approaching some kind of diplomacy

hungry for something
sharper than mint.

this is my first invitation,
and although I lack the
qualifications to advise you
on how to deal with those
noisy neighbors, I do have
pointed ears, open and aware
of the crackling, your knuckles
gone pale from lost sleep.

once I was told that there is
a difference, that judgment didn’t
count against us if we took time
to assimilate, to foster these
saplings like the tastiest of greens,
drizzled in the kindness of cheap
olive oil, almost odorless and clear
like the tears we’ve swallowed out
of bitterness, our confusion tucked
beneath fraying and grayed pillows
gone hard between hospital walls.

gone for just a weekend,
but the floor screeches like
overworked vinyl, and I am
unsure that it is my smirk that
set the pundits off, that divided
the schoolgirls who come to class
a little after six in the morning,
brandishing their plastic spoons.

huddled beneath
our implacable sun.

Cat No. 135 of the 500 Cats Project

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

take me home and back, please.

November 5th, 2016

I’m traveling back to roads of familiarity, hands clasped in the passenger’s seat as I smirk in feigned longing. The driver asks me where I’m from. I tell him, “I don’t know.”

“So why are we driving thirty minutes out?” I want to tell him about the article I read about an Uber driver making $526.04 driving someone from Miami to a Seattle coffeeshop. I decide not to, as I’m terribly sleepy.

I know we’re heading home. Haystacks, goats, water towers advertising names of cities that promise Suburbia and the absence of beatings in apartment complex parking lots that require residents’ intervention that’s intricate as that Rube Goldberg contraption some of us drew in seventh grade. The body found in the drainage ditch of the newest elementary school is something we all would agree never happened.

Another cluster of goats, the sky graying yet dry as the palms of those never venturing beyond the gates that keep their family businesses safe. Cottages cram five miles down, a dilapidated marquee yelling “Go Trump Go!” I’m pretty sure the last “O” is a zero. Resourceful types, I’m guessing. I’m also pretty sure I may need new glasses. I hold my breath as a cardboard box tumbles across the road, one flap torn as one would expect of a bird’s wing when the local cats aren’t sleeping. The box hits the poll of the withered marquee, and I remember that I had already taken care of all that ballot business two days before. None of my checkmarks would be found in that box.

“What doctor are you seeing?” The driver is striving for life, I can tell. The road is gray, the sky is gray, my sweater is gray, his jacket gray. I have never liked questions. Only the finality of statements.

I turn to the driver briefly and notice a chapped, bitten lip. “I have been referred to a specialist.” I look at him for two minutes more. My words do not seem to register.

I decide not to tell him the suite number, though he pulls into the area without much trouble. I’m counting the buildings, one through sixteen. He drops me off at number eleven.

“An animal hospital?” He frowns, noting that I entered the car with just my purse.

“Yes. It’s…for a friend.” I look to the building, pretending it’s open on Saturdays, while the hours on the glass door state otherwise. “Thank you.”

“Be safe, okay?” He gives me a thumbs up.

“I will.” I’m ready to weave through several offices, to wait at the office I was in truth referred to, but only when I’m sure that no one can see.