BE the Squirrel (3 by Ken McKeon)

Thanks, Nancy

You want the news.

Well, out back a dying tree
Found a degree of
New life with late springtime rain,
I mean fresh leaves and
New red swizzles of fruit bloom,

And our squirrelly squirrel is risking everything,
It’s flopped out on
What looks to be a dry twig,
But it’s got a bloom,
And the squirrel’s on it,
Chomping nearly savagely away,

He’s done with it,
He’s off to the next, and the next, and the next,

Squirrel, back off, ease up,
No good will come from this,
I used to smoke,
Decades ago,
I sucked cigs down like lollipops,
One after one,
I coughed, I hacked, but I kept at it,
I couldn’t stop until I finally did,

Watching you makes me want to smoke again,
But I won’t, I have will power, man power,
And so do you, you’ve got squirrel power,
Toughen up squirrel, just say no.

Really now, this is no way to go.

Go See

I am the weather, the blue sky, the sometimes rainbowed day,
But even back then, the dawn might well show up
In the form of black rooks,

Their sharp cries turned my ears to ash,
I heard nothing but my own slow to crumble fears,

And now I am old, but not that old,
For I remember our first real ice box,

Picking up the block of ice downtown,
Using a gunny sack to haul it away,
Placing it in the freezer,

The ice chest that kept our bottled milk, ground beef, butter, bottled Coca-Cola,
And fresh picked, wrapped up well in green husks, cobs of corn, quite cold,

I remember groves of orange trees, mostly Valencia, a few navel,
The last, when not too thickly pulpy, the best, the easiest to peel,

Everything in SoCal was sun kissed
There was no smog, no freeways,
There were clumps of towns dotting large spreads of fields
All the way to the beach, and the beach,

The fluctuating edge of damp sand, dry sand, damp again,
By noon was way too hot to walk on barefoot,
Ought to get there by 10 AM,
Need to secure a spot with an army blanket, an umbrella,
Maybe a few wooden backrests, towels, a pail, a little shovel,

There were bags of food, restlessness, an initial greasing up,
And the oncoming rippling sheets of spent waves,
It was those that turned my heart’s tide,
They made me stand the chill,
Called me out into the varied moving patternings
Of all that ever truly seemed to be,
So hard to get to, harder still to touch,

These shifting presences, vanishings,
They were better than the Fun Zone
For all its noise, and cotton candy, and difficult games,

The water was where something else was, ungraspable, ever shifting,
But after a while, it could be entered
Like some unfamiliar, unknown, other world,
Ball tightening, knock down, thrashing
Hissing mist lift silencing echo of
Hollowed out tumbling roars,
Just how to ever be inside that outside,
Whatever prayer would grant entrance there?
Don’t know? then you need to go see.

Light Spell

I am the light spell,
The brief rite
Fledgling day cries out as dawn,
Would that I had wings
As broad as the vast sea,
Then there’d be a lift
That swept up out of the blue
And rived dark space itself
Until the stars bled out the first day again.

What a hullabaloo that would be,
A primary disordering of everything
Dulled down to a set calendar of days,
Of this, then that, a repetitive exactitude,
Beads strung out
On a binding thread of time,

I say cut that thread,
Let a grand tumbling begin,
Or even a small,

A deep, white cereal bowl,
A silvery: spun aluminum coffee mug,

Happily here before this me I am,
And everything at once
Open as the sky,

There is no twice,
No shadow falling forward,
No behind,
No yearning residue to be,

Rock and tree,
A garden by the sea,
I’ve tabled everything today,
And swim out stroke by stroke,

Will there be a towel with which
I’ll dry and warm myself upon returning?
Of all these, not a clue.
.

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