Friday, March 29, 2024

Flying Without Wings

 —Poetry and Photos by Taylor Graham,
Placerville, CA
—And then scroll down for
Form Fiddler’s Friday, with poetry from
Nolcha Fox, Joe Nolan, Stephen Kingsnorth,
Caschwa, Claire J. Baker, and Katy Brown

A radiant voice this Sunday morning
from shadows in the woods. A feathery
tenor trill mated with boombox orchestra.
Who was singing? I stopped to listen—
a shame to leave such a voice for only birds
to hear. A song in Italian about return
of the swallow in spring. The song ended,
the singer bowed and turned away.
Oaks still listening, the sky March-clear—
did I imagine? There are no swallows here.


As if I’d never seen it before—
this angle of sun, these shades of green
emerging from dead, and everything
so high, sure-rooted. Warblers singing,
their tiny feet clasped around tightropes
of branch or twig, their low gravity-
center grounded, their lightness in flight.


What a waste of a landscape,
this pink sunset dreamscape
which you match with your passion-
pink van and camp chair.
Oh you’ll breathe the clean air
like the summit of fashion,

and drink your iced beverage
that gives you some leverage
for facing the starred dark
that shines on the water
(oh where’s the bug-swatter?)
while the wolves and coyotes bark.


Headstones and dead bones
confined within metal bars
as if they’d escape—
wild plum dances in white bloom
with no regard for fences.


    for Loki (2011-2024)

The image stays in my head,
a stain on memory I wouldn’t even try
to remove, fresh as a young dog gone now,
flying over sagebrush light as bees
from the hives, insistent as forget-me-not
twining my bootlaces. It evokes summer
on this blue-green spherical treasure
we call Earth—summer brief as springtime
into snow, the plague of years. Alive
in memory—dog meeting mountain,
flying without wings.


Why do Fibonacci Numbers occur in pinecones?
—Victoria Li

pine cone
along the
trail, resting on its
side, those brachts still intact; upper
brachts gnawed off by critters—squirrels, maybe
               deer, raccoons.

feast in
a single
pine cone. And just look
around, giant cones of gray pine
everywhere littering the railroad grade—not litter!

the wild
critters through
a hard cold winter.
I could collect the seedless cones
for fire starter in my wood stove, watch the flames  

manner, in
a Fibonacci
sequence like a work of art or
like a poem flickering comfort to heart and hearth.

Today’s LittleNip:

A tightrope trail

—Taylor Graham

tread terraced into hill
between woods
and railroad track

one-shoe wide
at mercy of weather.


Our thanks to Taylor Graham for her poetry and photos today, and condolences for the loss of her fine canine pal, Loki. TG writes that Loki “was a good dog, partner, companion, ready to explore the world.” Of course she will be missed.

Our recent Seed of the Week was “Tightrope”, so watch for mentions of such a contraption in today’s poetry. Be sure to check each Tuesday for the latest Seed of the Week.

Forms TG has sent us this week include a Tanka (“Old Churchyard”); some Normative Syllabics (“Sketched on Trail-Crest”); a Cherita (“A tightrope trail”); some BushBallad Meter that is also a response to last week’s Ekphrastic photo [see below] (“Campsite”); a Word-Can Poem that is also an Ode or Epitaph for Loki (“High Meadow”); and a Fibonacci Sequence (“A Spiral Cone”). The BushBallad Meter was one of our Triple-F Challenges last week.

A note that the Cameron Park workshop, which normally would meet on Tuesday, April 2, was going to be cancelled because the library will be closed, but it has found a new home for the day at the Millwork Moonraker on Robin Lane in Cameron Park.
Click on Medusa's UPCOMING NORCAL EVENTS ( for details. While you're there, check out the workshop on April 6 in Placerville: Explore Riparian Landscape Through Art, Poetry and Native Plants, and the Wakamatsu workshop coming up April 14. Poetry Month is a-poppin' in El Dorado County!  
For more 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 And of course you can always click on Medusa's UPCOMING NORCAL EVENTS ( for details about future poetry events in the NorCal area—not the least of which is Sacramento Poetry Center’s busy schedule of events to celebrate National Poetry Month coming up in April. Go to their website at and click on Poetry Month @ SPC for all the skinny.

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

This week, in addition to one from Taylor Graham (see above), we received Ekphrastic poems  from Nolcha Fox Joe Nolan, and Stephen Kingsnorth:

—Nolcha Fox, Buffalo, WY

I’m sitting next to babbling brook,
though what it prattles, I can’t tell.
My hearing aids are in the van.
My husband says the flowers
are all blooming, and
they smell so nice.
But allergies are blooming, too,
so I hold tissues to my nose.
I can’t bend down to pick the flowers.
Arthritis makes me achy-breaky.
Wind now chills me to the bone.
I left my sweater in the drawer.
I think I should be somewhere else.
Like home.

* * *

—Joe Nolan, Stockton, CA

Someone took some LSD
Before painting up this poetry–
A scene of perfect harmony--
Beauty born of nature.

A pop-top
His and hers
Adirondack chairs
In which to dawdle
By a river
Fed by waterfall.

Picnic table
All well-set,
Above the sliding door.

Where are the beautiful people
Needed to complete
This Kinkaid-psychedelia?

* * *

—Stephen Kingsnorth, Coedpoeth, Wrexham, Wales

What is this gloss of fuzzy rocks,
blur filter, romance photo shock,
home comforts in fake fantasy?
Abundant blooms whose bugs removed,
this sterile plot, too colourful,
where insect beaks must search in vain.
That bird of prey glides low off course,
though not natural habitat,
but making mark, confusing cloud.
See frothy flow of turquoise stream,
the purple mountain,, verdant growth,
spring season, summer and the fall.
The dog unphased by downwind scents
of bolder deer, and even bears—
or senseless, laid low, drug induced?

Trim rainbow frills on cover sheet,
the lean to for the Volkswagen,
and lean to theme for picture look.
Flame pyramid of campfire build
without the need for heat, so reel,
a dream delivered in a van.
Both peach and puce for plastic chairs,
by conifers, deciduous,
the shapely leaves to aid our site.
Too many anchors in this frame,
unless expansive, final scale;
beginners’ challenge to complete.
These pieces, busy scenery,
straight edge, corner, fussy bit,
packed only in a jigsaw mix.
And where to start? Blue box for me,
unique the shade in palette range,
so look for standout in the field.

* * *

Here is an Ars Poetica about Ekphrastic prompts from Stephen Kingsnorth:

—Stephen Kingsnorth

I hunger for ekphrastic prompt,
a call of nature, instinct romp,
rich lode of words, mined idioms,
associations, mind controlled.
Set image, imprint, opens store,
a gallery of fruits displayed,
a hazel twig, diviner’s rod,
releases spring held underground.

Is it that picture aids the terms,
a complement to understand?
Perhaps the image stirs the cause,
an inspiration lost before.
Maybe imagination brewed,
a story culled from history,
or fantasy of future called,
an episode, freed zeitgeist, told.

The enforced rest of Parkinson,
a muscle waste, but mindful wrest,
is that unsettled brain at work,
provokes the need, self-castigate?
So should I paste my own bill-post,
and prosecute the case myself,
and so dispose my ill-at-ease,
some comfort for myself at least?

* * *

Claire J. Baker has sent a clever Cinquain:
 —Cartoon Courtesy of 
Public Domain

—Claire J. Baker, Pinole, CA

Her heart
a piece of toast,
soul a bowl of warm milk.
Ageless, but often she was seen

* * *

Caschwa (Carl Schwartz) has sent us a Question Poem which is also a response to the recent SOW, “Tightrope”:

—Caschwa, Sacramento, CA

isn’t every new attempt a tightrope?

aren’t all questions enigmas?

are partnerships often conspiracies?

shouldn’t the path not taken be very clean?

does CRT explain the black hole in space?

why was I chosen to do someone else’s dirty work?

will carrying an A+ stamper and stamp pad raise my GPA?

why do men carry two testicles but no answers?

if I ask her to marry me, will she say repeat the question?

who said, I have but one lie to give to my country?

* * *

This is Carl’s response to our current SOW, “Spring Chickens”. He says it “might be a new form: Quatrains, 9-7-9-7, first and third lines rhyme”. It needs a name, CS. For now, I’ll call it Carl’s Spring Chickens:


you girls have certainly been busy
last week it was a tightrope
to make us insecure and dizzy
now it’s a spring, of all things

well I’m going to have to draw the line
Bungie jumping, not my style
lesser risks are acceptably fine
for this aging spring chicken

rode bicycles before helmets were
required, never got a scratch
rode the Pike’s wooden roller coaster
sure we would hit the ocean

proposed in the springtime, “I sure will!”
had four decades together
never ever fell like Jack and Jill
but sickness took her from me

motorcycle pushed the envelope
too far on one occasion
healed and happy, no loss of high hope
time to move on and relax

* * *

Carl has also sent us, as he puts it, “Quinzaines galore”:


I’m all you will ever want
or hope to obtain
are you in?

today’s weather forecast showed
T-storms at noon time
where were they?

there’s no cash in my pocket
when I arrive home
who needs it?

I planted 5 or 6 bulbs
in the front garden
where’s the switch?

black baby buggy bumpers
can you repeat that
five times fast?

she sells sea shells down by the
sea shore, she sells sea
what I mean?

from the whole world’s a stage coach
to best SUV
where to, hon?

* * *

And here is a  Rannaigecht from Carl:


just by opening the door
a new season, fresh and live
sights, sounds, smells, tastes, majestic
see kinetic acorns dive

* * *

In memoriam of Taylor Graham’s dog, Loki, Katy Brown has sent us two poems which could be called Odes or Epitaphs. TG wrote one (see above), and these are Katy’s. And don’t forget that Katy and TG will be facilitating another Wakamatsu workshop on Sunday, April 14. See UPCOMING NORCAL EVENTS ( for details. Here are Katy’s poems:
Cooling off in the sprinkler
—Photo by Katy Brown

was a good dog.
Curiosity attached to a nose.
Mischief in motion.
was a clever dog.
Meticulous tracker,
she followed the scent.
was a great dog.
Love in a fur coat,
she delighted in the world.
was a tracking dog,
following scent into
the shadowed world.
was a wonderful dog.
She was heart in motion.
was an irrepressible dog.
A joyful explorer, always alert.
was a singular dog.
There will never be another like her.

—Katy Brown, Davis, CA
—Photo by Taylor Graham

—Katy Brown
It was easier with a dog, even an old tracking dog.
Loki had a keen sense of smell and
the protective spirit of a shepherd.
The fatal attack near Georgetown was just too close.
Walking alone in lion country, now that
Loki has crossed the rainbow bridge,
seems more perilous than before.
Even with a loud air horn and big staff.
The woman, walking alone, is no stranger
to the wild world.  She knows to look up
for potential predators on limbs in trees.
She knows to watch for snakes near the trail.
She appreciates the wildlife and vegetation
on these walks in the wilderness.
Before long, she will walk with a companion,
chosen for its experience and temperament.
Four eyes and ears, and one of them,
with a keen tracker’s nose and curiosity,
will make the walks more relaxing.
They will share many adventures.
Both of them, safer for the shared experience.
Both of them, smiling together on the trail.
The added danger of walking alone in lion country
—greatly reduced with a keen companion.


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.) Brush up on your Tanka:


•••AND/OR: Last Sunday, MK featured some Tan-Renga (short Renga) from Christina Chin and Uchechukwu Onyedikam ( Why don’t you and one of your poetry pals write one or more Rengas? If you write a Tanka with another poet, it becomes a Renga. One poet writes the first three lines (7-5-7), the second poet finishes the two other lines (7-7):


•••AND/OR: Let’s write some Rengas together! You write a two-line (7-7) response to my three and send it in to You write ‘em, I’ll post ‘em! Here—I’ll start:

blanket of yellow
fluff soon to become feathers
shrill sounds of spring chicks

•••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 “Spring Chickens”.


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

•••Ars Poetica:
•••BushBallad Meter:
•••Carl’s Spring Chickens: Any number of Quatrains, 9-7-9-7, rhyme lines 1 and 3
•••Cinquain (Crapsey): AND/OR See for info about its inventor, Adelaide Crapsey.
•••Ekphrastic Poem: 
•••Fibonacci (Fib) poem:
•••Normative Syllabics: AND/OR
•••Question Poem:
•••Renga, Renga Chain:
•••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


A reminder that El Gigante presents
Christopher Buckley on Zoom tonight, 7pm.
For info about these and other
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!