Tuesday, November 30, 2021

Orchards of the Mind

The Old Voices
—Poetry and Original Artwork by Joyce Odam, Sacramento, CA


Hungry, we smelled the bread. The breeze
opened up. We followed, tried to find the source,
no bakery anywhere, only the open windows of air.

We followed the sensuality of yeast,
the air took on a tawny color. Our eyes became
as dark as poppy seeds. We tried to hurry.

After a long time we came to an empty plate
left on an old tablecloth covered with ants
and fallen leaves. The scent was here.

We heard voices off in a small distance,
and laughter, followed the sound and came
upon ourselves in an intimate embrace,

savoring a perfect moment
before we had to go back to some forgotten
hunger—some unresolved beginning.

(prev. pub. in Medusa’s Kitchen, 2015)
Ants and Fallen Leaves


We are half-hungry
all the time,
not for the food, but for
the unknown taste.

The peach is in
the orchard of the mind.
We cannot find that
dark, unreachable tree;
but if we could,

the fruit
that gathered ripeness
for our taste
would never
taste the way
we thought it should.

(prev. pub. in The Third Leaf Has Fallen
Mini Chapbook, 1968, by Joyce Odam)
Glass of Wine


This is sweet—
this is sour.

One is fine grape—
one is mysterious lemon.
Both are true to the mouth
which responds with different pleasure
which gets hungry so often
which needs…which needs.

Do not starve the mouth.
It has no kiss to protect it.
Do not starve the mouth.

(prev. pub. in
Celebration, 1987)



one mouse away from civilization
the party laughs

drops from glasses into thoughts

outside the house the haunted dog
holds his new note

the pantry holds its darkness
like a death

the mousetrap waits
bait hides the hungry snap
Something About the Day

After Toyen (Marie Cerminova)’s
At the Chateau Lacoste, 1946

The beast of sorrow is hungry.
It has always starved.

It has always been held captive by need.
It has become a mural.

It cannot escape the wall though it weeps
and the prey comes up to it in pity.

Though it snarls,
it cannot feed.

Though the prey
has pity, it cannot be sacrifice.

Something always stays between.
What is lost is what we love.
Sip of Nectar


we will tear a rose
and devour it
for we are hungry
for certain tastes
and urgencies

we have been
away so long
sweet tongues
of the flowers

our lips
will be
pink with flavor
as we smile
through the half-darkness
at each other

(prev. pub. in ARX, l969) and
The Rose Eaters Mini-Chap
by Joyce Odam, 1972)



What are drawn to our sills
are unbearable birds
who eat our bread,
are error of leaves
gone astray in flight,
are disattached shadows
of all that passes.

What if they cut the window
with their diamond eyes,
the wine-hungry birds,
the poisonous leaves,
the thirsting forms
that reach for
our newly poured glasses.
Color of Sound


in the city
the animals finally came

with their glinting eyes
and their quiet walking

with their adaptable hands
and their appetites

great furry shapes
and curdling cries

passing among the people
like pets

no death

going everywhere on
flimsy leashes and chains

looking in windows
and disappearing

coming out
on the other side of buildings

they even knew how to obey                 
the traffic signals

no one was ready
for their danger

no one was wary
except the

one imaginary child
in the motionless swing

who was raising a whistle
to his lips and smiling

(prev. pub. in Sou’Wester, 1970)
Past the Hour
After Victor Brauner’s Transmutation Onirique

And now you stare out of yourself—thought after
thought. surrendered and evolved to this. Shadow
after shadow lags behind—solidified into stone—

unchiseled by evolution—now you have eyes
for everywhere your thought decides—you are
unwavering with resolve, with new direction.

Further and further
you evolve until you are reminiscent
of stone—of shadow—of flesh—of mind.

Somehow, you are still child, strange and un-
reachable, endless of being, full of
sensation and desire, hungry for your life—

still, you advance into the levels of light
and light’s structure, the pinprick center of all
there is, and still you advance into your full being.


Today’s LittleNip:

—Joyce Odam

Maybe it was the smell of the bread
that drew me; it wafted all over the
neighborhood—and I searched—
and followed, but never could find
The Bakery.


Thank you, Joyce Odam, for today’s riffs on our Seed of the Week, Appetites! I, too, have searched and searched—but never found—The Bakery.

Our new Seed of the Week is “Lonesome”. A lot of people are lonesome this time of year—maybe not you, but surely you’ve been to Lonely-town and can write about it. 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.


—Medusa, hoping you’re not lonely these days ~
—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.



Monday, November 29, 2021

A Little Beatles, A Little Bach


When Owls Become Vegan
—Poetry by Charles Mariano, Caschwa (Carl Schwartz), 
Stephen Kingsnorth, Michelle Kunert, Joseph Nolan
—Public Domain Photos Courtesy of Joseph Nolan
(unless otherwise labeled)

—Charles Mariano, Sacramento, CA

indeed, an intense
for you, only you,
my sweet

your long, alluring
headless body,
beautifully laid out
in butter

i want to peel
your soft, tasty skin
with my teeth,
run my fingers
gently, ever so gently,
across your smooth,
glistening thighs
wings spread
long, full legs…everywhere

i wait
in ravenous anticipation
of rapturous ecstasy
for your braised,
buttery nakedness,
scrumptious curves
waves of tantalizing,
savory aromas
violate my senses

beautifully laid out,
simmering seductively
through smoked glass,
in warm, succulent juices,
leaves me drooling, weak,
until finally, i surrender

i give thanks, lovingly,
for you, only you,
my sweet 
—Photo Courtesy of Stephen Kingsnorth

—Stephen Kingsnorth, Coedpoeth, Wrexham, Wales, UK

When I mowed the outer field
in burning sun, my copper head
failed to recognise host strategy.
As I circled, drawing in,
expecting rabbit targets at the bull
(can hardly say cornered in circumference)
the Kentucky cowboys
watched me work, sat with beer
(gin is my elixir of life, the tin bath stills
of mountain dew in the hillbilly
woods beyond the scrub).

I now know the date for course;
then untutored, less bothered anyway.
They swigged and laughed
that I had fallen in their trap
though I did not admit the bait
(if you understand, I’m mean).
Independence Day they said
we’ll watch the limey work, we’ll play
but I said July fourth does not signify for me.
They choked the bottle when I declared,
with some pomposity I guess,
in my best posh English which they mocked,
that I was glad they’d gone away.
No recognition from the Stetson-topped,
but I hummed The British Grenadiers
and thought busbies grander
than their wide-brimmed hats,
even if my hair would melt
in that heat-cruel concentrate.

When that central final swathe was reached
there were no rodents, eye-rollings in the hay
(as Mum had regaled from her Somerset
harvest-rough-cider-tipsy-girly days.
Are bunnies rodents anyway?
I checked: they moved before first world war,
like secrets, they were re-classified).
There was a snake, a copperhead,
but none would roll in hay with that.
Iced Howdie Steve, they made a cake
on my first day, and saw me off
for Greyhound race, the pampas next.
—Photo Courtesy of Stephen Kingsnorth
—Stephen Kingsnorth

As mother wipes her finger,
then dips in dribble, red,
knows that dying natural,
blush pigments in her hair;
she tries cross-leggèd chatter,
to drown the next door wheeze,
but hopes the dust unsettled
not raised by faintest breeze.

Long months before the monsoon,
nine if the timing right,
now drift of concentration,
her own far wedding night.
Old matchsticks from the oil-lamps,
the nib is raised, her brush,
it’s tough to draw precision,
when sight is mist with tears.

Four days were like an epic
of Ramayana times;
two partners of our Sanskrit,
a complementary pair.
She chuckled at her palette,
the tools she had to use,
the wizened twig in outline,
the filler, oozing flush.

Smeared ochre mixed with lampblack,
some leather cast aside,
she saw it in their bedroom,
pack mudded, dun pat walls.
But now back down to figures,
her rope-string bedding frame,
Bihari dreams and goats’ milk,
in deed, what might have been.

The Kohbar style, tradition,
leaves little space for mess;
the field to be made fertile,
both rites and signs of life.
But so much incongruent,
how paint the pattern shapes,
when clean cut is the last thing
that dominates her mind?
Kohbar of Milthila
—Photo Courtesy of Stephen Kingsnorth


transferred from a community
college to UCLA, where they
had plentiful piano practice
rooms, and so I sat there with
my little book of Bach’s Two-Part
wrapping them up
with a rhapsody of rote repetition
until I had a couple of them down
by heart, my little, obedient fingers
responding quite rapidly

five decades later, that little book
might be hiding in the piano bench,
safely distant from fingers that are
no longer so obedient or rapid 


two new deputies hit the trail
“We are champions of the peace!”
each would back slap the other
in commemoration and celebration

they happened upon a young
rattlesnake, which announced its
animus with a hiss, seconding the
motion with a terrifying rattle

one deputy drew his gun, took aim,
and discharged a kill shot to the
head of the snake, earning back
slaps, commemoration, and celebration

they continued down the trail and were
“confronted” by the hiss of a young black
man jogging past them, both drew their
guns: “We are champions of the peace!”

they raised their service weapons in
public service and felled the jogger
each back slapped the other in
commemoration and celebration

further down the trail they were fully
terrified by another young black man,
this one’s rattling tail was a cell phone:
that deadly arsenal of killing machines

they issued forth 20 rounds of lead,
and after all was done and said
“We are champions of the peace!”
commemoration and celebration

next up on the trail was a young,
black man with his hands up in the
air, “Our work is never done
till we kill them all and not leave one”

“We are champions of the peace!” 
—Photo by Michelle Kunert

The opening episode of The Beatles' Get Back now steaming on Disney Plus verifies to me how possibly John Lennon broke up the band—
         John Lennon struts into the Twickenham studios in the wintertime of 1968, looking kind of like a pimp wearing a designer mink coat
         and then Lennon proceeds to boss around bandmates Paul McCartney and George Harrison on everything  
         He demands George's Hari Krishna friend must leave at once, rather than be allowed to hang out to observe
         Lennon insists that Paul and George make outright changes to songs they wrote, to whatever he wants—
         It appears Lennon, by this time, calls the shots to the complete business of “The Beatles”, without sharing the running of it with the other three                
         He even tells Paul he must change the entire theme lyrics of a song from “the wind” to “my mind…”
         and indeed, watching this, I wondered what was going through the mind of John Lennon here
         as well as why Paul and George are being too nice and not standing up to Lennon, talking back to him some more—
         and I can understand if Paul and George finally did get conscious of John's disrespect toward them, acting like their boss
         I also felt like saying “Damn it, John, chill out and smoke some marijuana instead of those tobacco cigarettes you’re smoking—“
         Perhaps “weed” would have helped with more “peace and love”, as well as more creative juices flowing among them at that time
         This footage provides a window into how the guy who later, in 1971, wrote the song “Imagine” was, in life, personally more like an asshole diva
         and that this legend of Lennon being “very conscious” about how he treated others beside himself merely arose from his 1980 murder . . .

—Michelle Kunert, Sacramento, CA
Medusa, Knit by Nicki Hitz Edson
Medusa, Queen of The Serpents. is a campy British-made B-grade film streaming currently on Amazon Prime
         Carli, a drug-addicted prostitute gains snake-like superpowers from some witches who choose her to reincarnate as their queen
         She murders her human and drug-trafficking boyfriend, as well as “Johns”  lured to pay for sex in the mobile home park where she resides  
         While there are no pornographic sex scenes in this movie,  
         it’s also no female version of the dark Marvel heroes such as Venom, where the characters use their powers to achieve justice
         Carli essentially ends up as another slave to the witches who cursed her, rather than receiving any kind of liberation
         Frankly, this movie indeed made me really want to see film author Alexandra Bracken’s recent book, Lore, also made into a movie
         Bracken’s novel offers up modern sympathetic views for her character based on the ancient myth of Medusa
         as does Gregory Maguire’s portrayals of the witches in Frank Baum’s Wizard of Oz, in his novel, Wicked  

—Michelle Kunert

—Joseph Nolan, Stockton, CA

Brilliant colors
In a sunset
Describe the way light dies,
Just before it disappears,
Leaving us in darkness
For years!

Aren’t for keeping,
As Fall’s leaves
Make so clear.

They fall and blow,
Rustle and go,
Into piles
To dispose.

—Joseph Nolan

A big fat piece of chocolate
Slipped itself
Under your tongue,
Surprising you with
Unbid pleasure,
Just like you were young.

Where does chocolate come from,
Unbidden and unsung?
When your head
Lies on a pillow
Dreaming dreams
You’ve wrung
From daily memories
And lifetimes’ goals, undone?

All, on a spinning calliope,
With painted ponies,
On which
Children glide,
To capture their infinity
In a never-ending ride,
Or so
They hope!

While ever-after,
Children’s pleasure,
Adults must strive to cope,
With treasuries
Not fully-funded.
Next year’s raise,
They hope!

—Joseph Nolan

Ideas float
In circular motions
Around the planet’s core.

Who’ve landed here,
Pray for their salvation,
While others
Seek more and more
Of whatever they’ve had,
That ever
Gave them
Greater pleasure!

Progress or regression?

Circles circle
Eternity’s impression,
As we adore
Or abhor,
To our reason or intuition,
Or whatever else
We can score.
Wild Scottish Donkey gets even more wild when 
he drinks a lot of double-malt Scotch

—Joseph Nolan

Have you ever wondered
How one and one
Might become two,
When they have
Nothing in common?

There are so many ways
Of being in the World.
Not all of them are true.
Few are tried and true.
What will you do?

Everything is up for grabs—
Subject to negotiation.
Nothing is writ in stone,
No established negations
Or traditions.
Nothing you can say
To make it go away,
When it defies
All explanation,
From where you’re coming from.

To try to find some harmony
To bind yourself and woo?
When it is more than you can do,
To understand the other,
So far away from you? 

—Joseph Nolan

In dead-time, only,
Do we speak—
Otherwise wasted,
To fit each other in,
Like squirrels
Harboring nuts
For Winter.

Their memories,
I hear,
Are only ten percent—
The remainder
Rot in the Spring.

Dropped-call after dropped-call,
We string our words together
Over interruptions and intermissions.

Oh yes,
Where were we?


Today’s LittleNip:

—Joseph Nolan

It takes awhile to pee
When you’re sixty-three.
It takes awhile more, 
When you’re sixty-four.
When you’re sixty-five,
Be glad to be alive.
Be glad you’re still alive!


Welcome to another Monday morning, and our thanks to our prolific Pals for all their lively-as-usual poetry and pix this morning! The NorCal area has some events coming up this week:

•••Today (11/29), 7:30pm: Sac. Poetry Center’s Socially Distant Verse presents Sonia Greenfield and Donna Spruijt-Metz plus open mic on Zoom at 763-873-3462; password r3trnofsdv/.

•••Wed. (12/1), 8pm:  Sac. Poetry Alliance Tub Open Mic Poetry (STOMP) Reading on Zoom at us02web.zoom.us/j/85846531910/. Info: www.facebook.com/events/3138033573099148/. Host: Frank Dixon Graham.

•••Thurs. (12/2), 6-8pm: Sac. Poetry Center and Mimi Miller host The Miller Party, SPC’s annual fundraiser, at the beautiful East Sacramento home of Mimi Miller at 1224 40th St. No admission cost or minimum donation requested, but the first $30 of any donation will be applied to a new or continuing SPC membership. Vax cards and masks will be required. Catered food (Brasserie du Monde), raffles (donated gifts), readings (Bob Stanley, Alice Anderson, Traci Gourdine), music (Kent Lacin, Steve Bird, Patrick Grizzell).  

•••Sat. (12/4), 8-9:15pm: Sac. Poetry Alliance’s Four for the Quarter features Judy Halebsky, Wm. O’Daly, and Straight Out Scribes. 1169 Perkins Way, Sac. Info: www.facebook.com/SacPoetryAlliance and scroll down.

Sacramentans and NorCal poets will be saddened to learn that Sacramento’s first mayor, Anne Rudin, passed away last Thursday at the age of 97. It was Anne Rudin who was responsible for naming Oct. 26 Sacramento Poetry Day, and she was a strong supporter of the arts. See www.sacbee.com/news/local/obituaries/article256159402.html?fbclid=IwAR2F0pCbHkGEb9EzYjqr7DMk95Oh3d9ZTjOAU03tsWtutEnSPurBy3_p9pk/.




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

Would you like to be a SnakePal?
All you have to do is send poetry and/or
photos and artwork to
kathykieth@hotmail.com. We post
work from all over the world, including
that which was previously published.
Just remember:
the snakes of Medusa are always hungry—
for poetry, of course!
Don’t tie yourself up in knots
about the coming holidays!

Sunday, November 28, 2021

Catching Time

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


I was supposed to write a poem today.
Instead, autumn caught my eye.
The crows down in the field pecking at the gleanings.
A brisk wind snatching the leaves from the trees.
And I am here at the back door,
Savoring my morning coffee,
Watching the crows and the leaves.
Mother Nature doing her work.
This is the poem.


This autumn day sits in silence,
As if waiting for it knows not what,
But it will wait all day if that is what it takes.
Even the fat, round pumpkin on the vine will wait
In its own particular silence.
The rock in the quiet stream waits.
All at once the flower closes up shop,
Sinks back into the earth, and waits.
A heavy cloud anchors itself in the sky, waits.
I wait, too, for I know not what.


I caught him by the back of his collar, Time, I mean,
Running past me as fast as he could.
He braked to a halt on his heels, like a small boy
Impatient to be outdoors with his friends.
But for the moment, I held on tight.
I’d been too busy lately to pay attention to the trees
Changing color, to the pods of milkweed bursting at the seams,
To the rain tapping at the window.
Too busy to listen to the story you want to tell.
Okay, I’m listening now.


I made a visit to the old family graveyard,
where everything that once was is now.
Here are simple ordinary people whose lives
Have now disappeared somewhere between the two dates
etched in stone.

Here, beneath the grass at my feet,
my grandmother, but in my memory,
she is in her apron turning her attention from the stove
to smile at me as I bounce into the kitchen,
all long legs and page-boy haircut,
before she turns back to the business of frying chicken
for all the company she is expecting.

Next to her, a grandfather I never knew,
except through an old black-and-white photograph.
He is wearing a checkered, button-down shirt,
sleeves rolled up to the elbows and holding
a swaddled baby, me, in his muscled farmer’s arms.

Nearby, an uncle.
A fleeting memory of a tall, silent man
entering through the back door, letting in the cold,
stamping snow from his boots before dumping
an armload of wood into the box next to the wood stove.
He rarely spoke, but when he did the low rumble of his voice
vibrated through me, like the low rumbling of the earth
shifting under my feet.

Beside him, his wife, my aunt, who was his exact opposite.
Her hearty horsey laugh still rings in my ears when I think of her.
Her specialty, homemade angel food cakes, any flavor you wanted,
lined up on the kitchen counter, making your water just looking at them.

There are those here who succumbed to a variety of deaths:
cancer, heart attack, one killed in a car crash,
another whose arm was chewed up in a combine accident.
Still another dead by a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

Just over there, underneath the elm tree,
a great uncle, veteran of the Great War,
who survived a mustard gas attack,
suffering nervous tremors the rest of his life.

Not far away, my grandmother’s sister,
who served as a Red Cross Nurse in the Second World War,
interned in a Japanese Prisoner-of-War camp.

There’s a cousin I remember, a little older than me,
who once gave me a ride on the back of his Harley,
then was drafted in ‘sixty-eight, and six months later
killed in the jungles of Viet Nam.

There are others, most having died long before I came along,
but still a part of me, sharing the same lineage.
Mothers who died giving birth.
Children who never had a chance to grow up.
Old folks ready to meet their maker when the time came.

So many of them I remember gathered at the family table,
whose places have long been empty.
Yet, still I hear them, the sound of their laughter
as they swapped stories of those who came before,
passing their memories around the table along with
the fried chicken and mashed potatoes.

They are all here now in this small country cemetery,
members of my family going back as far as pioneer days.
I would have them all back if I could, my kin,
sitting together at their places ‘round the table,
sharing stories with them of all the kin who came after.


Today’s LittleNip:

The leaves fall from the trees like little secrets falling in 
     the grass,
Then forgotten just as quickly.
Do you have a secret you need to tell?
Tell the trees, they will keep it to themselves.

—Kimberly Bolton


—Medusa, thanking Kimberly Bolton, for her songs about autumn and about all her family members who have shared autumns with her in the past~

And Hanukkah 2021 begins this evening; see www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2021/11/26/when-is-hanukkah-2021-jewish-holiday-explained/8672190002/. Happy Hanukkah to all our Jewish friends!


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

Would you like to be a SnakePal?
All you have to do is send poetry and/or
photos and artwork to
kathykieth@hotmail.com. We post
work from all over the world, including
that which was previously published.
Just remember:
the snakes of Medusa are always hungry—
for poetry, of course!


Saturday, November 27, 2021

Not-So-Dark Angels

Dark Angel 
—Poetry by Ann Wehrman, Sacramento, CA 
—Photos by Chris Feldman
I thought to deny my self  
took Christian teachings and  
Mom’s harsh reprimands of
You’re so selfish! to heart  
sought to escape it through drugs
gluttony then starved glamour
to sacrifice it, working to please others
yielding my heart in love, my body in sex
chased the ideals of  
selfless service, unconditional love
without first understanding  
and loving my self
having been brought to my knees
my back, my belly
having cried in fear  
fasted, renounced—
I’ve finally fallen in love with my self
in all its righteous, healthy
beautiful aspects
body, mind, soul, and spirit  
in the quiet between breaths
I lean back in my mind
looking out from a recliner  
in the center of my skull
my soul steady, open
God is present  
eager to converse
varicolored, splendid 
Woman by Gerd Altmann
—Public Domain Image from Pixabay

warm yellow moon outside
my dark room
sleepless at midnight  
I stand like a mountain
breathe into my abdomen
lift my arms, stretch overhead
bend forward from my hips
melt toward worn carpet
hang for awhile
fingertips trail on the floor
then slowly unfold back to standing  
well past middle age
I marvel at the gift
of dancing with myself  
the Universe and God  
at midnight, in the moonlight 

how can a woman maintain the image  
so carefully cultivated, society’s recipe  
just the right clothes, hair, weight
a good bra, closely shaved legs
nice shoes, make-up, jewelry  
demure tone of voice
brainwashed since girlhood
when can a girl breathe
what if she burps, passes gas, vomits
sweats, cries, bleeds
how does she live  
when she has sold herself based on artifice
is there ever a moment  
of honesty, truth, or happiness
how does she avoid suffocation  
in a doll’s house of society’s expectations 
Deluge St.

(After watching Dune, 2021)
people filed in ahead of time
coughing, bringing in the cold, wet leaves on street shoes, boots
compelled, they came in couples, some alone, families with kids
sneaked snacks, chatted, leaned back in their loungers
the show played at the theater  
and streamed from home screens, available to all
people quieted, unsure of what to expect
some had read the book long ago, but most had not since reading was hard
preferring images, sounds, the shows that filled their minds
this show was entertainment yet something more
cities gray megalithic blocks of stone, tan deserts undulating waves
tsunamis of sound without words, without harmony, deep bell tones, keening
people watched, listened, felt the message beyond words
a powerful opening, freeing
suddenly the theatre became dark inside, home streaming shows stopped
one-hundred-year storm cracked open the sky, deluged the city, power out for hours
in the theater, ushers with flashlights helped the people out and to their cars  
those at home grinned, put logs on fires, wrapped in blankets, waited out the storm
next day dawned clear, tree branches down everywhere, reservoir full  
people scratched their heads, unsure of the message of the show
that had stopped halfway through, never resumed, unfinished
yet its purpose was realized  
in the people’s minds, hearts opened by sound, sight
they knew, shrugged, went forth changed
discussions turned to invitations, plans being made
potlucks, community feasts, shared gardens’ last fruits, the holidays coming soon
white toenail moon grinned overhead in clear, cool night sky 
Liminal Passageway #1

Today’s LittleNip:

—Ann Wehrman
blue liminal and
green, a cobalt sky touches
spring’s electric grass 
Liminal Passageway #2


Today, (Sat. 11/27), 2pm: Poetry of the Sierra Foothills (Poetry is Gold in El Dorado County!) celebrates Native American Heritage Day with featured poet Stephen Meadows plus open mic. Love Birds Coffee & Tea Co., 4181 Hwy 49, Diamond Springs (where Hwy 49 meets Pleasant Valley Rd.). Host: Lara Gularte


—Medusa, with thanks to collaborators Ann Wehrman and Chris Feldman for today’s fine presentation, with their striking poems and visuals! Collaborations are always welcome in Medusa's Kitchen!
Poetry is Gold in El Dorado County!
—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
kathykieth@hotmail.com. We post
work from all over the world, including
that which was previously published.
Just remember:
the snakes of Medusa are always hungry—
for poetry, of course!




Friday, November 26, 2021

Our Paper Sails of Words

Wishing Tree, Wakamatsu Farm, Placerville, CA
—Poetry and Photos by Taylor Graham, Placerville, CA

And scroll down for Form Fiddlers' Friday!!




This oak has stood so many years
through leafings and their leavings
and still she roots the land, and lifts
her canopies of birds.

She’s seen our harvests and our fears,
our human joys and grievings,
and lets November’s breezing drift
our paper sails of words.






The full moon walked our deck,
making familiar things unknowable
on the other side of sliding glass.

I woke past midnight
to moonlight diffusing a cold mist
like dream’s subconscious.

Illuminated vapor rising
filled the canyon with portent
like a ghost of sleep.

And when at last the dawn
created land again with light,
it walked veiled in silver chill.





    inspired by Laurel Ferreira’s Rattlesnake and Poppy Dream

Snake describes
its circle of sand
with poppy
as center.
I’m in the circle caught tight
in snake’s land, poppy

at my feet.
I dare not cross. Snake
lithe as myth.
Years ago
I lept the circle but for
memory of snake.



    inspired by Pawenan by Jaime Lanouette

From the wall she observes us—
this reception for the exhibition, couples
and friends in groups sipping local wines
from stem glasses. Hors d’oeuvres.
Eating in public is awkward in a mask.
I’ve been watching the woman on the wall—
dark skin, flowing black hair, ear-rings
and necklace beads of native
materials. A portrait in mixed media.
She has no features. No eyes, nose,
mouth. Has she a voice
in this room flowing over conversations
with wine and tidbits? Hovering
above her, a butterfly in her same rich
colors of earth-red and shining black.




    inspired by Universal Dreamer by Cherie Hacker

The pattern’s finished,
elements dancing in place
as fresh as the dawn;
the work she made sits dreaming—
the spirit beckons: move on.





The wind is turning,
the sun goes burning
        above the lost shore’s memory place
        where on the sand you find what’s left
        of maps and barrels, ropes—each trace
of travelers’ castoffs
their thoughtless passed-offs
        which buoy the waves that come and go—
        what’s polished, water-logged, or cleft
        from journeys weeks or years ago.
Each find you finger,
let fancies linger…. 



Today's LittleNip:

—Taylor Graham   

Set in concrete, two
small handprints open like hope
newly filled with rain.


One day past Thanksgiving, and hopefully you’ve recovered from your tryptophan high. Taylor Graham’s poems carry us through Thanksgiving and on to Native American Heritage Day which is today, Nov. 26 (nationaltoday.com/native-american-heritage-day), and is a part of Native American Heritage Month (www.nativeamericanheritagemonth.gov). Be sure to stop by the Poetry of the Sierra Foothills reading tomorrow at Love Birds Coffee & Tea Co., 4181 Hwy. 49, Diamond Springs (where 49 meets Pleasant Valley Rd.). Reader will be Stephen Meadows, plus open mic, celebrating Native American Heritage Day with host Lara Gularte.

The forms that Taylor’s poems take today include: a Haiku ("Helping Hands”); a Shadorma (“Snake Circle”); some Ekphrastics (from “A Room of Their Own” exhibition at Confidence Firehouse Gallery: “Snake Circle”, “Room of Her Own”, “From the Dream”); a Tanka (“From the Dream”); a Triversen (“Under the Fog Moon”); a Dr Stella (“Thank You Oak”); and a Wavelet (“The Far Shore”). The Dr Stella and the Wavelet were our Form Fiddlers’ Challenges last week.

And check out yesterday’s Kitchen for a tasty salad of form examples from Sacramento's Carol Louise Moon, a Form Fiddler from ‘way back!

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, there will be poems posted here from our readers using forms—either ones which were sent to 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 resources and for links to poetry terms used today.)

This week, Joyce Odam has sent us a Poet’s Portal, which she describes as:

POET’S PORTAL: 10 lines of Iambic
Tetrameter or Iambic Pentameter, with
2 envelope quatrains, and one couplet,
Rhymed:  a b b a   c d d c   e e

—Joyce Odam, Sacramento, CA

This morning’s storm, as if with conscious wrath,
shudders every rattling window pane
with thrilling force of wind and slash of rain,
and flings itself—full force—across our path.

Wakened, we give late-worried thoughts to all
those thumping sounds at loose in house and yard,
bemoan our lack of plan. We listen hard.
We wonder if the weakened tree will fall—

the roof will hold, and if the rivers rise—
will they confirm what all our dread implies.




Caschwa (Carl Schwartz) and Taylor Graham (see “Thank You Oak” above) rose to one of last Friday’s challenges, the Dr Stella (apparently there is no period after the "Dr", old-school style). Here’s is Carl’s sleek slaying of this rather charming little form:                                                       

—Caschwa, Sacramento, CA

we all live in an envelope
defining every action
tri-folded, creased, and hogtied tight
escape is not a choice

it’s in our daily horoscope
left wanting for some traction
triathlons borne of prism light
tall orders, not our voice




The other Form Fiddlers’ challenge last week was the Wavelet, and here is Carl’s:


it happens daily
real smooth and gaily
we think we know what’s fact or dud
the truth is buried under spin
a trait admired by piles of mud
our minds are closets
too full of poets
they hang in clusters, mix and match
some never surface e’er again
intended meanings we can’t catch
redundant verses
foul language curses 




The tippy ship above was last Friday’s Ekphrastic Challenge, and Stephen Kingsnorth did some research on it, discovering that it was the BRP Datu Kalantiaw, Philippines [formerly USS Booth], salvaged by USS Mount Hood. Here are two poems from Stephen in response:


—Stephen Kingsnorth, Coedpoeth, Wrexham, Wales, UK

Some forty past,
near eighty lost,
a double deathbed shipping scene;
once USS, baptised as Booth,
though grand as title—
take a bow—
sold BRP, sailed Philippines.
These Man-of-War or frigatebirds,
but coffin lids, rib-riveting,
for second berth to rocky death.
Named first law code, isle history,
Kalantiaw, its afterbirth—
but deemed a hoax,
some conning tower,
forged profile, experts float in wake.
But was there wake, that refit crew?
How fitting was her ‘Clara’ tag—
that typhoon, wrecking
fleet afoot?
These breakers,
crashing ‘bout their yard,
though metrical, crest rhythm beat,
stern in their view, and prowess proved,
but poor hand dealt to men of steel.
Beached wails
beneath that threnody,
ill-fitting capsize, parting end.
‘Good Hood’ worn, salvage sailors watch,
their own soon scrapped,
that knacker’s end.
Rum cat o’nine told many tales,
pressed navy haematoma welts;
though tides have changed,
the bridge on swell remains brief span.

* * *

—Stephen Kingsnorth

With muscled flesh, broad shouldered back,
what juxtapose,
that strapping, contemplative lad,
observing from his detached rock,
as if the pain divorced by stretch
of pounding water, energised,
and there in counterbalanced wait,
the wallow carcass, gurgle swirl,
insulting ripples, swabbing deck,
between cracked ribs and broken back.

Is it that misplaced tonnage died,
a contradiction in its space,
bowed, screw lift, stern dripping face,
its turrets tilted, torrents flushed?
Its blues and greys of naval hue,
slate, picked crew as crewcut style,
some mermaid borne of spewy froth,
but would he cite Aphrodite’s rôle—
this juxtapose
with crumpled scrap, lost eighty died? 





Here is Carl’s take on poor “Clara”:



one job to do
one goal to meet
helpers at your feet
high technology abounds
windows, more windows
radar and sonar screens
maps, coordinates
years of training
history of good hunches

but today is different
wandering eyes
distractions to despise
reports, other input
keep your eye on the ball
focus, refocus, again
history of good hunches
years of training
maps, coordinates

season over



—Public Domain Photo Courtesy of Joseph Nolan 

And lookee here the cute response that Sacramento Poet Michelle Kunert sent:

dude I went out to surf and guess what I found a ship beached on its side like a dead whale But I guess that’s better than a whale washing up and reeking like s_t as it rots in the sun

—Michelle Kunert, Sacramento, CA


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 kathykieth@hotmail.com. We post work from all over the world, including that which was previously-published. Just remember: the snakes of Medusa are always hungry!



See what you can make of this week’s poetry form, and send it to kathykieth@hotmail.com! (No deadline.) This week's challenge (courtesy of Joyce Odam):

•••Poet’s Portal: 10 lines of Iambic Tetrameter or Iambic Pentameter, with 2 envelope quatrains, and one couplet, Rhymed:  
a b b a   c d d c   e e

And see the bottom of this post for another challenge, this one in Ekphrastic form!


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

•••Dr Stella: poetscollective.org/poetryforms/dr-stella OR forums.familyfriendpoems.com/topic.asp?TOPIC_ID=115687
•••Ekphrastic: notesofoak.com/discover-literature/ekphrastic-poetry
•••Haiku: www.shadowpoetry.com/resources/haiku/haiku.html
•••Poet’s Portal: 10 lines of Iambic Tetrameter or Iambic Pentameter, with 2 envelope Quatrains, and one couplet, Rhymed:  a b b a   c d d c   e e
•••Shadorma: www.writersdigest.com/editor-blogs/poetic-asides/poets/shadorma-a-highly-addictive-poetic-form-from-spain
•••Tanka: poets.org/glossary/tanka
•••Triversen: www.writersdigest.com/write-better-poetry/triversen-poetic-form
•••Wavelet: poetscollective.org/poetryforms/wavelet


•••Shadow Poetry: www.shadowpoetry.com/resources/wip/types.html
•••Poets’ Collective: poetscollective.org/poetryforms/example-index
•••Poets.org: poets.org/glossary
•••Poetry Foundation: www.poetryfoundation.org/learn/glossary-terms?category=209
•••Bob’s Byway: www.poeticbyway.com/glossary.html
•••Desolation Poems by Sacramento’s Jan Haag: janhaag.com/PODesIntro.html
•••Baymoon: www.baymoon.com/~ariadne
•••The Poets Garret: thepoetsgarret.com/list.html
•••Lewis Turco: www.amazon.com/Lewis-Turco/e/B001K7LAUQ%3Fref=dbs_a_mng_rwt_scns_share
•••Writer’s Digest: www.writersdigest.com/?s=poetry&submit= (just type in the form you want in the search bar at upper right) OR www.writersdigest.com/whats-new/list-of-50-poetic-forms-for-poets


•••Annie Finch: "Listening to Poetry": www.poetryfoundation.org/harriet/2009/03/listening-to-poetry/.
•••"What is Poetic Form?" by Emily Jarvis, a short description of how/why poetry is structured into forms: penandthepad.com/poetic-form-8726589.html/. Also by the same author: “Examples of Musical Devices in Poetry”: penandthepad.com/examples-musical-devices-poems-20170.html/.
•••The Guardian Poem of the Week: www.theguardian.com/books/booksblog/2017/nov/20/poem-of-the-week-yoga-for-leaders-and-others-by-philip-fried/.




Today's Ekphrastic Challenge!
(Don't forget the tiny mosquito's role in
history—think yellow fever, spoiled idylls and 
picnics, itchy carriers of doom...)

See what you can make of the above
photo, and send it to
kathykieth@hotmail.com/. (No deadline.)
—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.


Do you use too many exclamation points?