A Cat


Photo by Antonio Lapa on Unsplash

A Cat

On the first day of spring
a cat came to me.
Her collared tag sparkled,
reflecting glints of sunlight
from her bejeweled collar.
Regal, majestic, passive poise
was her manner of movement
and sitting stillness
– if a cat’s movement and
stillness could be considered
in such human grandiosities.
She received me just as
Grandmaster Yip Man decreed
when teaching novices
basic grappling techniques
– “Greet what arrives,
escort what leaves,
and rush upon loss of contact.”
A Wing Chun master feline,
ruler of our centerline,
razor claws, carefully
retracted while restricting
movement and momentum,
intimate dominance, fleeting
for before I made sense
of my senses, she fled.
Why she came I cannot say
– she wasn’t hungry, and
she only knew me in
the manner that all cats of
certain domestication
know their fellow humans –
and yet she came right to me
leaning into my space,
mewing a few kind words
I could only guess at
since I don’t speak cat.
Of course I mewed right back
unclear on the syntax
but knowing that only
lonely souls lean out to find
random comfort across
diverging species.

Shared at dVerse Poetics: Soul gazing , hosted by Paul Scribbles. Poets have contributed to this prompt here.

Mortal and Liable to Fall

Mortal and Liable to Fall

You fling away your essence
leaping into a foreign faith.

I dig my toes into earth
in envy of the invisible.

You sing, summoning blossoms
my lungs expand in time with vibrations.

The unknown
tempts me –

I can only float
where reason shows the natural path.

Current spent
I am sent… points unknown.
** *

I was inspired by my friend trE’s eloquent poem, Take Off. I encourage everyone to head over and read her work.



Photo by Joshua Ness on Unsplash


The hedgehog
craves closeness of warmth
and comfort
but it can’t
risk hurting those they care for
or wounding themselves

nature or nurture
emotions flatlined and taut
growing defective

not seeking the gaze
apparitions, illusions
flowing refractions

by adding my quills
I will wound
pricking with lethal absence
living detachment

defies all reason
yes I care
but won’t share
reason, nature can’t undo
an inert hedgehog.
** *

Written for dVerse MTB: Phantom Form — Shadorma, hosted by Gospel Isosceles. Poets have contributed to this prompt here.

*EDITED: to fix the erroneous syllable count. It’s kinda cool what two extra syllables per stanza can do to add a wee bit of spice.

On My Way


Photo by Mário Silva on Unsplash

On My Way

Midnight black and midday grey
paints a tapestry of melody
across evergreen-scraped cloudscapes
that sing ghostly choruses heard only
by old creaking bones elongating
upon currents whisking between
whispers unseen but felt where
few dare to dwell in disrepair.

The horizon, a hollow,
imaginary point of dim light,
nature’s slight-of-hand sight trick,
a fixated point unfixed
in space and time on spatial waypoints
that can never be affixed,
beckons for resolutions that
will never come but come what may,
at least I can say, I was on my way.

Inspired by today’s dVerse prompt, Poetics: Finding Emotions and Concepts in Things, guest-hosted by Sarah Russell. Go here to read other poets’ submissions to this prompt.

I’m not sharing mine over there this time because… well… if you’ve been following this blog, you already know damn well I’m not supposed to be doing prompts right now. But some of the prompts, like this one, are so tempting that I can’t help myself. I may need a poetry intervention so I can go work on the poetry I’m supposed to be working on.

Still, I know I said I would stay away from the prompts for a while, but I met my project goals today, so I deserve to play with words for a bit.


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Image source via google


“I asked you to get real maple syrup,” she said.

“The fuck you talkin’ about?” I asked. “I got real syrup. It’s right there. See the bottle shaped like a lady?”

“I see it,” she said. “It’s okay, but it’s not real maple syrup.”

“There’s a difference?” I asked. “You fuckin’ with me, right? It don’t get no realer than the lady-bottle!”

“I’m talking about the real shit from the tree,” she replied. “Not this processed stuff.”

“Oh. My bad,” I said, trying to mask my wounded pride. “I honestly didn’t know. Must be a Black thing.”

“That’s no excuse,” she said. “Meh. Just squash it.*

And I squashed it, because she was right. It was no excuse, but it was a valid explanation, though a poorly-worded one lingering in that grey area.

It wasn’t a Black thing; it was a poverty thing.

Growing up in poverty, syrup was an unconventional indicator of how a family was doing financially. Strange, I know, but true. Another surprising thing about urban-American poverty; even when faced with syrup-sandwiches-and-sleep for dinner, we sometimes had the audacity of being picky.

Sometimes eating nothing was preferable to eating crap (which I’m just now understanding, is a relative term).

I’d wake up on a Saturday to the heavenly scent of pancakes only to find they were drowned in the sticky muck of something in a non-lady-shaped bottle with the word “Syrup” labeled in plain black-n-white font.

I’d take one look and be like, “God bless you for trying, mom. You did your best. Why don’t you just take a break and let me throw these pancakes in the garbage for you?” That obviously never went over well, but that’s another story.

But occasionally, Saturday pancakes were accompanied by the creamy, artificial goodness of the lady-shaped-bottle, alerting us to two things; (1) breakfast was going to be delicious, and (2) one of the parents had a come-up **, which meant there were many more delicious things in the pantry besides lady-shaped-syrup-bottles.

It’s funny for a forty-something male to not know the difference between real maple syrup and processed, lady-shaped-bottle syrup. I know this. But when I bought that crap, I was speaking a love language to my beloved that only I understood. My bad. It’s fun learning new things.

crisp, grey morning sky
sunshine drizzles her sweetness
memories of you
** *

Written for dVerse’s The beauty and the misery of grey – Haibun Monday, hosted by Bjorn. Go here to read other poets’ submissions.

I know I said I was taking a break from prompts to work on a passion project that I’m almost done with, but to quote Pacino as Michael Corleone:


*squash it – urban slang, to abandon the conversation, agree to disagree, and move on to more positive topics.

**come-up – urban slang, an unexpected windfall, bargain, success, or other positive outcome benefitting a person or a group of people.

(Editor’s note: Much like Mrs. Butterworth’s isn’t “real” maple syrup, I’m aware that this post isn’t a “pure” Haibun. But y’all know ya’ boy likes to stir the pot a bit, so let’s just squash it. 🙂 We good, fam?)




Photo by Asso Myron on Unsplash


A brown empty cup
is how I entered this world
hungry ignorance
unaware of those hating
my random brown existence

Those folks call this stage
alligator bait because
in their eyes, our worth
can only be measured by
how brown skin is devoured

Outgrowing this phase
takes courage, guile, grit, and luck
especially luck
how fortunate was I then
to be born from mom and dad?

And their good fortune
passed forward by their parents
themselves grand fortune
treasures from great grandparents
seeds cherished by ancestors

Shackled in bondage
four-hundred years they languished
with limited means
yet somehow navigating
plucking fate’s string through eras

Living history
is my fate now, no longer
alligator bait
I may not reach those who hate
but how lucky am I now

To be mindful of this gift?

My Phlegmy Valentine


By Christian Gottlieb Kratzenstein-Stub – Christian Gottlieb Kratzenstein-Stub, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=15686494

My Phlegmy Valentine

February’s second week
you are unwell, feverish
difficult, intransigent
unwilling to yield control

I bring you medicine
heat your soup,
soothe your fever
confronting your fight head-on

You are grateful for my patience,
remorseful for making life
much harder than it has to be,
missing the point completely

Your ragged breathing
is my lullaby
your phlegmy cough,
my action prompt
your sudden silence,
my panic button

When I am caring for you
it’s not an act of compassion
but it is the most selfish act
I can muster under pressure

I’ll work on my possessive streak
as soon as you’re well again
for now, I lead Eurydice from Hades
looking back as often as I need.


My Terms

My Terms

My next funeral will be mine
ain’t strong enough to bear mankind
I saw my mama laid to rest
so you all can just bear the rest

Yup, skipped-out on dad’s last ride
both grandmas’ gone to great divide
losses felt within my breast
withdrew from the manifest

Not fearful of facing west and careening
into oblivion’s bosom
my trepidation of death’s breath, sans meaning
keeping me keen on what could come

I cannot insulate from weathered fate
as winter’s weight descends
so I capitulate with feathered gait
as I await what ends

But no more bitter-sour goodbyes.