Sunday, July 31, 2022

Holding It Together

Mammatus Over the Monongahela
—Photos by Chris Feldman
—Poetry by Ann Wehrman, 
Sacramento, CA
—Original Artwork by Ann Wehrman

in your photo
lines of mammatus clouds
fill soft, beige sky
like coils of human guts

I remember your emails
from the hospital bed
first quick surgery
seemed a success

then complications
weeks more in the hospital
eviscerated, purified
you survived on tubed food, prayer, and will

put yourself back together
at what cost, each moment?
fierce despite aged joints, bad back
irascibility masks deep caring heart

you’ve studied the next realm
are not afraid, yet chose to stay
each day a dedication
thank you for sticking around
—Photo by Pixel2013 from

pale white butterfly
flutters through the lavender
cool sips on hot day
Pittsburgh Abstract No. 30
—Photo by Chris Feldman

love life like this drought

short tease
a few sprinkles
breeze still paper dry

got out a pan to collect water
but sky lightened
fierce sun resumed its blaze

no more raindrops
long, hard drought 
—Crayon Drawing by Ann Wehrman


we lie together, enraptured
breathe softly upon each other
hands seal our union
through open lips
your emotion enters my soul
we burrow into this
wide old bed
blanket ourselves
with perfect forever darkness
—Photo by Chris Feldman

Today’s LittleNip:

—Ann Wehrman

deep rich bluest sky
I want to jump up and in
swim and float and fly


—Medusa, with thanks to Ann Wehrman and Chris Feldman for another cool collaboration—cool sips on a hot summer day!
—Photo Courtesy of Public Domain


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 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, July 30, 2022

While the Thunder Rages

—Poetry by Petar Penda, 
Bosnia and Herzegovina
—Public Domain Photos Courtesy of 
Joe Nolan, Stockton, CA


I wake up with the inner quiver,
Thousand possibilities as in my twenties,
Glamorous life before me,
Promising journeys, spiritual and other.
The wide world is to be conquered,
I just need to decide which way to go.
And then, after two coffees and four cigarettes,
I go to wash up and brush my teeth
And in the mirror, I see an unknown man,
Probably in his early fifties,
With the thinning hair and the double chin,
The indifferent eyes and the unsmiling face,
And for a second I wonder
What he is doing in my bathroom,
Should I, as a good host, introduce myself
and nicely say how do you do,
Ask him if we have met before.
After all, these days common courtesy declines.
A flicker of recognition stops me from being polite,
And I rudely go out and leave the man in the mirror,
Angry with him as he turns my precious quiver
Into the longing for the former vigour.


"After the agony in stony places
The shouting and the crying..."
        —T. S. Eliot,
The Waste Land

The thunder took away
Our generosity, compassion
and self-control.
We are not who we were,
And the thunder isn't what it used to be.
We hardly speak the same language now.
But we know the thunder rages
and rumbles the warnings
Of the times to come and
Of the division within one's self.

It forebodes ruins in place of cities,
Fear in place of inner peace
And death in place of life.
The thunder rolls stones in the sky
Ready to hit us with the fiery truth
Of our nothingness and futility.
There is no hope of redemption and
The peace which passes understanding
Is just an unreachable echo.


I want to hold you dispassionately
Between my hands and legs
To talk to you without words
Until you become quiet and asleep
And reveal to me your dreams
To see if you are as true
As your ebbs and tides declare.
Your dreams will tell me
If it's the craft or love
When your waves caress me.
Anticipating the answers
I nudge you and dive my head
Into your treacherous salty depths.


Today’s LittleNip:

I had a vision—and I saw white spirits and black spirits engaged in battle, and the sun was darkened—the thunder rolled in the Heavens, and blood flowed in streams—and I heart a voice saying, “Such is your luck, such are you called to see, and let it come rough or smooth, you must surely bear it.”

—Nat Turner


Petar Penda from over the sea is a professor of English and American literature (University of Banja Luka) and a translator. His translations have been published in renowned journals in the USA and the UK. His poetry has been published by
Fevers of the Mind, Lothlorien Poetry Journal, A Thin Slice of Anxiety, Trouvaille Review and others. Welcome to the Kitchen, Petar, and don’t be a stranger!

Today in Diamond Springs, Poetry in the Sierra Foothills features Katy Brown and Allegra Silberstein, plus open mic (2pm, Love Birds Coffee & Tea Co.); plus Four Men in Black at the Celebration Arts Theater in Sacramento tonight, starting at 6pm. Click UPCOMING NORCAL EVENTS at the top of this column for details about these and other future poetry events in the NorCal area.


Petar Penda

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!



Friday, July 29, 2022

Shadow of a Bear

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


You wake from napping.
Was that a kiss on the cheek?
or the cat’s whiskers,
a stray lilt of the Coffee
Cantata from the other room,
or a spider searching for
soft spots to bite?
You’re too big to be spider-
bait but that doesn’t
lessen the itch
of daylight
waking to the old
world of kisses on the cheek
and anything else it might be.


I’ve followed dark scents that glide on the wind,
trusting only this dog, my guide on the wind.

A lift of nose—she tries to fly, to catch those
elusive scents which subside on the wind.

Their honeymoon ended. My dog leads me
to this cliff-edge, chasing a bride on the wind.

A man left his life, took his pistol; walked
to this lonely place to hide on the wind.

To find a lost boy in the morning downdraft—
might my dog and I just slide on the wind?

A girl disappeared with no trace. My dog
took me to where something sighed on the wind.

If we shared the same language, my dog would
tell me such secrets that bide on the wind.

Dog Handler 6 is haunted by the ones
we didn’t find—ghosts that chide on the wind.


The teachers had the children sit in circles
on classroom floor by the shadow of the bear.

They told bear stories and drew trees and tepees,
put themselves in tales: The Shadow of the Bear.

The teachers told them how lucky they all lived
close to trees and wild and shadow of the bear.

Who was interloper in their school, their town,
and who lived here first? the shadow of the bear.

Then the bear wandered off, and the children
went out to recess in shadow of the bear.

But the bear was gone away, leaving nothing
but drawings, stories, and shadow of a bear.


Spider weaving herself in slick of her net,
its filaments as sticky as my internet.

I wield my weed-eater as a machete,
knife, bludgeon, scalpel, flail, a bayonet.

On morning TV, nothing but bad news:
lost job, ID, life, air, home, planet.

Images of space before history, caught
like flies in a young girl’s sonnet.

Keep to yourself, they say, every sense
on trigger hi-alert before a dragnet.

This poet tangles words among woods,
breath drawn by the green magnet.


A rock & rut road won’t survive a fire-fight.
It gets dozed so smooth, everyone can drive it.

Miles of charred mountain to the meadow…
Cars parked so tight, no room left for birdsong.

A grove of aspen, white bark written black,
the highest branches leafing out, living green.

Retrace our journey to an unremarkable spot,
mule’s ears, wild carrot, sulfur buckwheat.

No traffic sound. Scraggly young sequoia
and ancient juniper in silent council.

A poet’s prints in sand are soon swept clean.
Sagebrush and solitude, and one chickadee.


From there to somewhere
the two-lane asked, why stop here?
and, again, why not?

Patchwork of textures,
live & dead colors blooming
in bludgeoning sun.

All the shades of green:
grapevine, wild carrot, willow,
thistle, cocklebur.

You were mentioning
absence of mourning doves—Look!
a dozen take wing.

In my phone, photos to keep.
On my laces, cockleburs.

Today’s LittleNip:

—Taylor Graham

You met as two strangers on business. She
came from a place you once lived
and your heart never left.

Both of you masked, eyes reflecting a place
of oak woods calling you back
like wind’s kiss on the cheek.


Four Ghazals from Taylor Graham today (last week’s Triple-F Challenge): “Wind Ghazal”; “When the Bear Wandered Through”; “Recluse”; and “Finding the Spot”), as well as a Haiku Sonnet (“Stopping for Roadside in July”) and a Kimo Chain (“Extrasensory”). She also sends us poems of kisses on the cheek, our recent Tuesday Seed of the Week. Many thanks, TG—one of the first poets ever to post in the Kitchen. Yes, it’s been that long…

TG had a birthday yesterday, and we wish her a belated one. She has been posting photos and poems from last Sunday’s Capturing Wakamatsu workshop on her Western Slope El Dorado poetry site on Facebook at Check it out! The next Wakamatsu workshop (with TG and Katy Brown) will take place on Oct. 2.

Speaking of Katy, she and fellow Davisite Allegra Silberstein will be reading tomorrow at Love Birds Coffee & Tea Co. in Diamond Springs. And tonight in Sacramento, T-Mo Entertainment presents Comedy and Poetry Show with Comedian Jammin’ Jay Lamont and Poet Terry Moore, plus singer Christa Grant. Click UPCOMING NORCAL EVENTS at the top of this column for details about these and other future poetry events in the NorCal area.

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 for the benefit of all man/woman/poetkind!
Last Week’s Ekphrastic Challenge

Two of our poets responded to last Friday’s Ekphrastic Challenge:

—Nolcha Fox, Buffalo, WY

No one knew the stranger,
more battered than the fiddle
he lifted to his chin.
Everyone ignored him,
too busy with their lives.
“The Devil Went Down to Georgia”
was the tune that fiddle sang.
Red flames flickered in his hair,
soot flew from his bow.
Fire danced around him,
and spread throughout the town.
Soon the people were all cinders
spread around his feet.
They never had a chance to see
the stranger grin and sweep them
into his fiddle case.

* * *

—Stephen Kingsnorth, Coedpoeth, Wrexham, Wales

A sorcerer, this journeyman,
apprentice to spell-binding fling.
Take static portrait, melody,
if ever bow strings zapped a song
in catgut burn from sizzle strings,
a fleck of hair flick, air unlocked;
key curl notes thrown cross concert room,
or leading jig from gipsy band,
a ceilidh from his native land.
A Riverdance in current streams,
without precision steps of stance,
trompe l’oeil allows smokescreen in wafts
as conjured muse sets flight alight.
Allegro, like the firebird flown,
tempo too quick for lines defined,
set fast as in a rite of spring.
Grey drain drawn strains let loose from bars,
dun flame hint crown to viol tip,
does some vibrato fill his head
to overflow in pyroclast? 
* * * 


—Stephen Kingsnorth

My name is not above the door,
but as a lad I fished from bank.
We owned a dog for many a year,
I paid the registrar when planned,
for marriage, date and place in hand;
now driving car and programmes watch.

Responsibility, play fair,
so needed licence, pay care share.

To serve the verse in measured glass,
or hook the words from angler's rod,
to lead some thought with collared phrase,
to voice life's vows through stanzas read,
to change the gear through rhythm shift,
or channel surf, ride verbal waves;
all need licence, permissive chit,
soldered truth, meanings redefined.

New boundaries now border style,
creative relish not a lie;
maintenance of norms, grammar's rules,
all give way, literary flair,
or mashing language, take the dare.

* * *

Caschwa (Carl Schwartz) sent us a Ghazal, though he bemoans the fact that different poets seem to stretch and strain the form, often ignoring the rules set forth by the various “authorities”. I shrugged (online) and said, well, that’s how it is sometimes in the poetry world, especially when forms are imported from one culture to another. To wit, see Stephen Kingsnorth’s poem above about the licenses we poets give ourselves (also note the British spelling of “licence”),

Here is Carl’s Ghazal:

—Caschwa, Sacramento, CA

My calendar was clear today
so I started writing poetry

Refreshed my memory of certain words
and peered through clouds of shifting forms

Reminded that the “H” in Haiku stands for
all the ways to describe a Hot Dog

Don‘t forget the wiener
don’t forget the bun

Don’t forget the condiments
don’t forget to wash your hands

Find the nearest used CAR Lot
and indulge in some Hot Dogs 
Continuing with Poetic License talk, Carl answered the call for a Kwansaba, though he eschewed the national pride slant. So we chatted about that, then I referred myself to Stephen’s poem, and so here we are, with Carl's zippy Kwansaba:


swing band session was hot and heavy
a select group played at our wedding
alto sax danced with my eldest aunt
bari sax took some really nice photos
all the guests had a great time
since then thirty nine years have passed
we made some good music, sure did

* * *

And last but far from least, Claire Baker sent us a lovely poem; not only is it a  Triolet, but it’s a response to our Tuesday Seed of the Week, “Windsong”—a twofer:

—Claire J. Baker, Pinole, CA

The wind comes singing for us again
when we are paused to listen.
Up from valleys and through the glen
the wind comes whistling for us again
to crack our shells and open
as though our Time were christened.
The wind comes chorusing for us again
when silently we listen.


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 forms, and send them to! (No deadline.) Let’s go back to Sonnet forms. How about:

•••Petrarchan (Italian) Sonnet:
AND/OR wrassle with this little Haiku variation:

•••Alphabet Haiku:

See also the bottom of this post for another challenge, this one an Ekphrastic Photo to which every poet can well relate…

And don’t forget each Tuesday’s Seed of the Week! This week it’s “Windsong”. 

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

•••Alphabet Haiku:
•••Ekphrastic Poem:
•••Ghazal: AND/OR AND/OR AND/OR 
•••Haiku Sonnet (four Haiku followed by two lines of seven syllables each):
•••Kimo: AND/OR
•••Petrarchan (Italian) Sonnet:

For more about meter, see: 


 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 says,
Don’t throw them ALL away…














Thursday, July 28, 2022

Praying for Merwin

—Poetry and Photos by Jobe, 
Davis, CA

a rainy day    gray    cold

drinking coffee alone by the window

when a lone sunbeam breaks through

hello world    I’m still with you


as mornings go   I'll take it

strong coffee    thelonious monk playing solo

and some poems by w.s. merwin

We lost merwin in 2019 at the age of 91

he’s been on my mind

the poetry    his work restoring the trees

restoring a piece of the earth

and his knowledge of the dharma

keeping his own practice

I turn off the music and close the book

I did my morning zazen hours ago

but another quiet time has come

I can feel it    my prayer beads 

and the loving kindness sutra  

I’ve worked out my own ritual with them

praying for w.s. merwin in the bardo

      (for w.s. merwin)

lazy man    I never put my hoses away
they lay wherever I drop them
I never bother to remember where either
I have spent my life walking around
looking for the far end of hoses
I imagine finches watching me    or raccoons
all of them thinking me a fool—
stupid man! he should put the hoses away!
well, to hell with them all
I don’t have feathers or fur
and I don’t go around judging people
with poems on their minds

dear snow geese     my old friends  
please cry out  
when you pass over on your long journey  
it’s like we are saying hello again


it’s been years since i’ve seen snow
decades I suppose
what I remember is perfect white flakes
falling from the winter sky
like tiny paratroopers 
clean and cool
when they land on your tongue
and melt
millions of little gifts from above 

one day     when we can remove these masks
please join us here     my wife and myself
in the empty house
for so long now the only laughter here
has been hers and mine
join us here that day
and we will all tell the stories
of life and death and covid-19
we will break bread
and once again friendship will grow


Today’s LittleNip:

clouds that cover and uncover the moon
shadows move across the grass all night



Our thanks and welcome back to James Lee Jobe for joining us this morning, as he waves at the geese overhead and remembers those tiny gifts of snowdrops on the tongue. Don’t be a stranger, James; come more often to break bread with us here in the Kitchen!

Two events in Sacramento tonight: Chill Vibez free live band concert and poetry (Terry Moore) in Cesar Chavez Plaza; and Bethanie Humphreys and Heather Judy at Luna’s. Click UPCOMING NORCAL EVENTS at the top of this column for details about these and other future poetry events in the NorCal area.
One of our readers wrote yesterday to say that he had stick figures in place of two of yesterday's marmosets on the Medusa post! Those dang critters have been up to it again—not the marmosets, the cyberbugs. I'm sorry if this happened to the post you received; I have no idea what to do about it, other than sigh and move on...


 —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 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!










Wednesday, July 27, 2022

Leaving Vineland

—Poetry by Robert Beveridge, 
Akron, OH
—Photos of Marmoset Types Courtesy 
of Public Domain


Bring the salesman down
to the garbage dump, send
the tailor to the forest.
Sing Clair de Lune until
your jaw falls off if it means
Luxembourg divests.
Is that a pizza in your pocket
or are you just glad to see
a brace of trident missiles
pointed at the world's most
notorious tearooms?


You set the page on the table, turn away
to find a pen, and when you look back
it is gone. Not on the chair. Not on the floor.
Gone. Again. You go to the fridge, pull
out an apricot, get juice on your chin while
you contemplate what sort of house demon
might have a diet of blank paper, or whether
it has embarked on a search for all the dryer
socks that you are convinced are in a landfill
just outside Poughkeepsie. The cat looks up
at you from her place on the floor. From her
expression, she has no idea what happened
to the paper either, but for all you can tell
she’s just after the pit when you’re done.
Whether you should feed it to her is another
story, of course. Whether you should feed it
to yourself is perhaps just as controversial
but you keep the grinder handy just in case.
You check the table but the paper is still
absent. Pen still in hand, you open your shirt.


Left behind the door
but not enough to see.
Slept with the baby
without any risk
of suffocation. Was
approached for demonic
possession but failed
the swimsuit competition.
Ran for Senator of Maine,
we’ll see how it goes. Had
a thing for Mason jars, no
matter what filled them,
if anything. Attended
more funerals than anyone
in county history. Loves
that accent of yours.


The marmoset crawled into your shorts while you were too busy with the perfect scrambled eggs to notice. By the time you’d progressed to celery prep for the chili pot, though, the claws were too much to ignore. What is one supposed to do with a marmoset, anyway? You tried some of the bean mix, a little raw bacon, a sprig of Mexican oregano. It just stared back, expectant. You read it a passage from Greimas’ Structural Semantics but fell asleep before it did. Good thing you hadn’t started the chili yet.
             Once you got to the simmer stage, you collapsed in the living room (careful not to sit on your passenger) and flipped on the TV to see what was happening. The squash invitational was absorbing, but when you noticed the emptiness in your clothing, you looked around and discovered your new friend had infiltrated the closet, nibbled the tealights, curled up in the overcoat that never wanted to stay on its hanger. You tiptoed back out to the kitchen: time to stir while the deodorant commercials were on.

(prev. pub. in Selcouth Station)

vineland wasn't all that great anyway

I never knew
what nothing felt like
until I sat in that chair
in a pool of my own sick
and listened
to some old black woman
say the house
I was living in
was being condemned
“you have to be out
by thursday morning
or we'll call the police
to forcibly remove you”
so I went upstairs
broke the seal
on my last fifth
of cheap vodka
and wrote a poem
I looked around
at five months
of accumulated shit
and wondered how
it was all going to fit
in my little car
so I could move
to denver
where I knew a girl
with a room to spare
and me, a kid
from beautiful downtown
vineland nj
who'd never been west
of the great miss before
in his life
in some odd way
I was looking forward to it
no matter i'd have to leave
¾ of my books behind
no matter I only knew
one person within a thousand miles
of denver, co
I looked around that room
getting progressively more
and I said to myself
“five months is a long time
to accumulate
then I turned
mahler's 8th
all the way up
and pulled the boxes
out of the closet
started throwing
books into them 


His car is as inconspicuous
as the shadows in the courtyard
of the Dropsy University.
With each corner he passes,
he slows, separates the meal
from the stalk with his eyes,
assesses the hundredweight.
So many possibilities and any
of them could fulfill his needs
in a pinch, but he will always
look for her, the thin one
with the dirty blonde hair,
angled face, trackmarks
fresh enough to be smelled
from the street, throat
wasted, yet still soft.

Today’s LittleNip:

—Robert Beveridge

You laced your fingers
through mine, as we walked
to the car. So unexpected.
You smiled up at me, lips
a bit parted, eyes agleam.
I shiver now and smile, remember.


Robert Beveridge (he/him) makes noise ( and writes poetry in Akron, OH. Recent/upcoming appearances in
Of Rust and Glass, The Museum of Americana, and Quill and Parchment, among others. Thanks for showing up in the Kitchen today, Robert, and don’t be a stranger!

The Laureate Trail continues today for El Dorado County, this time with Poet Laureate Lara Gularte reading and a workshop in Georgetown. And speaking of Poets Laureate, today is the deadline for the Davis Art & Ag Poetry Contest, to be judged by Julia B. Levine, Poet Laureate of Davis. Click UPCOMING NORCAL EVENTS at the top of this column for details about these and other future poetry events in the NorCal area.


Robert Beveridge

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!
“Is that a pizza in your pocket, or…”