Dismantling the Cat

by John Repp

Prepare labels to keep track
though there’s no going back.

Any fool can handle limbs & tail.
Entrails need a good squeeze,

but that comes later. The head’s
the problem. To help, contemplate

whether it can be said to have had
a face, whether any animal but each

of us has ever had a face. This withered
innocence of yours has to go. Take it

easy. Tweeze out one whisker
over the left eye, one over the right,

the six between the ears, then the rest
in symmetrical sequence, leaving the short

black one by the nose for last.
Such a gaze now. Such stillness

around the mouth. Shimmy an ear
from its slot. Eviscerate what’s become

of the clatter of kibbles shaken
into the blue bowl. Tug the other

ear out. Run a hand over the smooth
grey head. Now the nose, the wet

black nose. Tap it from every angle
with the tiny box wrench good

for nothing else. Ease it from the skull.
Now the vise-grips. One tug per tooth.

Scoop the eyes, stack & light the pyre,
feed it piece by piece. Shimmery heat,

pale yellow, white. A crow growls
as it struts by, but that’s no surprise.


A native of the Pine Barrens region of southern New Jersey, John Repp has lived for many years in Erie, Pennsylvania with his wife and son. He has two chapbook collections forthcoming in 2019: Cold-Running Current (Alice Greene & Co.) and Madeleine Wolfe: A Sequence (Seven Kitchens Press).

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