Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Cobwebs of Time

In the Cue of Time
—Poems and Photos by Joyce Odam, Sacramento, CA


my death sits waiting
with gifts of apples
in his lap
smiling into the direction
from which i will come
and practicing
the word he will say

it is a brimming afternoon
everything lazy and green
and young
and he has eloquent eyes
for me to enter
when i see him waiting there
as if all time
were his to have
beneath that tree

(first pub. in Sou’wester, 1971)

 This Dark Horse


I found this place, then left this place,
to better remember it.

I let myself get lost so I could learn
to trust myself.

This place is where I ‘be’ sometimes,
remembering it again.

It changes every time,
from one memory to another.

It, itself, is without description—that
would destroy my love for it.

Each time must be new for it to be mine,
and no one else’s—though I am not selfish.

Sometimes I see you there again
in each other’s moment—

or timelessness—such a rare word,

 Almost a Butterfly


As the swift day moves, Blue Crow shines in the half-light
of dusk, forgetting what it knows. Its gold eye burns in the
slanted, lowering light. It seems fastened, timeless, painted
there in captive colors, absolved of all instinct—

but the image does not hold, Blue Crow flies off in abrupt,
erratic flight, leaving an after-image of itself. Or did it mere-
ly lift and return in a shift of illusion—something to wonder
about in this deceptive light.


After Blind Time I, 1973 by Robert Morris

Iris—opening to a shatter of light
through a tangle of eyelashes
and disbelief—blinking to be sure

this is what it sees—
this pattern upon whiteness.
Where has everything gone;

what power of anesthesia is it
struggling through—or is it only
something caught in the eye:

cobweb of time,
failure to translate,
distortion of normalcy—

what flares
for a reeling moment—
how real is this?

 The Cutting Moon


On such nights she appears in
her long gray dress and hat, a
weighted purse dangling from
her bent arm that balances the
book she reads. The white fence
follows the known route, lit by
the dim light of the street lamp.
The gate remains closed. The
church spire in the background
hovers above the small church
slowly vanishing into the gray
shadows. The book has reached
the center point. She does not
lift her eyes nor break her step.
She reaches the corner where
she always turns—back to the
house she remembers—the face
still in the window—her own.
For centuries thus has it been.
She worries how she can ever
reach the end of the book with
its message or information she
must memorize before the first
ray of sun strikes the horizon.

 Semihemidemiquaver (Sixty-fourth Note)

Musics over time

still play
and the air holds them
and carries them in its currents,

blending them with echoes
and dark planes of silences—

all the
and restorings

that come again into memories
that feel the recognition—

and interchanged,
musics and the voices
with all the cursings and cryings

and even the brooding thoughts
that join the vast releasings
that are borne into each other

that change the air
that we breathe
and the trees that filter and absorb.


In the certain vanity of oblique time,
sent forth to claim you from your
errant mind on its false journeys—
back and forth from real

to conjured acts of your reality—
how do you count the fraying hours
that are night—

or wasted ones
of days that pull you forward
into repetitious, common grays?

Monotonies. Oh, you are right
to not stay in the pull of moments
that persuade you deeper into

their design—which is to take you
deeper into that abyss
of disappearance.

Picture them as servants of despair
whose only work is that
of guiding you

into the dreaded emptiness you know
is there. They were as you:
timeless, ageless,

immortal to the core.
Now look at them—transparent
and bereaved—with but one mission more.

 Times Blue

for purple candles
and for music
for some lazy time of

for light that falls in a
certain way

where you like to look
there light the candles
play the music

let your thoughts be tranquil
close away
whatever needs closing

in a place of private storage
under purple tassels
and embossed shadow

leave open what you love
life is yours
give it your happiness


Today’s Middle-sized Nip:
—Joyce Odam

        Unfold your own myth.

This is a day for veils,
one for the dance,
and one for the refusal.

The room is empty
but for the dancer.
There is no music.

The veils impede.
The shyness will not relent.
The dancer must learn the dance.

Time is useless. It drags and flattens.
The room spins and the dancer
falls to the floor.

A discordant music begins.


Our gratitude to Joyce Odam for her muse’s musings today about time and its many dimensions (“It drags and flattens”) as we move through this spare time (also our Seed of the Week) that has been handed to us by the coronavirus. Our new Seed of the Week is "Essentials". 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.

Tomorrow is April 1—not only April Fool’s Day—  🤪    —but also the first day of National Poetry Month, sponsored by the Academy of American Poets. While you wait for it, here’s a site to look at to get you into the spirit: poets.org/national-poetry-month/.


 —Public Domain Photo
“Life is yours… give it your happiness…”
—Joyce Odam


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, March 30, 2020

Embarrassment of Riches!

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

—Charles Mariano, Sacramento, CA


knew he was old
like me,
because the envelope
from a mailbox,
postage stamped,

* * *


don’t know
what i’m doing,
and i keep
writing about it

* * *


got more
scattered, scribbled
than any writer
could ever dream

too bad
any good

* * *


got news for you,
you ain’t all that,
and you definitely,
ain’t all this 

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

—Charles Mariano


my life
is an endless rant
of fragmented,
stupid sentences

* * *


didn’t get a chance
to say goodbye
to my father

no hint of illness
no bedside vigil,
no hand-holding,
last embrace

just a late night call
out of the blue,
that killed me

* * *


it’s not so much
the years,
ragged as they were

it’s the telltale rings
around my ankles

* * *


stops me in my tracks,
kicks me in the teeth,
dares me to write it

* * *


not sure why,
but think
i’ve been living
the last two decades
in sepia tone

* * *


my next bio
(if requested)
will be,

“lives in a box,
rarely comes out”

* * *


truth is
i’m incomplete, unfinished,
running out of road,
and my feet hurt

* * *


didn‘t know
i had to go,
until i went

—Public Domain Artwork Courtesy of Sue Crisp

—Sue Crisp, Shingle Springs, CA

Retirement was nearly
a time of despair.
My mind in a whirl...
what to do with all of this time to spare?
A hobby, yes, a hobby,
that’s what I need.
Perhaps start a garden,
watch plants grow from seed.
Ah, take up quilting,
start gathering scraps of cloth.
When it comes to figuring patterns,
I’m a slow as a sloth.
No, no, no, it’s cooking
that gets my creative juices going.
In no time my freezer
will be overflowing.
Just thinking of all the possibilities,
will I truly have any spare time?
I’m starting to realize enjoying
spare time isn’t a crime.

 —Public Domain Artwork Courtesy of Sue Crisp

—Sue Crisp

I guess you can call
down time, spare time.
One would think
it would be time sublime.
There are so many things to
do, other than going to the store,
the house cleaning, laundry,
ironing, and so much more.
But, I think I’ll use this time
to write a poem, maybe two.
I think that’s the perfect use
of my spare time, don’t you?

 —Public Domain Photo Courtesy of Sue Crisp

—Joseph Nolan

It’s good enough,
We don’t need each other.
It’s good enough,
We don’t call.

It’s good enough,
We don’t visit-
If we hardly
Ever call.

It’s good enough,
It’s good enough,
If we don’t touch
At all!

It’s good enough,
As though we lived
So far away
We could never,
In any way,
Breach the fall
Between us!

Would there be
Any “us”
At all?

 —Public Domain Photo Courtesy of Joseph Nolan

—Joseph Nolan

There are so
Many subtle flavors
In a well-made soup:
Each separate, small vegetable,
Each proper pinch of spice.

Isn’t it so nice?

Like when we’re walking downtown
Browsing through the streets,
Looking into windows,
Sometimes, friends we meet,
The smells from the restaurants,
Bakeries and tapas bars,
The margarita-din
On the verandas,
On a sultry, summer evening,
While the Delta breeze blows in.

Oh! To live
In Midtown
In the summer!

 —Public Domain Photo Courtesy of Joseph Nolan

—Joseph Nolan

Oh my God!
Don’t tell me
There’s a butcher
In my kitchen,
With a butcher knife
Cutting through
Some skins!

I’ve been
A vegan
Half my life

And could not
Bear to wear
A grin,

When I see
What he’s been
Up to,
In my

 —Public Domain Photo Courtesy of Joseph Nolan

—Joseph Nolan

Don’t go out.
Don’t shout.
Keep quiet.
Stay home.
Don’t roam.
If you can’t buy it now,
Come back later.

We don’t always have it,
Not like before.
Wait outside
For your turn
To enter through our door.

Keep in line!
We have workers
Working overtime.
Be nice!
Think twice!
Before you start
Acting out.

It may get worse.
We may run out.
Whatcha gonna do then?

Call your politician.
See if he can help you.
His phone is off the line.
He say, “I’ll get back to you,
When I have the time.
Have a nice day,
In the meantime!”

  —Public Domain Photo Courtesy of Joseph Nolan

—Joseph Nolan

Absolute indenture
Captured my adventure

I offer
To buy
Another round
For everyone
In the bar,
As if
They needed it.

Looking through
A gizmo’s slit
To see
A moving picture,

Depicting two,
In thralls of love,
As though
It came down,
From above.

The brain,
It’s said,
Is made of bread
And sees everything
Despite the fact
That eyes see

It’s a concept
Called “compensation.”

 —Public Domain Photo Courtesy of Joseph Nolan

—Joseph Nolan

The Prince of Peace
Will come awash in blood,
His own blood,
The Alka-Seltzer of
A thousand, remnant hangovers
Of sailors in port
Trying to drink hard enough
To forget the exact time
They are due back on ship—
Just drunk enough,
But not so drunk
They can’t navigate the
Gang-plank unassisted,
Lest they be brought to mast
And questioned by an officer
At to exactly what their problem is?

Splitting headaches
And growling bowels
Will be their penance,
By which they will be
Once again instructed
On the virtues of moderation
While in port
And to not resort
To impaling oneself, repeatedly,
On a pike of desperate drunkenness,
Simply to overshadow
The ordinary pain of dull existence
That haunts each sailor at sea. 

 Onions, Taters
—Photo by Caschwa, Sacramento, CA


it may neither be visible

nor measurable with
conventional tools

or conform to our
long-standing rules

but there it is as an

rip off the top and
see the image burnt

as our ship of state
puts new hands at the helm

who committed great mutiny
like some Hollywood film

take away the sex scenes
with their close-ups of nipples

a pattern of thoughts
appears, first just as ripples

that the former First Mate
when the ship was on course

would now be the best choice
to command our great force

 Edible Flowers
—Photo by Caschwa

all along their routes, letter
carriers can take note of
conspicuous couples who
don’t receive any mail

homeless, beamingly proud
new parents, drifting souls
kicked out of somewhere else
and left with no options

pioneer spirits who could have
successfully roughed it in yesteryear
and are now no match for Wall Street,
property attorneys, and contracts

while there are all kinds of OTC pain
relievers for those tortured with toothaches,
for those seeking asylum, all remedies
don the elusive veil of the Holy Grail

behold half a couple, sobbing
with forbidden memories of
the other half murdered, deported,
or imprisoned in urban growth

now the same state who removed
entire houses to clear the land for
a new super highway, is offended
to find souls living under the freeway

 Spring Plums
—Photo by Caschwa


presidential candidates
     have reached out
        to their advocates

opinions explode
     piercing the heart
        tearing families apart

some rail against socialism
     because it favors the group
        instead of personal freedoms

while others insist
     it is our patriotic duty
        for all to carry a gun

the Three Musketeers
     one for all
        all for one

everyone will agree with this
     or that
        or not

 Spring Berries
—Photo by Caschwa


more than a couple crickets
     join together
       in chorus

train cars are coupled
     or uncoupled
       quite loudly

constellations brightly violate
     all the privacy rules
       and cluster in orgies

that item you lost
     is now even
       more lost

neighbors arrive home
     tired and spent
       ready for sleep

the programming on TV
     has devolved to
       fanfares and commercials

 Spring Apricots
—Photo by Caschwa


some of us remember how
wonderful asbestos was,
until it wasn’t

and not that long ago, saturation
advertising bombarded us with
the benefits of carpools
High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) lanes
pile in, save the air

and now that same government
of, by, and for the people
is mandating            distancing,
by all means, avoid those
dreaded high occupancy vehicles

the United States of America (USA)
has become the land of We’re Just
Distant Cousins, And Let’s Keep It
That Way, Thank You (WJDCALKITWTY)
national motto:  “Don’t breathe on me, bro”

 —Photo by Caschwa

Three poems from Dugout Anthology by
Michael Ceraolo, sort of "a
Spoon River 
Anthology for baseball":

—Michael Ceraolo, S. Euclid, OH

In the winter of 1861-62
I announced that the grounds of the Union Skating Association
would be enclosed and made available
for other uses once winter was over,
one of which was the playing of baseball
To show my genius, I thought that baseball
would provide only a very small fraction
of the revenue I expected to take in,
so I initially planned to charge the teams rent
But after seeing the crowd that showed up
to watch the first game, paying no admission fee,
I decided to charge an admission fee
and collect a portion of the gate receipts instead
When other clubs saw my success,
they quickly followed suit with their own playing grounds
Almost a decade later I offered,
for a quarter more a game, the first luxury seating,
something that was a little slower to catch on,
though I understand that in the twenty-first century
such seating is a big money-maker

* * *

—Michael Ceraolo

Like most inventors with their inventions,
I don't flatter myself that no one else
would ever have come up with it if I hadn't
But I did come up with
the first electronic scoreboard and,
though there have been many refinements to it since,
credit (or blame, depending on your taste)
should start with me

* * *

—Michael Ceraolo

We worked the land like our ancestors in the old country,
but we did so in cities and not on farms:
we were groundskeepers at baseball parks
And we pioneered, without apology
and with the assistance of club officials,
the practice of tailoring the playing grounds
to maximize the team's strength and minimize its weaknesses
And our spiritual descendants still do so today

 —Public Domain Artwork Courtesy of Sue Crisp

—Sue Crisp
Spare time?  Housebound
isn’t really ideal.
It takes a little time
to get the overall feel,
that you have time to slow from
run to walk and let body and soul heal.
No hustle and bustle
to get things done,
take time to let yourself
count as number one.
When this spare time
thing is over, you’ll feel a pang of regret,
realizing you weren’t ready
for spare time to be over yet.


Today’s LongerNip:

—Joseph Nolan

I used to go out trollin’
For whatever I might find—
A girl who’s quick and willin’,

I never used to mind
Most of the small details,

But now I find
My urge, well, it fails,
Since I’m afraid to get laid.

They say there’s nasty germs
All around the town,
You have to keep your distance,
Or else you may go down
Which never
Me before,

But since this is a plague
I’m not horny, anymore—
Instead, I’m afraid to get laid. 

 —Public Domain Photo Courtesy of Joseph Nolan


Medusa and a computer are a dangerous combination—especially when she’s locked in a tower—so today we have what is possibly the longest post ever! My thanks to all these wonderful contributors; our SnakePals are bizzy bizzy producing some glorious writing during our viral “vacation”.

But hey—we’re in cyberspace, so we have unlimited room! Lots to look at, lots to read! Send your poems, photos & artwork about pretty much any subject to kathykieth@hotmail.com. The snakes of Medusa have voracious appetites!

Another cancellation: Bay Area Ina Coolbrith Circle’s 2020 Poets’ Dinner (April 4) has been (hopefully) postponed to July 11. For more about the Ina Coolbrith Circle, go to  www.coolpoetry.org/. 

Speaking of the Bay Area, the 27th Annual Dancing Poetry presentations by The Poetry Dance Theater Company will be held at the California Palace of the Legion of Honor in San Francisco on September 26. For more info, see www.dancingpoetry.com/. Deadline for submitting poetry was Jan. 31, but usually we have winners in our area who will read their winning poems, and some of whose poems will be choreographed by the dance company.

Speaking of submitting, this is a good time to hunker down with them lazy little poem-ponies of yours and see if you can get some of them published. This blog has a few thoughts about that; go to PUBLISHING: Get Your Work Out There! at the top of this column. There are also some suggestions in the long green box at the right of this column, under “Submit I Say—Submit!”

If I were going to do any submitting right now, I’d go to the ‘Net and type in “poetry journals”, see what pops up, and see if I can find any whose style seems to match mine. And remember—submitting is a numbers game; the more you submit, the more you're accepted. So don’t be shy, and don’t be put off by rejection!


—Medusa, hoping to see your work here, there, and everywhere…

 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.

Sunday, March 29, 2020

Lunatic's Dream

—Poems and Artwork by Kevin Eberhardt, Amherst, OH


They're awaiting the Apocalypse
In New Jersey the best seats are
Just inside the Walmart to see all
The action in response to 'turn the
Other cheek' from six feet away
The fight began in aisle C where
The toilet paper awaited tranquility
Then the word came down from
Heaven / maybe / there might be a
Shortage we'll have to behave in
An orderly fashion not knee jerk
Reaction so roll with the punches
'Til the roll is empty now it's time
For those People Magazines to
Pay off don't matter whose face is
On the cover just treat it like any
Other in the throws of emergency
No one's gonna see or cancel your
Subscription here comes another
Prediction it's not safe to sit by
The magazine rack / anymore


A lunatic's dream melts thru
A mirror drips regret into a
Child's swimming pool he'd
Bought at some thrift store
Soaking his feet in the guilt
Of absence while sipping an
Oblivious beer the genie in
The bottle mixes a miracle
Cure that never seems to
Work just kills some time
'Til the season changes &
He puts the pool in the
Back of the garage


Chasing the sun
From puddle to
Puddle chasing
The clouds some
Too / deer watch
Me watch them

(silence translates)

The air is sterile
& hints of snow
The ground is
Hard & grim
Time is slow
As ice melt
Keeping vigil
For the wither
Of shadows


Rumination in an
Window fading in
& out a spitting
Image drying in
The reversal of
Evening sun
Another day done
Nothing much to
Show a lapsed
Plastered against
The fading yellow


Death captured
My attention
In the grass
In the night
Cold eyed stare
At nothing
Forming an
Denied final
Just a rabbit
Out of run
Evidence gone
In the morning
Eaten away like
A love sick
Heart becoming
The invisible
Man & that's
The best that
I can / right


Today’s LittleNip:

—Kevin Eberhardt

The night leaves me solemn
Navigating the stairs like a

Golem in search of a room
Where it may sleep inside 

My head & inhabit my
Dreams of life


Our welcome and many thanks to Ohio’s Kevin Eberhardt, poet and artist; friend of SnakePal Steven B. Smith; poster of poems on, among other sites, www.agentofchaos.com/ke/index.html/; illustrator of various book covers and inside stuff; and author of several books and chapbooks (including two by John Burroughs). For more of Kevin’s colorful artwork, see his Facebook page (“Kevin Eberhardt”). Our thanks for stopping by the Kitchen today, Kevin, and don’t be a stranger!


 Kevin Eberhardt

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.

Saturday, March 28, 2020

The Balm of Silence

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

The hour just before the sunrise is my favorite time of the day. I love those last moments with the stars and the gradual increase of the light in the sky.

My small world is still quiet then, and the vulture people, the cruel ones, have not yet had time to crush hope from the landscape of living.

There is a stillness to life, and if I could, I would paint this stillness navy blue, and carry it to the world of human hearts, the way a parent carries a small child. 

Hope, sunrise, a new day, a new beginning, our needs, our hearts.

A crane made of folded paper comes to life. Then another. And another. One thousand in all. Alive, these cranes wade out from the cold marsh. One thousand paper cranes take flight as one. This life is magic, and we are the magicians. 


Art can honor your grief, or perhaps resemble it, but your grief remains what it is. Pondering this as the sun sets into the western hills and the remaining ashes of my son rest nearby. Oh, his embrace! 

  James Lee Jobe

The powers of a poet
Are immense.
Friend, I can fit the entire earth
Into the body of a poem.
Every rock, every grain
Of sand, every drop of water
In the entire world.
I capture them all,
And I deliver them to you,
Dear reader.

Tired, tired, tired.
How I would love to slip into the creek
Tonight, very late. Halfway between
Midnight and dawn. Quiet
As a falling leaf. To pull the cold water
Up over me, like a blanket,
To finally close my eyes
And rest.


Grief. Like swimming across an ocean.
Grief. Like measuring every tree in a vast forest.
Nothing lasts forever, friend.
Even the mountain will wear down with time.
Even the star eventually explodes.
But this grief I carry? It's so huge, so powerful,
And I have carried it far. Oh son, how fine it was
When we used to hike the Yuba River trails.
Now I am alone. I am so very small.

These writings are like a dog’s dirty footprint in the middle of the kitchen floor, or like a traffic signal that has gone dark; someone is always right there to complain. If you can get beyond complaint and praise, there is a river. Did you know that? It is always summer there under the shade trees, and the trout are biting.

The days fall away like songs in a show. There is no shadow on me any longer. In onions one finds layers, and in the book of Job one can find a faith that doesn't falter. Just as long as there is breath left in the body, there is time to take on something new: learn a new language, stamp collecting, lark hunting. It doesn't matter what. It is putting some effort into our own humanity that matters.

Put your sadness to bed the same way you would tuck in a small child. Say a prayer and turn off the light in that room. Morning will bring a better day; tell your sadness that. Tomorrow you can bring your sadness out for a long walk. Move briskly like Johnny Appleseed spreading seed across Ohio. For you truly are spreading seed, you know. We all are. These days and nights are not being lived in your dreams. Life is in the moment, not in the future. The better times can begin anytime you begin them. You, yourself.

Today’s LittleNip:

When you died, even the Sacramento River became still. With empty eyes I watch, waiting for the river to flow once again. Silence is my only balm.

—James Lee Jobe


—Medusa, with thanks for James Lee Jobe’s poetry and photos today, and a reminder that he will be reading on Facebook this coming Thursday, 8pm. Scroll down to the blue column (under the green column at the right) for info about these and other upcoming poetry events in our area—and note that more may be added at the last minute.

 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.

Friday, March 27, 2020

In the Days of the Scare

Wakamatsu Lake, Placerville, CA
—Poems and Photos by Taylor Graham, Placerville, CA


Shelter in Place!
But a new spring sun’s out, shining.
Shelter in Place?
A room is such a crowded space,
our breath and fears commingling.
Outside, the birds build nests, singing
shelter in place.


In those days of the scare, when anyone
with cough or runny nose was suspect
of contagion, an old man went invisible
in oak woods shelter, devising
music of a hollow limb, knot-holes
and wooden pegs—
or so go the remembrances,
how a breeze would listen to his ersatz
tune, and the blazing fever-sun
unstuffed its knapsack of glowing
embers as it slipped away down the sky.

AMERICAN MIGRANT               

On the move, this hot mid-morning, a man
on road-shoulder, head-down against sun-glare
and two-way traffic speeding faster than
the plunge of life. Was there a shelter where
he started? All he’s got: backpack, and tan
as sunburn fields with no water to spare.
Like the others I’ve seen, face set as stone
and capsuled in the air he breathes, alone.


Queen of camo
goes quiet, quite
concealed in all

sorts of weather—
in windstorm and
swelter of sun.

Has she shelter?
a homey hut,
hovel or hedge?

Briefest vision
in visqueen, to
vanish, to vex.

Queen of camo
questioning our
quaint, quick queries.


Glimpse of coyote by fox-den shelter rocks, in focus then disappearing, gone among deadfall up the creek. Coyote sable as my shepherd-dog blending sun and shadow. We have no sheep now. Let coyote be apparition vanishing to creek, where once coyote brought a lamb to ground this very time of year, of almost spring.

Canny coyote
the shape-shifter locks my eyes,
goes invisible.


Cat capsized in his
platform rocker by rowdy
dog—an avalanche
of cushions, pillow and throws—
new cat-shelter discovered.

Today’s LittleNip:

—Taylor Graham

We’ve lost our signal,
wi-fi’s dead—quiet! walk out,
free air—breathe deeply.


Thank you to Taylor Graham today for talking so smoothly about our Seed of the Week: Shelter. This is what Taylor says about her post: “Here are various kinds of shelter poems. ‘American Migrant’ is an Ottava Rima (not Ottawa Lima as my spell-check insists); ‘Beyond the Outlet’ is a Novem; ‘Ask the Birds’ is a Rondelet, plus Tanka, Haibun, Haiku.” For more about the Novem, see www.writersdigest.com/editor-blogs/poetic-asides/novem-poetic-forms/.



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.

In the letter Taylor Graham sent me with her poems this week, she wrote the message below as a single paragraph—which I decided was actually a prose poem. Being stuck in my tower here, I started fiddling with it and ended up with the following line-breaks and a title. Two-person (and more) poems are another way you can feed your muse as you while away spare time. (If you don’t like what I did to Taylor’s poem, just write it out as a paragraph and take away the title.)

—Taylor Graham
(with fiddling by Kathy Kieth)

Wireless home phone's dead,
Hatch's ATV quit,
my weed-eater died.
morning came again, on
schedule; I left my
and bought a new weed-eater.

This time of year, it’s
an essential.


There is a Japanese two-person form called a Renga (see www.writersdigest.com/editor-blogs/poetic-asides/renga-poetic-forms/). In brief:    

•••One poet writes the first three lines in 5-7-5 syllables.
•••Second poet writes the next two lines in 7-7 syllables in a way that communicates with the first three lines.

•••Note on Renga Chain: To make a chain, the two (or more) poets will go through the same process above by linking five-line stanzas. While each stanza should stand on its own, they should be linked by some common factor, such as shared images, subject, words, etc.

Here’s my beginning to a Renga Chain. Anyone want to add to it? (Send your two-line [7-7] response to kathykieth@hotmail.com/.) C’mon; don’t leave my dandy Renga dangling…


My poor chihuahua—
Too hard to Shelter in Place!
So much fun elsewhere…


Carol Louise Moon has sent us a poem today about the pandemic in a far different style. About it, she says: “Here is a Gertrude Stein-style poem about our friends in Italy. Also similar are Skeltonic poems and rap—lots of alliteration, with the poem of narrow lines tumbling down the page. It's better to use repetition rather than line-end rhymes when composing a poem of a sense of urgency.” (For more about Gertrude Stein’s poetry style, go to www.poetryfoundation.org/poets/gertrude-stein/.)

—Carol Louise Moon, Placerville, CA
A cough, a cough, a cough
a sneeze, a wheeze, a thrust
virus through the throat,
an air slip.          A sip of tea.

A mask in place—a race,
a race with time and chime
a wince of face, a sip of wine,
a ticking clock, a doc, a doc—

Oh please, a doc, a nurse,
your purse, your pills, your
nurse, your wills in times of ills.

Again the cough, the failing
mask, the trace of truce,
the lunge of lung and plunge,
the plug, the eyes, the eyes.

And now the “Ayes” have it—
positively positive. So bad, so
bad, so back to bed—the dread,
the dread. We heard the word,

through mouth and truth,
the lung, the spit, the pit,
the town goes down.

A base concern,
and now the urn
and so it goes,
so round and round.


Thanks, Carol Louise! Good work capturing the mood of the times.

Carl Schwartz (Caschwa) has also fiddled with some forms this week. Here is a Triolet, a form which translates as “repeat a buncha lines”:


IT IS TIME (Triolet)
—Caschwa, Sacramento, CA

bring out the golden parachute
and shelter funds far offshore
pause the labor and enjoy the fruit
bring out the golden parachute
give the poor a one finger salute
double, triple, lock the door
bring out the golden parachute
and shelter funds far offshore

• • •

About the next poem, Carl says, ”Here is a Rispetto that is sometimes iambic, sometimes trochaic, pentameter. That conflict is part of the message”:


oh what you can buy for only pennies a day
if only those pennies had not already been spent
on inflated prices for everything including the hay
which makes it real hard to afford even one lonely cent

the whims and fancies of the top one percent spenders
allow them to paint an image that God Himself renders
but when workers unite and are too big to fight and spoil
we know the witch’s brew has come to a boil


Bonus LittleNip:


this is a Happy Day
to Hunker Down
with a Hot Dish
on your Heavenly Divan
and take a Hard Dekko
at Heated Debates,
Hackneyed Drama,
Harmonica Duets,
and Horse Droppings
in High Definition


Fine fiddling today by all our contributors, having fun with words and the sounds they brings us! Keep on sending poems to the Kitchen; the snakes of Medusa are, well, you know…




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