Friday, March 13, 2020

A Weed Or Not A Weed?

—Poems and Photos by Taylor Graham, Placerville, CA


At the dingy end of winter
a young man is walking
the creek grade out of town.

He’s hunched dark under daypack
dim against early morning
by flash-curve of my low-beams.

Wild-plum is blossoming
the springtime mind of youth
as he climbs up the grade.

Above the deep of canyon
I swerve to miss him
absorbed, almost invisible.

Imprinted on my mind,
he’s faceless hero of a story
writing grace-lines on dawn.

Sun over ridge in my rearview,
youth goes forever climbing
the edge of guardrail, out of sight.


Rural back road—a strawberry roan
at pasture. Up mountain, dirt track
no more than goat-path. We stop,
let our dogs out—teammates
in adventure. What
might we find? Wind
in pines. Dog-
dance, pure


Butterweed gold
on the hills, chickweed
in salad, gopher-weed
a haven for bees.


What do we call
a weed? I walk among
all this wild green,
not weeding, just being.


Sunday 0900 dog training—meet at the old industrial parking lot (long ago put to bed under patchwork of pothole fixes stitched with weeds needling up through cracks in pavement). No, scratch that. Meet at 2nd entrance. I arrive, no one’s there. On to abandoned parking lot, just in case. Only an egret in a field. I stand watching, snap pix, then back to 2nd entrance. I wait, wander another weedy field blooming golden mariposa tulips. Egret sails overhead as if to beckon. Which way? We human keystone cops, half an hour driving maze of car-less roads looking for each other. At last we meet, park, work our dogs. All I remember:

an egret’s white wings
unfurling on spring-blue sky—
gold petals on earth



In a weedy field,
six wild tom turkeys fan-tailed
in courtly display
for twelve hens pecking at weeds,
quite bored with the guys’ parade.

      considering the Biodiversity Heritage Library

Millions of images—unknown
world on the screen. My mind glazes
over. What are all these plants’ names?
secrets? Turn off my computer
and walk outside. No rain. Spring’s not
begun but already it feels
old: new grasses gone stiff as if
resigned to what the season brings.
World of our few acres: chickweed,
and miner’s lettuce to ward off
scurvy; unnamed grass that transforms
to stick-tight, clinging to socks, to
undies in the wash. A green world
of mystery underfoot—what
unnamed weeds might one day save us? 

Today’s LittleNip:

—Taylor Graham

O bracket, conk or
polypore, I pause to snap
your photo before
fire consumes you, warms us
to our wait-for-springtime core.


Welcome to Friday the 13th, our lucky day! And thank you to Taylor Graham for her musings on those plants which we choose to call weeds. In terms of forms, she has sent us a Triversen, a Nonet and a Naani, along with a Haibun and a Tanka.

A note that all Sac. Poetry Center events have been cancelled through March 31, due to the coronavirus outbreak. That includes Monday readings on March 16, 23, and 30. (No word yet on the Second Sat. Gallery Reception for tomorrow.)


It’s time for more contributions from Form Fiddlers! 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.

Today, Sue Crisp has sent us a Prisoner’s Constraint. Here is a description of it from
Found Poetry Review: “Imagine a prisoner whose supply of paper is restricted. To put it to fullest use, he will maximize his space by avoiding any letter extending above or below the line (b, d, f, g, h, j, k, l, p, q, t and y) and use only a, c, e, i, m, n, o, r, s, u, v, w, x and z. Compose a poem using only words that can be made from these letters...” Some examples may be found at

Here is Sue’s example:


—Sue Crisp, Shingle Springs, CA

We rise on a summer morn.
Crows are near our corn,
raucous communes as on sonar.
Nervous now, some scan
inner voice noises,
some voices mix in air.

An issue rises on air.  We
see crows on our morn.
An increase in crow voices
in a corner row of corn.  An
inconvenience as we resume our scan.
No novices we, our ears are sonar.

No nonsense, we use our sonar.
We sense crow nearness in our air.
Crow ears, noses sense more on scan,
assess immense corn rows, come morn.
We see concerns as crows examine our corn.
We can see crows roam, cause noises.

Crows win as we sense even more noises.
Our nemesis uses ear sonar.
We are remiss, novices in our corn.
No recourse now, as crows rise corn in air.
Erie now, our corn rows mown on summer morn.
We mourn our corn rows’ ruin as we scan.

Renew, we can, new acres we scan.
No novices now, man versus mice or crow noises.
We arise as warriors on a new morn,
our ears as on sonar.
We assess and sense our air.
No worries, we secure our new corn.

Once more, new corn.
We roam, view, scan.
We sense summer air.
No war on new noises,
we have woven in our sonar.
Unaware no more in our morn.

In our morn
we use our ear sonar,
we sense no noises.


But don’t let this off-beat form make you crazy! Carl Schwartz (Caschwa) has sent us some more traditional fare:

—Caschwa, Sacramento, CA

the fixtures were fixed, the drain’s working fine
a new shower head installed, it’s a hit
I’m first, you go to the end of the line
there’s a place for you quietly to sit
the fan in the ceiling, that replaced, too
so our money’s not flowing like water
some ants climb around to see what is new
and that black widow spider, we caught her!
so thankful this is our very own home
not a camp with a three minute limit
there are some rules, nonetheless, “when in Rome”
if you have a complaint, well just dim it
please let us know when you’re due to arrive
bath will be ready to ease that long drive


FINAL EXAM (Triversen)

one entire semester
    was spent to cover
        eons of history

a lot was taught
     a little was learned
        while late candles burned

this test will measure
    the strength of your grasp
        on the precipice of knowledge

it was made your choice
    whether to be a pillar
        or a gargoyle

laugh a little, play a lot
    have some fun
        be a clown

no one is expected
    to pass this class
         the first time



the abscessed tooth demands its moment of truth
it puts aside any other concerns or cares
there are no words much better than just uncouth
romance is gone among the highway flares

your well made plans
become spider webs
designed quite well
for ungainly results

a chart is built to show what work needs done
it all costs more than you will ever earn
just tie a string and pull the damn thing out!
the abscessed tooth demands its moment of truth


And four Shadormas:


maybe not
as you thought it would
grand totals
have a voice
in the body politic
not just yours alone

* * *


the bike path
in white paint
parked cars with opening doors
use at your own risk

* * *


don’t make mine
so very, very
lawsuit hot
I warn you
people have won big money
when it is too hot

* * *


big brother
gave his young sister
crème to make
her face look
ten years younger, she was five


Thanks, Carl, and Sue, and Taylor for showing us your fine forms today! Remember, there’s always room on one's desk for more form-fiddling; send us what you come up with at (The snakes of Medusa are always hungry!)


 —Public Domain Artwork Courtesy of Sue Crisp

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.