Friday, January 3, 2020

Death and Mystery and Love

Mini Monster and Me, Fall 2019
Cat and Mom Selfie

Students - The other week, I wrote in my notebook a bit about the ghosts of dead pets coming to visit their owners. I wondered on paper how these dead pets know how to find their loved humans if they have moved to new homes. I think about this because I have loved many animals in my life, including our current seven: Cali (dog), Sage (dog), Sarah (cat), Mini Monster (cat), Pickles (cat), Firepaw (cat), and Fiona (cat). I believe that we will always be connected somehow, just as I am forever linked to my childhood dogs Thor and Valentine, and Mark's and my first dog Eli.

In Cynthia Rylant's soulful books DOG HEAVEN and CAT HEAVEN, she describes these animal Heavens, and my mind and heart will always carry the scene in DOG HEAVEN when the dog visits the family who loved him on Earth.

This idea of pet-ghosts visiting us is a mystery that haunts me in a very good way.

Mini Monster, in the above picture, is a very special cat to me right now. Some of you may know this. If you are interested in reading a 2010 essay about him, you may do so HERE. This piece also appears in Katherine Bomer's THE JOURNEY IS EVERYTHING (Heinemann, 2016).

Today's poem is an almost - sonnet.  It has fourteen lines in iambic pentameter (daDA daDA daDA daDA daDA) with the even lines rhyming.  Then, at the end, the final couplet rhymes too.  You will note a turn after line 8, a change in focus. My poem does not rhyme every alternate line, though, so it's not a true English sonnet.  

If you are thinking about your own poetry, one suggestion I have is to read lots of poems aloud. Tap out the meters, feel the rhythms in your hands and your feet and your body. Poems are songs. Poetry is music. Listen and feel others' poems inside of you, and these poems will offer your own writing more possibility, as the rhythms that live in us cannot help but come out in our writing.

What mystery haunts you? There's a poem there...I promise. Hours after writing this post, I realized that this topic of visitors in sleep must be deeply on my mind. See, my poem Two Girls, from November 8, 2019's post is also about this topic and also speaks to the reader at the end. I am going to pay attention to this curious and current interest.

Carol is hosting this week's Poetry Friday roundup at at Carol's Corner with Maya Angelou's gorgeous poem titled Continue. We invite everybody to join in each Friday as we share poems, poem books, poetry ideas, and friendship. Check out my left sidebar to learn where to find this poetry goodness every week in this beautiful new year before us.

All peace and bravery and laughter and light to you and your loved ones in this new year...this new decade!


Please share a comment below if you wish.


  1. I LOVED reading your essay about Mini! :-) Thanks for attaching the link. It made me tear up, giggle, shake my head yes, and smile while reading it. I fully agree with everything you said. It made me miss my kitty, BooBoo, and dog, Diamond, so much. They are together in Heaven. Thanks for sharing!! :-)

  2. Wonderful post...I write that as my 12 y.o. dog, who has raised the kids with me and my hubs snores next to me on the floor. I know the grief of missing her someday soon (hopefully, not too soon) will hurt bad. So, I delight in the idea of a ghost visit from her. I love the dreams I have when I get to see my Mom. Even just a bit of dream feels like a visit and I cherish it.

  3. The idea of pets revisiting their owners intrigues me. I've always felt like my dogs sort of reincarnated in the next dog- Rooney, my current service puppy-in-training is goofy and rambunctious and exuberant, like Jack Black, who was as sweet and soulful as my all time favorite four-legged Buddy, Ramsey. Interestingly, I'm about to start a book, GOOD DOG by Dan Gemeinhart, about a dog who returns to Earth to take care of his best friend.

  4. I'm not sure about the ghost visits, but perhaps for me it is the memory that stays in my hands of the feeling of petting each one. I can still imagine that feeling of all the dogs and cats now gone. I love Rylant's books, glad you are a fan, too, Amy! Happy New Year best wishes to you & yours!

  5. Thanks for the reminder to focus on the things that haunt us and for sharing your wonderful essay. I needed the reminder that essays can be beautiful powerful things.

  6. When I would visit my parents before they moved to a retirement home, I would experience ghost visits from their cat. Creepy but somehow comforting. Thanks for writing a sonnet. I need more sonnet models.

  7. So much to love about this post. Most of all, I love your essay. Thank you for being such a light in our world!

  8. I love your poem and this is a beautiful idea! Thank you for sharing, Amy. It sparks all sorts of writing ideas for me.

  9. I love the idea of our pets visiting us in our sleep. We are currently petless and I miss snuggling with furry friends. Thank you for sharing your lovely almost-sonnet, Amy.