An old boar squirrel has made a home
in the tall skinny house across the street.
he must think himself lucky to have the space.
I watch him build his treasury
on the jade kitchen linoleum
dark nuts arranged like a scatter-diagram.
my house is on a little hill
surrounded by rocks that need no mowing
two blocks off the thoroughfare that is dying
four blocks away from the supermarket
which sells less ingredients and more
pre-packaged convenience every week.
I walk a mile to the butcher for better meat.
I walk three miles to the bayside park
to sit alone with the clatter of brown weeds
beating seedpod fists against rusted fences
watch gulls hang in the ocean’s continual
exhalation its unbrushed teeth reeking
of wrack and fermented seaweed.
the street lamps come on at dusk
but not so many lights in the neighborhoods.
I never carry a wallet – any prospective mugger
can have my book and I can turn my phone
into an expensive paperweight
after a few minutes at any computer.
I’ve never been mugged but I fantasize
about the trauma and overcoming the tragedy.
I wrap up in a blanket in the only chair I need
in the living room with its single square eye
and surveil for signs of returned surveillance.
I work an easy job then come home.
I find myself eating less and less
and, after walking, breathing less and less.
I don’t get up to pee at night anymore
but sleep through until rising and begin my day
with whatever song surfs the first wave
into my consciousness. sometimes
my ex-wife calls or my daughter sends an e-mail
asking my opinion on some insolvable problem
bred by the big city and raised on stress.
I’m fine, I tell the ex, It’ll be fine, I tell the daughter,
the world will get along without us all.
there was a fire down the block, an old church,
shed of its holy congregation to become an incubator
for homeless kids. I imagine they lit a fire
not realizing how easy it is for such things to grow
out of control. I saw my neighbor the squirrel
watching the wavering glow but failing to wave to me.
he’s still the best neighbor I’ve ever had.
the next day I went down to the second hand store
watched a boy try to shoplift a coat, told him
to pick out a few things and I’d pay for it.
he didn’t smell like smoke but you never know.
I went home with my good deed and put it to bed
in the old nursery still painted pink.
I lay down on the thin carpet until I fell asleep.