Guy Biederman

Lick the World Clean

Waking up

the line of a poem


with other dreams and ideas in your head.

Go on, the line says — you get up, I’ll hang here for awhile.

                    You make coffee,

feeling like you left money on the table,

feeling like the scotch that seemed so

essential last night

is this morning’s mistake now being worked off

                           over time.

So you use your listening pen, your telescope journal

your chair and coffee and the two cats

                            both now fed

steer you back to that line as they lick the world clean.

Tempurpedic Adjustments

Falling off the side of the world you readjust your pillow and regain your footing. It’s like walking sideways across a steep hill. Careful, and you can get there. One cat has taken to sleeping under the covers, his landing gear retracted. You take not getting the inside of your bicep clawed, as progress. Communication at its best goes both ways. The world levels out but is not flat. There is no such thing as a straight line in nature and the limitations of your mind are no more than a breach in imagination. Easily adjusted by readjusting one’s pillow. Or turning on your side. It’s not a new bed or world that you need — just a better night’s sleep. A purring cat or two helps.

Because I’m a Cat and You’re Not

Delmar gets it. Breakfast before 6:00, lap time to follow. Then Alone Time on my favorite white recliner for as long as I see fit. Now it’s your turn to learn. I get that you are used to dogs. There are things you must unlearn. I won’t come when you whistle. I don’t sit, shake, or fetch. I won’t tell you when it’s okay to pet me, but you’ll know. You’ll know when it’s time to stop, too. When the litter needs changing, you’ll know. When the new cat food that you bought on sale doesn’t agree, you’ll know. Delmar knows better. He knows I only eat Newman’s organic, occasional milk chaser. He knows I devour salmon chunks, wild, not farmed. I’ve read your blog. You like to pontificat.  (leave it—turn off auto-correct now.) At times, you’re cute. You really are. You try to understand. You document our every move. You post Facebook videos with narrators who impose their limited narratives on us using stupid voices. But we are not anarchists. We are benign dictators who tolerate your presence, who allow you to stroke us, permit you to host us in your lap. What you call chaos — a shredding of the fabric chair, divots in the carpet, a steamy one in your leather shoe, is actually a form of communication. Call it a teaching moment. If you require further tutorials, consult Delmar’s notes. He’ll pay for being away. He always does. When he returns Monday, he’ll be ignored for three days. Perhaps I’ll go missing under the bed while he frantically posts flyers with my likeness and a handsome reward. When I emerge, breakfast will be moved to 5 am. I’ve all but cured him of weekend travel. The last three cat sitters refused to return. To make amends, Del will buy a scratching post I’ll ignore (Persian carpet hello??). Understand, this is not anarchy. It’s a set of sensible rules you’ll yield to, or else. Delmar gets it. You will too.


Guy’s work has appeared in many journals including Flash Back Fiction, Pretty Owl Poetry (nominated for Best Of The Net 2018), Sea Letter, and Peeking Cat Poetry. His collection, Soundings and Fathoms was published by Finishing Line Press. He and his wife live on a houseboat with two salty cats and walk the planks daily.

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