Home > Chapbook Finalists 2010 > Feeding the Invisible Cat

Feeding the Invisible Cat

August 26, 2010

from The Narrative House, by Janet McCann


I miss my animals, here in this strange house,
so I put out food
the dinner’s leftovers
hoping something will come.

And something does, a shadow
on the porch of the rental house
sometime after midnight
every night.

What you’re feeding, you say
is nothing you’d want,
a raccoon, maybe even a rat.

The guest does not like mushrooms
or onions. It licks them clean
of gravy. They lie on the dinner plate
like a still life.

What I am feeding
is something of distinctive taste
and a certain feel for art, I say.

It will show itself, I will make friends with it.
The shadow flickers
under the distant streetlight.
I put out Beef Burgundy.

A thunderstorm shudders the house
windows rattle all night

and in the pale washed morning
a haiku:
two button mushrooms
on the blue translucent plate
under clear water.


Included in the just-published chapbook House from Plan B Press.

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Janet McCann has taught at Texas A&M University since 1969. A version of the chapbook submitted to our contest won the Plan B Press Poetry Chapbook Contest, and she has won three other chapbook contests over the years. Her work has appeared in such journals as New Letters, Kansas Quarterly, Parnassus, Nimrod, Sou’wester, New York Quarterly, Tendril, and Poetry Australia.

  1. August 26, 2010 at 12:54 pm | #1

    Oh my God, this is such a wonderful poem.

  2. August 26, 2010 at 6:08 pm | #2

    a wonderful idea.
    the things strange houses can create…

  3. August 30, 2010 at 2:53 pm | #3

    Wonderful.

  4. September 2, 2011 at 10:46 pm | #4

    I feed an invisible cat too! I love cats but not permitted to keep one due to the body corporate decision in my building. So recently I began putting food out on a table near the back door and “someone” has begun to eat after dark. This kitty is very particular and only likes Dine Desire with the blue label. Anything else is picked at and the majority left discarded on the plate. With the Blue Label variety the plate is licked clean. I’m dying to meet this kitty one day. I’m sure it must be a cat because if it was a rat it wouldn’t be so fussy :)

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