A Squirrel Stood Watch, Part 1

A Squirrel Stood Watch
A squirrel stood watch, listening to the music,
Looking at me till I looked at him.

I had hoped to settle into the day
After too many days of straining gnats.

The people who make up my integrity
Had gathered. With difficulty, I presented my gift.

The squirrel remembered its self and ran.
The humans stayed awhile and spoke, 

Hugged, applauded, then remembered their selves too.

For the Offering
Styrofoam cup, Budweiser bottle,
Shredded pink plastic for the offering;
Gathered to the can by a black man dressed in white
Who then sat at the park bench in shade
Of tall oaks. A brown leaf
Floated, tumbled from the omnipresent sky.

With Rolled Edges
Trees shake rain from their branches & leaves.
Dark clouds move quickly to gather the lightning.

A twinge of pain enters the corner of my mouth.
La la, la la - a squirrel nibbles a nut.

Your ways are strange & filled w/ busyness;
Regretful of a morning & longing for rest.

With rolled edges, quick clouds pass smoothly,
Two crows, a few sparrows, thunder, rain.

It Was Me 
When I woke, wind hummed at the window; 
Black clouds fled thru' turquoise sky. 
And I would flee too: the winds of accusation. 
But, it's true. I did it. It was me. 

There was ice on the wall next door -  a Rorschach  
Textured in dust where the downspout leaked -  
Ghost of a Christmas tree between two windows. 
One was boarded up.  A finger of live  
Pine pointed at the ghost's heart. 

Candles Have Been Lit 
Wet brown leaves stuck to concrete, 
A pair of squirrels' nests but the tent is gone 
Where the young woman had lived w/ an extension chord.  
I sit in therapeutic peace & serenity, Yes Sir. 
The war is somewhere else, there are no sirens, 
No one is being tortured; candles have been lit: 
Love, Joy, Peace & Long Suffering.  

Silence & Ice 
A shudder of dry leaves. No walkers  
Till a man came out of the porta-potty dressed 
For winter. I had my hat & coat on  
Too while the automobile warmed up.  
I noticed  houses that were there when I came; 

Remembered a field full of snow  
Where I walked slowly to the edge of the swamp.  
There were no porta-potties there, only  
Silence & ice filled with fallen sticks.   

The Feast Spread for Us  
Sunlight bright upon snow -- 
Our predicted gift as promised. 
And I've spread seed upon it. The juncos 
Have come to eat when the cardinals will allow. 
The exhaustion & humiliation of love have come 
And gone again, so we'll sing & sit down to eat 
The feast spread for us while we may 
With the children laughing & Grampa watching 
And wishing then all well this Christmas Day. 

The Common Sky 
I'd sharpened a pencil & sat down to look. 
Surrounded by dark clouds, a glow came 
And went in thru' the blinds, across the rug. 
My grumpy spirit turned to where 
The Life remains. And The Life called me out. 
Crow spoke over bare trees on the mountain, 
"There will be a gathering soon & you must be there 
To celebrate the common bread, the common blood & sky. 

Quiet but for the Sound 
Quiet but for the sound of waves on the highway,
Occasional twitter, whisper of dry leaves.
I've neglected my friends again tho' they are with me always.
I will speak to them soon, before I sleep.
"Prepare the field & then build the house."
I'm drawn back to this after a time of distraction:
Friends & words & sunlight's return.
Under bare trees, a glimmer on green.

What Must I Do?
The other morning a little bird told me,
"The clouds will soon go & the way will be clear."
And, it was as the little bird said. But now
The clouds have returned & my body is tired.
I must listen closely & ask the right question.

What must I do to to end my time well? (?)

Just South of the River
Branches under a weight of snow,
White sky; a time only for the gentlest of blessing.
I'm dressed but the morning is awkward w/ expectation
(And the prospect of wet feet.)
Steadied by a friends rebuke, I make my preparations --
Oil my boots & my hair -- anointed.
I find the long coat & red scarf & I'm out:
One of the wonders of nature just south of the river.

Dark and Wet
A gentle guitar in a distant room;
Dark days, dark and wet.

A creek runs under thick ice.
Expectation trickles into regret.

Knowledge comes with harsh demands.
Understanding compensates the workman. 

Sticks and styrofoam sit in brown leaves.
Squirrel stops and starts, a nut in his mouth.

Adventure AD 2022

Expectation (Sunday November 28 AD 2021)
Most of the leaves were down but there were still red berries 
Oak trees in motion, children's voices at play 
My ambition wouldn't leave me so I searched among the roots 
With fingernails dirty & broken, I'm smiling again 
Hidden in thickets of perception, alert I watched  
The lions pass then stepped into the street 
Sun low in the sky at noon, warms  
My face, children's voices & dogs w/ sticks 

Safe, Friendly & Complete (Sunday December 5 AD 2021) 
Rattle of dry leaves & a steady whirling  
Down, train whistle, shepherd chasing a ball 
Chewing on failure, chewing on pride, he 
Turned & was reminded of who he is 
Called by an evenly balanced weight of words 
To a stable structure fitted to his lips 
More leaves flew from the elderly oak like 
A flock flying in to repair the earth  

Brightness (Sunday December 12 AD 2021) 
Bright morning long shadowed, edged 
With frost, a voice of a child called out at the corner 
Quiet mind edged w/ trouble: social urgency 
A distant scream, the uncertain voice of an old woman 
Her son was never tricky enough to get rich, nothing there 
Anyway & so long looking before he could go 
The day would be bright w/ long shadows after 
The twisting wind, only a gentle motion of dry leaves 

Love (Sunday December 19 AD 2021) 
Sunlight came & went & grey clouds 
Moved slowly over me among the nodding leaves 
Cold, I went in to sit by the fire & listen 
To glad music & hammers; I called this home 
And kept my eyes open as long as I could, I  
Was well dressed for a modest working man 
Waiting on the ones I work for, expecting 
In the end, a world of kindness, affection & good food 

In the House of Bread 
(Sunday December 26 AD 2021 
for Aunt Becky) 

Fog, a fallen tree, a branch of mistletoe 
Sun gone into a red reminder 
Awkward I walked avoiding the tangled branches 
Failing to make sense, I finally said goodnight 
(A child had been born into the place made for it 
Born like me in an age of duplicity & trauma) 
A long winged bird passed over my head, a shadow 
Of blessing headed toward the gone sun

Ready to Ride

For the friends & family of Paul “Red Oak” Puntenney   
(Strong, good looking, burned hot & split easy)   

Empty & Waiting    
The bells had begun to ring & I looked into the mirror     
Behind me people walking slowly toward the door     
I’m empty & waiting for a change to come     
Some inclination to put me back to work     
You reach up & I reach down to pick you up     
And then you are me w/ aching shoulders     
Digging & lifting & sorting thru’ files     
Looking for something to bring back the joy     

Even Your Son    
I saw the sky turn red & the crow     
Came by from the west w/ the same old story     
“The wind is rising & you’ll soon be gone”     
Still there is some unfinished work      
Kindness & generosity to be reciprocated     
Even your son has offered his assistance     
Careless cricket chirps on, oblivious     
Spider in her web... song bird singing     

This Given Day   
The morning bird woke & began to sing     
Soon the day would become obvious     
Even to me in my disappointment     
Too slow to be seen I slink thru’ shadows     
Wanting to be generous I keep on looking     
For something I might have that I could give to you     
Something acceptable on this given day     
Standing in this light & the morning birds singing     

Wide Open & Free      
Red magnolia seed shines in the pod     
Cicada & crickets & once again mown lawns     
Still I despair of tying anything together     
Except for this time to the timeless being     
Existence leads my eye to the sky     
And back again in memory to the eyes I’ve seen     
I long for you now sitting under this tree     
Wishing you well wide open & free     

A Blind Man at the Door   
Humans walking wearing clothes     
Synthesized materials against hot flesh     
Tired & waiting, anxious to grow tired     
Of everything that once stimulated their angry minds     
Crowds gather outside to argue loudly     
Over both sides of an unsubstantiated insinuation     
Then come in or go out to eat blood & frolic     
(There’s a blind man at the door & his ears are burning)  

Best Wishes or a Trail of Ants   
His shoes are dusty & his pants don’t fit     
Grass turning brown... sparrows are thirsty     
He doubts that he’ll ever finish his work     
So he sends his best wishes & feels much better     
Maybe later he’ll remember how to tell the story     
Find a way to make up for all the tedium     
A soft train whistle... a whirring of wheels     
A trail of ants that comes & goes     

Ready to Ride    
There had been some rain during the night     
Trees waving sadly w/ knowledge of autumn     
And I’m sad too the red oak fallen     
I’m walking slowly dragging a stick     
Checking the sky for a lingering spirit     
Old friend ready to ride range on the universe     
Red hair flying & waving that Stetson     
“Come on, jimmy, you won’t believe what’s out here”     


Passing Thru’   
Cool in the shade & the morning light     
Mockingbird beside himself w/ so many tunes     
I’m relaxed now learning to be grateful     
Choices made about occupation – listening     
In gratitude to those who’ve been kind to me     
Thanking the one who’s beyond me     
Walking the road we all must take     
Just passing thru’ on my way home   

Mostly Sky   
Here below tree tops & ornate cornices     
In the un-mown lawn surprise crocuses     
I wait for a word a wonder a wisdom     
Small but here among the others     
Working for the renewal & preservation of existence     
Reaching for all that we have in common     
And hoping that we will stand up again     
There’s more sky than anything else    

A Sudden Gladness   
Yellow leaves brighten the ground     
Crocuses poking the sky w/ lavender     
A sudden gladness to see & be seen     
Passing thru’ the foyer w/ my hat in my hand     
The special one in me has begun to expect     
Kindness consideration & a satisfactory heft     
Taking on the persona as well as the work     
And the holly bush standing full of red berries     

At the Curb/At the Center   
At the curb had begun the piling of leaves     
The opening up of the canopy of blue     
Like a benefit of joining in on the conversation     
W/ admiration for the ones who are able to speak     
Submitting to each other an honest perspective     
A pleasure that doesn’t depend on ridicule     
And the sky still there in its infinite loop     
Everywhere everyone at the center of the universe 

Red Dragon


Fire & Brimstone 

At the curb brown leaves turned to mud  

Mixed w/ bits of plastic & cardboard  

Desperate to rest awhile so I can turn  

To whatever comes from the ocean or from the ground

Trouble no doubt tears & drying of tears  

Screams of lust & heaves of sighing  

Locusts like horses w/ stinging tails  

Masses of horses breathing fire & brimstone  


The Terrifying Breath  

In the woods unlike the city a flag  

Is easy to see & much more lovely  

Unencumbered by terror & disgust  

The shame & exhaustion that accompanies old age  

And the sight of the dead lying in the street  

If they’d only get up everyone would be impressed  

With a tremendous sigh & lifting of hands  

Having survived the poison & the terrifying breath  


Sunlight Thru’ the Window  

With strings & trailing wisps of white  

A strident saxophone enters stage right  

And I’ve always been impressed by a good horn  

Today tho’ I look around for something to follow  

A dragon say or some horny beast  

Impressing us at last to expressions of wonder  

Saxophone riffing along in time  

Sunlight thru’ the window warm on my neck  


While the Daffodils Bloom  

A woman in the sky dressed only in sunlight  

Standing on the moon about to give birth  

While the writer watches & the dragon waits  

And we limp along the street w/ our sealed foreheads  

Wishing each other well from a safe distance  

Not nervous out here but somewhat embarrassed  

Hiding our faces while the daffodils bloom  


Again Please  

Gray green yellow & purple  

Gossiping birds giddy w/ spring  

And me troubled by the preacher asking Jesus  

Again please come in out of the cold  

I’ll be making dinner soon we  

Have wine & fish & a bowl of rice  

The cute little mocking beast tho’  

With his dragon breath can stay outside 


The Quick Moving Sky  

Sirens & wind & the testimony of witnesses  

Greenwood waving for our attention  

And people dying of course while you dream  

Of people dying w/ red noses & turning to coal  

The living are mostly friendly & interested from their distance  

The ones who’ve come out to breathe while they can  

Admiring the flowers & leafy seedlings  

The scent of the hyacinth & the quick moving sky  


Cleanliness is Next  

Squirrel over a branch gnawing a nut  

Willow swaying softly red birds tweet  

Curiously I’m relieved in the sunlight something  

Accomplished tomato seedlings & edges  

That gigantic old dragon no longer in the sky  

So don’t get to easy it may be at the door  

Forked tongue flicking & a deal for you  

Cleanliness is next & the washing of doorknobs   


Answering the Wind  

Purple Violets & red columbine  

Yellow trees sway & answer the wind  

Living here among the dead composting  

Standing up again again among the living  

A voice like a waterfall following me around  

While the red dragon goes viral killing to survive  

The forest trees sway & answer the wind  

We walk among fields of violets & wonder  


Fresh Growth  

Staring out the window there are maple seeds everywhere  

Fresh growth too in the Christmas tree  

And I fallen into lassitude irritation & discomfort  

Growling w/ every sticky detail  

While the tiny horn boasts a lying narrative  

His ill fitted crown slipped to one side  

And while the spokesperson tried to explain  

Someone ran down the hall & crashed out the window  


Who I Am/Written on a Stone  

Rain wet road & big maple leaves  

Rippling puddles in a cracked sidewalk  

I’m standing by the window in muted daylight  

Considering the question at the side of the road  

The book of life & the lamb that was slain  

Looking for a name that’s written on a stone  

To put in my pocket so I can carry it along  

To remind me who I am when I have forgotten


Rain on the Way 

Look up there's a lamb standing on the mountain 

At the foot of a forest of tall oak trees 

Atrocities have been done in the towns & in the country 

Along the borders that naturally would mean nothing to anyone 

There's a light that rises & moves toward the gate 

Highlighting the kindness in your troubled forehead 

There's a voice like a waterfall like thunder & mandolins 

With the oak trees singing, rain on the way


Signs of Conversation   

The hawk had gone that was standing in sunlight   
A blanket & pillow abandoned in shade   
My sense of affection too was detached   
Passing by the signs of conversation   
Witnessing the mystery of endurance & imposition   
Common tongue & automatic rifles   
While the old whore sat by the river, frailing   
A tune to call back her cruel lovers 


Mourning Dove Insistent  

Chirping bird lavender yellow roses by the statue 

I'm wearing a blanket over my shoulders 

Wanting rest from the nights of explosion & glare 

To get ready for the next round of trouble  

There are many whose names have never been written 

Aching for the normal that brought us thus far 

Covered in insults the mourning dove insists 

And the bees one more time among the flowers 


The White Crane Too Has Flown  

Black birds circle the flowering tree  

There's been rain & a damp coolness set in  

I've risen again from my memories of failure  

I'm tired of them they don't do me any good  

The thunder the lightning the gusting wind  

Are gone & the seven plagues to follow  

Then the silent voice says come this way  

The white crane too has flown from the river 


Open Your Ears  

Daylilies have bloomed & shoes have been thrown  

Mockingbird notes in bright morning air  

Resting my ears & dissonant mind  

Watch awhile look & see  

If you’re for prison to prison you must go  

Cut people down & you will be cut  

Written to open your ears to endure  

Taking a knee is the posture of a servant