Tuesday, January 31, 2023

Wrong is Never Right

—Poetry by Joyce Odam and Robin Gale Odam,
Sacramento, CA
—Photos by Robin Gale Odam
—Robin Gale Odam

Standing barefoot in the grass
before first light in the comfort of
peace—ice crystals, frozen pockets of
air, the black sky, a sudden burst of
flight, the muted sound of wings—
the swift and vanishing dark,
the cold breath of night.


—Joyce Odam

Last summer
we wanted rain,
all that heat, the-
winter-wish. And
then came both, the-
winter-wish. We wan-
ted spring, the summer
yearn, the cold, too cold,
then autumn, more winter,
too hot—

how many just-right days
can one get through in
one year—forget it—
the ice—the rain.
 Just-Right Days

—Joyce Odam

once I heard song
before voices knew how
they would fill the space
of weepers—

so sad there was no
soothing or understanding
to feel the feel away—

later the hummers wound
their silences so painful only
tears could take awhile to
endure the cause it made—

oh nothing could stop the
night wailers of night howlers
and sobbers that touched the
other criers once I heard song—

—Robin Gale Odam

Trace of red on the horizon—
my heart bleeds—the road was
long. You are gone.
 Sleeping in a Dream

—Robin Gale Odam

I had to think of you today—the wind
was like a crying in my blood, my breath
caught something because I was sleeping
in a dream and then someone was singing . . .

And the long words were just a voice
and they captured my sorrow—the light
flickered from the television screen—
I opened my eyes and stood to my feet . . .

The long words of the voice held my
breath from crying—the television audience
rose to their feet in ovation . . .
 As Thought

—Joyce Odam

I think of
is there,

an old chair rocks
in the corner
of an old distance—

I find myself there,
watching its shadow—
I feel the breath

of its existence,
even tomorrow.
I am weeping

to someone, someone
brushing my hair—
what is holding me

from myself—take me
away from myself. This
is such an old memory.
 Every Intention

—Robin Gale Odam

I had no time to write
the script, verbs hissing
around me like flying bugs . . .

And tasking, tasking felt
so normal but now the day is
winding down and I can't seem to
remember deeper than the first line . . .

Every day is the same day
sewn together by billions of
minutes with their languages and
dialects and harbingers ever the same . . . 
Just Love
—Joyce Odam

Sometimes there is
only the first chance

looking for the last chance.
Chances are not as possible

as the thought.
Why do we argue

with word or gesture when
wrong is never right.

I've been contemplating this
and still honor every intention.

Love is so stubborn with its


Today’s LittleNip(s):

—Robin Gale Odam

Yes I have no shame
today—I am buoyant and lofty
again . . . there is more to be said—
blah blah blah.

* * *

—Joyce Odam

You've just gotta stop and think
about your thoughts . . .


Joyce Odam and her daughter, Robin Gale Odam, have sent us their wonderful poems today, and we thank them for that, as well as for Robin’s photos! Joyce remains at Robin’s house, recuperating.

Our new Seed of the Week is “Mercy”. Send your poems, photos & artwork about this (or any other) subject to kathykieth@hotmail.com. No deadline on SOWs, though, and for a peek at our past ones, click on “Calliope’s Closet”, the link at the top of this column, for plenty of others to choose from. And see every Form Fiddlers’ Friday for poetry form challenges, including those of the Ekphrastic type.


 “Once I heard song. . .”
—Public Domain Artwork

Photos in this column can be enlarged by
clicking on them once, then clicking on the x
in the top right corner to come back to Medusa.

Would you like to be a SnakePal?
All you have to do is send poetry and/or
photos and artwork to
kathykieth@hotmail.com. We post
work from all over the world—including
that which was previously published—
and collaborations are welcome.
Just remember:
the snakes of Medusa are always hungry—
for poetry, of course!


Monday, January 30, 2023

The Luxury of Misfortunes

—Public Domain Photo Courtesy of Joe Nolan
—Poetry by Don Campbell, Shiva Neupane,
Stephen Kingsnorth, Nolcha Fox, 
Joe Nolan, Caschwa
—Public Domain Photos Courtesy of
Joe Nolan and Nolcha Fox
—Don Campbell, Alhambra, CA

On a street
running parallel
to a freeway

On the corner
where the road
angles left

There is a triangular
space between house
and sound wall

There is a man
who stands outside
his old camper

He looks up
at the sun
long bearded

He feels kinda safe
behind his makeshift
wood board fence

I think to myself
here is someone
without a mortgage

I am a bit envious
of his simple life in a
world famous sin city

The only way for this
paradise to prematurely
end is official intervention

The day that happens
will be a sad one I wonder
will he make the news
 —Public Domain Photo Courtesy of Joe Nolan

—Don Campbell

After attending a
super spreader pre-
Halloween poetry reading
maskless in a
black room with
no open windows,

we spend my
birthday week at
home, feverish, body
ached, sore throated,
congested and coughing.

Now I munch
on popcorn from
a white porcelain
bowl during the
writing time of
the online Saturday
workshop and hear

my wife in
the bathroom washing
clothes with the
portable spinner. I
walk down the
hallway to visit
her—she’s naked.

I apologize, give
her body a
big wet hug.
Think to myself,
I’m feeling better.
 —Public Domain Photo Courtesy of Joe Nolan

—Shiva Neupane, Melbourne, Australia
I feel lucky to be unlucky
When the misfortunes shower upon me,
because they teach me the holistic meaning of life
without any razzmatazz of materialistic hype.
The misfortunes open up my mind's eyes
and they endowed me with philosophical justice.
There is no need for pang of consciousness,
Which may erode the emotions and self-esteem.
The monsoon of misfortunes
Irrigate the crops of lesson in the field of life.
Therefore, I’m more optimistic in what I do,
Without being perplexed in my life.
 —Public Domain Photo Courtesy of Joe Nolan

—Stephen Kingsnorth, Coedpoeth, Wrexham, Wales

Is it the attitude that grates
or late-night cheese that irritates
the tubes, pain in the neck, beneath?
It irks, this pet peeve aggregates,
sum provocation ulcerates,
a botheration, diet list—
vexatious litigation tempts—
who can I sue when overweight—
though overwrought, beyond the scale.

I change metric, imperial—
in hope the kids won’t understand—
but they weigh up my strategy
and find me wanting, calories.
From Eden on, blame laid elsewhere,
a fig leaf for a cover up,
the private arts of midnight feasts;
that’s why those numbers limber up—
as they say snake pal’s conning me.

My argument, that whisky, night,
associated, sleeping pills
for Parkinson’s insomnia,
presents the evidence at stake.
But that’s dismissed for featherlight—
if only feet and legs alike.
Rice cakes and tonic water, gruel
are on the menu for tonight,
with aggravation supplement. 
—Public Domain Photo Courtesy of Joe Nolan

—Nolcha Fox, Buffalo, WY

A nettle nettled
a bug that bugged
the nag who nagged
the needle to sew
and needle the grate
to grate on the ruffle
that ruffled its feathers
that caught on the nettle,
a fine aggravation, indeed.
—Public Domain Photo Courtesy
of Nolcha Fox

Brave raindrop

falls, no fear of heights,
it doesn’t fear the drain,
the union into puddle,
the shock of hitting ground.
It doesn’t fear apocalypse,
it knows with warmth
it will arise to fall
another time.

—Nolcha Fox
—Public Domain Photo Courtesy of Joe Nolan

—Joe Nolan, Stockton, CA

If August was a mystery,
September was a riddle.

Spent with apple-cider,
Sweet as sweet can be,
Was not enough.
We let it harden
Into stronger stuff.

October, lost in memory,
November stroked a fiddle
Before the great descent
Into December,
When nadir came
To siphon life
‘til Spring.
 —Public Domain Photo Courtesy of Joe Nolan

—Joe Nolan

Martian monster
Gets to ride
With Superman, from Krypton
And Aquaman, from Atlantis,
By his side.

And one wonders!
How anything so grand
Could be kept secret
For so long....
How in our universe
We are not alone.

Where is Lynda Carter
When we need her?
To appear and rescue us
From dismal fates?
We yearn for Wonder Woman
To anoint us,
With healing oils
And hope it’s not too late
For us,
For us,
Only Bozos on a bus
Of time
That makes its way
From stop to stop,
Along its circuit line,
Through our city.
 —Public Domain Photo Courtesy of Joe Nolan

—Caschwa, Sacramento, CA

so many lost kids everywhere
there is a profound disconnect
for a variety of reasons between
these kids and the trustful
guidance of responsible adults

and so kids go out on those
mean streets on their own and
learn to be the meanest kids
you ever have seen

and where do they end up when
they get a bit older? they are
recruited by local law enforcement
agencies, given a badge and a gun,
and sent out to the mean streets 
 —Public Domain Photo Courtesy of Joe Nolan


immersed self in ocean’s
moderate waves
explored easy to enter
natural caves

took long nature walks and got
many pictures
none helped me discern poisons
from elixirs

“survived” the vibrations of
low level quake
puddled cookie dough, one was
all I could bake
 —Public Domain Photo Courtesy of Joe Nolan


didn’t bake no pottery
didn’t win no Lottery
just got more ‘n more ornery

sitting in my studio
sinking funds portfolio
can’t go shopping on Rodeo

speaking of Beverly Hills
why can’t they just pay my bills
all replete with probates and wills

why does winning not reach me?
can’t sing banjo on my knee
I must pay, others get for free

guess I’ll try and get some sleep
put memories in a heap
I’ve got the ones I want to keep


Today’s LittleNip:


a condition that at once
conjoins and transposes
different symptoms


Good morning and welcome to the Kitchen on this, the next-to-last day of January 2023. This year is pretty much doing what the last one did—whizzing by—but at least we’re promised some fine poetry and eye-popping photos. And we have a new visitor to the Kitchen today: Don Campbell from Southern California. We’ll be seeing more of him this coming Saturday, but thanks for stopping by this morning, Don!

Our Seed of the Week has been Aggravation—no shortage of that these days, both in the world and in today’s poems; many thanks to our contributors for their thoughts on the subject (and everything else)! Be sure to check each Tuesday for the latest Seed of the Week.

I hope you can get Caschwa’s (Carl Schwartz’s) LittleNip with its hidden transpositions. It took me awhile…

Tonight, Sac. Poetry Center features Vincent Kobelt and Oswaldo Vargas plus open mic; then on Wednesday, El Dorado’s Poet Laureate Trail continues with a reading, workshop and open mic with Lara Gularte at El Dorado Hills Library. Poetry Unplugged continues at Luna’s Cafe in Sacramento on Thursday night; also Thursday, the Poetry Night Reading Series in Davis features Rooja Mohassessy and her new book,
When Your Sky Runs Into Mine, plus open mic, John Natsoula Gallery.

Next Saturday is the 11th Annual MoSt Poetry Festival w/Amanda Moore (At the Starting Line: A Workshop on Poetic Opening), sponsored by the Modesto-Stanislaus Poetry Center in Modesto, CA. You’ll need to register. 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.  

And congratulations to Jenni Reis McDonald for having her poem, “Sparrow”, published as Poem of the Month in Placerville’s
Mountain Democrat. See https://www.mtdemocrat.com/prospecting/poem-of-the-month-sparrow/.


—Public Domain Photo Courtesy of Joe Nolan 

Photos in this column can be enlarged by
clicking on them once, then clicking on the x
in the top right corner to come back to Medusa.

Would you like to be a SnakePal?
All you have to do is send poetry and/or
photos and artwork to
kathykieth@hotmail.com. We post
work from all over the world—including
that which was previously published—
and collaborations are welcome.
Just remember:
the snakes of Medusa are always hungry—
for poetry, of course!
LittleSnake is hungry for poetry!



Sunday, January 29, 2023

Little Secret Pear

—Poetry by Roe Brown, Sacramento, CA
—Photos Courtesy of Public Domain

When pears are left to ripen on the tree,
they turn mealy and unpleasant.
If harvested when they are mature,
they are not ripe.  They ripen off the tree
—left on a counter, from the inside, out.
The longer they are left,
the sweeter they will be.

Like many delights, pears
can be tested at the stem-end.
A ripe fruit should give slightly
when pressure is applied to the neck.
When left too long unused, it will spoil.
The same for pear-shaped organs:
left too long, they spoil.


Enough of my family have manifest the word
that I’m familiar with the paralytic effect
of those two syllables on the auditory nerve.
After that word, every other attempt
at communication sounds like that indefinite
wahn, wahn, wahn noise that has no meaning.

So many poor health choices,
so many ignored symptoms and warnings—
cancer has become one of the plagues
of the 21st century.

A few days ago, I heard the second paralytic word
the study, diagnosis and treatment of cancer.
This word is a trickster.  Not as immediate
as cancer in its effect on the ears —
I found myself rolling the sound of the word
around in my head while the wahn, wahn, wahn
of the doctor explained the options open to oncology.

Somehow, when I was younger and cancer
was a word that belonged to another person,
I could find the strength to provide support.
Today (with family particularly distant, and
my life partner lost to cancer) oncology seems
a dark, uncharted cave.  No candlelight
to illuminate the path.  No hand to hold
when the darkness closes in.  
Two words.  Illusive cyphers. 


The Victorian vernacular
gave names to the unspeakable
— the Lady Parts that hid
under yards of crinoline.

Now every savvy 8-year-old
can name with utter confidence
every tender part that would
make the gentry blush.

And I?  A college graduate,
with adequate vocabulary
can name the parts with confidence.
But won’t.


Not what I had in mind.
I am fortunate, among my sisters,
learning this new way to see myself.
My doctor says it’s good I caught it early.
I meet the surgeon next week
with a diagnosis of Stage 1.
The treatment:  hysterectomy should
stop it in its tracks.

I had a complicated relationship
with my reproductive plumbing.
Children are a kind of immortality.
They are the joys and challenges
of motherhood.  The tales of stretch-marks,
labor, delivery are the bonding stories
swapped during family gatherings.
I longed to be a mother, to carry a child,
raise a bit of myself to cast into the future.
But that was just not to be.

Instead, I have a more miraculous story
about how my daughter came to me.
Not grown under my heart, but in it;
where we were connected from the moment
she drew breath.  She and her children
are the treasures of my life.

So, I have no direct relationship with
a reproductive experience:  with my
reproductive parts.  I am too old now,
anyway, to want to hold on to useless bits.
In the way we are taught to clean a house,
I’m ready to get rid of the organs
that never brought me joy.


Today’s LittleNip:

—Roe Brown

looking out
and looking in
on lives that were
and might have been

of cuts and
of reflections
looking back with

of the heart
and of the soul
to help our
wishes keep us whole.

looking out
and looking in
through lives that
were and might
have been

windows brushed
by winds and wistful sighs
for reflections never
seen again.


Roe Brown is a long-time Sacramento area resident. In her spare time, she reads, writes poetry, and checks up on her friends and family. She enjoys taking day trips in the region to explore different local eateries. Welcome to the Kitchen, Roe, and don’t be a stranger!

A poem of Roe’s in this series appeared in the Kitchen last Monday; check it out at http://medusaskitchen.blogspot.com/2023/01/year-of-rabbit.html/.

Don’t forget that Poet/Publisher Dave Boles is reading this afternoon in Camino, CA, at Chateau Davell, 2pm. Dave has also sent out a call for submissions to Cold River Press’s Sacramento anthology,
VOICES 2023. Click UPCOMING NORCAL EVENTS at the top of this column for details about this and other future poetry events (including info about submitting to VOICES) 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
kathykieth@hotmail.com. We post
work from all over the world—including
that which was previously published—
and collaborations are welcome.
Just remember:
the snakes of Medusa are always hungry—
for poetry, of course!








Saturday, January 28, 2023

Holding Heaven's Map

—Poetry by Claire J. Baker, Pinole, CA
—Photos Courtesy of Public Domain
      a pantoum

High in the sky a shimmering
in wakes of a million wistful wishes,
as people pray both day and night
hoping every word is heard.

In wakes of a million wistful wishes,
we speak as if there were a God
who listens, hears our every word
in sun-edged lighting of a cloud.

You speak as if there were a God,
dear heart. And you believe there is
in silvered edges of a cloud,
mystical and other worldly.

Dear heart, you believe there is
a portal where one kneels and waits,
mystical and other worldly,
where one is handed heaven’s map—

a portal where you count and wait.
When your anticipation flares
you are holding heaven’s map,
watching stars encircle darkness.

Again, anticipation flares
past life on earth, and now you kneel
as stars enliven total darkness…
High in the sky a shimmering.



A harvest
over ripples
by a


Our teacher brings us
a large butterfly
stunned by raindrops.

We watch in awe as
she places her rescue on a
windowsill . . . .  While we learn

history, mysteries of why such
and such happened, the butterfly
flies away, bequeathing us  

memory of its colors, design,
yet mostly of its flight
into freedom in a clearing sky.


A WILDERNESS  OF GRIEF                                    

I sit in a chaotic landscape
like the first grotto at Lourdes.
But I’ll not see the Lady with golden
roses round her feet, nor Bernadette
on bended knee, urging me to pray
amid the briers of this day.

Though bare trees, leaf mold,
dried grass, weeds and I prepare
a fitting place, I don’t expect
to see the Lady’s face
or feel her presence full of grace . . . .

She’ll never visit a free-reeling
rebel like me, though She may
pause a few moments, reflecting
on the Holy signs marking the day
as exceptional in their way.

From a rotting log in shadows.
I notice a lavender thistle.
So I share with it my grief
and lack of belief . . . .  A thistle
becomes as moving as She.


… a grain of dust dwells
at the center of every flake
of snow…

If so, poet,
I’m eager to know,
if I wait for sun melt
or sudden rain,  
what will a dust grain show—

a mere fleck prone
to hide in a wafer of ice
a speck within an angel-food
cake morsel frosted white?

But, really, Linda,
with all of your selfless
communions with the natural,
I believe in your fleck
wherever it may be.

*Native American


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

We praise
the harvest moon
for framing such a flight,
silhouetting inch-close wings in

What is the dogma of colas?
And cognac? Coffee? Carafes
of dark beer & brandy?  
What of inate power in prune juice?

Vodka, varoomed from potatoes.
Spring water flowing from a mystical
mountain may not need a doctrine,
nor California milk and cream.

Cutting to the bottom line, I wonder,
what is my dogma as an elder elder,  
especially as a poet who has
adventured and served the art?

In playing with the word dogma,
I discover AM GOD. In fiddling
with its cousin tenet, I arrive  
at a palindrome. So it goes. 
*Dr. Anissa Sboui, Tunisia


Today’s LittleNip:

—Claire J. Baker

Will they
fly off
in pairs
or as
a flock?


—Medusa, thanking Claire Baker for her fine poetry today!


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
kathykieth@hotmail.com. We post
work from all over the world—including
that which was previously published—
and collaborations are welcome.
Just remember:
the snakes of Medusa are always hungry—
for poetry, of course!



Friday, January 27, 2023


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

I woke again to frosted windows
and icy steps—midwinter night as clear
and starry as cold can be,
moon reflecting off snowdrifts
from the storm. Snowbound. No trips
to town—don’t get a hankering
for peppermint; and
we’re down to our last three eggs.
But what’s snowbound
to our Shepherds, rolling kick-legged
in powder-white
making snow-dog angels?
And in a high corner of the house,
spider goes on with her life,
silk web sparkling by lantern light.

         New Year flood 2023

In storm our little creek became a lake.
And what a dreadful downpour must it take
to transform utter drought to muddy brown
that laughs at every shovel, hoe, and rake.
It was no gentle rain, it battered down
to rive our creeklet’s rocky banks and drown
our fence and ranch-gate, then uproot an oak
so tall, it was our greening pasture’s crown.

It swept away my sandbags, and it broke
a bridge, delivered from the upstream folk
a ladder. Raging waters rearrange
this little canyon’s landscape stroke by stroke.
What have we humans done, this climate change
that turns our foothills weather fierce and strange?
What lasting mischief can man’s progress make?
Just look—the flood goes riding on our range.



The storm left
lakes that had been dry ground and
oddments of trees hitched to
extension ladders
floated down-creek.



A neighbor’s decoy,
lovely crafted blue-winged teal—
creek-flood set her free.

I found her beached here,
not stranded; perched on a rise….
creek-flood set her free
again, to follow water
as it will, flowing away.


like cocoa pie,
fungus cozy as kin
newly erupted in
leaf-fall. And I
knew it!



She questioned my
seven-line poem. Which
poem? I can’t recall, nor let it lie.
Now it’s an itch:
I need to write a verse,
stanza seven lines—for better? for worse?
Don’t ask me why.
And now a bird
greets morning sweet and bright
with seven-fold chittering—not a word
but praising light.
He shames me with his song
that through my moments carries me along,
this song he’s stirred.

Today’s LittleNip:

—Taylor Graham

So far from ocean
half a white seashell washed down
foothills creek in flood—
how many mountain eons
till it finds its way back home


Our thanks to Taylor Graham for this morning’s flood of poetry and photos around our recent Seed of the Week, Stranded. She has also found many shapes and sizes of mushrooms in the woods, and has sent us wonderful photos of them. 
Forms TG has used this week include the Word-Can Poem (“Snowbound with Dogs & Spider”); the Rubaiyat (“Castaways”); a Seox (“See What We Can See”); a Hainka (“Water Bird”); a Tanka (“Stranded”); a Scallop (“Learned Its Name”); and a Septanelle Doubled (“Critical”). The Scallop and the Septanelle were both Triple-F Challenges last week. 

Another Wakamatsu Farm workshop took place last Sunday; for more info and photos about Wakamatsu workshops (past and future) and other El Dorado County poetry events, go to Western Slope El Dorado poetry on Facebook: www.facebook.com/ElDoradoCountyPoetry/. Or visit El Dorado County Poet Laureate Lara Gularte’s Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/groups/382234029968077/. The next workshop will be March 12. Poetry is Gold in El Dorado County!

Speaking of which, Dave Boles will read at Poetry of the Sierra Foothills this Sunday at Chateau Davell in Camino. 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.

And don’t miss Tim Kahl’s online reading tonight for El Gigante to celebrate the release of his new book,
California Sijo. What’s a Sijo? Check out https://www.writersdigest.com/write-better-poetry/sijo-poetic-form/.

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 kathykieth@hotmail.com for the benefit of all man/woman/poetkind!
Last Week’s Ekphrastic Challenge

—Stephen Kingsnorth, Coedpoeth, Wrexham, Wales

Though sun must reach, brief time, some grey
too private for public display
high rise above paved slabs, packed block
as if down here forgotten clock.
But who cares dingy living grot
no heat to lift the smell of rot
no pause, except illicit trade
no shaking hands but palm glint blade?

What grim grime plasters passageway
and did fools stray too late, fall prey
small slice of sky crowns cut of walls
no space to daub graffiti scrawls?
The only gutter gravity
fed drips, stream splashes, louse and flea
yet sun must shine half hour some days
when clouds enable filtered rays.

* * *

This Ekphrastic response from Carl is also a Scallop:


—Caschwa, Sacramento, CA

one lane
open highway
no other traffic, none
car sales ads, every one
buy one today

* * *

This poem from Claire Baker is also an Ekphrastic one, based on this week’s alley photo, but hers is in the form of a Sliding Fiver:

—Claire J. Baker, Pinole, CA

A narrow alley
in Sicily or Rome
keeps secrets secret.
Walls as tilted cots,
couples conceived here

unmarried, joyful.
A narrow alley
in the changing light.
Rain puddles slow-dry.

Laundry spans the gap—
Levis, Yankee cap.
A narrow alley
lures its criminals,
childhood play. And tears,

moisten windowsills.
Cobblestones wear down,
graffitti’s blackened.
A narrow alley,
wounded soldiers died,

nondescript tunnel,
open, one end bright.
lure for an escape—
as fantasy paints
a narrow alley.

* * *

Nolcha Fox has been fiddling with forms that are not only Ekphrastic but also Pantoums; here are two such poems. (Speaking of Pantoums, we’ll be posting one plus other works from Claire Baker in the Kitchen tomorrow.)

—Nolcha Fox, Buffalo, WY

I should have stayed home,
I shouldn’t have traveled
to somewhere unknown
with walls caving in.

I shouldn’t have traveled.
Darkness engulfs me
with walls caving in.
My screams are unheard.

Darkness engulfs me,
the world closes in.
My screams are unheard.
I should have stayed home.
 —Public Domain Photo Courtesy of 
Nolcha Fox

—Nolcha Fox

There has to be somewhere better than here.
I don’t know what’s wrong, but I know it’s not right.
It’s grounds in my coffee, sand in my shoe.
It’s ice under snow, an itch I can’t reach.

I don’t know what’s wrong, but I know it’s not right.
I wish I could picture the perfect I want.
It’s ice under snow, an itch I can’t reach.
I can’t find my ticket to paradise lost.

I wish I could picture the perfect I want.
My glasses are fractured, I grope in the dark.
I can’t find my ticket to paradise lost.
There has to be somewhere better than here.

* * *

Nolcha comments that somewhere she read about “a form where the last line of a stanza becomes the first line of the following stanza. This poem started off life as a Pantoum, but I wasn't happy with it, so I changed it to the nameless form”:
 —Public Domain Photo Courtesy of 
Nolcha Fox

—Nolcha Fox

Ballerina, whirling dervish,
twirling in a pink tutu
through every room,
through rain and sun.

through rain and sun,
sequins scatter, sparkly trail
to find her spinning with the squirrels.
Dizzy dancing, swooshing, swirling.

Dizzy dancing, swooshing, swirling.
Tiny dancer, nothing stops her
‘til she falls, or ice cream
tosses off her shoes.

* * *

And Nolcha has been playing with rhymes; this rhyme scheme brings to mind some kind of Welsh form:
 —Public Domain Photo Courtesy of 
Nolcha Fox

My pelvis wants to be Elvis

on The Ed Sullivan Show, you know,
I want to be that cutie who shakes her booty
while Elvis bumps and grinds. Who minds
gyrating hips and snarling lips?
The truth be said, my darling Ed,
the rest of me wants to be

in bed.

—Nolcha Fox

* * *

Carl took the Word-Can Poem form and turned it into a “Sentence-Can” Poem. This one is also based on Medusa's previous Tuesday Seed of the Week, Stranded:


(A little knowledge is a
dangerous thing.  —Alexander Pope)

A novel hypothesis need not be true,
or even probable, as long as it presents
a calculus consistent with the observations.

This approach is designed to reach the
audience of those who will conveniently
fail to consider the fact that a greater
number of rumors are found to be untrue
than are proven to be true.

Once one fully believes that a little knowledge
is a dangerous thing, the prospect of an
epiphany is utterly mind blowing.

What if we had regarded the novel theory
of Heliocentrism, embraced by Nicolaus
Copernicus, as just nagging rumors, some
little bit of knowledge, deduced from abundant

* * *

Here is a Septanelle from Carl:


there are seven
seas which I won’t name here
because my mind has skipped to eleven
colds cans of beer
visible down the hall
if I can get that far and just not fall
down from Heaven

* * *

And an Ars Poetica from Stephen Kingsnorth (“Show me the script not personal—“):

—Stephen Kingsnorth

Why is so much verse intimate,
the couch stretched into straggle lines,
own consciousness free streaming leaked
as if the pulse to be escaped?

At rest, as after exercise,
my inspiration regular;
are fits and stops some macho sign,
the poet’s proof maturity?

Show me the script not personal—
even the robot programmed once—
but when I hear a parable
I need to take it at its words.

If worth, enjoy revealing dig—
to tantalize is poet’s craft—
the trench, a spit, sufficient depth
or is the treasure lower still?

Economy of words—not prose—
is discipline, the root to learn;
strait-jacket told—I must be free—
but published verse is not for me.

So let me breathe and stanza air,
uncover veins that others mine,
study the terms on anvil smithed,
discover what blank globe has taught.

We hope our cares by others matched,
that they too found in company,
their feelings spoken through our words
expressed, delivered touching points.


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 kathykieth@hotmail.com. We post work from all over the world, including that which was previously-published. Just remember: the snakes of Medusa are always hungry!


See what you can make of this week’s poetry forms, and send them to kathykieth@hotmail.com! (No deadline.) Let’s go back to the lovely Pantoum; if it’s worth doing once, heck—give it another shot:

•••Pantoum: www.shadowpoetry.com/resources/wip/pantoum.html AND/OR https://poets.org/glossary/pantoum

AND/OR, like Claire, a Sliding Fiver:

•••Sliding Fiver (Martha Bosworth): Five five-line stanzas; each line has five syllables. First line slides down one line in each stanza, to become the poem’s last line:

AND/OR, like Taylor Graham, another Hainka:

•••Hainka: https://www.writersdigest.com/write-better-poetry/hainka-haiku-tanka-new-genre-of-poetic-form

AND/OR in response to Tim Kahl’s new book, a Sijo:

•••Sijo: www.writersdigest.com/whats-new/sijo-poetic-form

•••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 “Aggravation”. 


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

•••Ars Poetica: www.poetryfoundation.org/learn/glossary-terms/ars-poetica
•••Ekphrastic Poem: notesofoak.com/discover-literature/ekphrastic-poetry   
•••Hainka: https://www.writersdigest.com/write-better-poetry/hainka-haiku-tanka-new-genre-of-poetic-form
•••Pantoum: www.shadowpoetry.com/resources/wip/pantoum.html AND/OR https://poets.org/glossary/pantoum
•••Rubáiyát: www.baymoon.com/~ariadne/form/rubaiyat.htm
•••Scallop: www.poetrymagnumopus.com/topic/1882-syllabic-forms-found-in-pathways-for-the-poet/#veltanell
•••Seox: www.poetrymagnumopus.com/topic/1882-syllabic-forms-found-in-pathways-for-the-poet/#veltanelle
•••Septanelle: www.poetrymagnumopus.com/topic/1882-syllabic-forms-found-in-pathways-for-the-poet/#veltanelle
•••Sijo: www.writersdigest.com/whats-new/sijo-poetic-form
•••Sliding Fiver: 5 stanzas, 5 lines, 5 syllables per line. First line slides down a line 5 times, to become the last line. (Martha Bosworth, via Claire J. Baker)
•••Tanka: poets.org/glossary/tanka
•••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

kathykieth@hotmail.com/. (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.