Friday, January 21, 2022

Remember Stormy Nights?

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


A symphony of storm, you say
while the wind flails rain and oak boughs
at the window. A distant pine taps the lines.
Staccato so the power does a dim percussion.
On and off, and then
again, the lights are on and
off. The theme recurs in stereo, surround-

You'll draw this likeness out
through a long December evening, as if you
could conduct the wind and rain, the tall pines
to your counterpoint. But the wind
is finding a resonance in shingles, a shiver
at the eaves. A new reverberation
welling in the chimney pipes.
A shutter's loose.

I nod and listen
for the grand finale
that brings down the house.

(prev. pub. in Rain City Review, 1993)


Remember stormy winter nights
of years ago? the blinding z’s
in the same blink as thunder-clap,

the old cat bursting from your lap
where she’d been sleeping curled at ease,
your dog on guard against such frights.

You loved to turn out all the lights
and sit in expectation while the trees
outside were dancing rap & snap.

Now, bundled up for bed, wool cap
to muffle ears, arthritic knees
protest tomorrow’s storm-struck sights—

the fallen oaks, the savaged creek.
It’s peace and comfort, now, you seek.


Winter dark
before dawn
horned owl calls and screech owl
and from the distance another calls
winter’s dark
and hunger
before dawn.



There was no stroke of sleepy-hour
by the clock, but just the most barely
audible yet piercing call
in manner of midnight summons.
It was owl on the other side
of glass door that slides between
dream and waking, between
death and safety, my cat’s black purr
against my hand.


my small car
when BANG! metal
Rearview revealed chainlink
panels on pavement at my
bumper. Driver of truck/trailer
lost his load on my car’s butt. What the ___?

Got out. Driver beside himself so
very sorry. We looked & looked
but where was the harm? Not one
scratch. Miracle? I wished
him better rest-of-
his-day. Smiles all
around on


I walk outside, leather shoes in fresh wet grass.
This is a game of hide and seek, a treasure hunt
in the wild north corner among our stunted oaks.
What unnamed discovery waits for me today?

This a game of hide and seek, a treasure hunt
for what pops out of underground, summoned
by wet & rot, to bloom, wither, then disappear.

In the wild north corner among our stunted oaks,
a wide dark mouth, hibiscus-like, it’s lovely—
what to call this fungus that emerged overnight?

What unnamed discovery waits for me today
to add to my list? Blewit, Hairy Curtain Crust…
Click a pic into my plant-app: here’s the Goblet!

Today’s LittleNip:

          (Splitgill Mushroom)

Here in
my woodpile
commune of oak and pine I’ve
got a schizo fungus that looks
like fluff,
meringue, or
angel wings.


Mushrooms living in short-term communes—plenty of those this season, popping out of the soil and shining like what Taylor Graham calls angel wings. All triggered by the “rap & snap” and bluster of our recent Seed of the Week, Angry Winter Nights. Many thanks to TG for capturing those little shrooms on paper.

The forms that Taylor has used today include a Word-Can Poem (“Owl and the Pussycat”); a Trilonnet (“You Loved a Rainy Night”); a Double Etheree (“What I Heard”); a Trimeric (“A Cup of Dew”); and a Trinet (“January 13” and “Schizophyllum Commune”).

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.)

Joyce Odam has sent us a very smooth WEAVE today (Syllabic 9, 11, 13,  11,  9):

—Joyce Odam, Sacramento, CA

Why do all these sorrows stay with me?
I am so weary of them. Why don’t they go?
I do have pity for their loneliness—the way they
shadow me. Is that our bond : the way we cling?
Is it comfort that we share—or need?

Here are three snappy Pleiades that were sent to us this week by Carol Louise Moon:

—Carol Louise Moon, Placerville, CA

Phlox of purple field, Bill is
photographing a hidden
Phoebe bird, his favorite.
Phased by nothing else in view—
Pheasant flying straight up—he
photographs Phoebes. Next year,
Phalaropes, the wading birds.

* * *

—Carol Louise Moon

Nature vs. Nurture, this

Naturalist suggests. He’s
New to teaching school. He is
Navy-retired, so it is
Nautilus shells and the odd
Narwhals: single tusk. Hope he’s
Not just a substitute here.

* * *

—Carol Louise Moon

Quaint neighborhood sits near a
Quaker church which provides a
Quiet contemplation time.
Quotes from founders encourage
Quest to share peace message.  I’m
Quick to rise, singing hymns to
Quench my thirst for something true.

Last Friday’s Ekphrastic Challenge was the ooey-gooey pizza in the photo above. Three poets leapt to the opportunity; Caschwa’s poem is also a Roundelay, another one of last week’s challenges:

—Joe Nolan, Stockton, CA

Gluttony, debauchery,
Is melted, mozzarella cheese
That clings, strings,
Droops and drips
From Chicago pizza,
Thick and deep—
Something you might yearn for
In your sleep,
Like other things,
Rich and satisfying,
Once you’ve seen
This picture?

* * *

—Stephen Kingsnorth, Coedpoeth, Wrexham, Wales, UK

As children greet the box with joy,
my own mood flat, with strings attached,
as overhear ‘Grandpa will pay’—
for disliked splat, tomato paste,
chorizo fare, meal baked-in plate.

Why cut with wheel as glazier might,
by sectors, when segments my style;
to top it all, a choice required;
try find a partner with your taste
to share, with other parties, food.

Margherita, a daisy chain,
pepperoni for you, grandad,
with anchovies as added bait,
what fate for buds in dotage state,
as bottle proffered, swig supposed?

So take from me this corrugate,
the huts, express, Italianate,
but treat me, steak and kidney pie,
a Cornish pasty, clotted cream,
some Stilton cheese or Cheddar gorge.

Protected geographical,
the status worn, map-rooted food—
not foie gras for French language used—
but Shetland lamb or Orkney beef,
Yorkshire forced rhubarb—nostra pain?

Four nations held by union flag,
which once knew common palate, tongue,
share menu, cosmopolitan.
Snug ploughman’s lunch in village pub
for bright strip lights or knock on door?

* * *

—Caschwa, Sacramento, CA

he picked a bowl just large enough
for fresh grown greens, and roots, and fruits
the dressing choice would now be tough
the one named French in certain schools
has been hit with a change of rules
the label tries to be correct
but may not say what he’d expect

Italian, he could make himself
a cruet and a flavored oil
it’s all right there up on the shelf
emboldened by “been there, done that”
he might just botch a perfect mix
that wouldn’t look like in the pics
alas, he never ranked tall hat

at least there’s dressing in the fridge
that has survived long term storage
across the pond, and past the bridge
without a name that can be read
it might be toxic, leastwise crude
don’t make this part of daily bread
it’s time to toss this unsafe food 


Caschwa (Carl Schwartz) also sent us a poem which he calls an “Envelope Sonnet, except without a tail (the last two lines). I suggested it was a “Bobtail Sonnet”. (“Nimby” stands for “Not in my back yard”):


sweat shops in China are eager to vend
high tech, the new secret ingredient
that dictates doing whatever’s expedient
as long as it brings them money no end

they follow best practices, which include
finding land that is vacant, except for some losers
and making it the tool of high platform users
no need to say sorry if this is perceived rude

the land underneath your poor excuse for a home
with dust on the top of your cardboard box
and odors that reek of uneaten lox
has become the “property” of a billionaire gnome

who placed the high bid at an auction sale
his dozer and cat will remove all those boxes
(homeless encampments: the worst of all poxes)
good site for a warehouse, the new holy grail 


And here is an Acrostic from Carl, which he says “swells from 1 to eleven syllables, hangs on 11 for 3 lines, then shrinks back to 1.” Them Acrostics is slippery little devils, they is…


Nowhere fast
On an endless
Road to conniving,
And pathetically dumb
Nonsense utterances that
Confuse even the most ardent
Experts of high repute, world renowned
Spokespersons for useless gibberish with
Exhaustive parchment diplomas nourishing
Lavish pillars embroidered with pulp fiction
Little or nothing amounting to real facts
Surely evil error and happenstance
Lingers in all of the long vowels
Itching for a quick implosion
Killing all the deep meaning
Embodied in the clouds,
Carefully hidden


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 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 do with this week’s poetry form, and send it to! (No deadline.) This week's challenges:

•••Weave (see Joyce Odam’s example above): Syllabic 9/11/13/11/9

Nobody sent in a Saraband last week, so let’s repeat it:


Today, Taylor Graham used two other forms which we haven’t done before—
•••Trimeric:, and the

Why’n’cha give’em a shot?

And see the bottom of this post for yet another challenge, this one an Ekphrastic one!


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

•••Acrostic Poem:
•••"Bobtail" Sonnet: Envelope Sonnet without the last two lines
•••Ekphrastic Poem:
•••Envelope Sonnet:
•••Weave: Syllabic 9, 11, 13,  11,  9
•••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.


 Today's Ekphrastic Challenge!
See what you can make of the above
and send your poetic results to
 (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.