How A Black Cat Came To Symbolise Bad Luck

We found a stray, sympathetic beings
Come what may, to universal plights
Known by neglected domesticated
Mammalia these days, for extinction
Is less a mass event, it’s a slow unwinding overnight,
Finding craters and sink holes appeared.
Neighbours said ‘this stray, it will bring you luck’,
But it’s getting a little late for that.

Mangy hair, a silver bell made proclamations
Like an Emperor of Sounds, and we didn’t complain.
Blue collar, no name engraved on a non-existent disc,
A slightly wild-eyed glare as the stray
Ate all the tuna we placed in a bowl
On the patio. He ate like an empty-stomached wolf
Whose belly rumbled in time to forest rainstorms
And whose timber ribs ached through every bone.

No care for recrimination, nor reprisal;
Naturally, he returned each day to his gorging place
With increasing confidence and weight
Bordering on insouciance and later
Encasing lipids, sat beside the back door,
His claws clicked along the porch,
No doubt walking over graves;
For one day we drove to work, unaware

That constant betrayals bled berried thoughts throughout.
Arriving home, three blackbirds mauled,
Three less songs. Those empty nests.
Avian throats provoked a furore of Sophoclean choruses within willow-fleeces
For sons eviscerated indiscriminately
By a stray that was not hungry, had no need;
A tiger never forgets its claws, and neither did he.

Chanting, yes, the aggressor’s name,
Empathies of sparrows wore masks
Regardless. So they stripped the cat
Of his title, its talismanic black
Entitlement and charms, and we received
In dreams instructions from the flock
To trap and stop his fortune, eternally,
In a waving form, in porcelain.

They said this last one will bring you luck,
Handing the charm to a boy at the front,
Just like the maneki-neko in future versions Of Kobe, or Tokyo; on a sea-front,
Kimono-wrapped, now found in restaurants,
In plastic, or ceramic, and fabric-wrapped,
Guarding fish shops and arcades
Which, in time, replaced pagodas and temples.

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