The Robot Petting Zoo
Look for it close to the Amazon warehouse district,
not race tracks or the railroad station.
Don’t expect auto-vacuums or auto-lawnmowers,
it’s a fur-ever home for snuggle pups that don’t grow
into rambunctious black labs and for calico cuddle cats
that purr at any touch and home in on shoulders
in bed. Admission fees are need-based; declare
your loneliness on a scale of one to ten. Best
to come alone for the cheapest price, and best
deals are on Friday just after work, advertised
as Thank God I Feel Friday when you have one hour
for free. Leave your striped tie at home; the goat
teases by trying to chew on ties but gladly accepts
carrots. Shoelaces are sometimes a problem.
Soak in contentment sounds as if your presence
means perfect. No stinky excretions. Hypo-allergenic.
Let the zoo shop help you find the perfect gift.
(Snakes come with a warning of uber-realism.)
Pay the one-time low price, free shipping over $50,
no neutering or food bills. Lock your pet up and leave
when you need a vacation. If you’re gone long,
return with a new battery. Your pet can move
with you into dementia care. Guaranteed.
Tricia Knoll is a Vermont poet who lives with two non-robotic dogs in the woods who are digging their way to China. She is celebrating the publication of her new chapbook Checkered Mates which looks at relationships that go sideways or slither in strange ways. If this poem had been written earlier, it would be in that book.