Sunday, January 31, 2021

The Love You Take


—Photos by Michelle Kunert
—Poetry by Michelle Kunert, Sacramento, CA

Poet James Lee Jobe suggests that, in the time of COVID-19, maybe you should consider writing your own obituary
     But I do believe a poet should perhaps leave their eulogy to others in their lives as an opportunity to share their own perceptions
     Please consider a quote from comedian Moms Mabley about how people need to prepare their lives in preparation for when they die:
     "They say you shouldn't say nothin' about the dead unless it's good. He's dead. Good!”
     Mabley said don’t be the kind of person who would make people praise in their minds and hearts that you died, rather than that you will be missed
     There are those who say “try to leave the world a better place than when you came into it"    
     but a major problem is that those like Adolf Hitler also believed the same thing
     Hitler as a young artist wanted to bring beauty into an ugly world but, although he too could make the world a better place through the politics of a racist national socialism for an economically ailing Germany to eliminate its poverty, he became one of the worst notorious monsters
     Hitler the hater passionately and poetically wrote down his own eulogy before he committed suicide, praising the “good” things he had done out of “love"
     "In these three decades I have been actuated solely by love and loyalty to my people in all my thoughts, acts, and life…. I die with a happy heart, aware of the immeasurable deeds and achievements of our soldiers at the front and our women at home, the achievements of our farmers and workers and the work, unique in history, of our youth who bear my name.”
     But you don’t have to be like Hitler to think that, just because you’re an artist, you can attempt to run the world better than God’s plan for peoples' salvation and redemption as written in the Bible
     Even if the Bible was a work of fiction, and one doesn’t believe in God, the principles and examples of how to live a decent life are still there, even if there is no heaven one goes to after death
     Poets indeed should perhaps also heed Paul McCartney’s statement reflecting the Golden Rule toward others: “And, in the end, The love you take is equal to the love you make.”


—Medusa, with thanks to Michelle Kunert for today’s poem and photos!
Mosaic Table

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 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, January 30, 2021

Scattered Plums

—Drawing by Luis Cuauhtémoc Berriozábal
—Poetry by Luis Cuauhtémoc Berriozábal, West Covina, CA
—Public Domain Photos

Your gaze puts color in my face,
your eyes like the color of the sea
and sky on a clear day, how I am
transfixed, completely spellbound.
Your smile as delicate as a flower,
still it lifts my burdens as well as
as the somber clouds, ushering
the sunlight out of the shadows.
How I long to awake with you at
my side. I could never complain
about anything to see you last as
I go to bed and first when I wake.

I gave her poetry.
She took no leap.
I tried in vain to reach
her. The poems
failed. Words can do that. A
poem can kill
the mood like a bird is
destroyed and slain
by a beautiful cat.


It is so hot outside
in Wintertime.
I hear the rain is coming
in twenty-four hours.
That is more like it.
I want to walk
in the rain without a hat
or an umbrella.
The rain will go with
the mood I’m in.
I want my tears to feel its
match or its better.
I can’t stand the heat.
I stay out of
the kitchen of life and stay
sleeping in my bed.


If I could
do with words
what stars
do with light,
I could be
and retire
I just strike
a match in
the wind and
my words are
in a blink
of an eye.
It is fine.
I keep at
it, striking
the stone with
stone, until
a spark starts
a fire, with
the help of
dried-up grass.

Peeling oranges,
I think of you,
how you make
designs with
the skin, and
art form you
also make out
of lemon skin.
I watch you as
you make your
designs and we
smile when you
look at me as
I watch your

Turn on the music.
Your caresses
are the greatest hits.
Play my heart strings
with tenderness.
Bring it on,
bring joy to my world.
When silence comes
after soaring
to the highest heights,
let’s sleep with the stars.
The music lingers
along with your caresses.


Today’s LittleNip:

—Luis Cuauhtémoc Berriozábal
I try to breathe life into dead words,
the ones that have shaped my own
vision. These words have spoken to
me. Some of them have saved my life.
There are leaves in the grass and
scattered plums. I rake the leaves up
and pick up some of the plums.
Words like waste come to my mind.
The dying sun reminds me that
I will have a great night writing.

Our thanks to Luis Berriozábal from West Covina for returning to the Kitchen with his poetry today! Luis has a series of illustrations that he made on his office calendar, one of which is shown here today—and I notice one is the cover of his new book from Amazon,
Make the Water Laugh. Bravo, Luis! Here’s the info on his new book:émoc-Berriozabal/dp/B08TZ9M2N8/ref=sr_1_1?dchild=1&qid=1611942923&refinements=p_27%3ALuis+Cuauhtemoc+Berriozabal&s=books&sr=1-1/.

Got a new book out? Send me the info and I’ll post it. A great source of pride, a poetry book is! How will we know about it unless you advertise??

Sadly, our weekly Saturday feature, Davis Poet Laureate James Lee Jobe, has asked to take a leave of absence from the Kitchen due to his on-going health problems. We’ll miss his thoughtful poetry on Saturdays, and wish him better health in 2021!


Cover, Make the Water Laugh
by Luis Cuauhtémoc Berriozábal


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 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, January 29, 2021

Beyond the Chaos of the Sea


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


What is that soft uncanny light
that wakes at night?
It seems to bloom
in my small room,

to wander down the waiting hall—
no muffled call,
but just the wink
of light, a blink

and I’m alone with only dark;
a dwindling spark
that tweaks the mind: 

“come find, come find….” 


She sang beyond the chaos of the sea,
a Field of Flags wind-blowing on the Mall.
She took the mask off, and how young was she
speaking her trust in winter’s spring from fall.
Can such words matter? Can their rhythm be
a summons, and her rhyme a marching call?
A rap on every ear; the key, her voice,
her song: O come together, it’s our choice.

for Amanda Gorman with apologies to Wallace Stevens 


A small house with cedar-shake shingles sits
among conifers. The house never grows
as forest presses it close and closer,
an ever-green comforter in windstorm,
sunny weather. The trees reach for sky, for
sun. The house sits in shadow. Rain will run
off its roof, its cedar hair as if house
could ignore deluge and drought. Year by year
trees put on another ring inside their
bark, growing close and closer surrounding
house to claim it, timber, lumber and shakes.
Might their roots raise this house above itself
for a grand, loftier, shakier view? 


Our home-fire fades by evergreen
woods, between
ash-pile and star.
The door ajar,

let’s walk out under shrouded moon.
Don’t ask, “how soon?”
The answer: “Wait.”
A broken gate.

For now, our earth’s as heaven-cold
as sun’s spent gold.
Just walk and gaze—
these woods amaze. 


Stuffed white bear
in sports store window—his lair
is fake green camo. He’s caught
mid-snarl, mid-thought: cold, free air. 


A slickered clerk comes out the door, climbs
up to hang the morning-times
of silver wind chimes.
Metal rhymes

through wind and rain, drought and summertimes.
Through the low-times and high-times
of silver wind chimes,
metal rhymes

A small girl leaps for puddle joy-times
and the storm plays its primetimes
of silver wind chimes.
Metal rhymes

Today’s LittleNip:

—Taylor Graham

this snow cloud morning
across my windshield a blizzard
of little brown birds


Thanks to Taylor Graham this morning for her timely poetry, including “Ideas of Order” for Inaugural Poet Amanda Gorman. Taylor has also sent us some forms: a couple of Minutes (“Summons” & “January Woods”); an Ekphrastic poem/Blank Verse (“Forest Home”); an Ottava Rima “(Ideas of Order”); a Triquint (“Wind Chimes in the Rain”, after last week’s Fiddlers’ Challenge); a Rannaigecht Mor Gairit (“Main Street, January”); and a Haiku.

And now it’s time for…

It’s time for more contributions from Form Fiddlers, in addition to those sent to us by Taylor Graham! Each Friday for awhile, there will be poems posted here from some of our readers using forms—either ones which were mentioned on Medusa during the previous week, or whatever else floats through the Kitchen and the perpetually stoned mind of Medusa. If these instructions are vague, it's because they're meant to be. Just fiddle around with some forms and get them posted in the Kitchen, by golly! (See Medusa’s Form Finder at the end of this post for links to definitions of the forms used this week.)

It’s no secret that Carl Schwartz (Caschwa) is very prolific with forms these days, and this week he was, with Taylor Graham, our only form contributors. (Well, Carol Louise Moon sent in a Haibun and a Tanka, but I elected to keep those in her post for yesterday.) So here are some of Carl’s forms for this week:

A Triquint, last week’s Form Fiddlers’ Challenge:

—Caschwa, Sacramento, CA

men who could never make their own bed
sire children, once three times wed
virus we all dread
but instead

our celebrated, rambunctious head
of state, no use for the fed
virus we all dread
but instead

hundreds of thousands of people dead
none were from bullets of lead
virus we all dread
but instead
—Public Domain Illustration
A Triversen:


sunlight greets the windows
like dad coming home from work
dinner cooked and ready

his orbit includes family
a wife and three sons
he shares his warmth with each

we hear the stories he brings home
about executive biggies
who don’t know the small things

there are matters he cannot tell us
because they involve secrets
and he is very careful

he spends periods of time alone
talking on a mike, or tapping a code key
at his ham radio station in the garage

sometimes he disappears to the rooftop
to adjust an antenna, over and over
we smile when he safely returns to ground 
—Public Domain Illustration
A Haibun:


thanks to my folks, we have
an encyclopedia handy, right
here at home in the living room

such a collection of books is
a storehouse of knowledge,
and we have an open account,
no limit at all

we keep sharpening our reading
skills to include more and more
words, and happily pull out one
or another volume to get answers

that is not enough?
what additional sources?
now everything’s screwed! 
Fish Taco
—Public Domain Illustration
A Haibun reversed, with the haiku at the beginning:


here I am holding
the new Book of Forms bible
upside down, of course

the site is an abundantly
popular taco stand where
I used to park my bicycle
and order a marvelously
delicious taco for 19 cents

this scrumptious treat was
not on the menu at home,
nor available in my school
cafeteria, nor in any vending
machine on this planet

how could I not grow to love
the people and culture that
brought me such a uniquely
wonderful experience? 
—Public Domain Cartoon

And a Spenserian Sonnet:


package on porch for addressee unknown
took to post office, return to sender
back to the coop from which the bird had flown
today, again, story a no ender
addressee not me, but female gender
sent email to company that shipped it
in case they had solution to render
they’ll have it picked up, and then will commit
to redeliver package to porch more befit


Thanks to SnakePals Taylor Graham and Carl Schwartz for their brave fiddling this week! Would you like to be a SnakePal? All you have to do is send poetry—forms or not—and/or photos and artwork to We post work from all over the world, including that which was previously-published. Just remember: the snakes of Medusa are always hungry!


See what you can make of this week’s poetry form, and send it to! (No deadline.) This week's challenge:

A Brevette Chain (in other words, more than one; don’t have to relate to each other, but make each one vivid—you’re poets, after all):


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

•••Blank Verse: OR
•••Minute Poem:
•••Ottava Rima:
•••Rannaigecht Mor Gairit:
•••Spenserian Sonnet:


—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.


Thursday, January 28, 2021

The Best of All Worlds

—Poetry by Carol Louise Moon, Placerville, CA
—“Nature’s Photoshop” Photo Series by Carol Louise Moon


Perched on top the telephone pole,
a cavity carved out there, a family
of woodpeckers lives on Mosquito Rd
a lightly traveled country road. Here,
one is blessed to see black and white
patterns against a blue sky as these
birds fly between poles and tree
limbs in the delight of early spring

Their call is something akin to a
chuckle, a childish delight, for surely
they own this lovely green land, field
stretching far out, dotted with
dandelions and blackberry vines.

On any given day one who walks this
country lane can hear the drumming
of these clever birds living along-
side the Mountain Bluebird, Quail and
Wild Turkey. They drum to announce
their territorial claim.

As in Gold Rush Days, these birds
have their golden reward of acorns
which they bury in pantries of
trees, poles and fallen logs.

Once again, the drilling is heard
as we walk through these northern
California woods. Look closely at
the Ponderosa Pine. You will find
it studded with acorns. The Acorn
Woodpecker, ever industrious,
is satisfied that his is the best
of all worlds. 


Two little quail skitter quickly up
this gentle country dirt path,
one running faster than the other.
It’s hard to keep up sometimes.

A dog watches from his porch
and wonders if there’s food
ahead as he barks at the quail.
Competition can be a real strain.

In his envy and frustration, his barks
get louder—the quail run faster
to the safety of bushes with berries.
See here… Doggies don’t eat berries. 


Smooth blue river rocks are scattered
near large stones with lichen crown.
Crumbled wall so gray and ancient
granite chunks have fallen ‘round.
Forest odors fill the shadows;
gray fence clothed in dusty down.
Branch of Manzanita fallen,
here the lizards find their place.
In the midst of rain and showers
stands a willow clothed in grace. 



My heart roams this wild landscape
in search of a vanished childhood.
I had felt her walking along this
sandy loam path that cuts between
two pines. As a child I walked farther
up the clearing which is now
overgrown with poison oak. Thistle
had not snagged in her gauzy
skirt in those days of childhood
wonder. Deer tracks were
recognizable, and scrub jay feathers
were to be found and tucked into
skirt pockets. But now, even as
smoke clouds the horizon I find only
the rust of dried pine cones,
a half-eaten bird, and a dead snake
laid across a boulder.

fall forest deer path
I follow heart-shaped deer tracks
still seeking her soul 


A Bunting bobs along
where grass seeds have blown.
Look, she whispers,
thistles sway and rustle.
Look again.
I see through sunshine
all the shadows that are made.
A hawk flies over
all the shadows that are made.
I see through sunshine,
look again—
Thistles sway and rustle.
Look, she whispers,
where grass seeds have blown
a Bunting bobs along. 

Today’s LittleNip:

—Carol Louise Moon

whoop… whoop… whoop
I turn to note
Raven, his dark wing
his shadow—his dark presence

(prev. pub. in
Gusts 31, 2020 and
Contemporary Tanka,


—Medusa, with many thanks to Carol Louise Moon for her soothing poetry and photos this morning!
Snowflakes on Feathers
—Public Domain Photo Courtesy of Joseph Nolan, Stockton, CA

Photos in this column can be enlarged by
clicking on them once, then clicking on the x
in the top right corner to come back to Medusa.

Would you like to be a SnakePal?
All you have to do is send poetry and/or
photos and artwork to 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!



Wednesday, January 27, 2021

Waiting At Home

—Poetry by Ann Wehrman, Sacramento, CA
—Photos by Chris Feldman


home wears many faces
but the heart remains the same
as simple as curling next to you
sleeping on a mattress on the floor

once I found home
sheltering under a tree
I loved the rich, deep-green redwood
asked her to join me in the afterlife
along with a jumble of cats,
a dog, and a sweet, lone spider
from the laundry room
connections I’ve made
through the years living alone

I’ve gotten good at staying home
done it more than I should have for years
preferred it to being alone in crowds
missing that deep union, one-on-one

coronavirus made time stand still
run backward, upside down
everyone now must stay home
face loved ones, face herself

doves sing outside my window
sunlight streams through
neighbors quarrel, their bed creaks
city neighbors maintain anonymity
people stay six feet apart
pool closed, gym closed
groceries delivered, pay rent online

night draws darkness in a wash of indigo
morning a Grand Canyon away
nowhere to go, no one to talk to
computer, phone digital lifelines
I still hate the phone, though
have time to finally take out the recycling
tiny studio its own world, home for now 


      (For Judy)

bleary-eyed, I force myself
wake up, shower, dress
zippered within warm fleece—scarf, hood
morning wind, damp fog
wait on the sidewalk outside my apartment complex
her electric blue car pulls up

she shops as early as possible
beats the crowds--gets in, gets out
coupons in hand, sharp eyes on the bargains
I would shop on mellow afternoons
but her generous ride to the store and back
roundly beats taking the bus, a hard slog in any weather
I do hunt better alone
slow time in this aisle or that
inspecting labels, searching through shelves
produce, meats—consider what to make

when hunting with Judy, I feel it when she finishes
halfway through the hour we agreed to take
I’m still buried in frozen foods, aisle 10
should I stock up on pizza, off my diet
cheap burritos? better I make my own

Judy’s already burned through the aisles
snared wild salmon on sale
olives, pork shoulder, fresh blueberries
refilled her giant distilled water bottles
had time to use the restroom
now waits on the wooden bench by the exit
lost in the novel she carries in her bag for times like this

I wave at her from check out
pay, bag my groceries
we wheel carts to her car
she drops me off, quick hug—not yet noon
no long talk today, no shared meal or coffee
we hunted separately—she sprinted, I tried to keep up
making memories
my friend, the mighty hunter 



like legionnaires or prison bars
whitewashed balusters support top rail
under foot-thick pile of snow
indistinct in glaring whiteness
from porch it rims
snow-piled grounds
visible through the rails

in the distance, like a heartbeat
red roof peeks through leafless trees
their sap tangible as an aura
behind and around
cold black limbs 
—Photo by invisiblesith (from Pixabay)

velvet gowns, star-white silk blouses
with soft, long bows, black top hats
jewelry gleams, and then perfumes—
surreptitious spray on my wrist
nice but can’t compare to
My Sin, deep exotic portal into passion
now vintage, retired in 1988

I’d sneak into Mom’s bedroom
where a bottle of it lived
part of Nana’s estate, perhaps
like the king-sized mahogany bed filling the room
though by then, Dad had moved to my sister’s old room
and my teen-aged sister had moved out
Mom wore signature Shalimar
beautiful, dominating, perfect for her
which left My Sin for me—I’d dab just a little

she bought me Muguet des Bois, Tabu cologne
cheap scents, good enough
for small town, high school romance
football games, weekend dances
hormones, peer pressure, family’s expectations

over the years, essential oils replaced my perfumes
then I stopped wearing fragrance
friends, fellow musicians
complained, claimed allergies
I know, feel the same about smokers

this Christmas, I found
old half-full perfume bottles in my closet
not My Sin, unfortunately, nor even Shalimar
but a wonderful roll-on of Black Opium oil
along with cheap spray cologne from Bath and Body Works
which made me cough when I tried it on

strolling through the department store
no gifts this year, sending e-cards, no celebration
I stop, spray an unknown brand on my wrist 
—Photo by miguterrez (from Pixabay)

Today’s LittleNip:

winter magic
—Ann Wehrman

diamond crystals deceptively white
soft as dandelion pappi
dissolve on my tongue
make a wish
—Medusa, with gratitude to Ann Wehrman and Chris Feldman for a lovely post today!




        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 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!
LittleSnake on table with perfume




Tuesday, January 26, 2021

Silk and Mist

—Poetry and Original Artwork by Joyce Odam, Sacramento, CA


Come, birds,    
come, words,
the world needs us—
we are special—
wherever time finds us—
holding our lives at length,
even finding what we look for—
needing,  avoiding,  all that needs us :
Fly.   Fail.   Ease into sorrow—
like love into love that can never find us.
Inside Herself


all particle—of the earth—of the air—
of every whispering voice and every

tear fallen from grief, or joy, and every
tear for the silk fabric of fog, mist over

water, sound of crying, the harsh notes
of rage, the emptied stare,

looking at everything—brooding,
crying—the very act of this—the

very rhyming in every windowed
reflection made of glass, the sensation

of touch, the rush of pleasure, the feel
of darkness to the grope, the sunrise,

the sunset, the blur of hope in the frazzled 
mind, the very hope of existence in the doubt,

the distance and the near—the everything,
and everywhere—in this moment, here.

Ponderous with light,
the figure moves
under its own illusion;
it carries another weight—
an equal darkness.

Heavy as stone, the
second illusion imagines
itself as a wing—lifts and
fails—lifts and fails—
tries again and flies.

Regret moves in a circle,
knows where it has failed,
yearns to correct the fault.
It comes at last to the shat-  
tered face of the mirror.

Old news crumples itself up
into a newspaper and begins
to fade to a sickening yellow.
Tired of itself now, it longs
for simple recipes and poems.



Little is known about the truths
we tell—want to believe—need.

I've marked all the passages
that speak for me—

my praise for you, my awe
at how this works, the spark,

the flash of time that proves—
we who have words, who bless  

and curse and need them so—
so wantingly.
Looking at the Moon


So, we are looney to the tune, and tipsy to the trying—
over-sounding when we laugh and when we cry—and
the dancing dances louder than the scratchy tune. Oh,
sing with us, in our slangy voices, weary and tipsy,
but we won’t go home. Sing with us, oh lonely music,
lonelier than we are in the heady crush of revelers, tipsy
as a gypsy celebration in a swirly tipsy room. Oh, how
we laugh at that and sing it loud, and louder, while the
weepy music herds us to the writhing center. Cry with
us—we are lonely—only for the crying of the music
risen now into a crying of its own—the room lights blur-
ring, and the music—and what care we— if tomorrow
never comes . . . our last cliché.


Love is the circle of being—
temper me,
take the curses out of my mouth—
tread me through all the waters,
the circular sea—
the circu-



Let us not forget how we were children, drawn
like a thread through some defining word,
blending ourselves into life’s conversation
before we thought of life as tragedy.

Innocence is first—first gift of children,
layered over—word by word by word—
How should we continue this conversation
without it becoming a singular tragedy?

Can we really know ourselves as children?
As if the meaning changes in that word
we give ourselves and use for conversation
to play the amusing role of tragedy.

In truth, we barely remember ourselves as
children, forgetting some year as one forgets a
word, leaving gaps of meaning in conversation
where there is always room for one more tragedy.

And here we are, bemoaning ourselves as children,
groping, it seems, for yet another word
to fill the gap in one more conversation
to prove we are—or are not—worth our tragedy.
Nowhere to Go


white wings
where hope
lies thinly,
itself, an apparition,
itself, on fire
with loss and longing—

white wings
that flutter near—
and vanish—
leaving such a loneliness
you fill with fear



The mind breathes,
outward after inwards.
Love abandons.

We are standing on the edge.
Edge.     Sanity.

Death is holding us down
Alone, unaided.

Silence streams out,
a scratch on its own edge.

The moment is a long one,
slow as silence
in its last cry.


Today’s LittleNip:

—Joyce Odam

Here lies and lies —
The contradiction—
One lies, the other lies :
Do you see
The contradiction ?

               > | <

One gets its way .
The other rests
On the usual friction  . . .


Many thanks to the gracious Joyce Odam for her poems and artwork today! Love those tipsy gypsies! Joyce is still publishing her elegant little
Brevities with co-editor Robin Gale Odam; go to for single copies or ask about subscriptions. (No email mss.)

Our new Seed of the Week is Six Perfect Snowflakes. 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.


Gypsy in Red Silk
—Public Domain Image

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.

That Tipsy Gypsy...