Lakeside Bird Feeder, Squirrels, a poem by D.R. James at
Jairo Alzate

Lakeside Bird Feeder, Squirrels

Lakeside Bird Feeder, Squirrels

written by: D.R. James


Now if I had ambition I’d be
this kung fu squirrel, this lighter one,
this Jackie Chan, scaling stucco

to ledge to chimney to the hovering skid
of the evil whiz kid’s waffling chopper,
perpetual motion my only gear,

my sidekick wacky as this blacker one,
who tries but can’t quite nab his half
of the substantial stash. Their

choreography is manic, their fight scenes
replete with wall-walking, roof leaping,
jumps across gaps and gorges—all

their own improv’d stunts, every feat
a fleeting, one-take opportunity. It’s
those reflexes that make the difference:

when gravity catches their rare missteps
they can spin around an inch-thick span
of diagonal steel or the slippery rim

of a seed-spill dish, always squirming
all four feet first—whereas I’d just drop,
back-ass-down to the unforgiving earth,

my spindly claws and my mangy tail
spread like a shredded chute, a plea
for anyone at all to catch me. So,

I’ll leave these antics to my friends,
for today, the squirrels, until I can find
a way to foil them, deter them from

this wintertime welfare I’ve intended
for the birds, whose more manageable
business will give me the docile pleasure

I’ve been seeking: sitting here in a chair,
swathed in luscious listlessness, slinging
these escape lines toward anywhere I wish.

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