Stray Verse

Portrait of black cat with yellow eyes

You find a feral word scavenging corners
of a parking lot ~ spindly serifs, flea-gnawed tail.
Musky as a metaphor, she hisses onomatopoeias,

but in her amber iris, you recognize
a resilient poem. You lure her with sweet milk,
syllables of soft yarn, nests for restless rhymes.

At your feet, she laps at tameness and shapes
cool consonants on her raspy tongue.
You hold very still with hope.

But you cannot box beauty by pentameters.
An enjambed window, a clawed-off collar ~
you call into darkness past midnight.

You mourn a while. You remember
hours of brushing her gleaming phrases,
the tingling whiskers of tangled inspiration.

So, when winter’s frigid meter brings back
the prowling, weather-worn muse in search of
cushioned vowels and pungent shrimp ~

Rejoice! Inky paws, inquisitive tail.
With a truce of uncaged cadence, you coax
her prolific purrs, rumbling onto your page.



Poem by Gisèle Lewis

A decade-long resident of Tampa, Gisèle Lewis writes about memory, art, and volunteering with the local refugee community. She also loves synchronized swimming, wine consumption, and teaching her daughters to curse in French. Her work has been published in the Baltimore review, Pirene’s Fountain, Saw Palm, The Ekphrastic Review, and more. Her interviews with women readers appear at