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MacQueen’s Quinterly: Knock-your-socks-off Art and Literature
Issue 2: March 2020
Poem: 189 words [R]
By Jack Cooper

When We Decide

From my window I watch a gray squirrel
squat on its hind legs
and dig a hole with its paws

It has big hands for its size with long fingers
that work in a frenzy
to bury its food 

for the coming cold and fragile young
acorns mostly
I know this because my bulbs

and grape stocks live in the same soil
and I unearth one of these fat round seeds
now and then as I futz and fritter

tossing it up the hill to be reinterred
or stolen by a rival chickaree*
Every year an acorn or two are overlooked 

and sprout into trees
which invariably grow in the middle of my garden
and have to be removed

in defiance of the natural order
an attitude that multiplies across
the human landscape

garden after house after road 
factory after city after sea
which is why I worry about the animals

and what happens when we decide
when our hunger our children our seasons take priority
in the same paradise

—Published previously in Pinyon Poetry (Summer 2019), Colorado Mesa University; appears here with author’s permission

* Publisher’s Note: Chickaree is another name for the Douglas squirrel, which is found in the Pacific Northwest (Wikipedia, 23 February 2020).

Jack Cooper
Issue 2, March 2020

is author of the poetry collection Across My Silence (World Audience, Inc., 2007). His poetry, flash fiction, essays, and mini-plays have appeared in dozens of publications, including bosque, Bryant Literary Review, Connecticut River Review, North American Review, Rattle, Santa Fe Literary Review, Slab, Slant, The Briar Cliff Review, The MacGuffin, The Main Street Rag, and The South Dakota Review, to name only a few.

Awards include Grand Prize Winner in Crosswinds Poetry Journal’s 2016 poetry contest, and the poem was published in their Spring 2017 issue. Cooper’s poetry has also been selected for Ted Kooser’s “American Life in Poetry” and Tweetspeak Poetry’s “Every Day Poems,” and his work has been nominated four times for a Pushcart Prize. His play, That Perfect Moment (with co-writer Charles Bartlett), was a headliner at the NOHO Arts Center in North Hollywood and The Little Victory in the 2009-10 seasons.

A Contributing Editor here at MacQ, Cooper also served as Co-editor of the last eight issues of MacQ’s “big sister” journal, KYSO Flash (Issues 5 thru 12, from 2016 through Summer 2019).

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