Thursday, April 30, 2020

What Can't Be Known

—Poems by Sue Daly, Sacramento, CA
—Public Domain Photos


The sun sweeps across the lawn
where I sit and sip my morning tea.
The light dances and retreats—
forms intricate shapes and shadows
like pieces of the half-finished
jigsaw puzzle on my kitchen table.

Never shy, that clever sun plants
kisses on the trees and bushes
circling the edges of my backyard.
My neighbor practices her cello—
gifts me with a private concert.

Sounds and sights of the morning—
all lovely and loving, a prayer
for the new day ahead.


Now the irises are in full bloom
and I have you to thank for it.
You tenderly planted seeds last fall,
left them to scatter in the wind—
to grow under the wayward sun.

I recall those luminous days,
your winsome smile and laughter.
You gave me the saddest year—
now the irises are in full bloom
and I have you to thank for it.

 Pineberries (White Strawberries)


I wear another mask under my N95,
one I may never take off. Hot-seared
against my cheeks and forehead—
molded by trauma and tears.

I ask myself who could be underneath,
hoping to be seen and heard. The picture
is cloudy, opaque. I barely remember her—
she waits patiently for her turn to talk.

WHAT CAN’T BE KNOWN               
              A Midsummer Night’s Dream
                         —William Shakespeare

I read the Pentagon is looking
for a hundred-thousand body bags.
A Colonel thought his unit could convert
an ice rink into a makeshift morgue.

Apparently, a General asked him
“Exactly how many body bags
will fit into a standard size ice rink?
We need to know, for future planning.”

The tired angels breathed a
collective sigh of despair—
“What fools these mortals be,
pointing the long finger of blame—
continuing their pointless games.
They seek to learn what can’t be known,
try to slow what can’t be stopped.”


We take a modest walk around our favorite park.
Neighbors, no longer strangers, are out running,
walking the dog or chasing after a toddler.
These days, ordinary occurrences become heart-treasures,
reminding us of yesterdays we took for granted.

We are careful not to enter another’s space,
careful not to spread what we don’t know we have.
Someone comes too close; a slight flutter moves in my chest.
The slogan of the day comes to mind—
“Better six feet apart than six feet under.”

A woman plants flower bulbs in her front yard
with her homemade mask fixed in place.
She mentions she’s not in the vulnerable group as I walk by.
Aren’t we all members of the Vulnerable Club now?

Home again, we put on old albums and sing along.
We might water the lawn or write a note to a friend—
we end up watching the news anyway,
watch the numbers and the bodies pile up.

When I worry needlessly, my son says,
“These are only First World problems, Mom.”
Mine are trivial compared to the Third World’s.
Now we have our own brand of famine and disease—
does that make us the Second World, the Fourth?

Schools, incomes and politicians are collapsing
like an old-fashioned accordion pulled in and out
to play a familiar song. We keep our chins up—
wash our hands and follow the guidelines closely.
I don’t hear much music in the air these days, do you?


I watch the clouds paint the day gray,
competing with a few rays of sun.

Sidewalk roses beg for affection—
deep reds, pale pinks and peaches.

I breathe in the heady cologne.
Breaking off a hesitant pink,

I press the fleshy petals to my face—
crushed velvet explodes on my cheek.

A moment resplendent—
pregnant, with joy.


Today’s LittleNip:

—Sue Daly

There is nothing to see here.
Nothing more can be done.

She is so weary of sorrow, even
the clouds offer to hold her tears.

The sky shudders,
rolls up and goes home.

She sleeps, but does not dream.


Our thanks to Sue Daly for her fine poems today! Sue’s poems have been published in several Literary Journals and Anthologies. Her poetry chapbook,
A Voice at Last, was published by DADs Desk Publishing in 2017. She writes Plug into Poetry, a monthly newsletter highlighting Sacramento Poetry Readings. She leads a Women’s Writing Group at Wellspring Women’s Center, and Sue and Joyce Odam facilitate a Poetry Workshop at the Hart Senior Center in Sacramento. Sue has an interest in empowering women to write their truth and share that truth with others.

For upcoming poetry readings and workshops available online while we stay at home, scroll down to the blue column (under the green column at the right) for info—and note that more may be added at the last minute.



 —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.

Wednesday, April 29, 2020

Yvor, Anyone?

 —Poems by Tom Goff, Carmichael, CA
—Public Domain Photos


(Christened after several 6-syllable Imagist poems composed by Yvor Winters, later a Stanford professor and mentor to Thom Gunn, Robert Pinsky, and J.V. Cunningham, among others. See Yvor Winters, Selected Poems, edited by Gunn, in The American Poets Project, Library of America.)


Minds, unfed. Feed them—heal.

Vicksburg, 1863

Live-in caves, gouged from bluffs.


Time to work. Work for whom?


Cloud-spread. Door? No hinges.


Book fingers, juice-tainted.


Loud cat calm, with me here.

On the Same

With loud cat, here, me, calm.


“Shakespeare” endured such: Stephanie Hopkins Hughes
Tells us. We’re not the first to be confined
Strictly to home. What lenses, near, far views,
Will help sky-chart the good that has consigned
Us ever more close in our own company?
Is it for us, though our in-house life’s less brave,
More cautious, to think our love more fresh, more free?
How wrongly might I have dreaded intimacies
Forced more intimate, now that in real fact
You lend these domestic submarine quarters ease
And grace. Oh let me reciprocate your tact.
Yet if my embrace is danger, or a swift kiss,
Is what’s passed caught? From these lips take now this. 

(upon reading New Selected Poems by Thom Gunn)

Coolly the cool blonde leads
James Stewart outward.
Outward and outward
for whole city blocks.
Ring around Presidio,
on to Fort Point.
Outward, yet, as we’ll see,
inward, on-spiraling
dizzily. Tailing
liberties that lift one
yet end up quick free-fall,
as when love chases
end sexual.
Perchance mere blocks away,
Thom Gunn and Mike Kitay
discover each other,
sharing close quarters,
Gunn the more inward,
Kitay all outreach,
while Hitchcock and Novak
film Mission Dolores,
VistaVision camera soaked
in broad-day sunlight,
light misted on purpose,
masking blonde motives.
Seductive the tug,
from Kitay to Gunn,
whorling inward and inward,
delighting this poet-loner
insular, insular;
friendly no less.
Blocks away, camera lifts
view to blue-perfect sky:
Top of the Mark.
Indoors, tacit Novak
will soon come gray-suited,
hair-coiled again,
Stewart seduced
to Bernard Herrmann’s
most dizzying raptures.
Too sudden for dialogue,
her necklace leaps out at him,
turns on his detective side.
Scotty in hot pursuit
of this cool blonde woman
right there beside himself.
So too, for all Kitay’s
adoring and welcoming,
inwardly, Gunn throbs with
out-pulsating spirals,
out in the whirl again,
worldly pursuits.
Inward both coils tighten,
outward both spirals come
loosening, aspiring,
unleashing, acquiring.  

Today’s LittleNip:

The land is numb.
It stands beneath the feet, and one may come
Walking securely, till the sea extends
Its limber margin, and precision ends.

—Yvor Winters


—Medusa, with thanks to Tom Goff today for his fine poetry and his introduction to Yvor and his Yvors!

 Yvor Winters (1900-1968)
"The Sage of Palo Alto"
For more about Yvor Winters, go to 

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.


Tuesday, April 28, 2020

Knower of the Dark

—Poems and Photos by Joyce Odam, Sacramento, CA


Black fire, somewhere in the dark,
your arm around my waist, supporting me,

offering the old betrayal, the lie
that I endure, allow your presence,

leading,    guiding,    tenderly,
as a lover would—Ah, you are holy—

Knower of the dark—soothing
as I cling to you, for I am wooed—

your arm around my waist—
your head bent down

to mine, your voice consoling,
urging. The dark opens, takes me in,

your arm at my waist,
your mouth at my ear, whispering.  


After Gentlemen of Leisure by Pattiann Rogers

After they have left, Felicia wonders
which one of the Gentlemen of Leisure
loves her truly for her coy ways—

her delicate pretensions,
how they abide by whatever game
she is playing and taking up that game;

their eyes follow her to the mirror
where she goes to preen for a moment
before turning back to them with

a little laugh before suggesting another
flirtation they can cleverly enter—using
their wits against one another like subtle

weapons, how—when tiring of it all—
she can send them off at the prompt hour
and ponder this again in her pretty mirror.


After Sunrise Song by Carol Hoy

We are two apart. Our night is ended.
Your eyes hold sunrise like a rival.

You, who murmured love, are silent now.
You lie on the floor and brood.

I hold you down with my foot.
You make no effort against me.

I curl myself into a pose of tender resistance.
Why do you want to leave me?

You cannot fly through me. The cage
is an open window. I have hidden your wings.

How can I release you?
You die, and I watch you, hold you

with the sadness of my eyes,
waiting for your surrender.

 To Touch


How round she is in day’s soft window light,
bending her arms above her head—her 
hands in her hair—her face a mask
of pleasure—her whole self
anointed by a tenderness
of shadow.

How round she is—her soft fat, pleasing to the
room’s dim eye—her belly—her thighs,
the width of her hips—her eyes soft,
looking toward the

How round, how round, her round self, posing
for some camera—adoring her roundness,
the soft touch of her hair through her
hands, the curving way she sits
on the floor by the window.

How round the hour that embraces her like this,
a rounding hour that will move slowly—
slowly like a look of pleasure—
For this she wills herself
to be beautiful, never
never shy.       



The young lover of life
is more than I can suffer.
He is so passionate of all the loves
his heart can conjure.
Poet of all the tender things
there are to harm.
Gentle as gentleness
would have him be.

How can I tell him, Listen,
there is
the cruelty
and the losing
and the never becoming what you need to be;
there is the failure
and the hate to be a part of;
there is the settling for something less . . . !
when he looks at me with tangible love
and says, Yes, I know . . .
but not awhile yet . . . .

Oh young imbecile,
whom I love as a sort of miracle
and dare not yet believe—
write yourself that way then.
I hope life believes you     

(first pub. in Naked Review, 1970)


WAIT WITH ME (… and we cannot…)

A donkey becomes holy in my mind.
I do not hold to one place
or one thought.
I scatter and wonder
into everything.
How will I
and need.
I am humble.
Words tighten
and I cannot speak.
I am slow, I am sore,
I am a-flounder in my
heart and mind which
combine, and I wait… for
a forgiveness… for a sign…

 The Moments


Each tender moment
     comes in vain to violence
          anointed by pain...

Each tender moment
     professes forgiveness
          and is hurt again...

Each tender moment
     wishes for another
          with soft voice and hands...

Each tender moment
     flaunts no tear or sadness—
          it understands...

Each tender moment
     knows nothing of the clock,
          that old tick-tock, tick-tock...

Each tender moment
     offers in kind sacrifice
          all it knows of love...

Each tender moment
     each tender moment
          each tender moment.
Today’s LittleNip:

—Joyce Odam

To ask about our lives
come through the door.
Sit on the chair.
Invent a topic we can use.
Ask if we care or do not care.
We do.
Ask us about our love.
We love.
Inquire about
the worst, the best,
our hearts can bear.
Avert your tender eyes.
The way we answer
is a snare,
the snare we make and live in
year to year.

(first pub. in
Muse of Fire, 1997)


Today Joyce Odam is talking about our Seed of the Week: Tenderness, in many of its guises. Thank you, Joyce, for the passion of your red flower photos and for the shadows and sunshine of your poetry today!
Our new Seed of the Week is Isolation. Send your poems, photos & artwork about this (or any other) subject to 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 upcoming poetry readings and workshops available online while we stay at home, scroll down to the blue column (under the green column at the right) for info—and note that more may be added at the last minute.



 “Poet of all the tender things…”
—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, April 27, 2020

Wenches & Wrenches & Nuts That Don't Fit

—Public Domain Photo Courtesy of Joseph Nolan

—Joseph Nolan, Stockton, CA

Another poor, unfortunate person
Will be put into “the pen”
To practice poetry
Pending her release.

Until then,
Please provide paper,
Upon which,
She will,
Her visions, render.

When a wrench
Fits a nut
It is Truth!
God bless the perfection of math!
The wrench and nut will
Be soul-mates forever!
You get an ecstatic jolt
When a wrench
Is a perfect fit
For a bolt!

The poor, unfortunate wench
Inside her prison cell
Will have lots of time for writing.
I hope it will
Serve us all well.
We hope her cell
Will be a good fit!
We shall surely hear much of it.

 —Public Domain Photo Courtesy of Joseph Nolan

—Joseph Nolan
Alone in Solitary,
He sat and sat
Until he grew fat,
Then his chemicals changed.

Because of different chemicals
His mind became deranged.

He never had done much talking
But now he was silent-strange,
As he stared off
Into the distance,

Like a monument in stone,
Completely alone. 

 —Public Domain Photo Courtesy of Joseph Nolan

—Joseph Nolan

It feels good
When people puff you up,
Blow smoke up your ass
Give you lots of strokes,
Even though your know
You’re being buttered-up
For slaughter.

Con-men know this,
Know it well,
And have lots of instruments
For blowing smoke.

Flattery is so seductive!
We so need someone to
Appreciate us
In this desert of indifference
We call ordinary life.

What of it, if you have to
Put out a little ass
To get a con-man’s strokes?

To what other good use
Were you
Putting your ass, anyway?

You just hope
Not too large a slice
Will be removed
When the con-man
Claims his share. 

 —Public Domain Photo Courtesy of Joseph Nolan

—Joseph Nolan

Just scream
When ants
Crawl under your door.

I told you this before,
The ways of wizards
Are hard to know
And harder, still, to tell!

The ways of secret
Are impossible to tell
And woe befall
The vain ones,
Who offer empty shells!

You have to find conjunction
With a wizard and his ways
To let the secret knowledge
Of the Druids
Drift your way,

As though it were
A column of smoke
From a fire
Set yesterday
And only coals
Were left between
What you knew
And what you
Wanted to say. 

 The Way Things Go ~
—Public Domain Photo 
Courtesy of Joseph Nolan

—Joseph Nolan

Sliding to the outside,
Slide the curve
As though the track
Were butter,
Demanding macho nerve.

One wrong move
And it’s mayhem!
Anybody’s guess
When fire flies!

Watch the pile-up,
When drifts go sideways;
A driver needs
An eagle’s eyes!

Out in the stands,
The fans are cheering,
Wishing for the worst,
As racers dive.

Leaves not a chance,
To the victims
Of race-cars
Flying by!

 —Public Domain Photo Courtesy of Joseph Nolan

—Joseph Nolan

If the Hunchback
Of the tower
Resumed to ring the bell,
Over and over and over,
Like it rang from the
Fires of hell,
Unceasingly, this time,
Would you think
That it’s different, now,
The plaintiff, unending crash,
Or just that
The present
Has once again
With the past? 

 —Public Domain Photo Courtesy of Sue Crisp

—Sue Crisp, Shingle Springs, CA

Hold me close,
softly, tender.
Tell me of the good times
I don’t remember.

Your heart and understanding,
are always there,
in the many ways
you show how much you care.

You tell me I’m the bright spot
of your day,
stroking my hair
in your loving way.

I would, if I could, reverse
the changes in me,
break the chains that bind
and be blissfully free.

Yet here you are,
faithfully at my side,
with eyes that tell me,
I’m still your once-in-a-lifetime bride.

 —Public Domain Photo Courtesy of Sue Crisp

—Sue Crisp

You take me in your arms and hold me.
You make me feel as I’ve not felt before.
You whisper sweet words in my ear,
and tell me you love me once more.

I bask in the love that surrounds me
knowing your love is mine alone,
and I am shielded from heartache,
now that your love is my own.

You tell me we have a bright, shining future.
That we have years of happiness ahead.
You look at me with eyes that tell me
more than any of the words you’ve said.

 —Public Domain Photo Courtesy of Joseph Nolan

—Caschwa, Sacramento, CA 
for all debts, public and private
pubic and very private
cubic, not so private
just hard and colorless

on the rocks
at the docks
argyle socks
chicken pox

the lunacy of privacy
normalcy you don’t see
that every day

get out of my way!
the dollar hath spoken
the economy is broken

open up the stores
open up the sores
soak up in your pores
all the virus
you can buy us

no deposit
no return
water closet
acid burn

you get the picture
I’ll get the frame
we’re a regular fixture
end of game

 —Public Domain Photo Courtesy of Joseph Nolan

little DJ put the music
too close and lost his
hearing in both ears

not to worry, he still
had great vision and
tactile sense

one day right after his
father had poured
water into the kettle
and put it on the stove

little DJ walked over
and stroked the kettle
with his bare hand

“I don’t know why people
are so touchy with this,
it is not too hot”

a bit later when the kettle
was whistling shrilly
little DJ once again
proclaimed very smugly:

“it’s not too hot, I know, I

touched it” 

 Saving a Wee Life, One Raspberry at a Time
—Public Domain Photo Courtesy of Joseph Nolan


when the DNA of the NRA
tries to ridicule my molecule,
recoil at both ends interrupts
the natural replication cycle
in the nucleus of my living cells

in ancient times everyone
had a rock, and no one was safe

now everyone has a gun,
a much more efficient killing machine,
and still, no one is safe

 —Public Domain Photo Courtesy of Joseph Nolan


when the War to End All Wars
against infectious diseases is
obviously well underway,

and yet none of our regular
spokespersons dares to call
it by that name

it appears we approach these
world wars armed only with
extra Roman numerals


Today’s LittleNip:

—Joseph Nolan

A father’s days are gray.
A mother’s love
Brings pink and white
Both pure and bright.
A father slaves away
All the live-long day.


Good morning, and thanks to our contributors today for their usual Monday spectrum of poems and photos, stretching from poignancy to lunacy and everywhere in between! Lots to keep up with on Medusa Mondays!

For upcoming poetry readings and workshops available online while we stay at home, scroll down to the blue column (under the green column at the right) for info—and note that more may be added at the last minute. For Sac. Poetry Center's reading schedule for the week, go to


—Monday Medusa

   Monday Mona-lot Medusa
—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.

Sunday, April 26, 2020

Silk & Deep Balm

—Public Domain Photo

—Stephen Dunn, 1939-

Back then when so much was clear
and I hadn't learned
young men learn from women

what it feels like to feel just right,
I was twenty-three,
she thirty-four, two children, a husband

in prison for breaking someone's head.
Yelled at, slapped
around, all she knew of tenderness

was how much she wanted it, and all
I knew
were back seats and a night or two

in a sleeping bag in the furtive dark.
We worked
in the same office, banter and loneliness

leading to the shared secret
that to help
National Biscuit sell biscuits

was wildly comic, which led to my body
existing with hers
like rain that's found its way underground

to water it naturally joins.
I can't remember
ever saying the exact word, tenderness,

though she did. It's a word I see now
you must be older to use,
you must have experienced the absence of it

often enough to know what silk and deep balm
it is
when at last it comes. I think it was terror

at first that drove me to touch her
so softly,
then selfishness, the clear benefit

of doing something that would come back
to me twofold,
and finally, sometime later, it became

reflexive and motiveless in the high
ignorance of love.
Oh abstractions are just abstract

until they have an ache in them. I met
a woman never touched
gently, and when it ended between us

I had new hands and new sorrow,
everything it meant
to be a man changed, unheroic, floating.



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, April 25, 2020

The Field With No End

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

I sleep well and rise up at dawn, rested. I open the curtains and look out, just waiting for a prayer to come to me. The darkness fades, the light grows. The measure of life is there, in the streaks of red and purple across the changing morning sky. I rise up, toward the sun, leaving this shell of a body behind. I do not need a prayer to come to me; I am a prayer! I am hope! And morning is a gift, a blessing.

Winter. I dream through the long, dark hours, and I wake to the sounds of my wife moving around in the house, doing small things. O gods of rain and cold, do you also hear her quiet footsteps in the night? Do you love her as I do?


Look at you. White-haired and sweet
In the garden, pulling out weeds.
Thirty years?
That's a blink of an eye!
And yes,
Your tomatoes are indeed nice.

The Yuba River rushes past, it is in a great hurry. Even at full noon the river has no time to cast my reflection. Swift water on white rocks, and overhead, a turkey vulture circles slow. Watching.


Gray sky, wind.
The first rains of the cold winter.
Does it matter to a prisoner,
Locked up in a cell?

A sky-burst streak of red. The truth
That lives inside a day. Cold shower water
That bites. The radio tells the news.
Coffee. Cereal with raisins. A hummingbird
Hovering at a bus stop. Bus stop talk.
Touched by cool, sweet air. To breathe
Is a rebirth, each breath is a new life.
Bus ride bumps. Some kind of independence.
World in transit, in motion. How pigeons feel.
A city park with a bullfrog. Aware of God’s grace,
Her love. A spirit in a human body, living a human life.
Morning sunlight slipping though the falling water
Of a beautiful fountain. The value of one human being.
Books with poems and stories. Coffee shop talk.
Thoughts become earthquakes become ideas.
A feeling of pointlessness. Sorrow. Grief,
Sometimes very old grief. People walking
As if bearing some vast unseen weight.
Workplace talk. Meaningless labor.
Moments of being lost. A kind of social inability.
No silence anywhere.
Quick little daytime dreams. Acceptance
That leads to a sort of joy. Going home.
A family. Dinner talk, jokes, and stories. Warmth.
Feeding the cat. The stripes of long summer sunset.
The creakings of night. The feel of clean sheets
And familiar pillows. Quiet at last.
A wife’s loving embrace. Coolness.
That another day has come, existed, and is gone again.
The loving sweetness of the blanket of night.
The ghosts of all who went before.
Hope again.

(prev. pub. in CONVERGENCE)

We, the people, work in this field that goes on and on. The field has no fence, no border, no end. Flatness and crops. We work, and rays from the sun light up our faces.

                     (for Robert Ramming)

Whether it was the sound of rifle bolts slapping into place, or the click of a pistol being cocked, I hope there was defiance in the eyes of Frederico Garcia Lorca that last second before death. May there always be defiance when one of us, the people, faces the fascist.


Today’s LittleNip:

It doesn’t take many words to tell you how I love the silence.

—James Lee Jobe


Good morning and thank-you to James Lee Jobe for his poems and for the photos he sends us today! Be sure to tune into James’ Friday evening readings on, 7:30pm. And tonight from 8-9pm, tune in to for House Reading #1, with Hoa Nguyen and Dale Smith, zooming to us all the way from Toronto (meeting ID: 965 9383 9523). Info:

For upcoming poetry readings and workshops available online while we stay at home, scroll down to the blue column (under the green column at the right) for info—and note that more may be added at the last minute.



 “This field that goes on and on.”
—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.

Friday, April 24, 2020

Dust & Doghair

—Poems and Photos by Taylor Graham, Placerville, CA


Come inside this new world.
Yes, it’s a clutter, a chaos of words
in the making. An Eden before the fall
to understanding; before gate and door,
space with room for dust and doghair.
Let it be, doors and windows open
to weather. Take off your mask
and breathe. Don’t try to im-/ex-press
what’s in and out; lungs and lips
know without language, which
keeps growing from inside.
Don’t call it lunacy.
Roof is sky and earth is floor
just as you’ve known unknowing.
This is a room of your evolving
world, your poem.


Main Street’s so quiet in fresh morning light—
folks with essential errands walk apart.
A man sits piping tones of second-sight.
I stop—a safe six-feet away. He plays
the Andean reed-flute like half a heart
gone journeying. He’s rapt, his gaze

opening distances of mountain under sky,
the last notes unfading but moving on
as if on wind, or wander-feet. They fly
and silence is a question without words.
In haunted space where everything is gone
except a homeless-homing call of birds

Main Street’s so quiet in fresh morning light,
opening distances of mountain under sky.

POEMS IN SEQUESTER (Unrhymed Pantoum)

          for Arts in Nature Fest, past and future

Like a leftover dream of green April:
a dozen poet friends beside the trail
by blackberry bramble and wild-rose pool,
cedar-bark tepees in meadow beyond—

a dozen poet friends beside the trail
sharing poems to beat of Patti’s drum;
cedar-bark tepees in meadow, beyond,
recalling ancient people of this land.

Sharing poems to beat of Patti’s drum
and the whisper-song of Gail’s recorder,
our poems for this willow blooming spring
recalling ancient people of this land—
the whisper-song of Gail’s recorder
by blackberry bramble and wild-rose pool,
our poems for this willow blooming spring
like a leftover dream of green April.


Field’s sequestered in weeds—
sun-dew sparkled, good enough reason
to postpone mowing….

Neighbor comes, not to visit—
saw your ATV stuck,
socially-distanced he pulls it out.

Covid can’t stop grass greening.
Crow caws: get mowing!
You think sequester means vacation?

AVOID CROWDS (Haiku Sonnet)

sun, soil, solitude
away from the lunacy,
the press of people—

shelter-in-place, field
and woods, comfort of four walls
and roof in a storm—

grocery shopping crowds
smaller, masked, anonymous,
kept 6 feet apart—

hands washed, out the door,
freeway then back roads,
you can breathe again—

masked hawk drones the woods
on hunt—solitary, free


Just past the school’s closed parking lot,
blackberries grow rampant in a small ravine,
new green foliage reaching for bankside cedar
and—look, periwinkle twining among thorns.
But what’s that other purple-blue? a big roundish
bump embraced by bramble. It’s a ball….
Who lost it? A fixture now: nobody’s going to
retrieve it, resolve some long-forgotten game
of toss and catch. Is it lonely? Does it howl
at night when the moon’s a searchlight,
the full Moon of Lost Blue-Purple?

Today’s LittleNip:

—Taylor Graham

         in time of corona

Shoppers are hoarding,
grocery shelves left bare. Even
cakes shaped like rolls
of TP sell as fast as
they get baked, sell like TP.

And that oil portrait:
TP roll in golden light—
lovely lunacy.


Thanks to Taylor Graham for today’s poems and photos—fine fare for Form Fiddlers’ Friday, and definitely fitting for the on-going pandemic. Or is that pandemonium? Or, as Tom Goff called it yesterday, Pandemicomium?

Tune in to James Lee Jobe’s online reading tonight, 7:30pm at Tonight will feature the works of Yang Jian, Han Shan, Miyazawa Kenji, and Wang Wei, among others.

For upcoming poetry readings and workshops available online while we stay at home, scroll down to the blue column (under the green column at the right) for info—and note that more may be added at the last minute.


It’s time for more contributions from Form Fiddlers! Each Friday for awhile, there will be poems posted here from some of our readers using forms—either ones which were mentioned on Medusa during the previous week, or whatever else floats through the Kitchen and the perpetually stoned mind of Medusa. If these instructions are vague, it's because they're meant to be. Just fiddle around with some forms and get them posted in the Kitchen. 

To start with, Sue Crisp and Carol Louise Moon have each sent us an Abecedarian (

—Sue Crisp, Shingle Springs, CA

A zure skies loom bright, above the warm sandy
B each.  Toes wiggle down into the gritty grains
C olliding with seashells and other hosts from the sea.
D igging a little deeper, there is the cool wetness of beach
E arth, renewed with each motion of the surf.  Its
F ragrant scent fills the senses.
G ulls wheel overhead.  Those ashore, raucous with clacking bills,
H ungry for tidbits often thrown by beach-goers.  They are
I nstantly aware of even the slightest fallen crumbs.
J ackals of seashore, they feast on handouts and carrion.
K ildeer, on stilted legs, skitter to and fro with the surge of the surf,
L ooking for minute crustaceans washed ashore.
M ussels cling to outcroppings of weather-beaten rocks, showing at
N eap tide, their shells glistening in the sunlight,
O nly to disappear with the change of tide.
P elicans, keen of eye, fly low over the water’s surface,
Q uick to dive at the first sighting of prey.
R afts of coots float serenely in the midst of sea-life activity.
S un rays sparkle atop tiny surface ripples, while
T erns, in noisy colonies, wheel above their ground nests.
U rchins, in colors of purple, reside in small tide pools with a
V ariety of other colorful sea life,
W aiting for the turn of the tide to return them to the sea.  While there are no
X erox copies in the sea and seashore-driven life, they all
Y ield to the way nature has designed them, in a lifelong effort to reach their
Z enith.
* * *

—Carol Louise Moon, Placerville, CA

An Arctic crossing made by
Bubulcus ibis: How did this
cattle egret do it,
daring to uproot from Africa,
expanding to a foreign land,
foraging with new found
grazing animals?
How, indeed.

In any case, they
just showed up
knowing they’d survive,
landing in South America (1880)—
maybe by boat, then
nesting again
on Florida’s shores (1954)—
Perhaps by wing?

Questions of their origin
remain. Once in North America they
spread quickly across the continent.
Their expansion is still
underway to this
very day, with a
wide-range migration. Many
X’s would mark a map where
young egrets have ventured,
zealously settling in.


Caschwa (Carl Schwartz) has been wearing his pencil stub down to the nubbins with form-fiddling this week, starting with a Sijo (

—Caschwa, Sacramento, CA

I readily admit, I was dumbfounded by her fragrance
surrounding me like a cloud, countless droplets of innocence
I was quickly left standing, in large pools of my ignorance

nobody alerted me that it would be this complicated
data was not compiled to quantify falling in love
who could have predicted this? now I am alone!


And a sonnet:


there comes a time when poets lose their sense
abandon all the rules that were in place
when Shakespeare rises from the grave intense
not paid his due, the world will fall from grace

you lost your mate, your job, your car, your house
but life can glow and shine as bright as gold
your words and thoughts will help you, once aroused
let magic guide your hands to tales untold

aim not your words of ill to hit the graves
or spring the trap of blaming just yourself
a happy thought gives strength like metal staves
or keeping candy close by on the shelf

a jotted note or ode, quickly written
will guide Cupid’s arrow to the smitten

* * *

Carl has thrown down the gauntlet again to other readers of Medusa’s Kitchen. He says: “I loved those two-line responses fellow Snake Pals put on the Rengas, so why not try that with a sonnet?  It would be delightful to see how our preeminent pool of poets would apply two lines that pose a turn or twist to these three quatrains I wrote to begin the sonnet":

IN PLACE [finish this off with two rhyming lines, 10 syllables each]

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

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

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

[    ]
[    ]

Or, this week, if you’re of a mind to, try a Haiku Sonnet, such as Taylor Graham’s “Avoid Crowds” poem above. The form is pretty easy to figure out, yes? Or the Cornish Sonnet, like her “Panpipes in Pandemic” (

And Carl has also sent us one of his tongue-in-cheek comments on the joys of working with forms:


a persnickety person
forbade a pervade parade
pulling permission for any
possible rhyme or perchance any plausible meter,
thus was born free verse

and then they took a gun and shot some blanks
which rang inside my head and persevere
what will I do with gunshots in my brain?
I’m perturbed that perhaps they won’t catch that perilous perp


Thanks to all of our contributors today for their fine fiddling! Keep at it—I can hear your music from here.

—Medusa (today’s title comes from a description of Medusa’s cave)


 —Public Domain Artwork

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.