Orange Kitty Bleeding

 music by Griffin Candey; commissioned by Gavin Dillard Poetry Library & Archive

I killed the old orange cat this evening.
After chasing him for three months, I
crawled up on the roof after him;
right between the eyes from not more than
five feet away where he had Bagheera
treed up the great live oak.
Orange Kitty fell and I blasted him four
more times as he jerked on the ground
below us.

Bagheera came down from his upper branch;
and after, I brought out Marlene, Big Tao and
Quan Yin to show them that the rein of
terror had ended.
But as he lay there with his fur blowing
gently in the oncoming storm, I had the
strongest urge to take his bloody form into
my arms, smooth his once-beautiful pelt and
tell him that it will all be all right.

I miss all my old lovers, wherever they
lay bleeding beneath the grass, I would
take them all once again in my arms and
tell them that it is not that bad, that it
will all be all right;
death after all seems so unreachable to
the living, so temporary as though it
were but a mistake, a dream that will
fade back into the reality of the
sunny morn.

But I didn’t touch the orange cat, he
was covered with blood and had been
sick, wild and unreachable as it was.
Instead, I thought of Vince Romano,
James Parcells, Steven Buker, Frank
Drummond, Jimmy Barron, Victor Lopez,
Bobby Consolmagno, David Burns, Gary
Jeske, and however many more whose
names I have quite forgotten or honestly
never knew;
warm warm hearts that had once
beat against my own, now cold lying
somewhere in the shadow of what had
been life, their fur now matted and

The cats avenged, we came back into
the house just as the storm was blowing
in from the west.
I thought of Orange Kitty, of covering him
with newspapers or old clothes lest he
get cold and drenched where I had
left him among the periwinkle.
Instead I removed the bullets from the
remaining cartridge and set the twenty-two
across a pile of fresh-folded linens, to be
returned to the neighbor in the morning.

The rain began spattering like
gunshot across the fiberglass back porch roof;
my dinner was still warm.