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.

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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

ball games

lavender under the pillow
informs me that I’ve learned
a more efficient method
for sound reflection.

puddles at the end
ripple, while nimble
ants peer over the edge
of frayed leaves, dry
and bloodless, like
shells and hollow time.

I am the guest.
you are my keeper.

shadows grow thin
as clocks strike six.

Cats No. 123 and 124 of the 500 Cats Project

typical attempts at rhyming

flowers do kneel, apt to reveal.

we love how the whites of
a suddenly swollen moon
crack beneath our shoes
as our laces become untied
with each shriveled conclusion
of another faulty argument.

what good does speaking
provide when raindrops
hit the old front porch
and flattened leaves bleed
to tell you as much?

the clouds are stubborn
like most bad memories
that won’t dissolve into
cups of lukewarm water.

break the bread, make our bed.

let’s repeat everything we
never learned to say
because homework wasn’t
cool to us in 2006.

I am the fuzz peeled away
when it’s time to eat at
the sour misconceptions known
to tie us down and placate
those who were never happy.

teach me to sit and weave
baskets while the line outside
spirals and cuts across curbs
that broke the skin left
behind by thrashing defiance
abandoned in a local flood.

all has been said, some misled.

Cat No. 119 of the 500 Cats Project

not at all rushed

I’ve got a feeling
you’ve been told
the same things.

fawned over, so
incomparable.

how many dimes
add up to fill our
modest fridges?

it’s fine to ask
in hunger.

but waiting on
your answer has
quieted the rain.

your truth could
sting the eyes.

all I have that
no one’s seen
in spry delight.

I stand along fine
old curbsides.

ignoring petals
grazing my face
as I fail to resign.

my tongue feels
sore with time.

cars in a hurry
to take a dream
a street too far.

Cat No. 110 of the 500 Cats Project

this is what it tastes like.

I’ve figured out why my phone
charger has given up. On me, or
maybe nothing at all. The air
outside, it’s stalling, like leaves in a
cheap fountain. Look at the clay,
and take notes on how you could
do a better job before ever taking
a class.

Lines of people unroll their plans.
Factories, labs, and donut shops.
With or without a decade of books,
everyone has to ask before they
build a house. Or a fortified box for
pigeonholed dreams. Something
like that.

Stop playing dead in the bicyclists’
lane. They’ve told me before, and I
obeyed for a little more than a
week. I’m afraid I may have ruined
something fun for all, if all includes
you and your roommate who refuses
to return before six.

I’ve figured out why I’m able to hear
the crickets better. I also know that
all my walks finish themselves in a
hurry. Pointing out every person
whose blazer and pants don’t
match must seem like amaretto
creamer. It tastes a great deal like
Robitussin when it’s all you care
to drink.

Cat No. 97 of the 500 Cats Project

not our spring

I’ve never been one
to drink alone, or
point to green glass
bottles, assembled
so deliberately, not
at all resembling my
impromptu visits, the
clock holding onto
grooves in an old wall
mosquitoes spoke of,
but they only met up
to complain, not taste,
nor anticipate warmth
from sharp footprints
left on shivering arms
in smarmy fog, giggling
at groups of children
who stare at the sky
in confusion, waiting
for the day when buses
hum promises, heat
surrounding their ankles.

Cat No. 95 of the 500 Cats Project