The Instructor's Cat
by David Simms
You don't write about your cat in poetry MFAs,
low residency or high,
it's just not done.
Likewise in undergraduate seminars for the quasi-gifted:
and pull out their hair and mark down failing grades
when set upon
of sophomorphized cats. And gatos and chats and Katzes
So we're agreed?
There'll be no metaphors of cats in this class, no alliterated
no slant-rhymed cats.
No cat sonnets, quatrains, haiku, ballads, sestinas, or odes,
no cat roundels or villanelles,
no cat ghazals or blank verses
or free ones either. Unless they're about my cat. (And up yours
if you don't like that.)
My cat, Gracie,
dead these last so many weeks. Who had it all over any cat
you might have had
or merely fed
on your back doorstep now and then. Who rode with me
and fifty-two miles as I pursued a dream. Who all the while
got sicker because
before we started out
imbeciles disguised as vets could not pin down her hyperactive
thyroid or detect
the tumor growing
inside of her. (This is not a joyful poem.) Sicker as she
snuggled in a crook
of my pillow every night
and at dawn tapped my face softly with her paw. Sicker
as she arched full tilt
against a playful rubbing
behind her ears, across her shoulder blades, her back.
The most extroverted cat
whose aging legs
sprang lithe to greet all comers, whose silent meows
and expectant innocence
had them crumpling to the floor themselves to stroke
her muted stripes
and flecks of tawniness.
Who considered canola oil ambrosia in the bottom
of the salad bowl, who
licked dry the honey
and the butter on toasted English muffins, who languished
all of every now
in the Camelot
of window sunlight. Who no longer is. Grace for short,
my cat, my class,
I'll write what I please
to illustrate a form, I'll write what I please and I'll cry
as I want to.
BIO: Gracie died peacefully in March. David Simms is dedicating a collection of his short stories to her.
By Andrew F. Popper
I fear they will sit in motionless silence,
Eyes open, in rows, vacant and hollow
Stone set expressions, iced fish at the market
With fins as fingers moving over keyboards.
Nothing I say will be remembered,
Not even the hope of osmotic insinuation
This lost cause class, this group of flounders
Lives, but just barely, in transcendental flux.
Great thoughts and suggestions will be as night clouds
Dark sources of storms and life-giving rain.
But in this stale funk where failure is an option,
They pass and vanish, remote and invisible.
They enter in clusters, these Piscean suspects
Who know my past and wonder in whispers
Is there truth in the promise of the lengthy syllabus:
Be prepared to challenge all that you read.
How little I knew of these many faces
How little of me to think poorly of them.
They are prepared in ways unimagined
And off we fly to grand regions unknown.
Bio: Andrew Frederic Popper has taught at American University, Washington College of Law for the last three decades. He is the recipient of numerous awards including the 2010 University Scholar/Teacher of the Year. He is the author of more than 100 published novels, casebooks, articles, papers, poems, and public documents.
"I Love You — Goodbye!"
by Gerald Solomon
In Kilburn I walked down the street.
What you did! What you said!
Thumb-tack through a billet-doux —
that note on your door made an end!
And more than that — no more amor.
Too much wish made too much whim,
my theory of love's mistake. So:
at last you upped and went.
Again I see my smiling snap
you'd hidden on the sly.
Jumping Jack, I’d hopped all your hints,
till: "I love you — goodbye!”
Gerald Solomon was born in London and studied English Literature at Cambridge University. After a short spell as sales
assistant at a bookshop in London's Charing Cross Road, he worked as a producer at the BBC. Subsequently becoming
engaged in education, he helped found General Studies courses at Hornsey College of Art, and this led eventually to an
enjoyable period teaching poetry courses at Middlesex University. He retired early in order to paint and write. His poems
have appeared in numerous magazines in the USA and UK as he prepares his first collection. He is married, with four
children, and lives in Manhattan.