enabling the quake

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

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our cool Saturday nights

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

letters from North Texas

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.

some dehydrated thought

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.

listeria

he crossed a boundary, sturdy chest pressed
by a thin, pale finger (slightly bent).

plastic ring, the sparkling pink
invites a smirk to dance:
trivial moments shall upset
this one dry face.

composing some song, uneven tempo
that awkwardly mocks mixed signals
perceived weeks before autumn.

she lost her page, calendar torn
and no one provides the correct date.

three weeks late and stalled
at another rusted bus stop.

deadline on the yellow slip,
facetious detention with which
he threatens her between four
brittle walls, barely there.

honest warnings, clipped
and tucked for years, into
striped inner pockets of
a favorite purse with color
at its fullest, unchanged.

this new emptiness grabs her
by the chin, shaking her head
as boys of the past grab busted
pens, scrawling their numbers.

to discount and disconnect
all over again.

Cats No. 112, 113, 114, and 115 of the 500 Cats Project

the swan forgot the lyrics

tie my hair back
feeling strands
defy the resolve
of the unwound.

too many tasks
written on walls
pressed upon by
frazzled fingers.

the more I want,
the less I retain.

explanations dry
themselves so
no one else runs
their bills amok.

plan the purge
while tucking in
sheets of paper
stamped in blue.

fewer places left,
petals out to melt.

straps will fall
and the mouth
withdraws every
second guess.

dip my two feet
into stilled ponds
waiting for years
within hot lobbies.

oh, my Friday

she got out her graham crackers,
only to throw them in Greek yogurt.

marshmallows and Hershey chips sat in a blue bowl.

really, it was kind of sad.

she got out a spoon that we knew
would break just as she got to the bottom
of all the lines yet to be entered so anyone
who needed to know got word just like that.

she learned what was taught.

down, like pat.

she got out some broken ice cubes,
awful aim tipping over a plastic pink cup.

Cat No. 111 of the 500 Cats Project