No mystery where it comes from—every feline on my mother’s side
lisps some. But I’ve got a quantum lisp. My lips turn the sonorous
noodle recipes in Tuscan kitty cookbooks into Polish place names.
Mostly what I do—wait a sec, a grubby paw needs licking—is meow
and purr my way through. Good thing. Certain consonants make
me choke, stick in my craw like uncooked letters in alphabet soup.
Some of my littermates talk about lovers’ lisps to cheer me up.
What tosh! No matter how much your fur bristles to make you look
large, you can’t cow tough old tomcats with bared teeth and a hisp.
Joe Smith poet
Honoria Starbuck illustration