Friday, December 22, 2023

Revelations of the Solstice

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

Layers and layers of hands-open leaves
sunburned you’d say by the dimming days
each day gets shorter at either end,
Millay’s bright candle-burn gone to haze—

these layers of leaves a warm soft bed
on lawn once green, don’t call it dead
tho streetful lies a crow that flew
whither who knows, perhaps it knew

leaving its spine and talons curled,
even its wings—its soul unfurled
flying to meet invader-friend—
Winter Solstice suns us again.


Fine day for a casual walk on the hill
past what’s left of the fallen black oak—
root crown and gigantic trunk
too big for the chainsaw. What choices?
Leave it to rot into soil. What’s that
growing from the tree-ring kerf? a fungus
that looks a bit like a Stetson
perched uneasily on a cowboy poised
to ride an 8-second bull.
Look closer. Under that rough shape
exudes something almost gelatinous &
yellow. My phone app tells me
Laetiporus gilbertsonii—Western
Hardwood Sulfur Shelf. Even a casual
walk can make discoveries.


This morning’s walk—
frost on the railroad ties, frost
painting silver-weeds.

    on a photo of Loki on the Trestle

Who designed this trestle back in the logging
days? so high above the creek finding and carving
its path to the river. Who measured the angles
of all the elements of this structure?
And where is the sun this mid-December morning,
to cast these shadows across planks sturdy
enough for foot traffic where used to be RR track?
Look closely at the photo, see the padlocks
of all shapes, sizes, colors, some inscribed
with names; what do they safeguard,
where we pause before rejoining the trail paved
solid atop earth? My dog stands, four paws
widely planted as if she knows how far
there is to fall.


Two Indian ponies graced the neighbors’ field
to graze at peace across a swale of green.
But progress knocks and so the old must yield;
the field has now become a parking scene.
Nostalgia vs new-improved, the past is sealed.
What once was horse-flesh has become machine.
Some old junked cars, a trailered boat—our loss.
The kid turns pasture into motocross.


What can the three of Diamonds signify,
laid out on the trail as if for me to find?
A cold December morning under sky
cares nothing for this ploy to tease my mind.
A revelation? Playing cards may lie,
be enigmatic and spaghetti-spined.
I’ll take my fortune from the song of birds
tho they be crows who speak in corvid words.


Today’s LittleNip:

—Taylor Graham

Twin fawns—one cavorts with shadows
while mother doe plays hard-to-get
with unseen buck. I predict two
spotted fawns come summer.


Our thanks to Taylor Graham for her fine poetry today on this, the cusp of the seasons. Forms she has sent this week include a Ryūka (“December Out the Window”); a Word-Can Poem (“Revelation”); an Ekphrastic Poem (“Study in Angles”); a Haiku (“Not Yet Winter Solstice”); two Ottava Rimas [or is that Ottavas Rima?] (“Peace vs Progress” and “Today's Fortune”); and some Quatrains (“Solstice Song”). “Peace vs Progress” is also kind of a Pastorale. The Pastorale and the Ottawa Rima were last week’s Triple-F Challenges.

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 group, El Dorado Poets & Writers, 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’re selling children as snowmen
at the hardware store.
They ran out of lawn ornaments
at the big Christmas sale.
The children are all bundled up
and sure to last the season.
Just fuel them with hot chocolate.
Tell them they must stand there,
be silent and be still,
if they want Santa to bring them
all that’s on their lists.

* * *

—Stephen Kingsnorth, Coedpoeth, Wrexham, Wales

A suit of armour, how will fate
escape the bind, straightjacket line,
or swaddling no doubt slowing gait?
She’ll not bend scroll, style tubular—
may loll, bowled over, skittle skate
or Swiss jammed roll down mountainside;
cushioned, as padded cell translate.
for won’t be wounded in the fall?

This class, how well to insulate,
though movement, sleigh, in sight alone
for she on track to carry freight,
net weight far less than overcoat.
In punctured pride, would she deflate
if cool reaction, others’ play,
and on the rime, herself prostrate,
so winded, wait till spring erupts?

* * *

Joyce Odam has sent us a poem that is in a Three Moon Pattern. Here is the form she sends:

Syllabic, three quatrains, 8-syllable lines

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

x a BR a  |  BR  c  DR  c  |  DR  e  x  e  | DR  e  x  e

Here is her example: 


—Joyce Odam, Sacramento, CA

The sign says Do Not Enter Here—     ( x )
some broken sign we should obey.       ( a )
Dare we question such an order?          (BR)
We’re tired; we need to go this way.    ( a )

Dare we question such an order—        (BR)
What authority here lays claim              ( c )
without a fence or house for miles?      (DR)
We can’t go back the way we came.     ( c )

Without a fence or house for miles,      (DR)
no ownership is evident—                     ( e )
just flat wide space and endless sky      ( x )
to further our predicament.                   ( e )

* * *

And here is an Ars Poetica from Stephen Kingsnorth. Does your writing sometimes leave you “surprised by joy”?

—Stephen Kingsnorth

I muse why words be engineered,
like Kubla Khan, as LSD,
their plot planned far from middle ears,
a winding path, veered by the wind,
as by that spirit, ruach’s breath.

Sometimes I am surprised by joy—
an unintended consequence;
the unexpected comes to light—
now why did I not thank of that?
then realise my fingers moved.

For pieces, some, footnotes desired,
a reference map to find terrain;
guidebooks to complement, not steal
the scenery to be explored;
perhaps not asterisks adhered.

I hear the lyrics Dylan rhymed,
a corpus better understood
when commentary in other hand;
some cultures hail from foreign climes,
the scene departed land we know.

Revisit writing on the wall,
a controversial Banksy mix,
because a common truth revealed,
reviled by those uncomfortable;
a sometime rôle of art for all.


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.) Tell us a Fable, maybe a Christmas story, or a fable of any other sort:


AND/OR let’s follow Joyce Odam’s example [see above] and try the Three Moon Pattern:

•••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

•••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 “The Holiday Season”.


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

•••Ars Poetica:
•••Ekphrastic Poem: 
•••Ottava Rima:
•••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
•••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


—Medusa, wishing you find much hot, hot poetry in the year to come!
  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


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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LittleSnake’s Glimmer of Hope
(A cookie from the Kitchen for today)

St. Francis
the birds
the bees…