Tuesday, October 27, 2020

Coffee Cups & Words

Reach of Meaning
—Poetry and Photos by Joyce Odam, Sacramento, CA


         balanced in the hand   the narrow spout   up-lifted
      pouring through the filter
    in the second filter—
    the brown
     of the
           the steam
                    white swirls of art
                    to the following eye
                of the one who pours,
             steadily and slowly
          to hear the sound
        of the pouring—
      and be the one
     who does this
    morning ritual
   with grave intensity
  and peaceful repetition
 of keeping the hand steady—
letting the filter receive and the cup fill



In the mornings she wanted
her small blunt cup with the
wide handle,
a soft matte white,
no design or picture,
no cute wording—
a silent cup
that she admired
for its unobtrusiveness—
a small white cup that would
gleam and be warm in her hands.
But For The Background


So I am sitting here
on this chilly Friday
burning incense from Chinatown,
trying not to turn the heater on.

It will be hot today.
But this morning
I am surviving in sweaters
and cups and cups of coffee.
A draft from the door
pulls the
musk-scent away . . .
twin lines of smoke,
lifting and breaking as I watch,
twine curving patterns in the air.

The gray ash tower
(though I have not breathed upon it)
falls from its tiny coal.
Not enough to warm its own life.
(Or mine, I smile.)

(prev. pub. in CQ Magazine [CSPS] , 2000)



Black Mood Number Seven
of chin on hand
black stares
cold mouth . . .

no doubt . . .
is dangerous.

(prev. pub. in Brevities, 2005)
To Ask


You bring me a cup of

Thank you.

It is almost
a love.



getting excited

this new line
and that
old poem
these images
these typewritten pages
these published books
these manuscripts
until the table is
covered with coffee cups and
soft gray ashes—

no place for food,
no need—


Eating a white dessert, all by myself,
with small red bites of strawberries in it

—rich as a sugar—disguised in many
ways.  I savor

the treat, melting against my tongue.
Outside : the threat of rain—

not here yet—at this gray window
with its ominous gathering of clouds

and glassy blur of people.  Sated, I linger
over my cup of lukewarm coffee.

Every day I try to diet. When I am thin
again, I may forgive the obesity of tears.



Sarcastic-toned and smiling, biting with her eyes, 
rathering elsewhere, she tends the table of noisy patrons 
who will not tone down to order—who ignore though 
she waits at their edges with her pad and pencil poised, 
with her professional way of keeping track, while they 
call out, over the table, over each other, crisscrossing 
what they want, or mumbling amid the chatter and the 
laughter they have brought, but she keeps her temper 
tight in her smile and somehow wades through them 
all—even telling a small joke to them, though they 
are loud and private and they look at her in a
friendly way as, yesthankyou, they accept 
more coffee, and stay and stay.

(prev. pub. by Nanny Fanny, 2001)


There is a tear in the world that fits you—
like a mind-rip made of cynical regret

that you stir like bitter coffee, as though you
forgot the sugar, or refused the sweetness.

Some days you like the gray air that
surrounds you. You linger against the tide

of going through it—turning cold where
every gray thought gets through, and nothing

gets sewn back together. Life is raw
today. The tear widens and you must not

add to the tearing which is bloodless.
You accept the wound as you always do

as part of its condition—and you shudder
like a knife-rip that goes through you.



Does the fly remember death in its little struggle
in the dregs of a bedside coffee cup, or in the

floating ceiling web, or caught between the screen
and window glass
in summer—or even winter when there’s no chance

of an opened window, there with the withered moth
and the crosshatch view—does the fly remember?
Something Remembered


I lift my eyes to Mother’s
every morning
above my coffee cup,
my hands arthritic,
needing to be coaxed
and exercised
before they

Hands around my cup
I sip
and close my eyes
then lift my look
to Mother’s 5 x 7 gaze.

Her young face.

(prev. pub. in No Name Newsletter for Poets, 1991)


Today’s LittleNip:

—Joyce Odam

Tangle of hairpins
in a coffee jar . . .

and your hair so short now,
your thrift so valuable.


Thank you, Joyce Odam, for poems about coffee (our recent Seed of the Week)  and the ways it weaves itself into our lives, like it or not ~ !

Our new Seed of the Week is “Dry Leaves Underfoot”. 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.

For more coffee cartoons, see 

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, October 26, 2020

Step-Ball-Change, Step-Ball-Change

—Public Domain Illustration Courtesy of Sue Crisp


MISSED STEPS                                                      
—Sue Crisp, Shingle Springs, CA

After Medusa’s Kitchen Seed of the Week,
Oct. 13, 2020: “Time Misspent”

When you think of time misspent,
do you think of dance?
Do you ever dream in your dreams
of giving it a chance?

Easier thought about
than done.  
It sounds, you know, like
it will be loads of fun.                                            

Tap dance lessons we did,
my two sisters and me.
Practice, practice, we thought,
the steps will come,
you’ll see.

But alas, after two years of lessons
our step-ball-change was a pitiful sight.
Two years of lessons and
we still couldn’t get it right.

Our dance instructor
was a true saint.
But she finally said,
“girls, tap dancers, you ain't”.

She said she couldn’t
take our money anymore,
our progress was nil, and she needed
the space on the dance floor.

Well, yes, it was time misspent,
but that’s just fate.
I’ll try something else
at a later date.


—Public Domain Photo Courtesy of Sue Crisp


 TIME MISSPENT                                                
—Sue Crisp   

After Medusa’s Kitchen Seed of the Week,
Oct. 13, 2020: “Time Misspent”        

Ninety acres of land and
a dream of crops to come.
Perhaps an overambitious
plan for some.

But this was the plan—
given time,
to take this journey.
Make it mine.

Nature has a way
of being unkind.
Time misspent, only left
with the pictures in my mind.


—Public Domain Photo Courtesy of Sue Crisp


DOWN IN THE CELLAR                                                      
—Sue Crisp

The house is historic,
over one hundred years old.
Idiosyncrasies you can’t envision,
obstacles all if the truth be told.

It boasts a cellar with
heavy wooden door,
rickety steps down
to a cold dirt floor.

Cobwebs, spiders...
it was down there.
Creepy crawlers you felt
sure, were in your hair.

Dark and damp
and incredibly cool,
a single light bulb,
the one helpful tool.

A few wobbly shelves
sit here and there,
an aged wooden pie safe
where a space was once bare.

Doors covered in cloth
from a gunny sack.
The doors slightly crooked
and opened a crack.

For tiny green frogs,
a favorite home place,
with the habit of jumping
up, onto your face.

Sounds kind of scary, oh yes,
yet a great cool space
to store food year-round
in spider-web lace.

Down in the cellar
you kept your eyes out
for any new critters
that may be about.

Going down in the cellar
was always a test.
No matter what the outcome,
having a cellar is the best. 


—Public Domain Photo

—Joseph Nolan, Stockton, CA

My finger was stuck in the shell
When I tried to throw
It into the nearby bowl.

I know it was my forefinger,
With which I do most of my work,
And during the disposal process,
I felt a tiny jerk,
As the shell caught lightly,
For an inst,
Before it dropped to the floor.


—Public Domain Photo Courtesy of Joseph Nolan

—Joseph Nolan

A nut is softer
Than its shell.
That’s how you can tell
It’s what you want to eat,
Soft and chewy,
Sometimes sweet,
Also, how it smells,
Unlike useless shells.


—Public Domain Photo Courtesy of Joseph Nolan


—Joseph Nolan

Rough drafts
And un-sent versions
Float around my head.
The scent I
Smell around me
Might be from my head
And not from what
I actually wrote
Or said?

As we sail across vast oceans
In our tiny boats,
We pray for clement weather
To let us drift
Safely and calmly
Into foreign port,
But jackals
Wait for us to dock.

Does anyone
Intuit our meaning,
As we cross the seas
And rather than see us
As arriving Divinities,
Knows we are scorchers and burners,
Murderous, genocidal invaders,
Drunk with lust for gold and silver
And that we’d kill
Anyone, to rob him
In the service
Of our evil Spanish King? 


—Public Domain Photo Courtesy of Joseph Nolan


—Joseph Nolan

We must return to olden times—
Of fear of lightning
From the sky.

When Zeus was angry,
He might get you.
He would not deign to explain

He would not entertain
Any crying or whining
From a villain
Who deserved to die;
Whose death would be rather painless,
As in an instant,
He would fry.

Fry and fry
In the blink of an eye.
Lightning is hotter than sun!
And by this extreme unction
Would villains be undone.

Of course, He was always watching,
From somewhere,
Up on high.
Maybe on top of Olympus,
And a lightning bolt
Was all was required
To make a villain die!

And thus,
Many a villain
Wouldn’t even try
To do his worst-est villainy
For fear of
Lightning from the sky. 


—Public Domain Photo Courtesy of Joseph Nolan


 —Joseph Nolan

It’s O.K., now,
What happened is gone.
It won’t come back, anymore.
It’s gone.
You’re O.K., now.
You can relax, now.
Whatever the horror, is gone.
Whatever your utter disgust,
That thing is gone now.
You are safe now.
It won’t come back anymore.
You are safe, now.
Everything is O.K.

(Repeat over and over, perhaps on a string of rosary beads
or mala beads, as many time as needed, until relaxation sets in.)


—Public Domain Photo Courtesy of Joseph Nolan


—Joseph Nolan

Little is
As little was,
Beneath a bright
Blue sky!
Water’s made of rain.

Need I explain?

Beneath the light
From up above,
A rainbow spreads it colors
As a symbol of love—
That we can live together!

One for all,
All for one,

What would be
Any better?
Than that we
Could get along
And that we
Would all belong,


Medusa Braids Her Hair

—Caschwa, Sacramento, CA

there is a cake in the oven
just put there, not hot yet
mixing bowls in the sink
kids outside, playing
TV show recording

there is a cake in the oven
the aroma runs loose
escaping the kitchen
and filling the house
who are those kids?

there is a cake in the oven
it is not your oven


Tree Hut
—Public Domain Photo Courtesy of Joseph Nolan



our government is
nepotism in action
nominees confirmed
prior to any hearings
it works just like a kingdom

though votes are taken,
positions are assignments
rank and standing count
much more than anything else
it works just like a kingdom

the highest office
is part of the world order
red carpet treatment
fanfare, salutes, and all that
it works just like a kingdom

provincial problems?
instructions will be given
governors obey
or else face consequences
it works just like a kingdom

the experiment
to have a democracy
will then self implode
when power confronts power
it works just like a kingdom

(a Waka poetry form)


—Public Domain Photo Courtesy of Joseph Nolan


(triggered by Jon Wesick’s reference to
binding arbitration in “Thirty Nine Ways to Say
Fuck You”, Medusa’s Kitchen, October 18, 2020)

The United States of America may need to amend its
Constitution once more to better articulate the
requirement that an individual who is elected to the
Office of President, who then dons the robes of
royalty and imposes that scheme on the entire nation,
shall be mandated to immediately and exhaustively
abdicate their royal mount

such gross contradiction of the reasonable expectations
of how our president should behave does not survive
the doctrine of severability, as it is clearly not just one
minor flaw that can be tolerated in the spirit of compromise,
but rather is an act of total destruction of our present
government which exists by consent of the people, and so
it is more analogous to pouring gasoline on the floor of our
own home, and setting it aflame 


Chinese Spacing Kids
—Public Domain Photo Courtesy of Joseph Nolan


Just like the slaveholders in ancient Greece
who gathered to create Democracy for their
own benefit, American stakeholders gathered
to hold a Supreme Court nominee up to the light

as if she might be counterfeit currency with all
the right markings in all the right places, just like
the real thing, while the utmost care was taken
to not disclose yea or nay which participants at
the hearing had very strong ties with

(BIG PHARMA, shhh!)

the bull in the china shop, huffing and puffing
as far from impartial as one can get regarding
what substantial changes the Constitution demands
to be made to the Affordable Care Act; no words at
all from the bull, just spine chilling rumbling.


Today’s LittleNip:


exasperated political leanings bar

intimate liaison between lovers

entrapped in bubbles so distant and far

it creates a huge chasm under the covers

overhead a drone records all as it hovers

(an EIO poetry form, first devised by Carol
Louise Moon)


Welcome to Sacramento Poetry Day! Addled as I am these days, I almost forgot it, but that would never do. And ancient though I am, I was not on the scene for the first Poetry Day 36 years ago, so I’m going to let Patrick Grizzell tell the story on www.facebook.com/patrick.grizzell/posts/10208638162724506/.

Here in our area, Sac. Poetry Center uses Zoom for weekly readings and workshops. For more info, go to www.sacramentopoetrycenter.com/. Area online poetry events  this week include:

•••Mon. 7:15pm: SPC Monday Night Socially Distant Verse online, featuring an open mic (all are welcome to read) . Zoom: us02web.zoom.us/j/7638733462  Meeting ID: 763 873 3462 ("P O E T R E E I N C”); password: spcsdv2020

•••SPC Tuesday night workshop hosted by Danyen Powell. Bring a poem for critique. Contact mostoycoff@gmail.com for availability and Zoom info.

•••Wed., 6pm: MarieWriters workshop (prompts) hosted by Laura Martin: zoom.us/j/671443996

•••Wed., 7:30pm: The Poets’ Theatre of No. Calif. invites you to An Evening of the Blues online. The Poets Theater of Northern California will read blues poetry accompanied by music, including classic poems, as well as their own. Host: Leonard Germinara. Info: us02web.zoom.us/j/87571166836?pwd=OGMyZnJNNnYrbzYwMFNsaGV4eXdSdz09/.

•••Thurs., 6pm (special time): SPC Literary Lecture Series presents New York-based lawyer Ezra Glaser on Richard Klugar's "Simple Justice" and social justice writing leading to Brown v. Board of Education. Info: www.facebook.com/groups/literarylectures/. Meeting room ID: 828 3933 9639.

•••Fri., 4pm: Writing from the Inside Out workshop led by Nick LeForce. Reg. in advance at: zoom.us/meeting/register/upwkde-opjkpnyQECAVBKolY4hKCdl61uA/. After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting. (If you have registered before, use the same link.)

•••Fri., 6pm: Laura Martin presents David Iribarne: Poetry and Memories, an evening of David's poetry and memories of our friend who passed away recently from COVID-19. Zoom: us02web.zoom.us/meeting/register/upwkde-opjkpnyQECAVBKolY4hKCdl61uA /.

* * *

Also this week:

•••Fri., 7:30pm: Video poetry reading on Facebook by Davis Poet Laureate James Lee Jobe at james-lee-jobe.blogspot.com or youtube.com/jamesleejobe/.

•••For more about El Dorado County poetry events, check Western Slope El Dorado poetry on Facebook: www.facebook.com/ElDoradoCountyPoetry/.





—Public Domain Photo Courtesy of Joseph Nolan

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!


Don’t forget our Seed of the Week: Hot Coffee!

Sunday, October 25, 2020

Comes the Witching Hour

—Poetry by Kimberly Bolton, Jefferson City, MO
—Photos Courtesy of Public Domain


Comes the Witching Hour into the darkling night,
When the black veil between worlds is lifted,
And the spirits and specters which haunt our sleep
Take leave of our subconscious,
Floating into shadowlight to wander through blackening wood.

Ghost moon grins its lopsided grin.
Stars dance out of reach of the brittle fingers of old trees
Clawing at the night sky.
Owl blinks awake, its spectral call answered by
The howling wolf on the hill.
A witch’s cold cackle sends a shiver down the spine.

In long-forgotten graveyards, tombstones shift
In and out of the moonlight.
Black cat arches its back to shriek at shadows
Dancing atop graves.
A bat’s wing taps at the windowpane.
A footfall on the porch stair.
A scratching at the door.
Click of the latch.
Rattle of the doorknob.

But the door is barred,
And safe around the hearth we huddle together
As night presses against the window glass
With whatever goblin or grim may be peering in.
We roast apples on sticks, drink our ale,
And tell ghost stories deep into the gloom of night.

For we have the rowan branch over the doorpost
And garlic hanging on a hook in the corner.
There’s the candle in the pumpkin and the poppet on the shelf.
We’ve the charm about our necks to keep us each from harm.
So spirits be gone! Specters take your leave!
Goblins and bogeys go back from whence you came!

For night will not last.
Morn will soon come.
The sun will chase the moon from the sky.
The wheel of the year turns once again.
The veil is dropped once more.
Spells disperse, shadows shake and shudder and are gone
In a twinkling.
And the light in the pumpkin goes out. 


When the timing is just right and the night full dark,
And the moon sits low in the sky,
I sense her there, when I am alone.
I am not disturbed by her presence,
Nor she by mine.
We keep company together, she and I.

Now, it may be that the empty rocking chair in the corner
Sways back and forth once . . . twice . . . three times . . .
Or a door swings gently on its hinges,
Of its own accord, so she’d like me to think.
Perhaps I hear a creak on the stair that draws my attention.
This is how I know she is there.

Sometimes the curtains billow out gently,
With the window shut tight.
On occasion things go missing,
Only to turn up in the oddest of places,
And I know she means for me to find them.

There are nights I glimpse her from the corner of my eye.
Other times she’s a soft dark shade bending into the shadows
That haunt the nooks and crannies of this old house.
Yet, if I turn and face her, the bashful creature vanishes,
Like a will o’ the wisp.

She’s a shy little specter,
Not apt to cause trouble.
Her haunting is harmless.
She cherishes the peace and quiet
We share.

We both prefer candlelight,
And the sound of rain on the roof at night,
And the tap of tree limb on the window pane.
The comfort of sharing a fire in the hearth.

Once, I glanced into the gilt-framed mirror in the parlor
And caught her looking back at me with a look of melancholy curiosity
That only a spirit can manifest toward the living.

There she was, transposed on the silvered glass,
The objects in the room behind me reflected through her.
I reached out to touch her image in the mirror,
And in a single second she was gone.

I wondered then, as I have wondered since,
What am I to her in her ethereal existence?
A phantasm?
A thing that is at once there and not there?

Am I the elusive spirit she glimpses
From the corner of her eye?
The nightshade that blends into shadow?


Today’s LittleNip:

I have fallen in love with the imagination. And if you fall in love with the imagination, you understand that it is a free spirit. It will go anywhere, and it can do anything.

—Alice Walker


Welcome back to Medusa’s Kitchen, Kimberly, and thanks for kicking off the Halloween season for us with two tales of the season! Kimberly Bolton has a new book out,
Tales from Grindstone Creek. Based on the true-life events of the Redford-Hall families, these narrative poems describe the drama and the lives of two couples a generation apart. Rhoda and William leave the stony ground of North Carolina behind to travel through the Cumberland Gap and on into Missouri to make a new life for themselves and their children on Grindstone Creek. A generation later, Jesse and Valetha Redford will fight the Civil War, each in their own way, to defend their home along the banks of Grindstone Creek. The book itself is their story, and each poem is a chapter in that story. It is a tale of endurance and survival in the young state of Missouri, and parts of it have been posted in Medusa’s Kitchen from time to time.
Anyone interested in purchasing the book can contact Kimberly at boltonk@mrrl.org. Tales From Grindstone Creek is $12 a copy. Her first book, Folk, is $8.

Kimberly Bolton lives in Jefferson City, Missouri, near her beloved Missouri River.


Kimberly with her new book!

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, October 24, 2020

Why Am I A Poet?

—Poetry by James Lee Jobe, Davis, CA
—Public Domain Photos Courtesy of James Lee Jobe

California. The Sacramento Valley. I have Yolo County in my bones, and Davis town is in my blood. I planted deep roots here, a family and a home, and the years spent working, planting, and growing connect me to this place. Does it belong to me? No, more like I belong to it. Flora and fauna worthy of love. People, too. A love day in July, today. Would you like some peaches? The tree out back has had such a fine season.


Driving the summer backroads of Yolo County,
With tiny glimpses of Putah Creek
Between the Valley Oaks.
Tell me, wife,
Did you know that love could last this long?

If I drive a little faster
The field I am passing will begin to blur
At the edge nearest my car, and yet
It will still be clear to me in the distance.
If I slow down
Everything becomes clear.
It is the same with life.
It is a field of alfalfa, ready for harvest.
Can you smell it?


The television news never speaks of the health of the creatures in the forest or of the deeds of the insects. The reporters do not give updates on the growth of the Spruce trees or the Douglas fir, or the length of the grass, and no one describes to the home audience the sound the wind makes in tree branches. But the number of COVID-19 deaths? That is information that you cannot escape. Grief is our cloak as the wind blows.


Why am I a poet?

My father’s face was hard and angular,
His thin lips seldom smiled, but often sneered.
And when he spoke, it was not of love.

My mother spoke of love quite often,
Even when she slapped my face or took a belt to me.

I noticed the silent power of the sunrise
When I was still a small boy,
How the streaks of color dressed the dark sky,
And I loved the way the winter air tightened my cheeks.

I always knew that birds had a language all their own.

And the smiling eyes of girls,
I caught on to that very early as well.

Why am I a poet?
Because it is the only thing I know how to be.


Today’s LittleNip:

Watching a magpie, does she feel this heat? I wish I could ask her. Midday, and not a breath of fresh air around.

—James Lee Jobe


Our thanks to James Lee Jobe for this mornings thoughts about Why? His peach reference made me think of
James and the Giant Peach, the children's book by Roald Dahl, so I looked it up and found that it has a dark history of being banned. Interesting. For more about what makes some people get silly, go to wellybannedbooks.weebly.com/james-and-the-giant-peach.html/.

Would you like some peaches?

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, October 23, 2020

The Crunch of Acorns

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


When peoples’ faces freeze on the screen,
when their voices waver,
words transforming to stringed instrument—
when monitor—zoom!—blanks out,
black cat crossing the keyboard,
when wind picks up outside the window
wildly gesticulating eucalyptus fire-
friend; pepper-tree turning saffron-orange
as autumn, as flame;
when siren streaks the county road
away/fading its alleycat scream from town
wailing time misspent, moaning it’s
already too late—
then turn off the computer.
Walk outside crunching leaf-fall
under blue sky, breathe deeper.
Now walk, exchanging breath with oaks
still standing after all these years. 



I’m transient here this morning,
free of normal obligations for awhile,
basking in fall sunlight along the water—
stumbling into boggy fringes, coves
of black-white dragonflies where
willow bends to its own reflection.
And there, across the pond, formal
as a tall white candle brilliant against
wetland green, the egret.
Another step—stop! At my foot,
a crow. Dead crow iridescent black
in sunlight as if asleep on shingle.
Crow becoming free as a bird of earth. 



My tires crunch acorns
on cemetery road. Oaks
can’t grow on blacktop.
Inscription on a gravestone:
What hopes died with you my son. 



Nothing aimless in your walk down-current,
your dog focused intently on the water.
A weekend’s sudden depravity of weather,
gentle creek churned iron-gray by whirlwind.
Your dog scans for unknown scents rising
from under—two boys who set out in a friend’s
Zodiac under generous blue skies and sleepy clouds,
the treat of Saturday adventure gone so wrong. 


It’s happened
again. Our old dog
is summoned.
All year long,
ads for pet health insurance
for Ranger—a dog

long dead. Now,
October’s bonus:
Make Ranger
the talk of
the town this Halloween!
Pooch costumes! In this

spook-time when
spirits of many
species walk
among us,
shall Ranger dress as Yoda
or superhero?

or lightweight
dragon wings? Rest his
bones but let
his spirit
fly—old Ranger would surely
be talk of the town. 



A spare moment? Let’s just eavesdrop
what the leaves say as breeze turns a corner,
a change in air pressure, collision
and contrast of fronts. Let’s listen
to this community of trees,
their more than humanizing connection
of roots, how they drink deep from the earth
while we go on with our conflicts and
celebrations, our guns and hugs,
our mistakes, our roads to discovery. 


Today’s LittleNip:

—Taylor Graham

were on hold
seventeen minutes
minutes one might call misspent
but you were scribbling verses
on an envelope
art makes time


Another week flies past (“art makes time fly”), and we heartily thank Taylor Graham for today’s beautiful poems and photos! She has a poem about Wakamatsu—speaking of which, she and Katy Brown will do another workshop there on November 8—which isn’t that far off. For more information and to register, see www.arconservancy.org/event/capturing-wakamatsu-a-poetry-walk-workshop/.

A reminder that Davis Poet Laureate James Lee Jobe continues his online poetry reading series tonight, October 23, with poetry from Galway Kinnell's book,
When One Has Lived A Long Time Alone. This free reading will be posted online by 7pm Friday at both james-lee-jobe.blogspot.com/ and youtube.com/jamesleejobe.

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 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.)

Taylor sends us forms today, including a Shadorma (“Revenant”); a Joseph's Star, last week’s Fiddlers’ Challenge (“800-Number”); plus a Tanka and a poem of repetition (“When Is It Time?”). See above for these, and go to Medusa’s Form Finder for links to their definitions.

Also sending us forms this week was Joyce Odam, who sent us a Rondelet based on Medusa’s recent Seed of the Week, “Time Misspent”. Her work with its echoing repeated line reminds me that such lines should have a ring to them, some substance, a sense of meaning beyond mere repetition. "And time is spent" does that for Joyce here:

—Joyce Odam, Sacramento, CA

And time is spent
without reclaim; it trickles by,
and time is spent.
And we bewilder where it went—
how much it cost—but didn’t buy,
time on the run…   time on the fly…
and time is spent.
Time on the fly...

Carol Louise Moon has sent us an Espinella:

—Carol Louise Moon, Placerville, CA

I watched the clever plover bird
circling on the ground.  I saw him
feign a broken wing so grim.
I thought, surely he is injured.
From this his enemies inferred
him weak, a target, easy prey—
until the plover flew away
to chicks who waited in their nest.
He took his leave and joined the rest
who lived to see another day.

If you check back to yesterday’s post by Carol Louise Moon, you’ll see two more forms: a Pantoum (“Red, Red Roses”) and a Freestyle Villanelle (“The Blue Ghost of Disappointment”).


Carl Schwartz (Caschwa) has sent us a Masnavi this week:

—Caschwa, Sacramento, CA

squeeze the old testicle, Hope for Miracle
whip out that hot pistol, take aim from distal
if everything works out, no name is in doubt
reading baby-name books can bring dirty looks
instead we pass down names, like Bob, Tim, or James
from one generation’s key adorations
less so with Jehovah, maybe that’s ovah
it wouldn’t quite fit in a culture of sin
perhaps just name the child something new like Wild 


Here is Carl’s Trolaan:


many emails are solicitations
most desperate, even gruff
making grandiose ovations
money needed, can’t get enough

asking for donations now
a worthy candidate is running low
and their opponent is a cash cow
act quickly to send some dough

sources on the evening news
stated quite a different story
seems our candidate is ready to cruise
substantial funds raised for their glory

one has to wonder what it means
our world lets evil run the show
once it was gold standard, now the greens
overrule the norms we used to know


About her Joseph’s Star, Taylor Graham says, “The rules for Joseph's Star says it may be centered, but let's not.” Carl, on the other hand, chose to center his:


including the dog
and memories of elders
have all reached the conclusion
that nothing matters
unless it


a bright panoply
Earth, heaven, God, and country
forcing their wills upon us
immortal castles
without life


must reach you
before you get hurt
the air itself will kill you
global pandemics don’t care
for creature comforts
I am your


cement path
Hollywood feature
nothing could be more stupid
draws tourists like poop does flies
shutter speed, focus
hold that pose
I am your mask...


Finally, Carl sends a Sandwiched by Sevens, an elegant form of his own concoction:

yeah, I like watching the news
real reporting, not just views
but when brilliant smiles
only let us choose
abundant fanfare
like so much cheap booze
I will tune that out
because I tuned in for facts
not news team charm to the max


Many thanks to our SnakePals today 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!


NEW FEATURE: Fiddlers’ Challenge!  
See what you can make of this week’s poetry forms, and send them to kathykieth@hotmail.com! (No deadline.) This week's challenge is a Lanturne (www.shadowpoetry.com/resources/wip/lanturne.html), which seems appropriate to the season. Make it seasonal; make it pretty.

And don’t forget Medusa’s Seed of the Week: Hot Coffee!

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

•••Espinella: www.writersdigest.com/write-better-poetry/espinela-poetic-forms
•••Joseph’s Star: www.shadowpoetry.com/resources/wip/josephsstar.html
•••Lanturne: www.shadowpoetry.com/resources/wip/lanturne.html
•••Masnavi (or Mathnawi): www.writersdigest.com/write-better-poetry/masnavi-or-mathnawi-poetic-forms
•••Pantoum: www.shadowpoetry.com/resources/wip/pantoum.html
•••Rondelet: www.writersdigest.com/write-better-poetry/rondelet-poetic-forms
•••Sandwiched by Sevens: 7,7,5,5,5,5,5,7,7, rhyme scheme aaxaxaxbb (Carl Schwartz)
•••Shadorma: www.writersdigest.com/editor-blogs/poetic-asides/poets/shadorma-a-highly-addictive-poetic-form-from-spain
•••Tanka: poets.org/glossary/tanka
•••Trolaan: shadowpoetry.com/resources/wip/trolaan.html
•••Villanelle (rhymed; can be done unrhymed): www.writersdigest.com/write-better-poetry/poetic-forms-villanelle


La raza de perro mas rara del mundo
—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.