Monday, May 04, 2020

Ages & Stages While Stuck in Our Cages

—Original Art by Duane Toops, Melbourne, FL

—Sue Crisp, Shingle Springs, CA

There are those times you just
need some “me” time.  I find
myself wanting a form of
isolation, a barrier from the
everyday demands, to feel the
mind clear, make way for new
input of a more satisfying form.

Sometimes isolation of the mind
can ward off the battering of our
daily lives.  Just a little self-imposed
cocoon for resting, before you
burst forth with fresh wings to
help you sail through a new

  —Public Domain Art Courtesy of Sue Crisp

—Sue Crisp
I stand alone in this barren field.  No
other trees accompany me.  My age is
telling, I am no longer who I used to be.

Once a proud and mighty oak, arms
that stretched far and wide.  The perfect
umbrella for those who sought to hide.

Now, no leaves to whisper and sigh in
the breeze adorn me.  No nesting birds
or squirrels in my tree.

My naked limbs clatter in the wind.  No longer
a musical sound.  My former dwellers have
abandoned me.  Another home they have found.

Each day, as the seasons pass me by, I long
for the earth beneath me, to loosen my roots,
let me go to ground and be free.

 —Public Domain Art Courtesy of Sue Crisp

—Douglas Polk, Kearney, NE
prairie grasses alive,
dancing in the wind,
swaying this way,
and that,
akin to the waves of the oceans,
inspired to move with the rhythm of the wind,
feeling the soothing sounds,
as it blows
endlessly in the Spring-time skies.

 —Original Art by Douglas Polk

—Douglas Polk

her eyes hold me captive,
I struggle to catch my breath,
my freedom slips from my grasp,
her control complete,
with a look,
or a whisper,
I want to curse my weakness,
but I can not,
I am only what the good Lord made me,
clay in her hands.

 —Original Art by Douglas Polk

—Douglas Polk

clowns all around,
sad and one-dimensional,
emotions never take root,
life spent in the shallows,
diseased and dying,
the rainbows gone,
the circus music silent,
clowns all around,
wishing to be someone else,
somewhere else.

—Original Art by Douglas Polk

—Joseph Nolan, Stockton, CA
We grew up in a familiar space.
Everyone knew everyone.
We were all grounded
Together in a boundaried place,
But just outside town,
On the other side of the river,
You could drive past deer
Crossing a country road
That ran along the Hudson.

Green and lush in summer,
There was plenty of grass
On both sides of the road,
So the deer were in no hurry
Before you arrived.
They waited patiently,
Ears up and twitching,
For you to keep on going,
So they could get back
To grazing,
To drifting across the land
That was theirs. 

 —Public Domain Photo Courtesy of Joseph Nolan

—Joseph Nolan

Drag lines
Beneath the surf
Measure what
The froth
Is worth
From each
And every wave,

While lifeguards
Try to save
Every life
By rip-tides
By woe-betides
And every

 —Public Domain Photo Courtesy of Joseph Nolan

—Joseph Nolan

The moon is a mistress
Who drafts the stars,
Dances in darkness,
Embarrasses Mars,
Prances with Saturn,
Eats Jupiter’s bread,
Fills Venus with envy,
Makes Mars turn red,
And drops from the sky
Before you raise your head. 

 Eye of Tokay Gekko
—Public Domain Photo Courtesy of Joseph Nolan

—Joseph Nolan
Has a raven of retribution
Returned from yesteryear
With the bread of death
In its bill?

Has it peered into
Your kitchen
From a Winter’s windowsill
Where the glass
Is frozen and glazed,
Leaving you amazed
How it might ever
Have found you
In your home
Lo! These many years since
The deeds that earned
Your recompense,
And now the bill is due.

You knew
One day
You’d rue
What you had done
And despite all the battles won,
Now it’s your time to lose! 

 —Public Domain Photo Courtesy of Joseph Nolan

—Caschwa, Sacramento, CA

Some experts say
once your bell has been rung
the mind is baked clay
like adobe in the sun

it happens in games
and of course during war
on streets with no names
among “friends” you deplore

maturity will stop
just frozen in time
odd thoughts leap and hop
outside years of your prime

epiphanies abound
déjà vu never ends
won’t be at lost and found
best answer: it depends

instead of a moment
upon which life pivots
forgetfulness will foment
locked in place with steel rivets

 Covid Cuties
—Public Domain Photo Courtesy of Joseph Nolan


at last a product sure to help my face
it’s just the thing I need, I’ve tried them all
appearance of wrinkles it will erase
no more ruts so deep, or those mounds so tall

I will buy ahead and stock up on this
item heaven sent, just can’t have enough
wonderful supplies, I’m truly in bliss
a wrinkle-free face will await my puff

already! a knock on the door for me
my package is here, eager and waiting
papers and bubble wrap, parted with glee
a small folder of instructions stating:

“place one blasting cap snugly on each eye,
the appearance of wrinkles—gone, good bye.”

 Remember About Social Distancing
—Public Domain Photo Courtesy of Joseph Nolan


a fraternity student in line
at the cafeteria wasn’t shy
about his desire for a
serving of pizza

the food service worker
told him he would have
to wash his hands for
20 seconds before
getting his pizza

he dutifully went over
and washed his hands,
got back in line and
was given a serving of
pizza, then he remained
in line

the food service worker
asked him what else he
needed, and he replied:

I’m waiting for my 20
second helpings, that
was the deal 

 Beyond Belief
—Public Domain Photo Courtesy of Joseph Nolan


plenty postulate
that death is what occurs next
but who knows for sure?

life might endure in
a parallel universe
infinite, no clocks

our bodies return
back to primal elements
our minds, who’s to know?

we speak to the dead
but their answers are woven
in trappings of life

I died and went to Heaven
sign said “no more vacancies” 

—Public Domain Photo Courtesy of Joseph Nolan

—Michael Ceraolo, S. Euclid, OH

Fred Maarberry

You're probably wondering why
I'm using my real name instead of my nickname;
I never liked the nickname, that's why
Before me,
relief pitchers were failed starters
I was a damn good starting pitcher;
there was only one year in my career
when I didn't make any starts,
and about one-third of my career appearances were starts
I was a damn good relief pitcher too,
and I credit Bucky for using me as such
I only wish he would have used me
in Game Seven in '25
with Walter struggling to finish; had he done so
we probably would have won the Series

* * *

Bucky Harris

Even though I was young when I became a manager
(I was dubbed The Boy Wonder),
it didn't take me very long to learn
that every quote I gave a reporter
was one less they bothered my players for,
and I think my players appreciated that
I also realized early on
that pitchers wouldn't be able to complete every game,
and that a relief pitcher should be
a viable alternative, not a desperate measure;
that idea took awhile to catch on,
one unfortunate time even with me
I have two regrets in baseball,
one strictly personal, the other involving my team also
The first is that the Yankees fired me
when we didn't win the pennant in '48;
the reason we didn't win wasn't my managing,
it was Boudreau's magical year
If I hadn't been fired, I believe
I would have had a record similar to Casey's
The second is that I didn't pitch Fred
late in Game Seven in '25
when Walter was obviously struggling;
I'm afraid that moment of sentiment
cost our team a championship


Today’s LittleNip:

—Joseph Nolan

Everything floated luminescently
Until it disappeared.
Such is the way of rainbows,
Hopes, dreams and fears.


Our thanks to today’s poets and visual artists, and to newcomer Duane Toops with his intriguing graphic art/poetry!
Duane is a father, an artist, and a poet. He has a B.A. in Religion, an M.A. in Humanities, and is, as he says, ever in the process... Monday is our day of crazy-quilt art and poetry from hither and yon, a bread pudding—sweet but substantial, and a charming mix-up of different ingredients. Enjoy, and shake off the spring fever as we drift into May.

Mary Mackey, editor of
The Marsh Hawk Press Review, writes that the Spring 2020 issue has gone live at Check it out!

This Thursday, May 7, is Sacramento’s Big Day of Giving. Sue Daly will be reading at Sac. Poetry Center's Big Day of Giving Zoom Poetry Mini-Marathon, 11am-12pm, with Bob Stanley hosting. For information about Sac. Poetry Center donations, go to

Sac. Poetry Center's Online Poetry Events – Week of May 4-10, 2020:

Mon., May 4:  10:00 am
Writers on the Air, led by Todd Boyd
RSVP in advance via email to
Zoom link:     
(Meeting ID: 358 106 078/ Password: 025674)

Mon., May 4:  7:15 pm
SPC Monday night poetry readings, hosted by CharRon
Meeting ID: 763 873 3462 ("P O E T R E E I N C")/ Password: spcsdv2020

Tue., May 5:  7:30 pm
SPC Tuesday night workshop, hosted by Danyen Powell.  Bring a poem for critique.
Meeting ID: 346 316 163

Wed., May 6:  9:00 am
The Undiscovered Country: How To Live In Your Own Heartland: A short reading by Nick LeForce from his newest book.

Wed., May 6:  6:00 pm
MarieWriters – Write to a prompt and share a poem, led by Lynn Belzer.

Fri., May 8:  4:00 pm
Writing from the Inside Out, workshop led by Nick LeForce
Register in advance at
After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting. (If you have registered before, use the same link.) 

For more upcoming poetry readings and workshops available online while we stay at home, scroll down to the blue column (under the green column at the right) for info—and note that more may be added at the last minute.


—Original Art by Duane Toops

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.