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Ode to an Empty Cardboard Box

The gift that keeps on giving.

by Nikki Palumbo
December 28, 2021
Tabby cat in a box under the Christmas tree
Carolyn Lagattuta / Stocksy

Your pet wants you to read our newsletter. (Then give them a treat.)

It’s that festive time of year again
when the halls are decked and the family gathers
and these monsters shred through thoughtfully-wrapped presents only to complain
before anyone thinks to give the cat hers.

Even along the fireplace mantlepiece
there are, for some reason, tiny gifts stuffed in socks
but the greatest gift is the one that’ll bring me peace
yes, it’s you, an empty box.

Bigs, smalls, stouts or talls
there’s no size cardboard I will discard
it’s safe and empty with ideally four walls
so I’ll sit in here and watch my humans watch the Christmas classic Die Hard.

This empty box is where
I will chew and scratch and sleep
and plot and toil and swear
and stalk and nap and creep.

The former inhabitant is long gone
some worthless sweater or Macbook Pro or candle evicted from this box
Now I reside here, in you, from dusk till dawn
my personal cat cave — this rocks!

If my humans ever throw you away I’ll ponder
ways to guilt them — from relentless crying to the unorthodox —
because my love for you will never wander
and forever I will pine for you my beautiful OH LOOK STRING!!!!!!

nikki palumbo

Nikki Palumbo

Nikki is a writer and comedian. Her writing has appeared on The New Yorker, McSweeney’s, Funny or Die, Reductress, the Google Assistant, and her folks’ fridge. She was named one of WhoHaha’s “35 LGBTQ Creators We Love” in 2018 and a Yes, And Laughter Lab finalist in 2019. She worked as a story producer on the YouTube Originals weekly music show, RELEASED, and wrote for the inaugural 2021 MTV Movie & TV Awards: Unscripted, hosted by Nikki Glaser. Nikki hosts the monthly-ish standup show Queer Tiger Beat, which has been recommended by The New York Times and featured in Time Out.