I receive like those cheeks
of captive pufferfish
children poke fun at
while adults fish for crabs

greeting anyone with an open mouth,
those locals – calmed and drunk
on strawberry coconut water
swishing at the harshest inclines
against the sides of cracked red cups

they blink as I stretch my neck
to find a pigeon’s story
in terracotta planters
I sometimes assumed were homes

Cat No. 51 of the 500 Cats Project

the domestic disappointed

overexposed and burning.
at the cheekbones.
brow bones.
chicken bones.

lint in milk
is the stuff
your cousin
so pretty, refined,
with her planner
so yellowed
in the urgencies
of a careerist
and desired,
imagines, speaks,
lies about,
to raise their heads,
not wanting more.

intentionally worked.
at the shoulders.

frayed bookbags
are the tears
your mother
too tired, resigned
to waiting at tables
so stained
in the throwaways
of old sangria
and cheap,
remarks, laments,
turns away,
to leave you looking,
hearing it all.

chastised and distrusted.
at the doorstep.

you’ll never fold laundry
exactly how she’d like it.

but at least for once
you’ll meet those who won’t mind.

*Cat No. 36 of the 500 Cats Project

pricking her conscience

at the hat factory
where my second
and third
and forty-fifth
removed faraway
by some fairytale marriage
stood a lion
I was warned
not to touch.

but I went ahead
while the dog
sipped brandy
and rolled
in sewage
for three hours
and I recovered
my hand
and counted to three,

she was just
a bit dusty
and I wanted
to give her a bath
out of
hot water
as flowers
in the front
so cried
and needles murmured.

*Cat No. 34 of the 500 Cats Project

Snickers in Spacious Sandboxes

she once had a dog
that dug holes,
and sniffed for truffles
buried at earth’s hard edge.

not the center,
not the meat.
salmon jerky’s tactful apology
for soggy pig ears.

they went to the beach,
and I went too.
tucked in a basket,
but soon, footsteps away.

even in quiet areas,
there were ice cream stands.
but here, no children screamed.
as I lapped at trickling mango.

pawed at puddles of guava,
jumped at centipedes,
tore apart their pamphlets of doom.
proselytized, theatrical quivers.

things the dog did
for the love of her palms.
digging these holes,
panting at Polaroids.

*Cat No. 28 of the 500 Cats Project