Neighborhood Cats


On my walk this evening, I spied a calico 

    and a grey tabby under shrubs, and two 

tuxedo shorthairs under a parked truck. 

    Not one came near when I knelt 


and sung a high-pitched herekittykittykitty—

    discriminate beings, self-possessed. 

Others roamed the yards, striking off 

    across grass or heading for a copse 


of trees, tails high, small feet churning 

    peppermill-quick, their dusky coats 

flowing like water poured on slate.  

    Now that the sun's trekking down 


its slope toward winter solstice, this mild 

    September evening deepens quickly.  

Screendoors have stopped opening so a cat 

    or two could curl out dreamily 


around its lip.  What light's left is lambent, 

    scattered, a dim stage for agile 

acrobatics when a moth floats by. Soon 

    the brawls will start, explosive hisses, 


screeches, squeals, then the caterwauling 

    that inaugurates night. I think of Bloom 

cutting up liver for his puss’ms and blathering 

    on to it with affection—Joyce having 


figured out displacement—the cat sated 

    in a way the man would never be. 

The creature eats, washes, curls round then 

    sleeps, keeper of a guiltless nonchalance.