A Cat by Any Other Name

when my daughter was ten,

maybe eleven,

she told her father and me,

when I'm grown I'm going to

change my name to

Tigress Exotica

my daughters will be called

jaguar, panther, lynx

all the boys will be bob


I wanted to say that

Tigress Exotica is a

better name for a

stripper than a mother but

instead I asked why she wanted

that particular name


heaving an exasperated sigh in my

direction, she rolled beautiful baby blues,

hiding a storm on the Indian Ocean,

well, mother, she said,

cats never pretend they're happy to see you.


ReadWritePoem Prompt: Day 18

Write a poem featuring the cat family, whether big or small.

There are many cat poems that may inspire you. The first poem that comes to mind, William Blake’s “The Tyger,” wonders why such a creature is created in the first place. Did such a creation come from the Devil himself? God will only create a lamb, right?

Ted Hughes wrote about the jaguar, a not-so-distant cousin. I think a jaguar looks even more fearsome. There’s a playful feline quality about the tiger. Not so with a jaguar! It is like black rage. I’ve seen a jaguar in a zoo, pacing endlessly in its cage. Here’s how Hughes wrote it, in “The Jaguar,” “He spins from the bars, but there’s no cage to him” and “his stride is wildernesses of freedom.”

Then there’s the pussy cat. In “Esther’s Tomcat,” also by Hughes, the cat becomes, in a figurative sense, the protagonist, the beleaguered husband. Hughes describes him as “an old rough mat” and reveals, “Continual wars and wives are what/ Have tattered his ears and battered his head.”

Is that enough to go on? Roar! Purr!

in this poem, my daughter pronounced "T-I-G-R-E-S-S" as Teegress, not Tyegress. The Spanish "i," si?