Poems and Stories

Sunday, September 3, 2017

Every Town...An Island

What if every town was an island?
All shopping done right here
No money being spent away
No corporate takeover fear.

We would have to eat at Donna’s
“Coffee, eggs and ham” for you?
No Starbuck latte’s sold in town
We’re fine with Donna’s brew.

You need a car? See Frank in town
At “Smiley’s Lot” on Main
I traded in my Jeep (still there)
It only leaks in rain.

The banks would have to go along
And lend us what we need.
We’d pay them back with wages
Earned at “Barney’s Grain & Feed”.

Barney’s wife works in the store
Where we shop for chicken thighs
From “Tilly’s Free Range Chicken Farm”
Not quite Tyson’s size.

The money stays on the island friends
There is no place else to spend it.
Besides it all comes back again
To those who spend and lend it.

We’d have to find the leaks for sure
Like buying stuff “on line”
Instead of at the local shops
Like “Mabel’s Five and Dime”.

I guess it will never happen
But we could make a start
By buying local first instead
And shopping with your heart.

Last Dawn

Last Dawn

We miss the sun
It won't be back
The beach is empty
White with frost, seaweed black.

The clock of time
We missed our chance
to save our planet
no next time.

The sun never came up
so it couldn't go down.
We walked to town
everyone's gone.

Two foxes appeared
at our back door again
hungry, exhausted,
We took them in.

We shared the last
of the bread we baked
and the water we hauled
from a frozen lake.

The wind picked up
The power went out
Four of us huddled

under a blanket...peace-out.

Spring Medicine

Spring Medicine

In the spring
I take my medicine
in coffee spoons.

small doses of
new-made maple syrup
overflowing the spoon
into hot coffee.

Healing the
wounds of winter
as the earth warms
and the sun rises
over the islands
sooner every day.


How To Catch a Striper

 Take two small children to Lincolnville Beach at low tide...all day. If you have a choice, pick one 6 year old with a great imagination and a fearless 4 year old. Form a small Clam Patrol and look for a hole in the sand, all three of you must dig quickly in the sand until you find one razor clam. Take it home and put It in the refrigerator. Have lunch, then take a nap.

Try to time your nap to wake up 1.5 hours before high tide. Take the two children and two fishing rods, one bucket, one razor clam, two hooks and two grandparents, if they are still awake. Get in a small boat and drift from the dinghy dock towards Ducktrap (proper mild wind from Camden helps). Bait each hook with a small piece of the razor clam. You will have to break open the clamshell and then cut the clam up into pieces. Try to determine the political, sociological, and environmental sensitivities of the children BEFORE you kill the clam. Especially if they see you doing it.

Bait the hooks and try NOT to let the 4 year old cast! Let the lines out to drift behind the boat and ignore them while you hold on to the children, who, hopefully, are still holding on to the rods. Talk about other things but do not, under any circumstances, give any additional instructions to the children. That is what God is for. Well, one of the things he is good for. Do not touch the rods or try to help. That, too, is what God is for. Remember, He is watching and knows what you are doing and thinking.

Once in a while, glance at each rod to see if they are bending. If they are bending and the child is screaming with a mixture of joy and total fear, NOW you can help them reel in the striper.

That’s it. Oh, by the way, do not think you can go out by yourself, duplicate the parts in the boat and expect to catch anything. God is still watching and will have one question for you:


Humbly return to shore, find the children and buy them some ice cream at Mr. Ricky’s (also known as Mclaughlin’s Lobster Shack). You will be forgiven but never try fishing without children again.

LB – August 29, 2017
(this just happened, yesterday)

Tom Crowley

PS -These were my own grandchildren)

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Fathers and Sons

Fathers & Sons

He was my father,
I was his only son.
Now I am a father
And I have a son.

That is how it works
In this world.
Fathers have sons,
Mothers have daughters.

I can not speak for my sisters
I can not speak for my mother.

As the son of the father,
You watch him
And you see what he does.
And then you decide
What to do.

When you are young,
You do exactly what he does
Because you want to be like him.
Then, later, it gets confusing.

You get older and you see things
That you don’t like or understand.
The influence is still there,
The bond, the frame of reference.

But then you must you decide:
I will or will not do this
or that thing that he does.

But you will always be his son,
And he will always be your father.
You know you will always love him
Even though you do not understand.
What he is thinking, or feeling.

He shows you in different ways.
It may be a horse that
he wants you to ride,
Or an old boat that you know
Is just yours together,
Or it may be a long drive in the car
handing him cup after cup
of black coffee.

It doesn’t matter what you do together.
Every minute is worth days,
Every day is worth months,
A week together is worth a year.

You wait for a word of praise
You remember every one.
“You look natural on that horse”,
“The boat looks good”,
“Good shot, good cast, nice fish…”

Then you go away
And you write your own story.

You have a son.
And you think about him
And what he did and said
And what you will do
And what you must do.

You do some of the same things
That your father did
And you do or say different things.
And you create another son
Who will be a father.

You don’t think about it all the time
But you are trying to improve him,
To make him a better person.
But, instead you make a man.

A man who may become a father
But will always be your son.
And you remember all the good things
That your father did or said
And you hope that your son
will remember, too...

Written 10/11/98 after the death of my father
Frederick Thomas Crowley (1923-1998).


F. Thomas Crowley, Jr.(1948- )
Father of
Thomas Yates Crowley (1975- )
Grandfather of
Lochlan Thomas Crowley (2011- )

Thursday, March 2, 2017

The Last Pizza

The Last Pizza

Tony's Pizza, may I help you?”
How many times in the past 40 years had she answered the phone with this short, simple phrase? She even answered the home phone this way by accident. Tony's “accident” changed all that and a lot more. When he crashed the delivery VW into an oak tree, while trying to pick up a dropped can of Bud, he changed her world.
No insurance, a pile of bills, an underwater mortgage on a shitty house, and a failing pizza business was what he left her.
Yeah, I want 4 large with 2 white and two half pepperoni, half mushrooms delivered as soon as possible to 12 Oak Street. How much?”
She did not respond but simply looked around the kitchen to see who was on today;
Mike, sluggish high school football moron who drove the new “delivery van”, her own aging Dodge Town & Country van,
Stephanie, brain-dead, pierced, tattooed slut, her cashier who used to take all the calls for Tony. After the funeral, she was not very lively on the phone;
Yeah, this is Tony's. What?”
Her own daughter had escaped a few years ago, thank God, to finish college at St. Johns and look for a job.
That will be $48 plus tax and a $5 delivery charge”
No way! Pizza Hut has a special for $9.99 large and free delivery!”
Great. Call them.”
She hung up the phone and leaned back against the flour-dusted counter. A few minutes went by and the phone rang again.
Ok, we want Tony's pizzas. Can you get them here by 6 pm?” It was 5:15. typical.
6:15 maybe.”
Ok Ok hurry up we have people coming over at 6” . click.
She was so sick of this. Tony hadn't been sober enough to make a fucking pizza for years. He pushed his hands into the flour and water goo and made little pizza dough balls. laid them out on a huge, stainless tray, and then went in the back to drink 4 beers. That was, he had mysteriously, and inexplicably calculated, the exact time needed for the dough to rise. He would get up out of his favorite drinking chair and come into the store slurring his favorite, stupid, tired line:
Time to make the doughnuts!”
This meant it was time for HER to make the doughnuts/pizza as he flirted with Stephanie, joked with Mike, and fiddled with the cash register as he watched her to make sure she didn't see him pocket a twenty.
She made the four pizzas mechanically, set them in the oven and told Mike to get the van ready. He always forgot to check the gas and always had to come back in to get money from Stephanie.
The phone rang.
Is this Tony's Pizza?”
Yes. TONY's Pizza”
I need a huge pizza.”
Uh. Ok. We have large which feeds 12. What do you want on it?”
That's what is usually on a PIZZA….anything else?”
Like what?”
God help me. Another moron girl from the St. Johns dormitory.
Pepperoni, sausage, meatballs, mushrooms, green peppers…….”
Oh no! I'm a Vegan! No meat! Yuck!”
You mean Vegetarian right?”
No way. I'm totally Vegan all the way!”
Soooo, cheese is Ok?”
Sure, I love pizza!”
Where and when?”
WHERE do you want the pizza delivered and WHEN do you need it”
St. Johns University around 5”
Uh, yeah. Dorm 5 by the church on campus”
OK. That will be $12 plus taxes and a $5 delivery charge”
Ok. Do you take credit cards?”
Master Card & Visa. Charged in advance”
OK, bye”
Miss. We need the card number “ (you fucking moron)
She took down the information, slipped the pizza in the oven and 12 minutes later pulled it out, sliding it into a pizza box with the clever words “PIZZA” on top. Tony never wanted to spring for his name on the box so she would write it on as it left the store.
Where's this one going?” Mike reluctantly asked.
Never mind. I'll deliver it.”
Mike and Stephanie looked at each other as if she had said she was going to put her head in the oven, yet said nothing but “OK” and went back to their lame conversation.
She walked out to the van. Started the engine and looked at the gas gauge. “EMPTY” with the warning light glowing...Big surprise.
She went back into the store, opened the register and took out a twenty. Mike and Stephanie looked at her as if they had never seen her before. Blank expressions, no questions, no comments. She walked back out to the van.
As she drove through the quiet, upscale neighborhood, looking at the houses where they had been delivering pizzas for so long, staring at the beautiful brick and stone mini-mansions with long, curving driveways and two, three and even four car garages or carriage houses that were much bigger and more grand than their own modest raised ranch twelve miles away in another smaller, blue collar town, she thought to herself; “Why?” and “Why not?” and “What happened?” and “where did the time go along with her dreams”?

As her mind wandered, so did the van, into the opposite lane and into a large moving van heading up the hill as she was driving down the same hill.  The funeral was sad.  Tony would have made it a party with free pizza.  Not one customer showed up but Stephanie and Mike were there.  Stephanie cried and Mike held onto her as he sipped from a 24 ounce Bud light undr his Philadelphia Eagles parka.
Note: The last pizza ws never delivered. It was discovered by a lab-shepherd mix who sniffed it out at the junkyard whre the totalled wreck of the van was delivered by Tony's Wrecking Service (no relation) and devoured without incident in about 3 seconds.


Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Russian Roulette with Jimmy Tahoe

Writing is like Russian Roulette.  You write, you shoot. Sometimes, its a blank and you feel sort of good that you wrote something even if it wasn't very good.  Then, you write, you shoot, and BANG! It works and the character you wrote about comes alive.  You keep writing and he grows with you and learns from you and you learn from him.  Then, you stop.  He stops too.  He waits for you to come back and finish him or save him or kill him.
Jimmy Tahoe is out there waiting for me.  He is a small native American boy living on and off the lake. Lake Tahoe, of course.  He was born on the beach at the end of the lake where the town is now. His parents named him after the lake.  Then, they died soon thereafter when he was only 8 years old.
He has been 8 years old for over 30 years because that was when I stopped writing about him.

This is what I think Jimmy looks like.