...it's not dark yet, but it's gettin' there...

December 13, 2006

Wednesday is Poetry Day: John Ciardi

Sometimes, a poem leaps out and practically forces me to pick it for Poetry Day. I found this one in a book entitled Echoes: Poems Left Behind, a collection of poetry by John Ciardi that was published after his death in 1986. It's possible Mr. Ciardi never intended it to be published, or perhaps he wasn't satisfied with it and intended to take it out again in a few years, look at it with fresh eyes, and polish it until it was shining.

I chose this one because it was written 27 years ago today.

December 13, 1979
Three squirrels wound and sprung to this remitted
December day chase tumble tails on the lawn.
They must be winter-sure in the elm, permitted
by a plenty in its boles. There's not one acorn
on or under the oak. They go to go.
But why this lawn party? I think they know

the dog is old and stiff, his monster slacked.
His ears tense toward them but it takes four
deliberate heaves to get his hind legs cocked
as if to spring. And what shall he spring for?
There is no energy after energy.
He quivers feral, but then looks at me

as if I might serve them to him in a dish
like Greeks godsent to the ogre. Of my guilt
that I have uncreatured a world to this mish-mash
whine and quiver half-down in the silt
of a sludged instinct, I toss him a soy bone.
He settles for my bogus and settles down.

And the squirrels spin, almost as if they flew,
to the top of the split shake fence, into the spruce,
across it over the roof, over the yew
and into the hemlock thicket, fast and loose,
as fast as easy, around and around again
in the feast of being able to. Amen.

Posted by Victor, Dec. 13, 2006 | TrackBack (0)
Rubric: Poetry


Playful and doleful contrast of youth and age. Good choice, A.


Posted by: Kevin Kim on Dec. 13, 2006

Yeah, I'm pretty much out of luck when it comes to poetry. Pearls before swine.

Posted by: Matt on Dec. 14, 2006

squirrel poetry is an oft overlooked sub-genre. i hear whenever richard gere writes poetry, he tries to work them in wherever possible.

ba dum bump

Posted by: annika on Dec. 14, 2006

et tu, annika?


Posted by: Victor on Dec. 14, 2006

by Richard Gere

my squirrel's mean
but Vaseline
will solve most problems quick
I stuff it in
and give a grin
my anal walls are thick

Gere'n up for the festivities

Posted by: Kevin Kim on Dec. 15, 2006

Kevin, you little weirdo, stop with the anal stuff.

It is guys like you that have caused Richard Gere to drop out of Hollywood and move to New Hamster.

Posted by: shelly on Dec. 15, 2006

Not my fault that Gere likes it furry.

Actually, Korean men do, too, judging by the ladies' tendency not to shave down south. I guess '70s porn chic is still big here on the peninsula.


Posted by: Kevin Kim on Dec. 15, 2006

Captures this time of year perfectly in all its symbolic glory. Great choice! It was Richard Gere and gerbils--not squirrels--at least that's the version I heard.

Posted by: Joules on Dec. 16, 2006

I wrote this poem last month and am told by an 87 year-old lady that it reminded her of her son whom she lost 60 years ago.

A Horse Drawn Hearse

Today I saw a horse-drawn hearse, black and majestic,
The driver sat upright, dignified and grand,
His task, to ferry on a child's last journey,
Taking his fare to a mystical land.

The coffin lay lonesome, tiny and white,
Cocooning a child, of years precious few,
Why dear lord have you taken this youngster,
I know your reasons must be honest and true.

No longer consoled by the hugs of a mother,
Nor laughing at the antics of dad,
Stolen from life, from a family, for ever,
Experiences many that she's never had.

I felt so sad as the hearse drove on by,
With tears in my eyes, I thought about life,
How precious, how wonderful, how mysterious, how fragile,
To be lived with a passion, and freedom from strife.

Posted by: Neil T on Dec. 19, 2006

that was nice. you may post your poetry anytime, neil.

Posted by: annika on Dec. 19, 2006