Friday, June 23, 2023

High Noon in High June

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

Am I a vagabond, walking the RR track
at noon on the first hot day?
A verge of moth-mullein like poor-
man’s hollyhock, and live-oak keeping
its shade to itself. But here’s a side
trail dropping off the grade into green
wild and cool, berry bramble
promising juicy black gems in summer
and poison oak so lush it dares
me to touch. The county road roars by
unseen. The RR track says nothing.
As long as I walk these woods are mine. 


I heard the mocker
playing half a dozen feathered species.
Abruptly he stopped singing,
as if feeling undervalued for his repertoire,
his ear for mimic, his modulated tone,
in short, his art.
Instead, my birdsong app—which,
in my ineptitude I must have mis-cued—
replayed a whole program
of recorded history.
But the mockingbird was gone. 


Oh, but it’s hot! just past high noon.
Weeds and grasses summer-dead and brittle,
even the shadows seek shade.
My legs itchy for a walk, sandy path
rock-lined S-curves along a live-oak stringer.
Glory holes and miners’ ditches—
manmade landscaping—or did the river do this?
Blackberry bramble in soft pink bloom,
poison oak with its own green berry clusters.
From live-oak woodland
into madrone forest, then down a rockwall chute
and I’m almost to the river.
Wait. It’s taken—the little beach, I mean—
a family picnic, extended family, I can’t count
the strollers. Back to the woods for me,
my legs still itching for a walk in shade of trees. 


Beyond a schoolyard garden grows
golden evening primrose just for June
and a cottonwood quivers and glows
above the shallow, muddy pond
where a dragonfly darts or slows
at insect whim and whiff of breeze,
silver-black wings a-whir and those
are magic and will transform soon
into a fairy or a zebra rose. 


                 behind the strip mall

On this our morning roam
here’s the angel of homelessness
passing by, wings a mess
but smiling nonetheless. She knows
where every unhoused goes
in hopes of some repose—if stealth
be restful. Here’s the wealth
of one, a meager dealth: black silk
(or its synthetic ilk)
bag, and one white as milk, to hold
whatever against cold
and hunger, neatly rolled. To keep.
Do angels know the heap
is doomed to a clean sweep by noon? 


Winter washed-out trail
rock and hardpan, trodden dust—
need to watch my feet—
what’s that blooming, thinly dry
and sparse, at first glance
non-descript but in color
a wash of sunrise
never noticed on my walks
before. I never noticed. 

Today’s LittleNip:

—Taylor Graham

This tree’s been crying
sap that’s dried in crusted tears—
here’s a heart askew.
No, it’s a pink coat hanger
hung as a token of what?

Can pink plastic witch
the water from underground,
all its gathered tears?


Our Tuesday Seed of the Week, A Walk in the Woods, is right up Taylor Graham’s alley, and she has sent us some snapshots (poetic and camera-wise) of her frequent woods-walking excursions. Our thanks to her for those! Forms she has sent today include a Magic 9 (“Black-&-White Dragon Flies”); a Luc Bat (“Angel of Fringes”); a Choka (“Flower on the Woods Trail”); and a Boketto that is also a Ekphrastic based on her photo (“Ghost Pine”). The Magic 9 and the Luc Bat were last week’s Triple-F Challenges.

Tonight, the annual Community of Writers Benefit Poetry Reading takes place up at Tahoe, online or in-person, 7:30pm, with a stellar list of readers—and you must register in advance at Then, on Sunday, Diane Funtson and Michael Czarnecki read at Chateau Davell in Camino, 2pm. For details about these, and more info about what else is going on in poetry in El Dorado County, go to Western Slope El Dorado poetry on Facebook: Plus, El Dorado County Poet Laureate Lara Gularte has a Facebook page to announce poetry events and all things poetic in the county—see You can also click on Medusa's UPCOMING NORCAL EVENTS ( for details about 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.)

There’s also a 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

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

—Nolcha Fox, Buffalo, WY

I live out of a suitcase,
stopping home to
clean my clothes,
pack new books
I haven’t read,
to while away
my time on jets,
on trains,
in rental cars.
Scenery a blur,
I can’t remember
where I’ve been,
except for photos
holding moments
on the run.

* * *

—Stephen Kingsnorth, Coedpoeth, Wrexham, Wales

This is a case of leaving home,
for holiday, say both lens, books,
though hefty tomes for relaxed read—
Gideon Bible thief at large?
Then chrome-look locks, photography
suggests outdated, former ways,
paraphernalia, past phase.
Maybe home was yesterday.

For few had need of passports when
a coach to pier and not for flight;
there was, of course, more rain than sun,
some lodging, bed and breakfast rate,
a promenade, with greasy spoons,
spade, sandless bucket, sewage sea,
where skimming stones from pebbled beach—
no dreaming, castles in the air.

But we were out of city streets,
those gangs and bullies, guttersnipes,
as for a fortnight, family;
an image-prompted memory.
Is this a show then, for display,
some travel agent, olden days?
Or show, perhaps, here, of regret?
Did we know more then than do now?

* * *

Michael Brownstein sent us this poem, wondering if it was an “official” poetry form. I’m terrible at ferreting such things out, so I asked Taylor Graham what she thought it was, and she said maybe half a Double Etheree ( If anybody has any other ideas, send ‘em along:

—Michael H. Brownstein, Jefferson City, MO

she said,
wonder if—
a pouty smile—
can you take me home?
No, he answered,
can't tonight.

* * *
Michael also sent these linked Haiku poems, which he's callind "dadahaiku" poems:
his shrieking voice
a blade
across my wrist
his shrieking voice
a blade
across her lisp
his shrieking voice
a blade
across his fist
—Michael H. Brownstein
* * *

And here is an Ars Poetica from Joe Nolan:

—Joe Nolan, Stockton, CA

How can you write poetry
By sitting down to write poetry
When muses have not arrived?

Nothing swirls about your brain.
It’s not poetry weather.

In another dimension,
Contact has been made
Among fickle, slippery muses
And the poets they grace.

Sitting there in place
Won’t summon them.
They’re on their own schedules.

Some poets have been left sitting
At poetry train-stations
For twenty years or more,
I’ve heard,
Waiting for the sifting feeling
Of a single word
Of any worth.

Such is the fate of many
Poets here on Earth,
Who corrugate the heavens
Probing for words
Worthy to put into stanzas.


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 challenge, and send it/them to! (No deadline.) Let’s head off to Spain for an Ovillejo:


•••AND/OR tackle the Tautogram:


•••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 “Toxic”.


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

•••Ars Poetica:
•••Boketto (“Listen to the Light”):
•••Ekphrastic Poem:   
 Today's Ekphrastic Challenge!
 Make what you can of today's
photo, and send your poetic results to (No deadline.)

* * *

—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.