Category Archives: cats and dogs

On how fragile life might be by Enoch Thompson

car dash board at night

We hit something
she said “a raccoon?”
I said, “opossum.”
I said, “turn around,
let’s turn around.”
and there it was lying in the street
a silhouette of sharp snout and feet
orange on grey on black, the colors fade.
A cat, we hit a cat.
So this is death, bulging, leaking red eyes
protruding from its crushed and swollen head.
She, distraught
me, disturbed
so this is death.
I’ve been punished
now to forever drive
slow
and hold a breathe
at every shadow
flashing
across the road.

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Enoch Thompson 2014Enoch Thompson is an aspiring poet and storyteller.  A grave robber, a pirate, a wizard, an ugly shambling skeleton, he trudges the paths eighteen million other better men have skipped down.  Always, as new words become published and new voices shout to be heard, his anxieties grow.  He is a modern-day writer and encapsulates all of the insecurities society has placed on the cliched profession.

To see more poetry on WIZ by Enoch, click here.

Surprise Possession by Karen Kelsay

mixy lizard

She spends her afternoons beside the tree,
where Mr. Lizard’s made his home. Last week
she caught him in her mouth, and forcefully,
my husband pried him out. She doesn’t seek
this reptile, or a patterned, scaly prize—
just itches for a thrilling chase. For days
she’s turned into a sphinx. Unblinking eyes,
and breath held in her breast. Her mind’s ablaze
with thoughts of how he was in her possession.
He watches from the wall where he’s protected.
They play their waiting game. No intercession
at dusk is needed. She comes inside dejected,
and marches to the house to scheme and plot.
Tomorrow she will have another shot.

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karen Bio Picture
Karen Kelsay, native of Southern California, is the founder and editor of Kelsay Books. Her poetry has been widely published in magazines and journals. Nominated five times for the Pushcart Prize, she is also an award winning poet. Her latest full length book, Amytis Leaves Her Garden, was published in 2012, and received the AML award. Karen lives in Hemet, California, with her British husband.

Photo of the poet’s cat, used with permission.

Victoria Road by Will Reger

Infrared_Road_Dog_-_(1)

The boy on his way to school
Saw the earth eating a dog.
Black and brown, warm and sleek,
A lolling grin so like its kind:
It was killed by a car and
Fell among the roadside weeds
Without notice and was still.
How long did the earth dance on
Before the boy saw its muscles parsed
Away in trails of stench–a week?
Two weeks?  With moon and sun
Rushing to keep pace, the stars sliding
Out of her way, their milky bouquet
Stretched across the ballroom of night,
This boy peddled to and fro past
Those teeth grinning whiter now
That the earth had nibbled away,
Taking in the dog, one sip at a time.
He had heard stories how the earth
Will one day disgorge
Her long meal of the dead,
And later wished he had taken
A tooth or something to
Summon the dog when it rises.

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Reger PhotoWill Reger was born and raised in the St. Louis, Missouri area. He has a Ph.D. in History from the University of Illinois and currently teaches history at Illinois State University. He lives in Champaign, Illinois, with his wife and two youngest children. He began writing poetry in the 7th grade and never quite stopped. He also plays the Native American Flute. He has recently had poems published in Fire in the Pasture and songs/cycles (and, of course, here on WIZ).

Photo: “Infrared Road Dog” by Mike Lewinski via Wikimedia Commons, 2012.

Ice Walking by Mark Penny

Beaver_dam_in_Tierra_del_Fuego

A nameless beaver sprang the trap.
Must have swum through it on his way up shore.
The two dogs, Jax and Cleo, crouched in their winter coats,
Gripped and pulled,
But the snare held,
Jealous of its prey.
I found them:
Red paw prints in the savaged snow,
Scrabbling blindly at the brink.
They parted for me.
I freed the carcass.
Primate hands
Dripping intelligence,
Carried the trophy to the pen
I’d built
To keep the collies off the goats–
The neighbour’s goats.
I threw the carcass down.
The dogs converged,
Patience and awe giving way to greed.
I watched awhile,
Then turned to human things.

There were two dams below the house:
The calf-deep creek
Bloated to drowning-depth in two black ponds.

Nights with a flashlight, brimstone eyes
Cruising the surfaces.
The still woods bristled:
Gnawed-off stakes,
Brute remains of silent-rooted trees,
Victims of mammal industry,
Torn bones
Woven in muddy, water-rotted domes.

Winter falls.
Green shapes yield to strangling ash,
Thicken and round out.
Water stills.
I try my foot on the narrow creek.
It holds.
Two feet.
I step.
I stop,
Listen for shifting,
Feel the seams,
Shuffle another pace or two.
All still.
All whole.
The dogs and I
Walk the half-glowing road
Onto the pond,
Ears up,
Knees bent,
Ingrown eye scanning the scratched slab,
The wind-laid pavement.

Now each breath
Savors its passage through the lungs
Upward,
The sky,
Rampant with icy lights–
And tall between,
Lone man
Gaping
As he breathes.
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Mark Penny has published with WIZ, and won last year’s Admin Award in the Spring Runoff. He was a finalist in the Goldberg’s “Four Centuries” competition in 2012. He recently founded “The Lowly Seraphim,” an “e-collective” for speculative Mormon fiction.

Photo “Beaver dam in Tierra del Fuego” via Wikimedia Commons.

Chairman Mao by Percival P. Pennywhistle

Chairman Mao

My cat’s named “Chairman Mao”:*
She’s dropped the “i” somehow.
She’s dropped the thing,
But, Marx bless Ming,**
Still has a frightful Yao.***

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The image above is a 2012 scan of a 1999 oil on oilcloth reproduction of a 1942 photograph of a late Victorian cameo of an early Victorian watercolour portrait of Chairman Mao’s maternal great-great-great-great-(yawn)-great-great-great … great-grandmother, who looked just like her, but was considerably more pleasant.

* Chairman Mao, otherwise known as Mao Tse Tung, is widely considered the founding ruler of the Chinese Communist Party, which is either revered or despised depending on the holiday and/or who’s looking over your shoulder.
The Miao people together comprise what is called an “ethnic minority,” and a fairly large one at that, which typically means they eat more interesting things than everybody else and are happy to invite you for dinner. They live in Southwest China, in Guizhou, Yunnan, Hunan, Hubei, and Hainan provinces, and in the formidable sounding Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Prefecture. They believe that everything has a spirit, even Chairman Mao. Continue reading Chairman Mao by Percival P. Pennywhistle

Caught in Snow by Will Reger

Kalina Reger--Monkey Escaped

Her race presumes
Imperious cuteness

Conquers all—even
Monday snowfall when,

From her comfortable nest
At the top of the stairs,

This scroll of fur and claw
Uncoiled, shot outside,

Her eye distilled
For the hunt: tiger demon
Fell to winter’s ambush—

Snow knives, hawk
Shadow circling,

Coyotes lambent
Among the weeds, iron

Curve of sky—and
Beyond the clouds

Orion tips his sword
At each of us.

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Will Reger is a history professor at Illinois State University in Champaign. In addition to his contributions to WIZ, he has recently published in Fire in the Pasture and songs/cycles.

Photo by Kalina Reger. Used with permission.

Victorian Violet Press seeks poetry

Victorian Violet Press editor Karen Kelsay, a frequent contributor to WIZ, sent this announcement:

Victorian Violet Press, an online poetry magazine, is seeking submissions for the December issue. Please check out the magazine to get an idea of what type of poetry is published. You can find the magazine here.

Guidelines: Our taste in poetry is eclectic, but these subjects are preferred: inspirational, poetry for children, poetry about children, nature and life. Formal and free verse are both accepted, we particularly enjoy metrical poems that have lyricism, originality, accessibility and beauty.

Poems should not be obscure or overly abstract and should have a strong element of rhythm and a strong metrical element whether they are free verse or formalist.

Send 3-5 poems pasted in the body of an email with your name in the subject line. Simultaneous submissions and previously published poems are okay. Please wait three months after your last submission, before sending more poetry.

Oreo v. the Expedition

Last week my husband found himself in need of a computer monitor.  In our part of SE Utah, if you need affordable computer parts of middling quality right away, you drive the 160 mile round trip to the nearest Walmart, located in the shadow of Mesa Verde in Cortez, Colorado.  He left late and returned home about 1:30 a.m.  Our household keeps late hours so we were all up when he arrived.  He came through the door in obvious distress carrying something wrapped in a sheet of plastic.  He’d hit a cat that ran out in front of him near a neighbor’s house about a mile and a half away.  When he stopped the car and turned it around to see what had happened to the cat, he found it lying in the road, down on its side but still breathing.  Rather than wake the cat’s (possible) owners at 1:30 in the morning, he brought the unfortunate creature home. Continue reading Oreo v. the Expedition

Kittens, anyone?

One night last week I was out late on the back porch pushing my special needs daughter up and down the porch in her wheelchair.  My husband was out there, too, and we were talking.  The porch is a rickety, second-story affair, so it creaks as I walk.  The wheelchair rattles.  If our neighbors here lived as close to us as our neighbors in Payson or Provo did, somebody would probably complain that we make too much noise late at night.  Here, everyone sleeps comfortably distant from each other.  I can walk out on the back porch anywhere from 11 p.m. to 3 a.m. with a contrary child and not fear that I’m causing a disturbance.

So there I was, walking, talking.  Then I heard below the plaintive mewling of kittens.  Looking over the railing, I saw them creep around the corner of the house, following my voice, my creak, my rattle–one dark one and one dark and white one, at least.  We dispatched the kids to fetch the kittens.  They brought in two younguns, a grey tabby, very compact of body, and a larger grey and white kitten with very big ears.  They were lost–quite possibly abandoned–they were cold, and, in our stretch of the woods, they were imperiled–walking popcorn chicken for hungry owls and coyotes.  We brought them inside.

They’re about eight weeks old and very energetic.  They litter-trained right away.  Of course, they exude cuteness and are, in my opinion, above-average innocent.  They’ve been in the house for several days now, and besides pulling pranks like chewing the blossom stem off my daughter’s beloved carnivorous sundew plant, walking on computer keyboards and wreaking other mild, housebound-mammal havoc, they seem like nice cats.  We enjoy them.

The problem is, we already have four adult cats, which is about as much as I think this house and yard can handle.   That led me to wonder if anybody out there in bloggerland might like to adopt a couple of kittens.  I hope that anyone interested in taking one cat might take the other as well, because they’re sisters and they love each other.   I understand that taking on two cats is rather more than most people care to do.  But after watching the social behavior of the horse herd behind our house, seeing how the wild turkeys watch out for each other, spying from a cliff on a herd of romping mule deer in the canyon below, and observing the dynamics in play between our four grown-up cats, I have come to feel somewhat uncomfortable with the casual human practice of splitting up animal families.

Of course, the young of many kinds of animals disperse on their own.  For instance, around this time of year, young coyotes leave the home den looking for their own territories.  The coyote population of an area is density dependent; that is, if an area already supports as many coyotes as it can, the half-grown pups drift like seeds on the wind, looking for advatageous ground in need of more coyotes. 

But these animals we’ve taken under our tutelage, stirring the pot of their genetic stories, employing in our service as workers and companions–they’re a different story.  Cats, dogs, horses, cows–all the so-called domesticated species–it’s probably time we reconsider how we affect their lives and communities.

So … kittens, anyone?

Field Notes #8

October 2, 2009.  This morning, as I walk down the road toward Crossfire, I barely avoid stepping on a small, silver-and-grey-winged butterfly sitting on the pavement, trying, I think, to warm itself after our first night of ice-on-the-dog’s-dish cold.  The insect’s coloration matches that of surrounding gravel.  Only its thin wings and their accompanying shadow tip me off in time.  I veer.  Very slightly, the upfolded wings lean away from my foot swinging past.  It’s hard to not step on something that looks like a piece of your path. Continue reading Field Notes #8