The Proper Mousing Cat is Buried With Soldiers



And the Philistines seized him and gouged out his eyes, and brought him down to Gaza, and bound him with bronze fetters; and he ground at the mill in the prison. 
- Judges 16:21 


The doctor has warned against prose, poetry 

could be fatal -  too like swallowing 

one’s own tongue.  Puffy, strangled, 

as rigor mortis sets in: 

a Tantalus pose, with book of verse 


in hand.  So he has retired to the sun: 

a lawn chair, orange and green, frayed warp 

and weft nestling into the dirt. The garden 

once grew with lettuce, parsley and carrots 


for vision.  Now grass has grown up

around the rusting red lawn 

mower so little depends 

upon.  The children have grown too, gone 

away, a murder of crows 

in the Basho tree, ripe with brown fruit. 


From the open patio door, saxophone Lester 

Leaps In, the sound of spit air 

over reed, disc player on infinite 

repeat.  The open glass door frames 

where she used to be, preparing 

Shirley Horn’s Beef and Beer, her 


too stiff pavane around the kitchen just before 

the beginning of sunset.  In early summertime 

she sang “Una voce poco fa,” or at least humming 

the tune.  Lester Young, sax man, reduced 

to vamping off stage. 


The tarot cards were always stored 

above the heart.  To be laid     

late on Saturday night.  After making 

love, perhaps.  The smell of Sulphur 

from struck matches, and sweat, 

and the salt feel of love knots woven 

into the Persian rug against her

lower back and shoulder blades.  A coded message: 


come and kiss me, once, quickly.  The proper mousing cat 

would purr and purr and purr, buried 

now out back with the plastic 

plank-footed soldiers.  The youngest child 

dug a tiger trap, excavated lost languages, 

spoke in new tongues.  Funeral black, please, 

for the soldiers and cat, he said.  


Here is the view to the west 

from the garden chair now: 

the neighbour with an oddly curved 

spine from the decade spent 

with children perched on her hips, though also 

climbing mountains at odd angles, 

commas for eyebrows.  Bent, now  


over her full 

heads of lettuce and climbing 

sweet peas and he’s imagining her well-kept 


lawn.  He knows her for her walk, and brown- 

spotted skin under 

sunglasses, straw hat, shorts the colour 

of tuberose plants that nestle against 

the house.  In the lawn chair, he contemplates 


The Proposed Demolition of Nineteen Churches 

in London.  His three languages shored-up 

in coves for later recovery.  Yes, this beard 

must surely start to grow again 

what with all the sun.  Lester leaps in