Molly and Thomas

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Molly and Thomas

Apropos of very little,
Prompted by the need for a historical, declarative, emergency statement in the event of my capture,
My mind builds a vignette
Molly and Thomas.
A grey tabby lady with a calm demeanor and a thin tail,
A grey tabby boy with a white chest and long whiskers.
Sitting next to me on an ugly brown couch, Dad’s favorite.
We’re watching “A League of their Own.”
I get so frustrated at the end I slapped my hand down and sent Molly skittering.
My mother scolds me for my temper.
I wonder – will this mise en scène be so clear when the camouflaged men stand over me and ask me authentication questions?
“What were the names of your cats in 1990?”
Will I remember that raggedy brown couch?
Will I feel that tuft of white fur?
Or will I simply stutter out in fear their names like anchor points
Holding my mind down in chaos?
The crystalline historical certainty of Molly and Thomas,
Reaching through time to verify me as their human.

Human Resources Haikus

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Human Resources Haikus

I am the nexus
For all communication
How may I help you?

***

It’s not difficult.
You just don’t like doing things
When you’re supposed to.

***

Nourishing crisis
Requires careful avoidance
Of crucial phone calls.

***

Did you read your mail?
I sent emails about this.
You read them, don’t you?

***

Yes, mandatory.
No, I won’t take notes for you.
I’m hanging up now.

***

Human resources
Is a careful blending of
Zen and aggression

Eulogy for Floyd

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4.25 Eulogy for Floyd

Light the matchstick torches!
Bang the Hollow Cans!
For Floyd the King of Rats is dead
At the hands of the humans!

I’ll tell you my friends about dear Floyd
Who was smarter than a cat
And just as big in size
His coat was lustrous, thick, and grey
He had bright brown beady eyes
The glue traps never stopped him
Though they ripped out belly fur
He ate the cheese off snapping traps
He hissed at all the curs

Light the matchstick torches!
Huddle in the night!
For Floyd the greatest rat is dead
He put up such a fight

My fellow rats are sad this day
For Floyd finally succumbed
To the cruelest of temptations
To the smallest of the crumbs
While sniffing bones left in the sun
He met his tragic end
As with a snap the lights went out
In those beautiful brown eyes
And so was Floyd undone

Light the matchstick torches!
We’ll have a garbage wake
In honor of our leader Floyd
Who made one big mistake!

****

Yeah, our apartment building has rats. One rat in particular, sometimes seen but not caught until recently, stood out for me.

I stuffed a plastic bag into the hole in the wall – it disappeared.
I glued a bean can lid to the hole – it eventually got pushed off
I laid down a glue trap – it got pushed away from the hole
I laid down a snap trap with cheese – the cheese disappeared off the un-sprung trap
I cleverly put a large glue trap in his “bathroom” (my unused guest vanity drawer) – he pulled himself free, leaving behind a bunch of soft belly fur.

I mean, I have to give Floyd credit – he really played a good game. I caught four other rats before the guards finally caught Floyd. As big as a big cat, according to my neighbor…poor Floyd. You were a worthy, disgusting opponent.

Cheers.

Sound Effects pt. 1

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4.24 Sound Effects Pt 1 – Youth

Youth takes the higher registry
In cackles, screams, and laughter
Meant to call down parents
And assert strong needs and wants
Because there is no other thing
Than the immediate, the now.
There is no more authentic representation of grief
Than a child who does not realize
Tomorrow is tangible.

In youth I seem to recall
Being able to sing well,
Well enough that even adults would listen.
I like to think it stemmed from my ability
To howl with indignation as a toddler,
Though never with the kind of sheer mad fury as my sister,
Who slipped and ran headlong into a corner,
And became possessed by the furies
At the level of her discomfort.
I can still see her raging eyes,
The little bleeding bruise in her forehead.

In time, the high-pitched sounds fade
As feet become steadier
And minds more sure of themselves.
I would not want to go back to the mad sounds of childhood.
I would, however, happily take back my
Ability to howl out my feelings.

A Small Promise

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4.22 A Small Promise

He said come here and hold me
All throughout the night.
I’d love to, Love, but I’m afraid
I promised I would write.

Your kisses make me smile
And your arms are my delight
But I’ve a second rendez-vous
I promised I would write.

For I’m a woman of my word
And words give no respite
I’ll come back to your warm embrace
I promised I would write.

Who knows how long I waited
For the muses to alight?
Cursing that I ever said
I promised I would write.

Your sleepy hands reached for me
In the waning white moonlight
I took your hands and kissed them
I promised I would write.

And I’m a woman of my word
And the words are tucked in tight
So kiss me love for I am here
I promised I would write.

Sea Change

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4.20 Sea Change

Every Sunday there is a man screaming at the sea.
At dawn, I hear him yelling,
Voice straining violently
As the low tide waves do nothing
To drown him out and let me sleep.
I want to warn him that this weekly ritual is probably bad
For those fragile little threads in his throat.
I can hear them break over the surf,
Especially when he reaches the top of his register.
It sounds like losing one’s balance.
At first I thought he was drunk.
After the third time I thought it was rage,
Then grief after the fourth,
And then back to alcohol-induced.
I went to yell to the man,
But saw he had headphones in and could not hear me.
“Madam, il le fait pour chanter mieux,”
The guard says at my shoulder.
He grabs his throat in his fingertips
And makes a gesture that suggests strengthening.
I nod as though I understand this logic.
“C’est le sel – c’est bon pour la voix.”
Ah yes.
If I wanted to sound like beef jerky
I too would scream at the ocean.
The salt would cure my throat so that it never got tired.
In front of us, just out of earshot
The man keeps sing-screaming to the endless ocean
Off-rhythm and Off-key
Hoping to have a voice as tough as the surf.

Knee-jerk

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4.18 Knee-jerk

I see us express our sadness
Only to be told told we are sad about the wrong thing
Or that our grief is misplaced
Knee-jerk reactions
To the sense that a perspective is skewed
The wool has been pulled over one’s eyes
Leaving them to weep as babies do
When mommy leaves the room.
How lovely, to be smart enough to know
The best use of other peoples’ tears.
Grief is not a zero sum game,
Nor is empathy.
There is no scale of proper sorrow.
Her dead cat and his dead faith are allowed to coexist.
If anything, since neither exists anymore,
They are more alike than they were before.
Pause before you kick out a pithy reminder
Of how misguided those tears are.
Allow for personal mourning.
At least for forty-eight hours, please.

***

I found myself really bothered by the backlash on my social media about those of us sad for Notre Dame. One post in particular drew my attention – a smug little tweet assuming that the people weeping for Notre Dame were blind and callous towards the immigration crisis or other tragedies. No. No! Grief is not a zero sum game (the inspiration line for today’s piece). I can recognize tragedy regardless of where it is.

(I know the backlash is more towards the Church / obscenely rich people – fine with that. But don’t lump all the mourners into an ignorant glob.)

This week the poetry has been difficult to find…