Friday, April 05, 2024

Chances to Venture

 —Poetry and Photos by Taylor Graham,
Placerville, CA
—And then scroll down to
Form Fiddlers’ Friday for poetry by
Nolcha Fox, Stephen Kingsnorth,
Claire J. Baker, and Caschwa

We take our daily walk as devotion
to the spirit, the hopefulness of coming
spring. This trail’s defined by railroad track
and ranch, its fence, security for a pale old
retriever dog and older wagon with wooden
spokes retiring into mud. Below pasture,
a shady niche surging with Indian lettuce
and damp dark earth. March is the balance
point. A tree’s fallen across the trail.
A flock of flitting birds raises its chorus
in brush leafing out in honeysuckle,
while a vulture circles overhead
recanting what the living think of spring.
We keep on walking like believers.

A chance to venture, open forest space
to walk my dogs—that was my only aim
that late spring morning with its greening grace,

following my dogs in unfettered chase.
But some cloud on the spirit overcame
the chance to venture. Open forest space

held threat or ghost I couldn’t quite erase
from mind. I called my dogs; they left their game
that late spring morning. With its greening grace

the woods held secrets, and a girl whose face
was on the front page—missing—with her name.
A chance to venture open forest space,

a hunt where bones with leaf-fall interlace.
Then, decades later, the same woods aflame—
late summer morning scorched its greening grace.

Another year, with ash and ghost I pace
the ravaged land where nature will reclaim
a chance to venture open forest space.
This late spring morning, with its greening grace.


Patience, I tell myself,
for the rehab of a rescue dog.
I’m finishing up the paperwork
and I haven’t even met him,
except darkly, in anticipation.
Dogs have their seasons,
but the wish for a dog is not
seasonal. How did he tumble
remotely onto my laptop screen,
eyes soft with compassion
and hope? Now
in my car, a woven line
that bound me to one dog
after another
until they were gone;
a dog crate in the bedroom
empty. Now, patience.


Rooster perched on driver’s head-
rest, driver in the shotgun
seat, hen looking out back-door
open to this spring morning.
Car parked beside the RR track
and the bike & hiking trail—
there when we started walking,
there when we came back again,

unchanged. Mustn’t there be some
story here? the who what where
when how and why? of it. Or
else there must be a poem.


This morning the world
is comprehensive as golf
among the tigers.

I shall walk the earth prepared
for whatever slinks or flies.

Blue sky’s opening
its eyes reflecting the pond
if not vice versa.
Midnight adjusted its lens
for daylight’s broken fragments.

Such a transaction
revises spring’s climate
while we’re unaware.

We’re wonderland hostages
finding our way as we can.


The bridge’s heart, an alcove of padlocks—“locked
in love,” they say. Shining, many-shaped and
-colored padlocks clicked shut on bridge railing
above the creek running high after storms. Bridge
between wind and water—solid ground so far below.
Once I stopped with Loki and clicked her picture,
a pleasing composition of life caught against the still-
life of bridge; today my dog is gone, the photo
remains. Beyond the bridge a man is singing opera—
E lucevan le stelle—and the stars were shining... 

Today’s LittleNip:

—Taylor Graham

We stopped mid-bridge where the heart-locks
shine rainbows high above the creek.
You asked, why lock the arch, when air
and water flow so free?


Taylor Graham has a new dog, Otis, a rescue that is part German shepherd and—possibly—part wolf. As usual, TG has turned her life into poetry, and we’re all very thankful for that. Forms she has used this week include two Word-Can Poems (“Believing Spring” and “Waiting to Meet the Dog”); a Villanelle (“Between Dirt Roads”); a Ryūka (“Trestle Trail”); some Normative Syllabics (“Spring Chickens”); and a Renga using random words (“Random Renga”). TG says, “Lacking a partner for the Renga, I got random words online for the partner-half.”

In El Dorado County this week, on Saturday afternoon (tomorrow), last week’s Riparian workshop moves to the library in Placerville. Then on Monday morning, Poetic License takes place in the Placerville Sr. Center. And don’t forget to register for the next Wakamatsu workshop by Taylor Graham and Katy Brown which will take place on Sunday, April 14. 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—not the least of which is Sacramento Poetry Center’s busy schedule of events to celebrate National Poetry Month. Go to their website at and click on Poetry Month @ SPC for all the details.

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 Ekphrastic poems from Nolcha Fox and Stephen Kingsnorth:

—Nolcha Fox, Buffalo, WY

I’d never seen that truck before
until it ran me over,
and dragged me to
a wished-for life,
a past I always wanted.
A farm so picture-perfect,
with horses and some cows,
a tractor and a barn of red,
a farmer and his son.
I thought I’d found my heaven
until the farmer said,
it was my job to run the place
since he was tired out.
I had no clue what I should do,
the son was just a toddler,
so I jumped in that pickup truck,
turned the key and prayed
that it would take me to
a place where I could sit
and rest my feet because
I am retired.

* * *

—Stephen Kingsnorth, Coedpoeth, Wrexham, Wales

Another jigsaw, Grandpa’s site,
in red and green with blue, brown,
of transport, field, then clothes horse count,
that rusted mailbox, kitten, hen.
From sward-play, where the tail unfolds,
see this is titled for the child;
its memory, implanted young,
discovery, as journey on.
So had he paused—not chicken run—
more likely what he saw in grass;
but surely kid not in the van—
so was he parked up on the track?
My puzzle not to reconstruct
as piece together, broken up;
but work on motives, moments spent,
as if a murder, I’m the ’tec.
Though no one cares, rebuilding plot,
except the scene as on the box;
just busybody, me, intrigued,
as all that’s seen—what is the cause?
From Panamas, blue ribbon bound
to tractor model, past its best,
these grazing saddles, outbuildings,
mine ignorance of rural life.
What fascinates the boy indeed
is not the cat or farm estate,
but Echo, sounding from the past—
according to the label sold.
He’ll have no truck with an exchange,
barter, ‘troque’ if you were French,
for memories too soon defiled,
new lamps for old, like classic con.
There’s more horsepower across the fence—
the wheels are tyred but paint’s good nick;
I bet the lad knows index tag—
you get the picture—oily rag.

* * *

Speaking of dogs, Claire Baker has sent us a Double Cinquain this week:
 —Public Domain Photo

—Claire J. Baker, Pinole, CA

These days
am offered more
puppy friends than humans.
Yes, for the masses tiny dogs—
more love:

Shih Tzus, black Labs,
tea cup Chihuahuas,
mug shots: snowy Malamutes, ah—
more love.

* * *

Caschwa (Carl Schwartz) writes, “I don’t remember what my first word was, but according to my late parents, it was “No!’” Here is a first-word Acrostic using the different inflections of my first word that my parents told me I practiced over and over.”


(the different inflections of) NO
—Caschwa, Sacramento, CA

No, too mushy!
No, maybe later
No, you knew that
No, I would never!
No, no, no, get it?
No, that’s wrong
No more greens, bring desert
No, too much
No, not even close
No hug, no eat
No, why would I want a bib?
No substitutions accepted
No, let me hold the spoon
No seconds, thank you
No, how could you?

* * *

And here is another first-word Acrostic from Carl, sort of a sequel to the No poem. I’m so thrilled that he spelled “lightning” right; you’d be stunned at how often people spell it with an E (lightening). My response to that is DON’T:



Don’t go outside until you
Get some raingear on, the clock has
Struck midnight, dark clouds, no moon
By which to illuminate the path, hail comes
Lightning fast

* * *

Carl also sent a Pantoum:


my electric-powered recliner chair
came with a remote device with arrows
the up-arrow brings the footrest down
the down-arrow brings the footrest up

came with a remote device with arrows
really quite handy once mastered
the down-arrow brings the footrest up
and there’s a reason behind that

really quite handy once mastered
came with a remote device with arrows
the down-arrow brings the footrest up
and there’s a reason behind that

the down-arrow brings the footrest up
the up-arrow brings the footrest down
and there’s a reason behind that
my electric-powered recliner chair

* * *

And here is a List poem from Carl that is also an Abecedarian (the poem is, not Carl. Carl is a Septuagenarian.)

Arrive                Abort 
Begin                 Bow out
Commence         Cease
Do it                  Desist
Enter                 Exit
Fire up               Forego
Get on               Gone
Here                  Hither
Inclusion            Incision
Joined                Junked
Kindle                Kill
Lighthearted       Livid
Manifold             Missing
Nice                   Nasty
On                     Off
Plethora             Paucity
Queenly             Quacky
Risen                 Resting
Start                  Stop
Tumultuous        Tiny
Universal            Unique
Vast                   Void
Wonderful           Wicked
Xanthochroid       Xeroderma
Yardstick             Yonder
Zig                     Zag

* * *

In addition to her Ekphrastic poem today (see above), Nolcha Fox sent us a Quadrille that is based on our current Tuesday Seed of the Week, “Abundance”.bAbout the Quadrille, she sends the following quote from the publication,
dVerse (dVerse — Quadrille Monday #198 — Fuzzy Frameworks): “The name for the Quadrille form is taken from an 18th Century dance, but as you may know, is also a poetic form of just 44 words (not counting the title) and includes one word the host provides to you.” This photo of Nolcha’s shows her little linden tree in front of the larger ash. Here is Nolcha’s Quadrille: 

 —Photo by Nolcha Fox

—Nolcha Fox

Of three ash limbs,
just one survived.
Cut down the tree,
it’s going to die!

Our neighbor said.
Now one limb
forms a canopy
so large, our neighbor.
says, Cut down that ash,
or it will stunt
the growth of your
little linden tree!

* * *

And here is an Ekphrastic poem from Stephen Kingsnorth, based on a photo that appeared in Medusa’s Kitchen on 3/23/24. Stephen often writes about photos that are not “official” Ekphrastic challenges. But then again, everything is an Ekphrastic challenge if you can use it for a poem, right? Here is Stephen’s work about the path to the sea:

—Stephen Kingsnorth

I love the beach by hearted trunk,
for gas storage, the dappled leaves,
a keyhole into wonderland,
both sloping reach and inlet cove.
The ness, a windbreak, cliff, scree, scrub,
still waters yet of tidal brine
for paddle in, or out canoe,
where time is left to sun and moon.
Completed laps are waves alone,
where ‘It’s a drag’ is rarely known,
for lunar pull more sliver beams,
yet heat is funnelled, warmer flesh.
This window through cork cambium
bypasses phloem and xylem flow,
the constant stream, root, canopy,
a tree of life in climate change.
As azure dies and night arrives
with stippled sky of pinprick lights,
I’ll see Orion, belted up,
as hunter for crab, Pisces fish.
The dark, like light, an active space,
so ask your questions, face yourself.


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.)  Take a cue from Nolcha Fox (above) and give a Quadrille a shot:

•••Quadrille: 44 words (not counting the title), includes one word the host provides to you. The word I'm providing today is popcorn.

•••AND/OR: The Bar Form (think "Star-Spangled Banner"!):

•••Bar Form:

•••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 “Abundance”.


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

•••Acrostic Poem types:
•••Ars Poetica:
•••Bar Form:
•••Cinquain (Crapsey): AND/OR See for info about its inventor, Adelaide Crapsey.
•••Ekphrastic Poem: 
•••List Poem:
•••Normative Syllabics: AND/OR
•••Pantoum: AND/OR
•••Quadrille: 44 words (not counting the title) and includes one word the host provides to you
•••Renga, Renga Chain:
•••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
picture, and send your poetic results to (No deadline.)

* * *

—Photo Courtesy
of Public Domain


A reminder that
T-Mo Entertainment presents
The Kings and Queens
Spoken Word Showcase

tonight in Sacramento, 7pm.
For info about this 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!