Friday, March 31, 2023

Soaring in All Weathers

—Poetry and Photos by Taylor Graham,
Placerville, CA
—And then scroll down for 
Form Fiddlers’ Friday, with poetry by 
Keith Snow, Stephen Kingsnorth,
Joe Nolan, Nolcha Fox, Caschwa, 
Shiva Neupane, and Ken Tomaro

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.



Your Battles—

storm’s on the way.

of sandbags
as mini fort.

down the creek.

against flood—
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.
 Conocybe apala

Today’s LittleNip:

—Taylor Graham

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

And now it’s time for…  

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

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

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,
necks arch
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
nothing wrong
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 ( AND/OR Here is Ken’s example:

On cheese and writing
(from “The Absurdity of Language”,
Erasure Poetry by Ken Tomaro, self-proclaimed
Poet Laureate of the Cleveland Sewer System)

I went in and sat in the breakfast nook and looked down at the flower designs on the table. I tried to scratch them off with a fingernail. It was hard enough to share Millie's love with the cheese salesman and the welder. Millie with the figure right down to the hips. Damn, damn.
 I kept sitting there and after a while I took my rejection slip out of my pocket and read it again. The places where the slip was folded were beginning to get brown with dirt and torn. I would have to stop looking at it and put it between book pages like a pressed rose. I began to think about what it said. I always had that trouble. In college, even, I was drawn to the fuzzy blackness. The short story instructress took me to dinner and a show one night and lectured to me on the beauties of life. I had given her a story I had written in which I, as the main character, had gone down to the beach at night on the sand and began meditating on the meaning in Christ, on the meaning in death, on the meaning and fullness and rhythm in all things. Then in the middle of my meditations, along walks a bleary-eyed tramp kicking sand in my face. I talk to him; buy him a bottle and we drink. We get sick. Afterward we go to a house of ill-fame.  After the dinner, the short story instructress opened her purse and brought forth the story of the beach. She opened it up about halfway down, to the entrance of the bleary-eyed tramp and the exit of meaning in Christ. "Up to here," she said, "up to here, this was very good, in fact, beautiful." Then she glared up at me with that glare that only the artistically intelligent who have somehow fallen into money and position can have. "But pardon me, pardon me very much," she tapped at the bottom half of my story, "just what the hell is this stuff doing in here?"

*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.

In college,
the short story
took me to dinner and
lectured me on
fullness and rhythm
in the middle of
my meditations.

I drink.
Get sick.

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.

—Stephen Kingsnorth

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?

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.) 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!”. 

 Today's Ekphrastic Challenge!

 How can you NOT be inspired
by these wonderful blossoms?
 Make what you can of today's
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, March 30, 2023

Never is Forever

Bart Solarczyk and Pal
—Poetry by Bart Solarczyk, Pittsburg, PA
—Candle Photos Courtesy of Public Domain 


To make this
my own time & place
this August backyard
this gnawing loneliness

warm in the sun
cotton clouds
crayon sky
still lonely.  


Eight billion people
on the planet

how can anyone
be lonely

but it happens
it happens all the time. 

(prev. pub. in Jeannette Unvarnished)


I write these poems 
so dark & cold

even when I’m
sitting in the sun 

other men 
are doing things

I’m here
I’m not other men. 



No wife, no confidant 
no lover, no you

it hurts most
in the morning

then sticks around
& hurts all day.  


Here is the sky
it’s over there too

I wish I was big

big enough to see
where you’ve gone.  


Uncle Conrad is dead
88 years old
my godfather
I hadn’t seen him in years


tied to my uncle 
with a clothesline 
riding his motor scooter  


You ask me how
I’m holding up 

I lie

to make you 
feel better. 



Everything is sad again
everything is sad

I can only be happy 
in pieces

never is forever 
always down to this 

the dead stay dead
& everything is sad. 


I greet 
the day 

I think I’ll 
stay this way. 


Today’s LittleNip:

days of dog shit
& wet gloom
I keep scooping 

—Bart Solarczyk 


Bart Solarczyk writes: “I’m a lifelong resident of Pittsburgh, PA. Over the past forty years, my poems have been published in print & online in a variety of magazines, journals, anthologies, broadsides & chapbooks. I’m the author of three full-length collections of poetry. A lot of my recent work deals with issues of grief & loss due to the sudden death of my wife in April of 2020”. Welcome to the Kitchen, Bart, and don’t be a stranger!

Tonight, Poetry Unplugged at Luna’s Cafe in Sacramento presents Matriarchy Night with Kaydence Jae and Nicole C. Limón, plus open mic, 8pm. Or head up to Nevada City for Five Dudes Reading Poems of Love, 7pm. 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.


Bart and Other Pal


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, March 29, 2023

Wandering Hearts

Michael E. “Maik” Strosahl
—Poetry and Photos by Michael E. “Maik” Strosahl,
Jefferson City, MO 

FUJI MUSUME (The Wisteria Maiden)

In Kabuki,
the actor is the wind
swirling his long hair
as a branch alive with blossoms
and he becomes her,
the wisteria
dancing the birth of spring,
the rise of her spirit
sweet upon the air.

In my garden,
the wind is the actor,
pulling at her flowers
and it is the maiden’s flight,
the wisteria
out across the goat pasture,
the scent gathering divine
in the evening’s warmth—
the crowd is enthralled.


The rievers flow over batable land
from the Solway Firth inland
to the muckle toon of Langholm,
four hills in the Esk valley and
home to Clan Armstrong.
The wool grows thick on plunder
as they graze the threap grasses
of the Liddell and the Sark.

The queens of Scot,
the kings from London,
brought their laws and order
to be ignored
throughout these Debatable Lands
until Johnny of Gilnockie
and thirty-one hanged
at the Chapel Caerlanrig,
declaring all discussion void—
their lines drawn into the land
where the rievers once roamed,
where the waters still run free.
 Closed and Open


Cruithne is lost,
somewhere on the other side,
wandering with Mercury and Mars.
She wobbles and sways,
tumbles and plays
while our summer burns
and we slowly catch up.

Come November,
she will see us coming and turn,
running off again
across the darkened skies,
false gods calling her near
while the grasses in the upper moors
bend to cooling winds

and a faithful moon
makes the midnight bright
upon those keeping their eyes
toward the heavens,
searching in earnest
for others who may have strayed.
 Pandemic Picnic


inspired by Laszlo Toth’s
attack on the statue when
he believed he was the risen

Sono io!
Sono risorto!
Non piangere più!
Non piangere!

With the first swing
I chipped off a tear,
with the second
I broke off the run in her nose,
stopped the marble cry,
chipped away at the
blubbering of grief,
but she kept holding him,
this stone image made
of my previous form.

Sono io!
Sono risorto!

It is a pity
that one who should not
has had to mourn the wounds,
has had to bear the bones,
the lifeless form of the child
she carried to life,
cared for as he grew,
before anyone else knew.

Non piangere più!
Non piangere!

A pity!
No one should have to mourn
for those who have come forth
from the loins,
nor hold themselves together
as that precious life
bleeds away in their arms.

Non sono Laszlo!
Sono il risorto!
Sono il Cristo!
Gesù tuo figlio!

A pity
she still bears that life bled,
the one pierced by spear and nails,
even my hammer—
twelve blows to say I have risen
as they dragged her son away
to preach to the insane.

With my last blow,
I broke away her arm,
took the support from
the marble mass
of what I was,
of what I am no more.

Sono risorto!
Non piangere!
 The Grinch Eats a Sign

Today’s LittleNip:

—Michael E. Strosahl

When my zetta and yotta
are not enough to please,
when your zepto and yocto
are not close enough to zero,
ask me more,
bring me less,
until all I have is but
one more world to give
and all you care
is too much concern
for measure.

Michael E. “Maik” Strosahl is back in the Kitchen with us here today, and we’re all the better for it! Maik writes: “…finally am catching up with all the creations I did driving around the Midwest in my Semi. I got behind and had pieces stored in my phone and on scraps of paper. Took an office job to be home for a while and am taking advantage of the time. As far as photos, I included a silly profile pic and a serious one—you may chose which is more appropriate for your site. I also included the last truck I was driving (white) and my previous truck (red) where I was tracking all the states I have delivered to Dollar Stores in (I only count 23 magnets. I could swear there have been 24 but cannot figure out which one is missing)”. Welcome back to the Kitchen, Maik—and try to stay off the road. It’s a jungle out there.

In his first Medusa post (Oct. 4, 2020), Maik mentioned his long involvement with poetry in Indiana, and that he had moved to Jefferson City, MO, in 2018. He is in good Kitchen-company there, with poets Kimberly Bolton and Michael Brownstein, for example, who are regular contributors to Medusa’s Kitchen. The web of poetry grows and grows…


Maik Strohsahl

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, March 28, 2023

Love Waits . . .

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

The day was blank—the day had slipped away.
The day was cunningly warned with super-

stitions—the window glass broke quietly onto
the rug, eyes turned to the photos on the wall,

no one complained, the door opened and closed,
the doorway darkened to a gray—a gentle gray

to remember, just in case, why?! —always too
late to know the whole story, might as well say

"bully" or "fear-rumor" . . . or that agreed-upon,
or disagreed-on, or agreed-to-disagree on agree-

ment, regarding the telling of the long and never-
solved story of the floor still covered with broken

glass on the rug . . . the ever-curious blood on the
floor . . . and the screams—everyone saw the blood.

Yellow Sky

—Robin Gale Odam

They all looked perfect,
but there was something else.
Trouble descended the staircase.
Misery peeked out from a shadow.

Old love reappeared, eyes half shut.
Threat and peril renewed their pact.
Worry remembered about sorrow.
Suffering vowed to leave.

Misfortune asked a favor.
They all averted their eyes.
The year arrived with its chill.
They all shivered.
 Three A.M.


turned out to be a fight—
good/evil, vs. v. vs.

—Robin Gale Odam  
 The Dream
—Robin Gale Odam

i was painting in the dream, painting the
dream—the slender brush balanced between
my fingers and my thumb, the bristles long
and fragile, the translucent sky, the color
of night 

(A Stitchery)
 —Joyce Odam

love waits
along a fence
the swaying trees
no birds yet—love
is so new
some forget
their presence now
without singing
falling through
under the night
through starlight
under the night
through pale starlight
someone's yesterday
someone's yesterday
the night was long
the hour was long
then I will stay

—Robin Gale Odam

what about extinction . . .
the meandering river,
oxygen, love—


—Robin Gale Odam

I love you still in this complexity of
time that remains in place even as it
moves, because of its nature.
Sound Pulling Away
 —Joyce Odam

The water is still, the day has shut down,
where is the problem? Echoes surround
with great silence as something came

through silences that we have heard in
silences as before—as always new and
there are rumors, though allowed . . . the

waters are freed, drowning in their reflec-
tions on all the walls—the women are
crying, though crying is not allowed.

This poem is not allowed but only found
now in the circles of the room just as
we arrived—you tried to tell me—I accuse

you now for the new memoration of all such
forbidden words—the water is the ceiling now,  
the roof squeezing into the walls to dry, the

rugs on the aisles ruined. Children have
bought all the toys with their tears—I am so
terribly lost by now I am my only believer.

Dinner is late again, boxes of cereal wait too
but they are out of sugar—oh well, again, the
building is up for sale and we must sell or

start again somewhere else—we'll  have to
do better next time or give up gambling or
make up something better than this, Dearest.

Today’s LittleNip:

—Robin Gale Odam

Now the ghosts who live in me . . .
i am reminded, now and again, as i
pray for those i love—o give me
anchor, let the waters pour, let the
salt, let the breath—let me rise
to this day, let me let them go,
let me keep them all.


Pick your battles! The Odam poets have rassled our Seed of the Week—pick your battles—and won, with fine poems and photos to help wind up the last week of March. Many thanks to them for that!

Our new Seed of the Week is “What a Night It Was!” 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.

Tonight at 6pm, Twin Lotus Thai Fourth Tuesdays presents Jeanine Stevens, Ann Michaels, Jill Stockinger, Laura Martin, Laura Rosenthal and John Allen Cann plus open mic in Sacramento. Reservations strongly recommended. 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.


—Photo Courtesy of Public Domain

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

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