approaching some kind of diplomacy

hungry for something
sharper than mint.

this is my first invitation,
and although I lack the
qualifications to advise you
on how to deal with those
noisy neighbors, I do have
pointed ears, open and aware
of the crackling, your knuckles
gone pale from lost sleep.

once I was told that there is
a difference, that judgment didn’t
count against us if we took time
to assimilate, to foster these
saplings like the tastiest of greens,
drizzled in the kindness of cheap
olive oil, almost odorless and clear
like the tears we’ve swallowed out
of bitterness, our confusion tucked
beneath fraying and grayed pillows
gone hard between hospital walls.

gone for just a weekend,
but the floor screeches like
overworked vinyl, and I am
unsure that it is my smirk that
set the pundits off, that divided
the schoolgirls who come to class
a little after six in the morning,
brandishing their plastic spoons.

huddled beneath
our implacable sun.

Cat No. 135 of the 500 Cats Project

the shamelessness of sticker shock

I am the remainder.
that “Merry and Bright” that
whispers from shrunken windows
of overcrowded shops.

your grievances scurry to the edge
of a lopsided bed :: and rainfall
writes hurried speeches, made
heavy but not too pedantic, thanks
to the stutter that feeds the dead.

midnight comes too frequently,
and I throw away the last of my
birthday matches, those gracing
pastel cakes, lemon icing crying
that it’s so unfair, the dry center.

I pay them my retainer.
that dark “I promise” that
flings itself from tired shingles
onto many an unwashed car.

Cat No. 134 of the 500 Cats Project

when we wake up at five

doormat, or a shower curtain.

I am not sure which box to
select before the deadline.

weakness rolls off shoulders
while mosquitoes gather near
crooked toes, and I try to count
the pores across your face as
the mirror laughs at my hands,
curled and gray as fallen trees.

you walk towards the armoire
as I trace these sleeping tracks.

wordlessness, or censure.

Cat No. 133 of the 500 Cats Project