During the dog days of summer, we present a mini-anthology of dog poems by EIL poets. Now, in October, it’s equal time for cats! Click on each poet’s name to be taken to her/his solo feature, and look for more links at the end, and more cat poems next week. As if there weren’t already enough cats on the Internet, eh? Now this! It’s a Cat-at-Strophe!
Cat art by Nicola Slattery
Carolyn Sheehan Gandouin
Every Night at Six
Tash screams in ecstatic
expectation, every night at six
dances on her back legs
from the wall to the sink,
fervent pupils flashing
in a ballet of anticipation.
As I open the door of the fridge,
every night at six, Tash holds
her strident note, singing
with force for her supper. She darts
in frenzied figure eights
through my legs. I peel open
the can and she’s dancing,
singing an aria, electrified,
ecstatic and screaming,
every night at six.
In Answer to The Question
Really, it’s the litterbox, my lack of a basement and my modern idea that large mammals shouldn’t shit indoors. Even cats, from what I’ve been told, are disgusted by their own feces, that they look back at it, sickened, and they bury it, ashamed. There’s the choice between using chemical-laden, clumping, lavender-scented litter or natural self-composting-unscented. Do I save the planet or my sinuses? Offend others or just me? It’s why I don’t vote for national offices. All the wealthy men (mostly male, because, really, females can deal with shit more easily) in their lovely suits, slicked hair, shiny shoes, refusing to acknowledge the messes they create, leaving them for some other being (sentient? omniscient? all-powerful?) to clean up later. The way they parade down halls, ignoring those they don’t want to know exist, coming out for pettings only when they feel the need, or that the visitors are worthy. It’s why I love the artist who draws cats from behind, their little sphincters on view because their tails are held so proudly, and the woman who dressed her cat in a shark costume and taught him to ride the robot vacuum, then got it on video in all its ridiculousness, going back and forth, bumping into cabinets, changing directions, his fin covering his ears. The absurd mixes so well with the highfalutin. There’s something satisfying about not adopting one, but knowing someone with a constitution that can deal with shit and snobbery, sphincters and slick fur, can love such a creature.
The cats crouch.
And if you have only borrowed their names,
you make them fluent.
You feed them, of course. Porch to porch,
leaving them territories.
Every day, begin again: the soft murmur
with each dish you lay out,
your fingers spreading through them.
You’ll remember the way one bends
low to the ground, the other
comes toward you in endless proposal.
At the start of another reluctant spring,
you open the door, call— your voice
filled with the cadence of saying
what you say: pretty
pretty pretty in the sideways light.
One scuttles up against a steady
broadcast of wind. But the other?
She hides all the time
in the trees, fat and long.
The cat, her round face,
you can’t find the tremulous cat.
The wind slacks at last.
She was called Pearl, and you roll
that single sound in shadows, a lonely word
to say, a swoop
upon the sky, the soft
worry breaking right in front of you.
Now That’s What I’m Talkin’ About
My cat has swallowed the year’s last moon.
It stares out gold through his eyes. All night,
he carries it inside him like a dream.
And he’s eaten three constellations,
so he’s warm now as whiskey with their light.
He’s a cat. He takes whatever pleases him.
He gulps the very heart of the Earth—its own
red center—then finishes with a yawn. . . .
At last, the Earth’s heart settled down, purring.
Outside, it’s winter and a cold wind stirring.
Above that, beyond, more cold to come,
no question. But not for me, not tonight.
Inside, if he stirs at all, my cat stirs
like a furnace. Here. On the bed, between my feet.
[in Weather Report (SomondocoPress, 2006)]