Friday, June 21, 2024

Remind Me To Be A Kid

 —Poetry and Photos by Taylor Graham,
Placerville, CA
—And then scroll down to
Form Fiddlers’ Friday for poetry by
Nolcha Fox, Stephen Kingsnorth, Caschwa
Barbara Leonhard and Melissa Lemay

I’m waiting while my car gets smogged.
Time to take a walk—
and here’s a little side-road beckoning.

My dad—simple farmboy become
doctor (not a sawbones)—
without a word would take the trail.

I’d have to catch up, stretch my legs
to match his stride, his love of walking,
observing things up-close.

And look here! in somebody’s yard,
a giraffe! of rusted metal,
its neck a 2-man crosscut saw

like my dad’s. With barely a word
he taught the give-and-take of down-
pull cut, then release-&-let-it-glide,

a seated saw-length dance with partner.
Decades later I can feel the rhythm,
muscle-memory of lessons in few words telling.

(prev. pub. in
Walk the Bones by Taylor Graham)


        for H.

He knew this mountain from the back
of a horse, as he knew so many
things about the wild.
You were just a girl, feeling
your saddle slip—between cutbank
and dropoff. You called to him.
He said, grip with your knees, hang
onto the mane. The first time
you hadn’t felt safe in a father’s keeping.
But you didn’t slip, you didn’t fall,
you grew braver. 


In bullrushes, two blackbirds are singing;
on the pond floats a single white swan—
this June morning, almost solstice.

Weed-eating my right-of-way
I came so close to mowing
a free-range hen on her nest of three eggs.

Last winter there were five white swans. 


The first lesson is, seek shade. Everything else
seems extraneous. How about the homeless man
in front of the library? with all the shaded benches
taken, and even the lawn—a young couple laughing
under a single pepper tree. Frankly, I suspect
that man asleep on a xeriscape boulder in full sun
with his loaded cart beside him is a sign
of something gone wrong in the world. How, why
does this originate? How to fix it? Could I
find it in a book in the library? 


         Wednesday thru Tuesday
         for my “Shepherd-mix” rescue dog

Ten weeks here, just starting to settle, calm down—
I hope.
A lovely walk with Otis to Slate Creek, moth mullein
in bloom.
They’re analyzing genetic markers, I’ll know who
he is!
Oh. He’s part Husky, a quick-footed Houdini. Watch
him close!
SAR dog training, he’s head-high, prancing, follow-
ing Cathy’s trail.
Nudge+bark means he needs out, or tug-o-war, or a
tummy rub.
Trail joy, Otis at trot, ears tuned back to make sure
I’m coming. 


Excited as a kid for adventure.
Trail-mix peanuts & raisins, banana.
Headed upcountry with dog,
we’re hungry for altitude, granite, lava,
lodgepole, juniper, aspen meadow.
Stick of bubblegum among the snacks?
Haven’t chewed bubblegum in years.
I could remind me to be a kid....


Today’s LittleNip:

—Taylor Graham

It’s up to Squirrel to decide,
when a pickup comes roaring west
when a sedan comes speeding east
and Squirrel in midst of crossing:

go left or right? the dice tossing
when a sedan comes speeding east
when a pickup comes roaring west
it’s up to Squirrel to decide.


Welcome to one-day-past-the-Solstice, with news from El Dorado County and from Taylor Graham (and Otis), and many thanks to TG and pal. Forms TG has used this week include a 7 days in 7 lines combined with a just 15s (“Otis-Week in Review”); a Word-Can Poem (“Under the Heat Dome”); a Sevenling (“Bird Count”); a Quadrille (“Bubblegum”); and an Octo (“Frozen on Centerline”).

The Summer Solstice issue of
Canary is available now at

Patricia Caspers will have several readings over the next few months from her new book with the intriguing title,
The Most Kissed Woman in the World. The first of these readings will be with Placerville’s Moira Magneson tomorrow, Saturday, June 22, in Auburn. Check it out at

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 Nolcha Fox, Stephen Kingsnorth, and Caschwa (Carl Schwartz):

—Nolcha Fox, Buffalo, WY

Puppets dangling in the air,
waiting for the show to start.
They can’t move as they would like.
Something bigger guides their way.
As I watch them on the stage,
I wonder if I have more freedom,
or am I tied by rules and love
and other things that I can’t see.
As others laugh and clap,
I leave the show quite thoughtfully.

* * *

—Stephen Kingsnorth, Coedpoeth, Wrexham, Wales

Invasion! I saw paratroops,
my first shortsighted blue-sky thought,
from thin air, dropouts, through the clouds
in silken share, parachute jump.
Confused—as Germans, eighty past,
those D-Day landings, sea mist ships,
with Juno, Gold, Sword, Idaho
and Utah beaches, then above.

Last veterans on pilgrimage,
recall of shadows, shades on sands,
with so much hanging on their dare,
faced barbed wire, minefields, pillbox shots.
So far from funfair, allies sought
beginning of the end, they said—
a unity to end the war,
craft to outwit sniper fire.

No paratroopers, realised—
let freedom ring despite the pitch—
for strings attached in dizzy spin;
like LSD sill, flying scam.
A frying pan for pancake toss,
wisp candyfloss by skydive fun,
the wheel of fortune, slides and glides,
a time warp from old battle cries.

Hear whoop and holler overhead,
here gameplan for the longest day,
amusement park for fun-set fair,
without risk potshot, tangled wires.
What was the price for dangling limbs,
what cost for swinging as if wings,
what charge, pass sale for sailing free?
Some billets doux, passed, agèd men.

* * *

—Caschwa, Sacramento, CA

when you die
they smash your face
with a lemon merengue pie

put you in
a wooden box
completely devoid of sin

take you back
to gentler times
to swing until dawn would crack

write a book
about your life
and all of the hands you shook

sign a card
written to ease
the pain that hits us so hard

when one of
our special bunch
can’t return unending love

* * *
Caschwa tackled (and won) the Irish Droigneach, which was one of the Triple-F Challenges last week:


In normal use there is a whippoorwill
astutely standing on guard to direct
traffic waiting upon the windowsill
listen hard or you cannot reconnect

because you will be owned by gravity
swishing you to fine China’s cabinet
cloning ho-hum conundrum, a pity
that you could not stay for the pirouette

* * *

Three SnakePals—Barbara Leonhard, Melissa Lemay, and Nolcha Fox—have collaborated on what they’re calling “a broken Rengay—broken because our little band of thieves doesn't like to follow all the rules. We followed line count, but not syllable count.” 
—Barbara Leonhard, Melissa Lemay,
and Nolcha Fox

The vagrant clouds hitch a ride
on an empty train car,
headed to Who Knows Where.

All they have is water and
backpacks containing rainbows.

Gale-force winds swirl
in overhead compartments;
the moon sighs

The stars sing three-part harmony
to the clack-clack-clack of the wheels.

Rain sheets the empty
seats, dust dissolves, the fresh air
holds its cool, damp breath

The station disappears…
a three-headed dragon

* * *

Stephen Kingsnorth says he has contacted a bug called Quadrillitus; like Taylor Graham (see above) and some of our recent poets, he has also used the cue word, bubblegum, in his Quadrille. This single Quad wasn’t enough to cure his Quadrillitus, though, so watch for more of them from Stephen in future weeks:
—Stephen Kingsnorth

For soldiers ranked, square, on parade,
formation as centurions,
or riot squad in tortoise mode,
clear cover shields above shaved heads,
their battle plan, defence secured,
to engage enemies without;
protesters who have had enough
reclaiming streets, vox populi,
free speech balloons, bubblegum quotes.


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.) How about a dandy-zette?


•••AND/OR: something Taylor Graham found us (see above):

•••7 Days in 7 Lines:

•••AND/OR join the rogue-poets (above) and hijack one of your poet-friends into putting together a Rengay:


•••And don’t forget each Tuesday’s Seed of the Week! This week it’s “Dark Sounds in the Woods”.


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

•••Ars Poetica:
•••Droigneach Poem:
•••Ekphrastic Poem: 
•••Quadrille: 44 words (not counting the title) and includes one word the host provides to you
•••Just 15s (Sarah Harding): poem or stanza of 15 syllables
•••7 Days in 7 Lines:
•••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 Illustration


For info about
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!