Tag Archives: Alaska

The Squirrel

For my true inaugural entry, I settled on this poem. It’s based on a true event, and I can actually remember it like it happened yesterday. There’s also some potential for improvement–okay, a lot of potential, because it really sucks as it is.

So, here is the original text of The Squirrel, written in the spring of 1999:

I saw it, sitting, in the road
On the white dashed line
It looked up, down
It did not see me
I watched as it simply observed
The world around it
I heard a roar behind me
An approaching car
“Run!” I mentally bade the squirrel
“Slow down!” I begged of the vehicle
As it tried to flee, it was struck
The car didn’t even slow down
As it slay the small animal
Its tail stood straight up
Its eyes blinked once more
I stood over it as its breath
Faded, faded away into nonexistence
It seemed unreal

Commentary: There are some usage errors (“slay” instead of “slew”), and overall the entire piece is very clumsy. There’s both a sense of caring and curious ambivalence, which is true to how I felt about it at the time, but it comes off very confused and the motives are unclear. The ending is abrupt and also fails to communicate what I intended. When I said “unreal” I honestly meant it no longer seemed like a living creature once it died–as if it had never been one at all.

Rhythmically, it is all over the map. There are attempts at repetition which fail to achieve anything resembling cohesion or flow. Were I to rewrite this, I would most likely eliminate the repetition and focus much more on the actually process of death, paying less attention to the circumstances surrounding it. It’s not important that the squirrel was run over, the point is that its life was snuffed out abruptly and it had no idea what was coming.

I have never been very good at nature poetry, and this evidences why. This is one area where I could stand some major improvement.