Tuesday, May 31, 2022

The Swift Walls of the Funnel

Faith and Followings
—Poetry and Original Artwork by Joyce Odam, 
Sacramento, CA

Here in the dusk, by a slow, bright stream,
the unmindful child—
ever at the brink of curiosity,
with childlike faith and followings—
comes to sit on the bank and listen to
the moving water shimmer past.

And the bushes sigh with disturbance,
and the dark trees whisper.

And the musing child—in the dusk—
in the rippling moonlight—
sits stroking the make-believe rabbit
the child would love to keep and love.
And high in the trees now, in the dark,
the Cheshire cat sits purring.
(prev. pub. in Medusa’s Kitchen, 8/7/2018)
The Brink of Curiosity


she lives tightly
like shoulders of fear
like hunched intentions
replaced by procrastinations

all year
her seasons lag
like her work
like her dreams
her eyesight is failing
her energies lie to her

she closes the spaces
with tiny perfections
then admires them
till they disappear
The Undertones


You thought the stars would move her,
the sentiment of roses,
the well-rehearsed looks
from your adoring eyes—

even long walks by the summer ocean or
braving some tawdry neighborhood with all its
danger : the following shadows : the undertones
of warning : your bravado : her challenge to you,

and you obliged—her own star in the heavens,
endless roses, suffering looks
from your adoring eyes—the way
you never understood her.


He follows the formula.
The smug smile of control
in charge of the humor here,
on stage with himself,
the bright boy from so long ago,
still bright,
still leaning,
still good with a dig or a quip.
Most of us still smile at him
with tired indulgence.



and the
and the
and the
of the
In The Dusk


This long path between trees, their shadows
crisscrossing in the last of the sunlight—

this long perspective into evening, this soft
intensity of light—how soon the darkness

will know itself and obliterate
the narrowing point the eye is fixed upon.
To Name This Darkness

After “Stanbury Moor” (Photograph by Fay Godwin) from Remains of Elmet (Poems by Ted Hughes)

What shall I name this darkness with its torn black sky,
its shadows that sweep the distances.

I know this night is strange but it has brought me here
to mourn, so I mourn. I fasten to the horizon

with bleak unwilling eyes—it is too far.
I am where I am, at another beginning, no strength

and no provisions. One silver path cuts through
the land, one curve of hill outlining land from sky.

A last thin rim of light hangs low enough to sharpen—
I’ll aim to that—still bright enough to beckon.
The Envious Mind


The moons of heaven
pluralize and drift—
how much time they take
is a moot concept;
they change and travel—
the trapped sky—
trapped by the moons.

We try to imagine
how this
is so,

why the moons
come and go,

across the sky’s
vast reach,
until we know.

Our questions
still beseech
the envious mind
for answer—
the moons
but a focus of image,
through which all our
truth and doubt seek transfer.



As the red crest rises, I live on beyond it: my
other life—the one not taken by the red dream
—or any other death, avoided.

(That my cry of warning went unheeded in the
dream is a small detail, wondered about . . . )

As the red crest rises, I wait in the interminable,
slow-motioned wait a dream takes to realize it
is a dream and I needn’t fear it.

(That I went strangely terrified toward the town
with its unheeding people is still a guilt of fail-
ure; they looked at me as if I was only dream-
ing . . . )

As the red crest rises, it becomes a red cowl—
unbreaking, but curving ever higher—over the
shore-front shops and narrow boardwalks and
the indifferent people.

(That I still bear the weight of that terror is
part of the old distance—the sea was Kelly-Red
—rendered into a permanent dream that I once
dreamed and still can feel : the ultimate crash
ing and my urge of warning . . . )
How This Is So


I want to be one
with this loneliness—
here in this center which can go
each way—here where all things coexist,
the light flaring down and the darkness filling.

I want to be the light as it disperses,
and to be the shadow that is touched
by the dispersing light; I want to
be the stillness that watches this;
I want to be the motion that results.  

Oh, here is a sleeping bird with a silver wing
and a wing of dark. I want to fall asleep
in its eye and be where it is—
alive and alone in this
perfect center.

I want to be no threat and have no foe.
I want to take in a long, deep breath
and let out a quiet sigh—the
way I do when I turn from
din to quiet music.


Today’s LittleNip:

—Joyce Odam

There is a little rue to feel—
there is a little view
that falters as you see it.

There is a little trick to know—
but nothing that will free it.


Joyce Odam
(with help from daughter Robin Gale Odam), has sent us poems and artwork about our Seed of the Week, Narrow Escapes (starting with Alice) on this last day of May,  and we thank them for that. Our new Seed of the Week is “Too Close to the Sun”. 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. And see every Form Fiddlers’ Friday for poetry form challenges, including those of the Ekphrastic type.

If you happen to be re-visiting yesterday’s post, the one with the staircases, don’t be bumfuzzled by the second photo of same—I accidentally posted the same photo twice. Stairwell 1 and Stairwell 2 became two copies of Stairwell 1. (Sorry to Nolcha Fox, who sent these two public domain photos to go with her poems.)


 “…here where all things coexist,
the light flaring down and the darkness filling.”
—Public Domain Photo 

For upcoming poetry events in
Northern California and otherwheres,
click on
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.


Monday, May 30, 2022

Tight Squeezes & Narrow Escapes

—Poetry by Caschwa, Sayani Mukherjee,
Stephen Kingsnorth, Fizza Abbas, 
Joe Nolan, Michael Ceraolo, Nolcha Fox
—Public Domain Photos Courtesy of Nolcha Fox 
and Joe Nolan

—Caschwa, Sacramento, CA

the feel of a freight train coming
was more apparent than the sound,
like the stand-up bass in a jazz band

the disturbance of birds taking flight
might just be the biggest clue Nature has
to share that seasons are changing

the finality that you are now gone
and I am still here pondering you,
cannot be quantified in a laboratory 



this poem is as original
as an orgasm
but you probably won’t
feel what I am feeling

there will be no link to
past memories
no epiphany explosion
no cigarette clichés

our hot threesome
Rod of Caduceus
got limp, one fell off,
now Rod of Asclepius

and so what is all this talk,
if not the mere silhouette
of colloquoy, Dopey, Happy,
Grumpy, Sleepy, Sneezy? 
Robot Grafitti

—Sayani Mukherjee, Chandannagar,
W. Bengal, India

Tasting is bitter
A universal truth per se—
All along bemused
with cloves of whiskey wind
And an orchid peach,
The soft linings
That makes a play worthwhile.

Life's carnival is today's show
A carnal race, sour in each breath.
A single span of high time
Following footsteps of
Men before men—
A rusty carpet in succession.

Carts held outside the border walls
Draping the earth
In pearls of sweat
A survival through memories
Ending in a void of
Unfulfilled thirst—
Then the awakening
Is chasing
A christening balm
The little butterflies
Carving a new road
A Heart-shaped whirlwind—
A cat's paw,
A heuristic summit
Ever expansive with waters beneath
To wet the feet
With something to hold
At the back
Ending in a
War within generations
A perched-up junction
A soothing fountain head
And a garland knitted with
Little butterflies. 

—Stephen Kingsnorth, Coedpoeth, Wrexham, Wales

My mind contorts the obvious,
prefers a broader lateral flow—
though not that test for covid show—
but most terms, codes leave wriggle room;
not blandishments of politics,
but swordplay, search, stray synonyms.

A sweep, child labour, tells it all,
the many dying from the flue,
sent to clear soot, chimney stack,
smothered, stuck, from age of four,
the crooked route, abusive trail,
only escape, narrow brick road.

I have been too, trapped, though by gates,
our canal barge against the oak,
as turnkey failed, lock keeper flailed,
the narrow boat swept clear by force.
The bow dipped low, the stern roar heard,
its craft that kept longboat afloat.

I walked hedged in, school uniform,
face front, two privet edge, alone,
caged in, the strain for flight not fight,
steadfast unaltered gaze and pace,
followed someone, too long for run,
that snicket path, where dawdled fast.

My nightmare, shafted pyramids,
or caving, lost deep underground,
the scout, head bubble, water rise,
told brutal, see your Mum again,
you must dive, funnel though mousehole,
to breathe again above the ground.

So, far from narrow, field is wide,
where escapology applied;
from catching flue, gate-crashing do,
evading bullies on school run,
to pothole speleology.
To each their own, fear, laughter, tears.

—Stephen Kingsnorth

My discipline, though poor declared,
is words, the symbol sound and sight
which paints the picture in the head,
and sings a song in body parts.
And if compartments are kept clean
then music, art is language keen.

Tell me more of both, for I need
lexicon to describe, maintain
an understanding to enhance
appreciation of what I
see and hear, without the paddles
awarding examination
marks.  Bleeding, ebauche, gesso,
mahlstick rest, pochade and scumble;
I want beyond the vanishing
point, past phrased notation to see;
stave and clef, ambitus, flebile,
flat and sharp, medley lilt.

Each has its own vocabulary
but I just want to stare or hear
and value language, sight and sound.

—Fizza Abbas, Karachi, Pakistan

A blotting paper
marked with a criss-cross of inks:
turquoise blue, algae green and kingfisher red;
our old Egyptian Venice, a sanctuary to many
went down into the depths of the sea
long forgotten, erasures of excess ink.

divers discovered the bibulous paper
dug under shiny gold coins, mechanical animals made from watches
a tiny offering for god Amun-Gereb.

—Joe Nolan, Stockton, CA

Why walk
When you can run?
How could you ever
Stand still?
Why run
When you’d rather fly?

I would like to try.

Give me some waves by the ocean,
A wet-sand beach
And light, drifting foam,
A sunny, bright afternoon

And time to try to fly.

I will take off my shoes
And set off down the shoreline
On the fresh-wet, firm,
Fresh-washed sand,
Releasing all of my memories
Onto a boundless horizon
That runs all the way to Japan.

And as I while
Away the miles
My face will bear its smiles,
As gleefully,
I run along,
Releasing an inner song. 

—Joe Nolan

The roots
Of a mis-planted tree
Were strong enough
To crack-up concrete,
On sidewalks
Lining a street.

Isn’t it neat?
How organic
Is stronger than stone?
Like when a karate chop
Breaks a lot of bricks
Or bones!

While roots
Destroy concrete
Slowly, over time.
They’re in no hurry.
Trees don’t go nowhere
And they got nothin’ else to do.

—Michael Ceraolo, South Euclid, OH

Will Harridge

I didn't really like baseball,
but because I was good at scheduling
Ban Johnson hired me as his secretary,
and after twenty years in the job
I became league president
I couldn't be another Ban:
I didn't have the personality,
and the Commissioner was now czar,
what Ban in effect had been most of his tenure
I was content to discipline players
and hire and fire umpires

* * *

Ernie Stewart

The end came quickly
In July 1845 Commissioner Chandler
approached me in Washington,
saying he wanted to improve the umpires' lot,
and asked me to write a letter to the other umpires
to find out what they thought of his ideas for doing so
I did, and Mr. Harridge found out about it,
said I was disloyal to my fellow umpires,
and suspended me
Commissioner Chandler supported me,
but he didn't have the power to make Harridge
back down from forcing me to resign,
and I was gone by mid-August
I was bitter about the way Harridge treated me
and never spoke to him again,
but it was a blessing in disguise:
I saved my marriage,
and made much more money
than I ever would have umpiring

* * *

Emmett Ashford

I was in my early thirties,
ten years into my career at the Post Office,
and not yet umpiring in organized baseball,
but when I read of Jackie signing with the Dodgers
I vowed I'd be the first black umpire in the majors
It was five years before I was hired in the low minors,
but when the offer came I quit the Post Office
to pursue my dream
It took only a few years for me
to move up to the Coast League,
where my dream seemed to stall:
I saw guys I had trained
going to the majors ahead of me
But finally, after a dozen years,
Joe Cronin hired me for the American League
There were some who, because of my color,
didn't like my style, calling me clown or hot dog,
but matters of style aren't moral issues
And more emphatic calls are fun for umpires
and don't detract from the game at all

—Nolcha Fox, Buffalo, KY

Some call
me thin,
I call me
to climb
down the
my hips.

—Nolcha Fox

Chewing gum is an airplane
when you spit a wad that flies
through the air, and
it sticks to the back
of the guy who jumps
out of airplanes, nonchalant
while chewing gum,
and you wish the chewing
gum on his back
was an airplane to
fly him away,
because he reeks
of fear and booze.

Today’s LittleNip:

—Nolcha Fox

You pounce,
a kitten
on yarn.
You tangle,
you twist
life into
I am
and roll
out the door.

We in the Kitchen are hoping that you’re having a somewhat peaceful and thoughtful Memorial Day. Today’s poets have whipped up a batch of poems, some of which have to do with our Seed of the Week: Narrow Escapes. We also have a new visitor: Fizza Abbas is a writer based in Karachi, Pakistan. She says she is fond of poetry and music. Her work has appeared in more than 90 journals, both online and in print, and has been nominated for Best of The Net and shortlisted for Oxford Brookes International Poetry Competition 2021. She has also authored two books:
Ool Jalool (Fahmidan Publishing) and Bakho (Ethel Press). Aside from writing, she runs a YouTube channel where she interviews poets and zine editors. She tweets @fizzawrites. Welcome to the Kitchen, Fizza, and don’t be a stranger!

For upcoming poetry events in Northern California and otherwheres, click on UPCOMING NORCAL EVENTS in the links at the top of this page. There will be TWO poetry meals to share this week: Sacramento Poetry Alliance presents Poets & Writers Hump Day Lunch in Davis on Wednesday at noon; and Sac. Poetry Alliance’s Poetry Picnic in the Park takes place on Sunday starting at noon at McKinley Park in Sacramento. See UPCOMING for details and for more poetry events taking place this week.

Thinking of self-publishing? BookBaby is a wonderful resource about that and about all sorts of things! See blog.bookbaby.com/category/how-to-self-publish/. And check out this fun resource for kids: Kids’ Poetry Club (www.kidspoetryclub.com). Every Monday, meet Little Dazzy Donuts and the Club characters in a 15-minute podcast episode filled with rhymes and fun, as well as the chance to listen to kids reading their own poetry.

Yes, I’ve been prowling the Internet. Here’s another one: The (online) Ekphrastic Review has a biweekly ekphrastic writing challenge (and other stuff, too) at www.ekphrastic.net/ekphrastic-writing-challenges?fbclid=IwAR0_0QzlvYKSIZJsWtfsXyc4bBKY5edsU0PdcQty8tVkfTqK1WzPbjVhD8E/. But don’t forget Medusa’s challenges on Form Fiddlers’ Fridays, and the Seed of the Week every Tuesday.

To see the poetic responses to Placerville’s “Firehouse Sessions” (the Ekphrastic workshop held at the Confidence Gallery last May 12), go to artsandcultureeldorado.org/fhs-ba/. These poems were inspired by artwork from the gallery’s current exhibit, Bad Apples: Skateboarding and the Misfit Culture of EDC.

And congratulations to El Dorado County poet Tim Fulton for the publication of his poem, “Drawing Water”, as the Poem of the Month in the
Mountain Democrat last Friday! (See www.mtdemocrat.com/prospecting/poem-of-the-month-drawing-water/.)

By the way, yesterday was the 17th anniversary of Medusa’s Kitchen. Here’s to 17 more—at least! Many thanks to all of you who have kept the old gal cookin' these 17 years; please keep on sending your wonderful work! And it's so good to have our recent influx of international poets—three today, and more on the horizon~




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!


Sunday, May 29, 2022

Wasted Hours

—Poetry by George Gad Economou, 
Athens, Greece
—Photos Courtesy of Public Domain


all those minutes never meant to be reclaimed,
sitting down without a drink in hand

trying to write but in sober hours
how can you type?

the endless hours, the neverending nightmare of years
being thrown in green bonfires. it’s alright,
she says, as she embraces me from behind.

she won’t be shrugged off; ghosts are not afraid, nor hindered.
time to pour a tall one, just to get her off my mind,

the monkey in my back dances and cheers; nowhere to go,
Friday night and the streets are crowded with mindless machines.
artificial constructions of a perverted deity.

I drink them all away, drink them all to Hell,
eternal condemnation, it feels fine. another poker game commences
in Hell, someone plays my soul, and they have a losing hand.
tough shit, the winner’s got nothing to gain.

haphazard moments of drunkenness: breaking and entering;
destruction of public property;
driving without a license while drunk (and stoned);
back alley fights;
petty thievery… the list goes on and on and on…

it’s alright; I hardly remember them all, only still images
from blackout nights I never cared for to begin with. acquaintances lost,
all too many acquaintances never again to be seen, and who
gives a damn.

the lonely highway, down the road with only bourbon and a joint,
a couple of books, and a faithful typewriter to capture the spirit of the old.

every bar a pit stop, every strip joint a temporary home.

when death comes, I’ll say
“I came through the smoke!” without pride, nor joy.

9 AM

engirdled by empty bottles, used-
up syringes and traces of
broken pills and scattered blow, I recall when
someone would come knocking, impelling me to
hide the proof of how I’ve
lived for years. inside the crepuscular
bubble of emptiness, I feel
liberated.  I’ve stopped
caring, the fire burning my
soul is alive and well; that’s all
that matters.
shadows on the bed, on the couch, they’re
everywhere; on the broken glass surrounding
my desk phantom smiles reflect, upon my
lips I taste forgotten kisses.
it's alright, I have
another sip; all
gone, again, and I
breathe without a
leaden weight
crushing my chest. another night turns
to morning, can’t remember the last time
I slept. a timid knock on the
door breaks the
silence, another frozen ghost
perishes while I
sit comfortably within
the mist. time to say goodnight,
who cares if it’s 9 in the morning?



what kept me sane during lonesome winters
and mourning periods; suicidal thoughts flew out the fucking window
after glass number three and Jim Beam always knew the right thing to say.

pouring rotgut down my throat in a constant torrent of brilliance was the sole
way to survive the crepuscular days; without it, without the dives,

I’d be nothing but rotting flesh and disintegrating bones.

the bottles on my desk formed a formidable wall against
everything the world kept throwing at me.

in empty rooms, dimlit joints, and dark alleyways and parks,
bourbon maintained a balanced state of madness that kept me sane. 


once, I tried to bet on soccer; I lacked
the patience and luck to make it.

gave it up. now, I’m betting my life

on sex-stories. the ones that still sell, that part of
literature (for lack of a better term) that alongside crime fiction
still make decent sales.

enforced state of sobriety, for only by dulling the mind and soul
do I have a chance to write something marketable.

need to eradicate barflies, dives, drinking, drugs, and sad endings
from the stories. they need to be inclusive, positive,
happily ever afters
…all that.

I need a drink (ten, twenty, enough to murder me).

I settle with coffee and strong tobacco. having bet everything,
few months to break through, and find solace in a liquor store.

otherwise, it’s in other dives, some place far far away,
therein to wither while going back to the real lines.

I’ve forgotten my true works, the ones with the
encouraging rejection slips. as long as I stay sober,
hard as it may be,

and work on style and content, to make the works less
good and more profitable, I might

afford Maker’s Mark—if not,

I’ll just go back to rotgut and strip joints.

enough money on the side for a one-way ticket.

come next year, you might find me somewhere in
Alabama, drinking with Hank’s ghost.

or, in some booze-covered owned apartment,
shamed writer of some erotica bestselling story.

either way, I’m 13 months short of 30 (and of death).

it’s alright, if only I could have something better
than well fucking tequila.


when I’m finally gone,
put me in a lonesome
cliff by the ocean; no tomb, no plate, no names,

no way for others to find me. let me rest there, overlooking the blue sea
becoming one
with the blue sky, staring
beyond the horizon into
whatever I never explored.

put a bottle of Maker’s Mark in my crossed arms, something
to offer the Devil.
it’s all I need, a place
for eternity to
dream of Emily and all the lost years.

with Maker’s Mark and the sea, happier
than I’ll ever
be while breathing.

in the darkness, no more blues, no
more sorrow, no more thoughts
the future, about the next
rejection slip, about the one
agent out there willing to risk it

free, and as bourbon will kill me, let it
accompany me beyond death, too.
the one thing that
always stood by me, that lifted the
blues for so long, and

now that we’ve separated I sprint
down to the resting place.


Today’s LittleNip:

It is the wine that leads me on, the wild wine that sets the wisest man to sing at the top of his lungs, laugh like a fool—it drives the man to dancing… It even tempts him to blurt out stories better never told.

The Odyssey


Currently residing in Greece, George Gad Economou holds a Master’s degree in Philosophy of Science, and he supports his writing by doing freelance jobs whenever he can get them. He has published a novella,
Letters to S. (Storylandia) and a poetry collection, Bourbon Bottles and Broken Beds (Adelaide Books). His drunken words have appeared in various literary magazines and outlets, such as Spillwords Press, Ariel Chart, Fixator Press, Piker’s Press, The Edge of Humanity Magazine, The Rye Whiskey Review, and Modern Drunkard Magazine. Welcome to the Kitchen, George—and don’t be a stranger!


George Gad Economou

For upcoming poetry events in
Northern California and otherwheres,
click on
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 28, 2022

The Child On The Hill

—Poetry by Michael H. Brownstein, 
Jefferson City, MO
—Original Artwork by Norman J. Olson, 
Maplewood, MN


Something soft, perhaps indelible.
Make sure the bathtub water is cold to the touch,
but not unbearable—lean into your body—
find your quiet space.
But first, the door must be locked.
No one can disturb you.

The hangers, elongated, stretch to the thighs,
their metal hard, your skin pliant,
a mixing of fear and a mixing of anxiety.
This is how some of the things you care about
become things you can no longer bear,
how everything can change in a second
and fever on forever.

If the metal does not find an entrance,
do not force it.
When you bend too far towards your knees,
when you lose touch with yourself,
if the metal scrapes into blood,
if a cloud becomes solid and a fog sweat,
listen carefully to your eyes.
Tears are often lifesavers.
Sobs are often the only way to get out of the water.
Do not ever allow yourself to drown.

rest within melody, thick breath, a shadow of whisper—
I performed this dance once, and succeeded.
A best friend, no.
Before you leave this evening,
be aware—and she finally paused—
every dance you will do from then on will be less fragile.


—because of Sandeeo Permar, Sylvia Plath, Dorothea Lasky, Sharon Olds, and too many we wanted to be mothers

this was supposed to be


not this silence:

yes, this was supposed to be

instead, a silence—

not a sign of warning
not a sign of breath
not a sign of anything

supposed to be


only silence

The hate storm did not come with hail and sleet,
nor did it unleash a firestorm, a torrent of napalm—
the winds did not grow into bitterness and plague,
clouds did not erupt into fury and the crack of a whip.
No one felt blood welts or the rash of disease.

When the hate storm came, it blew in on a breeze,
a trade wind from near the equator, soft, almost a lullaby,
and it warmed the skin, carried an inside beauty,
paused to take in a deep breath of not air, but memory—
No one feared blood welts or the rash of disease.

The hate storm arrived unannounced one sunny day,
lifting the scent of flowers into the world, the glow of love.
Why did we not see it coming? Why did we ignore it for so long?
No matter. When it came, it could not change the cold.
No one felt the rash of love, the blood of peace.

No one thought to stop it,
and no one bothered to see the child on the hill
looking down.
She alone buried blood welts, the rash of disease:
She began the rebuilding of what hate had destroyed.


Today’s LittleNip:

—Michael Brownstein

And we created one more poem
one more ridiculous work of art
one more day of minstrel madness

Did you ever hear Jaybirds applaud?
Ostriches cackle?
Prairie chickens sing their nasty song?

This became our joy.


Gratitude to Michael Brownstein today for hard-edged poems about hard-edge subjects—minstrel madness, he says—and to Norman Olson for his intriguing artwork.  

This afternoon, Poetry in the Sierra Foothills takes place in Diamond Springs at 2pm, and Storytellers and Poets (Sacramento Storytellers Guild) meets at Sacramento Poetry Center, 2-3:30pm. Then, Honoring the Poetry of José Montoya takes place this evening at Luna's Cafe in Sacramento starting at 7pm. For more about these upcoming poetry events in Northern California and otherwheres, click on UPCOMING NORCAL EVENTS in the links at the top of this page.


Did you ever hear Jaybirds applaud?
—Photo Courtesy of Public Domain

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!


Friday, May 27, 2022

Yearning For Flight

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


I walked out past sundown
to watch the full Blood Moon eclipsing—
a dull dried-bloody wafer with just
a scimitar-edge of bright.

I aimed my phone to capture
the sight: brilliant oblong on dark screen.
But wait. How could that rising moon
be underneath the skyline?—

ragged ridge of oaks a scant half-shade
darker than the heavens’ rim.
Oh no—not the moon,
An east neighbor’s security light-show.

I started walking in the dark,
moved until I got a great leafy oak bough
between me and neighbor’s
light pollution; photographed the moon. 



Did they fall out of the nest into flight?
Seven feathered bodies pressed together
in the nest-box. Anchored to a deck-post
by the kitchen door, nest of seven eggs;
then tiny bald titmice gradually
sprouted fuzz. I peeked in just yesterday—
too many huddled babes to count. Seven?
And now they’re gone, nestbox hanging askew,
door gaped open. No unhatched eggs. I check
the sky for seven pairs of wings released
from their cell. How they were yearning for flight. 

art print by Lynne Parker, 2009

Three white swans in formation
low over the lake from whence they slept
wakened I suspect by daylight

first light like an explosion bursting
shore, its trees and sandbars to fragments
of light, of muted rust and blood,

the slight blue-green tint a hint
of trees beyond, more visible on water
than on air, a mirror-trick of sight.

How can it be, after all my
parsing of the artist’s brushstrokes
paddling the canoe of her mind,

three white swans still in formation
where I left them
in their day’s first flight. 


Tom Turkey fans his tail
surely he must prevail.

He struts and strolls and hopes
and all alone he mopes.

And still he fans and calls
the hens till evening falls. 



For weeks, two wild turkey hens pecked seeds
on our deck—birdseed kicked
from hanging feeder by finches, titmice and a pair
of black-headed grosbeaks. The hens—
one wild-turkey color, the other pale gray as ash—
raided our compost pile for tossed-out scraps.
For weeks, a wild turkey tom maundered
our outskirts, fanning his flamboyant tail,
gobble-calling in a lovelorn way;
alone in mating season.
At last, turkey-color hen visits our deck,
pecking birdseed—with 3 poults,
tiniest I’ve ever seen. Birdseed gone,
they fly. And here
comes solitary Tom pausing to unfurl his tail.
Could he be father, faithfully flanking
his flock? O lurker, stalker?
Googling gobblers, I find no answer.
Scattered seed-bits of fact and supposition,
where can a poem lead? 



One wild turkey hen foraging
the field, her 3 tiny poults near-
invisible in once-mowed grass.
No photo-op, they’re gone

and Lonesome Tom appears, gobbling,
fanning his crowning-glory tail.
But look, is the great bird hobbling?
Fan-pause-hobble-pause. Fan.

Could this be injury-feigning?
I never saw him limp before—
this hobble-gobble—to protect
tiny babes in the grass? 


Today’s LittleNip:

Pony Express Re-Ride 2019

I spotted her in the Pony horde,
bowing her crest, meditating her peace;
awaiting mailbags, her partner-rider’s touch
and they’d be off, flying, oh, dancing this release.


Poor Lonesome Tom! Is he indeed the proud protective poult-papa? Or maybe their world isn’t tied up so neatly? Where can a poem lead, as TG asks. Anyway, thank you, Taylor Graham, for stories a-plenty today in your smooth style. And for putting them into forms: Blank Verse (“Escape to Sky”); an Ekphrastic Poem (“Swans in Flight”); a Tango (“Tango's Dance”); a Big Wah (“Bachelor Tom?”); an Ars Poetica (“Family Situation”); and a Ryūka chain (“Status Report T3”).

Don’t forget to check our UPCOMING NORCAL EVENTS link at the top of this column for what’s going on this weekend; Saturday’s a-hoppin’!

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 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 sent us the Manardina this week, and we thank her for that. Here are the instructions she sent, along with her example:

Manardina: 6 lines, Syllabic Form: 4  8  8  8  8  4
(Seems to have no rhyme-pattern)

Joyce’s Source:
Poem/Form found in poem by Dorman John Grace,
from his book,
Let There be Starlight, as found in
Premier Poets Anthology, 1985-86

I also found the Manardina at Poets Collective (poetscollective.org/poetryforms/manardina), with slightly different instructions (2 rhymes). Joyce’s example has two stanzas and no rhymes; do as you will if you write one. (Joyce’s example is lovely, and so sad. Joyce does “sad” so very well.) 
Illustration Courtesy of Public Domain

—Joyce Odam, Sacramento, CA

All night the birds
sang against the carrying dark,
sang for themselves and each other;
sang against my sequestered heart—   
bittersweet with listening.  They
sang for their love

and not for mine.
Mine had been surrendered to some
lost song—kept in the sheltered dark
in a little dark box that lay
in a safe place . . . in a safe place . . .
in a safe place.

(prev. pub. in Ship of Fools, 2003)
Last Week’s Ekphrastic Challenge
Both Stephen Kingsnorth and Carl (Caschwa) sent responses to the above photo:

—Stephen Kingsnorth, Coedpoeth, Wrexham, Wales

Colour on light umber turned,
near noon shadows, stark bite ground,
honeydew, strike parakeet,
peacock bold, but butterfly,
petals burning from the black—
village elders in debate,
gentler shades for older, sage;
are those younger in rebuke,
palette range seen overplayed?
Headdress folded, antler gear,
like the rut to win the field,
dust corralled, failed brushwood shade—
no effect to cool dispute,
folds and creases, foreheads, dress,
gathered waists like girding loins.
Or your reading, kinder lines,
context or a title known?
Vibrant primaries seduce,
scenes, exotic, taken hold?
Was the motive for the shot
desert bright or power play?
What the spin of lens or sight—
fashion catwalk, Tybalt fight?

* * *

—Caschwa, Sacramento, CA

a cluster of people one
is not likely to ever meet
invites profiling based
on image alone

like on a multiple choice
test, which answer “looks”
more correct, or maybe it
is All, or maybe None

the choices of True or False
carry different weight as one
gazes up and down a caste
system’s behavior assignments

are these folks who will die
in vain, or has any semblance
of temptation already been
carved out of their psyche?

* * *

Nolcha Fox sent a poem made up of Dimeter (two feet/line) lines. (See Muriel Rukeyser’s “Yes” for another Dimeter poem: anthonywilsonpoetry.com/2019/12/10/advent-poems-10-yes-by-muriel-rukeyser/). You might check out study.com/academy/lesson/dimeter-definition-examples.html for the beginning of a more extensive explanation of Dimeter. It’s a study course through Study.com, in case you’re interested.

Meanwhile, here’s Nolcha’s effective use of Dimeter:
Illustration Courtesy of Public Domain

—Nolcha Fox, Buffalo, WY

Once an oasis,
we came to you weary,
you offered refreshment
before we moved on.
The road now runs past you,
abandoned Shell station,
your pavement a stained glass
of concrete and weeds.
But emptiness calls out
to be reimagined.
Your shell will be one day
refilled and reborn.

* * *

Carl sends a Riddle Poem, followed by one of Stephen’s erotemes:
Illustration Courtesy of Public Domain

cn cnsnnts tll th whl trth?
dn’t sk, dn’t tll

* * *

And finally, a note from SK about writing. Does your metric measure dance?
Illustration Courtesy of Public Domain
—Stephen Kingsnorth

So many, why, start verse with I ?
Experience may be known to me,
give reason further to explore,
but campanologist in tower,
climb ivory, or ring a bell?

Do words speak, franca, as streets find?
For some the Abba rhyme appeals—
as final Mamma Mia note,
the winner takes all, breathless throat,
fast dying strain, ghost harmony.

Some schemes, with weighed abandon, blank—
but does the metric measure dance,
sway words enhance sung melody?
Do vowels yawn, evoke a wow,
while consonants consent or bite?

Though prompted, observed image, phrase
the sparks of Calliope spray,
and winding ways, yet hidden paths
lead unplanned course on stranger tracks.
By writing on the wall, theme changed.

Are letters so tight tracked in space,
the deficit in meaning spent?
Or parables entice, unknowns
inviting wrestle, struggle, squirms?
Does wisdom pose print erotemes?


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!



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:

•••Manardina: poetscollective.org/poetryforms/manardina

See also the bottom of this post for another challenge, this one an Ekphrastic one.

And don’t forget every Tuesday’s Seed of the Week! This week it’s “Narrow Escapes”.


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

•••Ars Poetica: www.poetryfoundation.org/learn/glossary-terms/ars-poetica
•••Big Wah: 6 lines (6 syllables each), 6 action verbs, 6 strengths-purposes (Joyce Odam)
•••Blank Verse: literarydevices.net/blank-verse AND/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
•••Manardina: poetscollective.org/poetryforms/manardina
•••Riddle Poem: poets.org/glossary/riddle
•••Ryūka: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ryūka
•••Tango: poetscollective.org/poetryforms/tango


—Medusa, wishing you a safe and thoughtful Memorial Day weekend~
 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.
LittleSnake loves poets, all of
whom are his treasures~!