This is for Richardson’s Ground Squirrel
This poem won First place in the 2008 2-Day Poem Contest
flickertail, picketpen, tawny burrowing pest
of the short grass prairie, crippler of horse & rider,
cattle bison ox; tractor disabler, axle wheel breaker,
you warrant a pardon, you & your winding tunnels,
underground hibernacula of leaf-lined nest chambers,
kin cluster, a female social order bonded by mothers
daughters aunts nieces, each of you in estrus
one afternoon once a year, the glorious efficiency of the small,
shiver & bite; claw scratch further courtship, attend
your own ripe fattening. Think of it -
earth buckle contraction, a hairless litter, the multiples of proof
as you move from chamber to food cache, feeding
on foraged grasses, seeds, insects: head thorax abdomen,
every coarse filament chewed fine as sienna dust
before you vessel back to your blind litter, a milk urn.
Let's swap: my prairie for yours, nervous rodent industry
instead of cranes, bulldozers, dynamite.
Wrench of envy, your subterranean mess nothing compared
to what we've done: drought rattle, soil toxic, songless skies.
To Richardson's ground squirrel an article
of pardon: Blessed creatures that see so poorly in the dim
light of dawn and dusk.
Published online June 01 2008.
This poem was a winner in CV2’s annual 2-Day Poem Contest. Every April, CV2 challenges players to create a new original poem that uses all 10 words of our choosing. It’s poetry under pressure for prizes, publication, and personal bests. Learn how to sign up for the next 2-Day Poem Contest.