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By John I. Blair

Mornings circa six o’clock
Rain or dry, dark or light,
Cold or hot,
I keep my unwritten vow
To feed the quadrupedal beggars
Around the sliding door
Onto my patio.

The menu is the same –
Two bowls of cat chow,
Flavor of the week
Whatever that may be,
Scooped out from a bulging bag
Bought by mail
And kept beside my fridge,

Rolled out on my walker
To where I greet my gang of cats,
Possums and raccoons
And they greet me,
Agreeing on a backyard truce
That holds so long as no one
Gets too greedy or too near.

The cats I’ve dubbed with
Unimaginative names
Describing features and behavior,
Hoping with this trick
Not to get too close to them
In a world where life is fragile.

Senior by how long she’s lived here
Is “Patio” so named because
When we removed our rotting deck
We found she’d lived there all along
Atop the crumbling patio beneath.

Next in rank is “Blacky”, not
A spot of white upon him (Patio’s a tux).
My theory is they’re siblings; who’s
To contradict me?

Third of blacks and tuxes (who seem
To dominate the neighborhood)
Is the ever-shy Miss Perky Whiskers,
Named for a remarkable explosion
Of white hairs on her snout
And distinguished by
Reluctance to approach.

Just last month came “Bib”
Whose white fur spills
All down her front.

And for variety two spotted cats,
“Big Spot” who claims to be Egyptian Mau
(But has lost his papers)
Then “Little Spot”, apparently Big Spot’s
Disreputable brat, cutest of the lot.

So that makes six thus far.
(I do not count Georgina,
Who by her name alone reveals
She lives indoors and has
Never stepped beyond the glass.)

The possums and raccoons come and go,
Are never given names (they do not
Get their mail delivered here)
And serve as cleanup crew. While I know
They are wild animals who’s to say
The cats are tame? While considering this issue
Who’s to say that I,
Most dangerous of the lot,
Am tame myself? Are you?

©John I. Blair, March 20, 2023

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