Cat Cries 

I should have known by the crisp, cold air 
the cats would be crying 
but it was the high pitched growling 
that woke me 

it echoed my uneasy frustration 
the restless feeling 
I hid so well during the day 

What nonsense we live with 
the howling we disguise as living 

I woke in absurdity to my alarm 
then rolled over 
and for what, why I thought 
Why do we even get up? 

I was in the grocery store earlier 
carrying a basket on my arm 
my daughter trailing behind me 
and I knocked over 
a jar of marinara sauce 

it went down my leg 
in-between my toes 
and all over the floor 
broken glass was everywhere 
I wanted to howl 

I wanted to vanish 

Smash racism and poverty 
throw it away in large dumpsters 
go bowling 
to raise money for diabetes 
walk an endless maze of roadway 
to end sexual harassment 

Pick a cause 
and act on it 
somebody somewhere 
then go to sleep for God's sake 

do something constructive: 
move to New Mexico 
buy an adobe home 
raise Indian orphans in the name of the poor 
go out to eat 
and order Somalia steaks 
real people food 

The pitch of the cat cries 
kept me on the edge of my bed 
I clearly wasn't going back to sleep 

outside, below my window 
there could have been two, three or four cats 
by the sound of it 
the noise became lower and more primal 
as the night grew colder and more absurd 

my curtains were dancing 
as the chilly air blew in 
and one cat 
was piing on the fountain out back 
claiming our yard his 

The grass really grew in well this year 

there are children who play there now 
children who need cloths 
who do not speak English yet 
they talk in tongues 
and they cry out at night in tongues 
howl at night in tongues 
But where do they pi? 

On mountains of bones I suppose 
in tin cups, 
or in dumpsters 
those babies don't know what sleep is 
or what food feels like 

I guess I'm lucky to be lying here 
in my bed, in my room 
even though the cats are pissing me off 

why did they have to pick tonight to be in heat? 

My daughter shit herself today 
she had been playing outside 
when she felt it coming 

she ran in 
and called to me 
she was soaked 
she had no footing 
and she called to me 

I came to find her standing 
in her wet cloths 
in the bathroom 

She said she was sorry 

I dropped to my knees 
to wipe up 
and while she showered 
I waited 

She said she was only dreaming 
she said she did it on purpose 
she told me she wants her Mommy and Daddy 
to live together again 

I can always catch up on sleep 
some other time 
I thought 

I opened up a book 
on how to write poems 
and I read it through to the back 

I wasn't angryanymore when I finished 
the cats had stopped crying by then 

But I kept hearing the children 
their voices were in my head 
so I leapt up from the bed 
to the lower level of our house 

I switched on the outside light 
in hopes of saving a cat 
perhaps I would see one in the window 
or one on our front stoop 

No cats 

The book was done 
and I was awake 
it was hours till I'd have to wake to the alarm 

makes you behave 
in strange ways 
like alcohol in excess 
you can't see straight 
you have no balance 
and your tongue swells 
you can't control yourself 

All I could see 
was the deep green silhouette 
of the Willow trees 
that surround the back of our house 

I turned to go back upstairs 
and tripped 
over a pile of toys 
she hadn't put away before bed 

I was twisted and demented 

I was a sick woman by then 
I didn't want to be sick 
I didn't feel sick 
but I was 

my bathrobe was all bunched up 
between my legs 
my hair was a mess 
and I started to babble insanely: 

"A huge reptile was gnawing on a woman's neck, 
the carpet was a blood-soaked sponge-impossible to walk on, 
no footing at all"
I read from Hunter Thompson with fond memories of my youth 
and being young 
reliving those glory days of drugging myself 
those snorting smoking fun-loving hitch-hiking acid tripping days 
To the chorus of the cats and the wind 
I read about America in the 70's 
The pages turned 
and I rolled over to sleep 

She wet the bed that night 
and the rug 
and her pajamas 
and the quilt 

I came and found her standing 
in her own soil 
she said she was sorry 

I dropped to my knees 
to wipe up 
and while she showered 
I waited 
and when she was done 
I picked up 

I switched on the outside light 
to break up the cat fight 
perhaps I would see one in the window 
or one on our front stoop 

I was wide awake then 
it was hours till I'd have to wake to the alarm 

I think there's something wrong with me 
I can't get the crying out of my head 

I hear those cats 
and the children with no food 
the sick 
the abandoned 
the dead 

the fountain 
the howling 
the bed 

I staggered towards the stairs 
and slipped down 
two flights of them 

to find an empty window 

No cats 

I thought I may have been hearing things 

I'm sorry Mommy 
I didn't mean it 
I won't do it again 
I want you and Daddy to be together again 
I did it on purpose 

so I went bowling 
I drove to the ally 
on the corner of York and Fitzwatertown Rds. 

I put on those ugly shoes 
and chose a large, heavy ball 

I began to bowl for diabetes 
I bowled and bowled until I was tired 
tired of raising money for diseases 
and sickness 
when I wasn't sick 
at least I didn't feel sick 
but I really was 
I was very, very sick 

My daughter shit herself 
before dinner she ran in 
and called to me 
when I found her 
she was standing in her own soil 
and she said sorry Mommy 
and I dropped to my knees 
to wipe up 
and while she showered 
I waited 
and while she scrubbed herself 
I picked up 
and all the shit from the past 
got all over me 
and all over the bathroom 
it just wouldn't go away 
it just won't go away 

Joanne Leva