Joni’s Going Through a Linear Cat Phase

“I’m going through a linear cat phase,”
I think I hear Joni sing
As she waters what must be blue hydrangeas –
She leans over my fence, eager to be noticed,
Cigarette dangling, French beret askew.
Such alien bohemian beauty
Is rare on our street.

I listen to her all day long sometimes,
I make up half of what she says.
Her voice floats above me like a halo,
I’m her footloose angel man.
I like to think she asked to borrow a cup of sugar:
I dreamed I saw it on her patio six months later,
A rose blooming in those tiny, sweet pearls.

But a linear cat phase, that’s just her conversation starter.
She tells me the same secrets she tells everyone else.
She tells them over and over, all those men who chased her,
All those men she chased, a bright carousel of sad desire
She’ll spin for whomever. It’s going round now
In my living room, her breath soft in my ear,
Baby, you’re my only one, but I just can’t stay.

(First published in slightly different form in Sheepshead Review Vol. 45 No. 2, Spring 2023. Thanks to the editors.)

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