Friday, March 22, 2024

Earth Day!

 —Poetry and Photos by Taylor Graham,
Placerville, CA
—And then scroll down for
Form Fiddlers’ Friday, with poetry by
Claire J. Baker, Caschwa, Stephen Kingsnorth,
Nolcha Fox, John Rowe, Steve Brisendine,
and Joshua C. Frank

Morning celebrates wind across green—
fields of lavish unmown grasses moving
in glistening waves across acres at whim
of gale and gust, north the way wild geese
will fly—for now, in such a wind,
they float on pond waves awaiting thunder.
March is in–between, its Ides recalling
Caesar’s fall, marked by the Bard.
This March is Easter rising with flowers
from the dead. In buckeye woods,
more green–fingered seedlings
than I could count, and the wild plum
just budding; the first rosy vetch,
the first scattered buttercups.
I lean into the wind, walking under
tilting circles of one high turkey vulture.


This is the season for kites—
can you fly them in
a rainstorm?

By the gas pumps, a bird-kite—
is that a good place
to fly one?

I found the kite on the ground—
can a dead bird fly
like a kite?

I haven’t walked here in months, and now
No Trespassing signs all along the edges. So I walk
the edges, tabulating what I find just off pavement.
A pile of—call it randomness—trash
from uninvited campers, even the orderly ones
(rake, shovel, and fire extinguisher in the brush).
Since then, lots of rain; even dry marsh is mud.
And the dead eagle my dog showed me—
Golden Eagle—nothing’s left now, all picked
clean. Even the wishbone’s gone. Just
a single deep-red feather, and the wish of flight.


        Where are the kites that sail
this windy lion-to-lamb springtime sky?
Where are the fields of bright green grass to hail
        the season passing by?

        No children run the field,
the white-tailed kite I found has ceased to fly.
So much that time has changed. The old ways yield
        to new. And winged birds die.


    RIPE AREA workshop, Wakamatsu Farm

This concert on a sunny morning by the pond—
mockingbird in a leafless oak
as prelude to the songs of springtime birds—
while we listen by hydrophone
       to sounds of underwater
              crackling of photosynthesis
and, unseen in the realm of sky, a wrentit sings—
             tiny bugs weave through water-
             forest just offshore—
we humans are seated on pasture ground,
stork’s-bill, pig’s-root play a sweet-stringed
        tension between earth and air
silent on my ear,
in harmony with bees about the clover—
two black phoebes sing their high, thin ti-wee
        from a phone-line above the pond,
a man plays recorded thumps, hums,
              mysterious underwater sounds
of plant or animal, then joins in with clarinet,
and here’s shining pepperweed, imagine
its voice in the red-purple spectrum
        and song sparrow trills, tree swallows
        swoop and loop over water—
              that deep hum from under,
              is it the tadpoles?
And this mid-March sun, if we had
the instruments, what song would it sing?



No skateboarding on city sidewalks,
no flying kites or doing a polka in the streets.
Too many cars, too many downcast people.

Let’s walk in the field instead, before
it gets sucked into suburbs. No special plans,
just see what’s growing green and lush  

before the mowers. Bring your kite
if the spirit moves you, or we’ll just walk
and count buttercups,

and sing along with all the birds
on this lovely
cloudy windy sunshiny day. 

Today’s LittleNip:

—Taylor Graham

Leafless oaks reflect
in grinding rock filled with rain—
world turned upside down.


Earth Day!—right on the heels of the Equinox, and freeways are rampant with roadside poppies. And who better to sing of the earth than Taylor Graham! Today she has sent us a Word-Can Poem (“Remains”); a Quinzaine (“Kites”); a Bryant (“Paper Kites. Feathers”); and a Haiku (“Its Time Long Past”). She says her “Many Voices” began as a List Poem, but then took off with a mind of its own into something more complex. We all know, of course, how that is, since our writing efforts frequently go off in their own directions. 
TG’s “March, Wakamatsu Farm” and her "Many Voices" remind us that she and Katy Brown will be holding a Wakamatsu workshop on April 14.  Info/registration link:

But every day is Earth Day, of course, and SnakePals sing her praises, day after day.

This Saturday afternoon in El Dorado County, there will be a workshop in Georgetown called “Explore Riparian Landscape Through Art, Poetry and Native Plants”. Then on Sunday, Storytelling Sundays features poetry and music and art in Placerville. 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!

* * *

Lady with a Fan
—Painting by Raphael Kirchner, 1904

Last Week’s Ekphrastic Challenge
* * *

This week we received Ekphrastic poems on the above painting from Claire Baker, Caschwa, Stephen Kingsnorth, and Nolcha Fox. Claire sent two Cinquains, what are informally known as Crapsey Cinquains because the form was devised by Adelaide Crapsey. More about some variations on the Cinquain later, Meanwhile, here are two from Claire:

—Claire J. Baker, Pinole, CA

We plead:
Alexa, how
end blood on horizon?
Calm as an almond, she praises

* * *

—Claire J. Baker

I plead
with dancer friend:
why crowd your art projects,
inhale? She smiles, no words. Hey, it’s
HER life.

* * *

—Caschwa, Sacramento, CA

relaxing in my comfort chair
listening to Beethoven
symphonies, uninterrupted

until a little birdie tells me
I left some perishables
in the car

* * *

Stephen Kingsnorth has identified the painting for us as Raphael Kirchner’s Lady with a Fan

—Stephen Kingsnorth, Coedpoeth, Wrexham, Wales

Though Munch screams louder with his fans,
what of this curvature in space,
like wicker work yet interwave,
if metal legs, well balanced work?
The leggy drape, off shoulder fall
leads us exotic Geisha trail,
but closer focus, think awhile,
detective-like, something amiss?

Is beadwork where the flesh should be—
cannot ignore strange withered wrist—
as if right arm were photoshopped,
a current issue in the press—
unless this lady’s fresh abused
by genes, or clients, stroke of brush,
or printer’s mishap with the inks,
less he, unlikely, serves a cause?

It’s listed postcard catalogues
as sample of the art nouveau,
though parrot claims a central place,
before accoutrements in case,
that lady, and the fan embraced.
Alone, three beads, I would assess—
until I’m told she props their fall—
a minor lift, should fan be still.

But this is pose, poseur indeed,
said popular with frontline troops,
as pinup for the war deprived,
though that a decade after post.
Too many tassels, rampant blooms
to gild the lily—but no need;
for why paint image for a card
unless the woman worth the brush?

Entrenched with men in mud and slime
this nouveau, Meiji, Taishō mix
on carte postale, no microscope,
or history of art required
to fulfill purpose in the field.
My distant view on laptop screen
is clearer as a handheld scene,
where beads of sweat run down the neck.

* * *

In my mind

I’m so sublime,
a piece of art
posed daintily
on a wicker throne.
Satin dress and
feathered fan,
exotic bird to eye me.

The woman
in my mind
is young enough
to be my daughter.
Her outfit is
entirely wrong
to plant this year’s
spring garden.

—Nolcha Fox, Buffalo, WY

* * *
Nolcha sent another response to week-before-last's Ekphrastic challenge: 
—Public Domain Photo Courtesy of Joe Nolan



—Nolcha Fox

March should be the start of spring.

That must be why it’s snowing.

The flowers should be blooming now.

Instead, they’re wearing sweaters.

Hummingbirds should show their wings.

They must be in Nevada.

By the time the spring rains come,

it will be September.

* * *

Here is a Haibun from Nolcha, who has become enamored with Haibuns these days. Immersing oneself in a form is a great way to learn all the ins and outs of it:
 —Public Domain Photos Courtesy of Nolcha Fox

—Nolcha Fox

Shafts of sun are haloes round the leaves of plants in pots upon the shelf. Wind sings opera as it stirs the few brown leaves to dance up high in trees. Teabag steeps, releasing cinnamon into the day.

Bliss rubs her eyes
and smiles inside
a very ordinary day.

(self-published on Garden of Neuro as part
of a Haibun challenge)

* * *

John Rowe, a newcomer to the Kitchen who is very active in Bay Area poetry, has sent us a lovely Triolet. Welcome, John! Find out more about him at and/or
 —Public Domain Illustration

—John Rowe, El Cerrito, CA

This hummingbird near the lemon tree
Brightens early morning thoughts
A moment to receive as a decree
This hummingbird near the lemon tree
Stirs up such reverie
For all my haves and have nots
This hummingbird near the lemon tree
Brightens early morning thoughts

• • •

Steve Brisendine, from Mission, KS, has sent us some Cheritas. On 6/19/20, SnakePal Michael Brownstein sent us some information about Cheritas: “Ai Li is the editor and founder of the Cherita, from the Malay word for story or tale. A Cherita poem has six lines arranged in three verses, with no title. The main format of a Cherita is 1‑2‑3: a 1‑line verse followed by a 2‑line verse, followed by a 3‑line verse. A Cherita has five possible sequences from 1‑, 2‑, and 3‑line verses to 3, 2, and 1-line.” Here are Steve Brisendine’s Cheritas:
 —Photo Courtesy of Public Domain

Sabbath afternoon

seven men walk
home from Temple

in the midst
of their yarmulkes
one red Chiefs cap

* * *

mulberry tree

in our back yard
heavy with fruit

new neighbors
introduce themselves
with purple smiles

* * *


and tenor man

cutting heads

two squirrels

fight over

one oak branch

* * *



out of season

the highway home

covered in phantom

sheets of ice

* * *

Saturday morning
sun lights the

no work-sounds
but the hammering

of woodpeckers

* * *

Joshua Frank has sent us a Shakespearean Sonnet:
—Public Domain Illustration

—Joshua C. Frank

I know a poet dealing with derision
For writing of a woman’s supple skin
Whose hue he hopes will fill his field of vision—
To say what color’s now a racist sin!

For when he praised her cherry-blossom pink,
They cried white privilege, said it’s lacking grace,
Yet when it’s skin of maple or black ink,
They censure him for fetishizing race!

Alas, a man can’t wax poetic when
Her skin tone is the trait he dare not name.
I miss the golden, olden days when men
Wrote brazen praise of women, free of shame!

At least the man who loves a girl with freckles
Can rave about her pretty little speckles.

• • •

Joshua also sent Rhyming Maxims—in this case, a set of twenty epigrams:
 —Public Domain Illustration

—Joshua C. Frank

“…it is a shame that the rhyming maxim has ceased to be used much in poetry. The form is excellent for satiric and comic commentary—concise, direct, and biting.”  —Joseph S. Salemi

The left will honor everyone’s tradition,
But if you’re white, they’ll label yours sedition.

A problem with schools that no remedy solves:
You’re sending your children “as lambs among 

When mothers toss their babies to the grave,
There’s nothing left of culture we can save.

The framers of our Constitution
Could not predict our mind pollution.

The argument, “Power corrupts,” is so feeble,
For what does it say about “power to the people?”

Martin Luther broke away
From the Catholic Church one day,
Yet was surprised when, on a whim,
His followers broke away from him!

Those liberal slogans can’t be more than chatter
Unless black unborn lives can also matter.

We Christians need to write while there’s still time,
Before our words are made into a crime.

Put down that phone!  Feel more alive!
Pretend it’s 1995!

Never argue with the woke;

You can’t convince such stubborn folk.

Perhaps we’ll better meet our goals

Deciding not to feed the trolls!

Why should God bless America,
Who makes her soldiers fight
For Sodom’s six-striped swastika
That mocks the red and white?

If trumpets’ sounds are proof that someone played 
Then living things are proof that Someone made 

I write what people need to hear—
I’d starve if this were my career!

God destroyed the city Sodom
When their morals hit the bottom;
It’s beyond my understanding
Why the modern world’s still standing.

Because they can’t convince us that they’re right,
They try to blind our children to the light.

I ask when hearing of the woke:
“Is this real news, or just a joke?”

We’d be more trusting toward the science
If you didn’t force compliance.

I’m afraid all our cultural signposts betoken
No shred of our natural morals intact
If the “silent majority” still hasn’t spoken
When children are having their genitals hacked.

A partial list of what the leftist hates:
Religion, family, the United States.

Do you really want your daughters
In locker rooms with gender squatters,
Like a senior they call Tiffy,
With lipstick, hair clips, and a stiffy?

(First published in The Society of Classical Poets; originally published in two parts)

* * *

Caschwa (Carl Schwartz) sent us what he calls “a silly bone chain of Haikus, based on an old SOW”:
 —Public Domain Illustration

people new to the
opera experience
wear training bravos

standing ovations
are an exercise to rise
to the occasion

Quiet! you are in
a libretto, never quite
made the light of day

* * *

And here is an Ars Poetica by Joe Nolan:
 —Public Domain Illustration

—Joe Nolan, Stockton, CA

These are not tales of
Deadly, dreadful angst—
Insufferable, personal disease.
This is not confessional poetry.

No waterlogged dogs
At the bottom of the sea.

Such is not for me.
My poems are based
In anonymity.

Abstract notions
Of universal commotion
Sufficient, should be.

Rambling on
About Brownian motion,
Random chances
At free association,
The ebb and flow
Of come and go.

I hope you
Are not disappointed.


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 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.) Thy a BushBallad Meter:

•••BushBallad Meter:

•••AND/OR: a relative of the Crapsey Cinquain, of which SnakePal Claire Baker is so fond:


•••AND/OR: another relative, the Cinq (five)-Cinquain:


•••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 “Tightrope”.


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

•••Ars Poetica:
•••BushBallad Meter:
•••Cinquain (Crapsey): AND/OR See for info about its inventor, Adelaide Crapsey.
•••Ekphrastic Poem: 
•••List Poem:
•••Rhyming Maxims: a series of any number of short maxims, each with end-line rhymes
•••Sonnet, Shakespearian:
•••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


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

* * *

—Illustration Courtesy
of Public Domain


For future poetry happenings in
Northern California and otherwheres,
click on
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 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!
...or is that "glamping?"