Monday, February 28, 2022

"Til the Cows Come Home

With high hopes, he stalks those cows~

—Poetry by Joe Nolan, Stephen Kingsnorth, 
Caschwa (Carl Schwartz)
—Public Domain Photos Courtesy of Joe Nolan


—Joe Nolan, Stockton, CA
The first burst
Of fragile colors,
Like white
In gentle light
Of very early Spring,

Whisper and pray
How life
Is made
For others,
While we stand by and see.

Branches will fill
And become
With every bounty
Fruit might yield—
Full of beauty
As though
A Heaven-Field,

As farmers might
Be made to smile,
When they see
How lovely
Life can be,

And they,
Who have some mastery
To let life bubble over,
Roll over and over—
In damp, wet, staining clover,
Laughing to the sun!



—Joe Nolan

What is this shit
That slowly dies,
And draws flies
Our refrigerator?

It’s been there
From days to weeks
And we find
It strongly reeks
We open
The door.

What are we saving it for?
Have you forgotten
Who put it there,
For what reason,
So you just stare,
Whenever you open
The door? 



—Joe Nolan

A son who won’t draw near
Recalls how
His Father
Pulled his ear,
To inflict pain,
Without leaving marks.

That was how
A son was
Trained in fear.




—Joe Nolan

There is “the real guy out there”
And the one I think I know.
My relationship is with
The guy I think I know.
It is merely an article of faith
To believe the guy who’s really out there
Is the guy I think I know.

Surprises happen.
Impression management
Can create mirages.

We mostly interact
With mirages of our own construction.
We have no choice but assume
We think we know
There is some correspondence
Between our impressions and reality,
But we do not really know.

How rude it is
To remove a mask!



—Stephen Kingsnorth, Coedpoeth, Wrexham, Wales, UK

Butter knife and serviettes,
observations mother made,
not as a snob, but standard marks,
with table cloth, and grace before.
She thought the meal, family meat,
a newscast of the past, report,
whatever menu, knife, fork, spoon,
two courses with slight pause between.
But nothing left, world hungry place,
all mouthfuls chewed, then chewed again,
and no one spoke, mouth so engaged,
but conversation, water glass.

To leave the table by request,
though not until all emptied plates,
the veg more frequent than the beef,
except the joint for Sunday lunch.
At Christmas it was chicken breast,
a rarity, astonishing
to those who feed, battery nest,
when free-range only known, but best.
The china, willow pattern blue,
dish washer safe—that’s Dad of course,
while never alcohol at home,
the pipe, less smoke than lighting rite.

The T.V. dinner never served,
how could, no television owned,
our entertainment, table laid,
then cleared and stacked, his washing up.
Amongst our busy waking days,
it was the one hour when we met,
set piece, shared compli-condiments,
when pepper, salt flavoured our lives.
I know folk mock the style we ate,
they laugh at manners, class we learnt,
but mealtime, source, relation’s growth,
where beer cans, paper plates unknown. 



—Caschwa, Sacramento, CA

neither is suitable for stovetop or microwave
but both have been elevated to the Supreme Court
embracing this competition as casual sport
further, higher taxes on the rich off which to stave

beer cans can be awful cheap, but they do their job well
and can even be recycled, to save our landfills
for impecunious paper plates, made without frills
that last less than once, then are surely destined for Hell

oh tra la la and la di dah, we will celebrate
that we are stocked up with plenty of beer to consume,
load paper plates to the edge, not leaving any room
all the cleanup, manual labor, we delegate 




first fortune cookie:
“Be smart, but never show it”
so far, so good, huh?

second fortune cookie:
“A truly creative person rids
him or herself of all self-
imposed limitations”

time out, let’s take a moment
“never show it” imposes a
limitation, but ridding oneself
of that wouldn’t be very smart,
either, would it?

prime candidates for the
preeminent circular file,
pretty busy in there 




(following “The Strange and
Beautiful Cows” by Joyce Odam,
Medusa’s Kitchen (2/22/22)

two chess masters take their seats
with stone faces, the clock is started…
one errant move could bring utter
disaster to the entire kingdom

a bishop angles across part of the
board, putting at risk a key member
of royalty, answered by the icy
ramifications of a pawn romping
straight across one square

slipping out of my chair, “I want
to feel what they feel: their complete
indifferent laziness, no haste or
dread,” while the moment of tapping
the clock is near

I, the king of kings, safeguarded by a
host of ceramic figurines, each too
heavy to levitate, requiring the aid of
a human being to attempt some tricky
navigation routes across the board

the magnetic appeal of glamor seems
to overcome the forecast of naysayers:
you’ll win when the cows come home


Today’s LittleNip(s):


athletes who medal vs. autocrats who meddle


Columbian Period vs. Oxford Comma


Joseph Gordon: went to the ER complaining about
an old, rusty, hyphen stuck in his rear end


—Joe Nolan

Who’s there?
Putin who?
Put-tin’ my army

In you kraine!


Joe Nolan, Stephen Kingsworth and Caschwa (Carl Schwartz) have inaugurated this first week in March with their usual eclectic poems—some of which are irreverent, some are about our Seed of the Week (Beer Cans and Paper Plates), and some are both. About his “Beer Can” poem, Carl writes, “No formal form. It has a rhyme scheme (abba) and each line is 13 syllables, but no Caesuras, or special emphasis syllables such as would be found in a trzynastozgloskowiec.” Lest you think Carl is joshing, look it up: Join us each week on Form Fiddler’s Friday for fun and frolic with poetry forms! So far we haven’t tackled the trzynastozgloskowiec, but ya never know what Gorgons will get up to after a few beers and a pizza. Or a few pizzas and a beer...


Tonight (Mon. (2/28), 7:30pm, Sac. Poetry Center Socially Distant Verse features Angela Torres and Coley World plus open mic. Zoom at (Meeting ID: 763 873 3462 / pass: r3trnofsdv/.) Info:


This coming Thursday (3/3) at 7pm, Poetry Night Reading Series in Davis presents Michael Melody and Spencer Rico, with singer/actress Gabrielle Battista via Zoom at Open mic after the readers (one chosen text or three minutes). Host: Dr. Andy Jones. Please mask your vaccinated selves before entering the Gallery.


—Medusa, celebrating good news about Hank the Tank, the 500-lb. black bear in South Lake Tahoe who has been wrongly accused of mayhem, but who, it turns out, shared those ill garbage deeds with other “boys”—other big guys who were also rooting through Tahoe beer cans and paper plates . . .


So there! Too much monkeying around… Or is that Aping?









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 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!


Time to go home, Big Fella~






Sunday, February 27, 2022

Unexpected Rain

—Poetry, Photos and Original Art by 
Luis Cuauhtémoc Berriozabal, West Covina, CA


There was the rain again.
It was not an expectation.
The water and the wind
fell from the skies, gentle
and cold. It was a fine rain;
where it gathered strength
I had to go inside. Green
became greener, blue
became bluer, white and
gray puffy clouds married
and divorced and made up
once again. The rain came
to stay today. It was not an
expectation. The news said
it was coming. How could I
doubt it when the meteorologist
flashed her kind smile as
she pointed at the map?


When it is too early to start
your day, you sit in your car
waiting for the doors of the
Office to open. The view from
the terrace parking lot is
breathtaking when your mind
is not too cluttered with
nonsense, so you appreciate
the view. It is not all that great
when you have to go number
one after drinking enough
coffee to get you through a
couple of days. You tough it
out and hold it in while you take
photos of the dark, dawn sky
which is giving way to sun-up.
You could still see the moon’s
fingernail in the horizon. In a
few minutes the doors will
open and you will be so knee-
deep in work that the view
outside will not linger on in
your mind no matter how
breathtaking and beautiful
it was this Wednesday morning.


On Vermont Avenue
the fog outside
is amazingly
all the sadness
from view. It is
hardly amazing
at all in reality.
The tents are still
there. The homeless
still have a long way
to go to find a home.
The traffic jams
are still there in
both directions.
There is beauty
in the distance
as well. It is out
of sight this Friday
morning. There are
mountains as far
as the eye could
see on a clear day.
I am certain they
are still there.



Night, light up your stars and moon.
In my car, driving in twilight, I need
more light to get by. I fear the witches
flying on their brooms. I do not think

they ever die. Night, light up the stars
and moon. I need something to
follow. In my car, I struggle most at
twilight with these failing eyes.


Because everything ends
I never learned to dance.
I never learned to love.
I never leaned to lose.

I go on without thoughts
of tomorrow because
tomorrow will end, even if
it returns again and again.

When I am gone the days
will go on. Each day they
will end until the next day.
I talk myself into feeling
different. But eventually
these feelings will end.



You cannot bury my soul
beneath the soil. The deeper
I fall, the higher my soul will
soar. As I crawl and bleed,
I will forge ahead. I am fine
with this death you offer.
I have seen the coffins for sale.
Some are just wooden boxes.
I know my soul will not sleep there.


Open up the skies.
Let the sparrows fly.
Open up the clouds.
Let a little rain escape.
Let her sing her song.
Find the trees sway
away to Mother
Nature’s morning song.

Open up the stars.
Let the light fall all
around. The eye is
a well that swells.
A tear will flow when
your poor heart aches.

Return to childhood
no longer if that is
where you hurt. Find
a sea in your dreams.
Find a sea with a
ship that will take you
to the end of the world.


Today’s LittleNip:

If you carry joy in your heart, you can heal any moment.

—Carlos Santana


Luis Berriozabal is with us today from Southern California, bringing us fine poems and photos, plus sketches he has made on his calendar. Thanks, Luis—we are grateful for your poetry and for the rain we need so badly!

•••Today (Sun., 2/27), 4pm: Cal. Federation of Chaparral Poets, Inc. presents Tim Kahl for a reading/discussion about The Intersection of Music and Poetry via Sound Design. Zoom:


—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.

Would you like to be a SnakePal?
All you have to do is send poetry and/or
photos and artwork to 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, February 26, 2022

Opportunity or Fear?

—Poetry by Stephen Kingsnorth, Coedpoeth, Wrexham, Wales
—Public Domain Photos Courtesy of Stephen Kingsnorth


Is this opportunity or fear,
dawning break or dusky cloud?
The launch, fresh hope in brave new world,
beyond the bar, the haven sound?

Tidemarks ripple with histories—
the stand Canute made in the sand,
sad farewell waves to pilgrim clan—
your choice declares which zeitgeist land.

Camargue, sea horses in the brine,
main Cresta Run on snowy slopes,
the roar of Forties round the horn,
can all these be same element?

A storm to focus who dare trust,
caveman to sit in his right mind,
a catch to haul on other side,
thrice affirmed whom cock timed lie.

But here anachronistic source,
no plankton glow or Elmo fire—
luciferen, corona charge—
seems no escape that tidal wave.

This scenery, chicanery,
the juxtaposed grit filament;
perhaps transparent oyster shell,
the lightbulb should be pearl not clear?

After Roof Tops in the Snow
—Painting by Gustave Caillebotte (France), 1878

A standpoint chooses what is seen,
which angle, insight—window pane?—
another, unexpected scene,
perspective, maybe overview.
Of outside in, from upside, down,
a parkour pupil on the run,
this aerial, receiver set,
retuned from level-headed plane.
The blanket lays a common bed,
to neutralise distinctive marks,
and emphasise contrasting lights,
sourced from surrounding filtered sky.
Acute, that angle is obtuse,
an outlook from a rooftop space,
that covered ground is in the air,
and lightweight snow hides what beneath.
So why is fixed and statuesque,
the image raised by standpoint cue,
when changed and new, though overdue
is need to climb that balcony?


What is the book that spiders read—
some novel text on web design,
instruction how to wait and prey—
as if religious tract in place,
or spinster’s line, left on the shelf—
in shady room, this dirty book,
eight legs entwined, arachnid tale?

Here, sadly, one unread, ill-used,
though no excuse for such abuse—
the case in point of Roman font,
our classics born, though unbaptised,
a volume, knowledge, hidden, waste?
Where is the renaissance of past?
Stillborn I fear, unspoken times.

Those bookworms who consume the page—
they burrow in from wood below,
like tubifex in library,
skeletal spread, insect debris
of brittle legs and dehydrate,
decaying flesh here on display,
by Monsterkoi on Pixabay.

Find Attic script with lofty thoughts,
Greek tragedy or worthy prose;
perhaps we’re here in Plato’s cave
where every word has shadow phrase,
empirical, disputed proof,
like watered whisky from still life,
or sloe gin needing faster pace.

Or Ovid, Metamorphosis?
Transforming literature I hear—
mark Hero’s features, myth nineteen,
as Byron, swam the Hellespont,
the strait between two airwave seas,
a channel, victim Covid’s strain,
breast stroke of love with gasps for breath?

Here dust jackets work overtime—
no leather or stag beetles.  Mites
and maybe sleepy mice abound,
as dropping off, or shutting traps,
the reading room for quiet types,
a workbench for the printed press,
true gold dust, stored for future reads.


A name, owned home to peat in bog,
long spades to lift the winter fuel—
now that’s a movement of the moss
for those in Ireland’s rural space
though not why it’s termed Emerald Isle.
Seems aerial of jungle growth
or hillocks shaded on one side—
a sign of life left undisturbed
or cover up, where pointing needs,
like ivy’s sucking tentacles.
How slowly goes this spreading rash,
its menu, mostly damp for growth,
a creepy tale of horror genre
or semi-precious peridots.
The brightest lime with bottle shades,
as groupies say, the rock must roll
for rolling stones gather no moss.


Today’s LittleNip:

If my doctor told me I had only six minutes to live, I wouldn’t brood. I’d type a little faster.

—Isaac Asimov


Poking his head out from the storms the Welsh having been having this week is Stephen Kingsnorth, bringing us more fine poems and pix to go with them. Thanks, Stephen! We can even forgive him for his rolling-stones joke, for the rock indeed must roll . . .

For more about Gustave Caillebotte’s
Rooftops in the Snow, go to

•••Today (Sat., 2/26), 2pm: Poetry of the Sierra Foothills features Dave Boles plus open mic, Love Birds Coffee & Tea Co., 4181 Hwy 49 (where Hwy 49 meets Pleasant Valley Rd.), Diamond Springs, CA. Host: Lara Gularte.
•••Tomorrow (Sun., 2/27), 4pm: Cal. Federation of Chaparral Poets, Inc. presents Tim Kahl for a reading/discussion: The Intersection of Music and Poetry via Sound Design. Zoom:


 —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.

Would you like to be a SnakePal?
All you have to do is send poetry and/or
photos and artwork to 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!
We gather not moss, honestly~


Friday, February 25, 2022

Off the Map


—Poetry and Photos by Taylor Graham, Placerville, CA 
—And then scroll down to FORM FIDDLERS’ FRIDAY!!

The clear sky shattered glass.
Across a continent
we felt the tremors shake
our solid earth. And still
those waves of air, their wake—
the clear sky shattered glass.
We left the writing stand
and watched the news again,
again. The papers broke,
ink seeping from the pen.
The clear sky shattered glass
around our feet. No, that
was figment of the mind.
And yet, quite real. Just look
at what it’s left behind.
The clear sky shattered glass
as we looked up at blue.
Imagine lightning kept
in clouds unseen by night.
They gathered as we slept. 


Everyone’s in mask.
My papers scanned, my brow,
my face just eyes.

Answer what they ask
and follow the line, however
the turnings. Silence lies.

Accomplish my task,
unravel footsteps backward
clock & counter-wise.

Escape. Chirps unmask
overhead, brown-bird nest
in structural steel disguise.

Overflowing flask
of birdsong, sunshine, life.
And then he flies.


Droning dump-trucks and lumbering loggers,
twisting two-lane, I find that I’m driving-driven
onward ostensibly to sight-see—
no, not just the char after doom. Devastation?
First, find the turnoff. Park. Wish. Walk.
Ponderosa pine and incense cedar. Sunlight
shimmers, shows me green soap-weed survivors.



The old man has escaped by virtue
of starlight, but pauses a moment—
not to sit on park bench given up
on hope, in danger of recapture
or pigeon-drop—but to examine
the tethered twin moons above his head
and declare them phony. By sunlight
he’ll be gone. Oh look, he’s disappeared
already, well on his way again.


Township and range, we knew this land by topo map minced into 
lats and longs; above the rivers, quirky contours jammed into cliffs. 
Then we arrived, to live its drop-offs, its sunlit vistas.


How could I forget where I just put it?
such an absolutely essential paper.
I secured it where it would be quite safe,
a place where I could always find it.
Such an absolutely essential paper!
and I need right now, somewhere in
a place where I could always find it.
Has memory gone south for the winter?
And I need it right now, somewhere in
these rooms stalked by a black cat.
Has memory gone south for the winter?
I remember, under the couch—
these rooms stalked by a black cat—
pencils, pens, and table knives.
I remember under the couch
he kept his kleptomaniacal hoard
(pencils, pens, and table knives)
secured where it would be quite safe.
He kept his kleptomaniacal hoard.
I didn’t just forget where I put them!

Today’s LittleNip:

—Taylor Graham

No Trespassing signs
mean nothing to a brown goat
eating rock roses.


A Friday welcome to Taylor Graham, and many thanks for her poems and photography taday. She and hubby Hatch Graham celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary this week! How time flies…

TG has sent us her poems in forms today: a Monchielle stanza, last week’s Fiddlers’ Challenge (“Distant Disaster”); some rhymed Tercets (“Too Many Stories”); an Alliteration (“Revisiting Caldor”); last week’s Ekphrastic challenge in Normative Syllablics (“Night Lights”); a Sijo (“Destiny off the Map”); a Pantoum (“11 Pencils, 31 Pens, 2 Table Knives”); and a Haiku—unless it's a Senryu? (“Crowned with Horns”).

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.)

Taylor Graham played with rhyme today with her Tercets in “Too Many Stories” above, and Form Fiddlers Joyce Odam and Caschwa (Carl Schwartz) joined her:
—Joyce Odam, Sacramento, CA

fluttering down from the trees
the little souls of leaves
the life that death believes…

the splintering of bird-songs
the little rights and wrongs
the way it all belongs…

the mental vertigo
the things that stay and go
the tercets in a row…

the souls that wait in stones…
the music in the bones
the casual undertones…

the threes and twos and one
the endings late begun
the black glare in the sun…

Carl’s rhymes are actually Tercets nestled together:

—Caschwa, Sacramento, CA

help! my belt is missing
my pants are falling
and my jock has no more strap
the snakes are hissing
bad names they’re calling
too busy on my lap

a stock option
tape held by friction
Ottoman Empire Kurbash
volcanic eruption
pure science fiction
all inscribed on my eyelash

And Joe Nolan’s poem falls into tidy rhyme as well:

—Joe Nolan, Stockton, CA

There are some things
Upon my lawn
With which I disagree,
Like dandelions,
Standing tall,
To let their
Seeds fly free.

How could they so openly
Challenge my hegemony—
I, the master, of my lawn,
As far as I can see?
Last week’s Ekphrastic challenge
Here are two responses to last week’s Ekphrastic challenge, the empty park bench above, the first by Stephen Kingsnorth from Over the Sea:

—Stephen Kingsnorth, Coedpoeth, Wrexham, Wales, UK

Left on the bench, for poorly played,
or magistrate yet unretired—
despite well past fifth age of man—
but here it’s empty, slats in space,
no sport or judgement on the line?

These ruler shapes around the globe—
though think the halo too absurd—
I fear takes me to stars and stripes,
and some who think their power is gold
as chosen people of the world.

A star with stripes, past prophet’s words,
the servant king in powerless place,
may be old law, mixed myth and lore,
but substance, how love dominates,
might bring two lonely souls to form.

I know this track familiar
as my profession intervenes,
but each can play their music style,
record their lyrics, verse about,
and tell the story of their choice.

To me this image speaks the earth,
as surely viewer’s commentary,
that sadly, pic is person free,
inanimate as tree cartoon,
draft Eden before folk arrive.

Does all good art interrogate?
If so this print a masterpiece,
directing question most would ask,
save those who dread companionship;
unless no homeless, paradise.

* * *

Thanks, Stephen! And here is Carl’s response to the photo:


there it sits, empty and alone in the
park, wondering how other members
of the family are doing….

the piano bench, beneath its hinged
seat rests Bach Two Part Inventions,
waiting ever so patiently for the day
when the piano player feels up to the
challenge of more densely populated
key signatures

the bus driver’s seat, with bold arrows
pointing to the location of a mandatory
fire extinguisher, and all sorts of these
and those levers waiting to be adjusted
by whoever sits there next

the banana bicycle seat from my old
ten-speed, designed to allow for faster
and greater movement of the legs of
the rider, but now dazed and confused
as to what’s up with all this coasting

the baby’s high chair, once the center-
piece of family routines, now tucked
away in storage, never again to behold
the amazing development of someone
who started out as a fully dependent
creature, and who later morphed into
a poster child of independence 

 * * *

Another challenge last week was the Monschielle, with its rhymes and repeated lines humming along (I just like saying the title: Moan-SHELL, Moan-SHELL…). Taylor Graham sent us one (“Distant Disaster”, see above), and here are two by Caschwa:


I love these politics
a carousel of hate
around and round they go
and never meet the end
no sign of to and fro

I love these politics
experimental rules
we’re pioneering law
like never done before
and always, there’s a flaw

I love these politics
discussions hot and wild
where lunatics abound
and in the end we see
false idols meet the ground

I love these politics
all ready for a fight
my vote will truly count
there’s surely more to do
a new campaign to mount 


the symptoms you don’t want
from belly of a toad
your pet, you named him Grudge
you hold him every day
real tight so he can’t budge

the symptoms you don’t want
in public whereabouts
the fever and the cramps
from salmonella curse
that taxes worse than stamps

the symptoms you don’t want
those stomach aches and all
the diarrhea bane
that curbs your normal plans
to drive you near insane

the symptoms you don’t want
when putting on your clothes
big messes on the floor
the end is not so near
get ready for some more…
* * *
Yesterday I posted poems from Mike Hickman from York, England, and I made up the first two lines of a Limerick as a joke: “There was a Mike Hickman from York, who ate all his meals with a spork (” Carol Louise Moon took me up on it and sent this Limerick, saying “In response to your clever two-line rhyme regarding Mike Hickman, here's a Limerick in his honor. I REALLY like his sense of humor.” There are lots of different kinds of sporks, by the way; here is one of the simplest. Don't ever leave McDonald's without one:


—Carol Louise Moon, Placerville, CA

Fine poet, this Hickman from York
whose ramen he eats with a spork.
His jokes, though they're wry,
make me laugh till I cry—
he cranks them all out with such torque.
* * *

And, finally, here’s a Haiku chain from Carol Louise to calm us all down and to round off another fine Form Fiddlers’ Friday:
—Photo by Carol Louise Moon

dew-damp spring morning   
keen gray fox with kits hidden
betrayed by owl hoot

morning grace of sounds
blue birds chirping
horned owl listens

steep sunny hillside
blue side-striped lizard slithers
into shade of dreams

—Carol Louise Moon


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 make of this week’s poetry form, and send it to! (No deadline.) This week's challenge:

•••The Cuarteto:

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:

•••Alliteration Poem (Single-Letter Poem): Each word of the poem begins with the same letter. See
•••Ekphrastic Poem:



•••Poets Collective’s Rhyme Zone ( A writer's resource for rhymes, synonyms, adjectives, etc.—lots of help with getting the right word to work for you in the right way!



 Today's Ekphrastic Challenge!

See what you can make of the above

photo, and send your poetic results to (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.
LittleSnake chats with Grudge

Thursday, February 24, 2022

Consulting the Paperwork About Robots Dancing

—Poetry by Mike Hickman, York, England
—Photos Courtesy of Public Domain

Overall (overall?) I feel emotionally well.
Isn’t that a split infinitive?
And what constitutes emotionally well?
How ‘bout a few examples?
Does reaching the bottom of the Pringles tube
Without too much in the way of self-loathing
Constitute emotionally well?
Is watching “I’m a Celeb” and “Love Island”
Without engaging in a Twitter pile-on emotionally well?
I say it to myself enough times and it loses all meaning.
Emotionally Well.
Do these words even belong in the same sentence?
What if I don’t think these words belong in the same sentence?
That’s not how I’ve rolled up to now.
Emotional and well.
Well and emotional.
Where’s the tick box for that, then?
The these-two-don’t-go-together tick box?
Why don’t you allow me to rank that, then?
Strongly agree, agree, neutral, disagree, strongly disagree.
You want me to strongly agree that I am emotionally well
Without me knowing what it means to you if I say that.
When I doubt that anyone who’d answer strongly agree to being emotionally well
Could possibly frickin’ be emotionally well in the first place.
What kind of sicko would it make me, when I’m seeking your help,
To tell you that I’m quite alright, thank you very much?
What box are you going to tick for that one, then?
Where is your answer sheet?
Just fucking tell me:
How much emotional wellness can an emotionally unwell person claim to have?
You’d be better off asking me to rank my mental state in Pringles consumed.

(prev. pub. by The Haven)


You will have caught them consulting the paperwork.
Oh you will.
When you became a vegan, say,
And they went through the footnotes  
And the bibliography
To find the source
For that query about what you’d do
If you were sick
And you needed those non-vegan meds.
What would you do then, eh?
They’ve got you there, haven’t they?
Page 1123, paragraph five, sentence four.
And don’t think they’ve not clocked the shoes,
And any item of clothing,
That might not meet with your proclaimed beliefs
Because, you see,
Whether it’s becoming a vegan
Or joining a political party
Or holding any opinion about anything at all,
They’ve got the paperwork,
They’ve bought the handbook,
They’re ready with the index,
They’ve found the effing tweet
That highlights the clause that will shame you most.
Unless, of course, you remember
What shames them most.
Which is when you point out it’s not so much
That they’ve got the wrong volume,
As the wrong translation
Into the wrong language,
And sorry, what and how much was that now?
Perhaps they could try putting
The problem into their own words.
And, no, saying “ah, well, that’s me fucked then”
Simply doesn’t cut it.

(prev. pub. by Doctor Funny)


It’s the best and quickest response to the story.
“I think that’s overblown.”
And you don’t even know the joke you’ve made until I point it out.
We’re talking about a reality TV star (how often is it a reality TV star?)
Who has been hospitalised
After trying that bit too hard  
With her side-hustle
Of selling farts in a jar.
Even the story online had to add (yes, really) in brackets after that one.
For a thousand dollars a time,
She’d been parping them out,
And stoppering them up,
Until she’d stoppered herself up.
Too many protein shakes and too much black bean soup, apparently.
“Intense gas pains,” apparently.
And you hear the story and you say, “I think that’s overblown”.
That nearly did for me, that really did.
So I had to tell Twitter.
On reflection, though, the real punchline,
Quite apart from the realisation that practically every trending story of the Moment  
Is as substantial as a fart in a jar,
Was the woman herself,
When asked how she felt, now her gastric emergency had been resolved.
“It’s a relief,” she said,
As if that isn’t the point of flatulence in the first place.
When late-stage capitalism doesn’t get in the way.

(prev. pub. by
The Daily Drunk)

Peter Sellers, we knew, because our mother told us, did not like green.
In fact, he would leave the set if anyone wore green,
And would fire the director if they persisted in doing so.
So green was verboten in our own lives, even when green was necessary.
That graduation gown, for example,
Or the baize in the snooker hall.
Or the garden we had paved with crazy paving
Because why not be effing literal as well as figurative?
Our mother wasn't risking Peter Sellers' bad luck
Even for graduation,
Even for that tournament I tell myself I would have won,
Even for the very little beauty we might have managed on our rundown estate.
Common sense and familial harmony didn’t come into it.
Peter did not like green.
So you can imagine what happened when she discovered he hated purple, too.
And then there was the small matter of Orson Welles.
Peter hated Orson Welles.
So that was my film education buggered,
At least until I left home.
And, of course, I’ve been on a diet ever since.
But, you see, the thing is—
The thing I wish we could have told her then—
The thing that can’t help but occur to me now
Is that if she really did believe we’d do well
By avoiding Peter Sellers’ bad luck
She might have paused for a moment
To notice
That it wasn’t green or purple or Orson Welles that got him in the end.

(prev. pub. by
Doctor Funny)


I remember Mr Tickle.  
And even though I was a “serious child”,
(Said Mrs Wood and Mrs Stone
when neither wanted laughter,  
that much was for certain).
I found the arms winding  
through letterboxes amusing
(did I?).
And I remember Mr Rush,
permanent dust cloud behind him,
and Mr Bump with his bandages,
and Mr Impossible with upside down hat.
But Mr Happy?
No, I don’t remember him at all.
I was too young to make anything of it.
Too young to know he was  
the front and centre guy whenever  
the Mr Men Assembled.
(We never went in for Superhero movies,
apart from that time at the grandparents
I saw twice only.
Your parents.
They had Superman.
They’d borrowed it down the Fox.
A pirate copy on Betamax.
Which I saw while that kid  
ran around the room with his nappy off.
And poop on his hands.
Marvellous thing, memory, isn’t it?)
Why not Mr Happy?
Surely he must have visited me once?
Did you bring him through on the way out,  
like you brought the others
That while, that short while,
When you’d tuck me in  
before going off to work for the night?
Or wherever it was you went  
when you lost the job  
and the bills mounted up  
above the kitchen cabinets.
Or was Mr Happy one lie too many
for you, even then?

(prev. pub. by The Haven)

The show is called Dad's Army.
They still re-run it almost every weekend on the BBC.
It's about a group of mostly old geezers  
Who can't be called up for service in World War II
Due to their infirmity.
And we used to watch it when it was on.
And we used to play the game.
Because she loved being superior to the dead.
Because Arthur Lowe might have been great on stage,
And John Le Mesurier might have been in every British film of note,
And Arnold Ridley might have written "The Ghost Train",
And James Beck, the youngest to cork it,
Might have had such potential as a future star,
But they were dead.
She would point them out when they appeared on screen.
They were dead.
Whatever they wanted in life,
It was gone.
It was done.
They were done.
And she was there, so many years later,
On the sofa under the tartan blanket,
Wild-eyed on the Voddy,
Pointing at the screen when they appeared,
Each one,
And giving us the mantra,
In the same way she'd do the "switching off" mantra
Every night,
With the oven, and the light switches, and every switch in the house,
Three, four, five times over:
"Off, off, off, off, off."
But, of course, in this case:
"Dead, dead, dead, dead, dead."
And I would join in.
I was eight or nine or ten,
And I would join in,
Because I was taught to feel superior to the dead.
Because, if nothing else, that is what she was.
My mother.
I can't watch Dad's Army any more.
It reminds me of the dead.

(prev. pub. by The Haven)


You’ll have seen, won’t you, those Boston Dynamics videos with the robots dancing?
‘Course you will. Steve’s retweeted them. Bob has too. And if Bob’s seen something on the net,
That means it’s properly viral,
‘Cos Bob barely notices the dew drop on the end of his nose,
Or whether he’s got trousers on today. Or not.
And you’ll have been encouraged to think, “Oh, robots dancing! We’re properly in the 21st century now. No more Stiff-legged geezers in cardboard tubes sprayed silver.
No more arms-outstretched, Frankenstein’s monster, Metropolis knock-off wannabes.
These fellas can dance. These fellas can jive. These fellas can Get Down on the dancefloor.
How very human.
How very uncanny valley.
What will they do next?
Move in on your significant other?
Lean up on the pillows as you come in, one night, having provided the kind of thorough satisfaction you never Could, and all with a robotic smile like something from Futurama?”
You’ll have been encouraged to think this.
You’ll be thinking of replicants and shady takeovers of the entire world
And all the B-movie rest of it.
Because the robots can dance.
But I’m not so easily convinced.
Because, you see, yeah they can dance but how many humans can?
When people say they’re so human-like,
What they mean is, they’re like about 0.5% of us.
The show-offs.
The ones we don’t much like anyway.
Because they can do so easily what we cannot.
No. If your Boston Dynamics lot want to creep me out, take me to the uncanny valley,
They need to do a damn sight more than that.
First time I see a robot in saggy tracksuit bottoms, scratching its arse, hefting a litre of cheap plonk in a paper bag,
That’s when they’ll freak me out.
That’s when I’ll know that they’ve begun to understand how to be human.

(prev. pub. by Little Old Lady Comedy)


Today’s LittleNip:

A writer is working when he’s staring out of the window.

—Burton Rascoe


—Medusa, thanking British poet Mike Hickman for dropping by the Kitchen today with his unique poetry! (Word for today is “flatuosity”.) 
There was a Mike Hickman from York, 
who ate all his meals with a spork… 
(And I never thought I’d get to use the word, “spork” in a poem! If you live long enough….)


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in the top right corner to come back to Medusa.

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