We Live With Animals

there is a limited amount
of space on the futon

to absorb sun because it is
another day in (x) of them

they are staring as I say this
in my pantsless existence

with feet pressed together
on sweaty carpet


(originally published in Raw Dog Press, Spring 2022)

I Drank Yesterday; Your Socks Had Cats on Them

I drank yesterday; your socks had cats on them. I’m sorry. I wasn’t strong.
The white and pink and soft. Faces I see them everywhere and they meow

requiems of froth. Ciders on the couch our jeans touching. I get to the point
of confusion but don’t get the point of being confused. I am there. Brainfog

sober room drowning in doused apple and loud television football. Green
green fields. I lived alone in pastures for most of my sadness now it sinks

conjoined. Allow me the pleasure please allow me come home to the bog.

 

(originally published in Philosophical Idiot, Spring 2019)

 

Cat Person

You ask me to watch Lollipop while you vacation
in Nantucket without paying me even though this is a definite
inconvenience but I oblige and then you text demanding

picture updates a few hours after I say I’ll send one
when I’m there. You ask for news before I arrive
like hanging out with your cat is compensation.

Look, I swear I’m a cat
person. I am. What
I’m saying is I may be adaptable

but Lollipop is not. Today I stop
by to swing scooped poop in a plastic bag
around the house and dump a confetti of

special urinary chickenmix into a small bowl
and there are flies all over the house from the
first night of catsitting because when I arrived

Lollipop was nowhere and maybe I left
the door open when I searched outside, shaking
a bag of treats everywhere, only to find the cat

inside the bedframe, hangin’ under mattress
in the lingerie drawer– when found, Lollipop
sprints into a shoe closet because she is not

a person-cat, and oh my god look at you on that rug
Lolli wants a belly rub yes you do ah god damn it
fucking fine.

(originally published in Plainsongs, Summer 2019)

The Solipsists

When I tell you of my existential crisis in the shower,
of being frozen in the rain of hot water and steam,
afraid of being alive inside a universe that perhaps has

only a limited number of consciousnesses to hand out
like a bowl of Halloween candy in the dim porch light
(don’t knock, just take) – why was I born with human

privilege? I could have been a beetle hiding from
bombs in a country bleating with siren and flame.
Why this panic as I soap myself inside the pleasures

of plumbing? You tell me you don’t know if I exist,
and it’s funny a figment of your imagination would
be sowing doubt upon your own living. I tell you it’s

funny a figment of my imagination says the same, which
you say sounds like something an illusion would say.
We drink Lagunitas in a beam of window sunlight. One

of us will live forever in the simulation of our sandbox,
the black cat floating on the wobbles of my knees, purring
softly into dark sweatpants discernible from nothing else.


(originally published in Subnivean, Winter 2021)

Stray

The way the cat looked at me
                       after his treat–

         the difference was ours has a home.

And God I am so ashamed.

                          They are the same

but I was on our unfamiliar
       porch
             swinging

a bag of sustenance

           like unlimited pleasure

                you needed

                      for survival

 

(originally published in The Magnolia Review, Summer 2018)

Headshots, 2013

Unrecognizable? I’m
the same bag of slime
swimming the freshwater
of time, but with a pinch
of salt. How to see
yourself without looking
through the mirror: the need.
Saturation. Angled flesh, aged
and tilted. The monotonous
color of landscapes. The same
itch, the same nose. These
days I photograph my cat.

 

(originally published in The Wire’s Dream, 2018)

Overlooking the Ravine

you practice the scorpion on your back porch
while your cat wanders about like she has
somewhere to go and we don’t

you stretch the sky darkens and fireflies
illuminate the fence the cat wants to scale
I ask what of your qualities you see in her
you say she’s an affectionate asshole

I drink another of your beers we have
talked for weeks about how I never
seem comfortable anywhere I go with anyone

you don’t think I’m a vine that has found
its wall to climb even cats want walls
they know their limits I’m not sure what mine are
how high or should I even try

then what?

 

(originally published in Roanoke Review, Spring 2018)

To Sara (From Kingsford)

I scratch at doors because I hear a creature
moving in some box I have yet to lick.
Cardboard has the faint taste of forest, of hungry
bark. I have never ventured deep but the deep
knows my name, and when alone its voice
is sometimes distant but so heavy, I claw
the door’s painted wood until the woodlands stop
speaking, or someone lets me free. I explore dark
spaces and in this home I look for monsters
to flee– I run from shadows, sprinting through
the wilds of rooms wanting a chase to give
my motion meaning. Don’t get me wrong.
I’m grateful; I’m safe; I’m running from myself:
I’ve loved like vacancies in the clothes hanging
in closets. And loved like in your arms, eyes closed,
no more dark but in searching for the predator
to emerge in you– but on your bed, in this room,
in this home– there is only breathing and calm
I can’t sense in that outside world of creaking
and footsteps, of clouds rolling into thunder,
of multitudes of other things
I trust far less than you.

 

(originally published in York Literary Review, Spring 2017)

To Emily (From Angel)

To run away would prove
the wild still within me,

taming that short fence with my claws
to catapult into the trees where birds

and squirrels and spiders sleep alone.
I look starward when you lure me

out among the sparrows. I am no monster
who lurks in twilight, but sometimes

exist memories I never made, when cool air
rushes into me through the window screen

like the moon commanding the tide–

I am not fully water but, like you, an animal embedded
with her feral past– my sisters teach me to hunt,

mice dangling from their mouths that haunt afternoon naps
on your heavy bed– my beautiful sisters never knowing

how it feels to be a princess, gold and pink
tiaras glistening between their royal ears.

I would not belong in those sprawling
forests from my dreams. The hunger

from the wild’s lack of you
would tremble my true heart home

under starlight’s navigation– to here,
where my whiskers graze your calves,

where I am cradled in your arms
in the company of heartbeat:

a sweetness, a tenderness
the feral could never dream of.

 

(Originally published in VAYAVYA, Spring 2016)