steady, I wait underneath
the frightened pecan tree
known to surrender its
grooved secrets as our
sky recalls the clamor
of blind emergencies.
wake me up, slices of
an afternoon snack
are dripping, filling
this vacancy and never
once parting to fall
onto shaken ground.
small town lake laughs
between walls of red cups
splintered, on the edge
of antique tabletops,
without a throbbing leg
to tempt bitter flies.
cooler, almost so still
like ears nearly fried
by the dawn’s alarm,
rogue, set, and ready
to accentuate longing
for minimized calm.
what shook their way
down tangled branches
floats along rivers
white and drained
in time for dinner,
modest and shared.
Cat No. 120 of the 500 Cats Project
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
told to pack your bags, I guess.
whatever they contained, no one
remembers. perhaps they’re
lost in a dandelion thicket, paper
airplanes’ missing wings stuck
on the roof, or further broken on
sidewalks leading to a gas station
that grows in its barren longevity.
I feel that everyone already knows
that some books sell without the
last page. coffee stains reveal
more than we’d hope to awaken to
while the rain misses its quivering
targets. we’ll see there’s another
flash flood warning, and agree that
a lot of people shouldn’t be talking
on roads, or water that’s not wet.
doublespeak and jewelry hang from
wrists as you point at the breathing
sky, its grayness so dark. maybe “you” means “we” in proper sense, etiquette taught some time ago with too many steps to follow before ten o’ clock p.m. only the unseen speaks the nicest word, but letters never leave closed mouths.
we all need an umbrella.
Cat No. 118 of the 500 Cats Project
we’ve grown so fat on vitriol, become reluctant on pointing fingers at those
not from our city, one we claim as ours as we look out windows of late-day buses.
pretty parts of town deny cries that echo within our dusty, unchanging hallways.
I’ve wondered what’s to come back for, just how far Scotch tape goes in fixing
cribs with splintered bars, too brittle to hold our discontent that no one could
ever empathize with, although they’re sweating too, palms slightly chapped.
dizzy trips home drop me off fifteen minutes early, spent off the last dime.
someone tells a stranger it can’t feel right to be this angry all the time, to wash your
hair with the same hand soap used to soothe fingers gone cold when it’s over
one hundred degrees outside, bad timing as your fever lives to rise like rude yeast.
protests on sticky notes flutter with pollen
across everyone’s front yard, creased.
Cat No. 117 of the 500 Cats Project
when we set out to
ask gray mornings
questions I wouldn’t
like, even after a sip
of my third Colorado
Mudslide, bitter but
frothy as milkshakes
I pined for at 3 A.M.
these are moments
we’ll sometimes share.
little rewards and
follies in shades of
blue, pink, yellow
happy birthdays I
love and dread to
admit I’ll hold onto
like a pint of cake
batter(y) ice cream.
take my sticky spoon
and hide it for yourself.
Cat No. 116 of the 500 Cats Project
you promised me letters and yes,
they were delivered.
so much meaning to a girl who
never had a birthday party, as
birthdays near Christmas bring
enough cheer as they come to
recover snowflakes’ edges so
rounded and spliced within life.
you had a point when you said
I could use a spine, and not the
kind between glossy covers with
cherry blossoms, peaches, the
hope that graced my evenings
before you came home to speak
of yet another disappointment
that could only emerge from my
off-white inexperience, marred
further by old crayons I still hide
beneath my almost-bed, these
almost-goals refusing to say they
are done with me, my failures in
following through with plans that
look so pretty on the porous face
of “Thank You” cards I wanted to
send, and for some reason, I did
feel that I owed you one, as well
as the signature that no one could
read in high school; they told me
to re-write it, or simply provide my
initials because we weren’t signing
anything the President reads, just
like I would be folding your grayed
boxers dusting every inch of some
up-to-date gadgetry you felt you
were entitled to, as entitled as men
should be to that perfect woman
I was, wasn’t, but could be if I only
took it easy on that small bright pint
of cookie dough ice cream, and all
the sugar I thought would stay, atop
my tongue that welcomed and asked
you to stay because you said I was
different, and I thought that this alone
was enough to fall asleep, a grin so
wide and hands enjoying the calm
of two admired breasts, awaiting an
admission of your follies and a pledge
to be yourself, to do away with deeds
you’d only distrust as an obligation.
I tore up each and every letter today,
realizing I’ve had enough time.
there was once a time when I thought hazelnut
truffles fell from the sky, and I asked in the
middle of downtown morning traffic.
who am I to even mention traffic? I haven’t
had a car in years.
it’s an ethics thing for me, like not wearing
wooden square-bead bracelets showcasing
saints striking ten different poses. don’t
press the gas if you can’t turn the wheel.
and don’t start conversations about certain
people who’ve received the same amount of
confidence you’ve placed in your sad self.
I watched a documentary on husbands who
can’t feel. They mumbled their vows as
their mothers cried, like the brides would in
several months. occasionally, I stare at the
ceiling, crumpling napkins in colorless fists.
I wonder if I’m anything like these men, if
I’ve ever really wanted anyone.
undoubtedly, I’ve always envied the act of
being, but I’ve never met someone who
taught this. pedagogy is a loaded word
long hallowed by some who can’t order fries
without leaving behind some slap-worthy smirk.
the hazelnut truffles rest on my countertop
that begs for Clorox, just as my eyelids
calmly give up their strained resolve.