The Disappearing Mr. Mistoffelees

Black and tuxedo cats
are the least likely to be adopted from the shelter
and the most likely to be strays.

I found one at a Jewish graveyard
who stayed all day under a bush
once I had fed him and passersby began doing the same
he was too afraid to leave a place with regular meals
and greeted me with head-butts.

Weeks later, he was gone.

I found one brushing against my legs
as I ate by the dockside
meowing plaintively at me
until I combed through its back and found
sharp bones underneath my fingers.

The restaurant nearby didn’t own it
so I left it a can of cat food
I bought a few blocks away.

It meowed as I left
but could not leave
its meal behind.

It was gone the next dusk.

I called no one because the no-kill shelters are full.
Because my building can’t let me home a pet.
Because in reality, I am allergic to cats.
Because all the people I asked once before said no.

Because no one wants a black or tuxedo cat.

Humans are prejudiced with their animals, too,
and prefer the aesthetic appeal of stripes
or the cuteness of kittens.

Travelers

Touch of silver in moonlit space
Cobwebs, darkness, lines to trace
Ages that have worn you well
And lingered in places where they dwell

Smell of parchment worn and thin
Moisture, dryness, and moist again
Rends you till joints ache and refuse
The simplicity of a once youthful move

Yet, warmed by fire and cooled by ice
Fingers that have tempered nice
For touches both sure and gentle
Along thin shoulders just to settle

In camaraderie and love, born of the fear
We hadn’t expressed ourselves to those dear
For we all, travelers, will move on from here.