Monday, May 23, 2022

Travelers on the Edge of Time

 
—Poetry by Stephen Kingsnorth, Nolcha Fox, 
Michael Ceraolo, Joe Nolan
—Public Domain Photos Courtesy of Joe Nolan


PAN THE BOX
—Stephen Kingsnorth, Coedpoeth, Wrexham, 
Wales, UK

My solo first, without my Dad,
leaving nest, and striking out
was on the bus to Biggin Hill,
the Spitfire base, ten London miles.
Uneasy grass, cut tarmac path,
the lessons wobbled, me earth fixed,
but I panned them with Kodak box,
now fuzzy birds in album scrap.
I, though in teens, bravado warped,
much many owed to so few boys,
when fight and flight were intertwined.

They had thirty on my years,
silver wings in dogfight rings,
poor chance to touch the face of God,
until the spiral, Weald of Kent,
amongst the hop fields, Shepherd Neame,
where Dad’s grandfather, cooper, singed.
I was so small, stature, unwise—
recall the man who taught to pan
on half a crown, my Oxfam box.

I grew with shrapnel, pantry door,
knew buried Dad, earth to neck,
saved because his head above,
and all the blitz, bomb alley line,
Mum’s tremble at fire siren wail,
her nestled, cupboard under stairs
our chapel burning, tarpaulin hauled,
the bombsite of my Sunday school,
he fire warden as census told
years after he left the fold.

He rarely talked, she even less,
brief interlude, my birth from war,
but I saw only buddleia,
sprouting from the brick dust cracks.
It coalesced at Biggin Hill,
on my first solo from the nest,
first flight for many, some the last. 

 

 

FIRST FLIGHT
—Nolcha Fox, Buffalo, WY

It started with
the eagle’s cry,
my heart once
broken sprouted
feathers,
bumped against
its rib cage
prison.
Open window,
smell of grass
fresh-mown
upon a breeze
that lifted
birdsong
from dark shadows
of my spirit.
I climbed upon
a toaster, stale
bread wings flapping,
and took first flight
since you’ve been gone. 

 


 

ELSEWHERE
—Nolcha Fox

My dream of being elsewhere
leads to curious journeys,
past sandcastles melting into brine,
down abandoned staircases
of cobwebs and candlewax.
Could I crawl into the skin
of someone else
and find contentment there,
perhaps become a child of night,
a traveler on the edge of time?
No matter where I find myself,
my bags are always packed
in hopes of opening a door
I’ve never seen to find
the prize that I’ve been looking for,
a place I can call home.

 

 
—Classified Courtesy of Nolcha Fox

 

NO POETS
—Nolcha Fox, Buffalo, WY

Unfurnished Apartments for Rent:
1 bedroom apartment.
All utilities included.
No poets.
No smoking.

Perhaps a poet
set his brain fuzz on fire,
scorching curtains,
leaving soot-prints
on the ceiling.

Perhaps a poet
pried up floorboards
or baseboards
in search of
a stray stanza.

Perhaps a poet
shed rhyme
and rhythm
incessantly,
a fine merlot on carpet.

But we poets can hide
behind smiles
and rent paid on time,
shame apartment owners
in poems they’ll never read.

 



A POET IS A DANGEROUS BEAST
—Nolcha Fox

A poet is
an insomniac
who trails entrails
of fractured
stanzas, leaking
blood and
vowel splatters
on the silver
sidewalks.

A poet is
terminally ill
with curiosity.
She’ll yank
her heart out
of its birdcage
to watch it beat,
to feel it ooze.

A poet is
a dangerous beast
who drops
bread crumbs
of fantasy.
If you follow,
she will eat you,
then spit you out as a poem.

 



FOUR POEMS FROM DUGOUT ANTHOLOGY
—Michael Ceraolo, S. Euclid, OH

Larry Sutton

I was twenty-four
when I saw my first baseball game,
much too late to even think about
becoming serious player,
so I became an umpire
(while keeping my newspaper job winters)
and also an unofficial scout
for the Brooklyn team until,
at the advanced baseball age of fifty,
Mr. Ebbets hired me to be
the first full-time salaried scout,
my territory the entire United States

* * *

Charlie Barrett

I was with Mr. Rickey at the beginning
when he came up with the brilliant idea
of the farm system,
which enabled us to compete with the richer teams;
I scouted and signed many of the players
Sure, we engaged in some sharp practices;
that's business
My only regret in that matter
was that I didn't get a percentage
of the percentage Mr. Rickey got
when he sold our excess players

* * *

Paul Krichell

Baseball isn't really a religion,
though there can be religious experiences
felt at times in the sense of awe and wonder
I experienced that feeling as a scout
when I first saw Lou Gehrig hit,
knowing even as it was happening
it was a peak experience in my life

* * *

William "Lord" Byron


Seven years in the bigs, minors on either side,
extra entertainment I'd always provide:
The Singing Umpire was another nickname
because rhyming calls were my main claim to fame




AFTER OUR DEAREST, DEAREST!
—Joe Nolan, Stockton, CA

Well, I would have liked
To have saved my friends,
The ones most dear to me—
The ones who early
Passed away,
Into the Greater Ocean,

Where my slight skiff
Doesn’t stand a chance
To brave the waves,
Where rough winds savage
Plaintiff, yearning craft
Who would feign, follow after
Their dearest, dearest,
Who disappeared
Into the Greater Ocean.

So we linger,
On nearer shores,
Bearing the greatest grief.
We would sooner sail away,
But there’d be no return.

 


 

THE UNIVERSE WILL SEEM ALL RIGHT
—Joe Nolan

I’m here
For you
On the sidelines,
Urging you on
With applause.

Disappearing
Into indifference,
Whenever a coach
Calls, “Pause!”

Just a butt
Upon the stands,
Hoping that
Things come out right,

So afterwards,
When we mob the tavern,
The universe
Will seem all right. 

 

—Dorothy Parker


Today’s LittleNip:


EARLY MAY MORNING
—Joe Nolan

Yesterday was summery.
Up to about 90.
Winds whipped up
Some allergy.

Mid-May at four a.m.
Cats are howling.
Back to sleep.

Everything
Will take care of itself
Before morning.

____________________

Our poets are their usual wild and crazy selves today, and thank goodness for that! Nolcha Fox addressed the ad on Twitter that sums up this society’s view of poets, and
our Seed of the Week was First Flight—hence all the birds. Watch for a new SOW every Tuesday, and other prompts on Form Fiddlers' Fridays.

Don’t forget to check out our UPCOMING NORCAL EVENTS link at the top of this column for what’s going on in area poetry this week, starting with Sac. Poetry Center tonight. Next Saturday will give you two choices, including Poetry in the Sierra Foothills in the afternoon, then the Luna’s event, Honoring the Poetry of José Montoya, in the evening. Check out UPCOMING for details.

 

 

You will hear of the “RCAF” in conjunction with the José Montoya reading next weekend. Check out this fine history of Sacramento’s Royal Chicano Air Force (RCAF) poets and artists by Dr. Ella Maria Diaz on smarthistory at smarthistory.org/rcaf/. Above is the RCAF Southside Park Mural, 1977 (restored 2001), 14 x 110 feet, at Southside Park, Sacramento.

 

 

Congratulations to Six Ft. Swells Press for a new release: Between Her Teeth: Poems by Mela Blust. Editors: Todd Cirillo, Matt Amott, Julie Valin, with cover by Julie Valin. Available now on Amazon.

____________________

—Medusa

 

 Destined to be Radicals

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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—
and collaborations are welcome.
Just remember:
the snakes of Medusa are always hungry—
for poetry, of course!

LittleSnake says, “If I had wings,
I’d be a dragon! Or Horus. . ."





















Sunday, May 22, 2022

A Stream of Yellow Trees

 
Dino Liberty
—Visual by Robert Fleming
—Poetry by Robert Fleming, Lewes, DE 
—Photos of Chamberpots 
Courtesy of Public Domain



slave-VUS

the arby’s sign reads drive-through only
the drive-through speaker does not encode my voice
my sledgehammer still breaks the drive-through menu glass
the drive-through window server is on break but is still paid
customer queues are queuing
the CVS pharmacy is closed 12:30-1 pm for lunch break
am i a customer?
i am un-served
still want to give you my dollars
but the 28-inch silver and white lava lamp is still out of stock and
the new balance 858 8.5 EE wide cross-trainer-shoes are still in shortage
Webster proposed to redefine service wish but
the committee meeting did not meet
 
   
 

 
 
RECIPE 4 MURDER


pick a Motive
pick a Modus Operandi
pick a Murderer
pick a Victim
pick a Weapon
pick a Place
pick a Time
Murder Picked
 
 
 

 

HOUSING FUTURES

why should only Oscar the grouch live in a trash can?
soon every-human can live in a trash can
trash can condominiums coming
no-more trash out of the house
live with trash
you are trash
 
 
 

 

getting on the gurney in Boston Mass General Hospital

no! I’ll step-up myself  // it’s not orderly
DENIAL #1
blue belt strapped-in
no lock unstrapped ha ha
race the wheel-chairs to the OR
DENIAL #2
hospital 1-big no-fun zone
grant me a last jack-off
DENIAL #3
anastez …
 
 
 


 
when is a blue bowl more than a blue bowl?
it’s not the grail it’s my yellow chamber pot
as i am over 50 the urgency 2 live
        is less
the urgency 2 pee
        is more
everything is more frequent
        but infrequent
some body parts r smaller
        some larger
smaller prostate
        larger belly
a grey pill maxes my flow
        to abstain
                during sleep
        as i still dream
        i flow thru
                a stream of yellow trees
                to a clear drying stream
        where i, i return
2 pee

b 4 urologist appointment

____________________

Today’s LittleNip:

cotton 4 breakfast
polyester 4 lunch
moth balls 4 dinner

—Robert Fleming

____________________

Robert Fleming lives in Lewes, DE. Published in United States, Canada, and Australia. Member of the Rehoboth Beach, Eastern Shore, and Horror Writer’s Association. 2022 winner of San Gabriel Valley CA broadside-1 poem, 2021 winner of Best of Mad Swirl poetry and nominated for Pushcart Prize by Ethel Zine and FailBetter and double nominated for best of the net by Devil’s Party Press. Follow Robert at www.facebook.com/robert.fleming.5030/.

Welcome to the Kitchen, Robert, and don’t be a stranger!

Note: On yesterday’s post of Tom Goff’s poetry, I neglected to mention that, in Tom’s words, these poems are “all but one on the identity of ‘Shakespeare’ (Edward de Vere) and what he tells us in plays and poems.” Thanks for the clarification, Tom.

____________________

—Medusa
 
 
 
 —Rumi Satire by Robert Fleming
(Click to enlarge)



 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
For upcoming poetry events in
Northern California and otherwheres,
click on
UPCOMING NORCAL EVENTS
in the links at the top of this page.

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—
and collaborations are welcome.
Just remember:
the snakes of Medusa are always hungry—
for poetry, of course!
 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
















 

Saturday, May 21, 2022

Lexical Ecstasies

 
Booktown Books, Grass Valley, CA
—Poetry by Tom Goff, Carmichael, CA
—Photos by Katy Brown, Davis, CA



LEXICOGRAPHER
 
Blessings on you, big irascible
Samuel Johnson. Decked out
for the western-islands-of-Scotland tour
with black tricorn hat atop white wig,
dark heavy long coat
with kangaroo pockets;
each joey in each overstock pocket
a thick book, devotional, factual,
and each book if brand new soon
to be spine-cracked and bent back.
 
Like any old rampaging Saxon
a ransacker of book-knowings
older than kennings, newer than poems
by Buchanan in Scots Modern Latin,
or lyrics by Petrarch. All verse
from Sidney to Milton or Shakespeare,
science from Bacon to Boyle to Hooker;
 
Each accurate-back-then quotation
from chemistry, each teasing of one
word-entry into blossoming panicle-senses:
whatever’s the strict truth, as you held
fast to your own strict truth; whatever’s
a lie—and you distinguished lies
of two varieties, 1) the half-innocent
lie of the ignorant and 2) the lie told
though the liar is witting (“Sir, he lies,
and he knows he lies”)—all these
 
meticulous careful syllabic assemblies,
these reticulate sign-interstices,
our templates and Oxford’s…
You dance your sober-garbed
Lichfield country dance, your lexical
ecstasies and wit-pokes, your
sporadic small jest definitions of oats
and pensions and patrons.
How you flaunt your incunabula,
marginalia, glossaria. You,
father of words in the long long
catena of fatherly, motherly
words from the matrices. You, oldest
showrunner in the ongoing
sitcom seasons of culture and scribble.
 
 
 
 Keeping Accounts Straight


 
AT FAMAGUSTA, CYPRUS
 
Othello, master of the battle’s ranks,
Whip hand to whip up courage among the men
If not quite gifted to know men’s minds: what thanks
From Venice but to bestow on you a wren
For size, but hugely hearted, brimming love
Beyond limits, a senator’s daughter? Appetite
For bearing children, dark or fair. No dove,
Neither, but natural, woman-warrior-bright.
 
Now set you both down on a half-wild island
To crumble—Moor—your faith in the Creator:
On Cyprus, Latins and Greeks blend—like Scots’ Highland
For crowding vital heats, an incubator
Where plots hatch. Honor may teach you here to slay.
But Iago orders this war game today.
 
 
 
Stone Mask
 


OCULAR DEMONSTRATION
 
Give me the ocular proof.
     —Othello, to Iago

 
Othello deems his own speech acts too “rude.”
Yet begs of Iago what? Why, Rhetoric.
As Cicero writes, the truth may be construed
Through verbal vividness. A parlor trick?
The Roman figure Ocular Demonstration
So brilliantly describes events, we see,
Or think we see, them pass in demarcation
Of crisp outlines. The Real Reality
Iago “proves” by Cassio’s dream-kisses.
His interlude of “Dupe Meets Handkerchief”
(Othello catches Cassio’s half, but misses
The prompter’s cues) air-sculpts in high relief
The “ocular proof” best fitted to the need,
Othello’s eyes, his stomach, rumbling greed.
 
 
 
Hidden Rose
 


ALAS, POOR OPHELIA
 
In Gloriana’s court, all marriage ties
Are politics: Anne Cecil weds De Vere
Means even tighter bonds, in this queen’s eyes,
Between her and the Cecils—love and fear—
Than formerly. De Vere is doubly bound,
To Anne and monarch. Rare, when this Virgin Queen
Sees Maids of Honour married with no sound
Of envious fuss. Concealed in her serene,
Unconscious rage will out. Ophelia’s weeds
Are her “crownet,” Anne’s tiara,
            countess-garland
(Soaked through with her clothes in the
            “glassy stream”):
Her boatman’s-token, passage to the far land?
All this, quite clear to Gertrude-Eliza’s eyebeam:
She’s witnessed that whole episode of drowning
In detail. Sweeter to sentimentalize
Alas, poor mad girl, than that her mind’s dawning
Should sunburst her bubble. Act! Do
            something. Spies,
Thieves, view such deaths inert. Yell danger, Queen;
Cry out to the “liberal shepherds” you call gross:
They won’t fear getting wet, won’t stand and preen,
But raise Ophelia from that medium, death.
Fastidious infernal Queen, her loss
Convicts you, wasting your time on candied breath.
 
 
 
Crack
 


FALSTAFF / HAL’S HALF
 
This is a bromance bound to end unwell:
A youth, though princely, shaped for tricks and pranks
By riotous friendships he keeps with fell,
Foul, sottish wits and sports he gives no thanks,
For, once he nears the crown, that “golden rigol,”
He sloughs off comrades like a nasty coat.
 
Try as he may, he can’t quite run or wriggle
Far from a youth misspent beside that bloat
King of corruptors, old Sir John Falstaff,
Who “lards the ground” of war with starved recruits
He shoves to the front lines—oh, how we laugh!—
Bribed to press-gang poor “scarecrows” without boots
By “toasts-and-butter” cowards of more wealth.
 
Who’s worse, the varlet or the prince? Disputes
May rage; Hal, Falstaff, split the prize for stealth.
Almost the first act of our hypocrite
Turned king? To spurn the knight with whom he’s reveled;
The plump knight, fool to believe his knockabout wit
Worthy of a court welcome—rightly leveled.
 
“Reformed,” this king can dangle fair prospects
Before banished Jack, of some return to favor,
If only he leaves off drink, erases debts:
A new start for Falstaff (addicted, sick of liver),
King Hal—er, Henry—knows he’ll never make:
A hand-rinsed Pilate king, and no mistake.
 
 
 
Tagged
 


GREAT “SHAKESPEARE”
 
The wisdom in your plays should have advised
Us readers: you saw courts, held privilege.
Such substance could not come from agonized
Lips moving at a horn-book pace. No dredge
Of isolate thought-scraps up from village mud,
No nights one tallow-stump’s flame guttered. Lore
Of thousandfold books took root in stately blood;
You strode Her Grace’s tessellated floor.
High politics you mastered to despise;
Your plays teach us what rich veneers conceal,
What pomp may drape proud robber-barons’ lies.
King Henry the Fifth’s prayers won’t reverse the steal,
His father’s, of his crown now. No making-moan
Fools you: subversive loyalist, one of Their own.
 
 
 
 


THEME AND THREE CONUNDRUMS
 
Were I a king I might command content,
Were I obscure unknown would be my cares,
And were I dead no thoughts would me torment,
Nor words, nor wrongs, nor love, nor hate, nor fears.
A doubtful choice of three things one to crave,
A kingdom or a cottage or a grave.
           —Edward de Vere, Earl of Oxford (a.k.a. “Shakespeare”)
 
Were I a king I might command content…

 
—Does this line signify calm self-command,
Fit for a king? Or just insinuate
A peevish tyrant’s wish to have forebanned
All serious affairs up for debate?
Is this the itch of Claudius for drink?
Or “Shakespeare’s” hunt for lost content, through ink?
 
Were I obscure unknown would be my cares…
 

—Obscure to others? Or to earl De Vere,
Reduced in rank, a peasant? To conceal
Cares and sorrows from all the world is fear
Or courage, who knows? Never to reveal
Our sufferings to the world requires lies;
Hide from self-knowledge, bought with pain? Unwise.
 
And were I dead no thoughts would me torment…
 

Hard to escape the implication felt:
To wish for death, as ignorance is death,
Comes close, too close, to wishing spirit would melt,
Corrupt, as flesh does, after that last breath.
Suppose no soul: then dying voids all stigma.
If ghost survives, we’re back to our enigma.

_____________________

Today’s LittleNip:


But what if Shakespeare― and Hamlet―were asking the wrong question? What if the real question is not whether to be, but how to be?

―Gayle Forman,
Just One Day

_____________________

Tom Goff and Katy Brown are teamed up in the Kitchen today to present us with some musings about the world of Shakespearianism, and we heartily thank them for their fine work!

Don’t forget to check out the UPCOMING NORCAL EVENTS link at the top of this column for this weekend’s happenings. If you happen to be in Los Gatos today, Frank Andrick is reading at Meadowfest at the Chateau Liberté, 22700 Old Santa Cruz Highway, Los Gatos, CA. Gates open at 3pm: Janine Cooper Ayres (folk rock acoustic set) at 4pm; The LenCat Band (blues rock), 5-8pm; frank reads after that. $100 general admission. Info: www.facebook.com/frank.andrick.71/posts/755380049207980/.

_____________________

—Medusa
 
 
 
—Photo by Katy Brown
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 








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—
and collaborations are welcome.
Just remember:
the snakes of Medusa are always hungry—
for poetry, of course!
 
LittleSnake meanders down
the primrose path~






























 

Friday, May 20, 2022

Arise, the Radio Said~

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



FLOTSAM

Nothing so shameful about the dream—
more a fool’s errand with no outcome—
but its mood persisted in sly whisper
as alarm struck eardrum. Arise, the radio
said. The dream soon sunk in depths
of black coffee, a few details appearing
wave-washed, unsummoned; a vague
unease found among the sands of day.
Breakfast salted with taste of sea-brine.
 
 
 

 
 
GONE WITHOUT A RATTLE

Among this spring green
I go weed-eating—
foxtails and wild oats,
and in the dry creek,
yellow monkeyflower,

mustard, sowthistle
among this spring green
that conceals roots, rocks
and sapling blue oaks—
save the baby oaks!

Webs of purple vetch
catch my trimmer-head
among this spring green
growing as I mow—
is this a fool’s job

or meditation?
Swinging my weed-whip
like a dance partner
among this spring green—
whoa! Diamonds sliding

through high grasses,
then disappearing
I don’t know where. Just
let it go its way
among this spring green.
 
 
 

 

SPRING EPHEMERA

In the boneyard behind the shed,
Bur Parsley and scraps of lumber,
Ripgut Brome, old roll of barbwire,
and Hillside Woodland Star.
 
 
 

 
 
POND TURTLE

I’m a turtle—Western Pond Turtle, to you humans. My formal name, Actinemys marmorata. Call me Westie or Marm. You’ve just spotted me from across the pond. My pond. I remember you, with your books and papers, catching insects of speech which you consume together, sitting in a circle on benches. You call it poetry. I’m a poet, but my art’s so natural, you hardly notice me. I heard you coming. Humans are so noisy. I climbed up on this muddy bank of dead-fall tules so you might see me.

smooth brown water—
turtle slips invisible
but for the ripples
 
 
 

 
 
RODEO

eroding gravel
driveway becomes a ravine—
nature takes over

she guns her old car
bronco-bucking up the hill—
nature takes over
the girl who drives like she once
rode horse in high school
 
 
 

 
 
BUG BOP

I’ve read that parasites—vital
to an ecosystem—are threatened
by climate change. Even ticks and fleas
have a purpose I can’t explain.
So much I don’t know about this world.
What secrets in my fenced five acres?

Just listen to the crickets.

At bedtime
my dogs go scouting
down the swale without a moon,
all the night a-buzz
with noise but no direction.
How to keep
my bearings in the dark?
What and how to understand?

Just listen to the crickets

telling temperature by the tempo
of their song—warnings,
longings without words.
They know and live our land
which is their own.
How much I’ve still to learn.

Just listen to the crickets.
 
 
 
 

 
Today’s LittleNip:

FRIDAY FREE
—Taylor Graham

Set free from all constraint,
constraint of foot-hold, hand-hold,
hand holding just oneself,
oneself a solo ballet above the sea
sea rippling sunlight about to set.

_____________________

Spring threatens to move into summer up here at the feet of the Sierra Nevada range, and Taylor Graham continues to write about it (and show us photos of it) in fine style! Forms she has used today include last week’s Triple-F Challenge: the Bop (“Bug Bop”); the Hainka (“Rodeo”); a Haibun (“Pond Turtle”); a Word-Can Poem (“Flotsam”); a Daisy Chain that is also last week’s Ekphrastic Challenge (“Friday Free”); a Sliding Fiver (“Gone without a Rattle”); and a Ryūka (“Spring Ephemera”).

Don’t forget to check out our UPCOMING NORCAL EVENTS link at the top of this column for what’s going on this weekend. Taylor Graham will be hosting the open mic up here in Placerville tomorrow.

And now it’s time for . . .



FORM FIDDLERS’ FRIDAY!   
 
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 challenges—Whaddaya got to lose… ? If you send ‘em, I’ll post ‘em! (See Medusa’s Form Finder at the end of this post for resources and for links to poetry terms used in today’s post.)


There’s also a newly dusted-off page at the top of Medusa’s Kitchen called, “FORMS! OMG!!!” which expresses some of my (take ‘em or leave 'em) opinions about the use of forms in poetry writing, as well as listing some more resources to help you navigate through Form Quicksand. Got any more resources to add to our list? Send them to kathykieth@hotmail.com for the benefit of all man/woman/poetkind!

Joyce Odam has sent us a couple of unusual forms today, starting with the Tango (poetscollective.org/poetryforms/tango):


THE MOONLIGHT DANCERS
—Joyce Odam, Sacramento, CA

Moonlight dancers—outside in the dark—
with the surf pounding. They are young and mad,
and I am envious, and I would join them
and be a moonlight dancer, too—I am that sad.

Pounding of the surf—light of the moon—
an old temptation; I begin to sway.
They see me, laugh and beckon, open their arms,
I go to join their dancing, but where—where are they?

Just old moonlight dancing with shadows,
only the bright waves breaking on the shore,
and I—an old fool—dancing to no music,
caught in the veils of longing that those phantoms wore.
 
 
 
—Public Domain Illustration
 

Joyce’s second poem is a “Big Wah” ("honoring the men in your life") which she found on a Poets’ Roundtable of Arkansas contest flier for 2000. I can’t find it on the Web (please let me know if you do), but here is the lay-out Joyce gives—fasten your seatbelts—with example words/lines pulled from her poem below:

6 lines, 6 syllables each line
6 action verbs (danced, played, followed, buttered, walked, lain)
6 strengths-purposes:

    1.    played the fool
    2.    danced the rule
    3.    followed their lead
    4.    buttered their ego
    5.    just walked in rain with me
    6.    with him I’ve lain


MY OLD RELATIONSHIPS
—Joyce Odam

I’ve danced and played the fool
for men who danced the rule;

I followed their brief lead—
buttered their ego-feed;

but one—just walked in rain
with me—with him, I’ve lain.
 
 
 
 Last Week’s Ekphrastic Challenge
—Public Domain Photo Courtesy of Joe Nolan
 


Claire Baker has a poem for us today that is not only a Triolet, it also addresses Medusa’s Seed of the Week (First Flight) and, in a way, last week’s FFF Ekphrastic Challenge, too (see diver above. I hadn’t realized how interconnected the two challenges were; guess I had flight on my mind last week). Anyway, thank you, Claire:
 


A PRAYER FOR FLIGHTS
—Claire J. Baker, Pinole, CA

Before we fly, it helps to start
with wing or foot upraised,
and maybe glide before we dart.
Before we fly, a pause to start
apple-handed, sweet and tart.
Through phases we’re unfazed.
We dare to fly after we start
with wing or foot upraised.

* * *

Here is Stephen Kingsnorth’s response to the Ekphrastic diver. In England, diverse divers dive over Dover. (Or, if your prefer, they dove over Dover.)


WATCHING BRIEF
—Stephen Kingsnorth, Coedpoeth,
Wrexham, Wales, UK


Flipping on horizon line;
jutting strata overhang.
Is this a daring venture time,
or closing moment, end of life—
maybe these two but one, the same?
The well-worn clichés of the form—
its liquid gold of sunset sea—
fits ill with flicking body swirl,
beneath the waves in current swell
and flesh whirl diving into it.
They thrill at plunging into depths
while mine, cheap writing, keeping dry,
exploring depths and asking why.
And what of photo shot displayed,
Nusa Islands, Bali or Ha’i?
If late night read, travel brochure,
your dreaming screen may be of screams,
erupting jaws to snatch fish fly,
in ballet dance, tail arabesque,
that prancing skate but plankton dish?
What do we see or wish had scene?
How many angles, turning fold?
Freeze frame left hanging space and time—
would I be brine, sphere, rock or dive?
Or just content that age can watch?

* * *

Caschwa (Carl Schwartz) also wrote about the diver:
 

VITAL ORGAN   
—Caschwa, Sacramento, CA

room of clocks
lagoon of ducks
sounds of no meaning
chaparral fire cleaning

bottled water
hungry otter
an ocean glistening
no one is listening

ashes to ashes
dust to dust
we came from the sea
which is still part of me
 
* * *
 
The “Bop” was our Triple-F Challenge last week; Taylor Graham sent a Bop (see above), and here is one from Carl. Note Carl’s répéton (repeated line)—what a thought! “The sun is a flashlight, and we are the ushers. . .” If that’s so, we’d better get our usher act together:
 
 
—Public Domain Illustration
 
 
RED MOON   
—Caschwa

the lunacy of light at night
little tiny beads of apparitions
triggering all sorts of failed synapses
that leave us in total darkness
a construct, no a destruct
coming or going?

the sun is a flashlight, and we are the ushers

maybe the whole evening sky
is a cartoon sketch of the world
where that big black hole in space
marks a missing button on the vest
of a card shark who is trying to bluff
the other players into thinking he
might hold the winning hand, and so
more chips hit the table, more buttons pop

the sun is a flashlight, and we are the ushers

I fold, call me a taxi
the card shark tries to leave the table
but leaves a trail of buttons instead
his suit no longer vested
the game is now over
everyone lost everything

the sun is a flashlight, and we are the ushers

* * *

Our second Triple-F Challenge last week was the Sliding Fiver, sent to us by Claire Baker. Here is one from Carl:
 
 
 

 

CONTRACTUAL  
—Caschwa

safety, top concern
remodel old bath
rib injury site
they took measurements
offered proposals

replace older studs
safety, top concern
new materials
add a floating bench
get rid of old tub

very low threshold
durable grab bars
safety, top concern
move faucets around
closer to bather

we’ll be so happy
when it is all done
looks good in pictures
safety, top concern
such an improvement!

terms and conditions
initial and sign
on the dotted line
down payment due now
safety, top concern

* * *

Joe Nolan plays with sound today, no particular form:
 
 
 

 
 
THE RING-LEADER
—Joe Nolan, Stockton, CA
 
The ring-leader
Rang the big, brass bell
Loud enough to shake the sky,
Enough to make buzzards
Crane their necks
And wonder why
Humans claimed the sky
As their own,
From down
Upon the ground,

But humans
Have been using sound
To enter heaven
Out loud!
Out loud!
Since who knows when?

* * *

For whom the bell tolls, Joe. And Stephen Kingsnorth sends an Ars Poetica that also plays with sound, reminding us to send “an offering to Calliope/where sparks ignite flames, fire of words”.
 
 
 
Calliope
—Public Domain Artwork
 


RHYME AND REASON
—Stephen Kingsnorth

A kingdom in a priceless pearl,
potential in a mustard seed,
infinity for poetry,
a time and space continuum.
By numbers, painting, not my style,
nor black outline to emphasise,
the portrait not a photograph,
unless the mood is captured, still.
A billion texts do not suffice,
poor studios, walls, galleries,
so brochure for the oeuvre range,
used tickets, book stacks, theatres.

More learned, seek answers, than propose,
react, respond to questions posed,
ekphrastic images for work
to delve into the artists’ lives
with gift and curse of mindfulness,
recalling all that passed this way.
My life or ours, for all are mine—
collective book of hours our prayer,
an offering to Calliope,
where sparks ignite flames, fire of words.
So look but see, hear, listen too,
find what is there, discover more.

* * *

Good advice, British SnakePal. Good advice. Many thanks to all 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!

___________________

TRIPLE-F CHALLENGE!   

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

•••Tango: poetscollective.org/poetryforms/tango

Or, if you dare, try the other one that Joyce sent us, the Big Wah (see above). Here is the scheme for it:

6 lines, 6 syllables each
6 action verbs  
6 strengths-purposes

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:

•••Big Wah: 6 lines (6 syllables each), 6 action verbs, 6 strengths-purposes (Joyce Odam)
•••Bop: www.writersdigest.com/write-better-poetry/poetic-form-the-bop
•••Daisy Chain: poetscollective.org/poetryforms/daisy-chain
•••Ekphrastic Poem: notesofoak.com/discover-literature/ekphrastic-poetry
•••Haibun: www.writersdigest.com/write-better-poetry/haibun-poems-poetic-form
•••Hainka: www.writersdigest.com/write-better-poetry/hainka-haiku-tanka-new-genre-of-poetic-form
•••Ryūka: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ryūka
•••Sliding Fiver: 5 stanzas, 5 lines, 5 syllables per line. First line slides down a line 5 times, to become the last line. (Martha Bosworth, via Claire J. Baker)
•••Tango: poetscollective.org/poetryforms/tango
•••Triolet: www.writersdigest.com/personal-updates/triolet-an-easy-way-to-write-8-lines-of-poetry
•••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.

_______________________

—Medusa
 
 
 
 Today's Ekphrastic Challenge!

 

See what you can make of the above

photo, and send your poetic results to 

kathykieth@hotmail.com/. (No deadline.)
 

***
 

—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.
 
 
Snake + Turtle = Snurtle