Third Anniversary (During COVID-19)

                        After Mikko Harvey


I don’t
want you
to be
scared. Maybe
thinking of
a cat
would help.
Have you
seen
the video of
the one
waddling into
the ocean
to be with
her friend?
She swims
onto his
head
and they stay
afloat.
When they’re done,
she beelines
through sand
to the towel
he set up
on the
beach,
and he pours
sun-warmed
water to
heat her up
before he rubs
her down.
Sometimes we
have to remember
the world before.
We don’t know
what’s going
to happen.
Kingsford and DQ
are especially
tender
at a time
like this.
What
are we
supposed
to do?
Not pet
them?
Right now,
DQ is snoring
on the blue
blanket of
the futon
without
a worry.
Our first
three years
have been
that soft.
I hope
this passes
soon.
Until then
we will squeeze
each other–
holding
our cats
close, all of
us afloat.

(originally published in Pendemic, Spring 2020)

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)

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)

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)