Mr. Boots Has Fleas (poem)

Posted by ractrose on 24 Jan 2020 in Art, Poems

OIl painting of cat scratching fleas




Mr. Boots Has Fleas


The first bite is the one that itches

Generalissima Flea says, “Sisters,

keep your back low, it’s a war zone. Jump!

Hold your column, single file. Make for the summit.

The summit! Where the blood flows warm.

Some of you will be swallowed by the cat, and some―”

The general springs and flies, burrows, hooking scales of skin

And between the shoulder blades digs in

“Some,” standing atop a vertebral crest

she exhorts her soldiers, “will fall, in the teeth of battle

Here we nest! (upwards she thrusts her first right leg) And yield not a speck! Sisters, you know the cat is protected. Most of us, in our brief lives, have heard only rumors of chemical weapons. In the contest between cat and flea, we abominate this crime. Sisters, let dishonor not be yours. But if the cat scratches, or a reckless deserter assault the Being, it will bring this on. My fleathren, prepare to die!”

“Now, she includes us,” the smaller male fleas catch one another’s eye.

“A hundred of us,” says the Generalissima, “gone in a night. Remember your rallying cry!”

PLAGUE, they shout…but the fleas have not held such power for a long time


“Ah,” says Mr. Boots, purring; purring by compulsion as

The comb’s metal teeth

Draw deep to the hair’s root, and pluck his tormentors in a trap that

Feels to Mr. Boots like the claws of a kind mother

He distantly recalls her

This warning to the trespassers that next

Come death and poison

(Meds, his human mother calls them)

“Madam, you accuse me falsely…

I have not picked up fleas. Who would?”




Mr. Boots Has Fleas

Stylized photo of tabby cat face in camera lensA Little Joy
Madam Black Widow
















(2014, Stephanie Foster)




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