By on Oct 7, 2013 in Poetry

Cat being petted with superimposed young woman

Wild Cat Cleo will not be ignored.
She presses her case for freedom–
her nature, not my nurture.


There, the door is open.
Go before I change my mind!


Go out if you must
do whatever cats do
sniff and scratch, stalk and prowl
slip silently into the dark
black on black, camouflaged.


Do what you must do
but come back to me
don’t quarrel with the neighbor’s
menacing tom, eat bad meat, or run
in front of moving vans.


I must care for you,
Cat Cleo, as your once mistress,
my daughter, did
bury my face in your fur,
her hair.


Leave the senses of the night
come inside where it’s safe and light
bring me your feline mantras,
your small, sad song.


She was kind and gentle,
kind and gentle
kind and gentle.


This we both knew
and I much more.

This poem was written for Barbara’s daughter, who died of breast cancer in 1995 and whose cat lived with Barbara for several years until dying a natural death of old age.




Barbara Kussow's short stories have appeared three times in The Storyteller, and a mystery short story was published in Hard Boiled. Her poetry has been published in Kaleidoscope, Dos Passos Review, Hospital Drive, Danse Macabre, and other pubs. Her essays and book columns have appeared online and in local papers. She is the editor and publisher of Still Crazy, a literary magazine that publishes poetry, fiction, and essays written by or about people over age fifty. Her personal blog is