Patrick Loafman

Word Problems

The blue cat thinks I’m crazy
whenever I try to teach him calculus
at least that’s how he stares at me
like a student sinking in algebraic waves
when I tell him he shouldn’t kill moles

I read the cat some T.S. Eliot
but the words fall flat on his blue fur

he’s quick to escape poetry to dig up more moles
pulling them from the ground like solutions
to complex word problems

I carefully identify each one by species
honoring the mole by mouthing its name

Scapanus townsendii

before planting each one like a spud
pushing it back into its earthy world
where it bulldozed through life
with battering-ram skull
catcher’s-mitt hands

no eyes
no ears

evolution trimming it down
to a furry bullet boring through the earth

the cat constantly hears the moles
a dimension I’m deaf to
my attention trimmed down
to the hole I’m digging
through a language as thick as flesh
drunk on the odor of fresh soil.


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