In Praise of My Cat Zelda

Familiar who is also Follower-through-Bannisters-Batting 

and Leader-Down-Stairs because she is Swifter-Than-I 

Now Curled-on-a-Chair

Scramble Man, the Baroness Griselda Von Softpaws 

Has many genders as do we 

As she is both our projection and also 

Their own Being  — called Being-Who-Has-Many-Names 

From above she looks like the Kitty-in-a-Norman-Rockwell-Painting 

Who healeth the traumas of everyday news 

Though she does attack the feet of those who greet

And of those who try to get into the bed without blankets

She-He-They-Zelda is both not named and named after 

Ms. Fitzgerald and after a cartoonish figure I know not of. 

Her name came into my head after reading an acrostic by a student

Who used Z in the Z place in his name yet I remember not his name. 

Of this I am ashamed though I still have his poem amongst many others 

Hidden in my overflowing office of papers and names, names, names! 

But like Alice I can make up new names

Or just say I forgot it right in the poem

Admitting it and then continuing on 

To read in an armchair by the window 

Books with more names my friends give me 

And that I buy—giving myself the luxury of naming 

Myself as reader-writer-reader-namer and naming the 

Cat all of these names unleashed uncollared by a singular name

Yet always seeming to land back on Zelda

Imelda, Smelda, Esmerelda, Umberella, Tarantella

Compactly small she is a jewel of a cat 

Very playful keep her playful athletically Leaping 

Leaper Twister Kisster Mister and all animals

She stretches up like a Giraffe pronounced Her-aff-e

Morphing into all the animals and back again 

Bouncer-off-Walls and Up-and-Down-Stairs 

She cares about food both wet and dry and 

Accompanies me to the garden when she can 

Stretcher-and-Curler and Layer-on-Armer-in-the Nighter

She sleeps around, Greeter-of-all-who-enter

She is a five star winner for the guests who love Cats

Long may she reign in her distaste for Rain

She is Lizard-Catcher in the Summer

And City-Dweller in the Winter

She has a cinder of life in each eye

But runs with her head a tiny bit asunder 

Because of a cloud on her left

She was found under a car by a neighbor

Now lives here in Splendor 

Love-Cat a little Fiercy-Cat 

But usually with claws sheathed 

She is Softpawing me now

Danse Macabre 

Everywhere the dead can dance

Among the people 

On them prance and hold hands

Bony invisible band-aids of chance

In squeaky simpering sloth-headed fun

You are our only one 

To curve this day into sleep 

Practice for death pitiful bloom 

Stay erect a little longer 

Only one robin in the tree when once were 30

Imploding many shitting on cars below

Who killed Cock Robin will be gelatinous soon

The moon wanes its naked eyelid deliberately

Dirty though so far away silver and gilded 

In a storm of meat

At any age changing

No fixed stars eclipsing death be dying 

No harp can heal the onslaught of grasping mimes 

That plow the treadmill of mouths 

Simpering through hinged jaws of candy street

Howling for more books to read but no concentration 

Only a word or two on the flywheel of time 

Crushing and cruising through spools of goo

Streets become sliding boards in an awesome playground

Of gourds rotting and drying and inside out maws

Of rancid stories falling to a close before dawn 

Into a Flip-out of happy sorrow of a serial Argento trip

Which blisters fat in the heat of noon 


This Ballad dear it has no fear 

To tell you what has come 

To these here streets to this here heart

The spiral stairs gone wrong 

These spiral stairs undone

The Sun it rose   the Moon it set 

As it had done before 

The Moon it rose   the Sun it set 

The girl is on the stair my love

The girl’s on the starry star 

When all around her took their leave 

She did but weep and mourn 

She slept both night and day my love

Her bed a rose of thorns 

Her bed a rose of thorn

She found a respite on the roof 

To dwell among the sky

To stretch her arms at break of day

A place where she could cry

It was a place where she could cry

She kept her things in a growing pile 

Of boxes paper and mail 

She stacked them high and she stacked them low

Until she grew quite pale 

Until she grew quite pale 

One night she woke from a drowsy sleep 

To hear the doorbell ring 

She wound her way down all the steps 

To hear the children sing 

To hear the children sing my love 

To hear the children sing

They asked for sweets 

In costumes wild 

They help out their little hands

She gave them chocolate 

O so quick then she began to smile 


She sang a song of Halloween

I’m stirring and stirring my brew

She delighted the children 

As she ended with Tip Toe Tip Toe Boo

Then off they ran holding parents hands

with bags of sugary goo 

And they reminded her of many nights 

    Of feeling the way they do 

Even though the world is harsh 

    And wars are echoing strong 

The children will play and sing with you

    So come on and sing along 

So find them to sing along 

There’s music in wind there’s music in ground 

There’s songs on the couch in a frame 

There’s music in quiet   there’s music in dream 

There’s songs as you call out my name 

Inside you is a tiny child 

Whose wonder was squashed and squealed 

Spend time with some kids who want to learn 

The songs you learned in the field 

Of your own childhood 

Or make up new ones

Or sing them in your sleep 

Wake up Wake up and write them down 

Down where they are buried so deep 

People so old they're feeling so cold 

They'll light up at a rhyme and a chant

They're closer to their childhood bed

But want to get up and dance 

So don't be afraid to sing with them 

And listen to what they say 

They remember so much    

And could use your soft touch 

If just on their voices' sleeve 

Consciousness song helps us belong 

To ourselves and to each one 

   Of the others who sing and dream and feel

Alone in this our wide earth town

Lee Ann Brown was born in Japan and raised in Charlotte, North Carolina. She attended Brown University, where she earned both her undergraduate and graduate degrees. She is the author of Other Archer, which also appears in French translation by Stéphane Bouquet as Autre Archere (Presses Universitaires de Rouen et du Havre, 2015),  In the Laurels, Caught (Fence Books, 2013), which won the 2012 Fence Modern Poets Series Award, as well as Crowns of Charlotte (Carolina Wren Press, 2013), The Sleep That Changed Everything (Wesleyan, 2003), and Polyverse (Sun & Moon Press, 1999), which won the 1996 New American Poetry Competition, selected by Charles Bernstein. In 1989, Brown founded Tender Buttons Press, which is dedicated to publishing experimental poetry by women and other gender expansive beings.