Feles Alieni Vere Sunt by Neile Graham

The cats study you like you might be
the solution to a problem
and not the one about tin openers.
The iridescence of their eyes
means they’ve been cat-stepping

faster than light across universes
tinkering with cosmic mechanics.
You’re triangulated in their gaze. Dissolved
and reconstructed. They have imagined you
into being and thus there are things

you should be doing: fashioning
obscure mysteries, cracking a portal
to the place of lost things,
unlocking doors to summer. You’ve done
none of this while they have

both minded creation and managed
domestic chores: kept the household
ghosts on their toes, fashioned intergalactic
treaties, defended windows, reported
on the state of the outside perimeter,

countered predations of the aviators,
the diggers, the thieves. They’re so weary
they can spare just so much
to send you this message. They
fear it’s lost. They’re twitching their

tell-tails and tapping their soft, gorgeous
lethal toes to remind you
they have their own immutable tally
of who gets what and when. Then–
cats being cats, they give up and release you.

Turn back to their feline concerns,
stretch the stretches that keep planets
from wobbling, flick an ear
at the squabbles of gods, then wash.
Smoothing out a whisker here. A devil there.


Neile Graham is Canadian by birth and inclination, but currently lives in Seattle, where her life is full of writing and writers. She is a graduate of Clarion West Writers Workshop and currently serves as its workshop director. Her poetry and fiction have been published in the U.S, the U.K., and Canada. She has three full-length poetry collections, most recent Blood Memory, and a spoken word CD, She Says: Poems Selected and New. Recent poems appear in online journals Interfictions, Liminality, Through the Gate, and Stone Telling, and in the anthology, Imaginarium 4: The Best Canadian Speculative Writing.

Previous                                                                            Issue Seventeen                                                                            Fiction