Archives for posts with tag: animals

Licensed Patrick Morrissey
Let’s Hear It for the Horses
by Tricia Knoll

One million dead in the Civil War,
if you count the mules.
Which I do.

I say, blowtorch the rebel men
off their statue mounts and keep
the horses prancing on their pedestals.

They were not traitors
to their country, showed no sign
of caring who they carried,

black or white, male or
female. No one questions
their service to equality.

They did the work
they were asked to do
without a nod at glory.

Previously published in the author’s collection How I Learned To Be White. 

PHOTO: Monument to Confederate General Robert E. Lee, Charlottesville, Virginia, by Patrick Morrissey, used by permission. The photo shows an orange safety barrier erected around the monument to prevent vandalism.


EDITOR’S NOTE: In April 2017, the City Council of Charlottesville, Virginia, voted, by a margin of three to two, to remove the Robert E. Lee monument as a remnant of the city’s Confederate past and defense of slavery.  During the following months, protests erupted over the statue’s removal. On August 12, 2017, counter-protester Heather Heyer, 32, was killed and 19 others injured when a protester drove his car into a crowd that had gathered to support the monument’s elimination. Two years later, in June 2019, James Fields, 22, was sentenced to life in prison plus 419 years for the crimes. A Virginia law went into effect on July 1, 2020 giving local governments broad powers to take down war memorials. Charlottesville is now in attempting to have a judge remove a prior injunction preventing the city from taking down the statue.  As of late July 2020, the Robert E. Lee monument remains in place.

PHOTO: Virginia Senator Tim Kaine stands before a makeshift memorial for Heather Heyer, who was killed by James Fields on August 12, 2017 in a car ramming incident. (Source: Office of Senator Tim Kaine.)

licensed viacheslav nemyrivskyi

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR:  I have been horse crazy since I was a child. At the age of 72, I just finished a book on the history of wild horses around the world by Dayton O. Hyde. I admire the horses who sit under the Confederate generals in statues around the country. I am glad to see the statues coming down, but I think too of the horses.

PHOTO: Woman and horse at sunset by Viacheslav Nemyrivskyi, used by permission.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:  Tricia Knoll’s work appears widely in journals and anthologies. Her collected books of poetry include Urban Wild (Finishing Line Press), Ocean’s Laughter (Kelsay Books), and Broadfork Farm (The Poetry Box). Her recent collection How I Learned To Be White received the 2018 Indie Book Award for Motivational Poetry. Read more of her work at Find her on Amazon and Twitter.

johnston front door

The Onslaught at my Front Door
by Joseph Johnston

It wasn’t a rapping so much as it was an occasional flutter, a squeak from the hinges, a whisper of pressure on the storm door.

I noticed it during the first week of quarantine but chalked it up to the wind. Maybe.

Second week it was more persistent. Harder to ignore. A regular crashing at the front door. Convince myself it’s the pestilence.

Should I see who is there? Do I break the fourth wall? Let the disease in?

Much easier to just camp out in the basement and ignore the obvious. Maintain my controllable dimensions.

I hauled a tiny fridge down there and the coffee pot and the TV and the litter box and the best blankets. And the good rocker/recliner.

Third week I made it all the way to Wednesday completely ignoring the onslaught at my front door. I still don’t know how.

My fingernails were worn down to nubs, embarrassing versions of their former selves. And I couldn’t manage any TV. I was just sitting there. Rocking. Remembering.

Defending castle from disease. Hands over ears, hearing nothing.

Thursday. Thud. Crash. THUD. CRASH. And repeat. The storm door coming off the hinges. And no wind to speak of. The point of no ignoring.

I don’t want to investigate. I’m tired of investigations and ruminations and interrogations and suspicions. I’m tired of masks and their accusations.

I’m so tired. But I can’t make the noise stop. I have to answer the door. I have to face disease and death.

I wrap a novelty bandanna around my face and rack the deadbolt wide open. Turn the knob. Expecting zombies, I unleash the outside, in.

But it’s just a deer. Maybe six months old. Crashing into its reflection, in my direction.

I tape a drape over the storm glass and breathe.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: It’s astonishing how quickly my mistrust of others has grown since the pandemic began. This is probably what I hate most of all these days. I don’t want to mistrust others, but I can’t help but feel like my life is on the line whenever I have to interact with someone. With this prompt, I tried to tell the story of how this new paranoia turned my front door into an airlock at some infectious disease germ lab.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Writer and filmmaker Joseph Johnston made his first movie at the age of 11, an industrial espionage thriller that continues to play to excited crowds in his parents’ living room every Christmas. His prose, poetry, and video literature have appeared in Atticus Review, Matador Review, and Iron Horse Literary Review. He currently resides in Michigan, where he is working on a feature-length play about a dystopic suburban road rally.

J’adore My Door
by Karyl Carmignani

Solid and fearless, with varnish peeling like sunburnt skin.
Every push and pull blurts a micro-shriek across the threshold,
except when Santa Anas howl,
sucking moisture from every living thing, making us a bit mad,
and relaxing hinges, an intruder’s delight.
But lock tumblers jostle like cubes in a glass, and vow to keep us safe.

Screen door protects her stoic mate from sun and strangers.
Creates a veiled reality,
perfect for cats who pass the time
counting leaves crossing the porch,
or growl low and feral at passing ‘possums or toms looking for love,
as night falls hard on my newly quiet street.

There is a jangled ache outside in the absence of people.
This age of uncertainty, financial ruin, chills and fever
has tucked us in tight behind doors,
sturdy, hollow, painted, flimsy, raw, weeping.
We share this indoor life.
Separate and together.
It is a privilege
and a luxury to have a solid door to keep death at bay
and the cats inside, close.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: Forgive the shaggy format of this piece. The door prompt has been on my To Write List for a couple weeks, and it didn’t bubble to the surface until the kitties were watching the leaves scuttle across the porch before a storm. I’m eternally grateful for their furry company during this trying time.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Karyl Carmignani is a science writer for San Diego Zoo Global who also dabbles in creative writing. You can read her nonfiction animal-centric articles here. One of her all-time favorites is about a fascinating and misunderstood bird, the ostrich. Read it and see them spinning on video here. She loves morning coffee (with a splash of milk), rainy afternoons (few and far between), a good joke, great books, her husband, her two cats Tina and Piper, and random, unending beauty in the world. While not a fan of this “house arrest,” she is confident that this, too, shall pass and we can get back to hugging friends, eating out, biking, hiking through parks, traveling near or far, and rejoicing in our fleeting existence with full and shining hearts.

My Daughter Teaches Every Child She Knows to Love Her Cat
by Alice Morris

He was a half-grown stray regularly ripped to shreds
by the mangy pack of oversized ferals that had the run

of the old
beat-down neighborhood.

Early each morning he’d show up outside our cottage door —
crying, shaking, bleeding.

My three-year-old watched as I left him a little milk,
a bit of bread, a nip of cheese.

I’d tell my daughter stay back, explain

Eventually, she had to touch the copper-colored fur
on his back

and as though he knew he had found his home, his girl,
he never left a scratch.

We named him Penny because of his color, and because
it seemed his cat-world believed

he had no value.
But my child endlessly played with, talked about,

and drew pictures of our newfound Penny.
Soon, he appeared in other children’s family drawings.

AUTHOR’S PHOTO CAPTION: A picture of Penny found in my jewelry box after 18 years (2017). My daughter made this small cutout picture of Penny when she was about five years old. (She was very skilled with the scissors.) She used an index card for extra strength. (Photo by Alice Morris.)

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: Lost and Found — I first thought of the diamond that I lost from a replacement wedding band, and recalled the dark hole left in its place, but this subject was suddenly eclipsed by a flood of images regarding, essentially, a refugee cat. The more I thought about how we found each other, it seemed that lost diamond kept getting smaller and smaller.


Alice Morris
, a Minnesota native, earned her BS from Towson State University, and MS from Johns Hopkins. She comes to writing with a background in art — published in a West Virginia textbook and The New York Art Review. Her poetry appears or forthcoming in The Broadkill Review, a shared chapbook, themed poetry collections and anthologies — most recently, Bared: Contemporary Poetry and Art on Bras and Breasts by Les Femmes Folles Books. Her work is also published by Silver Birch Press, The Avocet, The Weekly Avocet, and Delaware Beach Life.

Author photo by Alice Morris.

by Roslyn Ross

Lost that grey kitten,
eyes like stars and
fur in silken clouds
of love, damp-nosed
and curious, so very
curious –

Found, that grey kitten,
eyes clouded, fur limp,
body curled in death,
sighing from the final
bite of the snake, as it
defended its babies
from curiosity

IMAGE: “A Kind of Cat” by Paul Klee (1937).

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: We live on a farm and in summer, the brown snakes are common and kittens are as ever, much too curious. We have lost three kittens in the past two years.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Roslyn Ross has been writing poetry since she was a child. She was born in Australia and has lived around the world for three decades, but is now settled in the Adelaide Hills in South Australia.

by Neil Creighton

The Indian Pacific from Perth
has arrived on Platform 2.

We poured from the train.
The platform surged with people.
Baggage handlers scurried around.
Grey day. Spiteful rain. Cold wind.

Better check on your dog, son.

Sammy was in a dog-cage in the baggage car.
He was eight. I was sixteen.
His puppy self had lain in my arms.
Together we paddled the glittering lake,
he in the front, alert, mouth open, excited.
He loped alongside my bicycle.
He bounded comically through high grass.
He lay at my feet in the evening.
He was my brother and my friend.

There’s a dog loose on the tracks.

I barely heard that announcement
as I wandered down to the baggage car.
I’d checked on him on each stop.
Now I’d take him to our new home.

I’ve come for my dog.

Jeez, mate, sorry, he’s gone,
We tried to get him out of his cage.
He held back and slipped his collar
and he bolted.

I ran through the crowd, searching the tracks,
calling and whistling again and again.
No dog loped up happily to lick my hand.

Finally I stopped.
He was gone,
3,400 kilometres from his home,
running in a strange city
full of noise and trams and cars and trains,
increasingly desperate, hungry, alone.

The day was cloudy, cold and wet.
I reached for my sunglasses
To hide my grief, though tears flowed freely.

Sammy, my dear friend,
don’t run too far.
Find someone to take you in.
Let them love you like I do.

In a sad huddle, my family waited.
I walked past them towards the platform steps.
They seemed so very far away.

IMAGE: “Boy with a Dog” by Pablo Picasso (1905).

Creighton for Sammy

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I have always loved dogs, and although my father was in the Royal Australian Air Force and we led a gypsy life, criss-crossing the Australian continent, my dog always came with us. My poem recounts what happened when we travelled from Perth to Melbourne one cold, wet day.

AUTHOR’S PHOTO CAPTION: My dogs, Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy and Miss Eliza Bennet (Darcy and Lizzie).

Neil Creighton Bio Photo1

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Neil Creighton is an Australian poet whose work as a teacher of English and Drama brought him into close contact with thousands of young lives, most happy and triumphant but too many tragically filled with neglect. It made him intensely aware of how opportunity is so unequally proportioned and his work often reflects strong interest in social justice. His recent publications include Poetry Quarterly, Autumn Sky Daily, Praxis mag online,  Rat’s Ass Review, and Verse-Virtual, where he is a contributing editor. He blogs at

doughnut and obscure
by Virginia Lowe

I wasn’t really lost
I was bored
Left alone yet again
this time I crossed the road
wandered through
an overgrown garden
in an open door
There were people
but as well a playful pup
just about the same
size and age as me
We chased one another
round the house
a house designed for this
Parlour to dining room
to kitchen, to hall
to front hall
to parlour again
then reverse as I chased
the pup – Lizzy

The people were worried
that I was really lost
They put me back
out the front door
It took me no time
to find the kitchen door
and join them again

When we had played
some more
Lizzy and I settled down
in front of the fire
I kneaded the carpet
while I had a comforting suck
of the end of my tail

Visitors arrived for dinner
One unceremoniously
turned me upside down
announced I was female
and, though only half grown
old enough to have kittens
This gave them pause
(and me paws…)

I stayed with them the night
and the next day
they went up and down the street
knocking on all the doors
looking for my owners
No one had lost the half grown
black and white kitten
they’d already christened
Doughnut – the round shape
Imparted by tail-sucking

So they went to the vet’s
and left me there
for a day and a night
In the morning,
the jovial vet
presented me back
to the family
saying, with a great laugh
I’ve got news for you
Now he’s dough
without the nuts!

It was several days
before the family
across the road
claimed me
but it was too late
My heart belonged
where Lizzy bounced
and waited.

Years later
the family’s children
persuaded a visit to the
cat show was in order

There was a hideous gold-plated
plastic award for
the Supreme Domestic
which was mine
I also won
Cat with the Longest Whiskers

It all made such
a good anecdote
They had watched me
sucking up to the judges
just as I sucked my tail
(sucking was my forte)
Extrovert, loquacious
I convinced them of
my Supreme status

The Award
in all its glory
sat on the mantelpiece
while the story
was replaced by others
They forgot the trophy
grandiose, ugly
sitting there
above the fire
as if in pride of place
When they realised
they hurried it away
to a far corner
never again
to be seen in public

But I knew I was Supreme
so did Lizzy
and later a new kitten
fluffy grey Obscure
And so did the family
who, in later less-lithe years
had the honour of holding my tail
to my mouth for comfortable
convenient sucking

AUTHOR’S IMAGE CAPTION: Doughnut and Obscure, a painting by Christopher Caitlin, about 1992.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: This is, of course, a true story. Doughy (as we usually called him) was a charming cat. I wish I had taken a photo of husband John in bed, cat on his chest, book in one hand, cat tail in the other, held to the cat’s mouth for convenient sucking. You never think about a photo of everyday sights until it is too late. Sigh!

lowe silver birch1

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Virginia Lowe has run a manuscript assessment agency for 20 years. She previously lectured at university and was a school and public librarian. She has been writing poetry for about 50 years. Her autobiography in verse A Myopic’s Vision is ready for publication (one poem for each year to seventy), and she is working on two novels for children and young adults. She has had seven poems published on the internet by Silver Birch Press, others in Ekphrastic Review, Right Now!, Australian Children’s Poetry, and twelve others anthologised in print. She writes a regular column on children’s responses to books, “Two Children Tell” in Books for Keeps and her book is Stories, Pictures and Reality (Routledge). She was awarded the Leila St John Award for services to children’s literature in Victoria by the CBCA in 2016.

by Rhys Feeney

Whether we lost our cat
or he lost his himself
I still don’t know.

He didn’t wake me up
in the mornings for checks,
didn’t watch me take my meds.

I lost my appetite
knowing somewhere he
wasn’t eating.

For a while, he was locked
away in a shed or a garage,
I lost track of the days.

I don’t know what he did
(cats can sleep for 20 hours a day)
but I know that he cried

and scratched at the walls,
begging someone to let him out.
Outside, sparrow wing-fall

tortured him. I remember
when I was locked away
for a week, I too

cried and scratched
and slept most of the day.
(Out on the patio, in the sun

watching the clouds
move freely. I was very
much a cat then.)

We both got out
and helped each other find peace.

AUTHOR’S PHOTO CAPTION: My cat, Rocket, basking in the garden sun a week ago (Photo by A. Davida Jane).

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: About a year ago my neighbours went on holiday for about a week, and at the same time, my cat disappeared. He’s normally very affectionate, and it was shocking when he didn’t come home. We did he usual “Lost Cat”-poster charade, but he just turned up by himself one day, starved and scared. This poem plays on what I imagine his experience was, and my own in a psychiatric hospital.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Rhys Feeney is a 20-year-old British-born poet living in Wellington, New Zealand. He’s a recent BA graduate in English Literature and Film Studies from Victoria University. His poetry has previously appeared in blackmail press, The Rising Phoenix Review ,and -Ology Journal, and he writes regularly for the music blog Daydream Nation. He’s a cat person.  More of his writing can be found online at

by Shelly Blankman

Who rescued whom, I couldn’t say. He
jumped on my shoulders, wound around

my neck like a wispy white boa with gray
Rorschach splotches. Clung to my collar

like Velcro until we came home, where
his crime spree began. He stole my

eyeglasses and hid them under our
bed, ate food we were eating, drank tea

we were sipping, shredded our calendar
June through September and a year later,

he wasn’t ours. We were his. With winter’s
first breath, Gizmo vanished. We searched

corners, crevices, closets, and the crawlspace,
combed bushes and yards, checked pounds,

vets, newspaper ads, posted signs on every pole,
but our efforts were like building a snowman in

the sun as any hope of finding Gizmo melted away.
After three days of not fighting for my food, we hired a

canine unit with the Schwarzenegger of dogs, a
strapping German Shepherd, with bleach-white teeth,

ears perked for duty. Twenty minutes later, she found
Gizmo, shaking, thin as a spare rib, but safe. I swaddled

and snuggled him, gave him food on my plate, water
from my glass and waited for him to tell me what to do next.

AUTHOR’S PHOTO CAPTION: After a long separation, here I am once again sharing my food with Gizmo…this time quite happily.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: We live in a cul-de-sac. Gizmo was found in a small space under the end house, hidden out of view. The search dog followed Gizmo’s  scent all the way around the cul-de-sac, in front and in back of the houses, across a field and back,  apparently before taking refuge in the this tiny space.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Shelly Blankman and her husband are empty-nesters who live in Columbia, Maryland, with their four cat rescues. They have two sons: Richard, 32, of New York, and Joshua, 30, of San Antonio. Her first love has always been poetry, although her career has generally followed the path of public relations/journalism. Shelly’s poetry has been published by Silver Birch Press, Whispers, Verse-Virtual, Ekphrastic: writing and art on art and writing, and Visual Verse.

If You See a Dog Who Fits This Description, Please Reply
by Steve Klepetar

Has a long, lolling tongue, red highway winding through mist,
this dog who has hunted serene in green woods, deep north
where wild chickens roam, dug up nests between cherry and oak,

swum out through grass-rich ponds, her fine long ears floating
at water’s edge. She barks little, in blurry clouds of sound, music
of scent, and breeze scurrying through honey fur. In the landscape

of dreams, even wandering birds cannot escape gravity’s delirious
pull. Memory braids their feathers, crimson tips on bright black
wings. This dog will know their names, place each flight path

PHOTO: Cocoa Klepetar.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: Her name was Cocoa, and we found her chasing a flock of white birds in the park near our house. It was as if she just reappeared from nowhere. This is the lost dog notice I would like to have written, and attached to every lamppost and telephone pole in town.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Steve Klepetar lives in Saint Cloud, Minnesota, but is currently working in Fremantle, in Western Australia. His work has appeared worldwide in such journals as Boston Literary Magazine, Chiron, Deep Water, Expound, Phenomenal Literature, Red River Review, Snakeskin, Voices Israel, Ygdrasil, and many others. Several of his poems have been nominated for Best of the Net and the Pushcart Prize (including four in 2016). Recent collections  include My Son Writes a Report on the Warsaw Ghetto and The Li Bo Poems, both from Flutter Press. Two new collections appeared in January 2017: A Landscape in Hell (Flutter Press), and Family Reunion (Big Table Publishing).