Saturday, May 25, 2024

A Poem Knows

 —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,
Caschwa, and Joshua C. Frank

Swirly swarms
of insects
ride the rails

between woods
and bramble
all dense green.

Why right here?
What purpose?
What insects?

Swirly swarms
move too quick
to name them.

Call it dance,
art of grace,
a poem.


I’m mowing clover and wild oats,
pasture gone half-wild without sheep
to graze and fertilize. Chaff coats
my trimmer head. The green’s waist-deep.

Here on bare earth, a single egg—
no nest, no cover—dead-cold dreg.
The wild birds go about their lives,
guarding each hatchling that survives.


Where are the wildflowers?
Paved over when we weren’t looking.
Are they gone for good?

Just wait. Maybe for years
when this new asphalt starts cracking
and spring rains seep thru.

Then look for dandelions
standing pert and yellow, storks-bill
with its tiny pink stars

like flags for the fall
of asphalt warping and wrinkling
under golden-hot sun

and the brittling
of freeze, how winters’ cold drives
the green urge for spring.


He rests in bower-shade of pink
roses, then rises to flourish
an old dead rose-branch in his jaws,
one-dog parade of thorns.


I carry a pocketful of indulgences
to tempt him, distract his focus.
He’s got the leash stretched tight.
Will it break, will I lose my grip
in chase of a jackrabbit?
My dog has no use for indulgences
but just the hunt. A bag
of treats won’t tempt the wild
born into him.


What might we hear if the man let his device
drop in deep places of the pond? At what depth
can it detect photosynthesis in grooves and veins
of living green underwater?
        Overhead, an out-of-service phone line’s
stretched, silent—and on it perch two phoebes
singing the love of earth-spring.
                The man proposes sounds
that might be water plants or animals,
and recommends we focus on noises from
the speakers connected to his device.
        But I keep drifting with the wear of sun
and breeze on water. I can’t help looking
for the egret—sentinel of this place—standing
unearthly still, until surface tension’s broken
suddenly—the stiletto of his bill.


Today’s LittleNip:

—Taylor Graham
Immigrant II by Eric Hays, oil, 2021

Oh the possibilities
in this new green world
so far from her homeland.

She balances her basket
of fresh-picked grapes,
holding herself erect,

with only her sunhat
for shade.


Taylor Graham (and Otis) continue to fruitfully muse about spring today, with many thanks, as always, from us in the foothills and beyond. Forms she has used this week include a Ryūka (“Otis in Roses and Thorns”); an Ekphrastic response (“In a Vineyard”); a Word-Can Poem (“Hydrophone Shallows”); a Prime 53 (“Dog Treats”); a TriCube which is also an Ars Poetica (“A Poem Knows”); and a Rispetto (“One Egg”). The Tri-Cube and the Rispetto were two of last week’s Triple-F Challenges.

Note: “Hydrophone Shallows” is based on one of the RIPE AREA events leading up to June 2nd's RIPE AREA ARTS + NATURE FESTIVAL at Wakamatsu Farm, a free community event honoring the watershed and co-presented by American River Conservancy & Myrtle Tree Arts. For more news about this and other El Dorado County poetry—past (photos!) and future—see Taylor Graham’s Western Slope El Dorado Poetry 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 Ekphrastic poems from Joe Nolan, Nolcha Fox, and Stephen Kingsnorth:

—Joe Nolan, Stockton, CA

Does anyone else
Feel oppressed
By too many
Bright colors
As I do?

Even there
Atop my head
Are colors
Seen on
Weed-borne flowers.

People gaze for hours
Eyes darting from one
Color to another.

It seems to be exhausting me
Making me feel raggedy
In my comfy club chair
Remote-control in hand,
Further acts beyond my command.

* * *

—Nolcha Fox, Buffalo, WY

Sister, sister, glued to TV,
can’t get up to get a life.
Even hair is technicolor,
she’s unstrung
and disconnected.

* * *

—Stephen Kingsnorth, Coedpoeth, Wrexham, Wales

Why would we see the spectacle—
those black-ringed eyes, rimmed roundel lens—
when want of sleep would seek their rest,
removal to a safer place,
away from pinch or bridge collapse?
Suspense, scan handset, spanning air—
this more with view, awake to stay,
postpone what nature has decreed,
enforce the lifting of the lid,
revealing what is waited for?

A turnup here, patella, groove
of rainbow hair, skin-deep knee patch,
a slump save for that surfing thumb,
though cushion plumped behind one ear,
half-deaf, less deft in stereo.
When early hours turn, passing slow,
insomnia makes claim clock space,
invading voices speak too loud;
I pick my clips, you tubing stored—
though signs of hope, well streaming tears.

But wonder, if this mare is that,
a dreaming by insomniac,
for ‘didn’t sleep a wink’ rare true;
beneath armchair, what litter strewn—
that morning after night before?
A bad-hair day, this rule of thumb,
set measure of our guiding light,
that one is governed, output screened;
an x-ray of priorities—
an advert, how to reach the prone.

* * *

Caschwa (Carl Schwartz) sent this poem, saying that “These are quatrains, each with 4-syllable lines, unrhymed. A foreign car TV ad mispronounced “limited IN-ventory”, as in-VEN-tory (accent on the 2nd syllable). So I set forth a list of other words that we pronounce like Inventory [accents on the first syllable] and threw them together to form the poem”:
—Illustration\ Courtesy of Public Domain
—Caschwa, Sacramento, CA

horror movie
target practice
double trouble

candid pictures
bathroom mirror
forest treasures
Mother Nature

undone housework
dinner dishes
bedroom curtains

homework lesson
proper sentence
grammar, syntax

happy birthday
railroad station

* * *

Josh Frank has sent us a Triolet:
—Photo Courtesy of Public Domain

—Joshua C. Frank

They have our genes; they’re human beings,
Our fifteen frozen embryos.
Regardless of your disagreeings,
They have our genes; they’re human beings.
They must be born, by God’s decreeings,
Be hugged, and play where water flows.
They have our genes; they’re human beings,
Our fifteen frozen embryos.

(First published in
The Society of Classical Poets)

* * *

Here is a Villanelle, also from Josh:
—Photo Courtesy of Public Domain

—Joshua C. Frank

“What is the worst mistake you ever made in bed?”
Reply: “My son.”  (Actual dialogue on social media)

I learn the truth; I’m more and more aggrieved.
There’s nothing left, no gleam or glint of hope
When parents wish their children weren’t conceived.

What bitter spoils of knowledge I’ve achieved
To “stay informed;” how can I even cope?
I learn the truth; I’m more and more aggrieved.

I can’t unsee: the whole world’s been deceived.
Their thinking’s worse when sober than on dope
When parents wish their children weren’t conceived.

I wish my innocence could be retrieved.
Oh, someone wash my memory out with soap!
I learn the truth; I’m more and more aggrieved.

It’s worse than I would ever have believed
And harder not to be a misanthrope
When parents wish their children weren’t conceived.

When children die, are parents still bereaved?
What can I do besides just sit and mope?
I learn the truth; I’m more and more aggrieved
When parents wish their children weren’t conceived.

(First published in
The Society of Classical Poets)

* * *

And Nolcha Fox devised this illustration with Microsoft Designer, then wrote this Ekphrastic Response to it:

—Nolcha Fox

You may think I’m just a kitten
curled up in a sunny spot,
claws retracted, stretching,
arching, purring, such delight.

Don’t get on my wild side.
When I open my mouth
my fangs sparkle.
I’m a dragon. You’ll find
your hide sliced and fried.


Sliced and fried! Been there~

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.) Today, let’s try to achieve some Balance:


•••AND/OR, in these troubled times, we need a Beacon of Hope, yes?

•••Beacon of Hope:

•••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 “Memories Worth Keeping”.


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

•••Ars Poetica:
•••Beacon of Hope:
•••Ekphrastic Poem: 
•••Prime 53:
•••TriCube by Phillip Larrea: Each stanza is three lines, three syllables per line, any subject
•••Villanelle (rhymed or 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.)

* * *

—Public Domain Photo


A reminder that today is the deadline
in Davis for nominations for
the next Poet Laureate; and
today is also the 13th SAYS Summit
at UCD: “School is My Hustle”.
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!