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

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

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

eyeing the caffeine

delays in good old customer
service, the batching of
work, duplication of minutes
across a pastel wall shielded
by obituaries for spiteful
clouds, rounded in their
tired introspection and moot
rebuttals, hissingly solemn.

first day back, eight tall
canisters of coffee burn
while the power goes out
and we look around, see
how many slips need a
home, a pinch, cardstock
in the brightest blue, my
coveted stamps finding
refuge in the bag of our
most reliable deliveries.

first-time consultations are
really just several prolonged
rounds of peekaboo, but we
often write up stories as to
why no one saw us, and why
no one sees us pouring life’s
catalysts the way pretty folks
do, poised and undistracted.

Cat No. 122 of the 500 Cats Project