Golden Shovel from Sylvia Plath’s “Candles”
In this blackout night, the upside
of flame bright-shadows our rafters. Down
comforters try to warm ribs and hearts.
What word might summon the return of
power, or dawn? What kind of light
do we need, waiting past solstice tipping
us toward spring? Flesh is so like wax
softening on the wick, my reaching fingers.
JOY OF ROT
I’m on a treasure hunt with camera
and plant-ID apps on my iPhone.
Loki ranges our woodland on her own.
Here are my treasures: Brownit; Speckled
Greenshield; Oak Mazegill; Yellow
Fieldcap; Red Pinwheel; Woods Blewit;
Hairy Curtain Crust; The Goblet
and, most mysterious, Artist’s Bracket
growing like rings of Saturn
around a buckeye nut.
And Loki? She needs no apps, no
smartphone. What her nose and brain
have captured is secret treasure
of her own.
Our speculative plans for the New Year—
but look, just now cold winter sun makes clear
newly-dewed grass almost hiding, right here,
a small head pushing up, brownish and sere;
and there, flesh-colored, edges ruffed, an ear.
Click my shutter, hold still. What might I hear?
Secrets of the dark pressing up, so near—
so suddenly underfoot they appear.
Plain or extravagantly cavalier
and, as mysteries unsolved, they disappear.
Very Peri, Pantone’s Color of the Year 2022
Color of distances between eye and high-desert mountain—vibrant haze, airborne dust rendering landscape immortal. Color of distances between the wish to be an artist—a painter—and finding one’s fingers will not perform what the mind conceives. Distance between vision—the image— and the word wishing to capture that image ethereal, ephemeral, potent. This color of blue tinged with red heart’s-blood. Can her mind do what her fingers can’t?
with purpose, reaching toward those
far-off mountains. Words.
BUT IT’S STILL PEACHY
My old typewriter never was peach-
colored to match dainty porcelain
teacups and garden-party roses.
No, my old manual portable
very-well-traveled Royal’s clatter
likeliest would’ve cracked those teacups
and left them in speechless smithereens.
My typewriter knows lots of words un-
dainty and would not be invited
to parties with or without peaches.
A bright midwinter aura—not from our
little artificial Xmas tree but
from TV broadcasting holiday cheer
with commercials. Are we marionettes
pulled by strings of the shopping season? But
look, the tree’s alive! No, that’s cat Latches
prowling among colored-paper rings until,
unexpected, Loki rushes the game.
Dog shepherds black cat leaping to kings-X
atop the rocking chair. Cat has knocked rings
of colors every which way. I pick up
half a dozen, each with a word inscribed
inside. Xmas word-tree! Words like puzzle-
pieces to inspire a poem. Oh joy!
Of presents under our little tree, this
may be the best, cheapest, and freest gift.
FOR A CHIMNEYSWEEP
M.E., December 2021
Dancer of rooftops, she was light
of foot, was filament of light-
bulb in char-dark, so smoke lifts, light-
er than frigid winter day; light
as free-swept ash dancing in light.
Happy New Year to you and to Taylor Graham, who has caught the local mushrooms (toadstools?) in the short time they’ve popped out of the ground. Flowers of their own, they are—fungus in bloom, celebrating the new year.
The forms TG has sent us today include a Golden Shovel (“Candle Questions”); a Haibun (“She Wanted To Be an Artist”); a Monorhyme (“Celebrating Fungi”); some Blank Verse (“Word-Tree”); Normative Syllabics/Ekphrastic on last Friday’s Ekphrastic Challenge (“But It's Still Peachy”) and an End-of-the-Line Poem/Elegy (“For a Chimneysweep”).
And now it’s time for . . .
FORM FIDDLERS’ FRIDAY!
—Joyce Odam, Sacramento, CA
Sweet cups of brimming light, and should we drink
from all the goblet-flowers of this place,
would we, like Alice, grow in size—or shrink—
lose our senses—feel ourselves erase . . . ?
Oh, careful one, how pale you turn to think
I’d poison you by urging you to taste
such heady light—intoxicate your soul—
risk some addiction you could not control.
It was a creature made of light, tame and beautiful.
It came to her hand but backed away when she tried
to touch it. She could almost name it, though it made
no sound and had no definite shape. Still she recog-
nized it as something that she loved and used to own,
though only in a book that she cherished and had to
return. It appeared to her now on the edge of its exist-
ence. She wanted to save it as she always had. It
followed her for this.
you weep uncontrollably—
only with regret
PRETTY IN PINK
—Stephen Kingsnorth, Coedpoeth, Wrexham, Wales, UK
In fifties, black and white, aged six,
I saw my sister, first in tears,
so moved by death of Beth, she cried.
Has this creator read the tome,
to set it in such pink surround?
Embarrassment, that rose in vase,
petite typewriter, Wedgewood brooch,
the China tea cup, goldleaf rim—
though not the brew, mash, black and strong,
or women in that little book.
What is the message of the tint,
what hint in choice of hue—a cry
that feminine is blushed or slushed,
type salmon-pink or rosé glossed?
With faded covers, ribbon band—
those titles not yet bound red tape—
the colour, clue to discipline?
Old letters written, blue ink hand,
small perfume bottle, scissor pair—
why is this paring instrument named two—
have we romantic retrospect,
when blade met one but didn’t last,
some memories now left on shelf,
or pretty, felt that it should be?
For does it self-identify
those who choose it for their FB?
Who claims this image, storybook,
a niche, or nook for fantasy?
Along with dolls and war machines,
with macho, muscles, Faerie Queen,
when does a lady claim the man,
the Virgin, stomach, heart of king?
Why does this picture so offend?
Is it the monotype I see
when stereo is sound I hear?
Or does my raised voice prove a point:
testosterone control thyself?
It seems confusion rules debate;
‘pretty in pink’ not the last word.
What might the other volumes be?
A Study, Letter, Pimpernel;
the scarlet titles blow where will.
There’s much capacity for pink.
Brighton Rock, unlikely theme—
written Greene, but Pinkie starred.
Repeated panthers on the prowl—
Sellers’ market for the films.
By royal appointment taking place,
those bindings show fast-fading past;
is that so, rehearsed arguments,
when colour codes lent poor excuse
to label, pigeon hole, enclose.
Dare publisher be Everyman—
all tied up as words evolve:
should we blame old as meanings change,
yet wicked ways hold to account?
Is it that body can be trap,
in gender or in spirit terms?
Why are flesh tones assumed pale pink,
art lovers of the renaissance?
Another berth, relaunch today,
would surely see a global earth,
and we would note the mastery,
mystery, cultures, not our own.
This not a setting for my tale.
I have no drama for this scene.
I would interrogate the props.
and muse on ‘what is meant by that?’.
I should ask what the prompting is.
Will one stand and right-justify?
As was once said to Lazarus:
‘Unbind him now, and let him go’.
Finally, winding up 2021, here is Caschwa’s (Carl Schwartz’s) response to both last week’s Ekphrastic Challenge and to its Fiddlers’ Challenge, the Seadna:
—Caschwa, Sacramento, CA
there’s one thing she really hated
overrated, gifts of pink
any other color okay
loved to smoke, ignored the stink
ruled office with fist of iron
Byron’s satire, bottom up
mapping trails to scale the mountain
strong brew filled her coffee cup
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 email@example.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 firstname.lastname@example.org! (No deadline.) This week's challenge:
•••Arkquain: poetscollective.org/poetryforms (scroll down)
and/or the Arkquain String (same reference)
and/or the Arkquain Swirl (same reference)
And see the bottom of this post for another challenge, this one an Ekphrastic one!
MEDUSA’S FORM FINDER: Links to poetry terms mentioned today:
•••Blank Verse: literarydevices.net/blank-verse OR www.masterclass.com/articles/poetry-101-what-is-the-difference-between-blank-verse-and-free-verse#quiz-0
•••Ekphrastic Poem: notesofoak.com/discover-literature/ekphrastic-poetry
•••End-of-the-Line Poem: A poem of any length in which the same word is used at the end of each line
•••Golden Shovel: www.writersdigest.com/write-better-poetry/golden-shovel-poetic-form
•••Normative Syllabics: hellopoetry.com/collection/108/normative-syllabic-free-verse OR lewisturco.typepad.com/poetics/normative-syllabic-verse
•••Ottava Rima: www.writersdigest.com/write-better-poetry/ottava-rima-poetic-form
clicking on them once, then clicking on the x
in the top right corner to come back to Medusa.