Archives for posts with tag: animals

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).

Summer Lost in Summer
by Martina Gallegos

I got her just before the end of spring;
she was boisterous as can be
and refused to sleep in her bed.
She was easy to potty-trained
and quickly loved to go for walks.
She didn’t mind baths too much
and ran like a Tazmanian Devil afterwards.
It was the same at the doggie park,
but all this happened before I got sick.
She even ran out of the house a few times
and ran super fast and looked like a Bambi,
but we always managed to catch her.
On my first outing after my incident,
she went with me to celebrate 4th of July;
the idea of firecrackers didn’t clue me in;
they were neither good for her nor me,
but I could cover my ears, not she.
Then she started smelling food all over;
her rear perked up quickly.
She wanted food and wasn’t going to wait.
She began pulling away from me,
and I couldn’t hold her back; I was too weak.
My weak left hand didn’t help my right;
I let go, and she zoomed out of sight.
I saw when a lady took hold of the leash,
but I could barely walk; I’d lost summer
in midsummer.
I hoped she’d come back but never did;
I missed having her sleep next to me
and take naps in my lap and going for walks.
I’d cry for many nights and actually
felt her next to me but never was.
It’s been almost five years, and I still miss her;
I’d ask for her back if I saw her again
even though now I have another rescue pet.

AUTHOR’S PHOTO CAPTION: I took Summer’s picture at the beginning of summer 2013; she’d just taken a bath and was rolling on my bed.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I’d lost the sweetest rescue dog to cancer, so after a couple of years I realized I needed a companion since my daughter was going off to college. We learned somebody was giving puppies away. My daughter, my brother, and I went to visit the family. They told us they’d planned to open the gate and let the pups free. When my daughter was shown one of the pups, I knew she was going home with us, and she did. This was back in late 2012. I lost my pet July 4, 2013, and I still miss all my pets.

Gallegos Robles

Martina Gallegos 
came to the U.S. from Mexico as a teenager and lived in Altadena and Pasadena through high school. She then moved to Oxnard and attended community college and university, getting her teaching credential. She graduated with her M.A. June 2015 after a severe stroke. Works have appeared in Altadena Review, Hometown Pasadena, Silver Birch Press, Spectrum, Somos en escrito, Spirit Fire Review, and Basta! She was named San Gabriel Valley Top Ten Poet. Her book, Stepping Stones: Journal to Recovery from Stroke and Brain Injury is now also available on Amazon.

AUTHOR’S PHOTO CAPTION: I don’t recall who took my picture, but it was the same year, 2013, at College Park in Oxnard, California.

Monkey Art
by Mark Hudson

I was in rural Ohio when I was a teenager, and I was at
an outdoor art festival, and I saw a man painting
art on circular blades of chainsaws. Out of the
blue, I said, “Could you paint me a picture
on one of those circular blades of an orangutan
sitting in the branches of a tree, with a bluebird on
his shoulder?”
So sure enough he did, and I must’ve given
him ten bucks or something for the art on the
chainsaw, and I still have it thirty years later.
It hangs in my apartment, and
I walk by it every day, and don’t even notice it,
because my apartment is full of endless paintings
and prints piled up to the ceiling! (Don’t let
my landlady read this!)

AUTHOR’S CAPTION: “Orangutan with bluebird on shoulder” chainsaw blade art commissioned by the author in rural Ohio.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Mark Hudson is a writer and artist who writes about every topic under the sun. He likes monkeys and has often created art about monkeys. And in high school used to have a fascination with King Kong. He has only watched one or two of the Planet of the Apes movies, but thinks it hardly is just monkey business.

Death shared a picture on your timeline
by Massimo Soranzio

A turtle stranded on the beach today
Caused life to be suspended, then and there.
People crowded the shore on that spot, they
Took selfies, or looked sad—but did they care?

I watched the scene from a distance and saw
Its deep-sea green carapace spotted white
By harmless barnacles, whose only flaw
Is, they’ll move only if they hold on tight.

Well, I don’t really like corpses, you know,
And I felt kind of sick when I was told
It was missing one eye, a dreadful show
(Yet quite attractive to some) to behold.

A meaningful, long life suddenly ends—
What stays is someone’s picture shared with friends.

AUTHOR’S PHOTO CAPTION: The same beach, with people concentrating on something else one summer later. This is Grado, on the northern Adriatic coast.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I was participating in an online workshop a couple of summers ago, and I had a deadline to write a poem adhering to some metrical form. I have always been in love with the sonnet form, which is often present in my poems in some variation, even when I apparently write in free verse. Anyway, I had spent my day at the beach with my family, and I still had in mind this unpleasant episode, so I decided to write a sonnet about it. (The text has been revised a few times since.)


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Massimo Soranzio writes on the northern Adriatic coast of Italy, about 20 miles from Trieste. He teaches English as a foreign language and English literature in a high school, and has been a journalist, a translator, and a freelance lecturer on Modernist literature and literary translation. He took part in the Found Poetry Review’s National Poetry Month challenges Oulipost (2014) and PoMoSco (2015), and in a virtual tour around the world with an international group of poets on

Creature Comforts
by Betsy Mars

If I could talk to the animals
I’d gather creatures all around me;
carrying them catlike in my mouth
softly communicating
through touch, telepathy, or teeth—

Or birdlike, feather my arms with amethyst
and join the formation with wings,
strung out v-shaped.
We’d band together safely,
each in our proper place, flying but not in flight.

I’d blow the top off my head and spout
my presence high into the air, grow gills
and breathe underwater … and slowly …
I’d practice bubble communication
and learn to whistle beyond human earshot.

On soft cat feet, my telltale tail swishing
and back arched, I’d raise my hackles
to warn predators and rivals
to keep their distance.
In a low growl, my throat would rumble my displeasure.

In a dog-eat-dog ass-sniffing world
my every inhale would be endlessly informative,
odors wafting through my synapses
triggering unarticulated volumes
received in a few twitches of a nose.

If I could talk to the animals
I could rest easy knowing that the Great Pink Sea Snail
would not be a-salted and the Pushmi-pullyu,
like me, would finally find its direction.
My kingdom would have no bounds.

PHOTO: Author at a young age in the habit of practicing her communication skills on a rabbit.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I have always been drawn to animals. I think “Let sleeping dogs lie” was one of the first idioms I learned, except that my parents meant it literally as I was always approaching strange dogs. My favorite TV shows were Lassie, Flipper, and Mr. Ed. I was entranced by Doctor Doolittle despite what a misogynist Rex Harrison turned out to be. I was very nearsighted and was convinced I would one day go blind. The only consolation was that I would qualify for a seeing-eye dog. I developed a passion for Labrador Retrievers, and that was in fact the first dog I got as an adult. I have never gotten over my suspicion that I have a special bond with animals and that they secretly understand what I am saying and just choose to ignore it (sometimes). I am obsessed with the videos of interspecies friendships and believe the world would be a happier place if we could just be more like the animals.

Mars (2)

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Betsy Mars is a Connecticut-born, mostly Southern California raised poet, mother, and animal lover with a severe case of travel fever. Having spent part of her childhood abroad, she has always had an interest in language and its nuances. Her work has been published in two editions of A Poet is a Poet No Matter How Tall, Then & Now (Sadie Press), and by Silver Birch Press.

PHOTO: Author in a post-ride conference with her trusty steed.

Speaking Cat
by Neha Srivastava

Speaking Cat isn’t half as hard
As speaking Human. There is
The screaming for one, each scream sapping precious energy.
I’ve learned to relax, to lie awake but asleep
My breath pulled upward by the blades of the fan.
I have learned to purr, to comfort myself
When things are broken.
I am dangerously aware,
A careless mistake would have cost me all
If not for the fact
That I speak Cat.
When I speak Cat, the world speeds up
But I slow down,
There is time between breaths
Time that careless humans fritter away in careless speech.
There is time between breaths
To not care for what has been.
When I speak Cat I dream in miaows
A single note awaiting a change in beat.
I awaken and stretch languorously,
Not having been plagued by dreams
Of what has and has not been.
I pad across the cool floor
And look out the window
At the trees and the birds and the whole world
All of it right outside my window.
There are no lands far away
Nowhere I would rather be
I am not plagued by thoughts
Of what can and cannot be.
I am dangerously aware
It would be easy to lose myself
If not for the fact
That I speak Cat.

IMAGE: “Cat and Bird” by Paul Klee (1928).

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I wrote this thinking how difficult it is for human beings to live in the moment.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Neha Srivastava is a philosophy major with an MBA in Finance, who spent eight years working for multinational corporations. In 2015, she finally worked up the courage to quit her job as a market data manager and report editor to take up writing full time. She now spends her days looking out at the world from her balcony and typing away at her laptop, watched over by her aging cats, Hobbes and Tequila.

woman shearing a sheep
Shearing a Sheep
by Maggie Mackay

It’s late June, no rain forecast today.
A heat haze rises over Ballantrae Bay
misting the watercolour wash of sea and sky.
By the pen I flip the Cheviot between my legs,
prop her shoulders between my knees.
Next I steady the weight as her legs push,
then point stock still into the air, her belly exposed.
Sweat begins to drip into my eyes, salty and blinding.
Dad whispers instructions, don’t nick, mind the teats.
I balance his wrought-iron shears in my right hand,
pushing the left hard flat against her smoothed skin.
She bleats in protest. Fleece piles around her shape
like a cloak unwinding
into a creamy white “wool in the grease” skin.

IMAGE: “A woman shearing a sheep” from a book of hours by Jehan de Luc (1524). (Source:

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I enjoy researching my family roots and found that three generations back, on my father’s side, is the shepherding tradition undertaken on farms in Dumfries and Galloway [Scotland]. This brought about the idea of researching the new skill of shearing, drawing a parent and youngster together in the poem, one learning the art from the master.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Maggie Mackay is a brave-hearted Scot and a final year MA Poetry student at Manchester Metropolitan University. She has work in various print and online publications, including Ink, Sweat and Tears, Prole, The Interpreter’s House,  Indigo Dreams Publishing and Three Drops Press.

deer crossing
Rules of the Road
by N. Hess

It’s dark out.

It might rain.

There are deer on the road.

Every time I sat in the driver’s seat, my mother’s voice echoed in my brain. Each time I clicked the seat belt shut, her old litany of excuses snapped in place, too. Reasons why it wouldn’t be safe for me to drive. Good heavens, there are deer on that road! (Which would never just cause a dent in the car—always imminent death, of course.)

Welcome to Pennsylvania, where there are deer everywhere, every night. Yet most people go about their business, perhaps driving a little more cautiously in areas where deer are known to congregate, but driving nonetheless.

But not me. I stayed “safe” by not driving. Or if I really had to go somewhere, my mother drove me. (Clearly, she was the magical accident repellent that would keep me unharmed.)

I didn’t know then that it wasn’t about safety or my driving skills—it was about control. All I knew was that in high school and college, I was allowed to drive a grand total of 11 times. When I moved away after graduation, I was equal parts longing and terrified to drive myself anywhere.

Driving to the grocery store in my new town, I had to give myself pep talks. Talk myself out of thinking I was going to die every time I drove somewhere. Remind myself that if I could just get to the supermarket, I’d be rewarded with mac and cheese.

Those two miles each way to the store felt like an eternity for over a year. But each journey yielded two miles’ more experience than before. It adds up over time, and it gave me a voice. A voice that’s louder than hers.

To this day, I’ve never hit a deer.

PHOTO: “Deer crossing” by adrenalinpura, used by permission.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: Stephen King once said, “The only requirement [to be a writer]…is the ability to remember every scar.” My driving-related scars inspired this story. Although those wounds don’t cut as deeply these days, they still produce little twinges and pinches sometimes when I’m stuck in a traffic jam or driving down a lonely road at night. I keep telling myself that’s what healing feels like.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: N. Hess writes twisted fiction. She lurks in the Philadelphia suburbs and is inspired by all things dark and mysterious.

AUTHOR PHOTO: N. Hess, daydreaming about a future in which self-driving cars will be the norm.