Friday, December 29, 2023

As The Year Turns

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


Rainy day,
only a barnyard rooster—feathers
black-char & burnished flame—
across the way. I’ve been reading news
from Paris, replacement weathervane,
golden phoenix-rooster wings of flame
striving to heaven, lifted by crane
to Notre-Dame steeple newly-made
from fire. But this is just an everyday
barnyard rooster, with a white
goat and spotted pig assembling
round the manger—it’s feeding-time
in the rain.


I’m in Frogg Toggs,
Loki wears her all-weather sable coat.
Welcome the rain on my face, in my eyes,

and a frog sings from a water-
summoning ditchlet, let the drops come
as we need them.

And another frog joins in from across
the track, we’ve all had enough
of the droughty itch,

and a frog chorus all along the trail
singing the Welcome Rain Song
for me and my dog.



“No Trespassing” on every side
just straight ahead or back again—
and since my dog must be my guide,
I let her choose the where and when.

And since my dog must be my guide
if bear or big cat’s on the prowl,
I watch her close. She sniffs the air
or listens for a distant howl.

I watch her close, she sniffs the air—
it might be squirrel, rabbit, deer
or news from yonder who knows where.
Her ears and tail say not to fear.


Walking my dog at random thru town, I spotted
a beer can abandoned on a concrete wall. Recyclable.
I picked it up—heavy to the hand. Practically full.  
Set it down again, someone may be coming back
for it. At 8:51 a.m.? Why would someone take
a few sips or a big glug from a one-pint can
of beer between the down-home café
and child advocacy center? I travel light.
The question’s too much for me to handle.


A break from holiday craziness. Out of town,
east on a winding 2-lane and we’re free in forest,
heading into the Caldor burn-scar.
Lots of clearing and cleanup since October,
churned up soil, nothing growing—creating new
fire breaks. Slash-piles big as a house;
streaks of char among healthy forest; and then
stretches of nothing but skeleton trees
as the road climbs. At last, stop. Park the car,
let Loki out. Walk the burn, cataloguing signs
of life. Sprouts of manzanita, deerbrush,
ceanothus; seedling pine and incense cedar;
mosses. Fresh deer prints in mud.
Cufleaf blackberry, great mullein. A few
drops of congealed blood—looks recent.
Shell casings of many colors. I’m not
the only visitor here; but I came for a different
purpose. Call it curiosity. Call it looking
for a forest healing, for new life.


Dog and cat, visiting turkeys too peripatetic to be considered family. Then the doe in early summer stole my garden, sprout by sprout, presumptuous as landlord. Garden gone, she gave the grace of twin fawns like skittish kids I’m careful not to scare lest they be roadkill on the speeding 2-lane. She has a cousin, doe with fawn, moved in, there’s room a-plenty. Now it’s the season when a young buck’s fancy turns to thoughts of love. The deer are plush with winter grasses, the pastoral family grows and grows.
Today's LittleNip: 

—Taylor Graham

deep dark as
chocolate rimmed
with butterscotch arose
under our fallen Black Oak.
Amanita augusta might
be edible or not, they say.
I say, just let it be. Let it be
the deep dark mystery, the death of oak.


Our thanks to Taylor Graham for helping usher us into a new year with her fine poetry and photos. Once upon a time, she formed one-third of the Meduskateeers—three poets (TG, Katy Brown, and D.R. Wagner) who collaborated on poems and had them posted here in the Kitchen. This week, we were all saddened to learn of D.R. Wagner’s passing (see last Saturday’s post at So the Three Meduskateers are no longer. We will all miss D.R. and his wonderful poetry.

Forms Taylor has sent us this week include an Etheree (“Western Hill”); a Pastoral (“December Pastoral”); a Three Moon Pattern (“Deserted Trail”); and a Fable / Prose Poem (“Extending Family”). The Three Moon Pattern and the Fable were last week’s Triple-F Challenge, and the Pastoral was from the week before.

Monday is New Year’s, of course, and coming up next week in the new year in Placerville is an Ekphrastic workshop on Thursday with Lara Gularte at the Switchboard Gallery. Then, on the following Thursday (1/11), a reading will be held there for the works generated at Lara’s workshop. And don’t forget that Taylor Graham and Katy Brown (the remaining Meduskateers) will be facilitating a workshop at Wakamatsu Farm on Jan. 21; make reservations now.

For news about El Dorado County poetry—past (photos!) and future—see Taylor Graham’s Western Slope El Dorado on Facebook at or see Lara Gularte’s Facebook page at (Poetry is Gold in El Dorado County!) And of course you can always click on Medusa's UPCOMING NORCAL EVENTS ( for details about future poetry events in the NorCal area.

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:

—Nolcha Fox, Buffalo, WY

They gaze between pillars and green leaves
to search the horizon where water meets sky.
They’ll look out forever, they don’t understand
that their ship can’t come in when the river is shallow.

* * *

—Stephen Kingsnorth, Coedpoeth, Wrexham, Wales

No ballad on the balustrade,
two leaning posts some lake apart—
beyond the pale where glass reflects;
we know there’s story in converse—
but what of theirs—some contretemps?
Arms folded, others cuffed, as bound,
the distant gaze of ill portends,
with heavy tree, darker in sound—
can pinks be shepherds’ warning, dawn?

But no, this is of Nordic light,
Midsommar, summer solstice height,
as Prince Eugen and Karin Pyk,
royal and singer, contemplate
the landscape in a Swedish take.
So I assume from my context—
assign romance mystique to them—
when artist Sven, his sole intent,
to glory in what’s nature’s scent.

So canvas first the craftsman’s art,
their story, movement, training class,
or else translation moves apart,
just as the poles and protocols
observed, or not, by inference—
as at a stroke, airbrush what’s there.
What is at stake is Bergh’s true view,
equality, the raised profile,
of women in an equal stance.

* * *

Here are a couple of timely Quatrains (with rhyme scheme) from Joe Nolan:

—Joe Nolan, Stockton, CA

In our happy graveyard,
Our lovely killing-field,
We live our lives in splendor
As though they’d never yield

To things that come unbeckoned,
Unwanted and forlorn,
That spoil all our merriment—
Time’s wrath so full of scorn.

* * *

And an Ars Poetica by Caschwa (Carl Bernard Schwartz) which uses the repeating line, the Repetend, to sneak home its point about these things getting delayed. And delayed. And delayed...

—Caschwa, Sacramento, CA

I would love to sell you my book
some memories pertain to you
yes, I will sign it and leave a nice
personal note that you will proudly

However it is not quite done yet,
not quite started yet,
not first in line

there are countless photos my
older brother sent me, some I
don’t recognize, some I do
so I bought a photo album to
mount all those pictures, review
them from time to time

However it is not quite done yet,
not quite started yet,
not first in line

the house needs to be deep-cleaned
and de-cluttered big time, lots of stuff,
some has a market value, some does
not, some had some meaning to my
late wife, complete mystery to me,
maybe if I play my cards right, I
can hire someone to help me

However it is not quite done yet,
not quite started yet,
not first in line

guess I’ll have to begin the book
with a title, a titillating title that
is just strange enough to send
all readers to their spell check
maybe later, tomorrow…

However it is not quite done yet,
not quite started yet,
not first in line


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.) How about some Serpentine Verse? Some sources say it applies only to lines of poetry, but some say it can apply to stanzas, as well. You decide, and write us a poem that somehow uses Serpentine Verse:

•••Serpentine Verse:

•••AND/OR follow Taylor Graham’s lead with an Etheree (see her example above):


•••AND/OR, like TG did, write us a Prose 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 “Fresh Eyes”.


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

•••Ekphrastic Poem: 
•••Pastoral Poetry: AND/OR AND/OR, A short pastoral poem is called an Eclogue (, also an Idyll or a Madrigal.
•••Prose Poem:
•••Serpentine Verse:
•••Three Moon Pattern: Syllabic, three quatrains, 8-syllable lines; x a BR a  |  BR  c  DR  c  |  DR  e  x  e  | DR  e  x  e. Content based on the Chinese Quatrain, as follows:
    ▪    Opening line introduces an idea.
    ▪    Second line extends the idea
    ▪    Third line introduces a new idea
    ▪    Fourth line brings first three lines together


—Medusa, withing you a happy Kwanzaa, and hoping you’re able to find all the words you need in the new year! 
  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 info about 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
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