Monday, March 02, 2020

Sharps, Flats, & Tricky Modulations

—Public Domain Photos Courtesy of Joseph Nolan, Stockton, CA

—Joseph Nolan

A big, fat cat,
Just like that,
On top of a fence
And said to his rival,
“Come no closer.
This is my private kingdom.

I draw the line,
Since I am a cat, so fine,
So furry, big and fat!
You cannot
Squeeze past,
On this skinny fence-top,
So, you must drop down,
Into one yard
Or another!”

“Don’t worry,”
Said the rival,
“I am in no hurry.
I can wait
Until you’re hungry
And you will leave to eat.
I’ll walk across
This fence,
Hither and hence,
All across your kingdom,
Whether you like it or not.”


—Joseph Nolan

Assign a target to a storm,
Let it lumber overland,
Let it howl and piss and roar,
Pouring more and more.

Let it act as though
It followed
No command,
But tore
By indirection
Like a monster raging mad,
Raining more and more.

I’ve seen it there, before,
A thing they call a storm,
Raining down inside your skin
Like Sisyphus in rage.
Lost, forlorn to reason,
Insensible, in pain!
And wonder, I, when morning comes,
Will it bring an end to rain?

—Joseph Nolan

Did you ever need
To let
The sun go down
On its own,
Without a curtain,
Let it be alone
And you
Didn’t have to
—Watch it—

All beauty and majesty,
Though it may encompass,
At the closing of a
Remarkable day,
When you
Had time to play
Down along the beach,
But somehow,
You felt the sun
Too far to reach
And you only wanted 
Sand, water, waves
And the smell of
Salt in the air,
Because despair
Could not take the sun?


—Joseph Nolan

I wouldn’t mind eating chocolate,
If eating chocolate
Were for a good cause!

“You wouldn’t need a cause,
At all,”
You might say to me,
“If it were about eating chocolate.
It’s plain for all to see,
Since, we know, you love chocolate,
And would eat it
All day long,
Without any cause at all.
You need not virtue-signal
Or speak about causes
Or apples or serpents
Or the Fall.”

In fond surfeit,
Is known to one and all
And needs no virtuous reason
To make its call.

—Joseph Nolan

Trembling in delivery room,
Rumbling in an asana hall,
Fumbling with the carry-all,
With resolute abandon,
Expectant mother
Says it well,

“I think I’m bound for Hell
And I’ll be on my own,
Despite the oohs and aahs
Of Lamaze classes.
I hope you’ll wish us well!”

—Michael Ceraolo, S. Euclid, OH

Sportswriters saddled me with the nickname Schnozz,
one that I hated and that my teammates never used;
cruelty was a sportswriter's prerogative back then
And they exercised it again in the '39 Series,
mocking me for getting hurt
I don't know if Charlie Keller liked the nickname
the sportswriters gave him, so I won't use it here;
it is enough to say he was a strong man
and he ran me over going full speed,
knocking the ball and me out
The sportswriters called it my Snooze,
as if I'd picked that time to take a quick nap
Hell is being written about by sportswriters


—Michael Ceraolo
You use what you can to motivate yourself:
I thrived on insults and verbal abuse
How to have those delivered often enough?
I couldn't rely on the manager because
he had all the other players to worry about too
Then I thought: who better to insult you than your wife?
With her hurling insults at me
I could handle what the pitcher was hurling,
well enough to win the Coast League Triple Crown
and make the majors with the Cubs
Though to this day I'm still not convinced
that the ivy on the walls at Wrigley
wasn't of the poison variety

—Caschwa, Sacramento, CA 

Just saw a basketball player
make a wonderful 3-point shot
and then he celebrated by
playing air guitar

I’m not really into basketball
or guitar, my instrument is
the slide trombone, for which
the air version looks very much
like someone punching himself
in the face over and over again



oh, those wonderful frets!
just slide them up or down
the fingerboard and any
key center fingers just like
the easy key

if only some genius inventor
could create something like
that for the pianoforte

then we would no longer have
to climb mountains of sharps,
flats, accidentals, tricky
modulations and such

 Tricky Modulations


she left the seeds for another sonnet
in the garden, in her bonnet
which next she put upon her head
and watered daily with the garden bed

she could feel the feet almost kicking
not moving much yet, just sticking
like bait, close behind the boat to troll
an impatient unborn, infant soul

finally it started taking shape
the dressing room was minus its drape
clairvoyance the order of the day
it didn’t have a whole lot to say

she is still waiting, right there, right now
standing as still as a milk-laden cow
in the garden, in her bonnet
which proudly carries new life on it



how incredibly beautiful it is to see
distant objects as close as one can get
such as planets, their moons, or
solar flares as if in honor of Tet

then we give our space-age R&D to CEOs
who take all the profits and bid adios

meanwhile back here on our
insignificant planet of Earth
we struggle with enormous wars,
and walls, and issues of birth

worshipping false idols, a big granite bust
stake holders revel, while we eat their dust


For nearly two-and-a-half
tumultuous centuries
our democratic experiment
has been in the lab

undergoing all kinds of
tests and modifications
to appease our temperament
for things that are fab

it is an ongoing debate, by
parties most opposed, to clarify
what our founding fathers meant
by what’s etched in the slab

no politicians, by their nature,
can forever end our worries
they just get drunk on our torment
and have us pay the tab


Today’s LittleNip:


according to some people
topless is normal and
can be quite wonderful

so hopeless shouldn’t be
that much different


Good Monday morning and thanks to Joseph Nolan, Michael Ceraolo and Carl Schwartz (Caschwa) for today’s post about, as is their wont, a wide variety of subjects. Michael continues to work on his Dugout book, and Joseph has hunted up some interesting photos for us.

Sacramento Poet Joyce Odam writes: “So . . . has March come in like a lamb or like a lion? Seems a bit coy, not really lamb-like, with the cold nip of wind and only a threatening few specks of rain, but not a full-throttle roar either.” Seems like everything is up in the air these days. Now, as Joyce says, we don’t even get a clear-cut start to March! Of course, when the lion and the lamb lay down together, it’s supposed to mean peace, yes? So maybe there’s hope, after all…..

Tonight at 7pm, Sac. Poetry Center will present its Quarterly Poetry Slam 2020 at 25th & R Sts., Sac. Tomorrow (Tuesday), Poetry Off-the-Shelves poetry read-around meets in El Dorado Hills at the Library on Silva Valley Parkway, 5-7pm.

Thursday is Poetry Night in Davis, this week featuring Izzy Lala and Lauren Frausto plus open mic, 8pm, at the John Natsoulas Gallery on 1st St., Davis. Izzy Lala will also be reading this coming Saturday, 2-5pm at Avid Reader on Broadway in Sacramento. And on Sunday, Poets Club of Lincoln features Joshua MkKinney plus open mic at the Twelve Bridges Library in Lincoln, 3-5pm.

Scroll down to the blue column (under the green column at the right) for info about these and other upcoming poetry events in our area—and note that more may be added at the last minute.

Interested in workshops? Check the green box at the right for a listing of local ones which will be held this week and/or later.


—Medusa, hoping that lion and that lamb are truly on the road to peace, that tricky modulation ~

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.