Friday, January 26, 2024

Promises of the Morning

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

Each morning I promise us a walk. Today,
the trestle. A lonesome place close to town
yet far away—just glimpses of ranchland, wood-lots,
a ridge too steep for building. What in summer
was a tule ditch dirty with trash is now a creek
running thru thicket. Oak, pine, and willow
knit together by bramble above dark silent water.
After rain, trail becomes puddles become an ad hoc
creek to join the big one at the trestle, where
my topo map doesn’t even show a creek, but now
it’s too wide and deep to cross, alive with storm-
water. My dog and I don’t walk open trestles.
It’s OK. Spotted Towhee darts white tail-feathers
in the brush, and now a spot of sun breaks thru
cloud. What more can I ask of a morning?


broken branch
can’t block the way
down off the paved and center-lined trail where
everyone’s in pairs, groups, or alone
for a morning walk.
Good exercise. But
how I prefer the grassy swale
in front of me
just a leftover piece of ground
like a tease between
mounds of rock and stringers of thicket,
not a trail but a thought, an
providing no scenic view but
quiet except for a
robin foraging for worms after
storm. How green
the grass my dog samples leaf by leaf
until we come to a
vernal pool that
wets my boots, who cares. No car-tracks, no Deer
Xing signs though we flush a doe. A January
yellow flower I’ve never seen before. This peaceful
zone not named nor designated. Just here.


I like a quiet walk in the woods.
In the parking lot, a gaggle of walkers, one lady
talking nonstop loud so everyone can catch every
syllable. Even the scrub-jay can’t match
the out-loud lady for decibels.
We stride faster. Then stop—let my dog sniff
awhile. The talking group keeps going,
over the bridge out of sight, then
out of hearing. Quiet.
Can I hear oaks and pines conversing
through their roots?
What do the muffling clouds
have to say about the morning?
And the mosses’ vibrant green voices
without sound.


How to bundle for the walk
under clouds of gray?
Listen to the thunder-talk
only miles away.

Here we’ve come to visit those
warm and safe inside
graves whose stones a fortress pose,
set against time’s tide.


Was it a meeting on the fly, you leaping
tree to tree, the raptor catching you midair
by one foreleg ripping off, leaving the rest
of you to sky, then earth? I found you sleeping
on the path so peacefully as if in life.
Beautiful fine sable coat, bright open eye.


Loki lives a world of sniff—
fireplugs, alcoves, walls,
leaves and stones. I wonder if
wisdom from them falls...

off the breeze, a wind from far
mountain summit lands,
thru a gate that’s left ajar—
words she understands.

Where’s the key those words unlocks
in an old fur stole—
does it speak to her in Fox?
Loki’s sniff-patrol.


Today’s LittleNip:

—Taylor Graham

A shy something moves
into wildwood, light-footed
for freedom to roam.


Our thanks to Taylor Graham this morning, as she invites us to join her and Loki on their morning walk. Forms she has used this week include a Haiku (“Peripheral”); some Normative Syllabics (“Elegy for a Red Squirrel”); an Abecedarian/Alphabet Poem (“A Peaceful Place”); and two 7/5 Trochees (“Cemetery Walk” and “Sniff-Patrol”). The 7/5 Trochee was one of our Triple-F Challenges last week.

Speaking of weather, the Wakamatsu workshop scheduled for last Sunday was moved to this coming Sunday, due to last week’s rain. The time was also changed to 12-2pm. 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, Caschwa (Carl Schwartz), and Stephen Kingsnorth:

—Nolcha Fox, Buffalo, WY

Maybe it’s sunrise. Maybe it’s sunset. You’ve stood at the edge of the pier for so long, you don’t remember which is which anymore. You’ve watched the sky kiss the water, and the water slap the sky. You’ve watched the sun tease the clouds, you’ve seen the clouds’ rosy blush. The sun fills the world with light. The sun fills you with light. You look for your reflection in the water. Your reflection is gone. You are the light.

* * *

—Caschwa, Sacramento, CA

she missed her period
stewed about it a moment
dwelled on it an hour
a life-changing moment

gone are those days of
heavenly fun in the sun
not a care in the world
must get out of town now!

she called her travel agent
to book her on a luxury cruise
one where they pamper you
take care of your every need
before she has to do that

she missed the bus
gotta know the schedule
gotta have exact change
gotta make connections
not yet in her skill set

she missed the boat

* * *

—Stephen Kingsnorth, Coedpoeth, Wrexham, Wales

Why focus, this divided view,
on gold drenched sea, proud sky climb cloud—
not distant girl out on a limb,
as if all beauty in surround?

The burnished deep is where folk drown,
some seeking treasure from the sound;
that building nimbus may be storm
or maybe mushroom, own grown bomb.

In nature, claimed, Romantics found
that profound truths bound earth, mankind,
though humans sullied global health,
our common wealth spoiled, stealth in race.

But see this mother of our seed,
one Gaia, breed of world indeed,
a silhouette in stand alone,
who with her folk could change the lore.

Appearing, jeté, ballet throw,
in balance, stance, relationship;
can she, will hers, reverse the trend
from first position, ’cross the bar?

* * *

Today we have a newcomer to the Kitchen: Steve Brisendine says he was intrigued by Form Fiddlers’ Friday and wanted to add a form he has devised, the Dividita. He has sent us some, and he writes: “The first two are in a form I call ‘Dividita’ (Esperanto for ‘divided,’ because it's based on the 5-7-5-7-7 Tanka form, doubled and then divided into couplets): Ten lines, 5-7 5-7 7-5 7-5 7-7. Additional rules/quirks/what-have-you are that only proper nouns and ‘I’ are capitalized in either title or text, the whole thing must be an unbroken sentence, and there is no closing punctuation.” Here are Steve’s first two examples:
 —Photo Courtesy of 
Public Domain

—steve brisendine, mission, ks

I watch, but never

see the first leaf of autumn

break free of its branch,

flutter as if struggling to

take flight, spin to still-warm earth

(one falls from oak to

sidewalk, just out of my reach;

you are not the first,

I tell it as it tumbles,

but I will not forget you)

* * *

white skies by night
—steve brisendine

thin high clouds from the

south streak across Orion,

front- and backlit from

above and below by moon

and sleepless city, as though

some nebula—tired

of being spied on through long

glass for all these years—

has crossed the deep void to ask

for a bit of privacy

* * *

Then we have three of Steve’s Double Dividitas—20 lines, same rules:
—Photo Courtesy of Public Domain

repetition z
—steve brisendine

each generation

follows the same spiky course:


sold half-off on green tag day

at the thrift shop, or borrowed

from some hall closet

with or without permission—

all cycles spin out,
in, back again, rebirth of

the cool without end, amen

(we have all worn black,
et hair fall just so over

mirrored sunglasses

on gray January days

to show we are not like them;

we have all prowled rooms

with the taut lean energy

of panthers coiling

to spring at life—even as

time chambers a round, takes aim)

* * *

—steve brisendine

(for Cindy)

the year's longest night,

and I have dreamed you alive

again; ever the

big sister, you cocked one eye

and muttered through this shared art

show, rearranging

all works (not only mine) and

reminding me that

mom would not approve of

haphazard placements (you would

know better than I,

I suppose, having seen her

far more recently)—
yet still I held tightly to

hope and a small red sold dot,

woke with my fist still

clenched around both... if you come

back, the big piece on

the front wall, green and white like

Montana winter, is yours

* * *

and mortal life shall cease
—steve brisendine

the source of sharpest

pain is its absence—how the

jagged facets of

she is going/ she is gone

have been worn down over these

five years, taken on

translucent layers, produced

a clutch of something

like pearls, cast before strange eyes

(how pretty, they say, how they

seem to change color,

all western horizon when

a dust storm settles

or a twister is about 

to drop); test them, rub the strand

across your teeth, but

take care—they are known to bite

without warning, though

more often these days they rest

quiet, cool against the heart


Thanks to Steve Brisendine for his Dividitas; be sure to watch for more poetry from him coming up in February. All of today’s Fiddlers have features coming up next month, in fact. Wouldn’t you like to join them? 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 a Tercou:

•••Tercou (Amanda J. Norton):

•••AND/OR let’s have a go at Steve Brisendine’s Dividita:
•••Dividita (Steve Brisendine—Esperanto for "divided," because it's based on the 5-7-5-7-7 Tanka form, doubled and then divided into couplets): Ten lines, 5-7 5-7 7-5 7-5 7-7. Only proper nouns and "I" are capitalized in either title or text, the whole thing must be an unbroken sentence, and there is no closing punctuation.

•••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 “Brutal Weather”.


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

•••Dividita (Steve Brisendine—Esperanto for "divided," because it's based on the 5-7-5-7-7 Tanka form, doubled and then divided into couplets): Ten lines, 5-7 5-7 7-5 7-5 7-7. Only proper nouns and "I" are capitalized in either title or text, the whole thing must be an unbroken sentence, and there is no closing punctuation.
•••Ekphrastic Poem: 
•••Normative Syllabics: AND/OR
•••Tercou (Amanda J. Norton):
•••7/5 Trochee:


 Today's Ekphrastic Challenge!
 Make what you can of today's
photo, and send your poetic results to (No deadline.)

* * *

—Public Domain Photos
Courtesy of Joe Nolan

A reminder that Lit Fest 2
takes place in Winters
tonight, 6pm.
For info about this and other
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
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.