rightness is not planned

it is not so cold outside
when you choose to tell the truth.

I can see you quiver,
brushstrokes out of line.
a hole in the canvas
cuts into the edges of
thin, gray knees, sharp
at one point, but only on
days when it’s bleaker
and grayer and far too
saturated for us to decipher
details between blankness,
and answers beyond crimes.

when light becomes frail,
we walk the road blind.

I wanted them to see
that rightness is not
planned, nor is it declined
in the face of poppies
spare and pale, wilted
in a summer that never
came, fated to fall within
the cracks of one’s own
doing, the folly that shakes
up a storm in a bottle, neck
snapped in two like branches
reaching for dusk’s breath.

presumptions nip our ankles,
their framework unrefined.

Cats No. 131 and 132 of the 500 Cats Project

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to be like this

write me an essay—
untimed, please.

divulge all the details
of last night’s crash.

our friend is sobbing
on the balcony again
because he finally found
a Kleenex to throw her way.

milk splashes, over
a paper cup’s edge.

you press on the timer,
look to your left.

they have occupied the corner,
wondering whether to call
the cops if she already
gave one bold statement.

it’s been so long
since you called back.

I never thought that
I would see you, frayed.

Cat No. 130 of the 500 Cats Project

I am pleased to announce the release of my first novel, sometime in the next few months. I will keep you updated. To celebrate, I’ve decided to challenge myself to write a poem for each of the first 250 people who purchase my book. The poem would be based on a subject of your choosing, handwritten and mailed to you. I’m very excited, as the project has been very dear to me. In the meantime, I will continue to work on short stories. The 500 Cats Project shall proceed.

on wordlessness

this is a warning.
exclamation point on the
thinnest paper towel.
the coffee, hot and unkind
to my doubts, while tea
continues to sit and fade.

this is beyond me.
the simplest explanations
are sometimes correct,
even when you cannot believe
that they’re worth far more
than discounted groceries.

this is daunting.
streetlights blast red when
dissidents cross and pamphlets
written out of sheer insomnia
shiver on the asphalt, wordless.

this is opacity.
closed doors grow more heavy
than your palms can bear
to push, and tangled rules choke
on the feeble breath of yearning.

Cat No. 129 of the 500 Cats Project

simplicity

the ice melts unevenly.

frost on the edge of a colorless plane, and
a frayed sense of time.

$0.99 cup of spicy mayo
makes my day, makes me smile.

you are the macadamia,
courting the chocolate
as if it needs a guide.

pigeons want what I cannot afford,
bok choy on rice.

every little sweet counts
and cries with the pop
of my salmon knuckles.

I blush as cherry trees fall.

you and me
down Hackberry street.

forgetting that the north
is soft and tucked aside.

Cat No. 128 of the 500 Cats Project

opening act

I walk a tightrope that rivals a spider web.
breathe me in, see me out.
the raindrops sting when they want to,
needles into fleshy thumbs.

love these hands which visit peace,
for they are dry and chapped
as my unquiet lips
that relay secrets, better left
unspun and elongated.

judge me harshly,
if you have the time.

take me through the scarlet
and all the confetti, pink and flat
across dappled paths
downtrodden with whispers
and flooded with sighs of white.

I yell the lyrics authored by youth.
see me past all you’ve known.
the water rushes as the sky defies,
orchids filling modest homes.

Cat No. 127 of the 500 Cats Project

fears

coming from ambivalence,
looking right to left, and then
left to right as if reading some
language I’ve become too
acquainted with.

the day becomes gray
and the ground feels
sharp, harsh enough
to awaken several snails,
tenacious in their nap time
and steady in solemn thought.

the stop signs blend into
some tangerine sunset, six
sides fallen onto the hot surface
as I look over my shoulder
to contest your fear.

Cat No. 126 of the 500 Cats Project

query

nothing short of questionable.

wrapped in the glee felt in snowflakes’
kisses, I slowly blink and breathe
in time with a bicycle’s push through
summer unbound, summer that has thrusted
its demands onto hope that rings
against clear, but speckled glass.

the thinnest twigs are broken.

tennis balls roll into candied curbs
bright as the brick of a first home,
and tulips sit in aquamarine cups once
used to serve spry ice cream and appease
grand expectations of the younger crowd,
hurrying into endeavors sharp and unplanned.

hearing the static, pining to dream.

Cat No. 125 of the 500 Cats Project