Tuesday, February 20, 2024

Surviving School

 Good Morning, Children
—Photos by Joyce Odam
 
* * *

—Poetry by Joyce Odam and Robin Gale Odam,
Sacramento, CA

 
 
THE CHANGING
—Joyce Odam

In the sweet green air of night
late summer winds rise up—play at dance,
tease the fluttering wings of leaves—
blow the curtains in through open windows.

The cat sits by the screen door,
looking out—
watching the motion of shadows—
the nocturnal mysteries.

The green trees
flicker under the street lamp—
approve the spotlight—
shimmer and preen.

Name it what you will,
there is
a change in the air;
something quickens—makes rumors.

The waves of the sea-painting seem to move,
you watch the motion of the water—
the wet color of the moonlight on the wall
—something you never noticed before.

                                                 
(prev. pub. in Medusa’s Kitchen, 6/19/18)
 
 
 
 Good Morning, Miss Flowers


ABSTRACTION
After “Yana Yamaya” by Carina Clavigo
—Joyce Odam


she closes her eyes against the world,
the time of the world,
the guise of the world

she paints her face, her eyes, her lips,
signs her name at the credit edges
of her mind

she borrows a tune to hum,
changes the words,
finds her trance

she does not merge into a wall,
it recedes—recedes—into
a memory of space

she dis-
connects
from the space around her

she is who she will be forever—
forever and now
and the now of forever

                                    
(prev. pub. in Medusa’s Kitchen, 11/26/23)
 
 
 
My New Dress


CHANGING THE RELATIONSHIP 
—Joyce Odam

One day she up and changed, became someone
to fear, perhaps, to puzzle over at best, for her
new and ornery ways, the soft and raggedy way
she dressed—all in torn things—pulled from back
hangers.

And it was where she went in bad weather and
came back at odd hours—hours when the clock
showed a particular row of repeated numbers on
the small clock by her bedside.

It was the way she murmured of blue forms by the
window, that seemed to know her, and love her,
and how she went to them in her trance of being
and celebrated with them her sorted miseries, and
how her new name glistened on their lips—and
how she loved the sound of this, and became their
name for her, and it was her own—the one she
chose to be, before you came.


(prev. pub. in Medusa’s Kitchen, 5/22/18) 
 
 
 
 Mary Brings Her Lamb, I Bring My Frog


ACCORDANCE  
—Joyce Odam

if the last drip
of rain
is to be
my measure,

and rain
is scarce,

why,
to my eyelashes now,
come these tears
that follow
        

(prev. pub. in Medusa’s Kitchen, 12/29/20)
 
 
 
Oh, I Forgot


NOT SWIM HERE
—Robin Gale Odam

describe the river homework due
wade through abstract nouns
slippery root words sink and hide
compound sentence branches endlessly
rapid words merge into unruly paragraph
crowded adjectives describe motion
wonder imagines force could tell it better
tangled roots twist in the turbulent deep
opening statement arrives late with
confusing current thick to tread
skim the surface hold your breath
better not swim here wake up
it’s due tomorrow 
 
 
 
 Little Brother Wants To Stay


EPILOGUE
—Robin Gale Odam

Beware, these girls are mean—
I remember them from grade school,
I think I was six.

I watched from the long bench, my
back against the red bricks—I fixed
my eyes just beyond them, as though
watching the bats that swept over the
playground from the terra cotta roof tiles.

I saw the sharing of secrets—the knowing
looks, the telling smiles covered by fingertips,
faces turned just away from my presence,
my imperceptible waters—

deep waters for treading, for paddling
around them if it was not too far—for holding
one breathful of words and gliding just beneath
the surface and around them—or for sinking into—
for sinking, and then away and back to my bench
and the red bricks—to looking past them at the
bats, and waiting for the bell to ring.

                                                 
(prev. pub. in Medusa's Kitchen, 3/21/23) 
 
 
 
 Picture Day


HE HAD A FEELING ABOUT HER
—Robin Gale Odam

She was the one who would lift him up out of the
night of his childhood—the nightmare of falling
from flying above the old schoolyard, above the
huge children who poured from the classroom, who
reached up to grab at his shoes as he floated above
them just barely—their eyes turned downward to
anchor the blacktop, to kick the round ball at the
boy in the playground at recess, at lunchtime, and
after the lesson of numbers to ponder on paper with
lines and the spelling of arguments, words of con-
tention—hello and how are you today, what’s your
name, what school did you come from and where
did you live—you are sitting in someone else’s old
seat.

And there on the bench at the end of the wall near
the fountain of water and clutching a lunch pail of
delicate color—the moon and the owl and the boy—
was the one who would lift him up out of the night
of his childhood. He watched from the top of the
trees.
                 
______________________

Today’s LittleNip:

THIRD GRADE
—Robin Gale Odam

a string of wooden hearts
around her neck, crudely carved

______________________

Thanks to Joyce and Robin Gale this morning for their fine poetry and Joyce’s fine photos! Our Seed of the Week was One Day At School. This week’s new SOW is “Winter Moonlight”. Send your poems, photos & artwork about this (or any other) subject to kathykieth@hotmail.com. No deadline on SOWs, though, and for a peek at our past ones, click on “Calliope’s Closet”, the link at the top of this column, for plenty of others to choose from. And see every Form Fiddlers’ Friday for poetry form challenges, including those of the Ekphrastic type.

______________________

—Medusa
 
 
 
 
 Home Schooling
—Public Domain Illustration

















For future poetry happenings in
Northern California and otherwheres,
click on
UPCOMING NORCAL EVENTS
(http://medusaskitchen.blogspot.com/p/wtf.html)
in the links at the top of this page—
and keep an eye on this link and on
the daily Kitchen for happenings
that might pop up
—or get changed!—
 during the week.

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.

Would you like to be a SnakePal?
Guidelines are at the top of this page
at the Placating the Gorgon link;
send poetry and/or photos and artwork
to kathykieth@hotmail.com. We post
work from all over the world—including
that which was previously published—
and collaborations are welcome.
Just remember:
the snakes of Medusa are always hungry—
for poetry, of course!
 

 


















 

Monday, February 19, 2024

Getting Through School

 —Poetry by Nolcha Fox, Stephen Kingsnorth,
Sayani Mukherjee, Dawn Pisturino,
Michael H. Brownstein, Caschwa,
Taylor Dibbert, Vandana Kumar,
and Joe Nolan
—Photo by Dawn Pisturino
—Public Domain Visuals Courtesy
of Joe Nolan
 
 
PROJECTILE
—Nolcha Fox, Buffalo, WY

One day at school, I scratched the inside of my nostril with the end of a #2 pencil. The eraser came off in my nose. During math. Which I hated. Even more than a rubber-stuffed nostril. I was 12 and bored. One good snort, and the eraser ejected. It bounced down the aisle. I counted three bounces. Who says you can’t have fun with numbers?
 
 
 
—Public Domain Visual Courtesy of Joe Nolan


ONE DAY AT SCHOOL
—Stephen Kingsnorth, Coedpoeth, Wrexham, Wales

One day at school was quite enough,
prestigious history be damned.
My training, platform, London-bound,
to city, first, on learning track.
The ‘playground’, more a parade square,
for uniform inspection lines.
A cap, brass buttons, shining shoes,
gowned prefects’ study, up-down stare.
Hymn, reading, prayer, Assembly, law,
post-war requirement every school.
Most masters, Squeers, Dickensian,
the punishment, corporal, norm.
So every subject, downward, scare,
humiliations, and to spare.
Except for one, the English man,
a hint, Dead Poets, hinterland;
carpe diem he could decree
to make it worth, one day at school. 
 
 
 
 —Public Domain Cartoon Courtesy 
of Joe Nolan


FAST TRACK
—Stephen Kingsnorth

Like fast track post I started school,
my first class stamped, leap year, one day,
the prime remove from norms of life—
now stubborn age confirms that rite.

Eleven when they emptied box,
all then been franked, indelible;
the sorting office pigeon-holed,
a destination clarified.

I enjoyed words, the sound, the shape,
so told that I was grammar-good;
my estate mates ate bloater paste,
while I forced boater, crown of head.

Steered by string, pram wheels, orange box,
the stock car racing, pavement swerves—
lost to buttoned brass, leather brief—
told more sedate for station walk.

The track took me around the globe,
express train network privilege;
far friends remained in shunting yards,
few points to change direction, line.

The journeys of those loco’s, fast,
no better than they ought to be,
all rest on work in engine sheds,
those mates with spanners, oil and rags.

They raked more cash, but I gained pride,
they belly beer while I drown malt,
prize-books make way for plumber’s tools—
through sat exam, one day at school. 
 
 
 
 —Public Domain Photo Courtesy of Joe Nolan


BROWN
—Sayani Mukherjee, Chandannagar,
W. Bengal, India


The Spanish Armada fell up
A brownish glittery run amock
The stupefying silence
All around me it carves me
Out in my nestled bustling crowd
The spring came this time
A greyish lantern up in her knitted robe
But all around me a global winter
Wither away before the great fall
Till it runs a river inside your deep-rooted
Falsifying truth
Telling lies before your own parlance
Keep it simple in the face of winter
Gloomy bedridden sickness
The river runs north
A zigzag mere glance of Jeremiah
The floated moon of two-penny opera
My moonsick silence
Just like the Spanish Armada
A brownish noisy bush
All glittered in the tapestry of bemoaning. 
 
 
 
 —Photo by Dawn Pisturino


MELANCHOLY SKY
—Dawn Pisturino, Arizona

I stand alone beneath a melancholy sky,
Tears mingled with the rain.
Just a few miles around the corner,
That’s where you live.
I long to go to you
And feel your arms wrapped around me.
But that’s not your style.
I worship you like a god
But fear the demon inside you.
Instead, I throw myself to the ground
And drown myself in a pool of tears.
 
 
 
 —Public Domain Photo Courtesy of Joe Nolan


A CORNY KIND OF LOVE SONG
—Michael H. Brownstein, Jefferson City, MO

Roses are valentines,
kisses are two.
And three? You and me!
Four? There are always new
possibilities behind the door.
Five? With will, comes drive,
with bees, a hive—
and love? We thrive.
 
 
 
—Photo Courtesy of Public Domain


ONE DAY AT SCHOOL
—Caschwa, Sacramento, CA

I took a fresh, clean, blank, sheet
of white paper and easily folded it
into 5 equal panels; taDA!

the teacher had neither ever
designed a lesson plan to
accomplish this, nor seen one

she had the biggest smile on
her face, standing in awe of
someone who could do this

all those separate efforts and
approaches to teaching us the
3 R’s, grading our work, etc.

and here it was, zero work for
the teacher, 100-percent
accomplishment for her student

gave me cause to wonder how
many other assignments got higher
grades for less teacher labor

for example, my calligraphy was just
hundreds of hours of practice shy of
being terrible, but others shined

and my memory for dates in history
went in one ear and just got stuck
someplace where the sun don’t shine

but folding that paper elevated me
to cum laude status, gold crown, top
ranking, pat yourself on the back
 
 
 
 —Photo Courtesy of Public Domain


HIS FIRST VISIT
—Taylor Dibbert, Washington, DC

He’s thinking about
His first visit
To see the
In-laws
And remembers noticing
Their tacky taste
In furniture,
Sadly,
It would soon
Become clear
That tacky furniture
Would be
The least
Of his worries.
 
 
 
—Public Domain Photo Courtesy
of Joe Nolan


SAD CAFÉ
—Vandana Kumar, New Delhi, India

Someone stirs a coffee at a nearby table
Everyone seems to…
Like it dark these days

Dark rooms filled with childhood scars
As it is, those stains don't leave
No one wants that milk
No one wants to lighten a color
Sugar isn't in vogue, either

Inside the cup
You brew heartbreak
And then let it shine
The darkness has that glint…
No adulteration
Yet shining like one amongst those florescent
bulbs
Recently added to an ancient neighbourhood park

Voices leak inside the sad café
 
 
 
 —Public Domain Visual Courtesy 
of Joe Nolan


SELLING MY HONDA FIT
—Joe Nolan, Stockton, CA
 
I am only selling it
Because I need an M-1 Abrams
With which to terrify my neighbors
Who say they support Trump.

Nothing personal.
I just think they’re insane
And need to send a message
Deep into their brains
That it’s time for a face-to-face
With Jesus,
Staring down the barrel of a tank.

An M-1 Abrams ought to do it.
Consider this purchase
Your charitable contribution
To a worthy cause
Of random re-education
And calling for a pause
To whatever it is
They’re trying to do
To get back to
Ozzie and Harriet.
 
 
 
 —Public Domain Cartoon Courtesy of Joe Nolan


A PERFECT WORLD
—Joe Nolan

He could have made a perfect world
In which we’d all agree,
In which we’d all be happy,
In which we’d all be free,
But, instead,

He made a world
Full of slavery,
Full of disagreement,
Full of wars and fears,
Full of pain and tears
And ours is not to question why
We were born to die,
Painfully. 
 
 
 
 —Public Domain Photo Courtesy of Joe Nolan


A BITTER THING
—Joe Nolan

It is a bitter thing, indeed,
When something
That couldn’t bleed
Has bled no more.

When crushed is a seed
That could have been a tree

When a life,
Otherwise happy,
Falls into misery.
 
 
 
 —Public Domain Photo Courtesy of Joe Nolan


ALT-WORLDS APART
—Joe Nolan

If we can’t agree on our premises,
We won’t agree on conclusions.

We cannot walk together
Hand-in-hand
From if a, then b,
All the way down
To x, y and z.

We’ll just have
To agree to disagree
About everything from a to z
And there’ll be no reasoning
Between us.

We shall continue
To live in different,
Separate worlds,
Mentally,
Since we can’t agree
Even on a or b,
Rather lonely.

___________________

Today’s LittleNip:

SEX WITH INTENTION
—Joe Nolan

Baby-making sex
Is drilling for offspring.
Gushers flow within.

___________________

Our thanks to today’s contributors, with their wide variety of poetry! Our Seed of the Week was One Day At School—be sure to check each Tuesday for the latest Seed of the Week—but don’t be shy about sending work on any/all subjects.

Is it Presidents’ Day, or Presidents Day? I vote for the apostrophe, but I see it every-which way. There is clearly a sinister movement afoot to abolish the poor little curl from the English language. Anyway, today is a day of respect for those who have served this country in that difficult post.

We have two newcomers to the Kitchen today: Dawn Pisturino is a retired nurse in Arizona whose international publishing credits include poems, short stories, and articles. Her poetry has appeared in several anthologies, most recently in
Hidden in Childhood: A Poetry Anthology; Wounds I Healed: The Poetry of Strong Women; and the 2023 Arizona Literary Magazine. She is a member of Mystery Writers of America and Arizona Authors Association. Welcome to the Kitchen, Dawn, and don’t be a stranger!

Vandana Kumar is a French teacher, translator, cinephile, Indie film producer and award-winning poet—in no particular order—who resides in New Delhi, India. Welcome to the Kitchen to you, too, Vandana! Tune in to the Kitchen next Friday for an Ekphrastic poem from her.
 
 
 
 Vandana Kumar

And check out Nolcha Fox’s new website at https://bit.ly/3bT9tYu/.

____________________

—Medusa
 
 
 
 When dogs try to study…
—Photo Courtesy of Public Domain







 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Poetry in Motion in Placerville
has been cancelled this morning,
but Sac. Poetry Center will present
Kamil Aim Muhammad tonight.
For info about these and other
upcoming poetry happenings in
Northern California and otherwheres,
click on
UPCOMING NORCAL EVENTS
(http://medusaskitchen.blogspot.com/p/wtf.html)
in the links at the top of this page—
and keep an eye on this link and on
the daily Kitchen for happenings
that might pop up
—or get changed!—
 during the week.

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.

Would you like to be a SnakePal?
Guidelines are at the top of this page
at the Placating the Gorgon link;
send poetry and/or photos and artwork
to kathykieth@hotmail.com. We post
work from all over the world—including
that which was previously published—
and collaborations are welcome.
Just remember:
the snakes of Medusa are always hungry—
for poetry, of course!
 

 





















Sunday, February 18, 2024

Alone Together

 —Poetry by Joshua C. Frank
—Public Domain Artwork Courtesy
of Public Domain
 
 
ALL THAT’S LEFT IS YOURS
Based on I Kissed Dating Goodbye
by Joshua Harris


The bride walked the aisle to her husband-to-be,
Who gently took hold of her hand.
They started their vows, all to hear and to see,
When a woman there started to stand.

She boldly but quietly marched to the altar
The groom’s other hand there to hold.
As he in his solemn vows started to falter,
Five women walked up, just as bold.

The groom then repeated his vows to his bride.
Tears welling, lip quivering, she spoke:
“Just who are these girls here who stand at your
side?
Is this your attempt at a joke?”

“I’m sorry,” he said, staring down at the floor,
“I should have said something to start.
These girls, they mean nothing to me anymore,
But each has a part of my heart.”

“I thought it was mine,” said the bride, now in
tears.
The groom said, “Love always endures.
I vow here and now that throughout all our years,
What’s left of my heart shall be yours.”


(First published in
The Society of Classical Poets)
 
 
 
 

NAMES IN INK

‘Marriage is one thing... but a tattoo is
permanent!’
       —From a
Reader’s Digest anecdote

I saw a man with four tattoos:
One “Karla” underneath the place
Of paint rolled in three streaks of blues,
Each trace of exes to erase.

When Karla saw herself replace
The women’s names inscribed in ink
(Cassandra, Jessica, and Grace),
I wonder if she stopped to think...

One day, their hearts won’t be in sync,
And his commitment’s not too strong.
Hence Karla’s name within a blink
Will be rolled out and moved along.

Too few these days can see the wrong
Or what the world is forced to lose
When marriage doesn’t last as long
As people’s names in old tattoos.


(First published in
Snakeskin)
 
 
 
 

ALONE TOGETHER

Narcissus, in the days of old,
Fell in love with his reflection.
He knew none greater to behold
And starved while staring at “perfection.”
Now we’re enamored with our phones
Reflecting worlds of our own minds.
We sit and stare, as still as stones,
Bound by the modern tie that blinds.

At beaches, churches, concert halls,
Campgrounds, parks, and county fair,
We shut ourselves in online walls
As at our phones we stop and stare,
Side by side with closest friends.
We shun and snub each other thus,
And our relationship descends
To that of strangers on a bus.


(First published in
The Society of Classical Poets)
 
 
 
 

ARLINGTON

Vast fields of graves, in grass arrayed—
How many times had Taps been played?
How many families lost their heads?
How many sons left empty beds?

They gave their lives to save my land,
Each by an officer’s command,
And yet, myself?  What had I done
To be my country’s worthy son?

The image never went away—
The grid of gravestones, here to stay,
In ranks and files, neatly lined,
Still marks a lattice in my mind.


(First published in The Society of Classical Poets)
 
 
 
 

THE BANNED BARBIE

For a little girl’s birthday, I shopped at the mall
With my mother to pick the most suitable doll.
We went to the Barbies and searching we started;
Pink boxes stood high like the Red Sea when
parted.

A doctor, a teacher, an athlete, a nurse,
A corporate executive, options diverse,
The bewildering array still was missing one other:
I noticed that Barbie was never a mother.

No baby, no stroller, no pregnancy belly,
No children around but a sister named Kelly.
The boxes said, “You can be anything,” but
The noblest career as an option was cut!

Yet I’d love for a little girl somewhere to learn
That her motherly wishes aren’t cause for concern
Or a childhood phase she’ll be leaving behind,
But a dream to encourage, and how she’s designed.


(First published in The Society of Classical Poets)
 
 
 
 

YOUNGER SELVES

I have you leaning up against my side,
Our boys and girls around us on the couch.
Below the window, watching from outside,
Our younger selves, age twelve, crawl up and
crouch.

The boy and girl each took a time machine,
The dial set to travel here today.
We met below that window, saw this scene,
And learned that you would be my wife someday.

The woman here whose head leans next to mine
Was also she who you’d grow up to be.
Our older selves thus showed the clearest sign:
No need to ask you, “Will you marry me?”

Back home, they’ll seek each other out and meet,
And here we are—the circle’s now complete.


(First published in The Society of Classical Poets)

_____________________

Today’s LittleNip:

I don't want to be married just to be married. I can't think of anything lonelier than spending the rest of my life with someone I can't talk to, or worse, someone I can't be silent with.
 
―Mary Ann Shaffer,
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

_____________________

—Medusa, with thanks to Joshua Frank for his fine formal poetry today! Check into Medusa's Kitchen next Friday for some more of his formalist work.
 
 
 

 




 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
A reminder that today is the
Black History Month Festival
with poetry readings at
Crocker Art Museum in Sacramento;  
and Sac. Poetry Center will present
CB Davis and Francoise Coulton
at 6pm, also in Sacramento.
For info about these and other
 upcoming poetry happenings in
Northern California and otherwheres,
click on
UPCOMING NORCAL EVENTS
(http://medusaskitchen.blogspot.com/p/wtf.html)
in the links at the top of this page—
and keep an eye on this link and on
the daily Kitchen for happenings
that might pop up
—or get changed!—
 during the week.

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.

Would you like to be a SnakePal?
Guidelines are at the top of this page
at the Placating the Gorgon link;
send poetry and/or photos and artwork
to kathykieth@hotmail.com. We post
work from all over the world—including
that which was previously published—
and collaborations are welcome.
Just remember:
the snakes of Medusa are always hungry—
for poetry, of course!
 

 




















 

Saturday, February 17, 2024

Let's Dream Together

 —Poetry by Joe Nolan, Stockton, CA
—Public Domain Photos Courtesy
of Joe Nolan
 
 
LET’S DREAM TOGETHER
 
Hello, let’s dream
Of something we
Could make together
With our lives,
 
Children, home and family,
Camping trips
Near running streams
Where we fish for trout.
 
Salmon-runs,
So exciting,
Everything a Grizzly
Could desire,
 
We smoke on
Open fires,
Hung on sticks
We leave for hours,
 
While we call on
Magic powers
To let us all
Get home,
Really home,
Where we all belong,
Together.
 
Shall we? 
 
 
 
 

A STAR FROM GEMINI

A distant star
From Gemini
Came to Earth,
A firefly,
To live
Inside a jar.

Having traveled far,
It knew the worth of space,
The vast expanse of grace
And its new
Tiny place
Of life inside
A jar.
 
 
 
 

THIS YEAR’S TEA

The news is tea-leaves
From yesterday’s tea,
Gone rancid, sour—
Dried-out fear.

This year’s tea
Is foul-worse
Than anything
We’d like to see.
Screams come from afar.
 
 
 


IN FUR AND FEATHERS, COVERED

Some have taken refuge
In the care of critters,
Lacking any
Better thing to do,

Little things
That peck and scratch
Learning how to fetch
And eat
Tiny specks of corn and
Crawling bugs—

Critters in fur
And feathers, covered,
Though they seem to have no sense
Their learning curves
Are steep.
Each day
They grow smarter.
Soon they roost in trees
And gaze down from above. 
 
 
 
 

ALL KINDS OF CRAZY

There’s all kinds of crazy
And some of them are sane,
Depending on the virtue-signals
Running through the brains

Of those who pick out victims,
Who send bombs through the mail
Or launch a wave
Of genocide
To prove that
They are brave

Members of a tribe
Of ubermenschen
Who all get a pass
No matter what they do
To outsiders.

It’s all about us and them,
All about us and them.
Don’t count the dead
Of those who do not matter—
Untermenschen. 
 
 
 


STRANGE NEEDS

Strange needs
Emerge over time.

Titanic’s Captain,
Sailing blind,
Measuring safety
By the wind,
In the dark,
Driving at full-speed.

Darkness
Has its own enchantment.
Death,
Its own attraction.
Destruction,
Its own commands,
Given out by principals,
Beyond our understanding.

Hubris,
Its ways of attraction,
Stating its sheet-metal
Was impregnable,
How-so-forth, thus,
Demons’ laughter
Reigned upon the deck,
When they learned the lifeboats
Were far from enough,
Meaning a civilized society
Had put its wealthy travelers
To snuff. 
 
 
 
 

WHEN OUR SKY BURSTS

When our sky bursts,
Harmonies
Will be sung,

In a rhythm
That a wailing minstrel
Has yet to strum,

Leading us
To wander
Through a glade,

Where what we
Had imagined,
Was already made,
As though we were
Walking through a dream,

Though everything
Apparent,
Was not what it seemed
And all our ancient wisdom
Was only just a dream.

___________________

Today’s LittleNip:

HOW TO EAT DRAGON FRUIT
—Joe Nolan

Put it in your mouth
Chew
Swallow.

Wash it down
With water
If you must.
 
___________________

—Medusa, with thanks to Joe Nolan for today’s fine poems, and for finding public domain visuals to go with them!
 
 
 

 















A reminder that today
the San Francisco Writers Conference
will hold its one-day Poetry Summit; and
this morning, the MoSt Book Club
meets in Modesto.
For info about these and other
 upcoming poetry happenings in
Northern California and otherwheres,
click on
UPCOMING NORCAL EVENTS
(http://medusaskitchen.blogspot.com/p/wtf.html)
in the links at the top of this page—
and keep an eye on this link and on
the daily Kitchen for happenings
that might pop up
—or get changed!—
 during the week.

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.

Would you like to be a SnakePal?
Guidelines are at the top of this page
at the Placating the Gorgon link;
send poetry and/or photos and artwork
to kathykieth@hotmail.com. We post
work from all over the world—including
that which was previously published—
and collaborations are welcome.
Just remember:
the snakes of Medusa are always hungry—
for poetry, of course!
 
Walking through a dream…















 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Friday, February 16, 2024

Yearnings and Mysteries

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


JOY OF THE TRAIL

Joy is
walking the trail
in a light rain—my dog
leading, the creek singing,
and one happy
bullfrog.
 
 
 


JOURNEYER’S BALLADE

The trail’s in shadow up ahead,
the railroad track silvered with sun,
could there be something here to dread,
shadows who thru the woodland run?
bear or cougar on hunt for deer,
tangled warnings in thicket caught
down ages, mankind’s living fear?
sun and shadow weaving the thought.
 
 
 


BLUE ON GRAY

this gray-drizzle day
a triptych of blue herons
in our bird-blessed field
 
 
 


LOVE AMONG THE FUNGI

one golden mushroom
rising from a winter field—

this one soft as skin
variegated as flesh-tones—

this one’s called the Deceiver
I can’t tell you why

this one looks like dark chocolate
Valentine candy?

the yearnings of underground
mysteries I dare not touch
 
 
 


DRESS CODE?

Is this life just its sum
of pains? Oh, how they thrum
the catchword: must wear these heels—
to work all day? She thinks
of how the sunlight slinks
to dark from its workday deals.
These iron arches lurk
longer than eight hours’ work
until each tortured foot heals.
 
 
 
 
 
STORM OVER SCHOOLYARD

whirligigs spinning
as the wind picks up, this is
rainbow jubilee

at tip of bare oak
Crow repeats 4-notes—warning?
into growing storm

tethered to post by
one leg, scarecrow flaps in wind,
loose arm waving Help!

windchime Hummingbird
lies grounded lest the wind blow
her far far away

what is the Corvid’s message
on this day consigned to sky?

____________________

Today’s LittleNip:

LOVE OF ITS LIFE
—Taylor Graham

An old, narrow street—
ancient oak died years ago,
its ivy still twines.

____________________

Misty or even rainy, Taylor Graham and her dog, Loki, continue to walk the foothills, churning up wonderful images and poetry for us every week and checking out what Raven has to say. Forms TG has used this week include two Haiku (“Love of Its Life”; “Blue on Gray”); a Haiku Sonnet (“Storm Over Schoolyard”); a Dividita (“Love Among the Fungi”); a Badger's Hexastitch (“Joy of the Trail”); a Balassi Stanza that is also an Ekphrastic poem based on last week’s Ekphrastic Challenge [see below] (“Dress Code?”); and a Ballade Stanza (“Journeyer's Ballade”). The Balassi and the Ballade Stanza were last week’s Triple-F Challenges.

This week in El Dorado County, Poetry in Motion has been cancelled this Monday due to Presidents’ Day. For news about El Dorado County poetry—past (photos!) and future—see Taylor Graham’s Western Slope El Dorado on Facebook at www.facebook.com/ElDoradoCountyPoetry or see Lara Gularte’s Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/groups/382234029968077/. (Poetry is Gold in El Dorado County!) And of course you can always click on Medusa's UPCOMING NORCAL EVENTS (http://medusaskitchen.blogspot.com/p/wtf.html) for details about future poetry events in the NorCal area.

And now it’s time for…  


FORM FIDDLERS’ FRIDAY!  
 
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 kathykieth@hotmail.com for the benefit of all man/woman/poetkind!



* * *


Last Week’s Ekphrastic Photo


This week we received responses to last week’s Ekphrastic photo from Joe Nolan, Stephen Kingsnorth, and Nolcha Fox, all about stilettos. Or is it stiletti?



STILETTOS
—Joe Nolan, Stockton, CA

It’s all about curves and beauty,
Black leather, white skin, sharp heels,
Spiky, jabbing stilettos
To remind you who’s boss
When we go out dancing
And after
Have a toss?

* * *

BARRED, BARED, SCARRED, SCARED;
—Stephen Kingsnorth, Coedpoeth, Wrexham, Wales

Behind bars propped—not serving drinks—
think prohibition speakeasies—
is this where mafiosi rule?
Sicilian, Stiletto styled,
as if nail torture is afoot,
sharp pointy tool for making holes,
toe curling pain to wrack sole soul,
with shiv, pick, spike, spine shiver drill?
How roll out bail if goal for gaol?

Flamingo Club, one standing leg,
for hoary men who crawl the kerbs,
snubbed, stubbed by weight of evidence,
heel trapped, while flesh and bone build up,
as dawn, after long night wait drawn.
She’s unprotected out on street,
despite the clout he holds inside.

Though elegant on counter shelf,
as black as jet-slick, oily hair,
oh now to sit, flick heels in air;
when kick boxing is self-aware,
it sees so meta-tarsal termed—
these foot-bound-Chinese-women shoes.

Bare knuckles thrust to toebox, vamp,
from topline, heel breast, top piece shank,
knot in the wood, plank slits a threat,
here’s pock-marked timber where she’s walked,
sense cat on hot tin roof maybe,
this jailed bird serving time again.

* * *

Nolcha Fox writes that “the best I could do today was a Haiku. Or maybe it's a nearku or a fauxku”. Falsie-ku?


What I enjoy most
about stiletto heels
is taking them off.

—Nolcha Fox, Buffalo, WY

* * *

Caschwa (Carl Schwartz) has also taken liberties with the Haiku; I suppose this could also be called an Ars Poetica:
 
 

 
 HORSEPLAY
—Caschwa, Sacramento, CA

my typewriter is
so old, it has a horse drawn
carriage return bar

* * *

And an Ars Poetica from Stephen Kingsnorth:
 
 
 


THE AGONIST
—Stephen Kingsnorth

Now turn the common into gold,
by panning, undermining earth,
and tapping veins from older seams,
our waste, the soil, left detritus?
How métamorphose from the norms,
the lingua franca into bold
storms of passion, lava flow,
a pyroclastic river, fire.
Can we shift orbit of the eye,
from cold bone hole to solar ring
that sees and learns, as pupils should,
the global whole beyond just I?
As tears are lost in fall of rain,
unique crystals in blizzard drive—
surrounded by a treasure trove
but scene as rust, deep buried junk,
till minimal is magnified,
our focal length right justified.
And there, shut flat in oyster clamp,
or even, pilgrim, scallop shell
is due reward for journey, dive,
a pearl more trampled under foot.
Where is that agonist, the key?

___________________

Many thanks to today’s writers for their lively contributions! Wouldn’t you like to join them? All you have to do is send poetry—forms or not—and/or photos and artwork to kathykieth@hotmail.com. We post work from all over the world, including that which was previously-published. Just remember: the snakes of Medusa are always hungry!

___________________

TRIPLE-F CHALLENGES!
 
See what you can make of these challenges, and send your results to kathykieth@hotmail.com/. (No deadline.) Check out the Bina, a quickie when you’re in a hurry:

•••Bina: https://poetscollective.org/poetryforms/bina

•••AND/OR in honor of Lent and in recognition that we all need blessings by the bushel, try the Benison:

•••Benison: https://poetscollective.org/poetryforms/bennison

•••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 “One Day At School”.

____________________

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

•••Ars Poetica: www.poetryfoundation.org/learn/glossary-terms/ars-poetica
•••Badger’s Hexastitch: https://poetscollective.org/poetryforms/badgers-hexastitch
•••Balassi Stanza: https://poetscollective.org/poetryforms/balassi-stanza
•••Benison: https://poetscollective.org/poetryforms/bennison
•••Bina: https://poetscollective.org/poetryforms/bina
•••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: notesofoak.com/discover-literature/ekphrastic-poetry 
•••Haiku: www.shadowpoetry.com/resources/haiku/haiku.html
•••Haiku Sonnet (four Haiku followed by two lines of seven syllables each): www.writersdigest.com/whats-new/haiku-sonnet-poetic-form
•••Normative Syllabics: hellopoetry.com/collection/108/normative-syllabic-free-verse AND/OR lewisturco.typepad.com/poetics/normative-syllabic-verse

___________________

—Medusa
 
 
 
 When you flip your flivver~

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

* * *

—Public Domain Photo



















 
 
 

NorCal Poet Molly Fisk and others 
will be reading online today
from the
Dear Human anthology
as part of the Soul Bone Literary Festival.
For info about this and other
upcoming poetry happenings in
Northern California and otherwheres,
click on
UPCOMING NORCAL EVENTS
(http://medusaskitchen.blogspot.com/p/wtf.html)
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.