A poem in the style of William Stafford's ‘At The Bomb Testing Sight’

Stafford's use of words such as ‘panting’, ‘waited’ and ‘tense’ create suspense that heightens our expectations of the possibility that ‘something might happen’. The lizard seems in tune with something that we humans are unable to perceive with our senses. The phrase ‘farther off than people could see’ captures a sense of the great unknown. There is so much we do not know, and probably, never will - or at least until we die. I do not think this is a dark thought at all. I find it uplifting to think that in death we will know all. What we can gleam from the continuous cycle of life on Earth is that there is more to this than our senses are able to percieve.


This poem was inspired by real events and although I never encountered the squirrel in question, I did see many a squirrel in Monroe Park in Richmond, VirginiaI outside my dorms. In this particular instance I think everyone who lived in GRC will remember the shrill and painful sound of the alarm - first at 2am, then at 4am (I think! Though this is an estimate...) Anyway, the point is that two alarms went off in one night and it was a bit of a joke...on a week day as well!


At dawn in the park a squirrel stood

Scared to stiffness at the sound of an alarm.

It waved through chaos then in a flash had quickly scuttled up a tree.


It waited, shaking. Petrified,

while a stampede – all yawning and moaning and groaning.


Its blood like ice and frozen limbs,

Fearing the prickly noise of death.

From the crowd a human thunder

threatened the peaceful canopy above

until the piercing ringing ceased.