Friday, March 01, 2024

Moonlight Fantasy

 —Poetry and Photos by Taylor Graham,
Placerville, CA
—And then scroll down for
Form Fiddlers’ Friday
, with poetry by
Joe Nolan, Nolcha Fox, Stephen Kingsnorth,
Claire J. Baker, Joshua C. Frank,
and B. Lynne Zika

A junior jinx, a gremlin in the circuitry       
squashed your poem like a small animal.
My computer declined to save even a snippet
of your verse. What remained on the screen
was an empty vessel. I flipped the switch,
killed the machine, replaced it
with a walk outdoors to settle my mood.
A winter moonlit evening
transformed every stone to silver
mica in reflected light, bright
as your poem that survives
death by computer.


Did they come, surreptitious between storms, to this confluence by winter moonlight? Prospectors for gold with their equipment, trudging trails flooded with so much rain—did they misjudge the current so it snatched their gear away, left it beached where the canyon narrows? Stormwater rich with treasure—

garnets, diamonds, gold flakes
washing over the truly
awesome waterfall


These mirific woods
too steep for walking—why
posted No Trespass?—
so deep and dark, I’ll traverse
them in imagination.


Why, in the midst of trail,
Is a perfectly good sleeping bag
There, tossed in a heap,
Not a sleeper inside?
Even though it’s morning, sunbeams
Sleep behind horizon. But bird-
Song? It bursts from every tree.


Who’s riding shotgun?
A dog and his man should be
but one with wind-blown head out the window,
the other with hands on the wheel.


On our second try for the pass, a ghost
stepped out of the trees in guise of a horse
gazing at us till we quit. Did I sense
a spirit of the land to guard this trail?

Muddy with rain, and difficult the trail
skirting an old railroad track, history’s ghost
running between the rails... Can this make sense
of why our third try never found the horse?

After storms, could one even ride a horse,
so many trees fallen across the trail?
My dog refused to go on. Could she sense
cougar, or bear, or a malignant ghost?

It takes another sense to walk this trail
without the ghost in guise of a white horse.


Today’s LittleNip:

—Taylor Graham

A cloud-cloaked moon gives
thunder, lightning, rain instead—
open curtains, look!

 Taylor Graham reading at last Sunday’s 
Poetry of the Sierra Foothills
—Photo by Lara Gularte

* * *

March is roaring in around here like a lion, bringing us Taylor Graham with a grand swoosh of wet weather. Our thanks to her for today's fine poetry and photos. Be sure to check out her latest book,
Walking the Bones (Hot Pepper Press).

Forms TG has used today include a Word-Can Poem (“What Went Wrong); a Haibun (“Moonlight Fantasy”); a Tanka (“Tiny Sign on Giant Tree”); a Double Acrostic (“Trail Puzzle”); a response to Medusa's Ekphrastic photo of last week (“Who's Steering?”); a Sestina Sonnet (“White Horse”). and a Haiku (“Tonight's Winter Light”). The Sestina Sonnet and the Double Acrostic were both Triple-F Challenges last week.

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 Friday’s Ekphrastic photo from Joe Nolan, Nolcha Fox, and Stephen Kingsnorth (in addition to the one above from Taylor Graham):

—Joe Nolan, Stockton, CA
A happy man
With his happy dog—
An image of tranquility.

What need has he
To change his course?

May nature have other plans?
What’s around the next bend?
Stay tuned
For how he’ll
How happy he was
Back then,
Before he got a horse.

* * *

—Nolcha Fox, Buffalo, WY

He’ll be great behind the wheel.
He hates cell phones, radios.
He’s sharp, alert, a friendly guy
who doesn’t lose his cool.
He’ll be great behind the wheel
as long as roads are free
of cats and rabbits, he’ll ignore
the posted speed and chase
them over curbs and brush.
That’s what doggies do.

* * *

—Stephen Kingsnorth, Coedpoeth, Wrexham, Wales

A golden world, environment—
retriever, trees, car window frame,
through filtered sun, or gaffer, grip,
who set lighting equipment up.
Who’s driven autumn merriment,
the middleclass in leisure time?
I fear it, half a life ago,
me on the road to where I am.

In one steer, dog hangs over wheel—
hangover cure, hair of the dog—
distinctive fur in foreleg light,
within a whisker, DUI.
And there’s that scarf hung over neck,
those rainbow lines, by woven skill,
to hide ID medallion,
or chip implanted under skin?

My dogs recalled, those seasoned scarves,
so much retrieved from early days,
not prey of hunters’ shooting game,
but memories before escape;
of mother love, Dad, strains resolved,
of family, wife, children, friends,
of college days and learning ways,
of fellowship, companion bread.

With host of saints clouding beyond,
contentment, more than gleaming smile;
but now charged, dump greeting cards,
whose signatures call up passed shades.
Like fading days, full glory scene,
yet falling leaves, year’s task fulfilled,
are not for discard, sweep away,
but tilth for resurrection seed.

* * *

Nolcha Fox sent a lovely-but-sad Haibun in response to our current Tuesday’s Seed of the Week, “Jewels”:

—Nolcha Fox

You kept me dry on days that rained discontent and flu. I hid behind your smile in a room of strangers. You waved your pom-poms when I didn’t want to show up on the field. You gave me a standing ovation when I couldn’t spit out the words.

And now, I am
a gold ring
missing its diamond. You are gone.

* * *

All this talk of winter moons inspired Claire Baker to pen her own response:

—Claire J. Baker, Pinole, CA

When the full moon was born,
this genius of the night
was carefully memorizing names

of stars, beginning with fires
near its circular rim—taking
care when it encountered

to the magnitude of explosions,
stars releasing pressures. Yes,

we poets are given huge sparkles
from atop earthly hills, now
snow-white as angel wings.

* * *

Here is a Rondeau by Joshua C. Frank:

—Joshua C. Frank

“We did the NFP [natural family planning] bit for awhile [sic]... and have felt revulsion over it ever since.  During that time we might have had at least two more children.”  
                    —Letter to the Editor, Seattle Catholic, 2002

Two empty chairs, each in its place—
The kitchen table’s vacant space,
Where our six children see the chill
Of unworn seats, both standing still
Like Tiny Tim’s by the fireplace.

We timed the marital embrace
To procreate at slower pace.
That empty phrase means none shall fill
Two empty chairs.

Our family planning did erase
Two precious souls we can’t replace;
We chose ourselves above God’s will.
Their nonexistence buys each frill,
And never shall their presence grace
Two empty chairs.

(First published in
The Society of Classical Poets)

* * *

Always-skillful Josh has also sent us a Villanelle. Love the repeated line: Oh look!  It’s yet another field of corn!

—Joshua C. Frank

I drive a Kansas highway, full of scorn;
The squares of endless flatness wear me down—
Oh look!  It’s yet another field of corn!

The semi truck behind me blasts its horn,
Allowing me to hear the driver’s frown—
I drive a Kansas highway, full of scorn.

Brochures for Highway 83 don’t warn
About vast fields of dried-out gray and brown—
Oh look!  It’s yet another field of corn!

The filling station food mart’s stocked with porn
(The playhouse of that agribusiness town)—
I drive a Kansas highway, full of scorn.

The highway’s shown the same old scene since morn;
I pass gray grass torn like a tattered gown—
Oh look!  It’s yet another field of corn!

The amber waves of grain the state has borne
Are harvested by every Big-Ag clown.
I drive a Kansas highway, full of scorn—
Oh look!  It’s yet another field of corn!

(First published in The Society of Classical Poets)

* * *

Here is an Italian Sonnet by B. Lynne Zika; go back to yesterday’s post for some more fine poetry by her:

—B. Lynne Zika, Burbank, CA

They go to arm themselves at the dry-stone wall.
The thin boy pulls a forked stick from his shirt
and bends toward a pebble in the dirt.
Tom says, “You won’t catch nothin’ at all,”
and snags a larger rock beside the gate.
He winds a strip of rubber around the stick,
cut from the limb of a black oak, strong and thick.
The thin boy stammers, “Tom, you’d better wait.”
But Tom’s got the slingshot pulled and aimed to
He fired awry. His daddy’s at the door.
A pane of glass shatters to the floor.
The old man cracks two shards beneath his boot.
Tom says, “Bill, I think you’d better go,”
then bends to take what’s coming, blow by blow.

* * *

And we have a closing Ekphrastic poem from Stephen Kingsnorth, based on a public domain photo posted in MK on Saturday, Feb. 24:

—Stephen Kingsnorth

What contrast, border, parched grey earth,
save cement strip, as tower above,
back garden to flat, uniform,
perennials despite storm norms.
This floral bed of pillowed blooms,
lies plump yet creased, sense drowsy scent,
a depth denied by plaster cast,
all vibrant texture, rainbow mix.
But where buzz bees, earwigs indeed,
those pollinators, plant refresh,
or infestations, draining sap,
when too close planted, petal fold?

What rhyme or reason drives our part
as painting, writing, crafting oeuvre,
in charting folks’ goals with a heart,
imparting hopeful attitude?
Our street art may be fantasy,
the scene as we’d prefer its view,
a home where we would rather be;
a fiction, visionary draw?


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.) I do believe the Bema’s Best was devised by Sacramento Poet Be Davison Herrera (who has passed away), though
Poet’s Collective left the “Be” off of her name. This form is based on 3’s and 5’s:

•••Bema’s Best:

•••AND/OR try a Blind Rhyme or Hidden Rhyme, which fools around with internal rhymes. (Be sure to scroll down for “Shit Creek”):

•••Blind Rhyme or Hidden Rhyme:

•••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 “Jewels”.


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

•••Acrostic Poem types:
•••Bema’s Best:
•••Blind Rhyme or Hidden Rhyme:
•••Double Acrostic (Carl Schwartz): first letters and first words of each line form Acrostics
•••Ekphrastic Poem: 
•••Sestina Sonnet (Joshua C. Frank): uses the Sestina algorithm for four end-words, plugged into the Sonnet form
•••Sonnet Forms: AND/OR AND/OR
•••Villanelle (rhymed; can be unrhymed):
•••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
photo, and send your poetic results to (No deadline.)

* * *

—Public Domain Photo


For info about 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.
Let's see: what rhymes with sss?
I know!—sss!