“and even you forgot those brilliant flashes seen from afar” -Ruth Stone

NOTHING

after The Fugs

Obama, nothing
Biden, nothing
Kamala Harris nothing,
Democratic Party, a whole lot of nothing
Nothing nothing
Nothing

Mother Jones, nothing
Teen Vogue, nothing
New York Times, nothing
Washington Post, a whole lot of nothing
Nothing nothing
Nothing


White privilege, nothing
Girlboss, nothing,
Non-profit sector, nothing
Black Lives Matter (™) a whole lot of nothing
Nothing nothing
Nothing


Twitter, nothing
Facebook, nothing
Instagram and Pinterest, nothing
Reddit threads a whole lot of nothing,
Nothing nothing
Nothing


Call-outs, nothing
Cancelled, nothing,
Pleading and crying, nothing,
Emotional labor a whole lot of nothing,
Nothing, nothing


Nothing, nothing
Nothing, nothing
Nothing, nothing, nothing
The United States is a whole lot of nothing
Nothing, nothing
Nothing

CATS


So she had her eye on this tom for awhile now. He had her eye on her too. But, as always, there are complications. Well, she was a confident feline–and a fine lookin one too. Walked with one paw in front of the other and kept her silky coat clean with her small pink tongue. While she cleaned herself she looked at him out of the corner of her eye, and every now and then made direct eye contact with her deep brown eyes the color of fertile earth.

He was a sad tom. Lived in an apartment complex he paid too much for with a pompous brat from New Jersey he was in the process of quittin’. His coat was the kind of gray that’s almost blue that made her purr when he sent her a picture. That’s how they began their acquaintance. He would leave her letters in the mailbox and she would grab them with her teeth when his girlfriend wasn’t lookin. It got intimate as their correspondence developed, and both of them dreamed about each other. “How did you sleep?” the tom would ask her in the morning.

She began to fall in love and told him so. Maybe she should’ve kept her mouth shut but feelings are feelings and better to tell than to blurt out a spontaneous “I love you” at the end of one of their clandestine phone conversations. The tom confessed he had no idea but wasn’t indifferent. The feline answered, “well you didn’t run away screaming into the night” and they both laughed at her ability to turn a serious confession into something normal that happens every now and then between two cats who clearly wanted each other.

The feline had some business of her own to attend to. She was also in the process of quittin’ her person and had been so for a very long time. Her tom was the father of her two adorable kittens so things got tricky for awhile–adjusting and laying the foundation for her new life, regardless if the new tom changed his mind about her or not. She was a smart feline. She knew what men were like, and wasn’t going to make the mistake again of putting a tomcat before her own sweet self. Her umber coat shone with the new possibilities for her life, and sly cats from all over town noticed her transformative glow-up. She opened herself to pleasure, sharpened by the lessons she learned about unnecessary sacrifice.

A tension began to creep into the correspondence between the feline and the tom she wanted to love. She supposed it was the stress of the tom’s life; he had many responsibilities and problems, and the pompous brat from New Jersey he lived with was no help.They decided to part ways for a while, and when the day came when they agreed to talk again, her concerned letters remained unread. She was devastated. “Men are all the same,” she wailed. She hated it when pain burdened her ability to discern one tomcat from the next. Finally, a rollicking autumn storm broke through the fever of her suspended patience. She wrote him a final note and told him where to go. She kissed her paws clean and whistled, like she had always done, sauntering away–looking over her shoulder for anything she may have missed.

How TO SURVIVE CONFUSION

1.) Lean on pride. Gas yourself up on a regular basis. Admire your legs. Smile.
2.) Take long walks. Talk consolingly to yourself. Bring a friend who can laugh.
3.) Spend time with small children and animals. They’re who they appear to be.
4.) Take it for granted your feelings are valid so you don’t miss it the first time.
5.) Rotate self-examination with materialism. Go to the store alot. Buy things.
6.) Remember people can and will surprise you, but what matters is yourself.
7.) Pay attention to strange signs that appear when you’re not looking for it.
8.) Confusion distorts one’s sense of self and those around you. Absorb this.
9.) Stay hydrated, I guess. Or don’t. Water is a conductor for big feelings.
10.) Confusion is America’s mode of time. Clarity is dangerous, and political

 

Appears in this issue
Nikki Wallschlaeger’s work has been featured in The Nation, Brick, American Poetry Review, Witness, Kenyon Review, Poetry, and others.

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