These two squirrels are the size of squirrels. I find that strange.
Shep, my dog, is too big for the door
and I stand half a metre high, if that.
We’re off the windward side of Reason aboard a barge
of a houseboat with a rain-ruined squirrel as lookout
and another at the power-steering helm.
Shep barks and growls. He’s drenched and wants inside.
The tea things tumble from a pitching table.
A houseboat is not yar when it’s not home.
A klaxon awoogas! It’s time to relieve the watch.
Will I be lookout or hang ten on the rudder?
I hear a roaring surf. This won’t end well.
I check the time and see that it is now.
Outside as far as I can see is here.
What I can choose to do comes down to how
I evaluate and act upon this dear
and precious present — what a perfect word.
Here-and-now is all we have in the absurd
cat’s cradle we construct from might-have-beens
that curdle while we conjure larger skeins
of wished-for lies that we fantasise are wool
that, if we weave it well, will give us full
control and meaning for the lives we lead —
or, better, follow — out of some daft need
to imagine our existences are more
than moments to experience and adore.
She picked up her watch from the table in the dark.
She put it down again.
She could have looked at its luminescent hands. She did not.
Time marched on.
Or maybe it stopped. In the dark who knows?
The evidence is thin
as to whether time exists, she thought,
including especially my own.
The snails come by us, slow and navigate
their turns, glide up the chair, and slide away
to seek soft shade where they will pause and mate
the way their forebears always have: by rules
their genes dictate, for them a simple task
they need not ponder with their large brain cells.
Compared to us they have few cells to mask
whatever fear or lust or love that dwells
within their minds and shells and silvered drool
that they must admire when trekking in the dew.
Perhaps — who knows? — they think we are the fool
to have such tiny brain cells as we do.
Both species share the same atomic plight:
such empty cells can seldom reflect light.
He chipped and putted down the pristine fairway.
She climbed the rock face scraping hands and knees.
His money grew more money while he showered.
Her research cured a terrible disease.
His caddy’s Caddy zoomed him to his Bentley.
She mountain biked to the college where she taught
methods for reducing children’s pain.
He bought politicians friendly to his whims.
Here adjectives are superfluous as is emotion
in preventing or even slowing down these deaths.
Things that were lose urgency, and commotion
surrounds us changing little but itself.
What counts is care and using common sense
to keep distances till vaccines can be found.
The lunatic in office is so dense
that trusting him would leave all of us drowned.
With emotions damped and thinking caps in place
our healers sacrifice to save the many
and scientists seek solutions in the race
to save whole populations while there’re any.