Monday, July 31, 2023

Socially Unacceptable

—Public Domain Photo Courtesy
of Joe Nolan
—Poetry by Nolcha Fox, Stephen Kingsnorth,
Tim Goldstone, Joe Nolan, Sayani Mukherjee,
and Michael Ceraolo
—Public Domain Photos Courtesy
of Joe Nolan and Tim Goldstone

—Nolcha Fox, Buffalo, WY

I’m that weird girl
eating with my hands
under the trees in the park.
Grease drips down
my face and arms.
My lips are stained
from berry kisses.
Crumbs and clutter
flutter in the breeze
and fall around me.
Mothers pushing strollers
wrinkle noses,
rush by
without a wave.
Birds and squirrels
approach, applaud
and join me in the feast.
—Public Domain Photo Courtesy of Joe Nolan
—Nolcha Fox

A bakery of cakes
and other sweet delights
prompts me to order
one of everything.
A bad idea, my eyes
are bigger
than my aching tummy.
 —Public Domain Photo Courtesy of Joe Nolan
—Stephen Kingsnorth, Coedpoeth, Wrexham, Wales

What should we say to seem discreet,
avoid hard swallow, bitter pill;
or valour choose, in it, both feet—
‘repast is calorific, high’?
It’s less the past as current style—
what we would wear, what overflows;
old wardrobe, tallboy, girth and guile,
a metabolic rate to score?

’Twas pious-sounding (cherry-bake?),
our grateful grace before the meal;
but afters, totting up heartache
of courses, two too obvious?
It is our just deserts re-viewed,
a dish better served cold they say;
that mess of potage, lentil stewed
in place of long term diet plan.

Or Luther nail, Diet of Worms,
his constipation, Osborne’s script;
gut reformation, wrenching squirms,
the priest soon countered on his way?
Obese is rendered verbal stock,
mere slim excess in ratio;
red meat to those whose tactics shock,
but psychologically misfires?

In all things, moderation’s wise,
in scaling grades, exam papers;
curating what the poet plies,
as in consuming what appeals?
But globally, of humankind,
while half the world knows hungry child;
we’re blind as we are wined and dined,
dietary indiscretion stark? 
—Public Domain Photo Courtesy of Tim Goldstone
—Tim Goldstone, Castellnewydd Emlyn, 
West Wales

For his birthday he got Action Man.
The one in a classic military costume
with a scar on his face.
Dad got cross at him again, said it wasn’t a 
It’s a bloody uniform.
His sister laughed exaggeratedly loudly at him
and no one told her off
even though she was younger than him.
She called him a sissy again, in that way she had.
She had a Barbie. He longed to stroke its hair,
and its excitingly smooth tanned unblemished 
caucasian skin. It had no muscles. Make it cry. 
Comfort it.
He put some ointment and a little circular plaster
over Action Man’s scar.
But that scar still made him uneasy. He told his 
She explained in the special, patient voice
she used just for him
Action Man had that scar because he was tough,
and didn’t he want to be tough?
He nodded. She seemed pleased. She said—
“Let’s take your plaster off before
Daddy comes home, shall we?”
He agreed. He knew it wasn’t a question.
He was sleeping less and less every night
because of Action Man’s bullying.
Eventually, desperately, he decided to show 
everybody that he was tough too. That would 
solve everything,
then they’d all just leave him alone.
He sneaked into his sister’s room
grabbed Barbie by her ankles and began 
smashing her head against the wall, over and over 
and over again.
They found him curled up on the floor,
a bright red slash on his cheek
made from his mother’s lipstick,
Action Man in his arms,
both of them fast asleep.
Two tough men together.
 —Public Domain Photo Courtesy of Joe Nolan

—Joe Nolan, Stockton, CA
I never could sustain
A constant veil of sadness
Behind which, I’d remain,
Untouched by the melee
Of newsreels of the brain—
Recounting all my tragedies
I could not explain,
Except to say,
“It wasn’t my fault!”
Or else, “Maybe it was,
In part, but it took
No major place
In my heart.”
 —Public Domain Photo Courtesy of Joe Nolan

—Joe Nolan

I have sufficient reserves
To sustain
The brunt of distant travel
In my brain,
Delving into breadcrumbs,
To erase the pain
Of humble things
I’d come from,
Long ago and
Far away.
—Public Domain Photo Courtesy 
 of Joe Nolan
—Joe Nolan

“Just a little more,”
Termites do implore,
“I can’t believe
How tasty is your wood.”

“At our wits end,
Fifty-thousand friends,
All agree,
How happily
We’ve been eating
Through your walls and floors.”

“Please don’t make our
Party stop.
We’ve nowhere else to go
And if we hit the air,
We may die.
It’s time to sell
Your worthy home and
Move on.
We’ve been all so well
Eating through your wood.” 
 —Public Domain Photo Courtesy of Joe Nolan

—Joe Nolan

Everything has turned sideways,
Dancing upside-down.
Normal chords won’t resonate.
Harmony can’t be found.

Relegate to twisted fate—
A joker and a clown,
Each painted up in brilliant colors
To hide their shadowed frowns.

No viable expectations.
Sermons read in expletives.
Music all discord.
Everyone ready to riot,
If only given the word.
 —Public Domain Photo Courtesy of Joe Nolan

—Sayani Mukherjee, Chandannagar,
W. Bengal, India

Kernel of a wallflower
My moonstone dream
Opulence of bright yellow
Sometimes a shady blue
The trinkets of merry-go-round
Probably higher altitudes
Waves after waves
They crash down
My overbearing
Soul of a shining sitar
Day and night
Twinning of my forever spring
Sometimes London walks
Show you how far you can go
Still my home is Unbruised
A daisy flower. 
—Public Domain Photo Courtesy of Joe Nolan

—Sayani Mukherjee

Midwest amongst my July days
Some stayed and some left
My bouquet of autumnal florals
Smelling of hydrangeas
And forgotten bleached scarlet
My red red heart
Overthrown at your beautiful decay
Like I am owning
My Monalisa Smile
And my Beethoven dreams
Where we hide in our
Planetary swirl
That's why the autumnal bliss
Is always my own
Where I can own my
July days
And my red red heart
Speaking of safekeeping
And the mystical night jewel.
—Public Domain Photo Courtesy of Joe Nolan
—Michael Ceraolo, S. Euclid, OH

Upcoming is a special election
in Ohio, one issue only,
that aims to change the state constitution,
raising the threshold for amendments
prescribed by a plebiscite
from a simple majority
to a three-fifths majority
The proponents foresee a future vote,
a vote they know they have no chance to win,
and like all soon-to-be poor losers
when defeat is on the horizon,
they're trying to change the rules of the game
—Public Domain Photo Courtesy
of Joe Nolan
—Michael Ceraolo

He knocked on the next-door neighbor's door,
in the attempt to deliver a package
There was no answer so he left the package,
and took a picture to prove delivery
I said to him
Make sure you also take a picture
of your car parked on the wrong side of the street
and in front of a fire hydrant to boot,
but I don't think he listened to me


Today’s LittleNip(s):

—Michael Ceraolo

In no known language
does the phrase "speed limit" translate to
"suggested minimum speed"

* * *

—Michael Ceraolo

I do not make donations
to for-profit corporations


Welcome to the month of August in the Kitchen! Autumnal poems are starting to come in, and rightly so; our thanks to all of today’s contributors for kicking off August in proper style. Our Seed of the Week was Dietary Indiscretions, so there’s talk of those, too—we’ve all had adventures in that department… Be sure to check each Tuesday for the latest Seed of the Week.  

Newcomer Tim Goldstone has roamed widely, and currently lives in Wales. Published internationally in numerous print and online journals and anthologies, his prose sequence was read on stage at The Hay Festival, and his poetry was presented on
Digging for Wales. He also has scriptwriting credits for TV, radio, and theatre. Welcome to the Kitchen, Tim, and don’t be a stranger! Twitter him at @muddygold

Tim writes: … although I live in Castellnewydd Emlyn, our cottage is actually part of a small collection of dwellings in a swampy outpost a few miles out of the village, where Welsh mud-squirrels steal pieces of the internet to line their nests with, and feral bell ringers break into the abandoned chapel every full moon to ring out the entire Bat Out Of Hell album.
(Full disclosure: Some of the above paragraph may not be entirely true.  🐿😊)

Click on Medusa's UPCOMING NORCAL EVENTS ( for details about this week’s poetry events in the NorCal area, including readings, workshops, and Thursday’s Poetry Unplugged at Luna’s Cafe in Sacramento, which will be closing its doors so dreadfully soon. Keep an eye on this link and on the Kitchen for happenings that might pop up during the week.


 —Public Domain Photo Courtesy of Joe Nolan

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!
LittleSnake’s Glimmer of Hope:
neighbor lady buys
a bright red sports car~


Sunday, July 30, 2023

Chasing After Beauty

—Poetry by Jeanna Louise  Riordáin, 
West Cork, Ireland
—Public Domain Photos Courtesy of 
Jeanna Louise  Riordáin 

Write me a poem, my AI Poet!
Write me a ballad, a tanka, a sonnet

Impress me with an epic lyric,
Show off that superhuman skill!  

Surprise me with something bold & insightful,
Delight me with something edgy & modern

Make me laugh with your bawdy humour,
Make me cry with your stunning wit

Teach me about your digital universe,
& let me be your flawed, human muse. 


When footbinding was banned in China, bound feet
Women stayed indoors & hid away from society

Once a symbol of status & innocence, their dainty,
Childlike feet were now reviled  

Violence was used to stamp out the tradition,
Inspectors were hired & fines were issued

Women were publicly shamed, their bindings
Hung on their windows

Sometimes husbands deserted their wives, leaving
Them starving & destitute

The women spent the rest of their lives hidden
Away & crippled with pain

Forever marked & deeply scarred by the feet
Their mothers had bent & disfigured

In the hope they would help them fit in &
Give them a better future. 


‘Il faut souffrir pour être belle.’ —French proverb

Tight corsets, broken ribs
Bloodshot eyes, injected lips
Blistered feet & swollen ankles
Talc powders laced with arsenic

Pulled teeth, metal braces
Waxed legs, razored armpits
Inked skin, pierced earlobes
Tangled hair, plucked eyebrows

Gnarly scabs, tweezed chin hairs,
Dyed scalps, acrylic fingernails,
Trends evolve & fashions change
But beauty is always pain! 


When Chinese girls had their feet bound, they
Could no longer dance or stand up unassisted

They suffered gangrene & deadly infections,
Fractured bones & severed ligaments

Yet, here I am, aching to fit into killer heels,
Crying over corns & blistered feet.


Today’s LittleNip:

You are imperfect, permanently and inevitably flawed. And you are beautiful.
―Amy Bloom


Jeanna Ní Ríordáin is a translator from West Cork, Ireland. Her poetry has appeared in
Quarryman, Drawn to the Light Press, Swerve, New Isles Press, Lothlorien Poetry Journal, Burrow, and Otherwise Engaged Literature and Arts Journal. See her at Instagram: @wordy89    Welcome to the Kitchen, Jeanna, and don’t be a stranger!


 Jeanna Ní Ríordáin

A reminder that
Poetry of the Sierra Foothills
takes place in Camino
this afternoon, 2pm.
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!
 LittleSnake’s Glimmer of Hope:

throwing off the shackles
of perfume and other such



Saturday, July 29, 2023

Next Best Thing

—Poetry by Mike Hickman, York, England
—Photos Courtesy of Public Domain

 For Alice, always


It began as The Next Best Thing is the
Wrong Thing,
And it was the first best thing for a while,
It was the story I began, with the original cast
of characters,
With the originally devised plot,
And the ending I first had in mind,
That one, the dark ending, in that room alone,
The protagonist facing the inevitable
But without the surprise
Required by all fictional inevitabilities.
The Next Best Thing was the title almost to the end
Until the story took me where it wanted to,
Where it knew I needed to go,
And it did the job of all good stories,
It provided me with its own title,
It gave me the ending and the title page in one
And I realised that the Next Best Thing,
Determining the end before it has been written,
Is always the wrong thing.


There is an oubliette at her heart,
The trapdoor high above her,
The walls, smooth, impenetrable,
No hope of escape for a woman of her height,
Whilst reminded of escape, of egress,
Every time she lifts her head.
So she stops lifting her head.
If there is light to be seen through the cracks,
And there is,
She learns to close her eyes,
She learns to turn away,
She learns to occupy her prison,
This bridewell of the soul,
This stockade of her psyche.
She learns that the walls are the
extent of her spirit,
And that her days will be paced
Around the stones of that floor.
There is an oubliette at her heart,
The trapdoor high above her.
And yet somehow you still expect her to open it.



It is not a simple story,
It was never that,
Neither can it be called moral or spiritual,
For it would curdle the ethics of a saint
To know what has to be unspoken,
But behind the dumb show and all that is implicit,
There is—in the parabola of his life—
In the comparison to be made to how others live
A shadow self that is truer than any of his words,
The shadow carried upwards on the arc that now
Through all that remains unsaid,
Through everything he wants to avoid
Making you feel you might be complicit.
The daffodil is implicit in the bulb,
His truth is implicit in his choice of words,
And the words he chooses not to say.
His parable cannot be fictitious,
He cannot allow that,
You deserve more,
If he is to serve as any kind of example,
And if the shadow is to be made real,
If the undeclared is to be articulated,
If the tacit is to be voiced
In the simplest story we both know.

What he thinks he reveals of himself…

It is the day of the reveal.
The cap and the gown and the fake scroll that—
whisper it—is actually a piece of pipe.
Sewer pipe, by the looks of it.
He thinks this is appropriate.
It doesn’t matter how long he worked for
the doctorate.
It doesn’t matter how many hours were spent
across that nearly decade.
It is the day of the reveal
When he can wear the gown, cross the stage,
shake the VC’s hand,
And get the howls of laughter he expects for his
He doesn’t.
It is the day of the reveal.
The truth unveiled as they ask him their questions,
And he fails to know the answers they have pre-
determined for all candidates.
Because that’s how they all work, he knows.
If he gets it, it won’t be for anything he does,
It will be a matter of luck that he has got closest to
their preconceptions.
So if he gets it, it’s not for him,
It’s for the him they think he is.
That much, he thinks, ought to be laughable, too.
It isn’t.
It is the day of the reveal.
They face each other across the table,
And he tells her who he is this evening,
Which him he has brought along to impress this
Because he can’t dare bring his real self, he knows,
Just as he’s sure she’ll ignore the obvious fact
That she never meets the real person the first
time out.
This, though, he doesn’t think is at all funny.
This, though, he believes, is entirely necessary.
Which is as much his tragedy as everything else.

We stand as the river flows through us,
Eddies lapping at our feet,
The stone beneath carved by our yesterdays,
The stone we heave to stand on next
Formed from the hope of the tomorrows
We alone cannot promise,
With rills and meanders ahead,
The thalweg of uncertain depth and peril.
We know the next stone may sink,
May cause us to tip,
Into alluvial days to come,
And yet we shape our stones
From all that we have,
Pebbled, concreted, sea shelled, beaded,
Inscribed and circumscribed with all that
we love,
And we project our course
Towards mouth, towards estuary, towards
Built only ever by the stone,
Built only ever by our own hands,
And it is so easy to think we do this alone,
That we stand here alone,
Until—of course—we look up, we look round
And we see those standing beside us,
We see the human chain stretching
The length of the river,
And the stones and the other paths
They have laid there for us.


Today’s LittleNip:

Like a shadow, I am and I am not.



—Medusa, with thanks to Mike Hickman, the gentleman from York, for today’s fine poetry. These poems were all previously published in
Know Thyself, Heal Thyself (

For more from Mike Hickman, go to
Chasing away the shadows with 
the light of poetry...
—Public Domain Photo Courtesy of
Joe Nolan, Stockton, CA

A reminder that Poetry in Locke is
happening today, starting at 1pm.
For details about this and other
upcoming poetry events 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!
LittleSnake’s Glimmer of Hope:
Shadows slide out of sight,
chased away by
the morning sun~

Friday, July 28, 2023

The Fragile Distance of Dreams

—Poetry by Taylor Graham, 
Placerville, CA
—And then scroll down to
Form Fiddlers’ Friday for poetry by
Stephen Kingsnorth, Claire J. Baker,
Nolcha Fox, and Joyce Odam


Shall I call it instinct or serendipity or
Muse? Stopping here for our morning walk—
empty Cinema parking lot with just two cars
by the berry-bramble creek marked
No Trespassing—homeless campers still
asleep, I guess. My dog and I walk
along the bramble fringes—a handful
of glossy black, ripe berries before breakfast!
A narrow path to the Cinema’s backside.
A raven calls. Two glossy black ravens
pass low overhead. I think there are three,
now landing on the roof. One pauses
for a photo-op—I got it with my phone!
No doubt they’ve come for a special fly-in
appearance in the film Nevermore.


Signs outside supermarket: shopping carts will lock
if taken beyond parking lot perimeter.
This morning I’m wandering perimeters. Behind
walled & gated dumpsters, by a propane tank
pedestal, what do I find?

One Queen Anne’s lace in bloom. Metal chair
borrowed from the juice-bar patio, with
snack wrappers, plastic cup, well-traveled 6-pack
of donuts unopened…. Who sat here,
come from whence & going where after?

I keep walking. Early morning birdsong—
House Sparrow and Eurasian Collared-Dove—
species originally from lands far across
the oceans. Having wings, they find
safe haven here. 


Here’s no flashing red lights or
lowering gates, no signaling
flagman, no stop sign. This old train
only runs on Sunday.

These tracks I’ve driven across so
often—wanderlust of rails that
disappear in foliage and the
fragile distance of dreams.

There’s hardly space to park my car
as I wish to walk the rails. Pause,
listen for a whistle. Silence
follows dreams down the track. 


We ventured the back road too early.
Snowdrift stopped us short of the cow-camp
meadow still melting into creek. No more
outward-bound—not this late afternoon.
Far behind us, home and its amenities.
We pitched our little tent. Emergency ration
dry kibble for dogs, Dinty Moore stew
for us. Mummy bags on hard ground. Wind
rustling tent-flap, yelp and wail and crooning
of coyotes echoing from dream to waking,
echoing in stories we tell, years after. 


Skeleton trees. The winds prevail,
ash to ash along the trail.

This was the forest wild and green.
Then flame subsided to a scene
of charcoal gray with black between—
ash to ash along the trail.

It’s silent now, but song of bird
is sometimes in the burn-scar heard.
We try to translate word for word:
ash to ash along the trail. 


It fell in the storm and was chain-
sawed into stove-lengths, the stump-end
too massive to cut. Liveoak’s dead
but it will keep us warm

for winters to come. And look, what’s
that green among dry tangled roots
cloyed with sun-baked mud? A new live
shoot refusing to die. 

Today’s LittleNip:

—Taylor Graham

What do they mean, these ducks along the trail?
You can’t go wrong—you’re just amused
by rock upon rock to show you a route
you well know, this paved path so well used.


Medusa’s thanks and the approval of Raven (high praise indeed!) to Taylor Graham for tales of the Sierra this morning. Forms she has sent us today include two Ryūka chains (“Unprotected Crossing” & “Posthumous”); a Toddaid (“Who Needs Ducks in a Row?”); and a Zehel (“Black on Gray”). The Toddaid and the Zehel were last week’s Triple-F Challenges.

This coming Sunday, July 30, Beverly Baranyo and J.C. Olander will read at Chateau Davell in Camino. For more about this and about other El Dorado County poetry events, past and future, go to Taylor Graham's Western Slope El Dorado poetry on Facebook at And click on Medusa's UPCOMING NORCAL EVENTS ( for details about future poetry events in the NorCal area—keep an eye on this link and on the Kitchen for happenings that might pop up during the week.
A late note that today is Taylor Graham's birthday! Happy b-day, TG!
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

We received responses to last week’s Ekphrastic photo of the old truck from Stephen Kingsnorth, Claire Baker, and Nolcha Fox:

—Stephen Kingsnorth, Coedpoeth, Wrexham, Wales

Whose root, if followed, finds this form,
some eastern bloc, or western state?
No middle England contemplate—
sheet metal, shade not of our type,
nor template for our driving mode.

This hex could paint a school en route,
or taxi down LaGuardia,
long distance travel, plain to see,
across the tundra—drab required—
or dumped in tumbleweed, harsh rays.

Here’s both a bonnet and a hood,
one dated, dainty, novel wear,
the other held up, gangster ware;
but neither bear canary cage,
Dupont M6284 paint.

What shapes the outline, crafts design,
or moulds how normal is defined,
that I can view a commonplace
and, reading signs, might plot its place,
the context of its culture’s face?

* * *

—Claire J. Baker

Have you,
like me, fingered
sunlight for ideal warmth,
before whispering: open wide.

* * *

—Nolcha Fox, Buffalo, WY

I thought I followed where you led,
I walked your breadcrumb trail.
I followed the red arrows
that pointed right on one-way streets
where traffic flowed to left.
Now I’m the one that’s left behind.
I don’t know where you’ve gone.
The birds have eaten all the crumbs,
and I’m a fool to think you cared
enough to wait for me.

* * *

—Nolcha Fox

She stands on a dark country road,
thumb out, looking for a ride.
I’ve seen her fractured face
at the bottom of a bottle,
in the needle tracks to
the edge of a cliff.
Her leather jacket stinks
of burnt rubber racing
across the railroad tracks.

This is one hitchhiker to hell
I don’t pick up.

* * *

Don’t give me

jump-out-of-a-plane thrills
while I wonder if you packed
a parachute for two.
I’ll cover you with kisses
if you pack your lunch for work.

Don’t drive us on empty
with no gas
for the next 22 miles.
I’ll clean the car windows
if you fill the washing machine.

Love isn’t all adrenaline.
It isn’t all bravado.
It’s showing up every day,
even when you want
to run away.

—Nolcha Fox

* * *

Here is a graceful Pirouette from Joyce Odam:

—Joyce Odam

Something as joyful as
a humming bird in flight . . .
a sheer-winged dragonfly,
a butterfly, a moth—

all these can still the heart.
All these can still the heart

which grieves the smallest loss :
the damage that befalls,
the happenstance of death—
all life too swift for love.

PIROUETTE: Ten 6-syllable lines in three
stanzas, a turn-around in the middle: 4 lines,
2 lines (the turn), 4 lines. The two center lines
repeat, with a twist in contrast in next four lines

* * *

Bravo to Stephen Kingsnorth! This poem of his has been nominated in
The Ekphrastic Review for Best of the Net. Congratulations, Stephen!
—Public Domain Art Courtesy
of Stephen Kingsnorth

—Stephen Kingsnorth

A balanced art composed to bring
diagonals of blue, soak red,
reflecting acrobatic swing—
but shed composure, fallen, bled.
Sneer ace of spades in circus grin
joins daylight owl awaiting death,
hug leotard, pale second skin
save flush of loins, last bandaged breath.
So close to wight, this white of son,
thin border in this fairground haunt,
witch, cartomante, bohemian,
pietà boy at heart, now taunts.
Juggle the trumpet, tambourine.
last trump to greet with joys or fears,
performance dogs claw, paw with whine,
site sheer flesh costumes, drapes in tears.
Reading their runes, here parents fail,
with tricks of trade done, plain wall-slung,
exquisite laid by wailing veil,
What cost, the moneymaking young?


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 Burmese Brain-Buster, the Ya-Du:


•••AND/OR try a Zappai, what Robert Lee Brewer of
Writer's Digest calls “just another 3-liner form”, but differentiates it from the Haiku and the Senryu. This is only pertinent, of course, for those of you who differentiate those two anyway; for those of you who don’t, it might be a useful exercise to try writing one of each type:


•••AND/OR catch your breath and join Joyce Odam in spinning a Pirouette:


•••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 “Dietary Indiscretions”.


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

•••Ekphrastic Poem:   


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

* * *

—Public Domain Photo Courtesy
of Joe Nolan, Stockton, CA


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.
LittleSnake’s Glimmer of Hope:
Sleek black raven
peers down from the roof.
He’s still the boss!








Thursday, July 27, 2023

The Music of Life's Composing

—Poetry by Linda Klein, Playa Vista, CA
 —Illustrations Courtesy of Public Domain


You emit smoky essence, sultry and intoxicating,
looking innocent enough in golden yellow shades,
or with blue veiny lines, crags, or holes,
but the scent, the feel from that Provolone wheel
draws me in, and the Swiss is a kiss I can never

Give me Cheddar and Colby, Gouda and Gruyere,
I proclaim you all boldly, an Edam so fine and
tasty Muenster with your rough orange rind.

I can melt, mix, or blend you.  Watch you coat,
seep, and
incredibly wend your way into pasta, potatoes, or
eggs, and you,
the one made of cream, make a wonderfully
smooth spread.
A sprinkle of Parmesan, grated, is exactly what
pizza has awaited.

Oh cheese, your taste is exquisitely nice
to eat even plain, served by the slice.


From day to day, all in all, life is tragic.
It passes with a flutter of the wind.
Survival requires a link between luck and logic,
maintaining a sane and even spin.

All around me things are changing.
I see danger and uncertainty everywhere.
Against my will my world is rearranging.
I have lost so many things for which I cared.

Often I wonder what is happening,
what unimaginable horrors await.
I pray to escape, not be trapped in.
I struggle in a prison of fate.

In spite of not knowing what lies ahead,
my life force is strong.  I must resist death.


It was December in Melbourne, summer there. We left in the middle of the night, as if on a secret mission. Bussed to a cold, windy beach, we stood exposed, atop a boulder, waiting. The sun slowly emerged, dazzling in the haze. Still we waited. We wondered if on this day they would march.  Perhaps, they would remain sheltered in their caves, and sleep all through the frosty morning, leaving us with unfulfilled expectations.

Other groups were gathered just as we were, scattered, some nearby and some farther. We finally heard a hum from those groups, a signal announcing the arrival of the birds. Bashfully the penguins appeared, approaching the water. Their short legs, and flat, webbed feet moved hesitantly. The little penguins seemed to be aware of watchers. They were fearful as they walked together. There must have been thousands, huddled closely in their somber black and white suits. They were a marvel of innocence, the little penguins of Phillip Island.


If I had to name a muse,
music is the one I'd choose.
A soothing song, a sweet sonata,
stimulates cortex to medulla oblongata.

My fascination swims
in wild flourishes and whims,
swaying with the rhythm and the beat,
stirring my senses and moving my feet.

Rapturous sounds of wind and rain
capture my thoughts.  Need I explain,
describe how I feel?  I know the sizzle
of the sun's warm kiss is real.

Chirping birds' songs bring my words home.
It all comes together in a poem.
Ringling, clinking, and clanging,
Singing, jingling and jangling.

The music of life's composing,
symphonies that lead to supposing,
random sounds pulled from the air
tell of joy and dark despair.

They are the soul of my inspiration,
the impetus for my imagination.


Today’s LittleNip:

Music was my refuge. I could crawl into the space between the notes and curl my back to loneliness.

―Maya Angelou




Poetry Unplugged meets at Luna's Cafe
in Sacramento tonight, 8pm; don't miss
this, one of the last readings there.
For details about this and other 
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!
 LittleSnake’s Glimmer of Hope:

Grey squirrel passed away;
 today her daughter builds a nest~