Poetry Project — January 2018

Well, the best news of all is, we’re doing it again —
another year of poetry prompts with my pals Kelly, Sara, Tanita, Laura, Tricia and Andi.

(I won’t even call it a New Year’s resolution because it’s so much fun that it’ll make other resolutions feel bad!)

Kelly’s kicking us off with sonnets this time around — and she suggested we might want to try a curtal sonnet. Well, I thought, since I haven’t the foggiest idea about curtal sonnets, I better try one. (Thank you, Gerard Manley Hopkins.) Extra-special bonus — they’re slightly shorter than your average sonnet!

So, without further ado…

Kin and Plot
by Liz Garton Scanlon

What we won’t do to keep the squirrels away!
We grease the poles and string the suet high;
we fantasize about a well-aimed shot.
They fly and stick their landings – branches sway –
these high-tailed gymnasts, they won’t be denied!
What hath a bag of seeds and millet wrought?

But there’s a moment when we just give in,
toss caution ‘cross the lawn and to the sky:
take what you need, take all that we have got!
More alike than different, we’re all kin,
the earth our plot.

For more sonnets, go visit:

And Poetry Friday is at Reading to the Core today! Enjoy, everyone, and happy new year!

Posted on 01/05/2018 03:33 am


  1. “What hath a bag of seeds and millet wrought?” Heh. I’d love to hear you crying that line aloud. I tried a curtal too, although it’s not nearly as light-hearted as yours. Thanks, once and ever more, for being the fire that lights us up and getting us moving into a new year of poetry.


  2. I tell you, an otherwise calm and rational non-violent person LONGS to shoot at squirrels when they’re digging up everything and chewing everything, and eating all the bird seed. I, too, have to bring myself back from this willful brink and say, “Okay, look. You want to feed animals yes? Squirrels are animals, too, even if they’re NOT the “right” ones. Let it go.

    It’s a lesson that can be widely applied!!!! ♥


  3. As soon as I started to read your poem I was reminded of my dad, who had an ongoing battle with the squirrels in our yard. I laughed out loud when I read “we fantasize about a well-aimed shot.”
    My father put traps beneath the bird feeders, and every time he caught a squirrel he drove it 5 miles away and let it go in a county park.

    Thank you for helping me remember him in this way. I adore this poem.


  4. I just love how funny this begins, Liz. It’s beautiful throughout, right up to that gets-you-in-the-gut ending. And the meter is fabulous now–not sing-songy but melodic. So fitting for the harmonious ending.


  5. Kelly Ramsdell

    “What we won’t do to keep the squirrels away!” I remember my grandmother trying so many things – greased poles, bird feeders that are supposed to close if a squirrel lands on them, etc. . . . Those buggers always got the feed, though. And who can begrudge them?

    Does it help to know that they are so caring of their friends and neighbors that if they don’t see one in a few days, they will go to their nest to check on them? If they aren’t found, they adopt any young in the nest and take them back and raise them as their own. I saw one carry to babies along our fence and up into the pines out back. And it then made a third trip and came back with what can only be described as a fancy decoration (something with tinsel and more that the other squirrel probably had in its nest as a liner).


  6. Well done, Liz! Those squirrels are tenacious aren’t they? Like you, I’ve given in and let them “take what [they] need!


  7. Very fun! Just for now (because we know it won’t last, right?) we’ve got the right placement of baffle on pole and distance from porch and tree. Plus, we bring the feeders in at night because we HAVEN’T succeeded against the raccoons!! 🙂


  8. Oh I love this. And just yesterday I was shooing away the squirrel gorging on goodies at our bird feeder. The blizzard in Boston left a drift just underneath the feeder, so he pulled his belly right up to the table and helped himself! I really should leave him be because his food sources are buried until Spring! Be well and warm.


  9. I don’t feed the birds, only give all water, but in the winter I put out peanuts for these greedy creatures. Now they greet me if I go out the door, looking plaintively at me, and with their fat bodies! In the past, feeding the birds meant trying hard with “grease the poles and string the suet high;/we fantasize about a well-aimed shot.” just as you so slyly wrote. You’ve shown this city dweller’s problem well.


  10. Wonderful, what a grand and fun tribute to our once and then once again, and again removed kin the squirrel–who seize every opportunity to plot and eat from the dear bird feeders. But alas, perhaps they are squires, in a squirrel suit. I loved this line, “What hath a bag of seeds and millet wrought?” Thanks Liz!


  11. Oh, those squirrels. I think I enjoy their antics almost as much as watching the birds. One year we got my mom a special feeder just for the squirrels. You put an ear of corn on a bungee cord. We laughed so hard watching the acrobatic show that followed. And the squirrels kept coming back for more.


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