“Feral Cats” by Glenn Shaheen

Glenn Shaheen


All night, a howl
outside the window. All night an animal
is sick. I won’t get any of this right
the first time.

                              In Switzerland,
scientists have found the region of the brain that tricks us
into seeing ghosts. Some cloud of current
that drifts from front
of skull to back. They can fake
an out-of-body experience
by shocking the corpus callosum. A door

slams shut. Now there’s death
in every shadow. It’s a seven-ten split. There is no wall
to shoulder up against this new logic.

Before, I thought
if it was raining here, it was raining two blocks away. The animals

are still dying. I can hear them all night. We had hoped
for the burning ghost ship of legend to light
our harbor, in front of news cameras, in front of hundreds
of witnesses. We would cheer
it home to dock. Relief. An uneasy audience
ready to laugh. The first time. A stone

is tied to a hungry animal’s neck. It is dropped
into a mile deep oceanic crevice off the Aleutian Islands.
Irreversible. It takes thirty minutes
for the animal to even hit the bottom.

from Rattle #33, Summer 2010

Rattle Logo