Friday, March 08, 2024

Gather Ye Daffodils

 —Poetry and Photos by Taylor Graham,
Placerville, CA
—And then scroll down for
Form Fiddlers’ Friday, with poetry by
Nolcha Fox, Stephen Kingsnorth,
Joe Nolan, Michael H. Brownstein,
Caschwa, Joyce Odam,
and Acelin Kane

Out the door and out to greet the morning.
Time to reboot the computer in your head. Listen.
That’s no old winter song the towhee’s trilling.
Maybe it’s the avian version of  “gather ye rosebuds
while ye may.” Who knows? the words are yours
to find. And the brain works freer, fresher
when the body is engaged in moving.
February rains have plumped and plushed
the moss on stone and stump, a thousand
soft green pillows if you need a moment’s rest.
The grass will never be sweeter.
In droughty summer you’ll recall this living
green-gem day. Was it just a dream?
Get out your camera,
you may need proof this day is real.

Last year’s star-thistle stands brittle
as if forever, with a dead
white blossom at each branching tip—
golden stars turned to ash.


Claytonia—Indian lettuce—
heart-shaped green leaf on
slender stem. Then,
a jazzy rough cupped disk

with a tiny
faceted green gem,
soon to burst into one
pale pink blossom. In all

these shapes and phases of
its spring, I
pick a mouthful while my
dog grazes on

green grass whose
solitary jewel is the dew.


Another communal flutter session
around the feeders overlooking our east field.
Titmouse chases the nuthatch away,
jay’s jabbering and throwing uneaten seed
down for migrant sparrows and juncos—
a model of unintended generosity.
Now a woodpecker replaces the titmouse.
I never provide enough. I might scatter
cornbread crumbs but no one wants them.
On the backwoods edge, a vagrant cat
furrows the fur of its brow with homicidal
(or is it avicidal?) aspirations.
But the seed is gone, the birds fly off
so I can refill the feeders.


How high the waters, wild the storm to hoist
this pennant on wrecked debris—
ghost flag of a stripped ship.


Beyond the locked
bar gate across the track
where no train
runs, beyond the official trail

we start walking —
our first time
here. No marker tells how
far we’ve got to go.

The track is long deserted,
train not running
anymore. We walk between abandoned
rails, muddy paths.

If the spirit moves us
we may run.


Today’s LittleNip:

—Taylor Graham   

What’s that garnet-red
I glimpsed thru trees, here just off
railroad track and trail?
Oh, another derelict
red car, once gem-like, rusting.


Spring is tiptoeing in around here, despite the recent storms; Taylor Graham has written about it this morning, and we are grateful to her for her fine poetry. Forms she has used this week include two Bema's Bests (“Is It Jewel, Blossom, or Salad?” and “No Milestones”); a Pastoral that is also a Word-Can Poem (“Pastoral Frenzy”); a Tanka (“It Comes Down to This”); a Kimo that is also an Ekphrastic on her photo (”Paved Creek Thru Town”); and a Ryūka (“Among Spring Green”). The Bema’s Best was one of the Triple-F Challenges last week.

Tonight in El Dorado County, there will be a book launch for
A River Called Home—a river fable by Robin Center and Moira Magneson, at The Barn at Camp Lotus in Lotus, CA, 5-7pm. And then next Monday morning, Poetic License read-around takes place in Placerville at the Sr. Center, 10:30am. 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

This week we received responses to last week’s Ekphrastic photo from Nolcha Fox, Stephen Kingsnorth, and Joe Nolan:

—Nolcha Fox, Buffalo, WY

The table set
for tea for one.
The finest china,
buttered scone
filled with red jam.
Flowers in a
matching vase
and near my plate
distracts me from
the empty chair
where you once sat.

• • •

Stephen Kingsnorth, our resident in Wales, writes that “the EK led me in a little rant”. Appropriate comments here from a Britishman—and who better to talk about the daily tea?

—Stephen Kingsnorth, Coedpoeth, Wrexham, Wales

But what a setup, fairy tale,
a nonsense to those in the know—
I’m animated, sacred cow,
that studio could blow the show,
misrepresent ceremony.

It’s scone that gives the game away
(some rhyme with ‘cone’, but me, I’m ‘con’)
for who could have so wide a gob
at English tea, in café, home,
when daintily is how it’s done?

Blue Willow pattern, English set—
we use these pieces in our home
because my grandpa, grandma did,
with milk jug—take the roses out—
and if they’re plastic, in the bin.

A knife important as the spoon,
and sugar bowl with silver tongs,
with serviette to dab the mouth;
where clotted cream, preserve preferred,
but never two halves joined as one.

Which first applied, by county lines,
in Devon, teen home, jam on top,
but Cornwall border, foreign ways;
and pastry offered, fruit or plain—
I’m for the latter—don’t distract.

A stronger brew, as I would have,
unlike the ‘tea-dash’, Auntie Flo—
both white and brown in equal tide
(why little boys would want tea cold?)—
but we could not offend our aunt.

Back after war, end ration books,
they sent that cream up London way;
it came by post, in tin with string,
and thrilled us kids, in fifties gear.
Now you’d be sick—the postman’s week.

* * *

—Joe Nolan, Stockton, CA
This must be English tea?
Open wide,
Across the gums,
Look out, tummy,
Here it comes!

And its full
Of yummy jam?

And is that
A slather of butter?
That's the way
To do a scone.   

Too good to be true.
And it comes with tea and flowers?
Maybe British Imperialism wasn’t all bad?

* * *

Two Haiku this morning from Michael Brownstein. Be sure to check out the Kitchen tomorrow for more of Michael's poetry:


in the shade, Basho's
ghost sings its praise to blue skies—
wind imagery


the ghost of Basho
sits under the gingko tree
perfumed imagery

—Michael H. Brownstein, Jefferson City, MO

* * *

Another Haiku, this one from Carl Schwartz (Caschwa):
—Caschwa, Sacramento, CA

it would only hold
the music page upside down
and no other way

* * *

Here are five Katautas from Joyce Odam. This form uses the question-answer format as laid out here by Joyce: 

—Joyce Odam, Sacramento, CA

What is that bright sound?
Whenever I hear color
rage against light, there is grief.

What does the sky pull?
The geese cried down this morning.
It was too bright to see them.

What will release us?                                    
Shadows pass through each other
then separate with no touch.

Will we remember?
Blue beads will break to a path,
then just the string, then the clasp.

Will there be regret?
Love aches with hunger, then starves.
There is taste, then aftertaste.

(prev. pub. in Medusa’s Kitchen, 10/31/17)

* * *

Questions. All writing, including poetry, lets questions (implied or open) hang in the air. I asked form-whiz Taylor Graham if she knew of poetry forms that were mainly—or all—questions, and here is her reply:

Book of Questions (El libro de las preguntas) consists of couplets and single lines (usually 4 or 5 grouped together) that are questions—no introductory sentence, no answers or commentary. 

"Then there's the Quinzaine. There may be other such forms, but this is the only one that comes to mind. I suppose you might, with punctuation, make the entire stanza a question (?). This is what says:

"The Quinzaine is an internet form found at 
Shadow Poetry and Instant Poetry for Kids, named from the French quinze (fifteen) for the 15 syllables the poem contains. The Quinzaine is:
        —a tristich, a poem of 3 linesm
        —syllabic, 7/5/3 syllables per linem
        —composed of: L1 a statement, L2 and L3 questions related to the statement.”
Here is TG’s example of a Quinzaine:

—Taylor Graham
Green tomatoes on the sill,
do they mourn the end
of garden?
Our deck is damp with drizzle.
When might fire season
ever end?
Dark-eyed juncos have arrived.
Does this mean winter
has found us?

* * *

There is also the Question Poem as listed on Pen & the Pad, at

Here is a Question Poem from newcomer Acelin Kane, about which she writes, “This piece was a kind of experiment for me. I noticed that I include a lot of questions in my journal entries and some of my poetry and it got me inspired. I wanted to try and write an experimental form where the poem was solely made up of questions.”

Acelin is a college student, herbalist, and aspiring teacher originally hailing from Colorado. She is a queer disabled author and activist and currently lives in Wisconsin with her partner and their cat, Turnip. You can find her on X/Twitter @acelinkane. Welcome to the Kitchen, Acelin, and don’t be a stranger!

Here is Acelin’s Question Poem:

—Acelin Kane, Wisconsin

Do you still miss me? Do I want to know? Would it make a difference? Would a difference feel like a difference? And what if it did, would I be happier? Could I ever go back to how I felt before? Can time turn back with the sheer force of will? If it could, would life stay stuck forever? Would it be a better or a worse hell to stay stuck with the devil you know? And what about you then? Did you feel stuck with me? Did you think I was too stuck on you? Did I make you happy? Did you mean it when you said you loved me? Did you wish you could stop? Did you regret stopping? How was it for you after? Did slowly ruining me do it for you? Was that enough? Did you want to take something more? More than my soul? Has anyone else made you feel that way? If anyone else could then why are you still here? Do you know that you are the snake lurking in my garden? Do you know that I turn you into a million things you are not? Do you know it’s because I cannot believe a man could do everything you did? Do you know there are people worse? Do you know I’ve never met any of them? Are you proud to be a unique kind of Hell to me? Do I want to know? 

If you can think of another poetry form that uses questions, don’t be shy about letting us know about it at

* * *

Nolcha Fox has been ferreting around in MK’s Calliope’s Closet page [] for prompts, and she writes that “Robin Gale Odam’s abandoned stairs idea sent me off into a potpourri of images.” (Scroll down on that page to “Some Sample Ekphrastic Subjects.) Here’s Nolcha’s Ekphrastic response (which is also a Haibun) to Robin’s abandoned stairs photo:

—Nolcha Fox

You used me as a rug, a rag, a set of stairs to clamber to devotion from another with more money and more fame. You didn’t care about the dents and whacks your rising pride inflicted on my tender hide. I was just a can of nectar you enjoyed, then crushed and tossed, litter on a highway to perdition.

I’d rather be abandoned
than to join you on the road
to bad intentions.

* * *

And here is another Ekphrastic poem, this one by Stephen Kingsnorth, based on a photo by Taylor Graham that was posted on MK on 2/23/24:
—Photo by Taylor Graham

—Stephen Kingsnorth

A walker rests against the tree,
not strange with tangled undergrowth.
But with this frame come question marks—
can such support be burdensome,
equipped as seat, perambulate,
but not freewheeling mountain bike?
Is it redundant, old machine,
a flying carpet, had its day,
though part recycled, resting post,
awaiting daily route’s repose?
If this four-wheeled, rare crash conclude,
its forward motion hitting trunk—
through ‘tree’ a clearer steer, report,
jalopy, hood in cut and shut.
So tired, retired, however gloss,
in ready black this throne awaits
Zen master of the overview;
will they turn scrub to paradise?


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.) This week, try your hand at one or all of the question poems. Writing one of each will solidify the differences between them in your mind:

•••Question Poem:, either in the couplet form that Neruda used, or like the longer example that Acelin Kane used [see above].

•••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 “Moody”.


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

•••Bema’s Best:
•••Ekphrastic Poem: 
•••Kimo: AND/OR
•••Pastoral Poetry: AND/OR AND/OR, A short pastoral poem is called an Eclogue (, also an Idyll or a Madrigal.
•••Question Poem:
•••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


—Public Domain Photo Courtesy of Joe Nolan

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


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