SMOKEY—-OUR CATS LAST TIME WITH US

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SMOKEY

Smokey was nothing but a cat
I found his body yesterday
currently he is wrapped up in our living room
I will bury him in a little while

These days he went missing
right when I was putting up Christmas lights
have been tough ones
pets can be as perpetual children
always under your care and protection

He wandered past the fence
in cold rainy weather he usually avoided going out
we thought he’d turn around and come back in
which he had done before that day
this time he snuck out
and I did not know until 5 hours later

then I wondered about the big dog commotion

that happened when I came in to dinner

the trouble with some cats like him
is that they would stand their ground
when danger appeared near
this strategy can be fatal with a pack of dogs
and especially with coyotes

Smokey was familiar with dogs
the ones he knew kept their distance from him
he seemed to trust dogs would keep way
he even seemed to like our dog Sasha
occasionally you would see their nearly identical white furs
Sasha is a female, and though fixed, Smokey was all male

He spent the first seven months of his life kept in a cage
when we got him from someone who discovered
it was too bothersome to have a cat
he could barely play for a minute without getting winded
he slowly gained strength

Once his hair had to be shaved for medical reasons
it was unusually cold in Tucson that winter
we had a sweater for him but he did not approve of it
but in the sunny morning he would sit on the kitchen table
paws on the window sill
letting the sunlight warm his skin
he was like little Buddha there with his closed eyes
being patient as the sun.

I still have to finish Christmas lights
life goes on for some and there are still children
and the child in adults who appreciate the show
but it is sad here behind this curtain
sad the other year when Smokey killed a small rabbit
its bloody dying body at our back door
I cried burring it under the China Berry tree

Smokey knew I was a guy too
he would wait for me at times when I exercised
just to hang out with the boys
when he was in doubt about an open door
or an unusual action
saying “Good boy Moke, good boy!”
would have him stop in his tracks
to pay attention to what you were indicating for him to do.

When he lived in Tucson he would go over to a black mans yard
this guy was a welder and had lots of greasy metal objects
all over his back yard
so when Smokey came back greasy you knew who he visited

Once I saw him chase a huge tomcat twice his size
leaping into the air and landing on that cat in mid air
ramming him into a dead projecting tree branch
outside the kitchen window I witnessed his fury
Smokey didn’t take trespass from anyone

He once tried to emulate the behavior of a visiting cat
we called that gray cat “Shady” Shady could walk narrow fence tops
climb up thin pipes to get to the roof
Smokey tried these maneuvers but stopped
his balance did not match his desire

I was in a back yard hot tub once at his house
he was used to jumping up there when the top was on
this time he landed in the hot water
paddled to the edge where I let him out

But here near the border
we adopted a few more kittens a couple years ago
the older cats were not amused
I played with the “littles” like I played with Smokey when young
he began to join in on occasion
but mostly stayed away from them
however, they worshiped the older cats
the boy cat “Jimmy” loved him even if he swiped at him
the last year they began to play certain moments
Jimmy tried to be wherever Moke was
especially in evenings when cats love their cuddling time
and accept we humans as their peers and even parents

Jimmy now is having a hard time
he waited at the front door the days Smokey was gone
day and night
Yesterday when I found him
loose dogs threatening me as I picked him up
he seemed to be awake
his ears hearing our calling
his eyes waiting
as his stiff body’s paw pulled my shirt
I dreamed he was still here
the other night when just getting into bed
that one meow in my ear while I was still awake
it came from the direction I found him
I walked right to him saying;
“Good boy Moke,
Good boy.”

(We buried Smokey in a hole I dug for him
It is near were he liked to hang out.
In a cold blowing rain
I clawed the earth over him.
We spoke to him kindly
and cannot forget

our Good Boy Moke.)

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