Archives for posts with tag: loss

cat by warhol 1976
Missing Gizmo
by Shelly Blankman

You disappeared into the darkness two years ago.
I don’t know why. People say you were only a cat
and that’s what cats do. But you weren’t just a cat.

Cats don’t shred calendars or stash eyeglasses under
a bed. The don’t steal pizza or chow mein from the plate
of their humans or drink from their straws, and they don’t hitch

rides on the hips of dogs six times their size. You’d greet me
each morning by leaping on my shoulder, slept by my side
whenever I was down, drew blood with your nips whenever

we played and then looked at me innocently like a child as
if to say, “What did I do?” when you knew. I’d just laugh, and
you knew I’d do that, too. You’d lick my tears dry and when

I was sick, you’d curl your body around my neck like a scarf,
and stay with me until I’d fall asleep to the lullaby of your purrs.
But you were sick. Almost from the time you rescued me.

Maybe at some point, you’d had enough of vets’ visits; I’ll
never know. We hired two search dogs to find you, posted
ads, knocked on doors, cruised neighborhoods. Nothing.

Still, I wait. Every time I leave the house. Each corner I turn,
each yard I pass, I look for you. Each bush that rustles I hope
it’s you — exhausted, starved, desperate to find your way home.

After two years, I am still waiting…

IMAGE: Cat by Andy Warhol (1976).

Blankman (2) copy

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: When I saw the prompt for this submission, Jon’s and my cat, Gizmo, immediately came to mind. Of all the rescues we’ve ever had, Gizmo stands out as the worst in the best possible way. He was the Katzenjammer Kid of the Animal Kingdom, and our house hasn’t been the same since he ran off over two years ago. He probably didn’t last much longer after he escaped. He’d always been sick and no amount of excellent medical care seemed to make a difference for very long. I know he’s never coming back. Still, I wait.

PHOTO: The author and her beloved cat, Gizmo.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Shelly Blankman lives in Columbia, Maryland, with her husband of 40 years, three rescue cats, and a foster dog. They have two sons, Richard and Joshua, who are currently quarantined in New York and Texas, respectively. Shelly’s educational and career paths have followed public relations and journalism, but her first love has always been poetry. Her work has been published in such publications as New Verse News, Halfway Down The Stairs, and The Ekphrastic Review. Richard and Joshua recently published her first book of poetry, Pumpkinhead.

by Leah Mueller

Your body in a
single hospital bed,
tilted forward at dawn,

then backwards
in dusk’s half-light.

I am still waiting
for your own light
to extinguish Itself.

Your halting breaths.
Inhale, expand.
Exhale, contract.

Days become weeks;
legs relinquish movement,
eyes lose focus
and turn inward.

In our spare room,
a plastic commode and
two unused oxygen tanks.

Your bedstand holds
a pile of useless medicines—
chemicals, love tokens,
prayers of distant friends.

It all goes away,
eventually. Just a
matter of time and luck.

Not much remains
of either, but still
enough for you to enter

the portal one more day,
pupils awash
with stubborn hope.

PHOTO: Leah Mueller and husband Russ Van Rooy, who passed away on May 3, 2021.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I wrote this poem during my husband’s valiant fight with Stage 4 cancer, a fight he eventually lost. After his initial diagnosis, 21 months ago, I discovered he had reserves of strength that I never imagined. Cancer is a monstrous disease I wouldn’t wish upon anyone. It robs sufferers of everything they have. Russ and I opted for home hospice, and I stayed at his bedside until the end. It was by far the most difficult thing I have ever witnessed. Through the process of caregiving, however, I learned the true meaning of devotion and sacrifice.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Leah Mueller is an indie writer and spoken word performer from Bisbee, Arizona. Her most recent books, Misguided Behavior: Tales of Poor Life Choices (Czykmate Press), Death and Heartbreak (Weasel Press), and Cocktails at Denny’s (Alien Buddha Press) were released in 2019. Leah’s work appears in Midway Journal, Citron Review, The Spectacle, Miracle Monocle, Outlook Springs, Atticus Review, Your Impossible Voice, and elsewhere. Visit her at and on Facebook and Twitter.