Lessons

one day you will
be old enough
to understand and nod
at the sanctity of closed doors.

an accusation and a wild party
that you did not witness
or volunteer yourself to paint.

your eyes—wide
as these coastal steps
that receive your delight
when grandfathers drink black coffee

one on the curb, rough thumb
circling, hardy compass
directing your saturated interest.

one day you will
be old enough
to realize and accept
the minority indifferent to milk and honey.

Cat No. 56 of the 500 Cats Project

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permission

I politely asked a woman
– whose house stood sturdy
on the side of a road
that for years transgressed
the norms zip codes imposed –
if I could take a picture.

“My house?”
she blinked, confused.

I pointed to her cat
– whose eyes were like cups
emptied by children
eager for grape juice
and tropical punch in summer –
and I wanted to walk a bit closer.

“Oh, of course. Take him!”
she waved her hands, listless.

Tail like a caterpillar
– still, and wondering
if I was another weirdo
crawling into bed with socks
who ate my Pop-Tarts untoasted –
quivered itself to rest.

“Thank you, but I’ve got two.”
I frowned as the cat crouched rigidly.

Cat No. 55 of the 500 Cats Project