Monday, November 27th, 2017...5:35 pmWHJF207

A Cat and its Prey

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A dictionary of ballet terms from the American Ballet Theatre:


A mouse stops suddenly

from its petit allegro

it senses something

something is watching


It turns out and around

looks en avant

to the side

even derriére.




The mouse is not soothed.

It knows one pas de chat

and all is over.


It’s right.


Out from the bushes

slides the slinky cat

its ballon reaching high

then higher


its sautee to the mouse

proves unsuccessful

the ballet master must try again.


The mouse pirouettes

to the nearest point of cover—

a hole en dedans

a tree


The angry cat left, en dehors from the hole

whines and whines

even pantemimes




The mouse fondus into its

new found safety

while the cat,

no longer virtuoso in its act

sits back on its supporting legs


…and dreams of biscuits

(because mice are nice).


Question for Solmaz Sharif:

Technology forces us to use language in such different ways. Our language is limited by physical space in the form of social media- Twitter has a word limit. Yet, the Internet seems to have endless space for anything to be published. We are also afforded the option to be anonymous. We can hide behind a screen if we choose. Do you notice or have you noticed any changes in the use/consumption of language or language itself with the development of technology?




  •   Professor Seiler
    November 29th, 2017 at 12:48 pm

    Rachel–what a fantastic and funny and fabular poem! Is “biscuits” a ballet term? Really? Also, and I mean this as a compliment: the tone of your poem reminds of Bishop’s “The Man-Moth.”

    Great question for Sharif. If you were to follow up on it, can you think of a poem or poems from _LOOK_ that your question opens onto?

  • Rachel, I really enjoyed reading this poem! I love how you applied the ballet vocabulary in such a creative way. I’m really interested to see how Sharif answers your question, because technology has changed how and where poetry is read. Since “Look” has themes of isolation versus intimacy, I’m curious how she thinks technology relates to that.

  • The application of ballet vocabulary to a seemingly unrelated situation comes across as very endearing in your poem. Despite knowing only the bare minimum about ballet, I can very easily visualize a kind of staged movement with the aid of these terms.

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