Friday, March 15, 2024

The Ides of March

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

It’s an early Monday mood, families having
breakfast, getting ready for the work-and-school
week, worrying about practicalities like money.
I’m looking out my kitchen pane sprinkled
with more than the forecast “intermittent light
rain,” meteorologists uncertain as stockbrokers
about what’s really going to happen. Beyond
the window, my garden where nothing grows but
ground squirrels, and a solitary crow heckling
from the wellhouse roof, protesting that I don’t
provide a field of golden corn. Be glad
for what you’ve got, I tell him—and myself.


Winter of sailing
sandbags down the creek becoming
a river, sandbags
off the levee that was

road, water remaking
landscape that was
pasture, was neighborhood and home.
We woke to new year

back to zero which was
mud from which
the water creatures crawled ashore
to live under

waves of uncertain weather, sandbags
sailing like clouds.


This small wordsworth of
golden daffodils in full
bloom with lush green grass
outside RV storage, by
a campaign sign fallen flat.


What does white moth seek?
A spirit dances spirals
of woods light above the trail.

How does the earth tilt?
Four dogs come bounding unbound
from human leashes to joy.

What does river say?
Man gazes across water
rushing his footprints away.


Behind the concrete dumpster wall,
not far from financial planner
and dentist, sits a car-seat which
served as resting place for someone
last summer. Now I find only
assorted storm-sodden items
of clothing, fallen leaves turning
to compost, and a plastic soft-
drink cup, mold’s permanent abode.


Among a herd of Angus and Charolais, one heifer
lies flat on pasture ground. Too far away
to tell if she’s breathing. If I’d seen my horse
like that, I’d have called the vet. No farmhouse
in sight. My dog and I keep walking the trail.
The day is overcast and so is my mood.
At the bridge we turn back. There’s the field.
There’s the heifer awake, alive—
not trounced by anything but maybe a touch
of pre-spring fever. Grazing now
with the rest of the herd. Clouds persist, but sky
and earth look brighter.


Today’s LittleNip:

—Taylor Graham

We wait under tilting circles
of one turkey vulture—scanning
for dead poets among living?
Are our poems alive?


The Ides of March bring (or is it brings?) us more fine poetry and photos from Taylor Graham, including a Tanka (“Bright Spot”); some 8-syllable lines (“Seasonal”); a Bema's Best (“Sandbags Down the Creek”); a Ryūka that is also a Question Poem (“Before the Reading”); a Word-Can Poem (“Insufficiencies”); and a Katauta (“Before Spring”). The Question Poem and the Katauta were two of last week’s Triple-F Challenges.

In El Dorado County poetry this week, Poets and Writers of the Sierra Foothills features Frank Gioia and Paul Godwin in Camino this Sunday, and Poetry in Motion read-around meets in Placerville on Monday morning. Then on Thursday, Cameron Park Library Poets and Writers Workshop meets at 5:30pm. 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.

Another workshop that is coming up in ED Country, this one in Georgetown on Saturday, March 23, 1-4pm, is Explore Riparian Landscape Through Art, Poetry and Native Plants with Alicia Funk, Corina del Carmel, and Lara Gularte. You need to pre-register for this one at April, National Poetry Month, will be crackling with readings and other events, not the least of which is another Wakamatsu workshop in Placerville with Taylor Graham and Katy Brown on April 14. Register for that at

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 Caschwa, Nolcha Fox, and Stephen Kingsnorth. Caschwa (Carl Schwartz) took the surprising slant of the lion’s teeth; Nolcha used the “out like a lion” angle; and Stephen wrote about some of the many roles of the lion figure in England; he included photos:

—Caschwa, Sacramento, CA

should I pay a little more
and get one of those
electric toothbrushes
that swirls in circles?

it has really been tough
going using the straight
handle ones they give
away at the dental office

maybe next time I’m in
town I’ll stop by the store
and grab me some of
those newfangled (pun
intended) devices

* * *

—Nolcha Fox, Buffalo, WY

The lion and the lamb,
a march to a hill,
a ribbon of roses
I followed to you,
the blood and the spear.

* * *
 Lion Statue, Trafalgar Square, London
—Public Domain Photo Courtesy of 
Stephen Kingsnorth
—Stephen Kingsnorth, Coedpoeth, Wrexham, Wales

If British Empire is its stand,
does lion roar with bleat of lamb?
It takes me to the prophet’s text:
both will lie down, in peace, as one.
But human trait, genetic trail,
is snarl, growl, teeth, claim monarch’s name,
a domination, king with pride,
the mane cat prowling on the veld.

Now this is mode. one of attack,
like those which guard Trafalgar Square —
a battle won, past days, acclaim.
‘Land of hope and glory’ remains
anthem, nation’s prime concert, ‘Prom’—
flag wave music, lyrical shame?
So there were two kings, left their stamp,
just as King Richard, Lionheart,
 —Public Domain Photo Courtesy of 
Stephen Kingsnorth

With katzenjammer, caterwaul,
its rumble with a five mile spread,
the highest count of decibels,
for any beast in prairie lair;
is this the carcass, Samson’s tale,
bee swarm’s retreat for honey sweet,
brand syrup tin for Tate and Lyle?
It’s changing now, for world’s moved on,
Bible, empire, but not uproar.
 —Public Domain Photo Courtesy of 
Stephen Kingsnorth

* * *

Taylor Graham sent us a poem made up of 8-syllable lines this week (“Seasonal”, see above). Here is a moody tour-de-force by Joyce Odam that is made up of seven-syllable lines:
 —Photo Courtesy of Public Domain

—Joyce Odam
After “Natural History Museum, London” 
(a photo by Tony Ginger)

Everywhere there are stairways
and halls, curved walls and windows,
ornate shadows and random
echoes that burrow through the
old places that seem to be
inhabited, though they are
empty now—all the olden
palaces and castles and
cathedrals—some in forests,
some on moors. Even the seas
remember them—nearby or
distant—all the old tourists
with their fables and tales. I’ve
read of them and lived a few.
I know how they feel, and smell,  
and moan, ever-so-slightly
at every departure. Their
musty draperies still hold
together and their cellars
still guard the wine. Their stories
are buried in forgetting—
their stairways still climb, and their
walls still curve together in
searchings and followings. Damp
halls disappear into rooms
that watch the widows fill with
captured views that never change.

(prev. pub. in Medusa’s Kitchen, 8/27/19)

* * *

And here is an Ars Poetica from Stephen Kingsnorth, wherein he writes about the importance of poetry to him despite his ongoing battle with Parkinson’s Disease:
 —Public Domain Photo Courtesy of 
Stephen Kingsnorth
—Stephen Kingsnorth

I am a poet, foremost, first.
I’ll not let symptoms interfere—
though balance wayward, sway or turn,     
twitch, stumble, gout, or catch a fall,
handshake infirm or aching joint,
kick boxing though the woken night,
afflictions’ visit of the old,
arthritis—yes, the list is long.
But they’ll not dominate my lines,
or freeze me out from what I do,
as shuffle through the tipping point
to reach beyond imposed ill health.
Such imposition will not steal—
some claimed pathetic fallacy.

I am a poet, foremost, first.
I’ve words to write, as muse dictates,
a smith to bend wrought curlicues,
as wonder, wander through my world
of grief and joy, community;
apprentice journeyman unfolds
both secrets and the obvious,
with craft of glyphs laid side by side,
by rhythm berthed at pulse’s core.
I’ll not provide my illness space
to bully, assert, cower me.
This charlatan can’t have his way,
that sham, fake, but a shameless quack;    
my days are mine and so will be.

I’ll prove I’m poet first, foremost,
and not an advert, symptom’s reign.
It has no voice, less give it so,
can claim no power, unless allowed,
for it’s my verse from first to last,
that moves, if so, beyond that chance
encounter with drained dopamine—
whatever is afflicting you,
some metaphor that draws the line,
that illness claiming it is prime.
If you read me, my sick complaint,
then I have failed to dominate,
instead of being, complement,
the stanza as my one concern.

Treat as imposter vain disease;
why rant, accord significance?
Exhibit crown, though maybe clown
that versifies because I must.
I’ll not use fighting talk again,
as if the bout what’s all about,
this cheat who thinks the knockout his,
but won’t deflect me from what’s mine.
So while my will, ignore the lout,
his spouting in my ear I’m ill—
it’s an ill wind that blows no good—
creative stirred in paint and word,
and peerless gold when friends involved,
as I count peers in my surround.
 Stephen and Denise Kingsnorth

Our recent Ekphrastic photo challenge featured a tea set, and Stephen sent this photo of him at tea with his lovely wife, Denise.


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.) Here’s a crazy-maker, the Barbee. (One of our SnakePals is Sam Barbee, but I’m sure this has no relation to him...)


•••AND/OR the equally exacting form with an interesting name, the Blood Quill:

•••Blood Quill:

•••AND/OR a form that is appropriate to the season and the times we live in, the Bryant:


•••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 “Kites”.


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

•••Ars Poetica:
•••Bema’s Best:
•••Blood Quill:
•••Ekphrastic Poem: 
•••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


 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
Luna’s Cafe retired barista/owner
Art Luna will speak today 
about his experiences at Luna’s—
CSUS, 3pm.

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.
 LittleSnake celebrates Spring

with crocuses