What interloper-grass grows here?
Just see the pathways I’ve mowed clear.
If tufted green turns to fire-fox
of summer flame, it costs us dear.
We fear its spells, and shear its locks.
We pave it, lay down cinder-blocks
and still it’s thumping underneath.
We check our calendars and clocks
for buried roots and fists and teeth.
A blade of grass waits in its sheath
to throw its seed on wind; take wing
and scatter over field and heath.
Small birds will nest on any thing—
a cup of witchgrass, fur, and string
beneath our eaves. Such rites of spring
soon finished as the seasons sing.
He steps through my gate
hoof by hoof. Alert pricked ears,
nose to breeze, he drops
his head, samples green seeded
years ago, gone wild
now without sheep; orchard grass
a dainty nibble.
He extends his stride, foreleg
reaching for purchase
in unknown pasture, making
it his own. Gully
cut by seasonal creek, dry
now; he considers,
judges the ford; down then up
the far side, sampling
its different greens. At the fence
I stand watch. At last
he moves my way. Slow and easy
hand extends. Nuzzle-
sniff. Stroke forehead. Dark bright eyes
appraise. Peace of my pasture.
So much depends on the once-red wall—faded to mauve—behind the old piano on the boardwalk entry to the Junction. The historic train hasn’t run for a long time but the tracks remain, wild with dandelion and spring grass soon to fade into summer. Maybe it’s not the wall so much as the piano and its lonesome chair with blue-flower cushion, and the travel brochure come to rest under piano pedals. Maybe it’s a Sunday morning that plucks petals of fado out of April air, nostalgia fading red to mauve,
a silent walkway—
who will sing a time, a tune
I might remember?
In the far corner well fertilized
by years of long-gone sheep,
this year’s bonanza fiddleneck
has found a partner
in purple twining vetch.
They’re dancing cheek-to-cheek
when I arrive—
weed-whacker at my side.
Swing your partner right and left—
grand! we cut thru spring’s
green passion. Fiddleneck?
Purple vetch? Both
at once! We’re cutting in.
Read the label before you open
this door. Here’s the chamber of tablets
and paperclips, metals and plastics
not angry, but needing attention.
Updates and upgrades. The window is
blind to sun. Every color bears a
code. In dark of cabinets lies a dark
history of this place, authentic to
the decimal; a count of those who
entered here, each with number on fore-
head; all their passwords stolen as spring
died from the calendar to no-more.
The ones who came here? never got out.
Sonnenizio on a line from Shakespeare’s "Sonnet XXIII"
As an unperfect actor on the stage,
one-eyed cussin’ stagecoach driver
Charley Parkhurst mounted the stage’s box.
Nobody tried to upstage her, even
if—in an earlier stage of her life—
she admitted to being female. Stage
whips weren’t “she”s. But a 6-horse stage was hers—
male impersonator on the stage to
Placerville. One of the best stage drivers
in California. A bandit robbed her stage?
she shot him dead: stage gone dark, curtain down.
The autopsy stage revealed her disguise.
On History’s stage—pre-Women’s Lib/#metoo—
tough Stagecoach Charley whipped her way on thru.
We’ve sought the bird—billow-pillow cloud—
fitz-bew from the willow—thrill-oh proud.
Thank you, Taylor Graham, for your poems on spring: its life and death, and photos to go along. Some of her poetry today is written in forms: a Rubaiyat Chain (“Quick, Before It's Gone”); a Choka (“A Borrowed Horse”); some Normative Syllabics (“The Death of Spring”, which is also a Word-Can Poem); a Sonnenizio (“On Stage”); a Tyburn, our Form Fiddlers’ Challenge last Friday (“Flycatcher's Song”) and a Haibun (“Sunday Junction”).
For a history of fado music, which Taylor worked into her Haibun, see secretsfromportugal.com/history-of-fado/. To hear some fitz-bew (in the “Flycatcher’s Song”), go to vimeo.com/144404582/.
And now it’s time for…
FORM FIDDLERS’ FRIDAY!
Caschwa (Carl Schwartz) has also sent us a Tyburn, last week’s Fiddler’s Challenge:
THE ONLY CERTAINTY IS THAT NOTHING IS CERTAIN
—Caschwa, Sacramento, CA
dropped his pants, shiny heinie exposed
warlord praise, tiny Pliny disclosed
THE WINNING FORMULA
very smart people are
open to suggestions
once they’ve learned the art of
deflecting dumb questions
got it covered:
on one day I will
wear white socks
because white is
of all colors
for ecology, you
name it, ALL the
colors from ALL
the causes that
choose one color
to wear to honor
on any “wear this
color” day, I put
on white socks
and the next day
I will wear black
black is the absence
of color, ALL of them
no bias, every one;
black is the perfect
choice when I don’t
feel like being under
the pressure of one
color or another, so
that’s handy, too
Then Carl says, “When enough is enough, an Alouette is in order.”
THE GREAT AMERICAN EXPERIMENT
free as pelicans
use the social media
but a day in court
is not their home port
cuffed by legal tedia
you’re guilty, do time
to pay for your crime
hope you learn how to behave
you made your life bad
blew chance that you had
now spend some time in the cave
we’ve tried it all, cruel
alternative, other things
confined all felons
till minds are melons
stunned when the prison bell rings
now the system’s due
to get a good clue
listen, this is not far flung
to lie under oath
is bad for us both
so we should cut out their tongue
with no more than eyes
they cannot shout lies
the truth will be long-lasting
hard to be daunting
one’s own tongue wanting
irrelevant, no more sting
Many thanks to our SnakePals for their brave fiddling! Would you like to be a SnakePal? All you have to do is send poetry—forms or not—and/or photos and artwork to firstname.lastname@example.org. We post work from all over the world, including that which was previously-published. Just remember: the snakes of Medusa are always hungry!
This is one of the poems in Robert Brewer’s list in Writer’s Digest, called “10 Short Poetic Forms”. See www.writersdigest.com/write-better-poetry/10-short-poetic-forms/. Check it out next time you want to write something quick and dirty!
MEDUSA’S FORM FINDER: Links to poetry forms mentioned today:
•••Choka: poetscollective.org/poetryforms/choka OR poetscollective.org/poetryforms/choka
•••List Poem: clpe.org.uk/poetryline/poeticforms/list-poem
•••Normative Syllabics: hellopoetry.com/collection/108/normative-syllabic-free-verse OR lewisturco.typepad.com/poetics/normative-syllabic-verse
•••Sonnenizio [sometimes spelled “sonnenzio”]: poetscollective.org/everysonnet/sonnenzio
•••Word-Can Poem: putting random words on slips of paper into a can, then drawing out a few and making a poem out of them.
—Public Domain Photo Courtesy of
Joseph Nolan, Stockton, CA
Photos in this column can be enlarged by
clicking on them once, then clicking on the x
in the top right corner to come back to Medusa.