Monday, October 31, 2022

Fillet of a Fenny Snake

Grim Reaper
—Poet Luis Cuauhtémoc Berriozabal
of W. Covina, CA in his Halloween costume 
(thanks to Rite Aid’s clearance, he says)

—Poetry by Joe Nolan, Nolcha Fox,
Michael H. Brownstein, Caschwa,
Stephen Kingsnorth, Michael Lee Johnson
—Public Domain Photos Courtesy
of Joe Nolan, Nolcha Fox,
Stephen Kingsnorth, Michael Lee Johnson
—Photo by Katy Brown

—Joe Nolan, Stockton, CA

Who could see
The catastrophe
From around the bend,
Promising dear misery
To everyone,
Without end?

Who can bear the misery
That is coming
From around the bend?
Coming, dear children,
To ruin life, with end.

Who could see
The meaning,
The reason or the rhyme,
Of who would benefit
From crushing time?...

Pushing through the wrath
Of exquisite pain, sublime,
The dragons of deliverance
Would not, their saviors, send.

Who could see
The catastrophe
From around the bend,
Promising dear misery
To everyone,
Without end? 


—Public Domain Photo Courtesy of Nolcha Fox 

Death doesn’t

have a task list.
She only has one thing to do.

Death isn’t a clean freak,
she can leave the scene a mess.

Death doesn’t have an appointment book.
She shows up whenever it’s time.

Death can work a crowded room.
She’s fine with a boatload of souls.

Death doesn’t roll her eyes.
She’s seen it all before.

I would suck
at being Death.

—Nolcha Fox, Buffalo, WY


—Public Domain Photo Courtesy of Joe Nolan

—Michael H. Brownstein, Jefferson City, MO

(for John Barryman)

The noise of morning rises with the cream of dawn:
it is I who opens the gate to Samael,
it is I who finds window glass wanting,
it is I who no longer wishes to wait,
it is I who seek entrance with Thyone.

Can no one help?
Can no one see?
Why is it I am left?

This is how cream degrades in heat,
how milk curdles into sour frowns,
how we are taken away from those we seek.

No matter. I find a fog within fog,
a pathway of crows
swimming birds,
the silver outline of tarpons
a crease in water.


Halloween Snail
—Public Domain Photo Courtesy of Joe Nolan

—Caschwa, Sacramento, CA

Big Business gobbles up all the property it can,
and then when the little people seek to get some back,
Big Megaphone puts their feet in the tattered shoes
of the little people and cries out:
They are coming for your guns!
They are coming for your rights!
a noisy reiteration of the older sentiment,
They are coming for your slaves!
and yes, the little people really don’t want to let that happen,
don’t want government to bully them that way,
so they turn up at the polling places and vote for
whatever Big Propaganda favors on the ballot
and then return home to their miniscule property
only to find it has gotten even smaller while
Big Pig has gotten even bigger 


 —Public Domain Photo Courtesy of Joe Nolan

—Stephen Kingsnorth, Coedpoeth,
Wrexham, Wales

A silky crow, sheen shine in bake,
clamped to bloat, so stabbing care—
though gas expelled, had long depart—
gorging on the offal there.
Carcase, Varanasi float,
Benares, back street he had birthed,
always moored, black ghats about
Ganges gods, slat water gloat;
lobbed for fear from funeral pyre,
shortage of pile wood supply,
limit, holy time applied.
When beak peck, dorsal stripped their share,
mantras, incense, saffron robes,
sanyasi silent in sage prayer,
that bird flopped off from bobbing lump,
near wallow slurping ash smudge flesh,
with belly wobble dignity.
Death too busy in this life.


—Public Domain Photo Courtesy of Joe Nolan 

—Stephen Kingsnorth

Void voices, people gone from room
hang in the space, seeping from walls
both recent past, long history;
not just the clue, wallpaper styles,
or scribbled scraps found trapped in drawers,
unclaimed detritus, floorboard trap,
chipped bits of bone hid cupboard, slid
or unfaced sweepings under rug.

Where someone was, their voice still is;
some people sense in parish church,
cathedral, abbey, priory,
the prayers of generations past
sunk marble, plaques, sarcophagi.
The same is claim in stately homes,
the servants' quarters, nursery,
the back stairway or dining room,
in gardens, discreet arbour climes.

In retrospect it saddens me,
occupant, rooms with history,
Victorian with four floors piled,
or Cambridge college, porters' lodge;
I gave no thought to those before
who studied, argued, conversed there.

I do not wish, conjure, imply
from drapes, spirits, patina bronze,
misericord or organ loft,
but, learn to listen every room
for rustlings of the scholar, sage,
voice trembling fall, debtor, peasant,
the scream of fag and fagged at school. 


Wistman's Wood
—Photo Courtesy of Stephen Kingsnorth

—Stephen Kingsnorth

Time-tricks played ‘After Wistman’s Wood’,
that day, scout troop, from Dartmoor camp,
we changed, tor climbing, abseil, glamp,
to tracing leat, moor water course,
a channel flow, slow gravity.

There native upland woodland oak
with clatter, granite boulders bed,
paint patchwork quilts, spreads lichen, moss,
fringed brown soil border to the trees,
by bracken, gorse, fruit bilberry,
owned by The Duchy, Prince of Wales.

Dwarf growth, their limbs spread through the rocks,
the oldest wizened of its kind,
with some, five hundred, by their rings;
host populations, adder nests.
Would we sit splayed, drawn over space
in shades of writhing, low creep dark,
had we known shades might be ourselves? 


—Public Domain Photo Courtesy of Joe Nolan

—Stephen Kingsnorth

The ghost, an insubstantial thing—
so article indefinite,
no entity or stuff at all.
Will-o-the-wisp, or spectral wraith,
some shade of wight that’s had enough
of being tied as complement,
with cherubs, seraphs, angel trains,
fresh putti in another’s hands.
I am unmoved by poltergeists,
or holy ghost authority
when used to prove some politics,
opinions of a certain kind,
those undead of the zombie mind.

So class your nether world as will—
note ferry times, what fare-stage due,
or those you think have missed the boat,
a knock-out, laid flat on the deck,
to fit myths with witch you aspire.
But leave me stranded on the shore
amongst sand, grains of time and rocks
until I float across the bar
with single fare. 


—Public Domain Photo Courtesy of 
Michael Lee Johnson

—Michael Lee Johnson, Itasca, IL
Inside this late October 31st night,
this poem turns into a pumpkin.
Animation, something has gone
devilishly wrong with my imagery.
I take the lid off the pumpkin’s headlight
and the pink candles inside.
Demons cry, crawl, split, fly outsides—
escape through the pumpkin’s eyes.
I’m mixed in fear with this scary, strange creation.
Outside, quietly tapping Hazel the witch,
her broomstick against my windowpane rattles.
She says, “nothing seems to rhyme anymore,
nothing seems to make any sense,
but the night is young.
Give me back my magical bag of tricks.
As Robert Frost said:
     “But I have promises to keep, 
      And miles to go before I sleep.”


—Public Domain Photo Courtesy of Nolcha Fox


Today’s LittleNip(s):

Haunted by hallways

lined with portraits
of hats three sizes too big.
Corridors lit by amber mornings
of mismatched shoes
and second chances.
Passages melt into poppies and robins,
old anguish, and misspent youth.

—Nolcha Fox

* * *

feast of pumpkins
sharpening their teeth—
ahhh!—tasty children

—Michael H. Brownstein

Our poets got into the magic of Halloween this week, answering the Seed of the Week, but other calls from the Muse were answered as well. About his “Back to Wistman’s”, Stephen Kingsnorth writes that “Reading of Joyce [Odam’s] 'shadows and sunbeams' brought back boyhood memories…” He’s referring to her “Where Shadows Play With Sunbeams” which appeared on her post last Tuesday ( A Memoir: we’ve been talking about them on Form Fiddlers’ Fridays. Anyway, thanks to all our contributors today for their poetic tricks and treats!

Okay, I’ll admit that, given our SnakePals, we have an unfortunate title today, this nod to Bill Shakespeare’s witches. A “fenny snake”, by the way, is one that lives in the fens. As opposed to a funny snake…

Sacramento Poetry Center's Monday reading series is on hiatus as they work to build a new space for hosting hybrid readings and workshops. So far, workshops will continue during construction, they say. On Thursday, Poetry Night Reading Series in Davis will present Joshua McKinney and Matthew Chronister plus open mic. On Saturday at noon, you can Zoom Part Three of Artists Embassy International’s Dancing Poetry Festival. Then, on Saturday night, Love Jones Spoken Word Show takes place in Sacramento. Click UPCOMING NORCAL EVENTS at the top of this column for details about these and other future poetry events in the NorCal area—and keep an eye on this link and on the Kitchen for happenings that might pop up during the week.

A reminder that today is the deadline for submissions to
The Poeming Pigeon. See

And a happy Día de los Muertos to our Hispanic friends, too! Congratulations to Placerville’s Rina Wakefield for having her poem, “Día de los Muertos”, named the Poem of the Month by Placerville’s
Mountain Democrat. See

Oh—and happy Halloween! Watch out for those tricksters!





—Photo by Katy Brown, Davis, CA






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 it over yet?




Sunday, October 30, 2022

Postcards from the Muse

—Poetry by Neil Fulwood, Nottingham, UK
—Art by Pablo Picasso Courtesy of Public Domain


The holiday entries are the most detailed:
start and end mileage, routes taken,
things seen along the way; the guest house
or self-catering cottage and whether
it was drab or twee or characterful;
walks through forests or by riversides,
pen-sketches of the natural world.

The workday entries are shorter—
reminders, really. Doctor’s appointment,
MOT, evening slot for a Tesco delivery,
where I went for that clocking-off pint.


Let’s park out tonight by the river or reservoir.
The canal, even. Any body of water
that wouldn’t be out of place in a song
by Bruce Springsteen. Preferably one

where the lights of the refinery or the squat
unlit shape of the abandoned factory
reflect like a too-long exposed photograph
on the uneasy flux of the surface. Let’s

park away from the town and its vacant lots,
its grid system of out-of-business streets,
the boarded-up fronts of the American dream.
Let’s park out tonight while the repo man

is trawling the wrong end of town, while
I still have half a tank of gas and a vague idea
where it can take us. And if I talk about
winners and losers and suicide machines

and call you Mary or Wanda, or just drift
into reverie when Roy Orbison beams heartbreak
from the radio, then close your eyes and imagine
something better at the end of a highway

unspooling like a Kerouac manuscript. Imagine
a big crowd-pleasing movie scene playing out
to a three-minute single powering through your head
like whitewall tyres over miles of blacktop.
(for Edward Mackinnon)


The view from the London Eye:
I’m sure you could do it justice—
the unhurried waters of the Thames,
the Palace of Westminster, Big Ben;
a skyline jagged with high finance
like a graph or the gouged signature
of a toff or a Tory, one of the grasping elite
you’ve spent your life kicking against.
I’m loving the nightlife—so cosmopolitan!
How’s it going with that thing you’re working on?


The Eternal City! You’d love it. Your imagination
would run riot. The Coliseum, the Trevi Fountain,
the Spanish Steps! Not as many steps, mind,
as I took to get away from the flower sellers
and backstreet Romeos; and if I’m being
completely honest, La Dolce Vita
made the Trevi Fountain look a lot bigger—
I’m surprised Anita Ekberg managed to dip
more than her big toe in there. Still, the trip’s
been fantastic—and the pizza authentic.


Well, those statues in Frogner Park!
Fifty Shades of Sculpture, much?
Still, Oslo has character and the scenery
is spectacular. I remember you saying
something once about the word “fjord”,
the sound of it, the way it looks on the page.
That unexpected “j”, how it elongates.
But to see the fjords! Majestic. Awe-
inspiring. All these sights and the words
they prompt! Hope you’re well and busy writing.


Today’s LittleNip:

(i.m. Judith Durham)

Pierrot searches in vain for Columbine.
The harbour lights shimmer, tears
on the surface of the dark water.
The carnival is over, yet the memory
of a voice persists. A song lingering
even as the stalls are taken down,
the spilled dregs sluiced away,
the costumes discarded.


Welcome back to British Poet Neil Fulwood, all the way from Nottingham! It’s been awhile since he dropped into the Kitchen. Come back soon, Neil!

Don’t forget that Poetry of the Sierra Foothills features Yuyutsu Ram Dass Sharma plus open mic at Chateau Davell in Camino this afternoon. Click UPCOMING NORCAL EVENTS at the top of this column for details about this and other future poetry events in the NorCal area—and keep an eye on this link and on the Kitchen for happenings that might pop up during the week.


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, October 29, 2022

Paintscapes of Singing

—Poetry by Sayani Mukherjee, Chandannagar, 
W. Bengal, India
—Photos Courtesy of Public Domain


The higher power is a dark realm
A pregnant egg of alluring fantasies
Laced with savages
Of nobility of muzzled openings.
I wish upon the cave
Abandoned, ruggedly inspired
Diabolically and Divinely
Closed-off stream of a simple stare
A sudden maneuver
Peeping slowly, hooking within
The black cuckoo is always nasty
Her songs, mythically beautiful
Tap dance within her bosom fare
Rides my homebody fevers.

An abandoned alley smudged between
Practicalities mundane
My paper knife to hold my worth
Sweepingly not to prove anything
Just a sullen sweet song
To lie beside me the lake house ground
To build nests
Green reds blacks ribboned whites
Ego death of survival guide
My womanly virtue-vices
Boldness coyness
All dived down—
Under the cave the siren song
The dark alley
Allowing the evenings to drop down
Hushly steadily making no noise
The evening prayers
Higher powers
Dark coins
The woman, a dark alley. 


Awake to the surrounding—
The lime that is freshly given,
A sumptuous gift.
Divine feminine and Universal harmony
Grazing luscious green tumbling
Forever anew.
Fresh drops and confined circles
Turning grief-rivers in white aromas
Of smell sniffing
Nature's basic instincts
Coupling harmony meadows deep inside
The Earth river flows through
Tiny bushes like thoughts, sip of
Soaking in the green wilderness
The link for unison.

Understanding comes at the heart
Awakening swollen mid-October
The lily mossed burnt cross
The river soaks it all
Salem haunts and fiery furnace
It smooths the rocks
Universal harmony
The pasture the innocent invitation
Lamb-grazed Christ consciousness
Of all embracing synchronized green
The feminine vastness
Bountiful art like
Meadows deep down inside
It rains. 


Hands on my night-brimmed pockets—
Diamonds and rusts as the song said
Penny for unkempt days
Diaries and flash fictions
Dreary and turbulent
Easy enough to pass on the moving choir.

Lullabies of my frisky fall days
My eyes on the outside autumn
A wishful longing
To taste the over-brimmed autumn
In a soulful cup
Oversoul and honey quartz,
And homecoming with conjoined hands.

Sometimes my vulnerable steps
Paint ducked-off lines
I want to make mandalas of
Saturated bliss
As poetry says bliss and autumn come
Two red hats sunbeamed musk roses.

Across the new building
A new wall of a graffiti of a modern art
Mon amor days of scented candles
I want to stick chapsticks
And paper flowers on my fragile necklace.

My red-veined fear
No more fear of the vulnerable steps
Autumn will dress us for growth
To make a saturated redness
Under the heavy fall
And the striped stream that calls on me
Come over and drape in bliss. 



Uniquely designed for mainstream
A six-figured tattooed butterfly
On my back
A pat at my shoulder
A beam in my poem
Treehouse and childplay things
My proof of itsy bitsy rock paper scissors
A friendship bracelets with red ribbon
White-washed marooned island
Over my chest
It stays when I form a circle of mates—
Three Pentagons diaphragmatic
Radio shows on for Friday nights
Modernist nonsense and my
Jabberwocky tricks
I form my bracelets with my
Tattoed fingertips.
My jinx my pixie dust my childlike wonder
A little sparkle did no wonder
Red bracelets white-washed marooned island
I hum at my lost poem
A sudden omission at the back
A little pinch of dusty drives
Underneath a new edge control
Completing of a poem for the
Medal gold
I hope my pixie dust will do
Good for nothing
For this electric haze on my tattooed butterfly soul. 


Ocean's bed and pearled moonlight
Under the riverbed beams
Of Musk Roses and Hawthorn bliss
Come vapours of cemetery sweet.
A ringing sunshine of a joyous basket
Two, three foldings that give light
A simplicity to the matters of the heart
And paintscapes of singing
Light as light
Night as darkness.
Red and ruins
Instincts and inner joy
Burnings, labyrinths of mazy flow of life
Run havoc to the earth's summit
My mystery moon and riverbed clouds
Hung a simple sweet bliss.


Today’s LittleNip:
Don't tell me the moon is shining; show me the glint of light on broken glass. 

—Anton Chekhov

Our thanks to Sayani Mukherjee from India for her poems today, with images of autumn and tattooed butterflies and her mystery moon.

Today, Sac. Poetry Alliance presents Yuyutsu Sharma, Katy Brown and Allegra Silberstein plus open mic at 1169 Perkins Way, Sacramento, starting at 4pm. Click UPCOMING NORCAL EVENTS at the top of this column for details about this and other future poetry events in the NorCal area—and keep an eye on this link and on the Kitchen for happenings that might pop up during the week.


 “…my tattooed butterfly soul.”

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, October 28, 2022

Almost the Witching Hour ~

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


There was that rattle in an empty box,
a shadow passing soundless as on paws;
soft scraping out of sight—raven or fox?
Our house alive in darkness—what the cause?
I thought I left my shoes beside the bed,
but one had crept alone into the hall.
Where was the other? Moccasins instead
I’d have to wear. Whatever might befall
or fall apart, one takes as hazard’s chance.
That’s life, it grows and goes by hit or miss;
by missteps and by leaps. We call it Dance.
A brief moment. The tempo goes like this:
a puppy dashes after cat then falls asleep
against my foot, her breath so soft and deep. 



Careful where you step, these paths are rough.
Bronze vase pokes up like a fist from a flat marker.
Ornate marble flowers & ferns, My Husband—
no name no date.
Headstone for Jessie aged 15 yrs, Jennie aged 6 mos.
Here lies a Sgt. (Inf.) Sp. Am. War.
Graves adorned with plastic blooms, synthetic angels.
It’s Living History day:
actors in period dress speaking for the dead:
Lady undertaker never married, but taught piano—
marriage would have taken time from her true loves;
the town’s first shoemaker, master of lasts—
he laments factory-made shoes (& artificial flowers?).
Headstones bloom with lichen rosettes.
Fake buds & broken concrete plug a critter hole.
Gravestones breathe water in and out, they say.
Pioneer blackberry clings to the path:
green shall overcome. 


Bird with crown ablaze
in slant October light, bright!
Black against white bars
ladderback: what can it be?
and as suddenly it’s gone—

not in my field guide
but ancient as heraldry
to curious hopes. 


Pinpointing the Queen’s lying-in-state queue:  
… the UK Government used what3words
to display the ever-changing end point…

Wind in lodgepole pine knows the words
for storm and calm, for black bear, mule deer,
chickadee and raven. Raven has his own
words for thunder, sunset, and one human
hunched under his daypack, running in circles
getting nowhere. What if that man doesn’t
know the 3words for a lightning-struck snag
he’s come back to, countless times?
What if his phone has no signal, to call
for help from a 3words tree? Overdue hiker—
they’re searching in and out of the Desolation—
lost for lack of those three little words. 


Here’s another heap of kindling
lopped or broken from the oak that fell
without my hearing.
Bundle it up to haul up the hill
by trails not made by consulting
my magnetic Silva;
trails of deer, fox, skunk
who appear unexpectedly and are
as quickly gone.
Hike under chips and scolds,
jingle of bird-talk I can’t decipher,
morning-song without city noise. 


Skeleton along the trail—
a hound-dog with wagless tail?
live-oak clad in dead-tree mail?
spirit locked up tight as jail?
Speechless to recount its tale,
here it stops us, stiff and pale.
We could stand and try to guess
unless wind lets loose its wail. 

Today’s LittleNip:

—Taylor Graham

Live oak
skeleton shall
become cryptorium
for black-mask woodpecker’s stash of


Taylor Graham is very much in the spirit (pardon the pun) of Halloween, sending us poems and pix for the season. Thank you, TG; Halloween is such a colorful time of year, and also happens to be our current Tuesday Seed of the Week. Forms that TG has used for today’s poems include one of our Triple-F Challenges of last week, the Shakespearean Sonnet (“Spirits in the House”); a List Poem (“Old Cemetery Before Halloween”); a Boketto (“What to Believe”); a Word-Can Poem (“Simply Morning”); a Cinquain (“October's Hocus Pocus”); and a Cyrch A Chwta, another of our Triple-F Challenges (“Almost Halloween”).

This Saturday (tomorrow), Sac. Poetry Alliance presents Yuyutsu Sharma, Katy Brown and Allegra Silberstein plus open mic at 1169 Perkins Way, Sacramento, starting at 4pm. Katy has poems posted on Western Slope El Dorado ( from recent events in Placerville; go to that site for news about poetic happenings in the foothills. Poetry is Gold in El Dorado County!

A recent letter from Sacramento Poetry Center bears the following good tidings, even though their Monday Night Reading Series remains on hiatus while construction is done on their 25th & R Streets location. To wit:

Tule Review, their annual journal, is coming back, the up-coming issue to be edited by Susan Kelly-DeWitt;
Poetry Now, SPC’s newsletter, will resume in January;
•••a new quarterly chapbook series is in the works for this winter;
•••the annual Writer’s Conference will resume in the spring;
•••the annual fundraising party at Mimi Burnett’s home in Sacramento will take place this year on December 7.

For more information about all these, go to Guidelines for publication submissions will appear shortly—though Susan Kelly-DeWitt is taking submission for
Tule Review already, and the link has news about that.

And a final note that Colorado SnakePal JD Nelson posted on Facebook that he had a haiku posted on The Japan Society’s Haiku Corner (congratulations!), and in the process of looking it up, I discovered what a cool site that is! Check it out at

And now it’s time for . . .

Form Fiddlers' 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
—Photo Courtesy of Katy Brown, Davis, CA

Here are responses to last week’s Ekphrastic Challenge from Nolcha Fox and Stephen Kingsnorth:

—Nolcha Fox, Buffalo, WY

The grass has not yet brittled brown,
but here you are, so eager,
to float and flash
your bright red dress
when temperatures are warm.
I know you’re only warning
of snowy days to come,
but can you wait a few more weeks
so I can find the rake?

* * *

—Stephen Kingsnorth, Coedpoeth,
Wrexham, Wales

What hex this mix in palette range,
as if wych hazel, broom to brush,
the magic of fall’s cycle fixed,
from Eden on, self-sacrifice.
Rejected through its tree-top sap,
that auxin cause of shedding tears,
like mother loosing hold on child,
or father prompting flight from nest.
But no surprise, in blushing leaf,
skeletal spine cut, starts to die,
its power to fuel some further fruit,
after the feast in compost tilth.
Pelt drive of rain, up-pointing blades,
maybe whiplash of wind, brush-burn,
with no defence from sinking drown,
down through the dark, that site of shades;
to underground where all transformed,
as even ash, bonfire consumed,
metamorphosis elements,
that it may serve, come dust to dust.
So sunset age will spring to birth,
rise from the mold to bud above;
that is the principle exists,
when amber turns towards the red.

* * *

Here is a Memoir poem from Stephen:
Kyle in the sea at Portrush, 
Co Antrim, Northern Ireland

—Stephen Kingsnorth

We named her, my wife’s maiden name,
which startled father, when rebuked.
As puppy when the kids were young—
the toddler lifted by her head—
but she lived, sleeping under bed,
was deeply loved as loyal friend,
until cost medicine beyond reach.
I held her tight as reassured,
my whispered lies that all was well,
as vet performed what vets must do,
and children watched, so sad, subdued.
She slipped to sleep, a heavy weight;
I lowered her—we double wept,
for day of Princess Di’s cortège.

* * *

Carl Schwartz (Caschwa) has devised a new form which he is calling “Forbidden Desires”: 4 stanzas of 3 tercets; syllables for each tercet 7, 6, 8; rhymes xxa, xxa, xxa, xxa: 

—Caschwa, Sacramento, CA

(in response to Taylor Graham’s
Tanka, “There’s A Word For It”,
Medusa’s Kitchen, 10/21/22)

the Terryton commercial
has you inhale these sounds:
over, under, around, and through

as if that very manner
of circulation will
filter out what is bad for you

like putting prisoners on
probation will extract
any elements that could cue

ripe and ready natural
instincts to break the law
over, under, around, and through

* * *

An Ars Poetica from Joe Nolan:

—Joe Nolan, Stockton, CA

Poetry should be luscious,
Deeply rich,
Sinful and fattening—
The worst thing you could imagine—
Just want you always wanted.

Poetry should be
Bitter and terse,
Harsh and worse—
A painful lesson
In every verse.

Poetry should be
A dying man’s scream,
Knowing his last breath is near—
A last-chance to say
What you really mean.

* * *

We shall close with a seasonal Villanelle which Stephen sent for Halloween. "He alone holds keys of lock…"

—Stephen Kingsnorth

I see through lace, masks as they knock—          
that time of year for trick or treat,                       
but I alone hold keys of lock.                               

Though due, I’m rivetted with shock                    
that strangers expect me to greet—                        
I see through lace, masks as they knock.              

I dim the lights, think that might block                  
their view inside, intention, cheat,                         
but I alone hold keys of lock.                                 

I used to hold some bits in stock—                           
a pack of biscuits, chocolate, sweet;                       
I see through lace, masks as they knock                

But grandchildren my only flock,                            
though alien feet would step from street—               
but I alone hold keys of lock                                  

An hour, on watch, I count the clock,                      
but sure in shadows, eyes won’t meet;                     
I see through lace, masks as they knock,                 
but I alone hold keys of lock.     

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 a Spenserian Sonnet:

•••Sonnet, Spenserian:

AND/OR try Carl Schwartz’s newly devised form:

•••Forbidden Desires: 4 stanzas of 3 tercets; syllables for each tercet 7, 6, 8; rhymes xxl, xxa, xxa, xxa

AND/OR tackle another Welsh form—and be careful of this one’s tricky formula with its internal rhymes:

•••Cywydd Llosgyrnog:

•••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 “Ghosts”. 


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

•••Ars Poetica:
•••Boketto (“Listen to the Light”):
•••Cinquain: AND/OR See for info about its inventor, Adelaide Crapsey.
•••Cyrch a Chwta:
•••Ekphrastic Poem: 
•••Forbidden Desires (Carl Schwarz): 4 stanzas of 3 tercets; syllables for each tercet 7, 6, 8; rhymes xxa, xxa, xxa, xxa
•••List Poem:
•••Sonnet, Shakespearian:
•••Sonnet, Spenserian:
•••Villanelle (rhymed; can be 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.

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.)


—Photo Courtesy of Public Domain


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.


Thursday, October 27, 2022


—Poetry by Tom Goff,
Carmichael, CA
—Public Domain Photos Courtesy 
of Joe Nolan, Stockton, CA

I promise I’ll never tell you how I miss
Your face, your gait, your musing careful voice
Each time you go. Too flurried now to kiss,  
How do you convince my mind it’s by your choice
Your vanishing clings during and after loss?
Your loss is in my warped head, I learn first
From afterimage, that other-you embossed
When stared at long enough in one sharp burst
As sunset presses retinas in each age,
Eyelids crush sights with photo-album heft:
Petals inside books dry but scent like sage,
Leave deep stains, the type saffron threads have left.
Chafed crocus filaments whisper where you leave,
With sifting sounds, half flour and half sieve.

for Nora
Near you, I feel quieted, subdued,
Not eager to blurt all things on my mind.
You make no murmur to imply I’m crude
As I think I am. Near you, I unbind.
What riddle don’t you, near me, clarify?
How nice to feel you’ve thought ahead of me
The thought I was about to spring (but why)?
The air near you’s not thick, not thin; just free.
To know you, hear you air some soft complaint
In your spoken contralto, firm and fresh?
Not heavy going. Poison loses taint,
Ropes, halters, chains won’t trap me in their mesh.
Odd: “soul’s” not linked with Plato, just with you.
Soul knows you’re here, song flows unstrained, all true.

She sat like Patience on a monument,
Smiling at grief.
                                 —Twelfth Night

Grievers and priests adore you, my cold éclair,
You and your chastely seducing marble dimples.
Compliant lip-curves emit upon listless air
Forbearance like foam, you’ve swallowed so many simples.
Your face, all your stone exoskeleton chapped,
Rain-chafed, yet still you sit in wait to hatch
A coffin, hoping the old green corpse has napped,
No more: a livid cadaver-life you’d snatch,
Hoping the chick-like lich pecks its way out.
What Maestro lofts the baton for his next ictus?
You are not Patience, carcasses are. Grave clouts
Lift, peeling away skin, mold, rot. Desecration’s
Indifferent to them, they to you, so-called Patience.
Cherubic lips loosen, Time carves the abyss-dark rictus.

(prev. pub. in
Spectral Realms #17, 2022)

Tonight is for the gathering
Of souls that slither insect-like,
From under coffins’ underwing-
Thin lids; up by tomb-crack turnpikes.
Tonight is for the gathering.
This night allows new freedom for
Half-airy, half-liquescent souls
Of high-rise cube or cabin floor;
Their lifetime dooms, grave-narrow holes.
Tonight is for the gathering.
The night air magnifies black bats’
Reconnaissance for souls and ghouls
Of note, in death deemed merest gnats.
Dark squadrons reap, heap, life-rich fools.
Tonight is for the gathering.
This night’s a night for harvesting.
These ring-round-dancers can absorb
—Not bite, with mindless zombie-sting—
Fresh souls in one huge boneyard corb.
Tonight is for the gathering.
These midnight church bells, twelve in all,
Peal night’s peak merriment, echoing
The amorous chant for souls who fall
To Satan’s mess, though they still sing.
Deep midnight caps the gathering.
Those feasting now turn feasted-on,
Soul-scapegoats lodged in blood and molt
Must be devoured before the dawn;
What demons eat they’re forced to bolt.
Past midnight goes the gathering.
Subside now, night chimes’ echoing;
Salacious fiddle-music; flings
Of hand to new ghoul-partnerings;
The wish to cling, forevering:
Submit to first-light silencing.
Too late now for more gathering.

(prev. pub. in Spectral Realms #17, 2022)


Today’s LittleNip:

Believe nothing you hear, and only half of what you see.

—Edgar Allen Poe


Tom Goff is getting us into the spirit today for Halloween, which lurks around the corner. But he starts off his post with poems about his dear wife, Nora. “Near you I feel quiet, subdued…” Thanks, Tom for these gems. Friday Form Fiddlers will note that Tom often writes in Sonnets—and a deft hand he has, indeed!
Hop on your broomstick and head down to Luna’s Café and Juice Bar in Sacramento tonight for Frank’s Halloween Costume Poetry Party! Ghostly goings-on begin at 8pm. Click UPCOMING NORCAL EVENTS at the top of this column for details about this and other future poetry events in the NorCal area.




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!
LittleSnake-witch's secret potion~