Spirit above Somerset—
what bird so high and regal
to be held as amulet,
wing feather, hawk or eagle,
token of its heritage—
unbound flight without limit.
He frees it on pilgrimage,
nature’s unfettered spirit.
Feathers? iron Pegasus
on that balcony rusting—
every pinion tremulous,
in inspiration trusting.
Old girl—she’s no Daedalus—
wants to soar in all weathers
aiming high as Regulus;
believing in flight, feathers.
The old shed burned bygones of forgotten finds—
nothing but ash and char.
Here’s your notebook—pigeon-prints on paper,
poems you wrote long ago.
A book charred around its edges, the words breathe
through smoke and ash.
Ember-red hawk flies low in search of prey, flapping
the pages with its wings.
Why this scratchpad, when everything else is ash
crumbling under your step?
Hawk rises on updrafts, screaming its hunger, its word
broadcast on the wind.
Jupiter had a date with our Moon,
conjunction announced by stargazer
app on my phone. In gloaming I walked
out to see; but storm-clouds stole the show.
A call in the dark—a ratchety
purr from a pool left-over from those
winter floods. A frog? no bullfrog bass,
nor chorus-frog song like fingered combs.
Low, intense, insistent: ratchety
purr. An amphibian mating song?
I missed Jupiter’s date with the Moon,
but maybe I witnessed a frog-prince
calling to his too-coy flood-pool love.
storm’s on the way.
as mini fort.
down the creek.
the water won.
O fence-breaker Creek,
tearing down our stockwire, letting our sheep
run free, and strangers pan you for gold.
You harbor a pool where rainwater shelters
into early summer,
and the young doe kept her fawn.
From upstream neighbors, your water
brings us rubber balls, a Teal decoy, a ladder,
O creek, you’re fierce after storm.
You spread a lake over driveway and field,
a muddy bucking bronco
dragging my sandbags down your stream.
And then you lap placid over rock-falls,
your bed gouged wider, firm with gravel.
We prayed for rain to end our drought.
If there’s gold, O Creek,
in your transparent flow, I found it.
It’s your water, crystal-cold.
What perfect name for
me, dummy in the home-school
fungus study class—
walking our hill, I almost
step on it: the White Dunce Cap!
Taylor Graham’s creek is a-babblin’, marking this rainy year, and she writes about it for us—even sends pictures! Our thanks for this poetry and art from her. Forms she has used this week include two Ae Freislighes (“Free the Thought”; “Imagine!”); an Ode (“Ode to a Seasonal Creek”); Monostiches (“Only This”); a Hay(na)ku chain (“White Flags”); Normative Syllabics (“Trysts High and Low”); and a Tanka (“Conocybe apala”). The Ae Freislighe was one of last week’s Triple-F Challenges.
This afternoon, starting at 5pm, there will be a Sierra Poetry Festival Pop-Up entitled Reception: Ekphrastic Fantastic: Art-Inspired Poetry; Molly Fisk and other poets will read work based on local art. 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.
While you’re looking at the UPCOMING page, be sure to check out another of the many Sierra Poetry Festival events, Bring Your Fool Self, which is happening tomorrow at 5pm in Nevada City.
The April edition of Sac. Poetry Center’s Poet News is out, edited by Patrick Grizzell and available at https://www.sacpoetrycenter.org/about-1-1/.
And now it’s time for…
FORM FIDDLERS’ FRIDAY!
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 firstname.lastname@example.org for the benefit of all man/woman/poetkind!
We had responses to last week’s Ekphrastic Photo from Keith Snow, Stephen Kingsnorth, Joe Nolan and Nolcha Fox:
—Keith Snow, Harrisburg, PA
She whinnies, he neighs.
Hooves prance, tails wave.
Head to head, nose to nose.
Nuzzling so close,
to form equine heart.
* * *
—Stephen Kingsnorth, Coedpoeth, Wrexham, Wales
Is this a swift houyhnhnm,
met by loosed leg-pegged Lemuel—
who knew the ropes as held him fast;
then genre bending for the kids?
I see a hint of bridal wear,
lace train perhaps of bridle ware,
though she would have to raise her hair—
a salon visit for the mare.
You may say nay, I guess as they,
though Winnie, sound name for a horse;
at altar rail they plight their troth,
by name, as taken, ‘yes’ as wife.
No video—my vision’s poor—
what is the puzzle to the rear?
For is there one behind the pair,
a maid of honour? Sure not foal?
It’s too late now, say, ‘raise that veil’,
for they have kissed at alter step,
thus have espoused all change implied,
and of marriage estate are here.
So withers now, dressage complete,
a lucky horseshoe with bouquet,
unblinkered, as in fetlock joined,
for equus partners, saddled, sworn?
How many hands, how many rings—
unlike a bull, none on the nose—
but bets are off beyond that pose,
for what forbidden, not here, hear?
Has she promised obey, owned?
I trust not—and I’ve woken up—
for bi the way, both may be mares.
More gender-bending question marks?
* * *
—Joe Nolan, Stockton, CA
When the earth is juicy,
Grass is sweet,
Grazers are happy,
There will be enough to eat.
* * *
If you think
I love your hair,
I love the way you nuzzle,
all your charms
can’t keep me here.
I’m just horsing around.
—Nolcha Fox, Buffalo, WY
* * *
Caschwa (Carl Schwartz) has sent us a Donna:
I kicked a rock, walking slowly
it was thankful to move
we strolled along
stopped when we reached the Louvre
by then it was lunchtime, let’s eat
don’t need to feed rocks much
I had hot soup
ice cream, big scoop
chocolate made by Dutch
* * *
Carl has devised a new form, which he is calling the Weathervane. The stanzas are 4 lines of 6,6,4,1, with no rhymes. The trick is, though that in each of the first 3 lines, the last syllable joins with the first syllable of the next line to form the phonetic representation of a word or expression. Here’s his example:
growing in the town square
rutabagas thrive on-
ward to greater
there is a penalty
time so let us stop all
spice, that secret
a powerful grinder
able, willing, ready
port or starboard
* * *
Here is a rhyming poem from Shiva Neupane, all the way from Melbourne! He used quatrains that rhymed aabb, ccdd, etc.:
—Shiva Neupane, Melbourne, Australia
Life`s raison d'être is mysterious
Because we are terrifyingly oblivious.
We are part of the pale blue dot
In the vastness of intergalactic dirt.
Our human race germinated in this earth
And, cherishing the life with mirth,
We want to have the whole nine yards,
That baffles the minds of bards.
Life is infinitesimally brief
But we have a mountain of grief.
We must not finagle anyone in life,
That way we can overcome our ethical strife.
The pelf of Rothschild may be lesser
When we are extreme misers.
Life must be celebrated,
But it must not be wasted.
* * *
Ken Tomaro has sent us some Erasure Poetry (https://poets.org/glossary/erasure AND/OR https://www.writersdigest.com/write-better-poetry/erasure-and-blackout-poems-poetic-forms/). Here is Ken’s example:
(from “The Absurdity of Language”,
Erasure Poetry by Ken Tomaro, self-proclaimed
Poet Laureate of the Cleveland Sewer System)
*From Charles Bukowski's first published story, "Aftermath of a Lengthy Rejection Slip".
Normally, the poet takes the final lines out of the poem and puts them down, poem-style. Since Ken didn’t do that, I have taken the liberty of making the final poem, like this:
On cheese and writing
—Ken Tomaro, Cleveland, OH
I sat on the cheese.
the place folded like
a pressed rose.
the short story
took me to dinner and
lectured me on
fullness and rhythm
in the middle of
The short story
bleary-eyed tramp said,
“What the hell is this stuff?”
We’ll have more from Ken Tomaro on April 12 in the form of collaborative poems he has done with Nolcha Fox—which is not that far away!
* * *
And, closing off March 2023, here is an Ars Poetica from Stephen Kingsnorth, who is bemoaning the absence of poetry in our daily lives and media. Drop by the Kitchen tomorrow for more from Stephen.
Who is it (how?), hears verse these days,
save that it is on ITV,
or Channel 4—sure, everywhere
the advert jingle, heard once more,
some duly rhymed, if rhythm forced,
just like the ditty, greetings card,
a sampler, poor in that regard.
It unwraps also in street art,
the rapper known for open mic,
where, yes, the beating art takes all,
in metred line, assumed passé.
So how do we, with poor entrée,
transfer our skillset to the stage,
so folk take note what genre is?
See what you can make of this week’s poetry forms, and send them to email@example.com! (No deadline.) We’re tackling some of the Irish poetry forms that are listed by Robert Lee Brewer in Writer’s Digest:
AND/OR try the French Dizain:
•••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 “What a Night It Was!”.
MEDUSA’S FORM FINDER: Links to poetry terms mentioned today:
•••Ae Freislighe: https://www.writersdigest.com/write-better-poetry/ae-freislighe-poetic-form
•••Ars Poetica: www.poetryfoundation.org/learn/glossary-terms/ars-poetica
•••Erasure Poem: https://poets.org/glossary/erasure AND/OR https://www.writersdigest.com/write-better-poetry/erasure-and-blackout-poems-poetic-forms
•••Normative Syllabics: hellopoetry.com/collection/108/normative-syllabic-free-verse AND/OR lewisturco.typepad.com/poetics/normative-syllabic-verse
•••Weathervane (Carl Schwartz): 4 lines of 6,6,4,1; no rhymes; in each of the first 3 lines, the last syllable joins with the first syllable of the next line to form the phonetic representation of a word or expression.
For more about meter, see:
Make what you can of today's
photo, and send your poetic results to
firstname.lastname@example.org/. (No deadline.)
* * *
—Photo Courtesy of Public Domain
Northern California and otherwheres,
UPCOMING NORCAL EVENTS
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.