Tom (WordWulf) SternerHowe


Insights Out Of Doors - Poem by Tom (WordWulf) SternerHowe

A late spring, early summer day
I open the garage door
sit in my favorite chair and light a cigar
There is the noise of thunder overhead
No, a tremendous galloping across the roof
A gang of squirrels (I count twenty)
fly into a nearby aspen
Chu-chu-chuttering in squirrel-speak
They charge across the street en masse
and scale the neighbor’s chain-link fence

A blue jay, resplendent in ceremonial masque
alights on the back of my pickup ten feet away
stares at me in its one-eye-at-a-time
wise and wonderful, birdlike way
I say, “How ‘bout those squirrels? ”
The jay swoops over the cab of the truck
lands on a roof just over there
proceeds to join me watching the squirrel hordes
who are playing ‘King of the Mountain’
toppling each other from the top rail of the chain-link

It’s eleven a.m. and a fine mist of rain is falling
A morning dove coos a magnificent
accompaniment to the squirrels’ antics
A host of crows, blue-black, aflutter
claim spaces on the top rail
Sparrows follow in their wake
fill a dozen or so chain-link diamonds
with their tiny darting bodies
The squirrels pay no attention, continue to frolic
The birds take wing, fly back to the trees
where I can’t see them again

The neighbor to the west of me
a wise man and sage poet
according to reports from my wife
arrives with a can of gasoline
and soon begins the chore of mowing his lawn
I am annoyed at first
because I can no longer hear the dove
but, as with the birds
the squirrels pay no heed his man noise
Enter the boy across the street
a bothersome and precocious Child
He slams the gate and waves his arms
laughs uproariously as the birds rise in waves
and the squirrels take flight
They charge into my front yard
where they bounce through the boughs
of the crabapple tree

They’re too close for me to watch now
but movement in the chain-link
alerts me to the fact
that the sparrows have returned
Their heads bob up and down
I am lost to their wild rhythm
They remind me of nature’s rendition
of Hollywood Squares
This space was filled with my Children
and GrandChildren a week ago today
I remember as I watch the wind
toy with the graduation decorations
so lovingly hung by my daughters
in celebration of their younger brother’s accomplishments

I was chasing my GrandSons round and round the yard
lifting them into the back of my truck to play
pushing them high on the wooden airplane swing
given me by my Father-in-law
tied to a stout limb in the apple tree
My boys and girls had a water fight
splashed their way through the afternoon
A bit like the squirrels
so rapt was I in the joy of life
that I didn’t notice my fellow creatures
I’ll bet they were watching though
quick-eyed and curious
as we did that thing they do so well
spread ourselves joyously across
a perfect and delightful, pre-summer
Colorado day

The boy’s father across the street
has begun to clean his bright red Dodge
The drone of his vacuum cleaner wakes me
A large black feral cat
struts through the flowerbed next to the chain-link
and effectively clears the deck
Squirrels and birds alike
take to the trees and give him hell
A cop in an SUV idles by
stares over his sunglasses at the man in the garage
He’s too cool to wave and so am I
It is the weigh of things
say the crow to the sparrow, caw caw caw
and the feral cat climbs into my lap


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Poem Submitted: Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Poem Edited: Wednesday, May 12, 2010


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