Friday, May 01, 2020

Spring Primer

—Poems and Photos by Taylor Graham, Placerville, CA


Low one-lane bridge
over river running high and wide—
my pickup barely fits
within the bridge’s side-rails.
I pause at the approach—
look for traffic
from the other side.
A couple’s walking
without face mask—
no room for sidewalk
on the bridge.
I wait for them to pass,
to wave and smile
thanks because sun is shining
on the river
and all sides the wild, tender green
grassy hills
with room enough
in this world for all three of us
& my pickup
crossing the river.


It’s morning, filled with scraps of a night’s dream—
a never-ending page of words that change
into a volume, tome, a tomb, a scream

of words that multiply and flash and beam
like TV experts’ latest news exchange.
It’s morning filled with scraps of a night’s dream,

computer monitor a viral stream
of words that morph, by transmutation strange,
into a volume, tome, a tomb, a scream.

And all the while, the social-bonding team
delivers friending questions to exchange
its morning filled with scraps of a night’s dream,

some nightmare office-prison pale as cream,
the blank page begging words to rearrange
into a volume, tome, a tomb, a scream.

Just walk outside to find a healing beam
of Sun, wordless as Nature’s interchange.
This morning! File the scraps of a night’s dream
into no volume, tome, nor tomb. Don’t scream!


Masked visit to a friend: I bring her jugs
of water, she gives me a bag of rice.

Sequestered here in webs of growing green—
foxtail, brome, thistle laced with stick-tight weed.

Neighbor’s horse whinnies at his gate—might I
stroke his muzzle without mask? Good morning!

MEDIC MUSIC               

“spread music not the virus”

They practice fancy finger-work
so it becomes a treat.
Oh come out on your porch—
you’ll soon have tapping feet.

That guy who’s got the fiddle
oh he might just fix your brain
the way he’s making music
so you won’t go insane.

They’ve come to thwart the itching
of COVID’s old home-stay,
each musician without partner
less than seven-feet away.

Woodwind flutes the woodpile,
it’s breezing reedy-fine;
the sax it blows so mellow
you could drink it up like wine.

Their fingers are so supple
they’re sure to cure your ills—
don’t pay out piles of loot
for risky huckster-pills.

These doctors in ensemble
they play tender, they play sweet
as early childhood memories
of a lilac-blooming street.

Their fingers flying faster
than song birds in a storm,
you’ll soon forget you’re sick
of staying home all cozy-warm.


All around me, a field of flowers—
but where are the buttercups?
Could fiddlenecks be the only yellow?
Dew drenches knee-high grass, it’s
early yet, too wet for weed-eating
fields of filaree and all the annual
grasses sharpening their awns.
How will I ever mow
it down before fire-weather—
jinx of our foothills’ rural-wildland
kingdom. Now Sun has
launched itself over Stone Mountain,
marching down the swale so
now our field will be heating up its
oven. It’s only April, but 90’s
predicted. No more is this a
quirk, our pyro-weather; drought—
rain’s a tease, a dream but just
see how the grasses grow, lush and
tough, not tender to my trimmer.
Useless to fight Nature ever
victorious, especially
when we mess with her, think we can
x-out her laws, her wisdom.
Yesterday I mowed a swath of field:
zero-percent of the whole.


Gray Fox in daylight
right behind the house! slipping
off toward the muse’s chair—
silent as a fleeting thought
I’d catch without quite catching.

Today’s LittleNip:

—Taylor Graham

Grocery shoppers all
in mask; but at hardware store
everyone’s bare-faced
as if a power-mower
could do battle with COVID.


Our May-Day thanks to Taylor Graham this May 1 for her bouquet of poems and photos, including Free Verse, Panku, Villanelle, run-on Quatrains (“Medic Music”), Tanka and Abecedarian. Can you tell which is which?

A reminder that tonight at 7:30pm, Davis Poet Laureate James Lee Jobe will be reading online at, featuring the book,
The Miner's Pale Children, by the late US Poet Laureate Emeritus W.S. Merwin. For upcoming poetry readings and workshops available online while we stay at home, scroll down to the blue column (under the green column at the right) for info—and note that more may be added at the last minute.


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.

The Villanelle is a beautiful form (and easy, too, with repeated lines), and Taylor Graham handles her “Running Out of Words” with great skill [see above]. For more about the Villanelle, go to

Last week we were talking about Sonnets, and Caschwa (Carl Schwartz) suggested that someone send in two end-lines for this Sonnet that he wrote [finish this off with two rhyming lines, 10 syllables each]. Taylor Graham responded, as follows: 


—Caschwa, Sacramento, CA

a shell, a bra, out on the beach lie free
my feet did not the feel of coins disclose
all waves alike, like apes when you they see
a clap, a roar, big wet around the toes

my car, alone, at rest in place, garaged
perhaps that means some luck my way will come
accounts untouched, today no funds dislodged
lo not a choice a ride to try to bum

some things inside my head around they spin
my limbs and neck like so much aching feel
but nonetheless I manage still to grin
my hopes and prayers soon will all congeal 

[Sonnet end lines from Taylor Graham:]

Such solace comes of leaving all behind
the car, the schedule, shadows of the mind. 

Thanks, TG, for rescuing Carl’s unfinished Sonnet!


This week, Joyce Odam has sent us a Japanese Dodoitsu, a form which has no meter or rhyme rules, just four lines, with the first three having seven syllables, and the last line having five. The Dodoitsu focuses on love or work with a comical twist; see Here is Joyce’s example, complete with poignant humor:

—Joyce Odam, Sacramento, CA

How can you not love me—I
who nag and nag and nag you—
I who listen to you gripe—
I who brush your hair?


I broke a small dish I loved.
You glued it back together.
It was not the same—but I
loved it all the more.


Today I forgot I was
ever pretty—my mirror
rued my sad eyes—but yours were
tender behind me.


Today I did not want to
listen to your voice—full of
old broodings—I just wanted
to watch those white gulls.


I stared into dishwater.
You stared at the wall. It rained.
My eyes puddled. Your eyes burned.
Who would speak first?


After the dishes are done,
let’s put down your page of news,
unstring my apron, and dance
to the radio.


This week, Caschwa has been intrigued by the Haiku Sonnet (four Haiku followed by two lines of seven syllables each), so here are three of his examples:


BOARDING PASS (Haiku Sonnet)

William Shakespeare knew
when he devised his sonnet
we would fly on jets

all passengers must
remove their shoes and disclose
exactly five feet

lines not weighing ten
syllables are not allowed
a seat on the plane

there are special rules
about where and how to place
words that do not rhyme

enjoy the view, but do not
chew too loudly, thank you, please

* * *

I LIED (Haiku Sonnet)

there is a tender
forgiving, place in my heart
I save it for my

most cherished people
including my Chihuahua
and the president

you must have heard wrong
of course my dog is higher
ranking than dumbo

it was said for joke
how come no one was laughing?
so complicated

I am not responsible
I mean that in a good way

* * *

WIDE-VIEW LENS (Haiku Sonnet)

(inspired by the perspective of James Lee Jobe’s comment: “Does it matter to a prisoner, Locked up in a cell?”, Medusa’s Kitchen, 4/25/20)

bicycle on street
encounters a big pot hole
major deterrent

full size semi truck
encounters the same pot hole
a ho-hum moment

movie house quiet
someone talks on their cell phone
major distraction

the same movie house
someone fires a machine gun
Second Amendment

people—balance of power
special interests—all power


And here is his Haiku chain:


it’s open season
to hunt down infidels who
fail to grow money

marketing tricks put
a kinder, gentler image
on the worst of us

the human condition has
become a hobby

the “human nature”
of big business bottom line
prevails over all

how did we reach this
unattainable peak pitch?
nothing fancy: greed


You’ve probably figured out by now that poetry forms can be made up by individuals, like the Panku that we’ve been talking about. Taylor Graham’s Spellchecker keeps calling the Panku a “Panic”, and she suggested that somebody should make up a form to go with that title. How about having a go at a form to be called a “Panic”? Try not to duplicate a form that already exists, but if you do, oh well…. (Or maybe it’s a Hanky-Panku? Or Hanku-Panku…)

For more about the Panku, its origin, form, and possible anthology-to-come, see Medusa’s Kitchen's, 4/17/20 post.


—Medusa, who is clearly getting her crazy stirred ~

 —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.