ABOUT THE WRITER
A Life in Words
Diane Judge is a member of the Carolina African American Writers’ Collective. Her poems have been published in these journals – Black Magnolias Literary Journal, Backbone Poetry Journal, 34th Parallel, Obsidian: Literature in the African Diaspora, Frogpond and Poetry South. She has also contributed poems to four anthologies, Remembrances of Wars Past, edited by Henry Tonn; Black Gold: An Anthology of Black Poetry, edited by Ja A. Jahannes; Obama-Mentum: An Anthology of Transformational Poetry; edited by Abdul-Rasheed Na'Allah; The Elizabeth Keckley Reader: Volume Two, edited by Sheila Smith McKoy; and All the Songs We Sing, edited by Lenard D. Moore.
Me 1, Squirrels 0!
One day, I saw a mysterious hole in my plastic trash bin. Inside, the bags looked like they had been clawed open. I figured it was an animal and starting scanning my yard for a bear. I mean, clawed open = bear, right? So I looked for a bear. After I retreated to the safety of my kitchen, of course.
I later put duct tape over the hole. The mysterious animal gnawed through that, too. There wasn't much of the tape left so evidently it was mighty tasty.
Next, I ordered a new trash bin. It arrived before I researched solutions to my problem (did I mention that I'm the Princess of Procrastinators?). The next morning, I found a hole in that one, too.
Later that same morning, I saw five squirrels scurrying toward my neighbor's trash bin which was on the curb for pick-up. They scampered up in about two leaps, synchronized like swimmers, and disappeared inside. I waited for them to emerge, but I guess that party of five knew how to party hardy.
I couldn't wait around so I didn't see how many left with a sugar high.
But that sighting made me realize that they were the holey terrors who had ruined my trash bin.
I know you just rolled your eyes and went DUH! But everybody can't be as smart as squirrels.
Anyway I finally researched how to keep them out of my trash. The solutions seemed worse than the problem - various peppery sprays or serious poisons that might make this geezer a wheezer or worse.
Finally, I read about a simple, easy solution. Get an old-fashioned tin trash can! So I did.
Now, although I have to store the bags in the tin can, then transfer them on trash day, I am happy to do it. Because the synchronized squirrels have moved on to greener homeowners.
DEAR IN THE HEADLIGHTS
The grass wears a buzz cut much like his own, straight edges right and tight. So he had mowed the lawn. He’s in his “dear” phase. Too little. Too late.
The car’s headlights shine on his handiwork like a spotlight as I back out of the driveway. I glance at the dashboard clock.
He’ll be jogging off our street onto Old Lady Graham’s private road by the time I reach the turn. With no other homes or streetlights nearby, he’ll be there about twelve hours, depending on when Mrs. Graham walks down for her morning paper.
Just after I turn onto the road, I cut the headlights off. He’ll have his earbuds in and his music loud enough to mute my engine, his head bent to watch where he is going instead of where he has been.
The dayglow patches on his jogging shorts alert me to turn my headlights back on.
I want to see him clearly. Marine-wide shoulders. Hulkish arms that can envelop even a woman my size in a tight hug and force my compliance on a drunken night.
Seconds too late, he turns to face the headlights. His face contorts in the same way it does when he’s angry. But this time, he’s afraid. He reaches out, palms forward, as if to push the car away.
In the futility of our defenses, we are more alike than I ever knew.
Eating The Dictionary
She wolfs words down,
slows to savor some
bite by tempting bite,
turns down page corners
to remind herself
where to return
for seconds, thirds.
on tough, boldface terms
night after lamplit night,
gorges on the protein
of Webster’s pages.
if blown off
when pushed around
I turn to mush.