- Vol. 03
- Chapter 05
What if love’s not well-tooled keys and locks, glass slippers, or mutilated feet?
What if love’s like tracing a silhouette in a peasouper
or like watching Polaroid paper etch itself with shades? In the slow furrow
of the nightshift hours, when workers – returning or leaving –
bruise at the edges, nod themselves back into sleep, love might keep schtum,
might speak in whiskers and bristles, jowls, spiney hair,
an awesome stink. O my godmother: for a woman to play low-stakes poker
with her friends is not, in my view, the least bit shocking.
Neither are these things call for alarm: excessive literature consumption;
making the first move. We have fallen
asleep on the back step, chins in claws, feet tucked snug, while the universe
is bearing down its icy helmet of stars.
He shifts and settles again, cranking out snore and purr, dreaming acetate reels.
How is it September already? I go inside; I leave the kitchen door adrift.
She rummaged in her bag. The address was deep inside the jumble of bubble-gum wrappers, broken eyeliner pencils, pictures ripped from magazines, phone numbers from men she never called, and the all-caps affirmations she had written a month ago and promptly forgotten: !TODAY IS A NEW DAY FULL OF OPPORTUNITIES TO BE HAPPY! ** But I’d done everything wrong. Focused on myself, the things I wanted.** The clinic was over a fried-chicken shop, and reeked of hot fat and poor protein. She hadn't expected Harley Street, of course, but still …** Of course, no one mentioned how unattractive I’d become. I had no idea until my mum and dad sat me down, said they were worried about me. They could see I was disheartened and willing to try anything! ** !I CAN DO THIS! As she waited, she covered her nose with the end of her pony tail: deep breaths of shampoo, conditioner, leave-in oil, salt spray. Better. Best. Breathe. ** My husband is delighted. He says he’s finally with the woman he thought he was marrying! ** With the other hand, she gave a tentative prod to the lashes on her right eyelid. Only a few still attached, but surely enough to prop up layers of different mascaras. She’d let Cara know the new glue had failed this afternoon. ** The brushing has become almost a pleasure. It’s not so much about tangles, but the feeling of the comb’s movement as each hair gets back where it is supposed to be.** After a few minutes the doctor called her into the examination room. !I AM A GOOD PERSON AND DESERVE TO BE HAPPY! ** Softwork changed my life! ** He was short, clean and clever. Rounder than his photograph on the website. No smiles. After their initial handshake he changed his gloves. !YOU ARE A GOOD PERSON! ** Skin burns, gets cold, shows your failings. But you feel this already, don’t you? You know exactly what I mean.** Only touched her with the flat side of his tool, a blunt blade that curved with her cheek, the slope of her nose.
Read more >
Up this close you can't tell if you're in line for a raspy lick to the face or your face torn off. Proportions are indistinguishable at this proximity and what was once your cat could now be the lion I dreamt pouring itself through our bedroom window. The last time you and I were this close we were looking across Victoria Park and further across a lights-through-water London night. You coaxed, bargained and eventually dragged me onto the Ferris wheel and the gentle swaying of the carriage at the top of its arc caused my hands to clasp the seat with the pressure of a prayer. "Look," was all you said as you leant over me and pointed out towards Canary Wharf.
The low rumble of a purr brings me fully back to the morning. The cat, still nameless from my fear of changing its form somehow, tumbles across my chest and arcs back round to inspect my face through a series of loud sniffs. It jumps down and continues its exploration by nosing around the nothing in the far corner of the room. It does this often. Turns its curiosity towards a seemingly empty portion of house.
I don't think I really saw the cityscape you were gesturing to, or at least I don't remember it. I was more concerned with the sudden tilt of the hanging basket we were strapped into due to you shifting your weight to sit next to me. Thinking back, I was probably a world away from where you were in that moment. I couldn't see past the nagging fear that you were trying to kill us both and that I wouldn't return to ground gracefully, but in a porridge of tears and steel. Instead I should have been focussing on the warmth of your cheek fighting the wind striking from the other side, and how I could faintly sense the vanilla of your perfume over the caramel almonds you were holding.Read more >
The old red dog wandered to the laundry pile
that waits for sudsing and drying, a careless heap
of yesterday's excavations and spills.
She sniffed your wadded black socks.
Her tail measured conundrums
dogs understand in ways
I work to resolve.
On the basement floor
you are away
With graceful power the lioness loped after the impala, punching the acceleration as she picked out the weakest and zoomed in to pounce, clawing at its side to hobble it before bringing it down and breaking its neck.
Rising from the kill, she waited until he arrived. She had to warn off the younger females a couple of times.
Eventually Berko arrived … at what could only be described as a dawdling pace. He glowered at the tawny youngsters before approaching the dusky huntress. They backed away a little, circling not quite to his rear – he hated that – but to his right flank.
Moving to his left was inviting a mauling. The last challenger had ended up a defeated mess, but not before he had blinded Berko in his left eye. He was very wary about anything coming up on that side and would instinctively attack, rather than take chances.
That’s an unusual kill, he said in the way of lions.
Nala merely stood her ground over the carcase and watched him approach.
It was almost like a cheetah, he commented, stopping some three feet away from her nose and plumping himself down to eye the magnificent creature.
Muscles flowed as she lowered herself to his level. Her younger sisters did the same, careful to stay on his sighted flank, and far enough away not to intrude upon this ceremony.Read more >
We don’t see his heart. It beats in his chest like ours, it feels pain like ours, it breaks when we hurt or leave him, or when he grows too big or too ugly or gets too old to play like he used to. Or when it costs too much to keep him or when he is too much in the way or when he is too needy and we are too busy to stroke him or cuddle him until he curls into a ball and purrs. We don’t see his heart.
Odd, isn’t it, that a cat’s nose is shaped like a heart? It is how he breathes, how he survives, how he senses food and drink and danger. He cannot live without his nose. He has no language, either, no way to tell us his heart’s needs except through head bumps, mews and tiny licks that feel like sandpaper.
With every breath he takes, his unseen heart beats, too.
When Sabroso awoke from his Nyquil- and Jim Beam-induced siesta, some kind of large furry animal with a black nose was staring at him and was in fact breathing on him. The animal was that close.
"What the hell? Are you some kind of tiger or somethin'?" Sabroso asked the creature. The creature shook his head.
When Sabroso was eight or nine Uncle Tambien took him to the San Antonio zoo. The giraffes were Sabroso's favorite. They seemed so clean and affable. The giraffes didn't do gross shit like the monkeys and they didn't seem like they wanted to eat him.
"Look. I need to stay alive a few seconds longer," Sabroso told the animal. The walls of the studio apartment melted. Sabroso found himself in a magical candy land. He was still Sabroso and the tiger (or whatever the hell it was) was still Anonymous. Beyond the two living creatures a minor soda waterfall bubbled and gurgled and a sprinkled donut casa gleamed electric pink and orange in the taffy sun. Sabroso walked toward the donut casa and Anonymous walked in the opposite direction.
"Shit just got cool," Sabroso said, licking frosting from his fingers.
Domestication is a lie we told you as we sat in your lap waiting for what we knew to be our due. We watch as you wait for a sign of our affection. We watch as you talk to us in the tone usually reserved for the very young as if you could will us to respond the way a child does. If we purr in contentment it is not because we think ourselves yours but because your lap is warmer than the ground.
This close, all I can see is soft, innocuous, round and gentle, inviting touch, begging the caress, the long stroke, the brush and tickle of a slow lover’s hand.
But I can feel the heat of your breath urgent against my skin, strong as the promise of a white hot forge ready to reshape me on the anvil of desire.
And I am held here breathless and suspended, soft and loose, unresisting in the flux of your golden stare.
I have to run to get to my car. I'm carrying a super-soaker that stops Elmo long enough for me to make it to the passenger door and then I have to climb over the console and into the driver's seat.
I'm going to practice driving in reverse after work but it'll be problematic because my driveway's so long and I'll never be able to keep the car straight all the way unless I go real slow and then Elmo will be waiting for me when I get to my house.
I never should have gotten in that feud with my neighbor. I've apologized several times for complaining about Elmo's barking but his solution was to leave the shepherd untied so he doesn't bark anymore but roams over to my property and snarls at me. It's as if he knew I ratted him out to the local police department but since my neighbor's on the force no one will do anything.
I don't know how he's getting up on my roof but I think he's jumping onto my car and from there onto the roof of my ranch house which doesn't have much of a pitch but it does have a small skylight in the bathroom over the tub. That's one of the reasons I bought the house--I love lying there soaking and taking in the stars at night or the clouds during the day.
Now I see only Elmo and he sees me. It's as if my neighbor is watching me through Elmo's eyes.
This has been going on for a few days but a super-soaker won't work in this situation so I'm afraid I'll have to call a handyman to come over and cover the skylight in the cathedral ceiling.
But then what? What'll be next from Elmo?
Monochrome photography Captures the felinity And admirable majesty Of a true cat with its soft paw And a big cat with its regal roar Both predatory carnivores Furtive and vicious Stealthy and sinuous Leonine and mischievous Sharp of tooth and eye Both fearless and shy The essence of a cat
The repast on the move completed, he began the post-prandial realignment. His tongue slipped its moorings from behind the labial sheath and slithered so as to start lapping at the pelage beneath his snout. The soft down was a piquant contrast to the gristle he had just hoofed down his gullet. The glossal papillae were sensitive enough to guide him to the flecks of carrion lodged between the fur follicles, but not the sebaceous globules of adipose reflecting light off them like a sniper’s rifle sight. Neither was his protuberant muscle attuned for the blood and juice spume matted there, nor the drool and saliva webbing his philtrum, bound in mucal chains like a spider’s prey. He was oblivious of an even older sedimentation, a few bubbles of foamy scum deposited under his septum when he had been at the watering hole prior to his impromptu feast. Now that the victuals had been devoured and the gustatory gnaw in his gizzard sated, he had a yearning to return to the watering hole and slake a pressing thirst. For the moisture he was expending to clean himself up seemed to be exerting a mulct on his overall fluid reserves. Yet eating had also spent his energy and bone-weary, he just wanted to slumber. Flailing blindly, he brought a paw up to wipe his mandibles and beyond that he inclined his head into the crook of his limb and padded at himself to expel any flotsam. Hia loyal zaftig mate dabbed at him to further expunge the last of the orts . Grooming was now complete.
That had been one hell of a doner kebab.
It was soft and safe. The big poster of a lion or something similar that smiled at me from my bedroom wall. It had always been there and I never asked questions about what it was or whether it was alive or dead like the ones in the museum. I think I didn’t really want to know. Then there were my cuddly animals, a frog and a fish and a turtle and a crab – things that should have been scaly or hard but were so soft and plushy. I would lie in a heap of them and hear them moaning at me and smile, thinking, just a minute more of snugness and I’ll let you all breathe. Outside the grass was soft, too, dotted with white apple blossom. I would sprawl and listen to music or a story tape.
Then there was you. You were soft. Ish. You liked old clothes, dresses with full skirts, delicate ruffles. Your hair was always in some elaborate scrunchie dotted with silk roses or threaded with beads. You never looked anything but a picture. We spent most of our time in my room, with that big furry face smiling at us. I would smile back, you would reach up and stroke it. Him. You called him Harvey. I didn’t want to name him, or her.
I remember when it changed, the day of the fortune teller. You cut the square, so effortlessly, and folded it into that perfect fortune teller shape. When I tried, it always went wrong or looked naff. You made it open and shut on your fingers, like a lotus. It was as if you really were working magic. “Pick a number.”Read more >
There’s a bad smell in the room and I’m right up close to a thing I’ve never seen before. We’re on the floor, nose to nose. It twitches. I copy. It’s hunkered down. I copy. I put my arms by my sides, my chin on the floor, fold my legs underneath me. I see a long scaly tail swing out from behind it. I copy, with one leg. But I fall over. It doesn’t seem to care. It quivers. It skitters about. I copy. I graze my chin. I get my arms and legs in a muddle, which hurts. I howl. My nose gets wet. It jumps. It sniffs. I copy. (The sniffing part.) It runs out sideways, low on the floor. I copy and get carpet burns. I’m larger than it. Most things are larger than me. It keeps moving. I keep moving too, but I can’t move as fast as it. I keep falling over. Which it doesn’t. It gets itself behind me and sniffs. I copy. (The sniffing part.) It pulls and pushes. Rips and tears. Starts to eat. Which tickles so I giggle. The smell in the room is rank now, and I can’t copy any more because I can’t get there. But I don’t care. It has pulled off my nappy and it’s cleaning up the mess. Thank goodness.
Catherine was a funny person. She was from a family of staunch Catholics. They had a dog, a couple of cows and a tractor in the countryside. The house had been full of good memories. Her father would return, hot from his work, mother would bake fresh apple pies, her brothers would run around lugging the hay and the dog ran behind them wagging his tail.
Why was she funny? That was because she left that house, its warmth and ran off to the city with a man who had showed her delusions of grandeur. She wasn’t funny because she took the risk for love. No. She was funny because once he left her, she didn’t go back. Was she funny? Or weak?
No. That couldn’t be, she wasn’t weak. She had a job now. She was a store manager in a cloth store. She wasn’t awfully happy about it but it paid the bills. She definitely wasn’t weak. She had adapted. She was independent. Or maybe a fool.
She had a purse which unlike the purse of any other woman her age, in her prime didn’t have an assortment of cosmetics or perfumes which had long French names. No. it had a letter, some cat food, and a few dollars for food and bus.
Why cat food? Because she had a cat called memory. She had brought the cat home with her one day after he had left. She had found him lonely in an alley. She found herself sympathizing with the feline. She had cleaned him up, taken him to the vet, and then kept him.Read more >
As if from a fugue - I awaken, with the room coalescing slowly, sharp focus is pulled. Nose to nose with this creature, evil pure evil, eyes smug and fat. Dappled patches of evening sun, flicker and flick, I sit frozen in the light. While the loaded silence builds, I cannot be certain, any time has passed at all. Save, for the pressing of silence in my ears, taste of lightening on my tongue, the loss of all colour – the urge to run. Glowing eyes regard me insolently, with a knowledge, that surely will not be told. Still, I find myself knowing, my attempt to out stare, has utterly failed.
"I said don't jump," the voice said. I hadn't jumped that far and had a view of the cat that I had ended up on.
"You'll be wondering who I am?"
To be sure. I had been in a terrible state for a long time. Or what felt like a long time since the procedure had happened.
I was struggling to speak. It was as if I had been under some form of anaesthetic.
"The anaesthetic takes a couple of hours to wear off," the voice remarked casually. "That's why you didn't jump that high, I guess. I'll have to make a note of that."
"Listen," I managed to say and felt my self coming round from whatever had happened. "Everything's going to be OK?"
"For you? Of course not. What did you expect?"
"What happened to me?"
"You brought it all on yourself. You will remember in a while and then you will gradually forget."
I tried to open my eyes.
"I can't see."
"Not yet, your new eyes will need time to develop. In the mean time, I expect your are thirsty."
I felt like I had been to the worst dentist in Cleveland.
"This is a dream right? No. Can it? I just saw a huge cat's nose and mouth like real close up?"Read more >
The breeze was on a paper chase as we stood on wet needle grass A fine spray upon tapping feet
Red blinked green A metallic army advanced, its nose in the air
You took my hand We sped across the tar just making it to the other side while metal-mouthed sleekness sniffed at our auras still hurrying off the road
My nose jammed up stuffing in all the smells of an anosmic cosmos I wanted the armored warriors to never end their flow and keep my hand safe in yours
3:15 mid-morn-mist the sprinklers right on time anxiety overshot eddies sharper than possum scent — olfactophobia odor triggered migraines or null advice said don’t wear that dead cat around your neck like a talisman shoulders askew weight of past weight of new light is blue orange pollen hesitant evenings the feral cat found herself a friend cicadas twined realizations the gap between more and enough that you’re always my unfinished sentence the path is wide enough for two people to walk abreast light is inevitable as i listen to coldhearted pussies rendezvous midst periwinkle sawdust mornings haunted by moon-bathing-blues when aroma fails us, something tender
Tell me of the wealth you lost; speak about it in my ears
in a tone you wouldn’t with the world, say your words
uninhibitedly, show of your hands – toughened palms;
of the sword you wielded, in my mind I will revel
you like a king acquired a throne, keep running away
to new places just when I assimilate your presence at one;
I am not as swift as you in moving, my sense of absence is like an ant
caught inside a sugar cube, put me under a tap
to get me to loosen my cling, I’ll still linger in the puddle
to re-combine the thinning sweetness;
your way isn’t reduction and mine none acquiescing
When you entered the room, I read on your breath and sweat everything you had been doing: caught the whiff of last night’s curry in your underarms, the linger of his kiss – that man I secretly despise – wished you’d changed your socks. I did not entirely like the smug hormone of satisfaction that wafted after you. For hours now, you have put me second.
I smelt a sparrow pass the door you opened, and licked my lips.
Name was P, an animal On my home range Whose ear was twisted when wrong Whose fur was matted We called her P because that's how She smelled
Never thinking to bathe her Or be kind
Stepping over the slats Of an old fence to chase her.
My very first smell Was of sweet caramel My mother came Shook her head in shame I was allergic And now lethargic
The Rabbitman came out of his cave as he always did when mendicants came calling. “See him, and your troubles disappear,” they’re told, and they believe but why?
Because they don’t expect to see a poor man’s Minotaur? Because the Elephant Man is dead? Because he he’s never known the kisses of a pretty girl? Because there be witchcraft afoot when a man has an animal head?
No. He’s the replacement for the crucifix, thought too gruesome for children, depressing for the rest. To meditate on Christ’s broken body is to see our own weakness; utter endless questions of what kind of god claims to save us, but couldn’t save himself?
Ahhh, but Rabbitman— there’s a god who can show you how paltry is your suffering compared to the rabbitface of a lonely man. We can go home relieved. Sure that we are stronger than God.
In your hollow house these empty skins tread fur and flat underfoot. Half-sprung animals, who do not realise escape attempts are futile press closer against their transparent walls. Ancestors with leaded eyes watch your progress from their gilded vantage point. You must stalk softly, quietly cock your gun. You only get one shot.
The bare facts are I should not be here. No. They made a mistake you see. They didn't see who I am. They smugly thought they knew and placed me on the library floor in front of a very hot fire. In this coat that's no joke. Worse. Facing the wrong way. A blank wall. It's boring at least it was until they came in laughing and spilling drinks on me. At least it stopped the singeing on my left ear where the ember had rolled from the grate. Worse. They started jumping on my back.
"Ooh," a girl said. "Let's get bare on the bear."
They still did not have the courtesy to recognise who I am. Worse. They all started rolling over my fur, not caring it brushed the wrong way. Not fair.
Not a bear. Unbearable.
Seek and thou shalt find.
Isn’t that a truism of sorts? At the start of all this mess, when you first made your presence known, it was an annoyance. Nothing more. How could I know you weren’t just a figment of my imagination? Light playing tricks among the shadows. You were persistent. Your appearances became more frequent, though you never allowed me a proper sighting. But the intrusion came to dominate my thinking, like a haunting. Ultimately you had me in tears. That’s when I sought professional help. I was told, ‘Be patient.’
Rome wasn’t built in a day, was it?
These things take application. I worked hard, and was assured, that, in your own time, you would make yourself known. You caused me a lot of trouble. Now here you are. Bigger than I expected. But I’m not scared. Not anymore. If I can make you appear, then I can make you disappear. Now I have full measure. You will not get the better of me. To conquer one’s fear, one must conjure it. Look it in the eye. When push comes to shove, am I man? Or am I mouse?
Hunted I rest, but there is sniffing in the air
Tired I wait for fangs to find me
But I am the lady and the tiger the dream and the animal razor.
Fate decreed that I would be silent Mouth sealed against complaint Refusing to breathe in your words As bristled skin rasped flesh Clenched fist poised in royal decree Asserting authority Enforcing servility To outward appearances at least
Fate decreed that I would be blind Eyes closed to the coating Of mockery which you smeared Over every purple-bruised day, Blurring colour to grey Until I became a mere smudge of annoyance An irritation to be swatted away The fly in the matrimonial ointment
Fate decreed the length of my sentence And now my time has been served I have opened mouth and eyes Turned both to weapons Though neither is as sharp as Claws unsheathed And today is the day When the tables are turned
Content, that's you - in a word: a dry unemotional nose - won't weep for anyone, neither family nor friends.
Everything in your face is replete, portrays complete and warm innocence: those puff-ball cheeks, that soft matter-of-fact mouth.
From the clean fine hairs of your willing chin - treat us- please let out one long, deep purr! Before you find the next can of worms to sink your teeth into.
I used to be a human Now a mask
Once I was soft purring and accommodation then I grew teeth
What started as a one-time persona became a permanent fixture
Now the furniture is all clawed and my loves are scratched.
Sarah read Kafka years ago so she understood the idea of transformation. She'd gone through many of them herself. From precocious four-year-old to the smelly humiliation of having what her mother called "an accident" in the middle of Mrs. Buster's first grade class. After that, it was difficult for her to feel the confidence of being four. Six meant sitting in the back of the room, away from the windows, head on her desk, pretending she was invisible.
"Shy" lasted longer than she could ever have thought. Until she met Charlene. Charlene took her under her wing — Charlene's phrase — not Sarah's. It was what her mother liked to call "a red-letter day." 8:30 on the playground, Sarah hovering at the door of the fourth grade classroom in her new school, staring at her new patent leather Mary-Janes which she had begged for. Charlene stood in front of her, so close their shoes touched toe to toe — black patent meeting white tenny — and when Sarah startled, smacking against the door knob, Charlene said, "I need a best friend so I'm picking you."
What followed was three years of best-friendship and because Charlene attracted kids from everywhere, Sarah caught the overflow, becoming confident Sarah, laughing Sarah, spin-the-bottle Sarah.
Sarah's parents swept her away for a summer in Maine. It was a political thing — her dad cozying up to his boss. It didn't work for his career and it ruined Sarah's. By the time she returned home and started the seventh grade, she'd been dropped by Charlene who'd moved on to lipstick, marijuana, and heavy petting.Read more >
The animal of unknown origin stared right into the tourist's camera. The tourist screamed in fear, but the animal turned out to be a sweet little thing. When the tourist had to leave, she was heartbroken to leave her best friend.
My soft mufta breathes in you and breathes out the stars.
Too long ago, before recorded time, there was a Raja and his little daughter. She had heard the tale, spun by the court minstrels, of a lion who learned to talk. The daughter pleaded very much to see such a fantastical beast. So the Raja sent word out, throughout all the known world, beseeching his subjects to bring one to court.
One day a man arrived, and said he had such a beast. But when he unveiled the cage he brought with him the lion inside only roared at them.
That night as all were asleep, the Raja’s daughter snuck out to the lion’s cage and commanded it to speak. This time the lion replied, with all the grace and good humour one is compelled to speak with when addressed by an imperial child.
Thoroughly delighted, she demanded from the lion all the stories it knew. She, who had been raised on stories that all ended happily, with characters droll and quaint, was ill-prepared for the one she received. As the lion placed its jaws so close to her face she could breathe its carnivorous breath, its nose gently touching hers so all she could see was its heart shaped nose and deceptively gentle mouth, it told her its tale. Of a lion cub taken at birth. Its mother tortured for sport then killed. A lifetime spent at the hands of a cruel owner who would use his ability to speak as a means of livelihood. About the resolution never to speak in front of humans again. A resolution it had kept, until now.Read more >
If you let yourself shrink down to the point where photons might be dodged simply by turning all the way around, behind the left side of the thirty-fifth marker you’ll see a series of buttons which, when pressed in a sequence outlined and hidden within the second footnote in the opening chapter to the third edition of A Series of Extended Monographies (ask yourself, is there any way to *chart* the boundaries, rather than *extend* them?), you’ll unlock what can only be described as a mental topography of uniquely situated highs and lows, that is, your wavelengths, your inner most deeply held convictions that, once spread out in front of you, once there to see, linear, to chart, to rearrange, yes, that’s when, with the same exacting standards you salvaged in order to cope with the pressing need to recreate the sensation of floating halfway between the inside of the outermost limits of infinite possibility and the crushing finality of an inability to sink any further, it’s not only within the realm of possibility to explore the trans-dimensionality of the nature of once hopeless despair, but you’ll be struck by an urgent sensation, almost not unlike wanting to breathe, sheer, take me closer, you’ll say, make it find a way to ... a lasting sense of ... right, and then, when it’s time to rematerialize, if there’s a fraction of revelation that’s able to be stolen back, try to make sure it’s the part that whispers, the part that says, in a whisper.
How easily we’ve forgotten the scent of fear taking hold
long before a shape can conjure itself into existence. Even if only
in the imaginations of the timid or the weak. These days, I cannot
fight my own instinct nestled marrow-deep unchanged
for millennia. I am prone to hide out, lick my wounds
You a certain chord or
movement of a dance as
you crash in a tide and spill
like music or drugs into blood
and we down onto sheets,
your hair in kapok roots and
I think: what bird is this, with
wings outspread, crying under
I was brought from the sojourns of Brussels and I can proudly say to the mortals that I am immortal. I lay quietly and watch the beautiful shoes, hear different languages and present my best. My employer considers me the star attraction, others near me gaze with envious eyes. I am a threat to them you see. But there were difficult times too. Once a lady spilled the intoxicating liquid on me. I was shattered thinking that I would have to move to the backyard of Brooklyn. But alas I was saved, I could not believe that I got lay down again. My master spent a good amount on me. But you see the people who come here are crème of the society, for them an additional amount would not mean anything. By the way I enjoyed thoroughly at the French capital where I got back my honor. The travellers were looking at my beauty and awe. Oh! I forgot to tell you I don't breathe, I dont eat or listen, but I still live and exist amongst you. I am Le Tapis or The Carpet and today I am taken to the interview room where the President is coming to address. As I am rolled, I feel honored to be the part of your life. I cannot be ignored, baby, and I move through the wooden spiral staircases.
She's strong - always been - but fearful of what may come Her jungle, my jungle An infinite game Of power, of lust Of search For what? The end Inevitable, real Close, so close An end?
She closes her eyes Not to look Not to hear Not to feel Escape From her jungle Her past – her life Ηerself
They say you should never disturb a witch when she is in the middle of casting a spell; if you do, your life will change in unexpected ways, and often for the worse.
On the day my life changed, it had been a cool and sombre affair; the sky was a perpetual aluminium grey, the pond frozen over and the trees stiff with arthritis.
My mother had fallen ill and the apothecary had instructed hazelberries as the cure. Now hazelberries are wondrous things – they can pretty much cure anything and only reveal themselves to those who need help.
The woods were denser than I remembered; kite-shaped brambles and stick-limbed trees everywhere; a sliver of moonlight filtering through the canopy like a milk-white spotlight. Hideous roots, twisted in agony, littered the earth upsetting my way through the woods.
And then, in a particularly stygian corner, a figure crouched. I don’t know why but I crept up on them and heard a series of foreign words all spoken with a serpentine tongue. The words went straight through me, burrowing themselves under my skin, boiling my blood and sharpening my sense of smell. The world quickly drained of colour, my eyes focused on the milky moonlight and the thick darkness all around. Suddenly, my hand found the person’s back, and then a sharp bolt of pain sliced its way up my forearm.
I screamed and tried pulling my arm free but it wouldn’t budge.Read more >
prrrrrrrrrflightofhighskywingcatchesirislight prrrrtoohighrrrrrrflickoftailtuftprr prrrrrrrrrrrrrrshadowshiftinsandprrrrrrrrrrr watch prrrrrrtoofarrrrrrrrrflickrrflick prrrrrrrrrrgrassesswayrrrrrrrrwindperhaps? prrrrrrflickflickflickprrrrrrrr watch prrrrrrskitteroffeetprrrr nowind prrrrr tenseprrrrrrrwatchprrrrrrrmusclerippleprr gentleeasingofpositionprrrrrweightbalanced prrrrrrrcrouchrrrrwaitrrrrrwaitrrr prrrrrcreepprrrrcreepprrrrrrrsettle prrrrrrrrgatherprrrrrrrrrsilentpawspadcloser NOWRUNURUNRACETHEWINDCATCHTHESCENTOFFEAR SINGITTHROUGHBLOODANDBREATHANDDUST SPINTURNTWISTCHASE LEAP CLAW BITE TEAR STRUGGLE shred lick lap chew sleep
A balding ape Grayish chest Hunched shoulders Reflective mood. It strangely mirrors Our inner ape unleashed by a violent society And its unbridled passions and hate! How different the two! The jungle apes follow certain order And ethics of their tribe/troop Never indulging in wanton vandalism or rapes. The urban apes bring the jungle And apparent lawlessness Into a post-industrial culture Making the latter species Most dangerous on the planet!
Which to choose?
The burden of having a heightened sense of smell that picks up the slightest odour, a noise of confusion wafting through the air.
Is this one important? That one? That smells interesting. A new breed of magnolia perhaps? Magnolia, no, that's a hybrid of magnolia contaminated by a nearby fig tree. Why would a fig tree be close to a magnolia? I don't know, that's what it smells like.
You dream of, which the human mind cannot. You thrive, undisturbed, recognising what the world withholds, with that pair of starry eyes - open or shut, they are your only window to wisdom.
Out from the wild he came. He didn't roar, snarl or growl, yet I knew he could. Born to hunt, born to kill. But he took food from my bare hands and licked my fingers clean with his rough pink tongue. Then purred with contentment. We understood each other. We trusted each other. The bond was great, we were inseparable. Kindred spirits. Perhaps we saw into each others souls. Or had experienced a previous existence together if you believe in that sort of thing, as I did. The creature stirred , opened his eyes to look at me. I was sure he winked. Could he have? Is it possible? Maybe. I smiled to myself and continued to daydream about what might have brought us together previously. And now!
line of shadow tautened into lips
that radial shiver scattered from the bridgeholds the moth, the work of an obscene pointillist
The last thing I saw before my private tour-guide's Chevy Traverse slid off the road was a herd of elephants tramping along with their calves. I awakened in the back seat with a bump on the head and blood dripping down my face. I called for Adisa, but he was slumped over the steering wheel unconscious. I reached over and felt for a pulse. He was still breathing. Lightheaded, I managed to dial my cell phone for help.
“Damn, no service.”
I flung the phone back on the seat, grabbed a bottle of water and opened the car door. The sun beamed down and the heat took its toll on my body. I leaned against the truck and gulped the water. We were somewhere south of the Sahara Desert. Someone would find us once we didn’t return by a certain time. Some vacation. So much for relaxation in Africa.
Several hours later after dozing off, Adisa was still out cold and the sun began to go down, but the heat remained unbearable. “Stupid Tom. Had to wear long pants,” I said out loud. I threw the empty water bottle across the desert and punched the truck. My knuckles bled, but I didn’t care. I needed to get out of that heat. Sometime during my freak out, I heard a roar. I looked ahead and it was a lion. In the dim sunlight the lion appeared grey in color and it had its eyes fixed on me. Its mouth opened wide showing off its sharp teeth. I remembered Adisa had a hunting rifle in his truck, if only I could get to it. Snarling, taunting me, the lion sidled closer. I slowly opened the door to the truck and the lion proceeded faster. I fumbled for the rifle, cursing and praying simultaneously.
“Where the hell are you?” I yelled out loud.Read more >
If I remind you of a familiar oddity or even an unknown genetic pre-historic memory - Allow my essence to permeate through your fading evanescence - Let your electric pulses jolt my my ancient cocooned chrysalis to guide you from this doomed humanoid abyss – I must insist you do not stagger or even vehemently resist my foretold reawakening – so control your terrified seizure for I am your elected 'Ceasar' once enbalmed as the first of our kind – You only need to allow somehow to open your hidden psychic portal – To finally feel your soul immortal.
Transcend to valiantly defend - Look closer and dissolve your mortal fear – Ignore my dubious unfamiliar veneer as you bravely prepare to find your salvation here.Read more >
Closed-mouthed, and what of it on a week day? What’s to be gained, the discomfort that comes from baring teeth or letting a tongue hang out wildly which makes the locals laugh and the less familiar turn their heads away in utter disgust, the saliva and what I’ve been chewing falling this way and that? There’s never much to say that can’t be imagined as worse. Frinstance, it’s hardly Tuesday already, the weekend, thank God, both distant memory and faraway fear when I’m expected to comply with my contract and emit at least one barbaric yawp over the roofs of the world, the children called to attention, their grown-ups flinch but are hardly put in mind of what it’s like wandering town to town, going this way and that. For them and me, it’s the sweet ennui of having come from some place and arriving at another. Though some might call it settling — others unsettling — it’s a modest place, this home.
Sublime and content with what nature gave the beast lounges in the African sun: ignoring the buzzing insects and the timid photographer, who only partially captures the grandeur to be further diluted by the artist, as she despairs of reproducing the echoed vitality with mere pastels.
For the first six years of his life, the gray cat lived in a trailer, with my brother's ex-girlfriend. When she moved to Colorado, to Boulder, to live with an old boyfriend, she asked my brother to take the cat. You're so fond of him, she said.
The gray cat's name was Buddha, but we also called him Mr. B. He would sit in the sun for hours, meditating, contemplating the world beyond the windows. He had never been outdoors.
Then, one spring day he followed us down to the creek, just walking along with the dogs.
The outside world was a delight to him - leaves in the spring, acorns in the fall, snow in the winter. And how he rolled in the summer grass, chasing fireflies.
He became our familiar, our friend. I whispered secrets in his ears, about the boys who didn't even notice me. His purring was unconditional love. There was such wisdom in his golden eyes.
I went off to college, and found a sweetheart. My brother married a wonderful girl. It's funny how things work out. They had a household full of cats, and Buddha was king of them all.
Then, one day, he was gone. My brother found him after work, lying by the catnip bed in a patch of afternoon sun.
I know it's not possible, he told me. We buried him by the catnip bed. But I saw him yesterday evening, down by the creek, a gray cat on the other side. He turned around and looked at me. I knew him, too, you know?
Yes, I know, I said. Familiar.
A child's toy it wasn't
All spread out on the floor
of our guarded youth
The poison nip of a blade,
a single bead of blood
spilling the jungle inside
Roar of a fireplace
like the rising inside us
Too bleak and dangerous
we are primal
in our slaughter
of our sacrifice
I heard the growl
in the middle of the night and assigned
It was only my stomach
I heard a purring as I tried
to stumble off to sleep
assigned it value
It was only my libido
I heard a clawing at the door
as I tried to roll over
assigned it fear and trepidation
It was only paranoia.
“unchain my heart”
let this dog out of your art
wagging tail reminds
“alright if I stay?”
outside looking in
handouts make my day
“it won’t be long now”
startling wet nose
more gentle than rose
to worry or not to worry?
a canine query
I am not harmful
I will give you yours
what scent promises you,
your future is prophecy
-folding into layered praise
prize of the music’s
“now” is to explain
secrets of belly’s
travels to warn
what warms ahead among
noon’s ardent hands, a
friction of rejuvenated
readying what cannot
hold its breath, a
technique to camouflage
but with scent it
Read more >
well, fine. I'll show you the animal.
you want me to play
in a fur coat? I'm not so easy
to get along with as that.
you think my visit is just to see
you? I've come to use you,
my scratching post, I've come to test
you, early before you realize it,
a devil in the flesh, red hair will
one day turn gray. you think this is
easy? well, it is.
out before our creature comes back
to claim us
You talk to me about folding
About placing napkins
We live a polite little life
that could be seen easy
Until the world gets messy
Our whiskers and teeth
come out to play.
at me with your sideways
all the while
I try to love you
but cannot stomach it
There for the viewers eye
A captured image of an object sits
By a box near a pile of bricks
For random chat is often cold
Used to mask an empty space
We cannot relate to each other we are told
I see the expressions on your face
It's all to do with perspectives
And where we stand
A photograph may be nothing more
Than a 1 D image that makes no sense
For others it's the very core
Of memories, the past and truth
Social conditioning plays its part
You don't need to be a sleuth
To get to its heart
A soft toy abandoned in an attic space
A large cat or simply a teddy bears' face
There may be somewhere
A relativist's view
And a perspective that is so new.
barges in and slams with the dead eyes
of cheetahs and gazelles and
rhinoceros. The lion lies, neatly
skinned – magnificent du jour once, pointlessly
existent now, like the Belgian glass
chandelier that screams in silence.
Outside, plantains sway with the heavy summer wind,
and the broken Rolls Royce tells stories
of exuberance gone to the grave.
Terribly unbothered lines of vines grow on the walls;
Some even audaciously bloom in flowers. Mauve, Yellow,
People are afraid of their past.
They say this house is a haunted mess; a villa of lust and
lushness once, now lies in as much abundance as a
lumber mill in Andaman.
Man, proud and smart – became the same
as the lion that he once killed. Dead eyes fill the
air with gaffes from the Sambar, chuckles of the
Hyena, yet the lion doesn't laugh.
Like a predator, it waits, no flesh, no bones.
It waits for an eternity for a chance.
Dead men can never escape.
you ripple into view
and splash into my lap
like the robin
that once frequented our birdbath
were the mangled remains
of that thirsty bird some sort of
belated birthday present?
or perhaps a peace offering
from when I scolded you
for your repeat offence
against the threadbare couch?
now, with another *purrrrrr*
your heart-shaped nose touches
mine, and I feel the rumble
of the ocean
in both our chests
the ebbs and flows of your moods
are unpredictable, but
your furry body is much warmer
than any sea
that you lean into my touch
tells me you love me…
and also that you're hungry
He is calm.
The room does not speak;
It simply listens
While we all take note
Of an amazing creature
Made not like any other.
His whiskers are at attention--
There's no denying his
Approval of our every word.
Mystic thing, soothing being,
Who has his heart on his sleeve?
He does. He wears it well, too.
We watch him as it bleeds
Into our hands,
We catch his love.
Read more >
His furry face creased into a smile and his mouth opened wide. He sucked out the frightening, horrific images of the nightmare and smacked his lips. His victim drifted into a deeper, calmer and sweeter sleep.
He padded softly off, humming tunefully, as he went to imbibe the darkest images that infested anxious souls, because for him they were only another tasty nocturnal treat.
It had lived in his villa since it was a cub, but still stalked its surroundings with unfamiliarity; an animal vagabond. Each morning, the boy’s maid would fill the creature’s bowl with kibble and mince. It always looked wearily up at her as she set it down. And she looked wearily back, a mirror of tear-streaked tribulation.
She did not belong here either.
The cheetah’s form was lithe, but inert with existence stunted by the rigid arabesque of human ego. Its limbs lay extinct of vigour beneath the static noise of daytime television. The lonesome creature did not know of the horizons which beckoned for the blur of its silhouette. The exiled beast did not know of the lands arid with the thirst to callous its nimble paws. The stray cat did not know of its savanna stolen, a hijacking of habitat and hunt.
Neither did she.
guarding the vanilla
landscape, the zone
I was supposed to be,
assumed to be, born to
I haven't resolved my twitch. I'm twenty-eight. Time's running out. I live in my parents' garage. I'm not "shrouded in mystery" enough for the girlfriends I've kept only a week.
Last box in the trunk. Mom's passed out, Dad's at work.
I leave nothing on the bare bedspread that covers the bare bed in the bare room but my childhood friend, the one who teased me about my nose and my rosy cheeks.
I shut the door on the black bead eyes sewn into the raggedy, tattered face that I've looked into so many times for guidance. My eyes find Jerald's right ear - the one I sunk my teeth into every time glasses shattered against walls. Every time the strong smell of whiskey seeped through my beaten door. I don't lock my stuffed lion away; that would be too cruel.
I jam the key in the door lock.
I screamed a lot that year. I screamed until my throat was hoarse, in linen cupboards, behind the bathroom door with my face buried hard in my husband's dressing gown; I didn't want either of them to hear me, to realise how I hated the sight of my stumbling child. I watched her become an infant again; babbling, grasping, her hands searching for immovable objects to cling onto.
It was the cat who stared at my tears. I saw it again through the patio doors, unblinking, like a smudge in a pencil drawing that I couldn't erase and I was forced to share the secret of my brimming eyes with it, behind my daughter's back. It kept returning, appearing in sunny nooks in our garden, curling on top of the wall outside my bedroom window. 'Perhaps it's a stray.' My husband said. 'It's just looking for a home.'
I hated it when my husband made reference to my orphaned status, as if I would suddenly take the cat in because of this one similarity we shared. I knew better. It was there to wrench the feelings out of me and hold them in its lamp-like, yellow eyes, to devour them slowly with a lazy flick of its tail.
I go on the p in pounce.
I am only a stop of course,
if we are thinking about time –
there will be better after me.
And you are me: I was top of the food
chain once. You will be diminished
when the robots take over, though it’ll
be amusing at least when they build
their own opposable thumbs.
Don’t tremble about being hunter, hunted
again. It was good; it still is. If you
have wit you will be fine. This is what
the botanist with the big beard told me.
The first order, stretch like a sneer, and then
I shall eat the cat’s food.
That cat thinks itself a superior sway with its pink ribbon
and bell around its neck, but it looks a true fool,
and I told it so.
So the cat and I are beastly and hateful right now. Hussy.
I trod off, a stroll to sniff out more breakfast.
There’s a brown bag on the floor;
it smells like cat. Triumph. Cats don’t fight fair, usin' claws,
so I savage that bag. And kill it. It’s empty …
but it smells like cat. Close ‘buff.
And I smell the house waking up, it’s that sniff of soapy
water and grey static. It's a clean
behind the ears smell, and
it makes me want to roll in mud. I bet the cat wishes it
was a dog. You never see people throw
chunks of pork chop at a cat.
Darned cat is too uppity to pose for food. But for now,
I'll just wait in the kitchen, wait quiet as toes
for that hateful cat to appear.
This is the table
of our delicious making.
Your scent is my scent,
the padding paws guard me.
I sleep peacefully
because the tiger guards me.
I feel the heat upon me
hear the heart of the animal
will run away when they
hear a loud sound,
their teeth and growling
turning to frivolous air
It's the ones that
still come charging on
in the face of intimidation
that really worry me.
In my mind
To be sea
The globe is a cloak
And it shelters from fear
We navigate the fur
And do not tame the wild
We do not hack off
Hollow horns to treat
An obsolete malaise
In the world and in me
There is a scent in the air
And it gallops across
Old paper maps
Taking off, ignoring borders
And landing on a new day
Where we wake up again
And we see everything For the very first time.
Her role in books,
The charming purr
Or muscular paws
That pulls in audiences
At box offices.
Only those privileged to avoid her
See her pounce as majestic,
Her fan of claws
Clashed with the warm scent of blood.
We tried to code her into our systems,
We traced her throat;
Transposed into raspy howls,
The semaphore of her tail movement
The liquid shield of her eyes,
Shading the hatches of her
Softly swept fur
For the time we had to move
You can smell, like I can see
Maybe even more intensely
Is it a blessing?
Is it a curse?
Mysterious creature of the shadows
Your scents are a tornado
Twisting and twirling
It's too crazy for me
Is it too crazy for you?
Last night's dinner
Your next meal
Maybe even mine
Mysterious creature of the shadows
I know you're a predator and I am your prey
But maybe you could ignore your senses
Just for one day?
It's on the tip of my nose,
Cold and wet.
The mucous makes my once
If I ignore the symptoms,
Will others notice?
Should I wipe it away?
I have only my hands,
Should I clear my throat like some
I wish I were an animal.
They don't have to worry about any of these social issues,
No matter how awkward or how full of bullshit they may be.
They don't fill out paperwork.
They don't pay taxes.
They don't vote.
And they certainly don't worry about going to war or paying hospital bills.
I hope in my next life to roam free as a fierce lion,
And ye shall see his face
And ye shall be in awe
Ye shall fall down at his left paw
For he is golden and perfect
Each hair made of finest metal
Each whisker a thread of purest silver
His eyes flames of justice
And he shall appear
Like a thief in the night
Creeping in so softly
His wonder shall waken ye from deep sleep
His rumbling sound a splendour
His claws thou must endureth
For they are noble
And now thou must arise
And to thine cupboard fly
And feed him with the riches of Sheba
And watch humbly as he eats
For the judgement is near
That ye shall know
I’m so tired today. The sun is really bright and it’s burning into my fur. I can’t stand living the savannah anymore. Maybe I should get captured and caged. At least I’ll get to travel the world and those other animals will watch me in amazement. Ugh, Mom’s going to be here soon to wake me up. Here she comes.
“Mom, it’s so hot today! I don’t want to get up.”
“Look, sweetie. If you want to eat you’ll have to get up.”
“Ugh, I’ll go look for some food later.”
“All right. Just be careful and let me know when you do.”
“Mom, stop nudging me! I’ll get up later…Mom?”
“Bruh, it’s me Travis. Come with me.”
“Fine. Where are we headed?”
“Just follow your nose. Don’t you smell that?”
“Yes, I do. Smells like caramel, dark chocolate, and fresh. Sounds like it’s walking alone.”
“I know. It’s fresh meat. Let’s get it while it’s alone. It won’t even see us coming. I can’t wait to crunch on it.”
“It must be lost. I can hear it crying. Let’s hurry before its family comes.”
Small animal, with an orange color.
It just sits there. Doesn’t move.
Feathery, purple tail sticks out behind it.
Gently tap – run away! No, it doesn’t move, doesn’t flee.
Get closer. Tentative paw, pull closer.
Bend down *sniff* *sniff* smells like a –
Oh. Smells different. Plant-y but good, very good.
Bite down, kick, run around, jump, dance like a weasel!
Flop to the ground, tired. Nap.
It was a sniff that woke me up, though my eyes didn’t open then. It was louder even than the guide’s snoring, which was strangely absent, leaving no sound but the insects outside the tent and that annoying sniff coming through again.
Finally I opened them up and saw that shiny black triangle not even an inch from my face. In my morning stupor I couldn’t grasp just what it was, but it didn’t take long for the whiskers to give it away, and panic to explode within me.
We’d been searching for days, the whole party, just for this one moment when we could finally see this elusive queen, hiding in the jungle, and in the end it was her who had come to us. It didn’t seem to mind that I had awoken, and kept sniffing at the top of my head. Of course, that was it. The guide had warned us, again and again, that if we did not follow his rules we would see the jungle more closely than we wished. I should have listened and as the cat licked my forehead, my thoughts raced from ways to escape, to my family, to how I could kill it from where I was, to what the afterlife would bring me.
But the cat didn’t seem as interested as I was. After pondering the taste of my brow she turned and walked over me, seeming bored as she briefly examined the contents of my temporary home, before vanishing out the flap and leaving me and the guide to ourselves. It seemed to take hours to catch my breath, but when I did I crawled out after it in hopes of catching one last glimpse of the midnight fur. But just as suddenly as I had seen it, it was gone, disappeared back into the brush and out of our lives once more.
What matters to me most
is my privacy
my life, my world
by your probing eyes
like a bear’s at night
seeking the secrets
I hold most dear
and by your snout
sniffing for my inner life.
deeper than even
let me be alone
among my thoughts
don’t bother me
and keep your secrets
inside your lair.
As the plane climbed, my heart sank. It bottomed out. A cold sweat slid up into my hairline. We were on our way to the Galapagos Islands. I was 50. She was 54. This was our dream. She was gripping my hand, wide-eyed. Such happiness in the pupils. I love you, she mouthed. Cancer-free. So many years ahead of us. Trips upon trips upon trips upon trips upon...
Fuck, the cat...
I should say something. Come clean. Spill the beans. Call Jim, our neighbor. Tell him to check the lock-box. Give him the code. Give him logical reasons. By default, give her logical reasons. Sometimes... shit happens.
The plane was now cruising at an altitude of 33,000 feet. The dome of the heavens up above; the ruffled ocean down below. A bag of nuts in my warm hands. This bag of nuts was impossible to open. Then it opened. Nuts went everywhere. She laughed. I laughed. The stewardess walked by and laughed, and the Rabbi seated across the aisle laughed, and in fact everyone was in various stages of laughing all the way through the plane.
I picked a nut out of my rum and coke.
She sipped at her tomato juice, dabbing her lips with a small napkin.
The Rabbi struggled with his complimentary headphones.
The Galapagos Islands was home to a stunning array of flora and fauna.
The lock-box was buried deep in the clutter of our basement.
I press my cold nose against your flesh
breathe in your scent,
yes, you’ll do.
I knead with my paws
need with my claws
and you cry out pleasingly.
I dip my head rub my fur against you
pushing with the grain so it’s so smooth
that you hardly notice you’re becoming mine.
You laugh, as I butt against you, keeping you here.
Yes, you’ll do
you are mine, I own you.
code-cat grows legs and scratches back at the reverse of the screen
bites a chunk of something in half
as the sink holes appear
close up the touch screen and shove under the sofa
black beetles back
buried the bodies under the carpet
newsfeed closed down under the rag rug
and fire lit for evening
smoke rises from the chimney pot and the house is now a home
no peeking now until the night has cleared off
you've done me horribly wrong slipping up with a camera and a flash in the middle of my fade yes, yes, the smile is already out of focus and the whiskers all my lovely, lengthy whiskers out of sight, out of mind
you still don't know your way because you don't know where you're going and that is bad enough, but this disruption of my disappearing act is just intolerable
know this, little alice smiles and whiskers, eyes and lashes notwithstanding i've got your scent more accurately than any howling bloodhound run along as far and fast as you will you simply can't outrun the cheshire nose
"I'll spare you the details but Sydney zoo have my Nettie and I want her back. You guys are the big cat burglars I hear, which is why we're talking.
Here's a photo of her snout - you can identify them most accurately by their individual scars. And don't worry despite the scars she's a pussycat, sweet as a nut."
So we scoped out the zoo, made our plans.
A few weeks later at 3am I parked the van by the perimeter fence and we started with bolt cutters.
A night zoo is a wild and alien place, whose nocturnal denizens watch slavering and restless.
It took half an hour to reach the lion enclosure.
The scars on her snout were clearly visible in the torchlight and true to his description she was gentle and compliant as we hooked the leashes over her.
Soon she was loaded and we were winding down to the harbour.
4am and Sydney slept softly under the southern cross.
At the harbour we transferred her into the boat. Placidly she sat like an Egyptian queen on a royal barge gazing out at the opera house as we chugged slowly across the bay.
The ferries were stopped at this hour and the night was like a sweet blanket of calm as our strange vessel floated in the dripping moonlight. Insomniac seabirds would suddenly appear and swerve away like lost angels in dark beyond their understanding.Read more >
1. Preheat arms to a degree when they are just right for an embrace. 2. Mix all dry ingredients in a bowl. 3. In smaller measures, mix sugar, honey. And yes, oil, so it’s easy to slip on the love. A pinch of salt, too. 4. Mix them all and spread on parchment paper. 5. With a bear cookie cutter, carve the teddy bears. 6. Draw the face. Now, now, not with a nail dot pen. Be gentle. 7. Be careful about their noses. They don’t like them to be messed with. 8. Place the almonds and have the bears hug them tight. 9. Use leftover dough to make the tails. Or spare noses. 10. Bake in a warm, tight hug. 11. Turn down the heat if the bears melt in your arms. 12. When they are done, handle with care.
Note: They like to be eaten warm.
I remember the day I realised I'd lost my sense of smell, but how long before had I had none but not been consciously aware?
Anosmia, a recognised early prelude of my eventual demise, that I'm no longer infallible, gone are the days of galloping through the wild chasing prey. Prey which I thought was becoming extinct but still exists, I just no longer have the tools to find.
I always expected my legs to go first.
Four years and counting, not long to go.
around the yard
on chapped paws,
a rattle in its chest,
slashing tail, just
itching for a fight.
I’ve got two fingers
carelessly wiggling in
invitation. Look here’s
the fire and a cup
of cream. Let’s not
fight this time.
I made this bed let’s
lie in it and watch
the snow slow, let’s
trim your claws, let’s
count the bees, let’s
let things be.
When it was realized that the Ancient Egyptians had got it right I was presented with the role of Temple Priest. This was to be expected since it was my sister who had received the Initial Vision. I come from a smart family. All of us received prominent employment in devotion. Both of my parents worked on improving the Sacred Recipes. My Aunt designed the Ceremonial Garments and overlooked production with her cruel attention to detail. My brother sculpted marble pedestals for the Temple and granite statues for street corners. I was known in the family for being a night owl, the one without a skill, so it was clear from the start I’d be put in charge of the Temple when all good Cat worshippers were fast asleep in their beds.
I’d arrive at midnight and endure a meeting with the Day Priest where we’d discuss any outstanding issues like the Temple becoming unbearably hot in the afternoon (write to the Chief of Temple Radiators immediately!), or the Deity being noticeably displeased with Her bowl (write to the Chief Potter to have the colour changed forthwith!). These issues were never of great importance. I never wrote any letters. There were security guards outside the walls and many hidden in trees. They, like me, were bored. We lived in a time of impressive obedience.
The Deity’s pedestal was sculpted by my brother. I had time to study it and noticed many flaws. There was a slight dip to the surface he’d deviously placed at the rear to hide it from view and if you took a few steps back you could see the pedestal wasn't perfectly straight. For his safety, I kept this to myself.
Read more >
is it cold?
there in the outer
or are you in the inner?
come walk into the world
see the trees, the grass
see the outer skies
regal visitor you
look cosy, sprayed
by heat or dust
be my guest
for just one day.
The lion came in a dream, its breath hot on my face. All I could see was a soft muzzle and nostrils as dark and symmetrical as a picture in a Rorschach test. Was there something I had to work out? It seemed as if the beast was waiting. Not to speak words of wisdom like Aslan in Narnia. Not to bite my head off like the lion who ate Albert in the poem my grandfather used to recite. Not to gambol playfully with me, as if it was practicing a routine for a Youtube video. It just stayed close, without budging.
I wished I could wake up, record the dream in my journal and take it to my therapist.
'Be the Lion,' she'd say. 'Roar – show those claws. I know you're angry.'
The lion moved so its amber eyes were level with mine. Its pupils were huge, much bigger than a human's. Mesmerising. It was sizing me up. Still unafraid, I tried out-staring it, hoping it would slink away, leap through the window and attack the sheep and goats in the neighbour's small-holding instead of me.
The dream-version of my therapist chipped in.
'Interesting that you're prepared to let other creatures suffer instead of yourself,' she said. 'Your psyche summoned the beast. You can allow it to leave whenever you want.' She was a great believer in lucid dreaming.
"You looking at me?"
"You looking at me?"
"Well, I'm the only one here!"
Forgive me for quoting Travis Bickle in Taxi Driver, but I must get about fifty cases like you every day.
I'm aware that I'm undeniably gorgeous and irresistible, but I can't explain how annoyingrepetitiveboring it can be and every day is the same - trust me there is no respite.
People pass by, glance in my direction and then there is the obligatory double take:
"Look at that."
"I saw it already."
"I swear there's been a change."
"Don't be ridiculous."
"Last week I went past here and something was different."
"It's your imagination."
I wish I could play tricks on them; blink my eyes; nod my head; make them wonder.
But I can't.
That would be impossible.
Stuffed animals can't move.
Your eyes dream closest to my world. My night resembles fog on wiped blackboards where old teachings are wiped away for new ones.
My claws have ploughed the sands of a pharaoh’s spine, I have mewled my name in Latin to peasants and left my eyes as spears impaling traitors' heads.
See, I hunt and breathe through centuries in bass like raindrops that crown me with moon in oily puddles, I, yes I, have fucked the black hag witch of a million darkly nights.
I used to weave the sanguine threads of a hamster’s lowly gizzard and now in Facebook blue you thread me in a purring machine with bullshit hieroglyphics on walls I do not know.
I do not know these slaves, say my name: Cattus, type your emoticon share my nature over yours over dead boys like like like like like like like :(
Purring, she asked if I were man, or mouse. ‘Man,’ I said ‘of course.’
She does not know about the dream; the one that repeats at three am every morning.
The one where I am backed against the plaster behind the gap in the wainscot; flattening my bones to still my pounding heart and quiet my shouting lungs; the cat so close I cannot see her whiskers.
She must never know about the dream; she is far too fond of playing with her food.
I see you there, sleeping heavily. I call, but you do not awaken. I call again. One ear quivers slightly. One yellow-green eye opens, a mere slit of inquisitive brightness. Then there is a subtle shifting, a determined resettling, as you decide you will not be moving just now. I sigh, my lap lonely, and return to my book. You fall asleep once more, small feline snores – more like sighs of contentment – drifting through the peaceful air.
A while later, I am hungry. Time to make dinner. You do not stir while I chop vegetables, pour wine. You do not stir while I boil water and defrost meat. You do not stir while I prepare my single-portion meal.
Moving quietly now, I take a tin of your favourite food from the cupboard, easing the lid off as quietly as possible. Silently, I empty the tin into one of your dishes and turn to place it on the floor. You are already there! Your exquisite sense of smell had alerted you, the moment the lid came off, and you had oiled, unnoticed, across the floor, anticipatory. I can never prepare your food in secret, try as I might.
You begin to eat with enjoyment, purring, and I carry my plate over to the table.
We eat, companionably.
The cats want to know where you've been. They come and smell your clothes, rub their noses on your shoes, sniff your soles for clues. They are excited at the hint of a world outside of their zone of things comfortable and known. They are surprised you've been gone this long and that you're suddenly back. The cats work quickly to get their smell on you, to reclaim you as their own. If you petted another animal they know and they don't approve. The cats don't ask for much. Just an eternal commitment of belonging to them—is forever a lot? The cats don't care that you had a rough day; they will knead your stomach like dough and stick you with their sharpened claws like they always do. If it hurts the cats want you to know it's your own fault because cats don't know how to operate nail clippers. If you ask the cats a question they won't reply unless that question is 'Do you want food?' The cats think it impolite not to speak clearly to your waiter and they will answer this question as loud as they are able to. The cats don't like to speak of matters trivial. They find small talk beneath them—if you want to talk about the weather go find a dog, or a horse. The cats are not in your service. They are independent and they remember how in ancient times they used to be gods. If anything, they are kind enough to treat you as an equal, showing how magnanimous they are and tolerant of your human shortcomings. The cats use universe, not human time, which is why they understand that anything other than living in the moment is futile. Despite what you might think, the cats never plan. Their favorite book, if they could read and if it existed, would have been Zen and the Art of the Cat Nap. The cats are constantly practicing performance art. The cats try not to judge you, they understand that you are very young and hold the key to the tuna can. They hope that you can learn to relax and not make such a fuss about them hunting birds and lizards. The cats would like to ask, why are you so obsessed with material things such as clothes and furniture, and what is the deal with you and that lint brush?
Amidst a loosely-triangular base in the centre of Bartholomew’s face is an ear although it doesn’t resemble such nonetheless it allows acoustic energy to reach the receptive, corresponding region of his brain. A self-fiddled genetic mutant, doctor of his own DNA (Puss PhD) - for him, hearing is surgical. He knows who’s around.
Understated in appearance, belying such great sophistication crouched on its face, prepared to target sleek unpredictability. Wildly domestic, part-time predator - vermin-killer enthusiast tamely-fanged and fickle in friendlessness.
Flaring moderately, twitching when collecting, acquiring ace intel; inward-drifts of reconnaissance, transmitted in the air as vectors of location-leaks rippling clue-noise.
One charcoal cherry, twice-bitten tactically-upgraded instrument, a must-have piece of cat kit. moulded like a polystyrene truffle. An acoustic arrowhead, militarily listening.
Audible-sense supercomputer; acutely able hunter serious mapper of movings what intention towards bodily co-ordinates. He seeks a friend; a double-helix doppelgänger soulmate - some self-styled Deoxyribonucleic-acid-Frankenstein kitten pal. Bartholomew knows what’s around next.
Fur blurs, So close to my face. Wet licked nose touches mine, Weight spread upon four small feet, Press into my chest. Warmth penetrates thin cotton as weight settles. Vibrations, So low, buried deep in fur, More felt than heard. Head butts my jaw, Whiskers tickling my chin.
Pay attention, I’m letting you love me.
Thanks. I’m honored. Really. But it’s the middle of the night. All I want is sleep. Sleep, you know? Sleep? Slee…
His purr resonates, undiminished.
The mouth of the hairy beast is an upturned T; not T for treachery or teeth. T for tears, tenderness, touch. T for tame.
The nose of the hairy beast is a plump black Y. Why not approach, why not stroke, why not consummate this urge?
The eyes of the hairy beast arrest like punctuation: not a colon, not a comma not parentheses, but two full stops.
Tommy lifted the tin of golden syrup. studied it, frowning. "Why is there a lion on here with flies all around him? What do those words say?"
Mum replied, "It's hard to explain Tommy. The words on the tin say 'out of the strong came forth sweetness'. They are in the Bible, from a man named Samson. Maybe the people in the syrup factory knew the story."
I tried to help her explain to my young brother.
"Tommy, those insects aren't flies, they are bees."
"But they may sting the lion!"
"No, they are making honey, which is sweet like syrup"
Tommy started to be restless and wandered into the living room to watch t.v. It was a wildlife programme. After a while he ran into the kitchen, crying:"The lion is dead! The lion is dead!" We both comforted and reassured him, whilst he glared accusingly at me.
"There's blood all over the lion and they ARE flies, NOT bees" he shouted.
that dark heart
the depth, the spill
ram-like it pushes and swells
rolling electric from its pulse
tiny shards of energy pullll-sating
a deplorable smile that trickles
over the edge of practical joy
back into the heart-shaped gloom
the blackest place, the hour she wants nobody
she keeps her eyes open
her tongue outstretched
roving over tiny bumps
Gifted to you at birth
as a silent slave, well
too much porridge
too much reality TV.
Threadbare brain alert,
IT IS TIME
following forced verbal onslaught,
words no animal should hear.
Mutilation of the soul.
personal nasal atrocities.
Sodden snot tear nights
incarceration at dawn.
eyeballs flung at lover.
witness footage stashed
in belly straw.
Dry me out.
Baboon, lion, dog, bear
What is this
black and white
Is it even animal
I must confess
it seems to be a piece
of solar fuzz A sunspot
as the picture unfolds
itself rasters open
on my computer screen
It’s as if the seething
plasma spicules itself
on magnetic field lines
into the dark spot
pockmarking its skin
the plane of paper
I’ve seen the sun
with filaments and
hairs on it's bright face
before But it’s probably
not a sunspot
like I thought
Maybe it’s a fur ball
or on the planet Mars
A bear on the Moon
Read more >
Mine is an ancient hunt taught in its infancy by these snowy hills, which are older still; formed from duller teeth, taught the art of survival, my jaws carry an offering from the earth; my legs are clothed in warm fur and claws to defend against the cold and the spear. I’m young and old, like winter giving way to spring, renewed the same by time’s churning, again and again, year and after year, stretching my body back into the days of stories, when my form was etched into the walls of a cave.Read more >
Memories, regardless of what people say, erode after time. Each setting sun says farewell to what it was, each rising star saying hello to what it is. It’s as if each tick taps at the hard rocky surface of the monument of what happened before and each tock echoes the sound it makes as that little detail bounces off the ground and disappears into the world of forgotten good and evil. The cat, however, stopped this. Whether it was because of its mannerisms and how they reminded me of Isobel, the shudder from being touched or the panic at any sudden sound for example, or simply because it was hers at one point keeps her in the room with me.
Every day when I returned from work the cat was waiting for me by the door, eyes already looking up, drawing an ‘S’ around my ankles. I patted it, ruffled its head and proceeded to give it what it really wanted; food. Then it left for a while and returned in the late evening while I watched something dreary on television, curling itself on my lap as if to remind me that I wasn’t alone. The smooth purring gave the room atmosphere and got rid of the silence that had lingered since Isobel’s leaving.Read more >
The light doesn't dim in the eyes Of my teddy, who sits plum At the head of my bed,
His little nose matt-black Like a piece of coal Or a liquorice allsort.
His unerring gaze Doesn't follow me Around the room.
It takes in no judgement, Offers none; Offers nothing at all,
My little teddy, Except the softness of touch, The flesh and blood smell of memory.
After the rains, a verdant calm descends and I sink back into my pillow as a cool breeze makes the curtains flurry in arrhythmia. You're not here, but I feel your presence etching itself on my skin. And that scares me. Sniffing out memories of us, a forced habit by now, some overused, others ripe with promise, a familiar song plays in the reservoir of my mind, which, every so often, shrinks into blessed nothingness. Is this it, then?
Double rainbow knowing I'm not alone.
To begin the day with some tea in a cup and a wee bit of milk as a cake slice sinks in tiny puffs of heat, halved, unhindered to the lower side of it the ground state.
Hot sugar dissolves atoms gravitate a bit more around outlines of raisins, the crumbs collide, balance the chaos the sheer butter effect.
Weep with me then droop over your breakfast tea and make the sign of the cross on the under-milk face of god or voracious cups will swallow biscuits and cakes up, the sweet- natured world to begin with.
'What's with the vibrating cat?' I said, half-jesting, nose touching nose, its presence far heavier than its physical weight on my chest.
'She's studying you.'
'It watched us have sex last night - it was slightly off-putting,' I remarked, hoping he’d realise that this animal could potentially destroy our lovemaking and shoo the damned thing away. John laid on his back and smiled.
'She always does that.'
Sphinx-like she studied me with claws retracted; one paw on each of my shoulder blades. I resisting the urge to push it off; for John’s sake.
‘How long do I have to stay like this?' I protested, although not strongly enough, furious he hadn't even given me a morning kiss; I need that kind of confirmation. John sighed and extended his hand towards its back, the beast writhed under his fingers, buzzing. Fed up I attempted to move away, his hand moved from pleasuring the beast to my arm; in respectful restraint.
'No - don't move - she's making a decision that's all.'
I blinked angrily; my only defiance. She smelled faintly of cheap perfume and gently exhaled through her nostrils, her eyes unblinking. 'It was a wonderful night John. How about we...'
'Shsssh - just a couple more minutes.' Every part of me was outraged I allowed this thing to straddle me - that he was allowing an interruption to our intimacy, to our possible future; to marriage, house, kids… 'Mother, what is your decision?'Read more >
Cheeky-boned wonder you, triangle
nose, triangle ears, triangle face, oh
the emerald swirls of your eyes are a far
richer milky way and I, just a planet around you.
What joy, your paws that knead and knead their comfort
into my hair when I sleep. Little fighter, the spiked
red of your tongue, a sea you part with every sand
-paper kiss, what wonder! Your fur spins
light to a sun-cloud, your gaze, backlit with stars,
always a question. Your tail, the world’s perfected
barometer of mood. And your heart,
that dark jewel, the force of a black hole at the centre.
How I love, how I listen to its faltering pulse,
the escalating pull and swell of its gravity.
This nose within my palm, dear cat,
Was buried in a rabbit's chest.
How savagely you bit and scratched
Among its thin bones and torn flesh.
And yet, I cannot judge a cat
Who, after killing, purrs and preens
For while they stroke your muzzle now,
Who knows where these old hands have been?
When I was on my own, in exile in the wilderness, I never had thought that fear would become such a good friend to me one day. They used to chase me away. Now I am a respected and feared “member”. They used to say I had outlandish ideas. Well, they’ve caught up with me.
Fear is essential. With the right amount of fear they are malleable, pliable. They strive on it, it’s almost like vitamin to their system. Therefore, I developed my howl to be the most feared, the most powerful. Even though it is only a put on. I lead them to the field, howl, they eat, I howl again and we run away. They believe in “the enemy”. They believe that there is another group that wants what they have. Just like the “collective”, this is another of their convenient illusions. Together they can avoid risks, perhaps they can live longer, but will never find new ways of seeing. I can negotiate. This makes me their superior.
They admire me, for I’ve given them what they always wanted. They don’t have to work. My selling point is that we provide a service - recycling in a way. The byproducts of any civilisation can threaten their very existence. My pack will always remove the flesh before it starts to rot and produce dangerous bacteria. The flesh is delivered by the owners’ own hands, freely. This is their way of dealing with their surplus extradites. It’s a perfect arrangement.
Flanked by pale stubble
that ripples and rifts
a black origami heart
glitters and moves air
folding it in out
in out in out in
A dark wave
that soft silhouette
hides the tender-lipped
space where jaws meet
such gentle deception
A monochrome muzzle
the shadowed maw
a black origami heart
'I don't want to get a cat,’ he says when I tell him we’re off to Battersea.
'We won't get one, then.'
I’ve chosen one online with grey fur that looks like the dress he loved. The one we buried her in. When we get there, I'm pleased it's the right shade. The best bit, though, the one I couldn't have orchestrated: the kitty comes to him without hesitation. She presses her furry nose against his hand, licks his thumb. Spontaneous feline adoption.
A cat can’t replace Mum, but she’ll keep him company.
Dad sighs.‘We're getting a cat, then.’
you are trying hard
to control our lives with stench,
but this is crunch time.
you stink: the bare truth.
as your armies stink of fear.
your world stink of mould.
the emperor stinks
walking naked, leaves his trail.
a snail, with no aim.
you stink. don't try now
to hide behind pale colours,
of your faded flag.
You are reticent — come out break the shards, we'll host a party and then we'll discuss philosophy, Kant and all, and let you go back to your little home of snappy pines. Furry, purring you'll smell the trees and write something about it for us. Maybe a poem? whose words will be scripted in hearts, yours and mine for little children to read. And, your grandchildren to sniff, smell...
What sort of tail sits at the end of this muzzle? It’s so close up to the camera you feel it would bite if you dared to put your finger on it.
Is it a lion? Aslan? Or is it simply our cat? Everyone’s cat? Or not a cat at all?
The nose is curious, asking questions that only its animal scent can answer. Nothing is taken for granted. Interested in both its world and ours, this nose will go to places that are way out of our ken, to acquire knowledge that only it can process.
Grayscale. That’s all she has of him and he doesn’t even fit inside the photo; ears poking out at odd angles like the downed power lines dad used to fix before he found one that he couldn’t. So he left them where they fell like collapsed veins. In the photo, Gray’s little black nose is heart shaped, eyes a blue she swears he stole from the sky, mouth a dividing line between forests of fur. Once, they got lost in a forest after dad had yelled and nearly threw Gray across the room; she was ten and decided that was old enough to live on her own. When dad came out to find her, he tied a string to her wrist, said if she ever wandered off again, he’d be able to find her. We match, she thought, looking at Gray’s leash.
Your soft gaze, Filled with delusion and paranoia, Confuses me. A lonely giant, With the face of an endangered species, At first you look adorable, harmless, approachable... In need.
But, if I get too close to your mouth, You will bite me. Your touch is clumsy and lethal. Your claws are sharp And they cut me deep.
Still, I can love you all the same, For in my deepest dreams, There, you run free... Uncaptive, So inviting and friendly.
The best of you, I keep in my secret space, Locked up with dreams and promises.Read more >
Hail to you great being!
You will devour all things at the time of universal dissolution since you are time itself.
And for this reason you are the darker face of Hathor, the gentle cow of creation.
You will feed on the original form of all things and therefore are the primordial goddess.
After dissolving your prey, you are to remain alone, ineffable, and inconceivable.
For you are Sekhmet the lion hearted.
Be the person
You seek to be.
The bold mane beckons you
To be fearless.
Your eyes radiate light.
Limitless skies and open peripheries
Are your domain.
Is trampled along.
Thoughts are illusions;
mere filigree on sand.
A wandering heart,
Will soon fall prey
To the snare
Of a purposeless delight.
No footsteps left behind to
Trace the motive
That guides you
When he raised his nose to me it was clean - washed in the river - but I smelled the blood of my family in his whiskers. That same night he had roused us from our sleepy camp and feasted on those I loved. Me, I was waiting to be last, but his mouth remained closed with his eyes half-opened, dreamy, and heavy-lidded. I was in a squatted position unsure whether to run, play dead, or leap for the nearest tree but they say cats can climb. He was sated and I was orphaned. What was to be a family weekend of bonding in nature had turned me into a survivor and him into a creature that was ready to hibernate - working through the bones, cartilage and limbs of my family. I stuck to my runner’s position which made my joints creaky, my stomach growl. Beside me was my mother's broach - the one he'd coughed up - on the ground, the twisted ponytail of my sister, my father's glasses. Nothing else. My vision was tunnelled, my hearing overcome with pumping blood, pounding heart, every pore sweating fear. The cat was a clean and quick feeder and stretched out now, yawning, lying on his side, head crooked in his paw playing hide and seek. If I had a weapon, if I believed in weapons, I would shoot him in the head. Read more >
Was it an ancient bone now misplaced amongst the heaps behind the house, an odd, squishy object lost amidst the sand dune, or the wind current that carried the hem? It is all now contained, summed up in a fragrance, appreciated only by this instrument. Yet, the search for these fragrances goes on, informing fear and joy, adventures and obligation, sorrow and resignation; for a scent too is life, sending sparks to the olfactory nerves, making one missing a lover, nostalgic over the past and drive some to the mysterious abyss of life.
just a whisper
of you left.
The scent of you
lingering in cracks.
A mouse would have bumped into tiny morsels of you there.
Easy to find.
I spent hours licking the wall
to soak up every drop of you that
Bad taste in my mouth.
Through the door, I can smell . . .
traces of the Chinese restaurant you went to
and the woman who . . .
the bright metallic ring, guilty on your finger,
cigarettes you’ve “given up”
traces of shitty grit your shoes picked up by the reservoir,
the faux leather interior of her Volvo
Chanel (too strong), your lovely, lovely pants
your hair, her hair, fake tan
your tanned hide wallet, hot against your thigh
(and crammed inside, the plastic cards, notes, receipts)
and body fluids, body fluids,
mapping her desire, your key, and so much
so much more . . .
I can smell your fear
She is spotted
as a cheetah cub, braces, and baby fat
still cling to her body.
He has fangs and
a mullet only a feline-human monstrosity
could pull off. She desires his hair so
her fingers itch and claw in her lap.
She longs to
french braid his blood bay mane. When he needs
a headband, his hair is blinding
him, and he pauses
before her on the bench in the back hallway.
She falls in love and he gives a growl, so gentle,
this love still clings when his hair falls out;
he tells her stories of the middle ages.
Beauty in the hotel; baby in the library.
Baby crib full of books: the Hotel New Hampshire,
The Beach Club, Rose Cottage.
Could she love a person as she would love a place?
She is already on the wrong side of the cliffside.
‘Do you know what is happening today, Cassandra?’
She is looking from the window out to the garden beyond. Her customary place, it is the spot that affords her clear eyed and guileless gaze the best aspect for the important study of the comings and goings of the world.
She takes the world as it is, me as I am, and she as she is. Others have met my gaze with an appraising look, weighing up my usefulness. Some have given me a narrow eyed look of judgement, intimating at my many failings.
She would not do anything so graceless. My wishes are accommodated, as far as she can. She is not quarrelsome. If she cannot, then she simply does not.
‘Well, I can wait,’ I say, and so I do. This delicate negotiation cannot be rushed.
She stands and stretches. I sip my tea, and gaze thoughtfully at the newspaper. This time, though, she turns around and stares into the garden.
‘I can wait, Cassandra, no rush at all.’
When it finally comes, the jump is quick and elegant. Landing with a faint scuff on the floor she is gently precise, her delicate white paws exactly beside the box. Circling, her silvery sides brush against the wicker; her gaze meets mine every so often with an ingenuous blink.
Two of my nostrils upturned
Incandescent crumbling kaleidoscopes
Rows of soporific intrigue
Unread novels, nascent invites, nasally gathered
Here, all maps to emerging adventure
My olfactory intrigue charged
Hopelessly lost in enfeebled bindings
Ever-present decay in cloth hardcovers
Imperfect leaves of vellum ensnare you.
Opening up these aged tomes
No sense, all scent,
No’s knowing what they do say
Nose knowing all they could say.
His backpack was supported by shoulders
which ached with the weight of an animal,
that depended on him.
His animal – His burden.
It was stuffed with tiny jewels of books,
crayons, crushed collectables, comforts,
which made up his past and present.
His animal – His life.
His backpack comforted him by texture
fluffy, furry, feline who knows,
a long-ago link with the past.
His animal – His memories.
His parents chivvied him along,
with encouraging words, silly songs,
which made him laugh.
His parents – His Mum and Dad.
All washed away on the long boat ride
and his backpack morphed into
a wet lump of fabric which bore the words.
One hundred percent polymeric fibres.
Hand-wash with care – made in China.
But he was born in Syria.
No one asked her, no one knew that she knew. They never looked and saw that she was sad. They ignored the hole in the garden and the chewed fence. She tried to tell them; staring, puking, barking, whining and crying in the night but they didn't look to see that she was sad, that she knew that he was dying.
Pelted into the prison of black and white Is silence in which once was a bark. As the river of fur flew into the past, the house died of a drought.
And the portraits perched like fleas, on the wall; Stench of memories, tethered to the timeless, Unmoving assurance of life. Into those, he would dive in, nose first, to sink into our tears.
Days and nights now lay over the carpet, Still, waiting, So we let the television speak for us.
Indoors and worldly-wise, the young guns boast. Pale faces scorched. Desert sand shoes tread softly on animal rugs. Skins as trophies, symbolic like Indian scalps. A flashback perhaps, yet barbarism, pirates and thievery rackets still pervade under our noses. A bouquet of vintage notes — exchange paper and chink — their glasses raisin'. Shooting elephants with bravadery. No overture for this racket of ivories against ebony for tusks and hides. White lenses focused to capture the crimes. The beauty, the gloss of a model ideal, albeit long legs and thigh gaps or top gear's ignition combustion.
Outside in the wild, with his nose he knows. Senses the scent. Magnificence untamed uncaged. Hearing what's here, what's beyond he knows not. No imaginary links for this lynx. Eyes sharp black icicles, for icy calls of a mate in heat. He chews to live. Death in a heartbeat. Driven by need, fear, survival. Instinct in-sync. Fear taste flesh, bristles alive. He knows pain. He skulks, prowls, hunts. His pride he nurtures. His pleasure unnamed. His nature studied, observed in safari, binocular spectacle, YouTube cruel comedies, documentaries and ethical zoos — to prevent extinction of course.
Back at home, we, the domestic cheetahs, awake in the night, freeze in our silences. Hunt with our sharpened tongues. Make love and war through what is said or left unsaid. Press buttons, pull triggers, squirm for fun. Knowledge is power and loss and nostalgia. Our noses held high from the filth. Look the other way, we've risen so high. No more squatting in evolution. Clean ablutions and high rise, dressed to kill in leathers and furs. Our perfumes camouflage deceit. What conscience is left? Where is the compassion in dog eat, fight, bite, dog. Howling through our losses, our sorrows, our frustrations. Minds blown from what we know and have yet to discover. The concatenation of signifiers cut as meanings arise, whilst repeated dichotomies and sound-bites come most easily. In the real, words define the law but actions make history. The cat is already out of the bag. Sniff a fair game and choose. We'll pay in kind when our choices stink.
My grandmother was a gentleman tiger, I am told. She shook hands before pawing someone’s face off.
This village, between river and lake, is full of stories. There are trees mushrooming around the periphery and a black stone temple slapped smack in the middle of the square with a goddess glaring back in anger. My grandmother lived behind this temple.
Her house now is full of lizards, some of whom my father calls cousins.
‘Red tiled roofs and empty walls attract pests.’ This by an old man with black eyes, each with a grey ring around the cornea.
‘How did my grandmother look?’
‘Tall, fair skinned.’ He lapses in thought.
‘I don’t remember.’ He looks down at the stained chiseled temple floor.
‘Proud,’ he says as I leave, ‘and fierce.’
‘She used to stalk the fields at noon.’ I am told. ‘Listened to no man who tried telling her how to plough the fields.’
‘Forward.’ I am told, meaningfully.
‘If your grandmother had heard that, she would have bitten their heads off.’ An old woman, back bent, eyes to the ground eternally. ‘She was kind. Kind but feisty.’Read more >
Five fingers tense at the keys—
Five kittens in the early sun capering,
Mouths open and all a-quivering—
So delicate and cute they are,
Such tiny needles eager to pounce and learn—and
Who is trapped, who spits, bites and hisses—and
The mother cat who stands nearby guards and teaches—and
All Nature’s image is sheltered by foxglove
At the cracking cement foot of our cellar wall—
Five fingers fall—
Five fingers fall—
Blinded by the sun.