The Systemic

Strange fall. Trees drop ballots into the yard
without fear of our tampering,
papers flipping along the curb as cars pass by. 
Commiserating with my neighbor about our lives’
missed opportunities, we recall that season 
decades ago when the ripest apples hung like half-punched chads. 
We were children, then. We didn’t even notice
how decorum ferried our parents across their many failures
when they ought to have drowned.
Yesterday, I buried another squirrel.
Every morning, he’d gnaw on my plastic lawn chairs,
shavings accumulating across his tiny organs.
Is his death political? Everything is.
Different, though, those two politics, dying for and dying of.

Copyright © 2023 by J. Estanislao Lopez. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on October 20, 2023, by the Academy of American Poets.