FOR LITERATE CATS AND THEIR HUMANS

Grandkitty Dahlia reads The Efinitive Anthology of Distinguished Feline Verse

Grandkitty Dahlia reads The Definitive Anthology of Distinguished Feline Verse

“Was this the puss that munched a thousand mice
And napped atop the towers of Ilium? ….”
excerpt from Mephistopheles by Christopher Marlow’s Cat

In Xanadu did Kubla Kat A splendid sofa-bed decree With silken cushions soft and fat A perfect feline habitat

“In Xanadu did Kubla Kat
A splendid sofa-bed decree
With silken cushions soft and fat
A perfect feline habitat…”
excerpt from Kula Kat by Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s Cat

Henry Beard’s Poetry for Cats, The Definitive Anthology of Distinguished Feline Verseis a must for literate cats and their humans, especially if said humans love cats as much as they love poetry. Beard does a fine job with his parodies, keeping the meter and rhyme of original poem and capturing the idiosyncrasies of cats in the way that only someone who lives with them and loves them could. The book is dedicated to Serafina – “il miglior gatto” – the best catThat says it all, doesn’t it?

“And though your human sweetly calls his pet
Or rants and raves until his face is blue,
do not go peaceable to that damn vet,
Hide, hide, when your appointment time is set.”
excerpt from Do Not Go Peaceable to That Damn Vet by Dylan Thomas’s Cat

The book includes some forty parodies of poems by poets of renown including Chaucer, Donne, Blake, Shelley, Kilmer, Ransom, Nash and Ginsberg and three she-poets: Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Emily Dickenson and Gertrude Stein.

The elders among us will remember American humorist Henry Beard (b. 1945) as one of the founders of National Lampoon.  His other books include French for Cats, A Cat’s Night Before Christmas, A Dogs’s Night Before Christmas and Zen for CatsBeard wrote humorously about Latin, Golf,Lord of the Rings, political figures, and other topics. His Amazon page is HERE.

Poetry for Cats is well-crafted and just plain fun, relief in a world that is forever dishing up strife and stress. No spewing hairballs on this one. Dahlia gave it a paws-up and her humans – my son and daughter-in-law – loved it too. It makes a sweet gift, which it was in this case.

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Thanks to Embarcadero Jack for photographing Dahlia reading. (What can I say?  Grandkitty is a very smart cat.)


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Poet and writer, I was once columnist and associate editor of a regional employment publication. I currently run this site, The Poet by Day, an information hub for poets and writers. I am the managing editor of The BeZine published by The Bardo Group Beguines (originally The Bardo Group), a virtual arts collective I founded.  I am a weekly contributor to Beguine Again, a site showcasing spiritual writers. My work is featured in a variety of publications and on sites, including: Levure littéraure, Ramingo’s PorchVita Brevis Literature,Compass Rose, Connotation PressThe Bar None GroupSalamander CoveSecond LightI Am Not a Silent PoetMeta / Phor(e) /Play, and California Woman. My poetry was recently read by Northern California actor Richard Lingua for Poetry Woodshed, Belfast Community Radio. I was featured in a lengthy interview on the Creative Nexus Radio Show where I was dubbed “Poetry Champion.”


The BeZine: Waging the Peace, An Interfaith Exploration featuring Fr. Daniel Sormani, Rev. Benjamin Meyers, and the Venerable Bhikkhu Bodhi among others

“What if our religion was each other. If our practice was our life. If prayer, our words. What if the temple was the Earth. If forests were our church. If holy water–the rivers, lakes, and ocean. What if meditation was our relationships. If the teacher was life. If wisdom was self-knowledge. If love was the center of our being.” Ganga White, teacher and exponent of Yoga and founder of White Lotus, a Yoga center and retreat house in Santa Barbara, CA

“Every pair of eyes facing you has probably experienced something you could not endure.” Lucille Clifton

The Reign of Claws, A Tale of Two Cats

“I meant,” said Ipslore bitterly, “what is there in this world that truly makes living worthwhile?”
Death thought about it.
Cats, he said eventually. Cats are nice.”

Terry Pratchett, Sourcery: A Novel of DiscWorld



Cats and dogs and other wee creatures are good friends to writers and poets. They keep us company through long solitary days of work.  They force us to get up, move around, walk, use our distance vision … take a break.

After years of nurturing all sorts of animals – we had a variety when my son was little – my docs told me no more birds, cats, rats, goldfish, beta, hamsters, or gerbils.  Dogs, for some reason, seemed okay and I’ve had two in recent years. I adopted Bob Seeger Dedes at the end of September and by October I had to surrender him, my allergies kicked in to the point that my eyes were swollen shut and it was hard to get out of bed. I’m devastated, but Bob was taken into a good home within days of surrender, such is his charm.


In loving memory of all the fish babies and love birds, of Gerry 1 and Gerry 2, Sherlock Holmes the Rat, Priscilla, Tigger, Bubba Cat, Telemachus, Dexter, Feyd, Buddy, Brutus, Skippy the Bush Dog, and The Bax.

My son looked at Pyewacket. “She’s either the smallest Holstein or the biggest cat.” She was big … and reserved. She was a lady of the old school and a contrast to Gypsy, a feline with some distant kinship to Peter Pan. Gypsy didn’t want to grow up. We thought she might be a munchkin, a hyperkinetic one. Where Pyewacket watched the world from behind wide Yoda eyes, Gypsy, like a stranger from another planet, was inclined to place her head in the mouths of huge dogs, bend metal blinds with bare claws, set rivers loose with bounding leaps into water bowls and – disguised as an innocent kitty – create havoc to the disgust of Pyewacket who had Yoda’s eyes but not his stoicism.

Here we are – at the vet – the munchkin and the Holstein – a pair reminiscent of Mr. & Mrs. Sprat of fairytale fame. The recommendations: prescription diets for both, exercise for Pyewacket. “Get something for her to chase.”

That’s when I got Tweety Pie. She lived in the corner of the living room and hung out on a string that was attached to a length of bamboo. She licked her beak at the thought of two cats to outsmart. Back and forth, too and fro, she flew across the room. Pyewacket turned a blind-eye on the indignity of the chase, but Gypsy couldn’t get enough.

Time passed as it is wont to do. Pye stayed her plump and meditative self. Gypsy remained scrawny, endlessly chasing Tweetie Pie and leaping from tabletops and counters. One day I woke up too weak to walk. The docs did their best to repair the damage my deranged immune system had wrecked. Their best was very good indeed. Still, it was difficult to keep up with Gypsy. My world-class son and beautiful daughter-in-law adopted Gypsy.

Pyewacket stayed with me and we took care of one another, though eventually kidney failure – common in cats – had the last word. Pyewacket started her walk to the Rainbow Bridge. Every few steps she turned and looked back, the sadness in her Yoda eyes more profound than ever. Years later Gypsy left. I wasn’t with her but envision Gypsy leaping across the Bridge. True to herself, no backward glances, just on to the next adventure.

The Reign of Paws was filled with smiles and love, but cats don’t live as long as humans. Loss is expected, inevitable, heartbreaking. Still, I regret nothing. Some of our best family memories include our kitties and they’ve inspired more than one story or poem by more than one of us.


ABOUT

Testimonials

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Poet and writer, I was once columnist and associate editor of a regional employment publication. I currently run this site, The Poet by Day, an information hub for poets and writers. I am the managing editor of The BeZine published by The Bardo Group Beguines (originally The Bardo Group), a virtual arts collective I founded.  I am a weekly contributor to Beguine Again, a site showcasing spiritual writers. My work is featured in a variety of publications and on sites, including: Levure littéraure, Ramingo’s PorchVita Brevis Literature,Compass Rose, Connotation PressThe Bar None GroupSalamander CoveSecond LightI Am Not a Silent PoetMeta / Phor(e) /Play, and California Woman. My poetry was recently read by Northern California actor Richard Lingua for Poetry Woodshed, Belfast Community Radio. I was featured in a lengthy interview on the Creative Nexus Radio Show where I was dubbed “Poetry Champion.”



 The BeZine: Waging the Peace, An Interfaith Exploration featuring Fr. Daniel Sormani, Rev. Benjamin Meyers, and the Venerable Bhikkhu Bodhi among others

“What if our religion was each other. If our practice was our life. If prayer, our words. What if the temple was the Earth. If forests were our church. If holy water–the rivers, lakes, and ocean. What if meditation was our relationships. If the teacher was life. If wisdom was self-knowledge. If love was the center of our being.” Ganga White, teacher and exponent of Yoga and founder of White Lotus, a Yoga center and retreat house in Santa Barbara, CA

“Every pair of eyes facing you has probably experienced something you could not endure.” Lucille Clifton

Okay, “Mofia Cats” … from Roger McGough, because we all need a laugh today …

said-and-done-sI am only just now familiarizing myself with Roger McGough’s work , having recently been introduced to it by a friend who sent Mofia Cats. The version she sent me is the one HERE (scroll down), which I couldn’t load into the post, but I think it’s the better one. I feel like somehow everyone else in the world knows about this poet but me. Maybe it’s because he lives across the pond. McGough’s got quite a broad range from humorous to serious and has about fifty published books.

“Yes, you can feel very alone as a poet and you sometimes think, is it worth it? Is it worth carrying on? But because there were other poets, you became part of a scene. Even though they were very different writers, it makes it easier because you’re together.” Roger McGough

The gentleman is from Liverpool. Of  a certain age, he takes his inspiration from the Beats. It seems he belongs to several poetry societies and has a bit of alphabet after his name indicative of honors of the British Empire: CBE – Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire and FRSL – Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature. I’m always happy to see poets honored in ths way. Delving into his background is a whole new education. Until I read much more about him and much more of his poetry, I’ll leave you the Mofia Cats, which will surely put a smile on your Sunday face.


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The Rrroarrs

rrroarr

With a nod to Phillip K. Dick, author of the canine short-story RoogGrandkitty Gypsy decided that felines need their own such story. Hence, as dictated telepathically by Gypsy, here’s one for the kitties.

They made her shudder, those big-rig delivery trucks passing along Pacific Avenue, a busy stretch that runs parallel to the street on which the new apartment is located. They  – a good three or four at a time – stopped at the grocery directly across from Py’s building. Given the trucks’ mighty roar and intimidating size, she was amazed to see the humans gathering round, diving into the back of the truck and moving boxes on pallet jacks.

Py tried – dare we say it – doggedly to alert her human to the potential threat. She looked pointedly at the scene unfolding outside the window and bobbing her head up and down she growled “rrroarrrrroarr.” Unfortunately her human doesn’t speak Feline. When the human finally did take a look, she didn’t appear at all perturbed by the frightening perspective, though Py recognized it as abject terror. Soon though she began to feel her terror give way to interest. Food! She could smell food in the air, food that disappeared into the store’s receiving area.

Pensive, she studied the humans swarming about the trucks. One thought lead to another as thoughts are want to do. Suddenly she realized why feline foods are so poor: dry, boring, tasteless, “scientifically formulated nuggets” recommended by Dr. Annie. “For weight control,” she says. Humph! Ffffup! thought Py. The truth is we have to substitute good flesh food for dry prefabricated crunchables because the rrroars make sure the good stuff is hidden away in the humans’ grocery store. Her nose told her there was fresh fish to be had and – Bastet willing – some of that fish would be hers.

Pywacket (Py)

Slowly a strategy began to form in Py’s mind. Her dear but scattered human was forever forgetting something when she left for work. It was her habit to leave the front door open while she ran back into the apartment to find her misplaced keys or to grab her almost-forgotten lunch. For once, Py decided, I’ll take advantage of that. High stakes call for high risks.

Her chance came the very next day. When her human so predictably left the door open, Py escaped. She did her best to stay out of sight and for a while camped out behind a dryer in the laundry room.

Time passed slowly, Py slept, and then waking with a start, she listened to the stillness. She sensed all the humans in the building were gone for the day or settled down to watch their soaps on TV. Now’s my chance! She shot across the street like a Roger Clemens‘ pitch and scooted behind some bushes to assess the situation. It was there that she met a handsome red-coated fellow of her own kind.

At last the rrroarrs were empty and gone and the humans disappeared into the store. Py and her new-found friend, Fluffernutter, high-tailed it into the store’s receiving room.  They maneuvered past the stacked boxes of canned food and cleaning stuffs, their sensitive noses tracking the sweet scent of wild Alaska salmon in the fish monger’s section.

Fluffernutter (Nutter)

Once out of receiving and into the store they knew they were vulnerable. They decided Py would be the distraction while Fluffernutter went in for the kill. Py wrapped the luxury of her softly furred self around the leg of the fish monger. She purred seductively. Naturally he bent down to pick her up. Who could resist? The man immediately adored her and fed her a scrap of sea scallop in gratitude for her attention. As planned, the fish monger was so taken with Py that he never noticed the theft in progress.

Fluffernutter nabbed a hunk of salmon and made his way unobtrusively back to receiving and on to safety. When the monger gave Py another bit of sea scallop and regretfully set her free outside, she headed straight for the apartment house where Fluffernutter – whom she soon came to learn is more nutter than fluffer – was waiting for her. What a feast they had and it turned out to be just the first of many …

* * *

It’s been almost four weeks now. Py and “Nutter” – as she calls him affectionately – have their routine down. The silly fish monger is still deeply enamoured of Py and has no sense of her cunning. It’s hard to tell who is more devoted to the little feline goddess, man or Nutter.

Earlier today Py went with her human to visit Dr. Annie, who chastised the human for overfeeding Py and not keeping her safe inside. She’s now up from a petite eleven pounds to a voluptuous thirteen and pregnant to boot.

Pywacket & Gypsy

© 2012, story, Gypsy Rose and Jamie Dedes, All rights reserved * Gypsy blogs at The Cat’s Meow

© 2012, Pywacket (Py), from the family album, please be respectful – Jamie Dedes, All rights reserved

© 2012, Pywacket and Gypsy, from the family album, please be respectful – Jamie Dedes, All rights reserved

Photo credit ~ rrroars and Fluffernutter by Junior Libby, Public Domain Pictures.net