Friday, May 22, 2020

Outside of Time

—Poetry and Photos by Taylor Graham, Placerville, CA


1st day of
the 10th week since all
events stopped.
knows what it is to shelter
in what oneself makes.

Call it home—
walls against a world
of human
Zoom vs. Skype, Google Hang-
outs, Microsoft Teams.

My passwords
don’t recognize me.
What is face
to face now
without a mask? I keep my
hands washed and dirty

with garden.
I speak to two-leaf
just sprouted
from soil. What doesn’t it know
of its perfect life? 


No need for a motel room.
Wonderland’s not far, 20 miles, a dozen
switchbacks to your target: small dirt pull-out.
Check off essentials: good boots, camera,
flashlight (just in case).
Below the headwaters, a pond—wading pool
for dogs to splash warp-spasm, lunatic
joy of dousing you with fur-shake,
scatter of wet stars, diamonds on mud.
Creekside paradise
for getting messy. Try to keep your bearings
in green-spell of willow thicket and alder.
Around a bend, surprise!
sequoia—lacy-green fairy-world
outside of time.
Stay too long, you may need that flashlight
to find your car, your scheduled but
postponed, reimagined life. 


If I stop, wipe my failing eyes and stare
across our fence to the adjoining field—
a wealth of wild grasses, a worthless yield—
I see the neighbor’s tractor, and he’s there
about to mow while green turns dry and brown.
Motionless—it’s not human. A log-heap,
live trees felled in fear of fire while we sleep.
Oak slaughter all along the road to town.
Life dies by seasons here, and still we live,
keep distances as virus mimics fire.
We mask ourselves against each old desire,
wash hands against the wish to hold and give.
I wave across the fence, a just-in-case
it’s my neighbor though I can’t see his face. 


Too wet for mowing,
my best plans knocked out of whack,
Nature must keep her
own balance, surprising me—
diamond-drops on grass. 


A moon-faced pony and a horse white as moon-
shine recharge their luster under a crescent moon.

Yesterday it rained, morning’s field is wet—
grass-blade diamonds reflecting light of the moon.

Two pumpkins sprout from salvaged seed—
jack o’ lantern smashed under a Halloween moon.

She never consults a map, driving the back roads,
following that in-her-face-blinding full moon.

Workshopping by Zoom, abruptly his voice
transformed to guitar sweet as a Spanish moon.

This poet sleeps as ghost-light walks the deck,
sweeping a month’s mistakes with silver-of-moon. 

Today’s LittleNip:

—Taylor Graham

Fixit man lifted
the hood, heard terrible noise;
dropped hood, the noise stopped.
Can he help a car simply
by listening to its problems?


Our thanks to Taylor Graham for poems ’n pix today, as she managed to work “Zoom” into a poem! As to the forms she’s using, she writes, “You may notice some old SOWs [Seeds of the Week] in ‘Essential Green’. For the rest, you've got a couple of Tankas, a Ghazal, a Shadorma, my first shot at a Sonnette, and a Lyranian Sonnet (‘COVID Firestorm’)”.

As for area online poetry later today and tonight, at 4pm we have a Sac. Poetry Center workshop, Writing from the Inside Out, with prompts by Nick LeForce. Then at 7:30pm we have James Lee Jobe’s video poetry reading on Facebook at For Nick’s workshop, you need to register in advance, so scroll down to the SPC section of Medusa’s Kitchen (in the blue box on the right of this column) for info, or go to


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.

Here is Taylor Graham’s Sonnette, this one about the noble turkey:

—Taylor Graham

Two turkey toms beyond the deck
in slow and stately formal dance—
pavane or saraband—no silly prance
but fan-tail, breast-beard, snood & wattled neck
crimson & baby-blue in morning light,
they do this ritual of step and glance
with not a turkey hen in sight. 

 —Photo by Taylor Graham

This week, Joyce Odam has sent us an Ode (

—Joyce Odam, Sacramento, CA
(After "Ode to Bicycles" by Pablo Neruda)

As if Life remembers, as if real beyond itself—
continuance and static,
a useful toy or tool for each pretender.
Here is a footstool with no foot to rest upon it.
Here is a foot with no rest—but restless.

A wheel is ever ready to roll but no one
will roll it. How can it grow impatient,
when it is only a wheel in description of itself.

Diamonds are as useless as stones
unless one loves stones or diamonds.

Ah, here is the opposite of everything wasted
or used; here is the outcome : how

not be turned on, or off, but not by
volition in usefulness or need
or waste of creation.

Is anything useful to itself
or only to another,
and why the question?

 —Public Domain Cartoon

Tom Goff has sent us an elegant Villanelle ( Don’t get tripped up on this form and its use of repetition:

SPINDRIFT (a Villanelle)
—Tom Goff, Carmichael, CA

The mind dies with the body down below
The god-cloud spindrift. What do we intend?
We practice all our lives to rise, to know,

Then hunker down in tundraholds of bone,
So fiercely do we determine not to end.
The mind dies with the body down below,

Just one more organ minced and pulped. What sows
This ardent muck with longings to transcend?
We practiced all our lives to rise, to know,

To ride swift updrafts to an afterglow,
Our swirls ourselves, but beaten into blend.
The mind dies with the body. Down below,

Beneath earth’s binding crust, both undergo
Grueling dissolve. Chop-logic Thought pretends
We’ve practiced all our lives to rise, to know

What gods extract from nerve-weave: call it Soul.
Torn from the raw flower, what blossom scent will it send?
The mind dies with the body down below.
We practiced, all our lives, to rise: but no.

(first pub. in Medusa's Kitchen and Falcon Scratch, Folsom Lake College) 

 —Public Domain Cartoon

J.D. DeHart has sent a Found Poem about the pandemic (

—J.D. DeHart, Chattanooga, TN

More lives
a pandemic now appears
            ready to pay.

A grim plateau
            despite projections.

Shift blame.
Death toll.

You have to be

Infections and forecasts,
escalating the push.

Optimistic take
            challenged, point

See how your state


Caschwa (Carl Schwartz) has found a Chinese form, the Chueh-chu (

—Caschwa, Sacramento, CA

muscles—tear down to build anew
chaparral—fires start on their own
children—continue what we start
elder—nothing but skin and bone

dating—feels like all kinds of fun
lovers—two tongues, one ice cream cone
marriage—a contract agreement
candles, fuses—out when they’re blown


Carl, too, has tackled the wee Sonnette:

HALF SONNET (also known as a Sonnette: abbacbc)

the words are chopped and tossed into a bowl
then topped with fancy, virgin olive oil
collective thoughts are brought to quite a boil
forget to bow and surely heads will roll
there was a day when poets spoke their minds
when main roles shined their light right through a foil
but these days people opt to shut the blinds

 —Public Domain Cartoon

Here, Carl uses a chain of Cinquains ( to address our recent Seed of the Week, Betrayal:

runt of litter
property owner must
timely pay all the taxes due

there are
huge penalties
if one fails to honor
their obligations and not make

the temptation
to fall into this trap
you will feel good for a short time

knock your door down
to bring home the point that
nobody, NOBODY, escapes

you will
on second thought
undoubtedly see some
exceptions to this standard rule
which serve

to prove
your dangerous,
devious potential
to find a reason not to pay
your bill

 —Public Domain Cartoon

And for his grand finale, Carl has gone wild with enjambment ( in a Sonnet:


those who start talking when there is no more
to say something that is known to be false
eyelashes complete the image we store
bought smiles that look so real but lack a pulse

is normal, blood pressure fine, pupils are
sitting in class, paying attention to
err is human, like failing the state bar
code readers will need to be dusted, too

many mistakes a success does not make
this the last round of drinks, because we’ve had
I but known how much longer this would take
over for me, I have to go real bad

dreams caused me to toss and turn all night long
division proves that your math skills are strong


We've thrown a lot of forms at you today; you may want to look some of them up online. Here is a list of resources—or just Google up the form you want:

•••Shadow Poetry:
•••Poets’ Collective:
•••Poetry Foundation:
•••Bob’s Byway:
•••Desolation Poets by Sacramento’s Jan Haag:
•••The Poets Garret:
•••Writer’s Digest: (just type in the form you want in the search bar at upper right) OR
•••Classical Poets: (articles, but not in any order)


—Medusa, with bravos to our courageous Fiddlers today—Keep up the good work and poetic adventures, and don’t be shy about trying any or all of these forms (or any others) and sending them in to for those ever-hungry snakes!

—Public Domain Photo Courtesy of Joseph Nolan, Stockton, CA, 
who says, “Quick—Spill some Diet Cokes on those critters!”

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.