drop door


It is around 1:00 PM
on May 6, 2013
I, the Mearns bobcat species
of California,
west of Sierra Nevada,
am minding my business,
hunting in the tall grass
near the Marin Headlands Arts Center
for insects, rabbits,
small rodents and deer
It is unusual for me to hunt
at this time of day
I am supposed to be resting
in a thicket
I usually hunt the three hours
before sunset to midnight
and then before dawn
and the three hours after sunrise
My prey has different schedules
now that it is the driest year
on record

My keen sense of hearing
makes me hear a car door slam
I look up and with my sharp
sense of vision,
I see two women,
one younger
and one middle aged
looking in my direction
The young woman is wearing
jeans and a tee shirt
and the middle aged woman
a brown top, khakis and a hat
I hear “What do you think that is?
Do you think it’s a coyote
or a fox?” from the middle aged woman
The younger woman
zooms in her
Nikon Coolpix p90
I sit down
and turn my head to the left
Even though I live on the urban edge,
i don’t see people all that often
My ancestors have been here
for 1.8,000,000 years
but the people think
they own the place
They build their homes
in the woods, mountains
and deserts where me
and my relatives live,
yet they want to kill me
because they think I am a threat
They dump their trash
as they take their hikes
or camp
and they even mix us
with their domestic cats
for an “exotic” animal

I hear the younger woman
in an excited voice say,
“It’s a cat. It’s a bobcat.”
My bright green eyes
blend in with the grass
My tawny face
with the white muzzle
and white chin,
and the brown striped pattern
on my cheeks and forehead
poke out
The black tufts on my ears
stick up

After I pose for the photo
I go back to hunting
I hear the women get back in the car,
turn the motor on,
and take off
I feel more at ease


I know how this bobcat feels
Our street and surrounding streets
have also been swept up
an invasion of
techies, yuppies
and millennials from San Francisco
The Blacks who
once occupied the area
are dead, priced out
or foreclosed
to other cities:
Antioch, Vallejo,
Stockton and Castro

Ever since the Bakery Lofts
were build down the street
it is hard to park the car
in front of the house
On the street sweeping days
it is worse

When I back out of the driveway
It is more complicated
and dangerous
with the big, red whale of the car
parked in front of the house
when there is plenty of space
across the street
in front of their house

A young couple
walks their
tan and white pit bull
while they push
their young infant
in a jogging stroller
A woman with tattoos
up and down her arms
walks two more
tan and white pit bulls,
one in each hand
Why so many pit bulls?
Are they four legged Zimmermans
patrolling the Blacks who remain?

An older, gray haired couple
walk their two collies each morning
They look like miniature oxen
they let their dogs
do their do on our lawn
They don’t pick it up

Our neighbors next door
ask in a panic,
“Do you know if our neighbors
have a bee hive?
There is a swarm in our backyard,
and they look like
they are coming into yours,”
a cloud of bees hover around
the rosemary bush
The beekeeper
comes to the front door
suited up and says,
“I have come to collect my bees.”

To quote Dad,
“As soon as you get rid of one pest,
another one comes along.”
these particular pests ride bicycles

About the author: Tennessee Reed is the author of six poetry collections, a memoir and a novel. She is currently working on a novel, a short story and a seventh poetry collection. Ms. Reed has read around the Continental United States, Alaska, Hawaii, England, the Netherlands, Germany, Israel and Japan. She has received her B.A. from the University of California at Berkeley and her M.F.A. from Mills College. Ms. Reed is the managing editor of Konch Magazine and the secretary of PEN Oakland.

Artwork: John Manibusan is an artist living in Cincinnati, Ohio. He also works for a major airline.