Duncan Newcomer’s ‘Haikus for Sonnets’ capture the wonderment of love for our companions

In Memoriam: Sonnets

Sonnets was a purebred Abyssian. She came under the care of the Rev. Dr. Duncan Newcomer as he entered major life transitions from Washington, D.C. in the year 2008. She was from a breeder in Long Island and for the great sum, to him, of $1,000, as a marker of the important transitions, was delivered, with her papers, to Rev. Newcomer in Cape May, New Jersey, in the fall of ’08. She was his companion from then on for the many transitions they both underwent, and came to her end with an untreatable illness in Maine, in September of 2021. Abyssians are famous for extending their right paw upon greeting or awakening and that was what won Newcomer’s heart at a cat show years before. She was a poem to him and so named after the form so perfectly presented by Shakespeare and Browning.

Haikus for Sonnets



Are you ready, ready

to go up the stairs, eat a treat,

make my life?


When they see your cat face

they stop doing what they were.

They don’t know why.


As if roaring you yawn,

a tiger awakes, teeth and claws,

then back to sleep.


Moving square of sun

on floor, then higher

on chair, closer for you.


It’s your war dance

chasing this feather on a string,

we take off kite-like.


Of course I talked to you,

but like Tao,

silence was knowing.


I had all the language.

You had not a word. You

are how we are together now.


It was the

cool drop on your nose,



Everything was OK

I had my cat

at least.


If I had fur like you

but inside,

lick my heart?


You, Abyssinian cat, round half circle on bed,

me, tall standing man, white hair,

breeze breaks curtains, your left paw stretching.


Of course the sunlight

shown through your ears,

we could all hear it.


There with your E.T. ears

I would always come back

to you, there with your E.T. ears.


Yes, I would at times hold

your paw as we slept.

Not a third thing, just us.


Can you still jump to


Back and forth you tremble.


They say it is best

To put the cat down.

This far? I say.


Your nostrils like

pin holes, but

they put the last needle in your leg.


My head bowed on yours

our two griefs one

lost each other, but you lost you.


Head to head

I breathe full of mourn

no air left inside.


These minutes of joy

did they run out

like the ticking clock?


Shall I bring you

my emptiness

now, or later?


Framed glass door

your place of view

empty now, seeing nothing.


Twelve years never gone.

Two days gone now.

This just doesn’t add up.


Skunk smell outside

acrid air everywhere,

I keep breathing grief.


I’ve never caught a fish

with my hands,

nor this grief.


Leave box of tissues

Anywhere now,

No table-jumping.


Gripping grief

even little paws

scimitar claws.


I’ve had a few

of your white whiskers

retrieved on my wood lamp base.


I look over assured

your absence



The dark side of moon

still full

wanes when?


In bed middle

no cat circle

nothing to curve around.


In dozens of Chinese verbs

overtones of grieving,

like Shakespeare, Sonnets.


So a sonnet for Sonnets.

You, twelve years long.

Where is the couplet?


I experience you in these words

like the room

you just left.


Right now under the bedside lamp

still room made

on bed for you.


So it is the next room

where I will see you again,

the next room.


Last prayer

at end of day,

you raised my spirit.


No, I won’t grieve


I won’t live that long.


There’s a place for us,

it isn’t here,



Stepping slowly

to heaven

did we leave anything behind?


Exist in these words

Cat Tao Cat Tao Cat Tao?

Lick my hand.


Print Friendly, PDF & Email


  1. Gary Dickson says

    Dear Duncan,

    Part of the downside of loving something is the ever present possibility of losing that which you love. Your tribute is touching in its recounting of the relationship and the tiny but important properties that so define affection.

    I sympathize with your loss and understand better the depth of your sorrow.

    Your friend, another self,


  2. Adriane Herman says

    So and truly moving. What a generous, flowing + tender rivulet of a poem. The photo at the end seals the deal. How lucky you all were to find yourselves together. Still.

  3. Nancy Carey says

    You captured the great love you feel for Sonnets in these lines, so hard to do with words. But the stanza “No, I won’t grieve/ forever,/ I won’t live that long” captures the grief when a loved one dies better than I have ever read or heard. Thank you for this.

  4. LAKE says

    Thank you for sharing this poetry inspired by your dear Sonnet! It helps me feel less alone in my grief over the loss of my furry friends who were my best friends.