With the release of my debut chapbook, Celine: An Elegy, I have been inspired lately to read poems about cats. As one might expect, there are perhaps hundreds of poems about cats in major literary journals and books. They are a subject we, as poets and readers, cannot get enough of. Cats have been the subject of poetry for hundreds of years, and we have put together a list of quite famous cat haiku. This article expands on that and looks at cat poems not written in any form in particular. I have also included three poems from my own collection, which is an entire book dedicated to our cat, Celine. I hope you enjoy these poems and consider checking out my debut book!
Poem by William Carlos Williams
As the cat
the top of
first the right
then the hind
into the pit of
Cats by Charles Bukowski
I know. I know.
they are limited, have different
but I watch and learn from them.
I like the little they know,
which is so
they complain but never
they walk with a surprising dignity.
they sleep with a direct simplicity that
humans just can’t
their eyes are more
beautiful than our eyes.
and they can sleep 20 hours
when I am feeling
all I have to do is
watch my cats
I study these
they are my
Fog by Carl Sandburg
The fog comes
on little cat feet.
It sits looking
over harbor and city
on silent haunches
and then moves on.
Cat Poem by C.W. Bryan
A gray and white cat sidles up
against the splotchy green dumpster
and meows despite himself.
The plastic lid slams hard at the end
of another long shift. It sounds desperately final
like the North Springs station, or the highest note
of a violin.
Adam Waking by Katie Peterson
We chose this animal to be our pet.
His indifference allowed us to sleep.
Cat, who made your ears bend back,
who made you lazy as quick?
Who made you work?
It is a wonder any sun is left.
Still it is always so abrupt.
Sleep like an umbrella going up,
clumsy like a broken umbrella coming down,
this waking, and into what?
I did not ask to be afraid.
I did not ask for pleasure, but there it was,
it exfoliated at its own leisure,
grew until it was all that was—
The brief interruption of who I am
interrupts and punctuates the day
I always assumed that I would share—
Cat who cut the sun down from the sky
and then responsible put it up again?
There must be one of us that you prefer.
Excerpts from Celine: An Elegy
The following three cat poems are from my debut chapbook, Celine: An Elegy. I hope you enjoy reading these and I hope you will consider buying a copy of the book to help support us!
Her name is Celine by C.W. Bryan
Cardiomyopathy is a cruel name for a cat
the vet has named her such.
Life is no way to treat an animal
Making Biscuits by C.W. Bryan
one gentle paw
as a snowy alley
alights like a dove
on a gray couch
until she’s not.
Blueberry by C.W. Bryan
only three short breaths
not even the time it takes
for a leaf to kiss the ground in autumn
three short breaths, through a phone
to deliver the news that Celine
has since stopped breathing at all
a life one year long
not even the time it takes
for blueberries to grow
how many tiny heartbeats
in a life smaller than a blueberry?