Friday, October 13, 2023

Conjecturing Connections

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


Rising sun draws sweet
scent of alfalfa—horses
nibbling then gazing
then in earnest grabbing more
and more of harvest sweetness. 


A tree has fallen across our path,
a lintel just above my head
with dangling branch as doggy door
for Loki. Come in, it says.


sideways. Along the bike-hike trail—
once-upon-a-time railroad grade, paved now
between cutbanks with their side-paths graved
by many feet walking
into the roofless woods, their home-away-
from—just beyond the freeway whizzing
commuters and vacationers east or west fast
as time allows—someone has leaned
a painting against a young oak tree (oils,
framed with glass) tipped
on its side: turn-of-century main street,
ladies in hoops & bustles, a white-cloaked
gentleman standing perplexed at his
flat tire.
It must have hung
in someone’s once-upon-
a-time home, torn loose like a
tenant, tilted sideways now
as a statement


The physics of sock in shoe—
how a wrinkle, a hole in toe or heel
might infuriate if not handicap a walker,
throwing him off his stride.
Would he remove the shoe right here
on concrete sidewalk and toss it—
good sturdy black sports-leather—aimed
at the adjacent cutbank? See
how kids waiting now for the school bus
laugh at a single shoe, take turns
throwing it at each other, till an old
lady hobbling down the hill says,
fine kettle of fish! on her way
somewhere else. 


In spite of dry summer swelter,
everything here is lush green.

I’m lost in berry bramble, fern, willow,
and incense cedar.

Trails have name-posts at junctions
but no arrows to point which way.

What mortal knows where he is,
where he should go, how to get there?

Does this trail, this bridge, or this string
of rocks connect to my car?

Drooping branches of young sequoia—
the tree says you are here.


Sun just dipping north toward the night’s horizon—
but never entering its dark. I remember, high
summer, Alaska, but now it’s fall, decades later,
and we’re walking lower latitudes, all my dog has
ever known,
and my bones are aging into comfort. It’s sunup,
I’m at school, a different high school, up-to-date,
curriculum advancing discovery by discovery faster
than I can walk, much less learn. It’s Saturday,
no classes but a phalanx of joggers passes by. I let
my dog choose our route among rows of History,
English, Spanish—so many words I’ve forgotten
by not using—and Sciences I never heard of
in my teens. May my legs not lose the fluency
that fuels my brain, a sort of pendulum effect to
keep me moving as sun climbs above the eastern
ridges to almost blind me with so much to discover

Today’s LittleNip:

—Taylor Graham

Flying high between
earthlings & a gibbous moon—
one black crow unbound.


Welcome back to the Kitchen on this lucky Friday the 13th! Taylor Graham has written to us about Autumn in the Sierra foothills and about our recent Seed of the Week, Connections, and we extend thanks to her for that! By the way, she has let her “Stop and Turn Your Head” hang, an “of” in the air, because that’s what she thinks the poem should do.

Forms TG has used this week include a Tanka (“Across the Horse Fence”); a Word-Can Poem (“Conjecturing Connections”); a Haiku (“Morning Black on Blue”); a Just 15s that is also a response to Medusa's Ekphrasic photo last week (“Lost in Green”); and  a Soliloquy (“Walking with a Line from Dream”). The Just 15s was also one of last week’s Triple-F Challenges.

Coming up in El Dorado County poetry this week: Poetry in Motion read-around takes place Monday morning in Placerville. And note that another Capturing Wakamatsu workshop will be facilitated by Taylor Graham and Katy Brown at Wakamatsu Farm in Placerville a week from this Sunday on Oct. 22; info/reg at For details about these events, and news about El Dorado County poetry, past and future (photos!), see also Taylor Graham’s Western Slope El Dorado poetry on Facebook at For other news about NorCal poetry, click on Medusa's UPCOMING NORCAL EVENTS ( (A reminder that tonight in Winters, Lit Fest 1: Storytelling and Poetry takes place in the Winters Community Library, 6pm.)

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

We received responses to last week’s Ekphrastic photo from Nolcha Fox and Stephen Kingsnorth:

Stepping stones

across the pond,
it looks so safe and easy
to walk from one
side to the other.
But one stone
is a snapping turtle.
He’ll flip you off
and bite you.

—Nolcha Fox, Buffalo, WY

* * *

She laid down

her tired body
by the water,
so still, we thought
she was stone.

—Nolcha Fox

* * *

—Stephen Kingsnorth, Coedpoeth, Wrexham, Wales

A chain, linked zones, no piles applied,
good granite flats, as piers with gaps,
but who first set this path ahead,
and which came first, adjoining track,
or was way laid, cause stream abridged?

Not rocky anchors, uneven, splashed,
or skimming stones like pebbledash,
but rooted, water walking route,
so grounded firmly, bedded flow—
a spot for bobbing flycatchers.

They brook no wreathing swirls or whirls;
no curlicues or rage can raze
this block, rock lily pads in line,
the burn, rare torrent, forded here,
these crossroads, feet, both water, pass.

The recent rains now drained from hills,
a dribble seep through sodden ground,
the constant leakage, drop to sea;
migrating herds are not here scene,
no crocodiles, or death roll theme.

This current crossing, paced out length,
across the width to gated bank;
a destined route marked out to hike
in walking boots—hear brogues around—
for slippers feared, no plimsoll line.

Green pastures, sheep may safely graze,
unquiet waters, yet relax,
of course, a channel, stirring dross;
no pause for pedal bike, led paws,
but toddler buggy, Zimmer frame?

So banking on a span, two sides,
those soles through bridge to heeling stance;
who measured space between the steps
and reckoned stride to cross divide?
Who waits, soon calmer, hopes beside?

These shapes bring Ulster’s Causeway close,
as basalt columns, buried deep,
from Scot to Ireland, Finn McCool,
while our small step, his Giant leap,
from coast to nearly, footprint lands.

But why is it this fascinates?
Is it the level crossing plates?
Is it a passport, gateway, trade?
Is it fun dare, of challenge grade,
all options weighed, Styx ferry paid?

* * *

And here is an Elegy from Caschwa (Carl Bernard Schwartz), who reports that his wife of more than forty years, Jo Lynn, passed away from liver disease last Saturday. This is a lovely Elegy which sounds very much like Carl (who has been visiting the Kitchen since 2010), and our hearts go out to him and his family at this difficult time.

—Caschwa, Sacramento, CA

can no longer call my wife
to bail me out
to bring over another key
and perform the simple act
of opening a door

cannot ask her what’s for dinner
or expect her to cook it
she will not be there to share
memories like we often did

we knew well how
to amuse each other
and to annoy each other
but that book is now closed

ashes from a former life will
occupy a lovely urn that is sure
to trigger some tidying up in the
house to properly display it

some parts of my life will
continue as before, while
oceans of new experiences
silence the “two” from “tango”

we had over forty years of love,
of course a few disagreements,
but her last words to me
recounted only the good

and that love of hers keeps
shining brightly, erasing the
weight of all that baggage
one carries to deal with the
burden of loneliness


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 a Wrapped Refrain, and send your results to! (No deadline.) Don’t be put off by the explanation; just use the example as a template:

•••Wrapped Refrain:

•••AND/OR, with all this talk of the supermoon and the eclipse, how about returning to the Pleiades:


•••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 “Trapped”.


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

•••Ekphrastic Poem: 
•••Just 15s: poem or stanza of 15 syllables
•••Soliloquy: 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
•••Wrapped Refrain:


 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.

Find previous four posts by scrolling down
under today’s post; or find previous poets by
 typing the name into the little beige box
at the top left-hand side of today’s post; or
go to Medusa’s Rapsheet at the bottom of
the blue column at the right
 and find the date you want.
LittleSnake’s Glimmer of Hope
(A cookie from the Kitchen for today)

down come
the acorns—
tiny treasures for
a winter’s feast~