when we were somewhat young

aliens come to teach us tricks
less silly than simply playing fetch,
watching the sun hide into wordlessness
like young sangria tossed onto worn carpets.

you and your pencil, glue stick
trying its best to hold together the steps
one follows, solving the most tiresome
riddles, equations, whiteboard confetti.

fly through tonight, keep your head down
and don’t vomit yet because there’s much more
that we haven’t seen and the people around the corner
have an entire book filled, oddities and monsters smirking.

we once wrote stories and scared off those
who timed themselves in the late afternoon
and made sure to climb the stairs at five
while we knew we’d be searched for, astray.

ants form a line, encircling the smoothest rocks
we walked right over, arched nonchalance glowing
in the heat, the unknown and feared biting our ankles
that worked, pushed, and fought against suburban rest.

Cat No. 92 of the 500 Cats Project

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you keep singing that same old song

you argue.

that thing, you’re so good at it.

speaking without commas, howling infrequently but when you’re loud, everyone hears. the district knows, but most people are too tired to get out of bed and look out the window, seeing you emulate broken chalk, reading some minuscule number that denotes just how busy you really are.

or, just how busy you really were.

I’ve seen your eyes, clay cups the size of children’s fists.

you’ve seen my face, thinning while you hide and when you return, I shake like                                      toads scampering for life in the middle of our incomplete, mucky July and I wonder

if you could be A-OK.

closing time.

Cat No. 91 of the 500 Cats Project

he that is preoccupied

I shook my head at pancake syrup
because I knew it’s your tool
when words fall within the cracks
and spaces that even lizards avoid
after offering excuses no one buys.

Dishes are toppling over
themselves in a room dark like
autumn days should become,
murkier still as you dance those
crooked steps disregarding mind.

Your lips move as midnight moves
closer, openings seal like tape
and the locket hanging to disagree
breaks at the hinges, paper photo
ripping without the unfelt touch.

Television blared the day I knocked
and you told me to call back, that
you were busy, in a conference
that did not result in a solid deal
to ease your labored breathing.

Cat No. 90 of the 500 Cats Project

impatience

oh, this sunlight can only last
as long as dawn allows itself
the time to forgive, writing down
all the things any other being
does not control without fail.

wait, you’re walking too fast
and falling comically, like our
heavy ribs cooking themselves
on lightly painted bookshelves
left to explain another funny typo.

Cat No. 89 of the 500 Cats Project

ears that ring

Mangoes and a mocha go so well
right now, like a hazelnut spread
consoling the minute sighs found in
raisins’ grooves, old fruit resting in
the softness of our local bread
while branches fall and everyone
decides it’s not the best idea to
cross an unmarked road,
something like a snake whose
colors change with every breath,
and even the zookeeper can’t
decide as to whether the thing’s of
a poison that ends the day, week,
month, year that’s taken leave
because mothballs are too much to
tolerate at times, too much to
notice, too much to make excuses
for even when a houseguest points
at your socks, big toe poking out
like a proofreader’s oversight, or
perhaps our complacency when
the sky’s too bright to say “Hi” to,
when the night’s too fickle for us to
prepare, and honestly, being told
that your pajamas are too lose for
proper sleeping aggravates like
trickles of sweat cooling the insides
of ears that ring with the tiring
screech of clumsy contradictions.

Cat No. 88 of the 500 Cats Project

my sixth toe

I have wanted you
to let me be, peppered
and baked with the realist
concerns rippling across
a thunderstorm runway
on a Friday I never knew

like bravery praised in the palest light, well wishers waving their tiny hands while following the rule no one sweeps up

and the dustbin scrapes
so gracelessly while crickets
lose their minds, exhausted
like a car’s plastic brakes
neglected and tasked with
too many things that even
an experienced typist falls
behind in a race that begins
on austere ground, everyone
starting thirsty, ready to drop

into a bucket spinning at the sides when children toss pennies and sometimes, a quarter as the whites of their shirts ask for the spill

Cats No. 86 and 87 of the 500 Cats Project

“Who is Mr. Mailman?”

pan flute, make me laugh
though I’ve already had my fill
of trying so hard not to catch my breath
when dogs try to whistle and run upon their shame.

banana split barely squeezes out
a fiberglass window, fake sugar
sprinkled, sand grains resting
on freckled, emptied hearts.

I’ve got some kind of theory
and some kind of story that few
would ask me to divulge, all straight-lipped
and somber like funeral flowers sleeping all too early.

it may be my skewed perception
but I’ve come to see changes
in Mr. Mailman’s shoelaces
on every day he’s late.

Cat No. 85 of the 500 Cats Project