I can’t help it, none of the prompts attract me. After finishing Poemcrazy, I have to play with at least a few of the lesser ideas from Susan Goldsmith Wooldridge’s book. She asked that I look at something—no, really LOOK at it. See what it means to me, what it reminds me of and what it tells me; then address it as “thou.” Ask it, “What would thou say to me?” Let the object speak as a personage, delivering words from its perspective. Then make a list of what you see and hear and use that list to make a poem. Sound familiar? “Hi, Margo.”

Making a list is something I’m used to doing for poetry. I often make mind maps when searching for direction in a poem, but I don’t recall ever addressing anyone or anything as ‘thou’ except in prayer.

Some of my regular readers know I have two large dogs. One, the Weimaraner, was born to hunt. Today, when I let them out, there was a squirrel in the yard. It was in proximity to a tree so it was in no danger, but I swear it slowed down so Fiona could get close. Then, it dashed around and up the tree, only to stop, look down from safety and joyfully chatter at her. Let’s hear it for the squirrel.

This is my initial list:
The Red Baron of the lesser skies, strafing and bombing at will.
A playful otter for a river of trees.
Daredevil darling of the high wire.
Rascal rodent.
Your chatter is not language, it’s laughter.
Using dogs as toys.
With wild abandon, you tease the dogs.
You make your work look fun.
Born with the heart of a lion.
Graced by God with a happy tail.

by Mike Patrick

Flickr image by AndrewRichardMills

Bring on your slobbering, fearsome beast,
I’ll let it smell my southern end,
but that’s as far as I will go.
Why should I stoop to condescend?

The horizon halves infinity
as mother sends another day.
Among the lofty limbs I rest,
while wistful winds so softly pray.

I revel in your ohs and ahs
below my trapeze act of glee.
No net I need, I live for speed,
and reckless trip from tree to tree.

With scavenged food from in the park,
I lightly spring my way back home
across the maker’s sea of green,
within close touch where birds have flown.

Within the fading light of day,
after the joy of running free,
I find my way back to my life:
my fur-clad wife and children three.

This entry was posted in animals, Iambic, Nature, Poetry, Rhyming, Tetrameter and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to THE SQUIRREL’S TALE

  1. 1sojournal says:

    I was coming back to add an addendum to my comment on ‘Keystone’ and found this. What a wonderful frolic you have created. I spent a few hours with my nephew, in a park yesterday, and caught a picture of a squirrel with its mouth full. I love it when synchronicity steps in and says, “Oh, yes!” Sign language.


  2. vivinfrance says:

    Mike, I can’t decide which I like best – the list or the formal poem with all the metaphor and imagery – both say “squirrel” loud and clear, I’m picking up some great exercises at Penny Shuttle’s workshop, which I’ll let you have later.

    • Mike Patrick says:

      I’m looking forward to giving the exercises a try. You bring up another thing I should be doing. I live in St. Louis. There has to be some writer/poetry groups or workshops around here.

  3. I had to laugh at the thought of the squirrel tormenting the dog. I swear a bird literally did the same thing to mine. Dashing up and down – driving her mad as she chased the stupid thing!

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