Friday, October 06, 2023

Nudged By The Wild

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


This town of trees—each cedar’s bark
bears the face of an old man.

Spotted towhee stays hidden,
jay broadcasts his presence out loud.

Do these red berries on the vine
believe in life after fall?

Amber dragonflies are teaching
autumn-dressed leaves how to fly.

A maze of unnamed trails—
where you lose yourself or find yourself. 


There’s just this railroad track between
a cutbank and a woodland scene
with overhanging branches. Sky
is overcast with hint of storm,
one crow winging—memories swarm
of all the green days passing by—

and here between the rails, so far
from city, home, my little car,
I find a spoor that’s plain to read—
a cougar left its sign quite clear,
the predator, now gone, was here.
A curiosity indeed.

Stop. Here’s seed for pondering now,
its question: How shall we proceed? 

a 3-style inspired by Andrea Kowch’s “The Visitors”

Sisters rolled out the crusts—
an art they learned from Mother
to bake perfect pie

then came
wind or wings
from sky

frizzing sisters’ hair
whipping their skirts a blizzard
brains all a-flurry

How does one keep
decorum’s rules
when all these crows
with black wing-blows
peck the fine pies
to smithereens?

devour the day
squawk & squabble the peace
rip ancestral recipes
create havoc of tradition….


From across the meadow it looks like
a giant prairie dog imploring the heavens
while its broken mate raises a pleading
cry for help. Don’t tell me it’s just
an old oak snag, with splintered-off top
lying useless in summer-dead grasses.
Against the quiet of woodland beyond,
do I see survey stakes in the meadow? 


An older man walks the sidewalk
straight ahead as if thinking some-
thing out, head bowed to the details,
worries, who knows what. A pleasant
morning. Beyond sidewalk, vacant
field with one wicker chair on its
head discarded among dead grass. 


Great Sierra River Cleanup

How many cigarette butts? I wrote down 500—
wild guess based on how it seemed at the time.
My pedometer recorded 6024 steps in 3 hrs.
My trash-grabber arm had no sensor to count
wrist & finger movements; most of its catch
was cig-butts. I followed behind the other
volunteers, spotting what they overlooked—
cig butts are so common, we get desensitized—
butts in pavement cracks in the city, in leaf-
fall on shoulders of country roads. Cig butts
along the creek-side. Toxic is easy to overlook.
And who can keep count of cig butts? I couldn’t.
I figure 12 steps per cig butt. A fair guess,
I guess, for an otherwise lovely fall morning. 


My dog was leading, pausing at trail-forks,
calculating each way into the wild.
We circled a manmade perimeter
counterclockwise as my phone was counting
clock ticks and my steps the whole time & way.
Service road behind the greenhouse, one-lane
blacktop dotted with large black plops full of
seeds and grape skins. A planted row of vines,
purple seeded grapes peeking thru green leaves.
I tasted one and it was sweet, the bears
will still find plenty in this circle we
humans draw upon the land, for the wild
will nudge in whenever we’re not looking.


Today’s LittleNip:

—Taylor Graham

the creek, they say,
to return to fellow-
men. Creek’s under asphalt today—
no way!


Our thanks to Taylor Graham this morning for her poetry and photos! TG has been visiting the Kitchen quite regularly since 6/3/05, which was our fifth post ever! Here are the forms she has used today: an Ekphrastic poem which is also 3-style (“Frustration”); some Normative Syllabics (“Vignette”); a chain of Just 15s (“15s for Cusp of Equinox”); a Rhyming Cinquain (“Lost to the City”); some Blank Verse (“The Greenhouse Lab”); and a Jeffrey's Sonnet (“Track & Spoor”). TG writes that the Just 15s was a prompt suggested by a poet (Sarah Harding) in a Thursday at Two workshop at the Georgetown Library, and is a poem (or stand-alone stanza) of 15 syllables. The Jeffrey’s Sonnet was one of last week’s Triple-F Challenges, and “Frustration” was last week’s Tuesday Seed of the Week.

Tonight, the first of two Voices of California readings takes place at the Sacramento Poetry Center (the second will be in Natomas on Saturday), and Mills Station Arts and Culture Center will hold a reception for artists and poets who have collaborated on Ekphrastic works for the current exhibit, “When Art and Poetry Collide”. Click on Medusa's UPCOMING NORCAL EVENTS ( for details about these and other 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 (a lot are appearing these days).  

For news about El Dorado County poetry events, past and future, you can also go to Taylor Graham’s Western Slope El Dorado poetry on Facebook:, This week in El Dorado County poetry, a Poetic License read-around takes place at the Placerville Sr. Center on Monday morning, 10:30am.

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 Joe Nolan, Nolcha Fox and Stephen Kingsnorth:

—Joe Nolan, Stockton, CA

Grand machine
Cuts fresh lines
Across a golden field,
While trees
In bright, Fall colors
Wreath it all in light.

The sky is gray
And filled with clouds
Seeming somber warning
That Winter, soon,
Is on its way–
Time to make your harvest.

* * *

—Nolcha Fox, Buffalo, WY

It’s harvest time,
the trees rejoice,
wearing their fall dresses.
The farmer reaps his wheat
so we can have bread on our tables.
Unfortunately, my body
has to stay away from carbs.
I have to watch grains
disappear while I
eat all the butter.

* * *

—Stephen Kingsnorth, Coedpoeth, Wrexham, Wales

Were Gold Fields slashed, as Copperbelt,
the native species undermined?
Do waving crops not greet but drown
for where’s the gleaning in the field?
We may combine to maximise,
but does share-cropping yet confuse?
Together sown, for reap or burn,
what is tare weight amongst the wheat?
We walk, waste high, through swathes of corn,
a basket case of bread for all.
The Corn Exchange was capital,
build, classical, national wealth.
And so the pattern, Adam Smith,
the wealth of nations, populace?
The sheaves now barns rebuilt for more,
though grinding poverty our flour.
I see the dust as winnowed husks,
await the storm brewed, yet to come.
Are gathered clouds a portent banked,
investment of uncertain worth?

* * *

Carl Schwartz (Caschwa) has sent us a Soliloquy. He says his title was suggested to him by a recent Tuesday Seed of the Week, “Titillation”:

—Caschwa, Sacramento, CA

been thinking, one of
these days, might go
out on a limb and
purchase another
mouthpiece for my
old trombone

5B, small shank
might run about $100
must be brand new
don’t need someone
else’s residue

been putting this off
for decades, never
enough surplus
liquid funds to seal
the deal

maybe I’ll hit the jackpot
in one of those lottery
games, someone will,
then I can shrug off all
those excuses to avoid
making such a lavish

I’ll let someone else
make my meals and
clean my house and
tend my garden, while

I explore the range
of tones I can produce
with my new mouthpiece

* * *

And here is an Ars Poetica by Stephen Kingsnorth, with a little bit of “Frustration” thrown in as well. Stephen also had work posted in the Kitchen yesterday; be sure to check that out; it deals with our current Tuesday Seed of the Week, “Connections”:

—Stephen Kingsnorth

I write a piece—it doesn’t fit;
a second penned—but even less.
It’s language, nuance, subtlety,
when readership wants common sense.
Can clarity combine in both,
the poetry not obfuscate?
I seek no double entendre here,
though how you take, your prendre make,
what meaning you assign to it
is not so far removed from here—
though mean is average common place,
while Commonplace, collected gems.
Are we translated, like the words
into a world beyond the page,
a choice, though most content with straight,
those lines that stretch across, not much?
You want the wry, to nod, observed,
some read for laughter, weep indeed;
you think by rhyme a poem’s made,
look blank if that’s the scheme of things,
or measure by the swing you find,
which really is a metric stance.
But I’ll move on, I’ve said enough—
another say, I’ve had enough—
and moving on is only course
if I’m to rise above the fray
as one averse, prosaic voice.
Frustration, unattractive taste.


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.)


•••AND/OR try one of Sarah Harding’s Just 15s:

•••Just 15s: poem or stanza of 15 syllables

•••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 “Connections”.


MEDUSA’S FORM FINDER: Links to poetry terms mentioned today:  
•••Jeffrey’s Sonnet:
•••Just 15s: poem or stanza of 15 syllables
•••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.)

* * *

—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.

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)
holes in the
ice cream:
somebody dug out
all the cherries…