Catherine Tufariello


The Nightingale’s Reply to the Poet

“My heart aches, and a drowsy” blah, blah, blah.
The way you moony bards can yammer on!
Whatever you may fancy, it’s not joie
de vivre that has me singing here, cher John.

“Not born for Death?” With predators aprowl?
A two-year lifespan is my “happy lot”—
that is, if I don’t cross a tawny owl,
who’d tear me into pieces on the spot,

or meet a slow demise by cat or snake.
Worse yet, some night-blind blunderer like you
might flail around declaiming verse and break
my fledglings’ necks. You say, “Adieu, adieu!”

yet still you stand here. For the love of God,
I’m in my prime. A bachelor. And it’s June.
My motto’s carpe noctem, you poor sod,
so scram! I’ve got a mate to find, and soon.

“The Raven,” Abridged

Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered, weak and weary,
“I’ve found six exterminators near you that list birds,” said Siri.

On My Therapist’s Vacation

My therapist is taking a vacation,
The first in years. He’s off three days next week.
Will he be in Times Square for the duration?
Or roasting fresh-caught catfish by a creek?

Or maybe in that Buddhist monastery?
I’m glad he’s finally going to get a break,
And glad, whatever his itinerary,
He has a slot on Tuesday I can take.

An earlier version of “The Nightingale’s Reply to the Poet” appeared in Per Contra.

Catherine Tufariello has recent or forthcoming work in Women’s Voices for Change, Monster Verse, Literary Matters, and THINK Journal. After being employed in academia for many years, she was struck in midlife by the irresistible urge to become a nurse. She lives with her husband and daughter in Valparaiso, Indiana, where she works as an inpatient psychiatric nurse at a community mental health clinic.