Tuesday, September 28, 2021

Midnight Pen and Paper

Music of the Spheres
—Poetry and Original Art by Joyce Odam, Sacramento, CA

 July 25/26, 1999

Today it still is summer, last night cool enough
to think about the change of season still to come,
though not yet August, not yet those
unbearable days and nights that swelter
when we yearn
for rain,    for rain,    for rain,
like some denial that one must endure;
and last night’s moon, so full,
outside my window—
so full it seemed
to move—it
seemed to move
in the mild night,
—a pearl-white
moon of midnight—
perfectly arranged for me
to blubber on and on about—
the full moon—window-framed—and I—
attuned to everything, not limp and weary,
but drifted down to one day’s closing hour,
yielding to it, like a comfort ritual, and then
this morning, groping for these words with
which to celebrate in simpler admiration.


The horses come to drink in the quiet hour—
all sound hushed to fill the long moment
as the horses bend to the water—
beautiful to watch.
1am here with my midnight pen and paper
imagining them, though I don’t know
how many they are—if they are
only two. I settle on two.
The horses are brown and glossy
in the low summer light.
I make the shadows long
and the woods behind them deep.
I watch the water after they have
finished drinking, how undisturbed.
I watch a white butterfly insert itself
upon the scene, becoming translucent
and pure with its briefness. I hold my breath
as it drifts into a white moment that sparkles
like the light upon the water. But the butterfly
has startled the horses and they snort and quiver
and work their way across the field toward a fence.  
I think I see a figure there...   but no...
I choose not to.  I will l leave them alone now.
I yawn and close my eyes. I am out of paper.
So Quiet in the Night


O silver moon on dark water,
you alone
make all this beautiful :

the sea
in its quiet
where you make a path

and dark churnings build
while the sky
sleeps on the horizon

and everything looks like
a black and white photograph
that one might send home

for the great silence
under the low sea sound
in the peculiar calm of loneliness . . .
Strange Moon


the midnight cat slinks
through the yellow moonlight
trailing its enormous shadow
night smudges the dark,
rustles the leaves,
muffles the sounds that follow
the white fence gleams
the lane curves
the stars inspect the gravel
the late night warns
night sounds crunch
the slow moon loses its yellow
the hushed leaves listen
the cat returns
dragging its ragged shadow 
To Sing At Dawn


Soft chirping on dark morning, barely listened,
only once, oh, sweet loss, barely owned by ear
and heart—and where is the lonely center,
entered and left, intrusive with exquisite
recognition, and why only once?  

Was it a dreaming? Is it extinct, gift of nostalgia,
all else that is gone, gone like all else, a treasured
moment? I probe silence, hurt with haunting.

Once more the bird speaks, sweet return—safe
in the late summer tree—a dark green voice—
calling to itself, since there is no other.

Can it know where it reaches,
only to me, beyond its need—
it speaks and speaks through the under-
listening of other sounds, I isolate this one,
find the unknown language of its singing.


i in my little black dress
went mourning

went sea-sickly
down to the sand

went neon-griefed mourning
down to the city

took everybody’s hand

told them where
i was going tomorrow
when the sun came over the sky

told them where i had been today
with my deep-looking eye

then i winked when they
opened their mouth
for a pity

told them midnight was waiting

and i must run forth
to deathlessly marry

(prev. pub. in The Hearkeners [Chapbook], 1973, Charas Press
Medusa’s Kitchen, 2015) 
Looking Back


When I go
violet-motioned through the hour
I go alone
without your smile or kindness.

I am a century removed from here.
I feel my flesh sing cool
with evening.

My tamed wild animals
step through the leaves.
I am not dangerous to them.

I cannot find the center
but there is no hurry.
I think I am in the mind of a

Green is born
and when I weep for it
my eyes are endless with
unreceivable love.

Somewhere the word I must learn
is drowning under silence.

When I come back to a sound
my poems are as heavy     as trees,
but I put all the thoughts I have gathered
before you
like perfect visions.

Under your sleeping
I dream.

Deep in the water
a bird     strange in its happiness
tells me what it has heard
in the dark of my mind.

(Ina Coolbrith Society Grand Prize, l972;
pub. in
Wind Magazine, l975)


Today’s LittleNip:

—Joyce Odam

The poem has waited for you to grow into it,
to read it at a later time to learn its power,
what it says, and what depths it has.
Not just the words but the force
under the words, the life
that lights up darkness,
reveals the dimension—
the poem has waited for
you to listen—a sound—
time as the first time, what
is here that was always there,
this growth, this maturity, this
acceptance of sadness and love—
this readiness to accept your creativity.

(prev. pub. in Medusa’s Kitchen, Dec., 2020}


Medusa’s latest Seed of the Week has been “Alleys at Midnight”, and our thanks go to Joyce Odam for taking us through the darkness with her poems and artwork! As she says, darkness is one of her specialties.

Our new Seed of the Week is Orange. O stands for October, and October stands for Orange—falling leaves, Halloween, soon-to-be Thanksgiving. 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.

Cold River Press is releasing another
Voices anthology this Saturday, 1-5pm, in Locke at the Locke Community Gardens: VOICES: 2021: An Offering of Fruit. Poetry, music, BBQ, potluck, hosted by Sacramento Poetry Alliance (www.sacramentopoetryalliance.com)/. Here is the info; click once to enlarge:



—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.



Monday, September 27, 2021

Is It Sukkot Already?

—Poetry by Joseph Nolan and Caschwa (Carl Schwartz)
—Photos Courtesy of Joseph Nolan
and Michelle Kunert

—Joseph Nolan

Maybe all the lights are down?
Maybe there’s no-one home?
Maybe some disaster
Has befallen
This abandoned town?

Maybe there was a tsunami
That washed in from the sea?
Maybe no-one survived it
Or maybe they all got the memo
That it was time to leave?

—Joseph Nolan

Drive this car.
Go madly mad!
Tell everybody
Every secret
You ever had.

Act like you’re
The honcho.
Eat bacon
And drink grease.
Act like you’re
To do
Just as you please.

Swagger down the sidewalk.
Don’t move aside, at all.
Act like no tomorrow’s
Reserved for you—
You’re ready for your fall.

Accept your own
As though it were a blessing,
That made you an Earthly king
And face whatever
Comes your way,
As the Universe’s

—Joseph Nolan

Maybe I didn’t
Make it to Sligo.
Sligo is by the sea.
Maybe I didn’t
Make it to Sligo,
But I made it to Tralee.

That’s not to say
One is better
Than the other
Or one wouldn’t
Wish to see.

I also made it
To Dingle
And Galway
And both are
By the sea.

Not that any
Of this
Means anything,
Since we
Come and go
In the blink
Of an eye.

Ever stops
To wonder
Why one came by, thus,
Then, went by. 
Can you find the owl?

—Joseph Nolan

You know?
It often goes like that,
Where you cannot find your way,
Where no-one appreciates
Whatever you have to say,

Where nothing,
In particular,
Is given you for
You to call your own,
And you’re forced
Into reticular,
Toward your fall.

Catch the splash of the sun.
The wafting that
Bright light-beams bring
Into the brains
Of everyone
Who is not blind,
Nor left-behind,
As the blind,
So often feel,
When vision has
Escaped them,
Leaving them,
Less real.
Il Commandatore
—Sculpture by Anna Chromý
—Public Domain Photo Courtesy of
Michelle Kunert 

—Joseph Nolan

The hit-man had bad breath.
It might have been the death
Of anyone
He didn’t kill with lead.

From everyone
From whom
He extorted money,
All were heard
To have said,
“If his bullets do not get you,
His bad breath, might, instead.
Either way, it doesn’t matter.
You’ll still be just as dead.” 
Crystal Cave Under Mexico City

somewhere way back in my prepubescent
years the adults at temple tried to inform
all us kids about Sukkot

guess I was just too young to process such
data, along with not understanding or
laughing at the Ernie Kovacs jokes that
older family members did

then more recently when my store-bought
calendar says it is Sukkot, I finally chose to
delve into its recorded history, which arises
from the Old Testament

a double meaning comes to light, as both an
agricultural festival to celebrate the end of the
harvest, and another festival to celebrate how
the Jews travelled 40 years through the desert
during their Exodus from slavery in Egypt and
would set up these plant-covered shelters in
the fields (now we need another festival to
celebrate the end of this stanza)

not done yet with history, this blazing hot
epiphany enters, center stage, announcing that
our own beloved Constitution, in a section
ironically entitled the Bill of Rights, features one
Amendment that makes damn sure white males
have easy access to guns in case there is a slave

It is goodbye tabernacles, hello pickup trucks with
confederate flags and arsenals of weapons, and
by the way, Happy Sukkot, everyone!


Thom Thumb and
his twin Tim stood
together to debate
whether they were
related to arboreal
animals who have
the almost human
ability to grasp limbs
and since they both
were grasping at
straws neither one
won the debate 
Be sure Ting the Tiger is locked up before you
execute a raid!


Facebook is like playing
solitaire on computer
Vegas Style

colorful opinions are sorted
and displayed like colorful
playing cards, while dollar
signs are used to trigger
real feelings about fictional

both share the addictive
qualities of virtual participation
in pursuits that simulate some
of the peripheral markers of
winning an argument, without
ever linking to any actual
contractual commitment

so go ahead, deal out a fresh
hand of cards while dwelling
on the prospect of forcing our
heads of state to donate all
$208 of their winning game
to the charity of our choice 


there is nothing finer
than when police do
their job

apprehend, arrest, and
book suspects who pose
a threat to the community

sometimes it only takes
a Taser to put down
the problem subject

other times the use of
greater force is quite

but when it reaches the
point where it looks and
smells like an execution

when 2 white cops inflict
20 rounds of gunfire on an
African-American man
holding a cell phone

no praise at all will be
forthcoming, it will be held
in reserve, because

there is nothing finer
than when police do
their job 


standing at the clothes dryer
used a sponge to gather all
the lint off the trap, and then
tossed it in a waste can fated
to end up in a landfill

wonder what strange kinds
of monster fabric molds
will sprout from all the lint
from all the households?

it would remain odorless
until touched by a mammal
lined up like appliances
painted with enamel

add to that old mattress toppers
extricated from bedding, just
getting along with new neighbors
at the landfill is an issue of trust

multiply times millions
Heart of the Matter Remains
—Sculpture by Barbara Selland from
Sermon on the Mount Art Exhibit, 
Arcade Church, Sacramento, CA, 2021
—Photo by Michelle Kunert


Today’s LittleNip:


biding one’s time on Lane Three
drinking beer after beer
dizzy from crushing pins
going wild when the pinsetter stalls
hoping the car parked outside remains
standing like a


Many thanks to Poets Joseph Nolan and Caschwa (Carl Schwartz—by the way, last Friday in the Form Fiddlers’ section, I called him Carl Schultz. Though I’ve fixed it, I still apologize. There’s nothing worse than messing up someone’s name…). Also, our thanks to Michelle Kunert and Joseph Nolan for today's photos! Michelle reminds us that Sculptor
Anna Chromý (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anna_Chromý) passed away in September. About his LittleNip, Caschwa says it’s “an Acrostic on the SOW theme.  The first letter of each line corresponds to the initial letter of each of the Seven Dwarfs.” Interesting.

Tonight, (9/27), 7:30pm: Sac. Poetry Center’s Socially Distant Verse features JoAnn Anglin and Jana Moore on Zoom at us02web.zoom.us/j/7638733462/. Meeting ID: 763 873 3462 (Passcode: r3trnofsdv)

Sat. (10/2): Sac. Poetry Alliance (www.sacramentopoetryalliance.com) presents Poetry in Locke, featuring readers from
Voices 2021: An Offering of Fruit (Cold River Press, www.coldriverpress.com).




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, September 26, 2021

Hanging Ten on the Left Coast

 —Public Domain Photos Courtesy of Joseph Nolan, Stockton, CA


—A Poem Suite by Gerard Sarnat, San Francisco, CA
i. Annotated Coast-To-Coast “Garbage Time”* Hourglass

Last year gotta headache
which ain’t goin’ away

so some hospice doc
came to my studio

apartment because
what with falling all

the time I have not
been particularly fit

and there’s no one
to drive me in.

She examined
real quick then

bit her tongue
to say, You

must come
for tests

which I

after two

months more
they send out

a nurse to urge
this here GOMER**

but after whiffing
the kitchen, he says

Mr. Sarnet, your pain
in the head is just from

smelling rotting trash golly
we must deal with that now!

* term allegedly coined by legendary Los Angeles Laker broadcaster, Chick Hearn (1916-2002), to describe one-sided basketball game blowouts when the outcome has already been decided, and the coaches of one or both teams replace their best players with substitutes.
** Acronym for Get Out Of My Emergency Room, from the novel,
House of God (1978) by Samuel Shem, pen name for a fellow internal medicine house officer at Boston’s Beth Israel Hospital. GOMERS are defined essentially as sickly old people who now, because of dementia, have lost whatever quality it is that makes someone a person. Female GOMERS were always admitted to The Rose Room where all the wilted Jewish Roses chanted Oy!Oy!Oy! in unison.

ii. Northern California Coast

Clear sunny windswept reality
the day after a week
of straight-on rain

deep rocky gray swirling
shitty toilet bowl of
stinking sinkholes

in some from gray hostile
Pacific in all its black
blue blade steely

slate cold majestic bluster,
will I really truly will  
to recommit to you

on our anniversary when
we return to Mendocino
next Thanksgiving?

iii. On My California Coast Men’s Group

Six of us left entering our second quarter century
together, a few already lost to dementia
plus death, we are a fluctuating
multi-cellular organism
that undergoes natural human aging.

Lower testosteroned biologic shifts
both costly and evolving
may be experienced as psychological sea changes
—even occasional apparent fruition
some uncontrived connectedness, intimacy.

At times I am just this bitty cork
bobbing on a less than pacific ocean
whichever way currents dictate.
No longer young palm tree fronds
hula in synch (or not) to the humid breeze’s song.

Aloha means Goodbye as well as Hello.

iv. West Coast Summer Funk Haiku

I felt so sorry
for Manhattanites during
Corona splurge there

confined to their small
apartments dead of winter
but now that wheel’s turned.

v. Third Coast

Discarding “see me” THC cartridge pen,
instead pen put to parchment paper,
much more measured
than if attempted in person

I raise questions whether
after so many years, we two have
a forthright friendship or are still
simply coasting acquaintances?

Do both pull our own weight,
don’t flake while the other
waits half an hour on a corner
outside chosen restaurant once again?

This dunce has been harboring discomfiting
implicit bias not yet front of mind
which feels like you sometimes violate
my personal trust—plus probably vice versa.

Waves of conflict ringing in ears
after summoning such courage to write,
will each of us step up to offer self-disclosure
and emotional support, or drift apart?

vi. Our Surf Town Haiku

Buddies are dopers
who also use hybrid five
milligram gummies.

The bus leaves each day.
If you have the willpower,
make sure to take it.

Today's LittleNip:
San Francisco is poetry. Even the hills rhyme.
—Pat Montandon 

Our welcome to San Francisco Poet Gerard Sarnat today, and thanks to him for this long poem! You can count on more to come from Gerard next Thursday, when he will be featured. Meanwhile, check out gerardsarnat.com/bio.html AND/OR www.pw.org/directory/writers/gerard_sarnat_md/. (Yes, he’s also a doctor.)

Gerard is the first of a new group of poets coming to us from Duotrope (duotrope.com), a resource that I become aware of last week when they wrote to me to notify me that they had just listed Medusa’s Kitchen. I subsequently have received several fine submissions, including Gerard’s. So put on your best manners—we’ll be seeing some new poets in the Kitchen!

Today from 12-2pm: William O’Daly will be celebrating the life and work of his friend, poet, translator, essayist, and publisher Sam Hamill, with several other poets reading poems for, or in remembrance of, or by Sam in this Writing for Peace event (writingforpeace.org/sunday-live-readings), “Of Cascadia: A Tribute to Sam Hammill”, hosted and curated by poet and artist Juniper Moon, the current Writing for Peace artist-in-residence. Zoom: web.zoom.us/j/82093325006?pwd=aUZYTzF1MWhNakIrWXRhQ0NTOG1aZz09  Meeting ID: 820 9332 5006 (Passcode: 212396).



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!



Saturday, September 25, 2021

Whoring in Paradise

Girl Reading a Letter at an Open Window
—Painting by Johannes Vermeer, 1659

After “A Vermeer Restoration Reveals a God of Desire”  
—N.Y. Times, 9/9/2021

The Cupid in the background is restored,
Justifying the blush on the girl’s face.
The painting’s harmony? Better by one chord.

Some prudish owner, retoucher must’ve deplored,
Then simplified, complexity and grace.
The Cupid in the background is restored:

A tantalizing shape to tease the bored?
Look close, look long: you’ll see He merits a space;
The painting’s harmony, better by one chord,

Sings how we honor art as we see scored
In it, time that is real and time that’s been displaced.
The Cupid in the background is restored,

Not that Cupid is vivid, the sun implored
To dazzle: diffuse the light, the draftsman’s trace.
The painting’s harmony, better by one chord?

What’s one triad worth? Resurfacing, aboveboard,
One trait we already knew defines our race?
The Cupid in the background is restored.
The painting’s harmony, better—by just one chord.

(Posted 9/9/21 in the Times’ Comments section alongside the article) 
Sylvia Plath


On the boards in Jonson’s play,
Cynical Bartholomew Fair,
Fulbright nova garbed to slay,
You cut scorching figures there:
Your small role, a curdled drab.
Diction, girl-rogue, cockney chin
Aiming your projectile blab,
Verbal arrowhead of sin
Pointed sharp at fool and gull,
While the “action-whirling” square
Half-obscures your gown-smudged trull,
Breasty portions bared to air.
I’ve seen played this farce of wrath;
Hope to read, see it again soon,
Search out lines you’ve spoke, pure Plath;
Slivered phase but waxing moon,
Shortly to batten and be great,
Burst half free of your skin gown,
Mind-flywheels, whirling at Fate.
Low-slung blouse displays, not much
Conjectural, declivity.
I can taste the ashy smutch
In the “customer” you free,
Looks as lures to snag loose men,
Smiles of milk congealing ice…
Do these floor-length skirts not then
(Futures turnstile at high price)
Draggle in Rubicons die-cast?
What knives will you whet un-nice,
Buttery nows churn into past?
Inward-mirroring steely core,
Muse-extruding, scaly coiler,
Speaking Ben’s man-hooking whore
Hot as any “Aga boiler,”
Toxic drink served with a slice,
“Petticoats whoring to Paradise”
—“Voices prophesying” far
Into your heart-fought civil war.


Today’s LittleNip(s):

—Sylvia Plath

I shut my eyes and all the world drops dead;
I lift my lids and all is born again.
(I think I made you up inside my head.)

The stars go waltzing out in blue and red,
And arbitrary blackness gallops in:
I shut my eyes and all the world drops dead.

I dreamed that you bewitched me into bed
And sung me moon-struck, kissed me quite insane.
(I think I made you up inside my head.)

God topples from the sky, hell's fires fade:
Exit seraphim and Satan's men:
I shut my eyes and all the world drops dead.

I fancied you'd return the way you said,
But I grow old and I forget your name.
(I think I made you up inside my head.)

I should have loved a thunderbird instead;
At least when spring comes they roar back again.
I shut my eyes and all the world drops dead.
(I think I made you up inside my head.)

* *  *

“I have the choice of being constantly active and happy or introspectively passive and sad. Or I can go mad by ricocheting in between.”

―Sylvia Plath,
The Unabridged Journals of Sylvia Plath

* * *

And by the way, everything in life is writable about if you have the outgoing guts to do it, and the imagination to improvise. The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt.”

―Sylvia Plath,
The Unabridged Journals of Sylvia Plath


—Congrats to Tom Goff for having a poem published in the
New York Times; see above. It’s also wonderful to see poetry published in the mainstream of a magazine, rather than tucked away in some corner. Since Tom sent us this lovely villanelle about Vermeer, I couldn’t resist posting Sylvia Plath’s also-lovely villanelle.

So—Get out your high-heeled sneakers—today’s a very busy one:

Today at 2pm, Poetry of the Sierra Foothills (“Poetry is Gold in El Dorado County”) presents Traci Gourdine & Patrick Grizzell with “Voices for Change”, plus open mic. Love Birds Coffee & Tea. Co., 4181 Hwy 49, Ste. 100, Patio, Diamond Springs (where Hwy 49 meets Pleasant Valley Rd.). Host: Lara Gularte. [This reading was postponed recently due to Patrick being bitten by a black-widow spider.]

Also this afternoon, at 3:30pm: Sac. Poetry Center presents Poetry Fuzion Poetry Slam (PSI rules), $5 entry fee, 2 rounds, $100 First Prize. SPC Courtyard, 1719 25th St, Sac. THEN…

… at 6pm: SPC’s Poets United, featuring Andru Defeye, Allegra Silberstein, Ike Torres, Vincent Kobelt, Natachi Mez, Jan Haag, Russell Cummings. DJ A Serious Production; Musician Douglas Wolfe. FREE. SPC Courtyard, 1719 25th St, Sac. Enjoy a complimentary dinner; friends and family welcome. Info: www.facebook.com/events/553211542588019/. [Did I mention FREE?]

Meanwhile, this afternoon at 4pm: The Poets in Conversation series, hosted and curated by poet Phyllis Klein, features William O’Daly reading with poet and translator Terry Ehret who, with co-translators John Johnson and Nancy J. Morales, has been translating and publishing the ground-breaking poetry of Ulalume González de León, a Mexican poet who was a favorite of Octavio Paz. Zoom: us02web.zoom.us/j/85444839333?pwd=WkZDUnY1KzhUOGhmY0hWclBoMG0xUT09
Meeting ID: 854 4483 9333 (Passcoade: 483721)

Then this evening, 7pm & 8:15pm (ends at 9:15pm): T-Mo Entertainment presents Grown Man Business Poetry & Music Show (two shows): Spoken Word and Music with Terry Moore and special guest singer/musician SB the Moor, plus 2020
America’s Got Talent winner poet Brandon Leake at 8:15pm. 1913 Del Paso Blvd., Sac. Admission $10. Info/tix: www.eventbrite.com/e/the-grown-man-business-poetry-music-show-two-shows-tickets-163822741229/.

And at 7:30-9pm: Sac. Poetry Alliance (www.sacramentopoetryalliance.com) presents Four for the Quarter, a reading with Josh McKinney, Julia Levine, Traci Gourdine, and Jeff Knorr at 1169 Perkins Way, Sacramento. Info: www.facebook.com/events/290310312859077/?ti=ls/. Host: Frank Graham, Penny Kline. Please bring a mask if you are not vaccinated.


“And sung me moonstruck…”
—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!



Friday, September 24, 2021

Clear Shot Into Autumn


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


Spark plugs failing, too far from home to walk;
a fixit shop in rusty-age’s best.
Car jolted to a stop. No need to talk,

his sleeves rolled up and snap-to-duty pressed,

he plugged the sparks back into place, and snug.
What did I owe him? Hands like birds disbursed
the question into August heat, like jug

of water lifted to the lips in thirst.

My little hatchback, windows wide, and pert

for on-the-road-again. AC below
its notice. Every surface kin to dirt
and doghair, riding with the natural flow.
He grinned godspeed, hands empty but profuse
with simple blessings of no spark plugs loose.


On the road to Shingle Springs
how the blue sky clearly sings
the smoke is gone, it no more stings
and the schoolyard slides and swings.
Look hard for the egret!


By early September light
a tall candle white as dawn
among the lakeside shadow—
it lifts, flying low then gone.


O monostichs and limericks—
you say at best they’re verbal tricks
but just catch the beat
in the soles of your feet
and see how the word-itching sticks.



We broke out of willow thicket
to get bogged down in wet meadow,
feet in mud, knees adrift in flowers.
Lenticular clouds held above the summit,
sea-smoothed in tides of wind.
In a stream bend, a pool caught snowmelt,
blue lens reflecting lodgepole
upside down as in a mirror.
Where would we find the code to let
us out of this place?
Why would we want to?


This fall of acorns like the beat of Autumn drums—
can enough ever be enough when Winter comes?
—Photo Credit Shared with Lara Gularte

Today’s LittleNip:

—Taylor Graham

A woodpecker, heeding the call
of Winter on breezes of Fall,
unburdened bare ground
of acorns he found,
and loudly fussed, I want them all!


Our thanks to Taylor Graham today for a fine passel of poems and photos! The photos are mostly from Wakamatsu Farm, where Taylor and Katy Brown held another in their series of workshops last weekend. Watch for another in a couple of months.

In addition to addressing Medusa’s Seed of the Week (“Contentment”), TG has sent her poems in many forms: a Sonnet (The Pit Stop); an Englyn Proest variant (“Clear Contentment”); an Alexandrine Couplet (“Storehouse”); a Limerick (“Today's Assignment” & “’Tis the Season”); a Word-Can Poem (“Code of Contentment”); and a Welsh form, the Awdl Gywydd, last Friday’s Fiddlers’ Challenge (“Alba, Egret”). She says, “Limericks are like Double Dactyls—once you get the beat in your head you can't stop…”

And now it’s time for . . .

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.)

[Somebody better tell that grasshopper to get to work—winter's on its way!]

Here is a beautiful Quatrain from Joyce Odam in iambic pentameter. We could almost call it a List poem:

—Joyce Odam, Sacramento, CA 
A cameo brooch in its snap-tight velvet box;
a string of yellowing pearls; a folded chiffon
purple scarf; an envelope with hair inside; and
a still-fragrant, old sachet, of faintest lavender.

Joyce also sent us a fine, fine Canopus Stanza. As with all form poems, it doesn’t hurt to read it out loud to get the full effect:

—Joyce Odam

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.

Also sending us form poems this week is Caschwa (Carl Schwartz). About his first one, he says, “Here is my attempt at an Awdl Gywydd, based on watching Thursday’s Late Show with Stephen Colbert, which featured Fleetwood Mac’s headliner, Lindsey Buckingham. I snuck a peek at Turco* to clarify that Robert Lee Brewer’s oversimplified description of “rhyme with the 3rd-5th syllable” actually meant syllables 3, 4, or 5.” I agree that Brewer was unclear in that regard, and thank you, Caschwa, for clarifying it. The Turco that Carl is referring to is Lewis Turco:

*For information about Lewis Turco, go to:
•••Biography: www.poetryfoundation.org/poets/lewis-turco
•••To purchase (be sure to get 2020 edition): www.amazon.com/Book-Forms-Handbook-Poetics-Fifth/dp/0826361889/.

So here is Carl’s Awdl Gywydd:

—Caschwa, Sacramento, CA

late last night, early this morn
rock band with no horn fronted
a twelve-string guitar which was
odd because how it sounded

in among amplifiers
shoes in clothes dryer create
acoustics quite audible,
the tug and pull of our fate

a hollowed wood instrument
granted consent to join with
ear-popping, high decibels
huge anvils of the blacksmith
* * *
Carl also sent us two List poems:


Garry Shandling’s vacuum cleaner
Pat Paulsen’s speaking out of both sides of his mouth
Jack Benny’s pregnant pause
Gilda Radner’s positioning
Johnny Carson’s comebacks
Soupy Sales’ outtakes
Ernie Kovacs’ spontaneity

* * *


I. That’s my foot
II. That’s my other foot
III. move them
IV. while moving something else
V. it doesn’t really matter
VI. people will see motion
VII. some will try to copy
VIII. they’ll give it a name
IX. everyone is happy
X. just keep moving…
XI. …something
XII. you got it!


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!



See what you can make of this week’s poetry form, and send it to kathykieth@hotmail.com! (No deadline.) This week's challenge:
Double Dactyl: www.poetryfoundation.org/learn/glossary-terms/double-dactyl  [Don’t blame me—TG started it~ See her mention of the Double Dactyl, above.]


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

•••Alexandrine Couplet: www.poetryfoundation.org/learn/glossary-terms?category=209
•••Awdl Gywydd: www.writersdigest.com/write-better-poetry/awdl-gywydd-poetic-forms
•••Canopus: www.poetrymagnumopus.com/forums/topic/1199-metric-forms-from-pathways-for-the-poet
•••Double Dactyl: www.poetryfoundation.org/learn/glossary-terms/double-dactyl
•••Englyn Proest Dalgron: www.writersdigest.com/write-better-poetry/englyn-proest-dalgron-poetic-forms
•••List Poem: clpe.org.uk/poetryline/poeticforms/list-poem
•••Limerick: poets.org/glossary/limerick
•••Quatrain: www.masterclass.com/articles/poetry-101-what-is-a-quatrain-in-poetry-quatrain-definition-with-examples#quiz-0
•••Sonnet Forms: blog.prepscholar.com/what-is-a-sonnet-poem-form
•••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.


—Public Domain Photo Courtesy of
Joseph 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.