jen durbent: Writer, Comedian

Books for Flowers

Header for Poem

An orange cat kicks up dust bunnies to chase
through her library. The shelves lean like tired women,
hold books mostly unread, untouched, unloved.
These days, she uses the books only to crush roses,
to flatten beauty, to keep it to herself.

She used to read but now she cannot. Her eyes
can still study fine veins in rose petals,
but her heart is like the feeling after a shot of novocaine
takes hold and leaves you empty faced and drooling.
In the books she sees an army of words marching
across pages, soldiers marching across a forgotten battlefield
in drudgery at a long lost and long ago surrendered
war. She cannot even glance at the regimented words.

She hasn't fed the cat in months, but
he chases mice that have burrowed through
Kafka and Kerouac and King. He does not quite
kill them, but he plays with broken, dying bodies.
In this way, the cat is not any different than an author.

There was a time she felt something
stealing roses from gardens. Now she steals
of habit and dries the flowers by hanging them
from strings nailed into the wall
with a small hammer she shoplifted
for that purpose.

Between chases and kills and torture,
the cat sleeps on shelves or warms himself
under a desk lamp. On occasion the cat leaps
at the wall to pull a rose from a string. After he
grabs the flower with his claws and brings
it down to the ground, he tears it apart and leaves
petals on the worn floor for her to walk upon.