Archives for posts with tag: cats

Door
Shut the Front Door
by Kelsey Bryan-Zwick

Shut the front door
& listen out the back
notice the sounds
of wind through the alley
distant gulls at the beach
a bamboo wind chime
in a neighbor’s yard
echo of children playing
hum of buses and cars,
foghorn, helicopter

Shut the front door
& look out the back
notice pair of house sparrows
building a nest, starlings
back in town for the season
mockingbird that knows
every car alarm good morning
song that there is, crows
and cooper’s hawk, the feathers
of a mourning dove,
red blood in the wet grass

Shut the front door
and notice out back
building-mates, going
to and from car garage
hauling loads of clothes
to and from shared
laundry machines, taking
out their trash and recycling
the big dumpster where
even now the clanking sounds
of cans being crushed
by hands feverish sorting
through the bins, trying to
find anything that might
improve upon what they have:
never enough to shelter
through a cold night

Shut the front door
& remember through the back
to sweet peas mother planted
six feet away from you, with gloves
and mask on, how the sprouts
are beginning to show, how
the squirrel will tease the cats
inside with you, cozy as aloe
soaking up April sun, as an
occasional cabbage white butterfly
or cloudy sulfur rushes through
like liberated flowers

Shut the front door
& fall through the back
imagine what else you might
know, what else would
could, and should
possibly be.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: This poem started when I heard coughing in the echoey corridor of my building, and I called out to my partner, “Shut the front door!” and the realization that everything was changing washed over me. As a disabled person with mobility difficulties I was already in many ways having to live this new lifestyle we’re all becoming accustomed to, though this drastic, tragic change in atmosphere hits hard and in unexpected ways. For me turning away from the outside world let me explore this new “inside” world, as I gathered my thoughts and emotions, appreciating the place that I do have, even as the front door shifts from being an entry way, to being a defense to the outside world.  And so the poem, “Shut the Front Door,” unfolds.

Bryan-Zwick

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: A Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net nominee, Kelsey Bryan-Zwick is a Spanish/English speaking poet from Long Beach, California. Disabled with scoliosis from a young age, her poems often focus on trauma, giving heart to the antiseptic language of hospital intake forms. Author of Watermarked (Sadie Girl Press) and founder of the micro-press BindYourOwnBooks, Kelsey’s poems have been accepted by Spillway, Trailer Park Quarterly, Cholla Needles, Rise Up Review, Right Hand Pointing, Redshift, Making Up (a Picture Show Press anthology), and she will be Moon Tide Press’s Poet of the Month for May 2020.  Writing towards her new title, Here Go the Knives, find her at kelseybryanzwick.wixsite.com/poetry.

CARMIGNANI1
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.

CARMIGNANI
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.

Harsham
Moving with a Siamese Cat
by Brenda Davis Harsham

There is no agony more sublime
than moving with a Siamese cat,
yowling, howling in his box
for hours on end
until any end seems
more appealing
than continuing.
He refuses food,
refuses water,
and stares at me with
enormous freaked-out eyes,
ears back in his I’ll-Get-You look
with fangs bared.
When I release him in a motel,
my nerves are shot, I put out
food and water before I
eat myself, but it’s no good.
Merrrr-Owww-Owww.
All night.
Without stop.
Sniffing every corner,
stalking every shadow,
walking along mirror tops,
falling into the tub,
all while giving
an unearthly howl
of betrayal, rage, bewilderment
spiced with promises
of revenge.
If a cat could file for divorce,
moving two days
from home in a U-Haul
would be under
mental cruelty
and irreconcilable differences
combined.
Why did no one mention
drugs
before I told this story?

AUTHOR’S PHOTO CAPTION: This photo was taken in 1994, long after my cat had forgiven me for torturing him.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: This poem required time travel to 1991, way back to a few of the darkest days of my 18-year love affair with a Siamese cat I miss dearly.

harsham1

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Brenda Davis Harsham lives in New England. She’s been a McDonald’s cashier, graphic artist, editor, lawyer and writing teacher. When she isn’t writing, she snaps photographs, makes art, invents recipes and reads to her kids. Her poetry and prose has been published in on-line literary venues, including Silver Birch Press. A poem is forthcoming in the Best of Today’s Little Ditty Anthology.

hewitt-coleman 
love the child
by Lindi-Ann Hewitt-Coleman

my eyes were so big
they swallowed the world
in all its dew spangled beauty
and bone shattered pain

my eyes were so big
they swallowed the ocean
and the mermaid and the starfish
and the deep breath whale
swam inside me

my eyes were so big
i did not have a face
or a body or
wild witch hair
where my cat
black as night
hid velvet paws
around my neck.

AUTHOR’S NOTE ON THE PHOTOGRAPH: I grew up on the outskirts of Cape Town, South Africa. I befriended this feral cat who lived on the vacant farmland next door. Much to my delight, she returned the friendship by jumping through my window one night and birthing four kittens on my bed. This picture was taken in 1973.

LHC

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Lindi-Ann Hewitt-Coleman lives on a very small farm on the edge of a very large forest in Wilderness, South Africa. Besides being a mother and writer, she raises Angora goats and spins wool. She has published two collections of poetry blue sky and other poems (2011) and holy ground (2014).

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MY CATS
by Charles Bukowski

I know. I know.
they are limited, have different
needs and
concerns.

but I watch and learn from them.
I like the little they know,
which is so
much.

they complain but never
worry,
they walk with a surprising dignity.
they sleep with a direct simplicity that
humans just can’t
understand.

their eyes are more
beautiful than our eyes.
and they can sleep 20 hours
a day
without
hesitation or
remorse.

when I am feeling
low
all I have to do is
watch my cats
and my
courage
returns.

I study these
creatures.

they are my
teachers.

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WHITE JAGUAR
by Tara Andrews

A white jaguar
is in the back seat
of a sedan
its head out the window.
The car is not moving.
The cat stares, seems
puzzled as if looking
for something it
expected to find.

The colors are saturated
as in a Kodachrome slide.
The image is like a joke postcard,
something with a silly caption:
Beware of back seat drivers.

But this is no joke.
It means something.
I see this when
I close my eyes.
The cat is there
watching, waiting
looking for something,
its head out the
window.

tara_andrews2

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Tara Andrews has lived many lives — as playwright, children’s book author, and standup comedian — and is currently working on a poetry chapbook called The History of Gum.

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THE ADDRESSING OF CATS
by T.S. Eliot

You’ve read of several kinds of Cat,
And my opinion now is that
You should need no interpreter
To understand their character.
You now have learned enough to see
That Cats are much like you and me
And other people whom we find
Possessed of various types of mind.
For some are same and some are mad
And some are good and some are bad
And some are better, some are worse–
But all may be described in verse.
You’ve seen them both at work and games,
And learnt about their proper names,
Their habits and their habitat:
But how would you address a Cat?

So first, your memory I’ll jog,
And say: A CAT IS NOT A DOG.

And you might now and then supply
Some caviare, or Strassburg Pie,
Some potted grouse, or salmon paste–
He’s sure to have his personal taste.
(I know a Cat, who makes a habit
Of eating nothing else but rabbit,
And when he’s finished, licks his paws
So’s not to waste the onion sauce.)
A Cat’s entitled to expect
These evidences of respect.
And so in time you reach your aim,
And finally call him by his NAME.

So this is this, and that is that:
And there’s how you ADDRESS A CAT.

PAINTING: “Blue Cat, Green Eyes” by Walasse Ting

Beautiful reading of “The Naming of Cats” by the poet.

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THE NAMING OF CATS
by T.S. Eliot

The Naming of Cats is a difficult matter,
It isn’t just one of your holiday games;
You may think at first I’m as mad as a hatter
When I tell you, a cat must have THREE DIFFERENT NAMES.
First of all, there’s the name that the family use daily,
Such as Peter, Augustus, Alonzo, or James,
Such as Victor or Jonathan, George or Bill Bailey —
All of them sensible everyday names.
There are fancier names if you think they sound sweeter,
Some for the gentlemen, some for the dames:
Such as Plato, Admetus, Electra, Demeter —
But all of them sensible everyday names.
But I tell you, a cat needs a name that’s particular,
A name that’s peculiar, and more dignified,
Else how can he keep up his tail perpendicular,
Or spread out his whiskers, or cherish his pride?
Of names of this kind, I can give you a quorum,
Such as Munkstrap, Quaxo, or Coricopat,
Such as Bombalurina, or else Jellylorum —
Names that never belong to more than one cat.
But above and beyond there’s still one name left over,
And that is the name that you never will guess;
The name that no human research can discover —
But THE CAT HIMSELF KNOWS, and will never confess.
When you notice a cat in profound meditation,
The reason, I tell you, is always the same:
His mind is engaged in a rapt contemplation
Of the thought, of the thought, of the thought of his name:
His ineffable effable
Effanineffable
Deep and inscrutable singular Name.

(From Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats, poems by T.S. Eliot)

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“We should all do what, in the long run, gives us joy, even if it is only picking grapes or sorting the laundry.” E.B. WHITE, Author of Charlotte’s Web

PHOTO: “Harpo Hiding” by Bridget Zinn, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED