His name was Lewis
and my father loved him

the way men
of his generation,
men who are not women,
men who need to make
that distinction

which is to say, my father
met our neighbor,
received the bag
full of Lewis,

like all dead cats
that are carried,
became broken rubber bands
heavy as ball bearings,

and said thank you

as if it were a kindness
to yank a dog
from the cat it killed,
as if the trespass of a cat
ought to end like this,

while that dog,
a chained-up shepherd,
still choked itself
over and over,
trying to admire
what it had done.

Previously published in Moon City Review


Before us, needles of moonlight
clot in the fog, illuminating
this circus of animals, spellbound
and arranged like a section
of food chain: Bull, coyote,
bobcat, roadrunner—impossibly
stacked in the old taxonomy.

The human is missing, though.
No one doubts he was here—
this is his architecture,
after all. He heaved it into existence
because he liked making lists, because
his belly was full of stencils
where the animals might fit
with a bit of elbow grease
and discipline. Look

how obedient they are—careful
to hold the pose, his translation
of what bodies ought to be: Muscles
hushed or robust, depending; ribs, slack;
eyes, soft and glazed like warm breath
on a cold mirror. They are heavy
and domestic and content
in the template. Each animal, stiff
in a temporary heaven. But,
this is not the heaven of animals,

and they do not need to die
to become taxidermy—they are
already what he wants.

Even in this dream, his truths remain:
You must be well-fed to be wild—
a hungry thing will become
anything he wants it to.
And, these days,
all the animals are hungry.

Previously published in In Sight: An Ekphrastic Collaboration 


In the nighttime, I construct my last cat’s ghost. I start with the skeleton, bending slender light into a spine, a skull, ribcage, then continue to organs and fur, the button drops of black on his coat. I tickle static into the body—a hum of movement. I hoist the memory and feel warmth.

There are worse things than an old cat becoming a dead one. I do not try to count those things.  Here in my hands his ghost is content and impossibly weighted. I know he cannot stay. I breathe his body. He unspools into the moonlight.

Previously published in Spillway