Friday, September 30, 2022

Remember Rain?

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


You’re curious…. want to come along?
Here’s your bucket. Work gloves in your kit?
Sturdy boots? We’ll have to wade the creek—
no, we won’t melt. But watch for drop-offs,
slippery rocks. We’ll find things beyond
belief—stuff people toss, not caring;
stuff that got washed away, carried down
the current, or snagged against a big-
leaf maple. This creek can weave a pair
of trousers into root-crown so you’ll
never pull it free. In your bucket
goes this sock, that muddy blue rosette
somebody won and lost; a quite good
screwdriver. Today the old creek sings
a minor tune under sky of gray.
Look here, is this a porcelain shard,
once a lovely something? Styrofoam
and cellophane. The creek doesn’t care.

    ancient Borneo rock cave art

Painted hands reaching, for what?
It looks like water—foam or snow-slush,
droplets, spatters and eddies on a cave wall.
Water etching this cave ages ago,
as human hands drew themselves touching water.
Hands open to the quest, the thirst.
Remember rain?
Fingers weaving streamlets of flowing water,
reaching from depths of dark into light,
palms-up to cup water.
Water as fluid as light, as life.


You’ve reflected yourself in two mirrors
getting smaller, more distant with each
repetition as a selfie cutting you in half.

I just see the photo-half, hangdog face
from late night hours with Coyote, Owl.
You’ve reflected yourself in two mirrors,

as in a vanity triptych, a riddle: who am
And Owl answers HOO hoo hoo.
Repetition like a selfie cutting you in half

replicating you into infinity’s endless
loop. As for the cover of your life’s work
you’ve reflected yourself in two mirrors.

The night hours are magnified. Have
you become your own worst bedfellow
repeated as selfies might cut us in half?

Unremitting is the spiderweb of poses
catching moments. A lens is in the way.
You’ve reflected yourself in two mirrors,
repetition of a selfie cutting you in half.


Thanks to your cousin Jim at JPL,
your name traveled on microchip to Mars.
The rover’s scientific probing’s swell,
thanks to your cousin Jim at JPL.
I’ll just hike Sierra where marvels dwell
still undiscovered under daytime stars.
Thanks to your cousin Jim at JPL.
Your name traveled on microchip to Mars.


A road unknown if you’ve a date to keep—
It winds this way and that among the oaks,
it’s squeezed by wild, and rutted, rocky, steep

and, maybe, washout, fallen log that chokes
the way. This road appears on no one’s maps,
so hope it ends before a twilight cloaks

the edges. Pause a bit while noontime naps
and shadows hide like nesting birds away.
Just let the moments go, let worry lapse.

A road goes where it goes, discovery’s way.
Beyond the bend is who-knows-what—a bird
alighting flashes amber. It won’t stay

but first it pipes the strangest song you’ve heard,
a song beyond the reach of roads: of sky.
You tell your friends, but they just say “absurd.”

No need to puzzle out the where and why;
no time to wonder at those hurried folks
who wouldn’t bucket-list it lest they die—

this curiosity of road will haunt
your recollection like all ways that daunt:
a road unknown if you’ve a date to keep—
so squeezed by wild, and rutted, rocky, steep….


The same old landscape—sudden flight!—
glimpse of unknown beast; fading light.
I shift position, focus. There!
Fawn or jackrabbit? hispid hare?
Long ear-receptors aimed at me.
But now, quite gone. What could it be?
In failing daylight never tame,
unwritten wild I wished to name.

Today’s LittleNip:

—Taylor Graham

New fence, land posted.
But listen: white-crown sparrow,
black phoebe, raven—
no one forbid the wild birds
to fly their ancestral woods.


Our thanks to Taylor Graham for her poems and photos this morning! Forms she has used include an Unrhymed Villanelle (“Villain Mirrors”); a Welsh Cyhydedd Fer, one of last week’s Triple-F Challenges—it's also an Ars Poetica (“Poem I Didn't Get”); Normative Syllabics/Word-Can Poem (“What's to Find on River Cleanup Day?”); an Ekphrastic Poem (“Hands in a Cave”); a Triolet (“Curiosity Rover”); a Laurenelle, the other Triple-F Challenge (“Curiosity Road”) and a Tanka (“No Trespass”).

Tomorrow (10/2), Taylor Graham and Katy Brown will co-host another in the American River Nature Conservancy’s Capturing Wakamatsu: A Poetry Walk/Workshop series at Wakamatsu Farm in Placerville. Click UPCOMING NORCAL EVENTS at the top of this column for details about this and other future poetry events in the NorCal area, including Poetry in Locke, the big
Voices: 2022 release party tomorrow which will include lots of poetry, music, games, general revelry and food (bring your favorite dish!).

Also this Saturday: another “The Way of Poetry” workshop with Louis Osofsky on Asian poetry will take place from 10:30am-12pm at Pivot Coffee,1430 28th St. in Sacramento (I mistakenly left this off the calendar). Mosaic of Voices in Lodi will feature Janet Rodriguez and Gary Thomas; and Poetry at the African Market at Florin Square presents Poetic Butterfly “Floetician” plus open mic at Florin Square in Sacramento. See UPCOMING NORCAL EVENTS link for info.

And now it’s time for . . .

Form Fiddler’s Friday! 

It’s time for more contributions from Form Fiddlers, in addition to those sent to us by Taylor Graham. Each Friday, there will be poems posted here from our readers using forms—either ones which were sent to Medusa during the previous week, or whatever else floats through the Kitchen and the perpetually stoned mind of Medusa. If these instructions are vague, it's because they're meant to be. Just fiddle around with some challenges. Whaddaya got to lose… If you send ‘em, I’ll post ‘em! (See Medusa’s Form Finder at the end of this post for resources and for links to poetry terms used in today’s post.)

There’s also a newly dusted-off page at the top of Medusa’s Kitchen called, “FORMS! OMG!!!” which expresses some of my (take ‘em or leave 'em) opinions about the use of forms in poetry writing, as well as listing some more resources to help you navigate through Form Quicksand. Got any more resources to add to our list? Send them to for the benefit of all man/woman/poetkind!
Last Week’s Ekphrastic Challenge
Here are responses from Stephen Kingsnorth and Nolcha Fox to last week's photo challenge:

—Stephen Kingsnorth, Coedpoeth,
Wrexham, Wales

Light, when haloed, adds to doom,
as if the day has given up—
shroud hoods, too early and too soon
prevent escape of candlepower
but tarmac, slabs wet mirror tone,
long amber smudges sinking tall.

Both damping grey and greying damp,
those kerbside trees lean from the road,
shy of the stunting carbon fumes.
Bruised knuckle fingers, canopy,
stand dwarves as passed, pillars to posts—
hubris, cypress, Italian.

Does mood boost glass front restaurants
through warmer offer, those outside—
but who would venture, tomb lead, gloom?
An empty street except for fug,
deserted, like the village rhyme,
no goldsmith turning rain to sun.

The pooled reflections replace shade,
but maybe that’s what I become,
or wight as if scheme’s trick, no treat.
But have I missed the forecast here—
perhaps not mist, but fog come smog?
So will set scene be seen anon?

* * *

—Stephen Kingsnorth

This street, it looks so similar.
Was it two days in Singapore,
the stopover to Myanmar
a taxi, hotel—rarity—
and tourist bus to cover sites?
From travelator, airport scape,
to cab—less common than motel,
and do we tip, or insult here?
The President, controversy,
alumnus of my college too,
should we make mention of his name?
We saw those sights, the orchid park,
ate local cakes, caught dark street rain,
held up with visa, baggage packed,
then zipped our lips for Burma’s soil.

* * *

Glow worms glisten

dangling orbs,
rippling reflections
in the rain,
a path to follow

—Nolcha Fox, Buffalo, WY

* * *

About this week’s Triple-F Challenge, the LaurenelIe, Carl writes: "I expect other SnakePals caught this too:  the instructions state that lines 1 and 2 must repeat as lines 21 and 22, but it is really lines 1 and 3, which are the first 2 rhyming lines." Thanks for catching this, Carl. Here is Carl’s Laurenelle, which is also Ekphrastic (based on the rainy street photo above):

—Caschwa, Sacramento, CA    

for each, another standing in its place
one tree is copied right across the street
the building’s different stories with same face

an image like two drummers keeping beat
street lamps aplenty made from the same mold
a window wall shares light but not the heat

apparent dampness hints it might be cold
for all we know a raging storm is near
along with other fables to be told

no vehicles are parked at all right here
as if abiding rules on a sign post
which, as you see, does not itself appear

one explanation might point to a ghost
who clears the street to have it for himself
because, in fact, he is a lazy host

but that idea we might keep on the shelf
right next to having green cheese on the moon
forgive me, getting call now from an elf

please don’t repeat each word I have to say
as that will keep us both here all the day
for each, another standing in its place
the building’s different stories with same face

* * *

Carl also composed a Cyhydedd Fer, this week’s other Triple-F Challenge:


(inspired by the website

so many rings to buy, on sale
promises etched to no avail
lovers dreams had wandered astray
divorce attorneys seeking pay
leave one spouse to marry anew?
ditched vows in the dirt, mired with goo
no matter what, this is the one
trying them all, that is the fun

* * *

Here is another poem from Carl, this one am Ekphrastic response to week-before-last’s photo, the brick wall:



out of nowhere
someone on TV
started talking about

then they presented
a brick wall of non-
solutions because
only the priciest of
medical care plans
include top notch
mental health

which puts most
anyone afflicted
with GAD in the
same boat as
asylum seekers,
who know they
need to get to a
better place, and
might even reach
that place physically,
but find themselves
shit out of luck getting
the help they need

the dominos fall, the
ball caroms, and we
are abruptly swept
over to another
acronym (that I
just created):

another brick wall
of non-solutions
in that dictator
autocrats who
assume the role
of GOD are only
here to remind
us that Big Business
is now the crown
and like it or not
we are all subject
to it, as if we had
never won that
Revolution, or
the right to make
our own decisions

just try telling them
otherwise, if you
like bumping your
head on brick walls

* * *

Joyce Odam has sent us a wise old Haibun today, just in time for Autumn:

—Joyce Odam, Sacramento, CA
It is so believable to ask the Wise Old Owl a
question—always checking himself in his
mental mirror of words—faking wisdom for
our belief. We, on the other hand, hold to the
myth we think he represents. This is a vignette
of appreciation. Mister Wise Old Owl is so
pleasingly effective—perched on the old tree
limb he occupies for all his directives and
expoundings. Nearby, little Pretty Bird also
finds him curious to watch—so busy preening
and clearing his throat for the solemn answers
he’ll give to all the questions.

         lofty old wise owl
         thinking up answers for small
         chit-chattering question-bird

* * *

And here is a beautiful Cinquain from Claire Baker—another image reminding us that Halloween is coming. Claire had a birthday this week! Happy Birthday, Claire!


—Claire J. Baker, Pinole, CA

for crows to fly
in front of the full moon’s
orb, gliding shadows to quicken
our path.

the harvest moon
for framing the crows’ flight,
silhouetting southward wings through
the light.

* * *

Taylor Graham wrote about the “Poem I Didn’t Get” (see above)—images that slipped away before she could pin them down. These next two poems by Stephen Kingsnorth are also Ars Poetica about the danger of losing an idea before you get it down on paper/computer. In his case, the danger of climbing stairs that make you forget… Remember Billy Collins’ work about the poem that came to him while walking in the woods, but was lost by the time he tried to write it down? Do you remember the name of that one? I don’t, but to see his poem about forgetfulness, go to And here are Stephen’s two artful poetica:

—Stephen Kingsnorth

As I know, climbing stairs is
the certain way, to lose
uncertain thoughts
ascending to collect.
Each rising step, staged farewell,
translucent veil clogged by lifted sole,
landing, all clues littered, frown.

Sadder for me when phrase appeals,
a spoken word,
‘good subject for a poem, that’—
but unrecorded, verse lost, unless
returns as departed,

The uncut rough, if recalled
might be still-born,
unmined, unmind,
ripped, or waiting Dunsinane,
even trembling bunker lip.

For now my ears, impatient,
scan for fresh
prosaic conversation
and converting try.

On Mohs scale it should be high,
glittering prize causing all to sigh;
but, as ever, descending case,
poor costume jewellery is base.

* * *

—Stephen Kingsnorth

How many wandering thoughts excite
then before record keyboard, pass,
nor pen, quill, stylus cuneiform—
neither tablet, charged or clay tray—
at hand, I need idea to wedge.

But how forget why climbing stairs?
Just now in kitchen carrying tray
laden with breakfast things, Kim's Game,
too softly whispered, an idea
has gone when settled, fingers poised.

Perhaps conceit would benefit
if imaged in thought, then drawn down.

Theology is picture words
from parable to Son of God;
investing tale in memory bank;
so now when gliding word slides by,
a rebus not of what I speak,
but fix its scenery, mind's eye.

* * *

Stephen’s next poem is also Ekphrastic, based as it is on Prigioniero’s The Poet—an image which startled Stephen when he came across it seeming to capture him sitting in a café as it does. Writing about ourselves writing about ourselves writing…
 The Poet 
—Lily Prigioniero

—Stephen Kingsnorth

How odd that I should see myself
set in a place I’d never be,
a lonesome man quite out of place.
Like mirrorwork in attitude,
the stance wherein identify,
a plate from portrait studio;
the chequered story underneath,
with tangled legs of Parkinson’s,
left hoarded pieces on the shelf.

But mine was never café call,
atelier, as vantage point;
yet what is this, as customised,
packed sofa, tiles and table cloths,
manoeuvres handing orders out?
Perhaps I’ve chosen solitude,
a mindful moment for release
of ideas from a fevered mind,
some synonym or irony.

I’ve turned my back on advert boards—
at least that hoarding’s not outside—
curmudgeon at the table top.
My pose is full of question marks—
on what can I be musing here,
which senses do I feel employed?
A hint of latte, crumbs of scone,
the shape and sound of how that’s said,
thus why I like, first read, then hear.

Though most find magic, author’s tone,
how can I see the wordplay used,
if spell is broken, ear not eye?
I should be scribbling, menu card—
what I see or might have heard,
the touch and taste beyond the pale.
My hands are clasped, calamus gone,
the quill long dropped through quiver hand,
more arrows, shortfall target range. 
Here, for reference, is Stephen.


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.) How about this twist on the “nelles” we’ve been doing:

•••Veltanelle (Velta Myrtle Allen Sanford);

And/or you could try another one of the Welsh forms:

•••Cyhydedd Naw Ban:

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

•••And don’t forget each Tuesday’s Seed of the Week! This week it’s “Here Be Dragons”. 


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

•••Ars Poetica:
•••Cinquain: AND/OR See for info about its inventor, Adelaide Crapsey.
•••Cyhydedd Fer:
•••Cyhydedd Naw Ban:
•••Ekphrastic Poem:   
•••Normative Syllabics: AND/OR
•••Veltanelle (Velta Myrtle Allen Sanford):
•••Villanelle (rhymed; can be done unrhymed):
•••Word-Can Poem: putting random words on slips of paper into a can, then drawing out a few and making a poem out of them. 

Today's Ekphrastic Challenge!
See what you can make of the above
photo, and send your poetic results to (No deadline.)


—Public Domain Photo

For upcoming poetry happenings 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.
Don’t get stumped!







Thursday, September 29, 2022

Hope is a Soft Rock

—Poetry by Bonnie Meekums, Manchester, UK
—Photos of Fall Foliage by Katy Brown, Davis, CA


At seventy
I should be sitting
               quitting dancing
                        and cavorting
Sex should be
                                           a distant memory
replaced by luke-warm
cups of tea
with pleasure measured
in yards of silk
and pictures of grandkids
                              never seen
                              and never played with

But for now
I will still climb hills
and trees
I will still swing high
head back
gazing at the sky
I will still sing loud
whilst holding placards
of protest at the things
I’m supposed to do
at seventy


Hope is a soft rock which
when held feels luscious
A hedony of mis-guided past

I met it once when I was young
and skin stretched easy
over bones and sinews
never glancing back

But those days are gone
now I must dig
deep into slippery earth
that slides from my grip

Leaving trails of sulphur
yet what else is there
but that juicy rock
with its taught giving skin

THREADS (Three Haiku)

I was always meant
to find footholds and discard
rule books for girlhood

* * *

I was always meant,
my body strong as an oak,
to be free to dance

* * *

I was always meant
to find my own story’s thread
like my mother’s wool
Knot-Eye in Old Wood

Into the tunnel
He runs
And shouts
To feel the power
Of his name

I hear his echo
In my darkness
His imprint lingers
In shared songs
 September Dappled Light


You brought me rockets
launching in space
that just missed the window
yet glancing off glass
I heard a loud whip-crack
like my mother’s bones
And I knew then

You brought me babies
lost in a war zone
I tried to save them
picking my way
through a chess board
dodging your bullets
And I knew then

You brought me a small lock
with numbers to turn
unleashed the wrong future
of images half-seen
with two sisters wading
their cloth folds tucked in
And I knew then

You brought me a son
with growth in reverse
taking ice picks to hack at
the words that I wrote
without endless movement
the future looked bleak
And I knew then

You brought me a cliff edge
a daughter to fly
like a flat, silver thing
who smiled as she shattered
And I knew then

You brought me a puzzle
with two ways to solve
but one route was taken
for the sake of the children
I tried adding numbers
but my way was barred
And I knew then

You brought me a project
no time to complete it
yet there in my pocket
a bright set of gloves
but I was forbidden
my time to explore
And I knew then

You brought me an old house
familiar and strange
I measured and moulded
and pieced with precision
but then I was told
I was off the construction
And I knew then

You brought me a dance trick
A boat to set off in
without any bearings
I surfaced from sleep
and saw that I’d missed it
so I let that ship sail
And I knew then
                    I will keep this on the down-low


Today’s LittleNip:

—Bonnie Meekums

I hike summer hills.
My feet, tramping ancient earth
Move me to stillness.


Bonnie Meekums’ poems have appeared in the
Poetry Health Service, a Leeds Beckett University anthology, and Roi Fainéant. Her flash fiction has been published by, among others, Reflex Press, Brieflly Zine, Bandit Fiction, and the Ad Hoc fiction. Longer works include her novels, A Kind of Family (2020), and My Upside Down World (2021), and a memoir, Remnants of War, written jointly with her sister, Jackie Hales. Bonnie lives in greater Manchester, UK, where she is inspired by her walks in the Pennine Hills. She blogs about becoming an older woman at, and she may also be contacted at Twitter (@bonniemeekums) and at her website: Welcome to the Kitchen, Bonnie, and don’t be a stranger! (Our cadre of fine British poets is growing!)

Thanks also to The Eye Who Sees All, Katy Brown, for today’s wonderful photos!

Hope is a soft rock. I love that—hope is hard and soft, all at the same time, yes?


 Bonnie Meekums

For upcoming poetry happenings 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!






Wednesday, September 28, 2022

Blame the Butterflies

—Poetry by Jodie Baeyens, New York
—Pixie Art Courtesy of Public Domain

I’m going to write you a love poem
Even though I don’t love you
Maybe a dozen
Like roses
To give to you
As I stand on your doorstep
Nervously waiting for you
To open up
I’m going to write you a love poem
Even though I don’t love you
At least not any more than I love
The puppy who jumped on me in the park
The grasshopper perched on my dash
The mushroom growing between the cracks of the bridge
And the pink-haired bartender serving me Huckleberry Lemon drops
I’m going to write you a love poem
Even though I don’t love you
Because they aren’t about you
They are about me
Knowing I can look at the world
And believe
That maybe
There are still things
Worth loving 

My skin beneath your fingers
The curves of my body
My lips on your skin
The smell of my hair
I tried to put up walls
Build defenses
But they were little more
Than pillow forts
This world is sharp
Full of betrayal
My fiercest act of rebellion
In the face of it all
Is remaining

The taste of beer and
Margaritas combine
As tongue caresses tongue
And you gently bite
My lower lip
You smell good
Like you’re not wearing a drop
Of cologne
In this 108-
Degree heat
And I inhale you
Inside me

“I don’t want to disappoint you,”
He says as he tries to convince me
He’s not perfect.
As if I think he’s perfect.
With that crooked nose
That causes soft snores
That head that surely
Makes his Mama’s hips still hurt
Though damned if I care
About those things
The wounded puppy heart
So big and so broken
Capable of love
But scared to love anew
And those eyes
Brown in some light
Green in others
A bursting star of both
When the sun hits just right
Are not conducive to
Quick poems about gazing
Into your lover’s soul
I could sit and list his flaws
As easily as I list his graces
With the depth and detail
Only a poet could convey
And find no more
And no less
Beauty in either
No, he’s not perfect
Nothing worth exploring
Ever is 

I hold the moon and the stars
In my hands
As she dances
Beneath their shine
Each curve of
Her body presses
Against me
As shooting stars
Put on a show
No one is watching 

I will be your
Manic Pixie Dream Girl
Since you asked me to
Not knowing
The negativity behind the words
How the man who coined the term
Instantly regretted relegating
A woman’s light to being nothing
But what she is to a man
Because you see in me
A woman who dances beneath the moon
And makes you think it’s possible
To dare to believe
That you could fall again
Would it be so wrong
Just for a while to let
You look at me
As the sun you need
To be able to shine

This is not my first Rodeo
I’ve put in my 2.7 seconds
To be thrown
Heart bruised and beaten
Only to climb back up
And go for another ride
To be thrown again
I have thought about
Giving up
Leaving the rides
For those a little younger
Less broken
But I’m wearing red tonight
And your eyes are so brown
I think I just may
Brush myself off
Don’t worry that you might break me
This ain’t my first rodeo
But that look you are giving me
Makes me wonder if maybe
It’s worth the shot
To see if you might be my last 


I don’t love you
The butterflies do
They are the ones
Who hold the poems
In the patterns
On their wings
I just sit
Very still
And wait
For them
To land


Today’s LittleNip:

—Jodie Baeyens
And somewhere off
A dirt road
In the long bed
Of a white pickup
We make our own
Star show


Jodie Baeyens is a single-mother and poet who teaches to support her writing habit. When she isn’t trying to find the pen she was just holding, she can be found in the forest dancing beneath the full moon. Originally hailing from New York, she now considers herself a citizen of the world because she has never settled into one place. Her poetry has recently been featured in
Door is a Jar and in Peregrine’s Fall Journal. Her forthcoming chapbook, Conversations We Never Had, was the Winner of the 2022 Vibrant Poet Award. Follow her writing at or on Facebook at Welcome to the Kitchen, Jodie, and don’t be a stranger!

What are butterfly wings made of (besides poems)? See
 “They are the ones/Who hold the poems…”
—Australian Butterfly Wing (Public Domain Photo)


Jodie Baeyens

For upcoming poetry happenings 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!






Tuesday, September 27, 2022

Singing to the Shadows

Curiosity Killed the Cat
—Poetry and Photos by Joyce Odam,
Sacramento, CA


I am the old woman
of sorrows.
Come hear me sing
in my church of innocence.

I am the lost way
taken by others
who also have lost me.

I have waited too long
for reverence to find me
with hands full of praise.

Now I sing to the shadows
which dance so softly
to my music.

Now I wait for the days
to lengthen to fit me
where night is an old soul
into which I will move
in comfort and submission.

(prev. pub. in
Haight Ashbury Literary Journal)


This is Fairy Tale Forest, opening slow,
with a winding sunlit path leading into it.

The warm light dances on leaves and makes
golden-reflections on the flickering ground.

The children see the sunlit path—hear the
deep singing birds, and follow the temptation.

The children will enter because it is
their destiny to risk becoming lost.

The air is sweet with the soft singing
of the forest birds—deep in its interior.

The forest keeps expanding, no danger
at its edges, no clue to its illusion.

How long can the forest hold its shape of
innocence, the soft warmth of its seduction?

The children are enchanted.  They are curious.
They go in . . . their very own wilderness.

(prev. pub. in
Medusa’s Kitchen, 8/5/14)


But for the tempting green woods
edging these tracks one might
long to follow the woodsy sunlit
opening where something pulls
with an old ardor.

What stirrings here, what twinge
of satisfaction for the curious to
mull. Old scattered gravel, tracks
broken off and turning into dead
ends before shutting down com-

The old tracks gleam through
their rust. Reverberations seem to
linger. The trees close in and
chill. The day darkens. A moan
in the changing air sounds like a
faint and far away train whistle.



It is the bent water in the moonlight that gets lost
where the dream ends. The sleeper still can choose.  
The small boat rocks in the moonlight and the curve

of the river pulls. But the sleeper is comfortable here,
dreaming an old dream, safe in the sturdy little boat
in the mesmerizing center of the water.  

Then the boat widens until it touches the banks,

and the dreamer steps out of it onto both shores

where two young women are walking away from him—
both are familiar, but his heart can hold only one;
they have warned him of this. Now the boat shrinks;

it can bring him back to the scale of easy dreaming
but begins to drift off and will soon be out of
reach. He is beginning to waken. He must choose.

(prev. pub. in
The Gathering, Ina Coolbrith
Anthology, 1999, and
New River Poets Anthology,
Watermarks: One)
Written in Stone


Looking for the words,
shy in the eyes of fox—
enclosed in a nettle of wire

in the elaboration of art.
Bronze now,
held firm for the eternity

of its look—
held sad and absolute.
Curious about

the poem it will be—Fox,
posed slender and tame
to exhibit the

illumination of its life—
out of time and condition,
one would swear its eyes

were blue—for its misery,
tamed now for the
sweet adulation of those

who love Fox—so entangled
in its fury of obedience
—the theft of its liberty.  


After “The Swan” by Mary Oliver

Everything too beautiful
hurts :

every vanishing creature—

every vanished one—

every disappearing genus—


why else
such universal grieving—?



In the burrowing eye
a tear

to form

a look so poignant
she echoes back

from the dream
that conjures her  

a sympathy of sorts
too late

or too false
the dreamer is innocent

of the creative eye
so yearning

in the gravity
of their existence
Of War And Even Love


The hand, pressed to the mirror,
seems to fit the mood of sorrow—
the silver ring slipped sideways
from the tension of the hand
gripping at beads and tassels,

holding something more
than anger :
of work,
of war, and even love.

The mirror
the way eyes would rekindle life :

all its worth and wear :
wrong seasons
and lost reasons for it all.
The hand rests on the edge of strength.
The eyes study what more is there for touch.



Holding one long note of music within the music,
inattention comes to irritation—is the note stuck,
holding itself in one long tremble, the other notes
probing around it—is there intention—this held
sound longer than breath-holding, like swimmer
under water—will the held-note merge back into
the lost smoothness, otherwise pleasing, except
for the annoyance of the listener.

(prev. pub. in Medusa’s Kitchen, 4/25/17)
 One More Stanza


Black Bird, Black Bird, flying so low
Black bird, black bird, I watch you go
Down wind, downward, into the snow.

Soft touch, soft touch, open your hand.
Some tell fortune—some make demand,
Black Bird, falling on a cold land.

Omens, omens, all over town.
Fortune cookies cover the ground
Black Bird finds them.
What has he found?

Hard truth! Hard truth, where is your lie,
now that wind chimes trouble the sky.
Every winter they learn to cry.

(Repeat 1st verse)

Black Bird, Black Bird, flying so low            
Black bird, black bird, I watch you go
Down wind, downward, into the snow.
 One More Refrain


I never could resist staple-papered
grab-bags that only cost a nickel,
with one bag always costing more,

though I was reminded that one
choice was “good as the next"
and was Made in China—

some bags were tiny enough to tease
my curiosity . . . how I would dawdle
along, poking at each shape and size,

while the old, smiling, enigmatic
Corner Grocery owner would give
no clue, but watch me choose

just long enough to all but make me
late for school—minus part of my
lunch money . . . Mama might

scold but she knew how I was
never late for school, and she would
understand the worth of a nickel.

(prev. pub. in Poets’ Forum Magazine, 1997) 
Myth’s Reality
After Modern City 2 by Alexey Kondakov

In this modern city of where and when
with its trolley car
and empty
for an angel trio
surrounding a lone woman
holding a baby on her lap,
asleep and dreaming—

One angel draws a bow across
the quietest of violin strings
and bends her head to see
if the infant is the one—
all three angels
giving their full awareness
to the sleeping infant
who must be dreaming this—

the mother believes so,
for this broken city,
on this winter night,
seems to be held in a holy moment :
all three angels
have silenced their wings
to hold the note of stillness
that it takes for affirmation to occur
where myth and myth’s reality
still struggle to affirm what is ordained.


Today’s LittleNip:

After Claude Monet’s
Water Lilies

halfway into the dream the dreamer wakens
to a pale landscape of floating flowers . . .
swirls and swirls of monotones . . .
flowers made of sadnesses
which are the lost powers of the dreamer

(prev. pub. in
Medusa’s Kitchen, 7/16)


Curiosity is our current Seed of the Week, and it’s the theme of Joyce Odam’s poems today, too. Our thanks to her for her poems and photos, as she skirts the edges of reality, exploring with her own brand of curiosity.

Our new Seed of the Week is “Here Be Dragons”. Are we talking about the edges of the earth, or the edges of your marriage? Explore the unexplored with us, then send your poems, photos & artwork about this (or any other) subject to 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.

For Mary Oliver’s “The Swan”, go to For more about Ukrainian artist Alexey Kondakov, see


 Modern City 2
—Painting by Alexey Kondakov

For upcoming poetry happenings 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.
"The mirror mocks,
reflects, reacts…"