Friday, June 30, 2023

Trash Talking

Under the Bridge
—Poetry by Taylor Graham, Placerville, CA
—And then scroll down to
Form Fiddlers’ Friday, with poetry by
Nolcha Fox, Stephen Kingsnorth, 
Claire J. Baker and Robert Nimmo

Where can one park, to walk or rest?
A path, a nest….

Here in the town is one slot found?
Welcoming ground….

A weary journeyer asks, where?
Here’s empty air.

Up the hill, POSTED signs up there
and all along the alley too,
but yes, the sky is free and blue.
A path, a nest, welcoming ground, here’s empty air. 


From this perspective the world
might be awakening to primeval daylight.
Below the bridge, it goes about its business,
carving its way between banks
into an overlay of ages—vestige of a buried
ancient river. Such slow progress,
gathering rain from the high hills, eroding
boulder to gravel, lugging it downstream
as it tries to filter whatever toxic
it bears, speaking in cryptic water-tongue
between bike path and courthouse,
afraid of nothing but drought. 


From the paved bike trail above, I looked
for the safest way down to the town’s creek
through almost tropical wild growth.
Peavine and blackberry bramble. A dirt seat-of-
the-pants way down; hopefully I’d manage
the descent with my river-cleanup bag. A noble
desire, I thought when I signed up for this.
Old hiking boots for footing on slippery rocks,
sturdy gloves, a trash-picker for cigarette
butts flipped into creekside mud, and who
knows what other toxic contamination.
Hopefully, I’ll be ridding the creek of all that,
if only along my stretch of shoreline
and shallow but secretive water.
How much longer till the current flows
free and clear? A noble dream. 


Ten times thirteen trucks towing trailers, toting
tons—torn tents, trashed toys, TVs, toasters,
tarpaper, tattered toupees, teapots, thermometers,
threadbare tank-tops, tasteless ties, tired tools,
transfer tokens, troubled toilets, tawdry turnouts,
tautograms—trash transmogrifies, translates 
tremors to towns toppling topsy-turvy turned toxic 


An anonymous angel
allows Ailanthus altissima
an accipiter aerie
and an avian approach
advancing across any airborne
apparatus as an aperture, an aim,
an acceptance.

* * *


One owl on old oak
opens ocular orbs, observes,
offers obverse oratory:
ooooh—ooh ooh—ooooh.
Ode, omen or oracle?
Only one owl. 


            Hypericum concinnum

A single flower unbending to chill wind
on its hill scraped bare—fire safe in a ring
of towering manzanita. What does a golden
flower care for shrubs impersonating trees?
this one flower on its stem holding aloft
the dream of gold among dead glory holes
chainlink-fenced so children won’t fall in.
This flower invites them—not to pick
but to bow on their knees before it,
to marvel at its spray of gold filaments;
to listen to its story, how it only exists
in the Golden State, how brief its life,
its blossoming; a spring, a summer,
then gone like a poke of gold nuggets.
Yet it will come again next year,
small awesome crown of this barren hill. 


Name your whereabouts by the Raven
of your homeLand nobody could guess
the name of 1 first love & (Special
character) in upper case reVerse
the day you wondered how who when why
sprinkle Randomly w/ numbers, rhymes
change confiGurations on the nth
day of every quaRter of the moon
on aXis of each website’s spider
be The elusive fly Write nOthing
down for anyone 2 catch Simply
trust your self-effacing meMory.


Today’s LittleNip:

—Taylor Graham

on hold
phone to ear
just one hand to
count my syllables—
may be forever
thus hand-icapped
on hold to
write this


Good morning and thanks to Taylor Graham for today’s poems and photos; she definitely sank her teeth into the Tautogram, with charming results! Forms she has sent today include some Normative Syllabics (“Passwords”); a Word-Can Poem (A Noble Desire); 1/2 a Double Etheree (for lack of a better name: “One-Handed Poet”); three Tautograms (“Obscure”; “Along an Abysmal Alleyway”; “Talking Trash”); and an Ovillejo “(No Parking”). The Tautogram and the Ovillejo were last week’s Triple-F Challenges.

Don’t forget that on Sunday, July 9 (a week from this Sunday), Taylor Graham and Katy Brown will facilitate another Wakamatsu workshop at Wakamatsu Farm in Placerville from 10am-noon. It’s not too late to register; for details, and info about what else is going on in poetry in El Dorado County, go to Western Slope El Dorado on Facebook: Plus, 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.

El Dorado County thanks Lara Gularte for her service as EDH Poet Laureate, 2021-2023; last Sunday’s Chateau Davell reading in Camino was her final event as Poet Laureate. Lara has served us well, putting together many poetry events over her two-year tenure, and we're grateful for her time and energy. She's going to be a tough act to follow!

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 lick in places that would make
the neighbors wonder if I did
the same thing in the yard.
They take up the entire bed
and leave me sleeping on the floor.
They run in circles, chasing bugs,
or maybe it’s their tails.
They run to greet me, knowing
they’re the center of my life.
A little food, their day’s complete,
they rub against me,
leaving tracks of white.
No matter wealth or status,
I’ll never be as happy as
my darling dog and cat.

* * *

—Stephen Kingsnorth, Coedpoeth, Wrexham, Wales

Familiar, witch black is that,
or is the wight a shade in fact,
so maybe ten lives on the grass—
though unfamiliar, the hound.

Why is it I so dislike cats—
air independent, of disdain,
appearing after bird-time done,
for my provision, break-fast dine?

And as for dog, what pedigree?
Some paws for thought, tongue loll about,
red setter reset, I first sought—
but barking up the wrong tree, branch.

This neither privet, private hedge,
nor crazy paving leading in,
with puss to boot and tail to tell;
dog’s shaggy story come to nought.

* * *

Claire Baker’s poem today is a response to Medusa’s current Tuesday Seed of the Week: Crickets, and she has sent it in the form of a A Sliding Fiver:

from Pinocchio
—Claire J. Baker, Pinole, CA

Jiminy Cricket,
I’ve now hit ninety,
repenting my fibs,
waning humbler than
a baked potato.

I whisper with pride,
Jiminy Cricket,
see the leaves I’ve turned?
They’re pressed in a book
named Be Truer, Me.

Conscience ever tweaked,
I take the high road.
Jiminy Cricket,
I thrive in thin air.
Nose shortening yet?

Rising with the sun
tabula rasa—
it’s a nifty lift!
Jiminy Cricket,
I feel expansive,

grant favors unasked:
child, here’s a bouquet.
Make amends, Amen.
Hey, you crazy world—
Jiminy Cricket!

* * *

Here is an Ars Poetica from Stephen Kingsnorth:

—Stephen Kingsnorth

Why did I reach back, heartfelt search,
my boyhood breaks in grandma’s home,
those playful trips to park, the creek,
our sibling trips till tea called home?
The kitchen dinge, well pump still sink,
a parlour, unknown what its use,
a chain-pull cistern, frosted glass,
and love unbounded, known in full.
Found paradise in pebbled beach
’mongst jellyfish and stub end toes,
jam sanded sandwich, bucket loo,
Aladdin smells, beach hut review.
But though I checked, confirmed the rules,
before I delved, revealed the horde;
was disallowed, not living there,
my precious roots of learning shelved.
Of course, I’m sad; though glad I wrote,
recovered joys of sixty past,
but now in limbo, story told,
no ears to hear, no eyes unfold,
so none will know my early thrill
of grandma simply being there.

* * *

And we close today with a Sonnet about yours truly by Robert Nimmo from Christchurch, New Zealand. Robert is a newcomer to the Kitchen; check in tomorrow for more from him:

—Robert Nimmo, Christchurch, New Zealand

There is a lady on our boulevard
Whose self-styled mission’s to protect the town;
She pins two eyes on ev’ryone’s backyard,
And rumbles both the druggee and the clown.

A mastiff bitch, her gown a glossy sheen,
Behave and you will have a newfound friend;
But some maintain offenders she had seen
Met foul disaster and a sticky end.

One day two bullies thundered down the street
And caught our lady’s cold and baleful stare,
They hit a child, knocked oldies off their feet
Then headed for the beach but none knew where.

Months later found two clumps as white as bone
That someone or something had turned to stone.


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—give a Novem a shot:


•••AND/OR write an Occasional Poem—that is, one written for special occasions. (It does NOT mean writing only once in a while…)

•••Occasional 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 “Crickets”.


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

•••Ars Poetica:
•••Ekphrastic Poem:   
•••Normative Syllabics: AND/OR
•••Occasional Poem:
•••Sliding Fiver: 5 stanzas, 5 lines, 5 syllables per line. First line slides down a line 5 times, to become the last line. (Martha Bosworth, via Claire J. Baker)
•••Sonnet Forms: AND/OR AND/OR
•••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

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.