Prufrock’s Cat

In the failing fog the Prufrocked cat froms and froes,
lurking catatonically,
catcher of mice and men,
leaving not a trace of trance or dance
with which we were once familiar,
catabolic feline with contractible claws.

A hiss as from a match declares this driven cat with drawn claws.
This hideous hipstress wears no frown.
Nevermind, nevermore, familiar
tuna must suffice; in fact,
I’m opening the can as fast as I can.
Fiend, your mane is mean!

Man knows not your true menace,
the deceitful pale rose of your delicate claws
clinking ice to a theremin dance,
an idle locomotive meowing to and fro,
the moves of this domestic cat’s
imagery eerily familiar.

In what lonely lair was sired this queen of liars?
Did He who made thee amid mice make men?
How came you back from the cataclysm?
Did I hear you in the catacombs caterwauling?
Yet now you come in dress frolicsome,
singing, “Do you wanna dance….”

Though the salty leap gives rise to a contra dance,
the caryatid looks familiar,
a choreography of calligraphy, dancing to and fro,
a sweating menagerie.
Mind those mendacious claws.
This mendicant needs no frilly silly cat

messmate out to act
some tunahall cancan.
I too should have been a pair of claws,
a crawling cat on the lam,
whose unreadable bedlam mien
strikes mayhem then saunters off to and fro.

One more clause regarding this catachresis:
Whether to or fro on this floor dancing,
Prufrock’s cat is the cat of a family man.


  1. Wish we could hang out more.

    1. Joe Linker says:

      Hey, Charles, Thanks for reading and great comment! Days we hung out in the back yard on Mariposa, acoustic days, before everything got plugged in. Would love to get together for some guitar one of these days!

  2. lisa says:

    you make me crazy. i L-O-V-E this sestina. froms and froes is great. stanza 3, my favorite. and i wish as charles.

    1. Joe Linker says:

      Thanks, Lisa, but Sestina’s the responsible party.

  3. I liked these:
    In what lonely lair was sired this queen of liars?

    a choreography of calligraphy, dancing to and fro,
    a sweating menagerie. – :)

    But you know, I view it with “non-English” eyes. You are too talented to hang out with.I think 60% of the words I don’t even KNOW.

    1. Joe Linker says:

      Thanks for close reading and comment, Hanna. You have all the language experience. Nyet? Here’s an illustration of the sestina I’d not seen before:

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