Friday, October 27, 2023

No Trespassing!

—Poetry and Photos by Taylor Graham,
Placerville, CA
—And then scroll down for
Form Fiddlers’ Friday, with poetry by
Joe Nolan, Nolcha Fox, Stephen Kingsnorth,
and Claire J. Baker

My legs are restless, they need to walk.
My dog leads the way—I trust her
to make discoveries. She takes the back alley
of strip-mall where I found a cross once—
plain metal implanted in rocky cutbank—
it makes one wonder.
But now there’s a No Trespass sign.
I guess we must walk the fancy storefronts
and miss the tapestry’s colorful backside.
Childhood pleasure, alley treasure—
discarded books of wallpaper patterns
for collage, carpet samples, cardboard boxes
spark a child’s imagination.
My legs are itchy. That sign—prickles
of suspicion, straitjacket façade
of conformity, fear. 


Man with extra-wide 2-seater stroller
leaves no passing room.

Mini dog chooses crosswalk’s center
to do his doggy-do.

Man-bones & dog-bones on front-bumper seat—
DogBones says “let’s go!”

Crow flies high,
eluding my camera & bird-ID app.

No skeleton driven robo-sweeper
like in city store. 


This river of pavement
defining edges between
cliff and drop-off
between rock and flame,
living trees torching
their own leaves dying,
the blacktop river
winding so snakily down
we can’t see our way ahead. 


Rainclouds drift & hover like
a tease—may they get serious.

Storefront: ragged man’s asleep
against the water dispenser.

Four crows peck at now-empty
unopened can: sparkling water.

Small puddles in parking lot—
unseen wild birds are singing. 


Lone and slanting with no marker stone—
stone for the departed—just a lone
cross at graveyard’s edge, a sign of loss—
loss of life, home, family? A cross
witnesses the dead without a name.
Name, birth, life, death with no witnesses? 


marking years

this child lived two years
above ground, more below
sleeping the ages of earth

as lichen engraves the stone. 
Out of the Darkness . . .
Today’s LittleNip:

—Taylor Graham

          after “Inset” by Claudine Granthem

It’s golden metal polished to a sheen,
folded, gathered, pleated. Every aspect
shines. It’s a box, a frame to captivate,
to capture the eye. Look closer. Is that
an actual living eye within, or
simply the mirror image of your own
curious eye? Be careful. Stand a few
paces back. There are golden traps inside.


Thanks to Taylor Graham for ushering us into Halloween with her talk of ghosts and graveyards! Forms she has used this week include a Blank Verse response to an Ekphrastic Photo [“Look (Out)”]; a Small Ghazal (“Thirst in Drought”); a Just 15s (“October Sidewalks”); a response to Medusa's Ekphrastic Photo last week (“Thrill Ride”); a Clarity Pyramid variation (“Pioneer Cemetery”); and a Mirror Sestet (“Cross in the Graveyard”). The Mirror Sestet and the Clarity Pyramid were last week’s Triple-F Challenges. TG’s variation on the Clarity Pyramid was that she didn’t capitalize the first line or use it as a title, and her last line is not a quotation.

Poetry up here in El Dorado County this week includes a Poets and Writers of the Sierra Foothills reading at Chateau Davell in Camino this Sunday, 2pm, featuring Estela Victoria
Cordero and Paul Aponte, plus open mic. For details about this events, and news about El Dorado County poetry, past (photos!) and future, see Taylor Graham’s Western Slope El Dorado poetry on Facebook at And for more news about NorCal poetry, click on Medusa's UPCOMING NORCAL EVENTS (

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 Stephen Kingsnorth, Nolcha Fox, and Claire Baker:

—Stephen Kingsnorth, Coedpoeth, Wrexham, Wales

(a notorious road pass in the Peak District, Derbyshire, UK)

Clear weaving wall worms through the leaves,
curve parallels, drive guiding lines,
descent then rise through russets, rock,
from fruitful boles, broad canopies
of cantaloupe and tangerine,
squash, apricot, spice ginger fire,
yam marmalade, rust marigold.

This finery, due fall of course,
an autumn ode, like Gracian urn,
skeletal bones, deciduous,
but marrow flowing, rings out change,
until new life springs up again,
the cycle known, bucolic grown,
in rustic style of classical.

Here sure, we know we go somewhere;
why else carve contour, hill-hug route—
yet strange, counter intuitive,
as straight way, English Roman road,
though crow-fly not the only bird
as swift and swallow testify
in twists and turns but getting there?

A breathing space for cleaner air,
no wonder trees fill lore of faiths
as turn the leaves of sacred texts,
Eden—Snake Pass—to Golgotha,
or Yggdrasil to Bodhi shade,
in bumblebee and butterscotch,
brandy punch, pumpkin, carrot juice.

* * *

—Nolcha Fox, Buffalo, WY

The ledge at the edge of the road,
that space of second chances
for winding, wending,
careening cars,
indifference wedged
between mountain and chasm.

* * *

CALIFORNIA GIRLS (Double Cinquain)
—Claire J. Baker

had a Snake Road
we teens would ride for thrills--
narrow, curvy, and steep. We sealed
our eyes,

missed all
climbing vines, and
mail boxes painted blue,
lovely homes: Snake Rd. lures us there.
Let’s go.

* * *

Claire has also sent us a Smith Sonnet:


—Claire J. Baker, Pinole, CA
Build thee more stately mansions, O my soul…
                           --Oliver Wendell Holmes

Though proudly born, we never wear a crown ---
no silver spoons or servants tend our needs,
no dress-up carriage rides to formal teas!
Our heads held high, we walk a common ground,

no fanfare heard. And yet our footsteps echo
of climbing, reaching alpine meadows, where
we claim fresh realms of gold in poppy petals,
patterned veins on aspen leaves and granite.

We work the earth on dirty hands and knees.
Then wash our spirits’ grimy coveralls.
And, finally, we sponge our plain lives clean,
our ideals spurring warm community.
The seeds we sow have thrived in sun and rain
which proves our common lives are not in vain.

* * *

Here is a poem from Carl Schwartz (Caschwa) in which he plays with the whole idea of rhyming:

—Caschwa, Sacramento, CA

(read aloud as if all
words ending in “et”
end-rhyme with

chicken nugget
a bucket a day
toilet not far away

a summerset
at the end of May
finding a bullet
in a pile of hay

stacked a pallet
in an awkward way
cut the filet and
served on a tray

deep pile carpet
soft touch for hard play
a songbird duet,
lightly gay

* * *

And here is an Ars Poetica by Stephen Kingsnorth, this one about reading that which will prompt your poetry:

—Stephen Kingsnorth

Cinder desert waits phoenix build,
temp vacant unmarked asphalt patch,
wildly seeded, higgeldy parked,
raised clouds dirt-dust by sweep of tyres.

Close by, confined consigned the place,
squeeze-wedged door, one thin knee ajar,
lined-white tar, where the ticket ghost
haunts, time burn, watch St. Elmo’s hours.

Words multi-storeyed, stanza built:
so is but one rôle, poeteers,
not lit-dim gross-slab brute pre-cast,
floor-find signage, designed confound.

Accessible, disabled lot,
the lift for all prepared explore -
remain street platform if content
or roof-top climb, for wider view.

Single, hear sounding word or phrase,
ambiguous hints, second floor,
the third suggests some questions posed,
parallels to unearth beyond.

Find level where your reading takes,
at concrete base, stretch-search the skies;
tabloid to broadsheet, find your style;
the best is spirit level verse.


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 challenges, and send your results to! (No deadline.) Let’s write some flowers:

•••Florette #2:

•••AND/OR, using Claire Baker’s poem as an example, how about a Smith Sonnet:

•••Smith Sonnet: 14 lines, 5-ft. (pentameter), unrhymed except for final couplet

•••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 “Out of the Darkness…”.


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

•••Ars Poetica:
•••Blank Verse: AND/OR
•••Cinquain: AND/OR See for info about its inventor, Adelaide Crapsey.
•••Clarity Pyramid:
•••Ekphrastic Poem: 
•••Florette #2:
•••Just 15s: poem or stanza of 15 syllables
•••Mirror Sestet:
•••Small Ghazal (Joyce Odam): Varies the Ghazal form by using short couplets
•••Smith Sonnet: 14 lines, 5-ft. (pentameter), unrhymed except for final couplet



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.

Find previous four-or-so posts by scrolling down
under today; or there's an "Older Posts" button
at the bottom of this column; or find previous poets
by typing the name of the poet or poem
 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
 to find the date you want.
LittleSnake’s Glimmer of Hope
(A cookie from the Kitchen for today)

autumn shadows slide
long purple fingers
under the door…