—Poetry and Photos by Taylor Graham,
—And then scroll down for
Form Fiddlers’ Friday
with poetry by
Nolcha Fox, Stephen Kingsnorth,
Claire J. Baker and Caschwa
WHIFFS OF WHAT IT MEANS
This walk is required by my doctor
for my bones. It’s a bonus
on top of the morning’s training session
with my dog. Who can get enough
of walking on a path through the woods
of May? If my dog were with me now,
she’d take in spring’s whole airborne
in what I’ve learned to call
a vomeronasal gulp, for catching
undetectable odors, oils and esters rising
from the deeps. Such science is
beyond me but I trust my dog beyond
words. Here, deerbrush
is a burst of white blossoms
and a humming swarm of tiny bees.
It may also be a fey confection, a fairy
hangout, that magic drift of cloud.
EN PLEIN AIR
Someone has scattered puzzle pieces—pieces
of pink orange yellow purple blue, blue
as the spring sky spotless overhead. Head
down the trail, around the bend, you’ll see. Sea
of wildflowers, all these colors! Colors
a-bloom—not to pick or gather. Together
we solve the puzzle: lupine, buttercup, cup-
of-wine—spring paints a beautiful mess, yes?
BETWEEN FENCE & CREEK
A jungle of green
waist-high for mowing
by hand—a challenge,
adventure never ending,
gaging the body’s gumption.
I need weed-eating
like a physic, like a whole
head, a whole spirit.
UNDER THE RED WING’S SONG
I’m under the red wing’s song
of a painter’s pointillistic colors dotting
prisms on this green weedy field—
lupine blue and storks-bill pink, clover rose
and purple vetch, and a single sun-gold
poppy. The crimson dot of the blackbird’s
wing keeps moving as it’s singing
under sky over the variegated greens
of a tree that gives me shade
as the red wing’s sweetest song
weaves rainbows between earth and sky.
Arts HQ exhibit outside the Veterans
Memorial Building in Placerville, CA.
Saturday, May 20, 2023
inspired by a Handlebart drawing by
Richard Gilmore, Arts HQ exhibit:
Mobilizing Veterans in the Arts
What is this smoothly convoluted coiling
branching form? It might be an octopus
or the gnarly tangles of a great oak’s limbs
set for storm, the unseen groping of roots,
or the bowels of the universe.
And this manmade metal thing
perched on top? A machine.
Receptors and storage for what we
would know, what we dare dream.
And, above all that, the all-seeing eye.
FOR LACK OF WATER
After the waterline sprang a leak
and I turned off the flow at the meter
way down the hill, I began the experiment
of dry camping at home—the house-
hold not designed for leisure loitering
without water from the tap, the shower.
Camping should be more scenic.
My office was to just make do.
The day was hot. No iced tea. Was I
seeing red? No, that’s the sun sinking,
the first day finally coming to an end.
And how shall I describe sunset?
Gorgeous? Radiant? Yes,
but rainclouds might be better.
canyon lit by
Our thanks to Taylor Graham for today’s poems and pix celebrating all the especially-vibrant colors of this year's spring. Forms TG has sent us today include a Septolet (“Gorgeous But…”); a Word-Can Poem (“For Lack of Water”; “Whiffs of What It Means”); a Boketto (“Between Fence & Creek”); some Echo Verse that is also a response to Medusa's Ekphrastic photo (“En Plein Air”); and another Ekphrastic poem (“Untitled”). Echo Verse was one of our Triple-F Challenges last week.
For info about what’s going on in poetry in El Dorado County, go to Western Slope El Dorado poetry on Facebook: www.facebook.com/ElDoradoCountyPoetry/. Also click on Medusa's UPCOMING NORCAL EVENTS (http://medusaskitchen.blogspot.com/p/wtf.html) for details about this and other future poetry events in the NorCal area—and keep an eye on this link and on the Kitchen for happenings that might pop up during the week.
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.)
There’s also a 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. Got any more resources to add to our list? Send them to firstname.lastname@example.org for the benefit of all man/woman/poetkind!
* * *
Last Week’s Ekphrastic Photo
In addition to Taylor Graham's Ekphrastics above, we had responses to last week’s photo from Nolcha Fox, Stephen Kingsnorth and Claire Baker:
DON’T MIX MILK AND MEAT
—Nolcha Fox, Buffalo, WY
You want to mix it up, to box, to brawl.
I want to carve you into puzzle pieces,
fracture facial cream and gym-grown tone.
You want to milk me dry, cut through
the meat of what I mean. Nobody wins.
My words pour through you, puddle into buckets
to be left out for the cat. Your words congeal
into cudgel best served as a steak.
We can’t live together on this plate of milk
* * *
—Stephen Kingsnorth, Coedpoeth, Wrexham, Wales
Now here’s a puzzle.
See the world—
beyond framed picture,
that’s laid as sample on the box,
triumphant whole till broken up—
as if the mending, not the end
is the sole purpose of our rôle.
in finding soul between the poles,
the core of what it’s all about.
Of diverse, rainbow
of shapes that fit
when fixed aright,
of lumps, sharp corners,
straight and not
and such that nearly fit,
however forced, enthusiasts—
and is en theos root of that,
claimed prompt of God?
In jumbled, juggled,
a pile of challenge to assort—
though fear peace missing from the start;
how did at first design emerge,
and was it planned so,
yet wielded jig
to saw apart?
A vision broken, then rebuilt,
using its origin as guide;
stand back awhile then break again
so others yet may try their art
and craft their part to save the world?
* * *
Claire Baker’s response to the photo is a Double Cinquain, as well:
EYES AS FINGERS
—Claire J. Baker, Pinole, CA
undone by a
photo of piled puzzle
pieces, blank—colorful portrait
link three blank shapes,
then finish the puzzle;
pausing we see our own vivid
* * *
Here is a Zip Ode from Claire, which is, of course, based on her zip code (9,4,5,6,4):
—Claire J. Baker
Oh, gee, how best to apologize—
cell, email, card?
And, Lordy, say what
re: my dumb contretemps?
* * *
And a form she invented, called the Cinquain’s Cousin:
AZURE ANGLE OF SUN*
—Claire J. Baker
Has your ring
glazed into a lively
strobe light you friskily
flash all around the porch
just to prove without words
I’m still here?
*Claire’s invented form, called
Cinquain’s Cousin, is 3,6,6,6,6,3.
* * *
Caschwa (Carl Schwartz) sends us an Abecedarian which he says is “a metaphor re the book-banning position taken by Escambia County, Florida”:
TEN SURE STEPS TO A
(in Escambia County, Florida)
—Caschwa, Sacramento, CA
Bury common sense
Close the book on new ideas
Destroy opposing views
Expunge the rule of law
Gather only Halloween candies
Hail this as a good policy
Jettison expert input
* * *
And an Ars Poetica from Stephen Kingsnorth about the therapeutic value of writing poetry:
The poem’s less to read than write,
a verse not to be heard, but sight.
A therapeutic diary,
some commonplace with added touch,
formed smithy, where the lines are shaped
from out of site to on the page.
I know fool’s gold, and so do they
but some who pan find nugget grain,
or seeking vein may find bold blue,
red blood within, not royal hue.
But more to me, it’s off my chest,
for who wants wires, heart monitor,
when all can be offloaded, safe?
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 email@example.com. We post work from all over the world, including that which was previously-published. Just remember: the snakes of Medusa are always hungry!
See what you can make of these challenge, and send it/them to firstname.lastname@example.org! (No deadline.) Since nobody took the bait last week, let’s repeat the Flamenca:
•••AND/OR try Claire Baker’s “Cinquain’s Cousin”:
•••Cinquain’s Cousin (Claire J. Baker): Syllable count 3, 6, 6, 6, 6, 3
•••See also the bottom of this post for another challenge, this one an Ekphrastic photo.
•••And don’t forget each Tuesday’s Seed of the Week! This week it’s “Mirrors”.
MEDUSA’S FORM FINDER: Links to poetry terms mentioned today:
•••Ars Poetica: www.poetryfoundation.org/learn/glossary-terms/ars-poetica
•••Boketto (“Listen to the Light”):
•••Cinquain: poets.org/glossary/cinquain AND/OR www.poewar.com/poetry-in-forms-series-cinquain/. See www.poetryfoundation.org/poets/adelaide-crapsey for info about its inventor, Adelaide Crapsey.
•••Cinquain’s Cousin (Claire J. Baker): Syllable count is 3,6,6,6,6,3
•••Echo Verse: https://www.writersdigest.com/write-better-poetry/echo-verse-poetic-forms
•••Ekphrastic Poem: notesofoak.com/discover-literature/ekphrastic-poetry
•••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
•••Zip Ode: https://milkcartonpress.com/?p=347#:~:text=What%20follows%20is%20a%20brief%20overview%20of%20the,of%20words%20in%20each%20line%20of%20the%20poem AND/OR https://www.wlrn.org/write-an-ode-to-your-zip-code
For more about meter, see:
Today's Ekphrastic Challenge!
Make what you can of today's
photo, and send your poetic results to
email@example.com/. (No deadline.)
* * *
—Public Domain Photo Courtesy of
Joe Nolan, Stockton, CA
For upcoming poetry happenings in
Northern California and otherwheres,
UPCOMING NORCAL EVENTS
in the links at the top of this page.
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.