Cat Person

I have a recent sonnet up at the The Road Not Taken – A Journal of Formal Poetry. It’s a sonnet about my cat, Katniss. Many years ago I wrote a sonnet to my first cat, Ninotchka. Something about cats inspires sonnets in me – it seems an appropriate form to celebrate feline magnificence.

The poem has nothing at all to do with the story by the same name, published in the New Yorker. In fact, I’ve never read the story, which even has its own Wikipedia page for some reason. It’s just an appreciation of my furry friend, as if anything more were needed or required of a poem.

One of the main reasons I write poetry is to fix a moment, event, or feeling in time so it doesn’t disappear forever. I write against forgetting, against forgetfulness, against oblivion. This is the driving force behind my writing. I hope that something may endure after time has ravaged all the rest. Shakespeare had this in mind when he wrote his Sonnet 55. “Not marble, nor the guilded monuments / of princes shall outlive this powerful rhyme.” It’s always been one of my favorites.

Cat Person

It‘s not that I love cats. I love my cat,
the way she pierces me with her clear eyes
and bites when she‘s excited, how her belly
fat feels in my hands & her domestic size
so perfectly selected for my palm
my fingers engineered to navigate her
haunches that lift and shiver, sway and roam
free as the trip-hop cadence of her purr.
I love the way she disappears for hours
materializing when we sprinkle food
into her dish. I love her haughty, proud
imperious demeanor as she glowers
slighted by some lack in our attention –
real or perceived – requiring intervention.

Ninotchka (1998-2010)

She looked a lot like this.
Indifferently, her eyes will trace your hand
That stoops to smooth the graceful serpentine
Ceasing a moment only to define
The faithful boundaries of that strange land
That bred her silence: Egypt’s lazy sand,
The River of Sleep…shapes more or less divine,
Perpetuations of our world. Her spine
Rolls gently as you pause before the grand
Arch of her back, her taut tail like mast
That lengthens, it seems, endlessly. At last,
She settles, daringly, upon your knee
In effortless elegance. How many
Lives have suffered as painlessly as yours
To ponder beauty in its briefest hour?