Wednesday, June 08, 2005

poem The Adapted Cat


Sat all Saturday
bored and basically

hating the day and
waiting for something.

Sally my sister
and I were dying

inside and trying
not to go crazy.

A crack and a boom
came thundering in

and spilled the rain all
over Mom’s carpet.

A pounce and a whush
delivered a cat

who bolt upright and
read this announcement:

“A trick on a dark
day helps the draggy

time pass, and chases
the grays out your door.

If you wish, you can
watch the dribbing and

drabs, or with tricks, take
a stab in the blue.

With your fish, you can
sit, and scout for your

Mom, so then when she’s
nigh, upon your cry,

you, I, and the fry
can finish our fun,

hose down the house, and
only then, when the

storm has passed and
our time is done, will

we swiftly kick these
unpleasantries out.”

Just then, with a dart,
from the red-and-white

stack of his stovepipe
hat, a teensy hand

snatched, from the reading
cat’s clutches, the note

from which he had been
piecing his speech and,

sin mucho ado,
the hand withdrew and

cat, moving too, slunk
straight and away through.

“Just what I feared,” sneered
our bowl-bound fish, “this

brash interloper
acts like he knows her,

puts on a show, but
no one does nothing,

or so much as yawns,
without absolute,


proof their intentions
are pure and a sworn

affidavit that
shows they’ve consulted

and have thoroughly
secured the total,

written, explicit
permission of Mom.”

Then up his upright
umbrella pole the

cat perched the fish in
his wobbledy bowl

and pirouetted
his own tippety

toe on a ball that
slopped slippety-so

down a freshly waxed
hall, with pitching and

woe, caterwauling
and yaw, like a lone

logroller clambers
over the lumber,

limberly scrambling
out from under and

gingerly hoping
to regain control.

Not heeding, it seems,
the fish’s wee shrieks,

or his little orb’s
diminishing wet,

the cat on the ball
started to bounce, and

struggle to juggle
the peeved little pet,

plus dead overhead
any movable junk,

or half-forgotten
snack, from any old

accessible crack,
or measly mouse that

popped into his path
whilst pogoing round

our deep-brown, detached,

and apparently
unparented house.

He tricked dick-and-jane
from their dustbunny

lair, and for pleasure
a Dickens he found

languishing there, then
bowled them and the fish

through the juggular
air, while researching

for additional
distractions, like a

leftover dish of
left-out cream, Dad’s old

rake still dripping of
soylent green, and a

marbular carton
of spaghetti ice

cream that Sally once
loved and now resides

calcified deep in
our freezer downstairs.

“Put me down,” screamed the
downright adamant

fish, but the mad cat
oblivious could

scarcely see, through his
gyrations and glee,

and the field of fast
invisible hands,

that he was deep in
danger of flinging

it all, the proud and
perfect result of

his haul, the fat and
happy assorted

detritus, the massed
and sordid horde he’d

acquired, including
a log still flapping

its fire, in a vast
and fulsome, frightsome

and wholesome, bouncing
big baby shebang.

Through all the buzz, fate
belled the cat, as the


does, and his face and
hat lay splat in the

dust, while all through the
house, projectiles took

flight, the heavier and
messier went right

to their appointed
plots, and fish to a

pot, suspended and
hot, in the kitchen.

The cat raised his head
in some painless pain,

like an ump calling
a day due to rain,

a sheep just sheared and
his ribs shown plain, like

passing a ten-ton
sorcerer’s stone, a

magician’s shame at
a trick well-blown, or

a monster’s fury
for sins unatoned.

Then we could see, neath
his strip├ęd stack, a

face more monkey or
man than cat, with his

front-facing eyes and
foot of five digits,

his prehensile tail
and backbone rigid,

and the way he grasped
Sally’s szechuan fan.

We could see it all,
through his twidgets and

tricks, that no matter
whence his forebears had

come, dashing cross the
savanna, with or

without gun, that he
was happily and

fully adapted
to fun, sorry for

storming and wrecking
our calm, and vowing

to set the rainy
day right, wipe away

any suggestion
of blight, swiftly fix

and polish it bright,
and then split, ere Mom.

But his hat seemed to
have a soul of its

own, in the space of
an instant it had

gracefully grown full
ninety-nine sizes

too large for his head,
then sprung some new life

form, which quickly spread,
and occupied each

niche in our indoor
ecology, new

things were evolving,
sans apology,

and making the house
their very own shambling,

shivering, rambling,
quivering river

of overgrown goo
and personal swamp.

The things flew kites in
the interior

breezes, then their lines

lashed us all at the
knees, and our pleas

couldn’t sway, nor cries

for mercy delay,
things having their way.

But the cat had one
trick in the sack that

he kept sequestered
round the rim of his

hat, and with his tail
unfurling, in a

flanking maneuver,
he extracted a

vacuum from the
red-and-white stack, then

smoothly hoovered the
things and their goo from

the throwaway rug
and our ceiling too

then sucked up our house
and all of the yard,

all the crumbular
remains and the shards

of the shattered day
and the scattered clouds.

When next we turned to
look, we were again

alone, with our Mom
approaching, though it

appeared our home was
none the worse for the

wear that the cat, or
whatever he and

things actually were,
exacted and weren’t

missing any of
the things extracted

when she wasn’t there.
The fish still burbling

and rain now sleeting.
What remained was a

fresh bag of tricks for
cheating sleep, and a

red-and-white tabby
that Mom let us keep.