Friday, June 16, 2023

Kickin' Up The Dust

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

             Pony Express Re-Ride

Sun’s a brilliant flash through trees.
I’m squinting west against the too-bright
just before dark. The celestial handoff
daylight into night gets accomplished surer
than horse-time. And where’s the clock-
tick beat of horses’ hooves? The Pony left
Old Sac hours ago. Will it arrive here
before gloaming’s too murky for a photo?
I’ve got my lens focused, waiting for
sun-gold slashed with crimson, muting
to shades of aubergine—
waiting for sky to silhouette a horse
trotting up the eastbound shoulder
as commuter traffic races for home.
Here, the next relay rider waits her turn,
her mount whinnying to run against dark
back into history, fly like delta breeze
with night in its sails, headed for dawn. 


              Pony Express Re-Ride 2023

Manny is saddled and ready. Tethered
to his trailer, he strikes hoof against pavement
counting out the ticks of time. A cloud-cast day.
The Pony’s late—river trail obliterated by trees
fallen in winter storms. Incoming horse and rider
should be here by now, mochila switched
to Manny’s saddle. Pewter clouds are no obstacle
to the Sun’s course as it drops below treeline.
Almost dark now. Manny’s rider untethers him
and he sets to circling her; he’s the clock’s
second-hand, impatient to make time pass.
Faster, faster. He wants to run. 


Horses hitched in brace
halters hooked by chains
horses move as one
under suns & rains. 


Did that crazy fool spook a scare
into the steady wagon horse
who was standing placidly there?
Give her time, she’ll be on course—
she’s a trooper right from the source.
She knows this life will kick up dust.
Gentleness is the strongest force,
and it’s all a matter of trust. 


She comes here
In a late-day breeze
To let the thoughts float
Open over rocks on air pensive
Or shivery as an aspen grove—
There are no aspen here
Even though buckeye whispers
Riches of seed rooting in soil
Images of a sheltered place
Ever welcome to the sky. 


between my shepherd-dog’s ears
I may see wonders
hidden in sun-glare, shadow, tangles
of weeds & broken branches

I might see a quiver, a stealth,
the shy young doe
& surprise! in shadow a tangle-
legged fawn I didn’t know. 


This is no city of domes
for sunset to roll over on its way.
This town’s silhouette is pierced
by heaven-pointed conifers
as ground is fractured by fault lines.
You’ve walked the mined-out
quartz hill, and fading wildflower
fields, you’ve seen a shack
with no sidewalk, where a wicker
basket burst with one-week blooms
under vocalise of wind and crow.
Why switch your whereabouts
for a city of gilded domes?
Isn’t this place still becoming
what it aims to be?


Today’s LittleNip:

—Taylor Graham

Cloudy sky brighter
than new hillside condos
color of dead weeds.


It’s Friday already, and half-way through June! The Old West ruled around here last week, with the re-enactment of the Pony Express, and the end of the annual wagon train that started at Lake Tahoe and ended in Placerville; TG has told us their stories (and our history!) in poetry and photos, and we thank her for that. Forms she has used this week include an Acrostic that is also an Ars Poetica (“The Muse Before Sundown”); a response to Medusa's Ekphrastic last week (“Sighting”); a Huitain (“Bystander Horse Lore”); a Lethrannaegecht Mor (“It's Complicated”); a Haiku (“Overcast Sundown”); and a Word-Can Poem (“Skyline, Quitting Time”). The Huitan and the Lethrannaegecht Mor were last week’s Triple-F Challenges.

For info about what’s 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. 
Coming up: a couple of interesting workshops in July: on July 9th, Taylor Graham and Katy Brown will facilitate another Capturing Wakamatsu workshop at Wakamatsu Farm in Placerville, 10am-12pm. Then on July 15, travel to Calaveras County for a day of workshops and poetry readings with Dana Gioia, Lee Herrick, Susan Kelly-DeWitt, Calaveras Poet Laureate Linda Toren, and Monika Rose of Manzanita Writers Press. Check both of these workshops out, including registration information, 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 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

They perk, they swivel
whenever I talk,
whenever I walk,
reminding the muzzle
it’s treat time.

* * *

—Stephen Kingsnorth, Coedpoeth, Wrexham, Wales

A dogeared version of our art,
this foxy hound, black sound surround,
yet here with sheen, shine for its part,
a rich tanned hide—not leather bound.

Is it a cur, cursed mongrel, mutt?
Club registered with kennel fame?  
This cover, dog show, guide offcut—
medallion, engraved with name?

Snout, scent to sniff out underworld?
Though being grass, unhealthy pitch;  
despite its whimper, simper, hurled,
for bitch in heat, if seasoned snitch.

And ’ere’s alert—cosmetic work—
don’t court dock, guilty, fashion’s quirk.

(‘snout' is a cop's term for cash-paid informers)
—Photo Courtesy of
Stephen Kingsnorth
—Stephen Kingsnorth

A nose for tale, what springs to mind,
energy in varied modes,
highly sprung by casual stride?
Tide itself unstoppable,
neap or springing from the moon,
waves know gentle lapping show.
Ripples taking time to flow,
pause for thought in passing girl,
stranded in suspended time.
Yet we know its gravity,
for more is here than meets the eye,
that dogs like pigs might fly?  Not so.


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.) Here is a Vietnamese form, the Luc Bat:

•••Luc Bat:

•••AND/OR have at a Magic 9:

•••Magic 9:

•••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 “A Walk in the Woods”.


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

•••Ars Poetica:
•••Ekphrastic Poem:   
•••Huitain (wee-TEN):
•••Lethrannaegecht Mor:
•••Luc Bat:
•••Magic 9:
•••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


 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.