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Bast

(William rose Benet)

She had green eyes, that excellent seer,
And little peaks to either ear.
She sat there, and I sat here.

She spoke of Egypt, and a white
Temple, against enormous night.

She smiled with clicking teeth and said
That the dead were never dead;

Said old emperors hung like bats
In barns at night, or ran like rats--
But empresses came back as cats!


Tigger

(Janet W. Gould)

Silver-gray softness,
you bound into my lap,
mittened paws kneading.
An aging motor hums,
and I think of you
curled around
a blonde girl's shoulders
as she skated
down the driveway
when both of you
were kittens.

Kitty/cat

(Kye Brondt)

I should deplore,
instead of applaud,
the duplicity, which makes him
harmless sit-by-the-fire by day
and killer extraordinaire
by night . . .
were it not for that
meticulous consistency
with which he keeps
his nights and days
apart.


The Retired Cat

(William Cowper)

A poet's cat, sedate and grave
As poet well could wish to have,
Was much addicted to inquire
For nooks to which she might retire,
And where, secure as mouse in chink,
She might repose, or sit and think.
A drawer, it chanced, at the bottom lined,
With linen of the softest kind,
With such as merchants introduce
From India, for the ladies' use;
A drawer, impending o'er the rest,
Half open in the topmost chest,
Of depth enough and none to spare,
Invited her to slumber there;
Puss with delight beyond expression,
Surveyed the scene and took possession.


"Keep the Cat Inside for Ten Days"

(Joanna Lancaster)

If I have honored
your need for freedom
Above your need for care,
I can only hope
your wild cat soul
Will feel I have been fair.

How to find and
keep the balance
No human can fully know;
But I pray you realize
how fiercely I tried,
And why I let you go.


Speech

When I have things to say
I expect you to listen to me.
If you cannot understand what I am saying
That is your fault and your loss,
But at least be quiet when I am speaking
And try to comprehend
You who think yourselves so clever,
Who know languages of the people
Of the living world and dead,
Why cannot you learn mine
Which is so simple
To express wants so few?
"In"
"Out"
"Hungry"
"Thirsty"
"Give me just a taste of what you are having"
"Something hurts"
"My ball has rolled under the divan; get it out."
"Stop doing whatever it is you are doing
and pay more attention to me."
"I like you"
"I don't like you."
If you can talk to the Arabs, the Chinese, the Eskimos
And read the hieroglyphics of the past,
why cannot you understand me?

Try!


I Watched Her Smallest Girl

(Hattie S. Clarke)

I watched her smallest girl
totter off to the first day of school
propped between two older sisters,
surprisingly protective.
I watched the woman
watch them also
with her suddenly empty arms
wrapped across her middle,
wrapped tight
though the day was warm.
Even when the children had turned the corner,
her eyes clung to that distance that they had filled
and she lowered herself to the porch step.

The cat detached itself gradually
from the dappled space next to the porch.
He moved toward the woman and sat,
slid toward her and sat,
until he was at her feet, watching her watchfulness.
Then he took over her lap
in a breath of movement,
forcing her arms to peel away from herself
and encircle him.
They commiserated.
I think she cried
as her fingers toyed at a snag in the soft, gray fur.
But the message was clear
in the upturned, unblinking
wise face of the cat
that no nest should ever be empty.


The Cat is Free

(© Adeline Foster)

The cat is free;
No tether he
Will wear in circumspect.

Ah but the eyes
And jealous cries
We hold in dire respect.

Disdains the call,
A prison wall
Will never him attract.

Yet he betrays
His freedom's ways
For one kind word and pat.

Final Reward

(Phyllis Merryman Cloyd)

Max was an only cat,
Content to be alone,
But a stray appeared in the yard
Now Smokey has a home.

"Two cats are quite enough,
And that's my final word!"
But another stray appeared,
Now Peanut is our third.

On that final judgment day,
I'm sure it'll be my fate,
To find a little stray
Beside the Pearly Gate.


First Concern

(Doughty P. Phillips)

She was a tiny, smiling girl,
The kitten, too shy to hold.
When they met, something changed for each
Though neither one could have told.

Kittens can't speak of learning trust
From hesitant gestures made
And girls don't mention their feelings for
A small one, alone, afraid.

Yet in that special moment when
They met and I chanced to see,
A timid kitten was nurturing
The woman that she would be.


Cat

(Mary Britton Miller)

The black cat yawns,
Opens her jaws,
Stretches her legs
And shows her claws.

Then she gets up
And stands on four
Long still legs,
And yawns some more.

She shows her sharp teeth,
She stretches her lip,
Her slice of a tongue
Turns up at the tip.

Lifting herself
On her delicate toes,
She arches her back
As high as it goes.

She lets herself down
With particular care,
And pads away
With her tail in the air.

Fog

(Carl Sandburg)

The fog comes
on little cat feet.
It sits looking
over harbor and city
on silent haunches
and then, moves on.

(I know this poem isn't about cats but I've always kept it with my cat poems.)


Art Show

(Caroline D. Henry)

The painters of cats
attempt to fix the feline
in frozen motion.

The cat is seldom captive.

Instead the cat pads
elusively across the canvas,
leaving only shadow.


Cecily Settles

(Beth Thompson)

Cecily settles
soft as a thistle;
corona of fur
seems lighter than air.

Cecily preens,
her long whiskers bristle;
she rumbles a purr,
at peace, without care.

Cecily soothes
my soul as I wrestle
with problems that press,
with worries that bind.

The sight of her comforts
a brain snarled and aching;
Cecily settles . . .
and settles my mind.


A Proud Mysterious Cat

(Vachel Lindsay)

I saw a proud mysterious cat
Too proud to catch a mouse or rat--
But catnip she would eat and purr.
And goldfish she did much prefer.

I saw a cat--'twas but a dream
Who scorned the slave that brought her cream--
Unless the slave were dressed in style
And knelt before her all the while.

Did you ever hear of a thing like that?
Oh, what a proud mysterious cat.


Love against foibles

(Virginia L. Canviness)

Nervous twitches distorted his features;
His dark hair was in complete disarray.
Her face, worn and pale, moved just a muscle;
She had already said what she had to say.
Accusingly, vindictively, his eyes met hers and held.
The surprisingly she laughed, love struggling against
foible of mind.
"Oh, all right, you can keep it," she reluctantly relented.
Watching her small son stagger under the weight of
the stray feline.
His little face buried in its fluffy fur,
Her abhorrence of black cats, her superstition and
fear vanished
In squeals of joy and a contented purr.


Silhouette

(Violet Alleyn Storey)

Of course, I thought I'd never let him stay,
But, anyhow, I'd save him from the street
And dreadful woes that might befall a cat
So very small and wobbly on his feet.

He was kitten black as licorice
From spiky tail to wee, shoe-button nose,
His eyes were blackish gray, and dark as soot
Were all the cushions underneath his toes.

I'd bought him from an urchin for a dime,
And, for another dime, when day grew dim,
I'd buy a vial of chloroform, I thought,
And put a swift but gentle end to him;

Or send him to a shelter for stray cats--
This might be kinder. Then I looked, and, oh,
He made the quaintest little silhouette
Against the kitchen baseboard, white as snow!

A week before I'd seen some silhouettes
Bring forth, at auction, bids absurdly high,
And these weren't soft and cuddly and alive;
These couldn't give a white-toothed, pink-mouthed cry.

And so, I thought I'd name him 'Silhouette'
But call him 'Silly', almost all the time,
For silhouettes are quite the rage just now
And one can't often buy one for a dime!


On a Night of Snow

(Elizabeth Coatsworth)

Cat, if you go outdoors you must walk in the snow.
You will come back with little white shoes on your feet,
Little white slippers of snow that have heels of sleet.
Stay by the fire, my Cat. Lie still, do not go.
See how the flames are leaping and hissing low,
I will bring you a saucer of milk like a Marguerite,
So white and smooth, so spherical and sweet--
Stay with me, Cat. Outdoors the wild winds blow.

Outdoors the wild winds blow, Mistress, and dark is the night.
Strange voices cry in the trees, intoning strange lore;
And more than cats move, lit by our eyes' green light,
On silent feet where the meadow grasses hang hoar--
Mistress, there are portents abroad of magic and might,
And things that are yet to be done. Open the door!


My Cat

(Aileen Fisher)

My cat rubs my leg
and starts to purr
with a soft little rumble,
a soft little whirr--
as if she has motors
inside of her.

I say, "nice kitty!"
and stroke her fur,
and though she cant' talk
and I can't purr,
She understands me,
and I do her.

Punctuation

(Beth Thompson)

Your arched tail is a question mark
when you wish to inquire;
its a rigid exclamation point
when you express your ire.

You whiskers cup quotations
around your every yowl.
Your paw scoops, like a comma,
to knead, or play, or prowl.

And when at night you settle
into a curve of sleep,
your gentle shape parentheses
the dreams you wish to keep.


Hints for Cat-Lovers

(Edith Benedict Hawes)

Feed a yellow cat from willow pattern--blue.
Give a black cat his supper from a yellow bowl.
Let the Maltese have a gaudy dish--tomato-red will do.
And always feed white kittens from Dresden China.

Something modernistic for the calico cat;
But oh! For a gray Angora, with a white breast,
There is no scheme for soft contentment that
Outdoes a bit of rosy salmon on gray Wedgwood ware!


Nurse Cat

(Mary Peat McDonald)

Medical science
Does not recognize
The warm soothing properties
Of you light
Furry body,
Now stretched gently
Over my incision.
Your throaty
Purr
Is part of the
Healing,
Millenniums older than
"Electrical Nerve Stimulation."

Your unblinking
Yellow eyes are gentle
Sedative.
At an occasional
Night sound
Your whiskers
Brush my chin
In reassuring
Communication.
The periodic light
Kneading
Of you snowy
Fore paws
Is indeed the
Laying on of hands.


For Felisha Cat

(Sandra M. Haight)

You walk through my thoughts
With the same sure-footed command
You walked through the house.
Your pitter-patter of feet
Pounds like a drum in my head.
No bowl in your special corner;
You thrive on the meat of my mind.
No wrinkles on my bed
Where your purring body slept.
Just a heart, crumpled
By the weight of your absence.
Gold-green eyes
That flashed warmth like a smile
Now brings hot tears
To my eyes in remembrance.
My lap is empty and cold--
It cannot hold memories
Full and warm,
Alive with your image
And the comfort you were.
You walk through my thoughts . . .
And the pain of your footprints will pass.


For a Dead Kitten

(Sara H. Hay)

Put the rubber mouse away,
Pick the spools up from the floor--
What was velvet-shod and gay
Will not need them any more.

What was soft and warm, is cold--
Whence dissolved the little breath?
How could this small body hold
So immense a thing as death?


Replacement

(Nancy Wise)

Twisting, spinning, winging a flying "pas de deax" no dancer could perform,
You exhaust me with your frenzy,
Divert me with your kitten antics,
Annoy me with your infant's mischief.

(careful, cautious, moving with the regal grace of a queen mother,
She soothed me with her calm,
Comforted me with her furry warmth,
Caressed me with velvet paws.)

Your springing leap, misjudging height,
Pulls down the cloth, the candles, the dishes.
You're a blurred arc of brownish black,
And a crystal vase shatters.

(Never even in her unreined kittenhood, did she match your jungle wildness.
She spoiled me with her gentle ways.)

You bounce sideways in hair-raised arched-backed terror--a leaf fell!
Your one-eyed ambush around a corner, rear end wiggling--
Catch that threatening spider!
Chasing upstairs and down with pounding gallop--
an imagined prey, or pursuer.
Your kitten tricks amuse.

(But how we miss her--our dear friend.
Her predictable patterns, her habitual rites.
It will be years before you slip into those tailored ways.
And replace her? Never.)


I'm so Sorry the Cat Died

(Clovita Rice)

I could tell you that this silence
will long rub against your legs,
that the sound of the electric can opener
will long summon his shadow
to the kitchen . . .
I could tell you that every cat you see
and some you don't,
will scratch and mew at the door
of your memory . . .
But I won't mention these things,
because the claws of grief are sharp.
I will say instead that your cat
is curled up somewhere in a sun spot
waiting to hear you come home,
at which time he will put on
his old aristocratic act of indifference
to let you know that you did, after all,
take longer than the expected time . . .
But soon, in his arrogant but casual way
he will edge nearer, forgiving
your human ineptness,
allowing you to finally hold him
and scratch behind his ears
while he is purring purring purring
to welcome you home.


My Old Cat

(Hal Summers)

My old cat is dead,
Who would butt me with his head.
He had the sleekest fur.
He had the loudest purr.
Always gentle with us,
Was this black puss,
But when I found him today
Stiff and cold where he lay,
His look was a lion's,
Full of rage and defiance;
Oh, he would not pretend
That what came was a friend
But met it in pure hate.
Well died, my old cat.

The Legacy

(Diane Halliday)

My cat sped by and in his wake
He left a trail that clearly spake
Of changing seasons in the air,
The room was filled with floating hair.
From winter's cold to summer's fair,
He lost a goodly coat of hair.
Fall not, dear cat, into despair,
We'll not forget your coat of hair.
For with us now and years to come,
Unending as the eternal sun,
We find on couch and chair, and stool,
On carpet, socks, and any fool,
Who sat upon your favorite chair,
Your legacy of golden hair.


Lost Cat

(Candy Schock)

"Snowball--Beloved Family Pet"
Your sign reads, thumb-tacked to my tree
with Popsicle-sticky thumbs.
Your tears are the exact shade of the
blood-red maple under which we stand.
"Reward $$"
Your faith is defined in plaster piggy banks and
Grandma's birthday checks.
"Do Not Chase"
in pressed-hard black crayon deepens your plea.

But for me it was far easier
this morning, to dig a hole
in the dawn in which to tuck
a lukewarm Snowball,
poised with dainty tail
curved round bloody paws,
then is now my task of telling.
For it is a myth--like the Tooth Fairy--
that cats have nine lives.


Final Kindness

(Patricia Messenger)

She's old.
Losing control
Over bodily functions.
Teeth gone.
Hearing hampered.
Tail listlessly wagging
At the sound
Of my voice.
Favored toys
Stored neatly in a box,
Disregarded.
Yet eyes
Still bright with love.
Unceasingly
Striving to please.

What to choose?
Continued frustration
And pain
Or well-deserved repose?
Slumber or wakefulness?

Because I love her,
Slumber.