When the world was new
and animals forming
cat rose and stretched
her long legs. Ambled
around a countryside
full of hills and leaves.
She tried to slide
between two trunks
and into a hole in a bank
but her head got caught,
she had a dreadful time
In a fine-tuning moment
each side of her nose.
They quivered at fluttering wings,
twitched at the changing breeze,
sensed every creature passing
and measured each space. Cat
never got caught
in a tight spot again.
Come, my sweet girl,
O furry friend of all delights,
owl-like perched up on the shelf,
won’t you descend from the heights?
Feather-duster clamped in your jaw,
head-swinging threat to collage and carved cat,
won’t you whistle-down to my wheedle,
O you dear whiskered brat,
and leave the books in their ranks.
Once you’re afloor, I’ll sigh thanks.
A DRIBBLE OF KIBBLE
It all seemed so simple
when I put out those first bits of kibble,
just feed the skinny wild kitten,
help him to thrive.
For weeks we left it like that,
kibble in a bowl near the door,
young cat stealing forth to eat
then slink away.
He started hanging around the yard,
darted if I got too close,
edged back to where he could see me.
One day I told him he felt like Patch,
we were going to be friends.
He regarded me with a solemn stare,
didn’t seem to object.
I started sitting by the food bowl
then trailed my fingers down his spine.
He shivered but hunger kept him there.
That was four years ago,
Patch no longer steals out to eat.
He owns everything in the place,
stole my heart along with the kibble.
THE NEW GUY
He became a feline version
of persona non grata
the fifth night in a row
he dragged a rat
into the house,
munched it half-way gone
and left the nasty bits
on the white carpet.
YET ANOTHER GIFT
the young cat dives through the pet door,
that treasures under the moon
should stay there.
—Michael Cluff, Corona
The Florentine woman
with the manx
also posed for
an hour or two before Lisa
always refused to smile
Emilia was not the best sitter;
no iota or hope of one
ever appeared in various
of the body.
But Pheralina would eclipse all human
models to shameful penumbras
In the waiting evening
a snake watches bumblebees
chortling over the stung wasp.
The viper turns
as only a demon can do
when he sees Valerie and Mario
engrossed in the other
as they move eye to eye
down a bucolic ridgeway.
COWBOY UNDER THE LATE LONESOME
—Taylor Graham, Placerville
Moon, pulling its long slow pulse
of tides—what can Cowboy, a dog,
know of schedules, phases, tables?
Sigh of breeze through leafless oaks,
and the moon, a half-sliver, shadow
of itself. Does my dog sense
there's no place for stopping in this
life? Lonesome Cowboy might be
a song for a sad guitar to sing along,
to keep from putting words to one's
own loss. Already the old moon
disappears behind trees. It's leaving.
Is the moon tonight so lonesome,
it goes seeking through the dark
where an earthbounder can't go?
Shade of the shape-shifter, each guard-hair variegated, eggshell white to dun and tipped with black, a brush to sketch a spoor in dim-before-dawn that disappears in light. It leaves behind the gutted lamb, mother-ewe calling for her child. Agouti, color of coyote. At dawn I walk the north corner with my dogs, scouting for coyote, making sure my sheep are safe. Down to the creek, tracing it up the wild rock way. Agouti, color of my young dog who ranges bright-eyed over our borderland, on guard. When the sheep are home again at bedtime, I brush her coat, each maculate sable hair a puzzle. Agouti. She sheds questions all over the house.
She keens on the edge of wishing open-air
cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger heady as love
keens the edge of saying “No” to spice smelling
young as stories told
old as generations this rich dust on the tongue
bargaining arguing shoppers step over spilled
blood spoiled milk at the edge
what keeps living without wishing fragrance
so dear it stings
as it clings. The singed mouth sings.
Some new venues that are accepting poetry are listed in the green box at the right of this. Check them out, and don't be shy about submitting to them—some are local, some small, some bigger and more highfalutin'. The more you send out, and the greater variety of journals, the better your chances. Hint: I understand the Cal. Fed. of Chaparral Poets bi-monthly theme contests are always in need of more submissions. Jump on it!
Downstairs the beta floats
without its own intentions
while up above
the bad cider flows