Feeding the Cats

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The greatest joy
isn't money or love
but humor, crystallized
in pure, untarnished light
as seven cats howl for food
and my husband answers
all of them with civilized
human conversation:

Greg, come back
inside; I don't want
to feed you catio-side
service today.

He may have said
on the catio, but
I'm translating
with flair for
humor's sake.

Here you are, Tom.

Tom is his
favorite. We play
favorites in this house,
although troublemakers
get more attention
so I'm not sure
if favorite cat
is a good place to be.

Lahea! he greets,
higher pitched, since
she's still a kitten. How's
the Little One this morning?

Meow, she says.

Mrow, he confirms.

Buttercup, he calls next,
and I shout from the other side
of the house, Buttacuppa
always gets what—

And he finishes,
—Buttacuppa wants,
setting the bowl of chow
in front of her overjoyed
yet still pissed off
tortitude face.

Then he has to lower
to a gentle whisper
for Phoebe. Keeten,
here's you sneak preview.
She gets to try the three
cans of cat food opened
each dawn and dusk.

Which one do you like?
I ask Phoebe, since
she's my favorite.
Beef or chicken?

Meow, she says.

Beef! we cry in response.

Last is DeeJAY and Da Philo,
the second-in-command
and alpha, who feast
on Philosopher Jones'
special diet. My other favorites,
my husband says to them,
Mom and I have less
every day, just
so you can eat this,

and it's true,
but sometimes
the greatest joy
will cost you.

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