Friday, June 02, 2023

Secrets of the Woods

—Poetry and Photos by Taylor Graham,
Placerville, CA

—And then scroll down to
Form Fiddlers’ Friday with poetry by
Nolcha Fox, Stephen Kingsnorth,
Claire J. Baker and Johnathan Herold


Morning dim and damply overcast and
Every birdsong pending as I chose a
Lefthand forking trail—who knows why—
And soon it darkened under oaks,
No sound—you might say no light, no
Color. Then! a patch of unknown flowers
Holding high their light-spray heads,
One calling out to me without my name,
Lovely as a wordless breeze and,
Yes, an invitation to join the blooming. 




Where could he be going
with that guitar case slung
over his shoulder,
walking the edge of woods
under the midday sun?

The woods have their secrets
and blackbird’s song so sweet
with deer-brush blooming
to the bee’s swarming hum,
and shadows woven deep. 



posted on bridge-fence which
overlooks canyons, ridges,
sky—gone for 28 days, young

Old guy was walking
behind his wife, carrying
a tiny daypack,
gazing at
his phone
quite absorbed
as he passed along
the trail, missing the asters,
blind to this morning.

This strange flower
blooming today—
beautiful blues,
magenta hues—
some girl plucked it,
threw it away. 




Among deep green of landscaping
ground-cover, dusty-jade hands reach
for sunlight and rain—upstart blue
oaks that no one planted. 




I was walking the aisles trying to find long johns.
The season was approaching—fall fashions
on posed, poised mannequins—and I couldn’t
find long johns. Not fashionable anymore.
I asked someone who ought to know; he thought
they might have long johns when it got cold
enough, or maybe not at all; he didn’t know about
long johns. I kept walking, got blocked by carts
in the mirror aisle. Paused to see how my mask
looked—snug enough? Maybe as out-of-style
as long johns, in spite of a new Covid variant.
Did I look better in a mask than without?
I kept walking—get out of stores as quick as I
could. Sideways glance on exiting; there I was
reflected in window glass, walking fast, away.
That’s how I look my best. 




memories swarm as
in a mirror—air no one
sees across nor swims 



Today’s LittleNip:

—Taylor Graham

we savor
seasons, sunrise music,
wrens, roses—we survive
summers, mazes, mirrors—
we soar on seismic waves,
raven air


Our thanks to Taylor Graham for her springtime poems and photos this morning! Forms she has sent us today include an Acrostic (“Changing the Day”); a Flamenca (“Off the Apex Trail”); a Prisoner's Constraint that is also a Senryu (“Ever Never”); a 3-style (“Losses”); a Cinquain's Cousin that is also a Prisoner's Constraint (“Our CV”); and a Ryūka (“Sylvan Pioneers”). The Flamenca and the Cinquain’s Cousin (devised by Claire J. Baker) 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, such as Alice Anderson's The Write Lab (summer sessions start tomorrow morning)—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 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 Nolcha Fox and Stephen Kingsnorth. Stephen has a Finnish word for us today:

—Nolcha Fox, Buffalo, WY

It isn’t much to look at,
my little wooden shack.
The shingles are of grass and moss.
The door remains ajar.
Beach towels cover windows.
The porch can hold one chair.
Nobody knows I stash my sweets
underneath the floor.
If my man gets wise to me,
he’ll tear my sugar shack down.

* * *

—Stephen Kingsnorth, Coedpoeth, Wrexham, Wales

It’s finnish here, as we begin,
a culture where the sauna grown
yet not mere steam as we assume
but ashen faced, smokesauna soot.

Of current fish we know the taste,
and nothing new, hung out to dry;
preserving jars if fresh-picked sought—
not so old salts with pickle fork,
for they knew catch if just today.

So pore folk, sooty birthday suits,
patina smokescreen as décor,
a clouded sweatshop of their own,
this darkroom without photographs—
unseemly, steamy atmosphere;
but who could guess, behind closed door?

Is garden thatch adaptable,
plant types suit jungle, hale the snow,
whose roots acquainted with the heat—
a rooftop clime over the top
which holds the fort, lakeside retreat?

So salts-caked smoke stack, funnel top,
that dirty British coaster strayed
and foundered on a new-age clean
as old as hills, unknown to most.
Told horses sweat and men perspire,
while courtesy says ladies glow,
but grating here, wallpaper ash.

* * *

Here is a Cinquain from Claire Baker:


—Photo Courtesy of Public Domain

Banff, B.C. Canada
 —Claire J. Baker, Pinole, CA

The lake’s
reflection paints
a serene masterpiece.
We pause: John likes live forest, I
its twin.

* * *

And an Ars Poetica by Johnathan Herold; see tomorrow’s Kitchen for more of his poetry:


—Photo Courtesy of Public Domain

—Johnathan Herold, Lodi, CA
We people box us
into corners,
of a past design.
We live with ties
which suit and bind us,
nudge us into line.
Societal progenitors
have haplessly hung on,
so we are left to slant blind rhymes,
and shape them into song.
We mow our lawns, and tow our yawns
through every mindless vice;
never pausing to accept:
inertia can't suffice.
Man or woman, old or young,
can birth a better way;
instead or letting old gods breathe,
we'll live, to seize our day.
So use an eye more critical
to pave a path that's strong,
and if we're left to slant blind rhymes,
choose not to sing along.


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.) For this one, don’t be put off by the title; you just have to know what an antonym is:

•••Antonymic Translation:

•••AND/OR try the Fibonacci (Fib) poem:

•••Fibonacci (Fib) poem:

•••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 “Sprouts”.


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

•••Antonymic Translation:
•••Ars Poetica:
•••Cinquain: AND/OR See for info about its inventor, Adelaide Crapsey.
•••Cinquain’s Cousin (by Claire J. Baker): Syllable count 3, 6, 6, 6, 6, 3
•••Ekphrastic Poem:   
•••Fibonacci (Fib) poem:
•••Prisoner’s Constraint/Restriction/Multiple Lipogram:
•••3-Style: a combination of a Koori, a Ganta, and a Shoa


 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.

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.