 8, 8, 4; lines 3 and 6 are identical (refrain) lines. (See also poetscollective.org/poetryforms/termelay/.
Here is her catchy example:


ON RECKONING
—Joyce Odam

The stars won't fall.
I knew that once.
I don't count stars.
The sky has nothing to refute.
My idle thoughts. My counted tears.
I don't count stars.
 
 
 

 

And Carl Schwartz (Caschwa) has been his usual prolific self, sending two Nonets:


MORNING AFTER
—Caschwa, Sacramento, CA

I am the dream you can’t remember
Pillars of Creativity
three gaseous columns that
contain all the matter
the universe has
cute pole dancers
begging dog
headache
ouch!

* * *

TRUST ISSUES
—Caschwa

in this mad and crazy world of ours
they always get what they ask for
nothing’s out of the question
that makes it into print,
on greenback dollars
right at the top
“in trickle
down we
trust” 
 
 
 

 
 
Carl has also sent us a Clogyrnach:


INCOMMUNICADO
—Caschwa

I was born walking distance from
magic lots from which movies come
hadn’t learned to walk
nor could I yet talk
only gawk
at my tum

limos came and went all day
tinted windows, nothing to say
filming commercials
citing credentials
rehearsals
till nerves fray

top entertainers deep in thought
would their pay cover what they bought?
they know their lines well
but directors dwell
that will sell…
maybe not 
 
 
 


 
And his “Life Vests” is in the Octo format:

LIFE VESTS
—Caschwa

free life vests along the river
invincible kids refuse them
stupidity is their demise
parents are just as bad with masks
uncovered mouths filter nothing
stupidity is their demise
invincible kids refuse them
free life vests along the river 
 
 
 

 
________________________


There’s a link at the top of Medusa’s Kitchen called, “Medusa Mulls/Forms, Etc.” which expresses some of my (take ‘em or leave 'em) opinions about the use of forms in poetry. Check it out if you doubt~

And many thanks to our SnakePals for their brave fiddling! Would you like to be a SnakePal? 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!

______________________

FIDDLERS’ CHALLENGE!  
  
See what you can make of this week’s poetry form, and send it to kathykieth@hotmail.com! (No deadline.) This week's challenge: the Termelay (see poetscollective.org/poetryforms/termelay and Joyce Odam’s example above).

______________________

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

•••Canopus: www.poetrymagnumopus.com/forums/topic/1199-metric-forms-from-pathways-for-the-poet
•••Cherita: medusaskitchen.blogspot.com/search?q=cherita
•••Clogyrnach: www.writersdigest.com/write-better-poetry/clogyrnach-poetic-form
•••Haibun: www.writersdigest.com/write-better-poetry/haibun-poems-poetic-form
•••Nonet: www.writersdigest.com/write-better-poetry/nonet-poems-poetic-form
•••Octo: poetscollective.org/poetryforms/octo
•••Quatern: www.masterclass.com/articles/how-to-write-a-quatern#what-is-a-quatern
•••Shakespearean Sonnet: www.masterclass.com/articles/poetry-101-what-is-a-shakespearean-sonnet-learn-about-shakespearean-sonnets-with-examples
•••Sijo: www.writersdigest.com/whats-new/sijo-poetic-form
•••Termelay: poetscollective.org/poetryforms/termelay
•••Waka: poetscollective.org/poetryforms/waka

_______________________

—Medusa
 
 
 
—Public Domain Photo
 
 
 
 
 
 



 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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.
 
 
 When a poem doesn’t work……