Sunday, January 07, 2024

To Survive

 —Poetry by Peter F. Crowley, Boston, MA
—Artwork Courtesy of Public Domain


Once an eyeglass lens and later a euphoric carrier pigeon
Once an isolated tundra and later the life of an Eid party
Once a roaming ghost lost in northeast deciduous forests
and later a town councilor claiming stolen election
Once a lioness stalking giraffes and later a mouse stuck in
elephant’s dung
Once lady slipper roots seeking underground streams and
later a towering redwood’s branches
Once a daffodil hosting bee’s nectar and later a marsupial
pocketing convenient store goods and creeping out the door
Once a crane pecking at scurrying crab and later the
Burj Khalifa looking out from top floor
Once a miser with buried gold deep in rain forest and later
a social worker counseling the needy
Once a fortress sending cannon fire to all who approach and
later a neighbor rescuing an infant crawling across street
Once a gymnast who perform eight consecutive balance
beam backflips and later a 50-year-old MS patient in wheel-
Once a banker who enjoys small talk with customers and
later a refugee on small, overcrowded Mediterranean boat
Once a child playing with stuffed donkey and later, after
earthquake pummeled home and crushed family, a silent
woman staring, glassy-eyed, out window

Human being

Like lioness, lady slipper roots, elephant and redwood
You will do what you need
To survive  


We’re on a gargantuan boulder shrouded by verdant trees
When we look the wrong way,
sunbeams throw hot peppers into our eyes

Jason tries to climb a birch
We look on, saying that without low branches
it’s impossible

Blood starts to trickle from my nose,
dotting the white shirt I wear

Jason exclaims, “He’s got a bloody nose!”
Luke says, “It’s just a bloody nose.”
But the blood pours faster
and I’m racing towards my house.
I glance down and notice an enormous red stain on my shirt
and blood splattered all over my pants.

When I get home, my mother calms me,
has me stay still and hold my nose.
I puke in the toilet and see red mixed in.

As I’m lying on the teal living room couch,
Jason’s mother and little brother enter.
The brother looks at me like I’ve been wounded in combat.
“I’ll probably live,” I say. 


McDonald’s bled with sweat at lunch

The redolence of Big Macs’ melted cheese sauce
and finely minced onions permeated the room.

Construction workers, office drones and executives
waited in a long line as an overweight, 20-year-old man
with pimples dotting his face, took orders from behind
the counter.

There was a pause in the line’s movement and
a confused co-worker began talking, animatedly, to the
young man.
As he heard the lunch crowd yells, the young man’s pupils
dilated and warm perspiration trickled down his sides.

The young man moved brusquely back and forth between
the counter and orders gliding down a slanted, metallic shelf
behind him,
scanning dozens of receipts taped to the end.

His forehead began to burn.
In the corner of the young man’s eyes were over 50 angry

He grabbed a paper bag, went to the side,
and breathed in and out.

A few began laughing and others shouted.
Somewhere in the line, a sheet metal worker or office drone
may have realized, for a second, that here was a human being.


Today’s LittleNip:

Every human being has a bit of gangster in him.

—Binyavanga Wainaina


As a prolific author from the Boston area, Peter F. Crowley writes in various forms, including short fiction, op-eds, poetry and academic essays. In 2020, his poetry book,
Those Who Hold Up the Earth, was published by Kelsay Books and received impressive reviews by Kirkus Review, the New Age and two local Boston-area newspapers. His writing can be found in 34th Parallel, Pif Magazine, Galway Review, Digging the Fat, Adelaide’s Short Story and Poetry Award anthologies (finalist in both), and The Opiate. His books, That Night and Other Stories (CAAB Publishing), and Empire’s End (Alien Buddha Press), were released during the week of Friday the 13th in October 2023. Welcome to the Kitchen, Peter, and don’t be a stranger!



Peter F. Crowley

For upcoming 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?
All you have to do is 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!