Sunday, April 30, 2023

New Girl in the Trailer Park

—Poetry by Julie A. Dickson, Exeter, NH
—Public Domain Photos Courtesy of
Julie A. Dickson

Congregated spectators of fish wait,
standing in gravel and sandy outcrop.
low-tide watchers on temporary shoals,
small river islands and peninsulas.

Erstwhile gull-flocks swoop in, squawk,
nab insects and splash in warm tidal pools,
feathers bright-white and dove-gray in sunlight,
wings open to evaporate feathers.

Tidewater inches up, slowly higher;
tiny island inhabitants encroach
on one another’s claimed territory,
preciously staked land, closer together

than is their preference- some push off
to nearby rock ledges, they overhang
on limbs, gulls and cormorants contrasted
dark and light against the river backdrop.

Birds grab remaining food from crevasses,
then even the most persistent stragglers
erupt in a whoosh from the stony pools,
scream terse farewells until the next low tide.

White mugs

upside down on
formica tables,
thick porcelain
mugs with too-
small finger holes
that trap
hands, or burned
them when you
grabbed around
the middle.

Strong black coffee
a little burnt-taste
lingers, even with
extra cream, poured
room temperature
from tiny metal
pitchers with the lid
that plink down
when poured out,
paper placemats
set under bent-tined
fork, spoon, knife
on napkins, one
to a customer, please.

Menus still a bit
sticky, even though
they get wiped with
a wet towel once daily,
when they fill little
glass pepper and salt
shakers, rice to prevent
clumping in summer.

Low murmurs prevalent,
an occasional laugh
breaks the monotony
of dish-clatter and cook’s
bell when an order is up.

Even if you've lived here 30
years, you’re still a newcomer
in this diner, this little town,
holding a thick white mug,
pouring over a thin local
newspaper, town gossip
whispers around you,
best eggs anywhere,
they say. You agree. 

I could never

smoke cigarettes,
had asthma.
The very odor
made me wheeze
and cough

not that anyone
cared much,
even in the car
they smoked
till I was choking

I was nauseated
but they still
smoked, filling
the car, cloudy

plumes drifted
to ceiling, not
before I breathed
it, but in high school
my efforts

to be popular,
I pretended
to smoke, carried
Winstons, in case
someone asked,

does someone
have a cigarette? 


Shade my eyes from that blasted
Winter sun rising on morning drive,
bigger eye-opener than breakfast or
the extra-large coffee in my hand—
even sunglasses don’t help much,
blinded vision, squinted into slits,
startled as truck runs up behind.

Light directly into my eye, shocked
into consciousness, some shadowed
figure asks unintelligible questions,
but the light! Can’t move my arm,
blinded, I can’t focus my addled brain
on words or coherent thoughts, can’t
make sense of where I am, lying
supine, where? On the ground?

Months pass, lying now on chaise,
lounging languorously, beach sand
blows gently across my battered body,
arm still encased in itchy plaster cast,
eyes peer from behind Ray Bans, close;
blinded again, sun spots on my eye lids
dance in an amusing macabre comedy. 


What is that, just a
scant fragrance on my pillow

I grab the edges and breathe in
the essence of you, not there

but still there somehow, did I
dream you were here beside me

it was much too long ago to leave
such a trace, I smile, realize

your leaving was just a whisper
of fragrances, memories I would

know, imprints of you, long
before you ever thought of going 


Not a trailer park, please
don’t let it come to that

but I did it, moved in
right next to the pink
one, mine was dull
in comparison, beige.

Bonnie always said
hers looked like a
gingerbread house,
with its turquoise trim,
reflecting ball out front,
stone gnomes, spinners.

I was the new girl,
a divorcee,
the ladies whispered
when they thought I
couldn’t hear, or perhaps
I was supposed to know

that I wasn’t part of their
little troupe. Bonnie was
my only friend there
for years until she died.

Bob moved in, arrogant
and puffed up, a parade
of women in and out
of his place, now
painted bright red.

The ladies stopped
talking about me.

I looked out back
discreetly, of course
at something he built
in the backyard,

four up-ended pallets
as back-drop, tiki lights
on the ends, sandy
pretend beach in front,
reflecting ball there, and
a plastic pink flamingo.

I saw chairs, a fire pit;
The gnomes and spinners,
craned my neck to see,
until he caught me looking,

beckoned to me really,
to admire his little
paradise, no thanks
I waved back, going
back to my dull beige


Today’s LittleNip:

If you are a dreamer come in
If you are a dreamer a wisher a liar
A hoper a pray-er a magic-bean-buyer
If you’re a pretender come sit by my fire
For we have some flax golden tales to spin
Come in!
Come in!
―Shel Silverstein


—Medusa, with thanks to Julie Dickson for today’s fine poetry, and for the photos she has found for us!
 —Illustration 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.

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!
also known as the


Saturday, April 29, 2023

Name My Silence

—Poetry by Jasna Gugić, Zagreb, Croatia
—Public Domain Photos Courtesy of Joe Nolan

Spring is more beautiful
in the backyard of my childhood
under a cherry blossom in bloom.
Fluid and divine white,

adorned with wishes,
dreamed in imagination
this present and untouchable love
who constantly struggles with fear
in the depths of the soul.


Name your science
as my hunch
that leaves a bitter taste
of smile,
lost in days of endless hope.
Stay in silence here in front
of my glowing love.
Name my silence
as infinity with a fear of pain
encased deep on the bottom
of the heart.
Unchain all unchainable for me
and free my dreams
with smiling life as a gift.


Cover me with your beauty
Fill the cracks in my heart
Without you
I’m dried-up source
A standing river
I’m the road which
Leads to nowhere
Silent in helplessness
All alone without a splendour
Impersonal views
Staring at yesterday
Blind for tomorrow
So, don’t leave without
Turning your eyes around
Stay close
The night is descending
It’s too black and I fear
The shadows of darkness
Stay with me
Be the fire of life
That shines in me.


I could only write about you
tender and incessantly,

without reason,
without blinking,
no regrets.
Just like my heart
without programs,
without schemes,
no combination.
Because you are,
of course,
and lazy,
but as if I knew everything about you
and you around,
as if it had always belonged to those
I could only write about you
and I touch the stars
with my hands
because you gave me your shine.


Today’s LittleNip:

NorCal poets will be saddened to hear that Hatch Graham passed away in his sleep this past Thursday night. Our condolences to his friends and family. His wife, Taylor Graham, writes, “Hatch was also a poet, and when he was too blind to read his poems, he sang old songs at our read-arounds—a beautiful singing voice.” This is a poem Taylor Graham wrote for him (“blazing” refers to his poem, “Blaze”, which he often recited at open mics):

for Hatch Graham, forester
—Taylor Graham, Placerville, CA

Always the adventurer

fearless on heights looking down

over the deeps, seeking 

a better way through thickets—

alder, manzanita, willow—

leading us out to clearing,

a meadow blooming wildflowers

like we never saw in our lives.

You left before dawn—

we knew you were going.

The house is quiet

except for your dog waiting 

at the door.


Kitchen newcomer Jasna Gugić was born in Vinkovci, Croatia. She is the Vice-President for public relations of the Association of Artists and Writers of the World SAPS; Global Ambassador of Literacy and Culture for the Asih Sasami Indonesia Global Writers, P.L.O.T.S., the Creative Magazine Ambassador for Croatia; and a member of Angeena International, a non-profit organization for peace, humanity, literature, poetry and culture. She is also co-editor of the anthology, Compassion—Save the World, one poem written by 130 world poets.

Jasna is a multiple winner of many international awards for poetry and literature, and her work has been translated into several world languages. Her first independent collection of poetry was published in 2021, a bilingual English-Croatian edition, entitled
Song of Silence. She lives and works in Zagreb, Croatia.

Welcome to the Kitchen, Jasna, and don’t be a stranger!

Today, April 29, is an astonishingly busy day in NorCal poetry—probably a record! Click on Medusa's UPCOMING NORCAL EVENTS ( 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. (I just added a couple last night.)


 Jasna Gugić

For more about National Poetry Month,
including ways to celebrate, see

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, April 28, 2023

Colors of the Listening Air

—Poetry and Photos by Taylor Graham, 
Placerville, CA
—And then scroll down to Form Fiddlers’ Friday,
with poetry by Nolcha Fox and Stephen Kingsnorth

On boardwalk &
chipseal sidewalk
no one’s walking
no crow’s talking
there’s only me
and thru traffic.

Rush town. The sign says
Cash 4 Gold. No horse-drawn
wagons—an 18-wheeler
and super-mover in search of

Town creek’s a jungle—
berry bramble and willow
standing water-guard.
House Sparrow
at home.
Field’s a green palette
with one yellow-bursting tree,
one poppy (golden). 


Those men
practice climbing
ropes & trees at fairground,
while overhead a mating dance—
two crows. 


Tree Swallow posted
sentry on his nesting box
moves not a feather—
iridescent green blinded
my lens, I missed a good shot. 


A forested place on the fringe of zipcodes, between
burn scar and growing green
I chose for my Earth Day walk
to see
healing, rebirth, hope for our planet. 


The news is SpaceX, while I’m out walking
old burn-scars here on Earth. Caldor Fire,
these ridges barren as Mars. But
look, where flames swept thru, baby
pines—more than I can count.
See this one, sunlit
haloed against
charred log. There’s
life on


We have our choices,
how to interpret the task—imagine!

Spin a globe and see where it stops—
step into that place, that space; and end its wars.

Walk until you feel the impatience of Earth
under your feet—wait for the geyser, the quake,
the volcano, or just the sprouting plant.

Hold your arms out until you feel
the structure of wings, each feather an arrow
never finishing its flight to where? Maybe the stars.

Today’s LittleNip:

—Taylor Graham

For Sale sign
on a grassy field

its native rock
to sky.


Our thanks to Taylor Graham for her poems and photos today, celebrating life in the spring in the Sierra foothills, including lots of wildflowers. This is a great year for wildflowers up here, and Hwy 50 is awash with lupine, mustard—and especially poppies! Our state flower is everywhere this year, it seems like!

Week-before-last, TG sent us a composite form made from a Koori, a Ganta and a Shoa, but since we didn’t come up with a name for such a thing, TG is calling it a 3-style (“Old 49er Town”). Other forms she has used today include a Word-Can Poem (“The Next Assignment”); a Septolet (“Geologic Fingerprint”); a Cinquain (“Arborists Lack Wings”); a Zip Ode (“What Is the Zipcode?”); a Reverse Etheree (“Looking Up, Looking Down”); and a Tanka (“Sun-Struck Plumage”).

What’s that? A Zip Ode? In my ignorance, I thought it was a typo. But it’s a form, and info about it may be found at,of%20words%20in%20each%20line%20of%20the%20poem AND/OR The land of forms is many-varied indeed!

In addition to lots of other NorCal happenings tomorrow, there will be a special Laureate Trail event at 4pm at the Placerville Library to honor Lara Gularte’s term as El Dorado County Poet Laureate. For more info about El Dorado County poetry events, past and future, go to Western Slope El Dorado poetry on Facebook: or see Lara Gularte’s Facebook page at Poetry is Gold in El Dorado County!

But don’t forget to check out all the other readings that are happening tomorrow—windings-up for National Poetry Month. Click on Medusa's UPCOMING NORCAL EVENTS ( 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 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.)

 * * *
Last Week’s Ekphrastic Photo

We had responses to last week’s Ekphrastic photo from Nolcha Fox and Stephen Kingsnorth:

—Nolcha Fox, Buffalo, WY

One day we’ll live
on distant globes,
We’ll leave our world behind.
Perhaps by then
we’ll learn to treasure
where we live and why.
Then poor old Earth
will have a chance
to come back to herself.
And in the night
we’ll point to her
a distant planet, blue and green.
We’ll tell our kids,
that’s where we left because
the land and sky were bad.
They’ll ask “Is it still
dangerous? Will we
go back someday?”

* * *

—Stephen Kingsnorth, Coedpoeth, Wrexham, Wales

We’re given space—the dress alone,
this pointing wonder of a child
and family—set, two plus clone,
with palm spread awe, here, mother styled.
But we can’t see the marvel faced—
not over-shoulder rays, behind—
or eyes, the best of mirrors graced,
though for the visors, light would blind.

A storyboard, but oversold—
whose comic strip make common sense?
So why should pop-art take such hold,
a vector family, why intense?
All caused clipart, stock for choice,
in case one image suits that task,
a picture to enhance the voice,
words too fogged till pix unmask.

Bitmap, ClickArt staged their part as
Desktop publishing first allowed
the inhouse story, razzmatazz—
so come to terms which sing out loud.
To explore range across this trade,
‘Your Threesome! Welcome! Full Spectrum!’;
what project needs this visual aid?
New advert, planetarium?

* * *

And here’s an Ars Poetica from Stephen Kingsnorth about following the rules:
—Public Domain Photo Courtesy 
of Joe Nolan, Stockton, CA

—Stephen Kingsnorth

As if a hound rolled on its back,
hang dangling paws and well-sheathed claws,
I am become in older age
submissive, daily, guideline prone.
I count my lines, and number page,
declare no simultaneous,
my bio, disembodied third,
while cover verse with courtesy.

The kennels specialise in breeds—
some mongrel, others pedigree—
a brochure scan leads boarding plans,
where allocate the mutt in mind.
Sometimes the tale is wagging dog,
my measured walkies out of step,
so I reshape the extant form,
create, remove the stanza space.

I’ve lolling tongue, appealing eyes—
those adverts, rescue charities—
but nothing moves except the words,
my esoteric up to scratch?
Yet daily clatter to the bowl,
strain at the leash as if on heat,
and off the lead turn to and fro,
duo trope, turn twice, returned.


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 these challenges, and send it/them to! (No deadline.) Time to seize the day:

•••Carpe Diem:

•••AND/OR the Zip Ode:

•••Zip Ode: AND/OR,of%20words%20in%20each%20line%20of%20the%20poem

•••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 “Infuriated ”.


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

•••Ars Poetica:
•••Carpe Diem:
•••Cinquain: AND/OR See for info about its inventor, Adelaide Crapsey.
•••Ekphrastic Poem:   
•••3-Style: a combination of a Koori, a Ganta, and a Shoa (Taylor Graham)
•••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
•••Zip Ode:,of%20words%20in%20each%20line%20of%20the%20poem AND/OR

For more about meter, see:



 Today's Ekphrastic Challenge!
 Make what you can of today's
photo, and send your poetic results to (No deadline.)

* * *

—Illustration Courtesy of Public Domain

For upcoming poetry happenings in
Northern California and otherwheres,
click on
in the links at the top of this page.

For more about National Poetry Month,
including ways to celebrate, see

Photos in this column can be enlarged by
clicking on them once, then clicking on the x
in the top right corner to come back to Medusa.
Don’t let poetry forms 
stump you!







Thursday, April 27, 2023

How Smoke Sleeps

—Poetry and Photos by Lewis LaCook, 
Forestville, NY
How smoke sleeps

Burning through my skin from the inside out
you prowl my mouth for collapsed expectations

I quiet   tongue unfurled       gagging on sunshine
sky bleaches your whirlpool lips

Deer at dusk scatter in squalls
my skin inside-out repeats the crackle of brush

All day long wet bark steams in loose air
All day long you root in smoke

Are we thawing         both in my skin
inside out in hushed smoldering vines

(Love is like) oxygen

They were scratching a melody out of rust
on a nap with a warm cat in the small
of their back      as if existence is lawless

they were attaching meaning to facts   dust
etched in a weak hand on the lens shows
their body        seconds after the last time

a melody shrinks until to hear it is to shut     
themselves off from every reason left    to us
the screen sieves out whatever caused this

But we still hear ourselves in it      behind
doubling in our sleep a dream of our bodies
         Behind where we told them to meet

as if existence could be blamed
for not forgetting us         asleep
through small hours      eaten by air

Blue jay six

Cars slip off the road and rattle down the ridge into
our front yard sometimes. In a pink quilted house
dress with blue accents, a smile splits itself on a

On mornings mean light empanels the only hours
he lets you read books. On your knees in floods of
bathroom, he poisons looking at you, forbidding you
their comfort.

In a pink quilted house dress with hills bundled up
against snow.

At the bottom the pond drains into a snapping turtle;
it slices through every branch you give it. Every limb.
The boys hoist it in the air and its beak jars in silent

Everything you look at is poisoned. He says you 
cannot be in the house while there is daylight, while
there is work to do. In your dreams you’re in love
with dogs. They nudge and lick without asking his

A metal shed with curled roof and a short row of
high school lockers where hornets nest, ensorcelling
paper until its cells heat with larvae.

The men and boys rake gravel up to the double-wide
trailer so he has somewhere to park his dump truck.
Their sweat pearls cold on raw pink muscle, plucking
the eyes of dead friends from blue accents. Low light
in kitchen wood, round like a half-moon of teeth.
You think you would leave all of this when voices
coming from the walls die when sweetness walks by.

When we walk the dogs up and down the same gravel
path we have to move for cars dripping down,
another boy to husband her.

He spits the corner of his mouth. His fists round
down to hunks of hairy sweet-sweatened meat. The
pits stain you when wood or leather comes down at
you from the sky, snarling a scarring path through
your hair.

You fool yourself into thinking you’re in love with
the dogs at night. We should know by now the precise
voltage of their hair, lit in peaks by your hand buried
in the paper nest.

In winter cars lurch to a stop after tipping from the
road, right where we buried the pond, where we
buried the little creek. This is the only light you can
read by. The words pave a scarred path through the
double-wide, over the steaming breath of dogs, up
hills, past the ice-glistening road.

When the car door rattles open you climb in.
A message from our founder

What I run from it raves it wolves
is and isn’t my best saturday self

Stone storms that stall on you
tape your mind up like a warm takeaway bag

Whenever I fly I burn memory
more notch in what hides from you

What scolds

They scald the bristles until you think the clouds
won’t ever move again

They’re facing your dead friends
off against puckered saints


Porch fads on state routes

They're open on parch of a charge from

their here up at numbering in       love with spread

they had gotten jitters and tear up at mention
discharge forms to lean back in your arms

they whup then ethics         on the ghost   wind legs
      pouring charts over      over place where friends
go over their own sleep through shocks

Absorbed by distance         between both of
friends slip through carved in stairs to
         started to          surge from

there their heart starving the knives of

skin in tools      hands on moon      kind egg
with friends they porch mumbling tears in love
with peach halves faddish yes but stunned

         Their heart      arrow fudge of voles
open on steps to spread their hands around the room

it is heavy value they forgive     target     humbling in
learn to hear of hacking back at it

      tender bones snap     the overhead compartment

it is with heavy charmers chokepoints sugar   
gushing quiet      
they'd drama         find eggs      spins soothe
smidge valves guessed at hearty tin routes

into rehearsal boats cat shuffling votes around
their friends' numbers         head epics
intake forks mother to touch          too harm

       money free the spacebar torture
Savage vaseline tips pluck solo cup beat spoons
where their friends go stumbling bark against cries

their hands      ash moss for mischief corpse
sashimi doors to rehearsed value      release towels

         is their gin storming the goat flush with pints

grin flutes      grin flutes         grin flutes

Sore beds

In her window rocks gather to foam, eaten by water.
At night the glow of cities hours away shy on the
horizon's lips exhales a cold green ribbon of water.
Those days it was a deliberate decision. Lake Erie's
gray writhing etches the figures of his birthday on
sagging air. Her first little red car hitches in a black
wind; its tip rises. Before the nameless end of
Broadway takes his body from her in its flashing 
ambulance a repetition of egrets empties itself into 
my open palm. Those days the war waited in every-
one's mouth but her mother's criticism dug deep 
into the flesh of her arm like primitive inoculation.

Lake Erie is the shallowest of the Great Lakes but is
the deepest place she knows to look out from her
window upon and bury her memory. In those days
they had ridiculous hasps. Lake Erie piles matchstick
shipwrecks in gimcrack drifts in her window and you
choke on the germs on a ventilator with a steady
frailty unraveling in foam on rocks. The ambulance
flashes under a frosted rinse of April sunshine. In
those days she was all edges in it, the gray writ of
flat water rolled out over the horizon. The blown
cities deflated, waiting for the man to come to grab
you by the neck, to drag you across the rug. Lake
Erie owns us. Her husband's war leaves metal in
everyone. The lead on Ohio Avenue tastes chocolate
but leaves your palm cold in ribbons of green water,
reflected back to you by the minnows' eyes. Repeat
egrets. I'm diffusing through the things you glazed 
in clay in her first little red car and I can barely stay
awake here on the cool cemetery lawn. Lake Erie's
writing the color of fisheyes those days I'm not
around. I believe you're empty.

Her mother's criticism smells like liquor. Lake Erie
of all the Great Lakes foams on her window and
leaves behind the smear of the face of your 
husband. They turn you over so you don't get 


Today’s LittleNip:

My writing, it’s my way of making sense of everything. My way to feel whole. May I never be complete and may I never feel content—please, let me always have the need, always have the urge to write. 

―Charlotte Eriksson


Kitchen newcomer Lewis LaCook says that, as a child, on interstate trips, he thought the moon was following his family’s Econoline van. Upon reaching adulthood, he couldn’t tell whether the truth disappointed or relieved him, so he started writing things down. Some of these things looked like poems, and they may have appeared in journals like
Lost And Found Times, Otoliths, Unlikely Stories, Whiskey Tit, Lotus-eater, Synchronized Chaos and Slope, among others. In 2012 BlazeVOX published Beyond the Bother of Sunlight, a book-length collaboration with Sheila E. Murphy; previously, Anabasis published his book-length poem, Cling. His collection, My Kinship with the Lotus-eaters, was published in 2022 by BlazeVOX ( Lewis can often be found wandering the wilds of Western New York state with his wife, Lindsay. Welcome to the Kitchen, Lewis, and don’t be a stranger!

Today is Poem in Your Pocket Day, as we head toward the end of National Poetry Month. See for info about Poem in Your Pocket Day, and click on Medusa's UPCOMING NORCAL EVENTS ( for details about future poetry events in the NorCal area tonight and beyond—and keep an eye on this link and on the Kitchen for happenings that might pop up during the week.

Sacramento poets and storytellers will be saddened to learn that Mary Lynne McGrath has passed away. Mary read at the Sacramento Poetry Center just last month, and her poetry has appeared in Medusa’s Kitchen in the past. Our condolences to her family and friends.


 Lewis LaCook

For more about National Poetry Month,
including ways to celebrate, see
And sign up for Poem-a-Day at, plus
read about Poem in Your Pocket Day
(this year, April 27) at

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, April 26, 2023

What I Wanted

Neil Fulwood at Teviot Water Gardens, Scotland
—Poetry by Neil Fulwood, Nottingham, UK

     I wanted the hurtling moons of Barsoom. I
     wanted Storisende and Poictesme, and Holmes
     shaking me awake to tell me, “The game's
     afoot!" I wanted to float down the Mississippi
     on a raft and elude a mob in company with the
     Duke of Bilgewater and the Lost Dauphin. I
     wanted Prestor John, and Excalibur held by a
     moon-white arm out of a silent lake. I wanted to
     sail with Ulysses and with Tros of Samothrace
     and eat the lotus in a land that seemed always
     afternoon. I wanted the feeling of romance and
     the sense of wonder I had known as a kid. I
     wanted the world to be what they had promised
     me it was going to be—instead of the tawdry,
     lousy, fouled-up mess it is.
                       —Robert A. Heinlein,
 Glory Road

I wanted the extravagant world-building of anyone
who ever put pen to paper with a head full
of rocket ships and planets and orbital stations.
I wanted spice mines and alternative histories
and every single one of the things to come,
in whatever twisted shape. Zeppelins floating
monstrously silent above strange cityscapes.
I wanted time machines and crazed scientists
and the full range of robots from the almost human
to the iconically psychotic. I wanted heat rays
and laser beams and enemy fire spewing wide
of its target. I wanted holograms guiding the action
like Hamlet’s father. Droids who could moonlight
in Merchant Ivory productions. Meteors and
comets and asteroid fields, the grungy ships of
space pirates, the long sleek battle cruisers of inter-
galactic tyrants mushrooming into fireballs off the
shoulder of wherever. C-beams glittering. Grand
shuddering set-pieces of Wagnerian intensity.
Moments in time.

I wanted drawing rooms edgy with suspects
and all eyes on me, the big reveal unspooling.
I wanted the elegant self-assurance of Poirot,
the impeccably mannered low cunning
of Jane Marple. I wanted high-speed car chases
across wasteland or building sites, villains
thumped and cuffed and slammed across the
bonnet of a 3-litre Ford Consul. A pint of cask-
conditioned ale savoured in an Oxford pub, Morse
discoursing on the classics. Eighty-shilling and a
whisky chaser in an Edinburgh bar, Rebus waxing
lyrical on good bands and bad men. A pint of
bitter in a Nottingham dive and Resnick remin-
iscing about the night Milt Jackson came to town.

I wanted lands fabled and fabulous, far from
the drab and blunted ennui of the everyday.
I wanted the Faraway Tree, enchanted worlds
rotating through its upper branches. I wanted
wardrobes, broom cupboards—hell, even
washrooms—that opened into anywhere that was
better, more electric with adventure, than here.
I wanted endless winters and idyllic summers and
days that would sing with mystery and romance.
Lotus afternoons. Nights of moonlit intrigue
heady with the scent of anything exotic. I wanted
the mountain pass that gave me Shangri-La. An
exit sign for the Twilight Zone. The precise
location of the end of the rainbow.

I wanted every hero of myth and legend to be
suddenly enamoured of my credentials as sidekick.
Or failing them, any number of the more colourful
villains. But better still, my name in lights in the
starring role. I wanted my foreseeable future em-
broiled in sword and sorcery, witchcraft and
wizardry, action, adventure and alliteration.
I wanted to introduce myself to my mortal enemy
with all the grace and dignity of Inigo Montoya
and then straight up-end the blackguard. To
clamber onto the roofs of carriages, a speeding
steam loco hurtling trestle bridges and thundering
toward tunnels, defeating the last knife-wielding
henchman just in time. Infiltrate circuses and secret
societies, slum it in gambling dens and opium dens
and particularly in dens of iniquity. I wanted the
hair’s-breadth escape, hair perfect, clutching some
priceless McGuffin.

I wanted life in widescreen and Technicolor,
not this drab palette of joyless reality. I wanted
Brigadoon appearing at random in a skirl of
music and glamour, not the festering brutalism
of Whitehall. Life larger than life at twenty-four
frames per second and every cut an ecstatic truth
not this real-time footage from an unchanging
angle, reality TV as hospital car park security
footage. I wanted the mundane to blip past in
montage, a series of dissolves instead of team
meetings and seminars. Lightbulb ideas to explode
into actuality, not die the death of a thousand peer
reviews. I wanted the lone wolf, not the team
player, the renegade, not the good all-rounder,
the anti-hero, not the role model. The unpredictable
over the safe and sound. Full speed ahead
and no shits given in respect of torpedos.
Dragon boats, not this ship of fools. I wanted
to take that one-in-a-million shot at the impossible
and have it come good, and to hell with naysayers,
feasibility studies and the laws of physics.
I wanted a soundtrack of Beethoven and Brahms
and Mahler, not the sound of one hand clapping.
The epic with all its extremes and excesses
not the nail-paring of minimalism. I wanted to live
and rage and roar and fight, not tick the minutes
and hours and days away in a stifled yawn
of standard operating procedures and policy docu-
ments. I wanted every office block to disintegrate
in the great levelling of make-work. I wanted the
alarm clocks and punch clocks of the world
pounded into irrelevance, the human construct of
time unstitched and reshuffled into a patchwork of
the metaphysical regarded as pure fiction only
because the small grey men who categorised it
didn’t have enough imagination. I wanted some
grand and unapologetic iconoclast to break all the
rules; I wanted their grasp to exceed their reach
and stretch into the infinite to seize that blazing
core of possibility and drag it back and harness it,
finally, to a small and shaded world too-long sold
on the banal.


Today’s LittleNip:

The problem for a lot of people is that they don't really know what they want. They have vague desire: to 'do something creative' or to earn more money or 'to be free', but they can't really pin down what it is precisely that they want. So they drift from one thing to another, enjoying some moments and hating others, but never really finding fulfillment or success. (…) This is why it's hard to lead a successful life (whatever that means to you) when you don't know what you want.
― John C. Parkin,
Fuck It


Our thanks to Neil Fulwood of Nottingham today for his tour de force! Neil is one of our long-time Snake pals; his first post was 6/24/15.

And today will be the last in Steff Echeverria’s Visual Journaling
workshop series at Women’s Wisdom Art in Sacramento. Click on Medusa's UPCOMING NORCAL EVENTS ( for details about this and other future poetry events in the NorCal area as we wind up National Poetry Month—and keep an eye on this link and on the Kitchen for happenings that might pop up during the week.


 Neil Fulwood

For more about National Poetry Month,
including ways to celebrate, see
And sign up for Poem-a-Day at, plus
read about Poem in Your Pocket Day
(this year, April 27) at

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?
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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!