The Old Grey Cat

The old grey cat perches on arm of stuffed chair
interested enough in being patted
to feign indifference.

I pat the bony structure
covered by long fur
and carefully work out
a few knots.

In the shadows, the younger black cat
pursues his prey;
a dust bunny, part of a toy,
or perhaps just another shadow.

When I was young
and sick or injured
the family cats
tended me.

They taught important lessons
about curling up
in the sunshine
that shone on the couch
in the afternoon.

As my mother aged
and became even more introverted
the guardian cats
became quieter too.

Now, the old grey cat
walks across my lap
from one arm of the chair
to the other
as if to say,
It’s time to end this poem.”

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Deliberate Distraction

It never occurred to me
that some of my fondest
childhood memories
were deliberate distractions.

Yet these distractions
may not have been
for my sake.

When the latest storm came
dumping more snow
on piles already too high
we made sugar on snow.

There wasn’t any maple syrup in the house
like when we had sugar on snow
when I was a kid
so we used molasses.

We sat around the table
eating the taffy like candy
cutting the sweetness
with pickles.

We didn’t even notice
the wind howling outside
until we saw a coyote
trotting down the street.

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Rabbit, Rabbit, Rabbit

Rabbit, Rabbit, Rabbit,
In like a lion, out like a lamb,
Red sky in the morning.

These phrases come to mind,
as the temperature drops, again,
and the snow piles up.

This time, we made sugar on snow,
like we did when I was young
and like my parents did
when they were young.

A coyote ran down the street this afternoon,
perhaps hoping to catch a rabbit for dinner.

The dog sleeps on the couch next to me,
but it is not quiet.
My wife is watching television
and my daughter is listening to her music.

Was it really simpler, easier years ago?
Did the invocation
Rabbit, Rabbit, Rabbit
make the month any luckier?

And with climate change,
what creature does March come in like,
and what will it leave like?

The red sky in the morning,
with its sailors’ warning
hasn’t yielded to a red sky at night,
promising delight.

Instead, there is just more snow.

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The Daily Commute

I remember driving the interstate for my daily commute
from a town that was not my home
to a consulting job I knew would not last.

I didn’t know my neighbors
or anyone in the local shops.

The commuters, all behind their own steering wheels,
were as foreigners to me.

What were their lives like
in these suburban towns
their kids in the local schools
their wives waiting for them?

It all seemed so repetitious
as bland as the TV dinners.

Yet if you could get past the veneer
you would find pathos;
the dying father,
the deranged uncle,
the drifting brother.

If you could get past the pathos
you would find the hidden passions;
amateur radio,
model rocketry,
or some rare endurance sport.

A quarter of a million miles later,
I look out my car window on the daily commute
at the young kid who must wonder what my life is like.

Keep traveling, I think.
You’ll eventually find out.

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#llamadrama and #thedress

As the cold and snow lingers on
and spirits sag,
we, as a nation,
seek new distractions.

There have always been cat videos
or at least as long
as there’s been videos streaming online.
Their brief humor is therapeutic.

Yet as things look more grim,
we need something more potent:
therapist llamas on the lam.

Is it their cute frolicking that captures our hearts?
Their freedom? Something else?
Is it enough, or do need even more,
like a dress
that no one can agree the color of.

How do we see things?
How do we think?
How are we different?
How are we the same?

Soon enough, the dismal humdrums will return
but for now, we can smile at llamas
and think about perception,
at least for a moment.

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