in the blue space
under a backyard
of a dead cat’s
in the blue space
under a backyard
of a dead cat’s
I get on a subway
And there is nobody there for me
I go to the zoo
The animals are all terribly self-absorbed
In their cages
The bar same deal
I cordon off an empty bed
In the middle of a night
And there is no one
I could play a game of Twister with a mannequin
I pretended it is loneliness
I want a ticker tape parade for my loneliness
I look out a motel window
And there’s a blizzard
Doing savage things
To a parking lot
In the end the winter is funny
For how little it will give
A fuck or even less
If you are eighty
I bet it feels really good
To drop down into a sea
Of living cats
On a dirty mattress without sheets
To be nasty an earth goddess
I bet it feels
Than an evil fur coat
Used to feel at twenty
Which is how a lover felt
“You, Sir, are a goddess to all these cats”
Grrrr is replaced with miauw
The rain is scribbling against the window
Each time I look it’s a different monoprint
of the oh-so-artistic night
A mouse snuck into our house
I can’t type “sneaked,” I’m sorry
It sounds a rodent in sneakers
I suppose it’s the negative degrees
I lit a candle
The cat sniffed for its blood
We had fun
I text you these words
Thoughts from the nineteenth century
Please bring home milk and bread
I look like a witch in this candlelight
Does any of this make you horny?
There is no way to talk about it without sounding like witches. Their toys are still found in the forest. Sometimes, you come upon a stuffed animal sitting under a tree, moss growing nearby but the plush pet unmolested by this green fur. The animal will look so fresh, seemingly set down only a moment before, untouched by the weather, the long time they have been there in the woods. You might believe the child’s hand had just let go, it looks that warm. If things can look warm. You might believe that the child hides behind the trunk of the tree against which the furry pink elephant rests his back. For perhaps obvious reasons of mojo, of superstition, with an eye to good cess, the country folk talk about the children in a thinly-veiled code. For example, they drop off the first letters of their names. Bess becomes “Ess” and Tara becomes “Ara.” Sometimes, they merely use the children’s initials. Everyone remembers how the daughter buried the cat in the box. How the younger boy discovered this, returned with the cat in the box, put it on the dining room table in the house, an offering to his parents. She wept, was confessed. The cat became a religious symbol in their household. Feline martyr. The white cat glowed. Her siblings drew and painted it. Had it been the medieval period, there would have been a stained glass window in which the cat figured prominently, heroically. She forgave the little brother who condemned her. Who outed the witch in her. And then she took him for a walk deep into the woods one day and he was never seen or held again. She wept. She “lost” him. He was never found. She was very clever. She could roll her spirit shut the way a pill bug rolls its body shut, the way it becomes a little armored pill. The young father (so young he looked more like her brother) saw when she went for the next boy; it was a close call with a snowstorm, a wicked game. A grandfather’s boat was involved. And then the father took her for a walk deep in the woods and “lost” her. He said it wasn’t as easy as all that. He came back with strange marks on him. Later, he woke up with a tattoo on his body that he had never seen applied. Then the rest of the family disappeared and their house remains empty to this day. The forest remains empty. The trees are still hung, here and there, with little photographs in frames. That is her work. There is always a cool breeze, even in the warmer months. Even in the swamping heat of July. The forest keeps this cool space and its blue shadows. People blame it on a cave, but there is no cave exhaling this cool air. Children who come through know not to touch the little icons of the photographs. Not to touch the trees even. But you can see her entire family in the photographs. And other long-dead people who are mysteries. Which ones are hers? Who knows. The animals sit under the trees. Old stuffed animals with strange eyes of sorts you don’t see anymore on the animal dolls we give our children. Icon eyes. Terror and amusement at once in those old plastic eyes. Strange ecstasy. Maybe it’s the way the eyes are when one sees a human circus. One knows the horror. A dark part of one might be titillated. She is close. She is listening to us. It cannot be otherwise, for that is what the story tells us. The trees feel compassionate and invite us in. There may be a child’s tea party, the tea laid and waiting for us. Plastic tea set aping porcelain. Teacups steaming. Miniature table. Tiny chairs where tiny witches sit. But they are not what we imagine. We know better. One child walking barefoot encountered a lobster in the middle of the woods. It was crawling along the forest floor, though the ocean is more than an hour’s drive away . Sometimes a cloud will descend on a clear blue day and fill the space between the trees. And some days there are elephants. They seem lost. They cry as they wander through the fog and a girl’s laugh curdles your listening. Some unwise children leave her notes. These she reads. And sometimes she responds. Sometimes she comes to “help.”
This is a letter to the night. If you are not
the Night, please don’t be offended,
and feel free to repurpose this.
This poem is like a jar emptied out
to catch insects on a summer night,
but then not ever used. Left there
with the screw lid forever on, a yellow
scratched lid. The End.
(A smell of pickles will haunt it
longer than anyone you know
will be alive.)
Wait. I have something to tell the moss…
“I see something and I like something
and I copy it. I am like you in your green
cushions of breath. I copy it
the way you put down on earth breath
after breath, heartbeat after heartbeat.
We’re making a composition. There’s a reason
the stars stay up all day. They must have
“I still keep looking out the front door, checking
for the mail, even though there’s no longer
any house. ‘Get down off that table!’
the poem screams at me and claps
its hands angrily. My feet smack the carpet
and I stalk away in resentment, my tail
filled with poison now, ancient poison.
“This is an epistle written to the night,
the one that owes me money.”
You walk out your house,
your dwelling, your
like a root, a tuber
at a sill, you wonder
at the wet
of the street
and look up.
It’s just finished
raining, the trees
are these sorry
don’t work. The tip
of a nose
catches a star.
There goes a cat,
slinking, you think
his name is Barnabas.
You think the blue sky
never looks as nice
as now, just after
a storm, your stone
street cobbled all dark.
You look up to the cuplike
glow of blue,
it liberate us
Sometimes she gets angry
at ghosts from earlier in the day
she wishes she’d argued with more
hugs her knees in the black bedroom window
rocking ghosts to sleep
looking at night birds
the way our cat sits there
in the daytime
I am just an unlonely cat.
I am a loner but I am a tiger.
My family has left me this house.
It’s falling down, so I sleep on the roof.
The grass and trees are closing in,
so things will be shaded, greener soon.
Being a cat, I like that. (It’s summertime.)
The house was condemned, my family
driven out. They left me behind.
There’s some paper taped to the door
I cannot read. Sometimes I sit and look at it.
Sometimes I go through the busted window
and look for them. I cannot bring myself
to move my little Gore-Tex mouse from where
the kid last threw it. They were very poor,
so I took them in. Now they are poorer
without this house. Without me.
I am unlonely and rich.
I am a cat. The streets and the woods
are my palace, my house. They may
come back. They may not. You see,
I am a cat. I am out nothing.
Let the poem be organic images. Let the poem
hide its words from itself. A thunderstorm
turns around our house, goes by the window
twice. Then again. It seems to be in love
with the cat’s fear. Things fill up with our
crazy intentions. Eventually, you notice
language is doing the same thing. These
crazy drive-bys it does. And we never
did a thing to it, except maybe encroach
by accident on its alien turf. You can’t
even walk down its street without
taking someone’s side, unawares.
Who says my cat and I can’t share thoughts?
We do it all day, all night, long. Just watch us.
Together, we follow the slant of light from the windows.
We wonder at the shiftlessness of each other’s hours.
I do it with a pen and sleep. He does it
with a paw and sleep. The processes don’t seem
all that different to me. He has a tail for balance.
I’m a little jealous of that. I only have
a tongue to twirl and try to catch myself
when I make an ill-judged leap. It’s a rather
poor substitute when it comes to balance,
to pounce, as those who know me will attest.