Two Hep Cats and Plans for the Day

Two Hep Cats Plan Their Day

Poem for Ones Who Know One When They See One

What W. H. Auden said
“In Memory of W. B. Yeats,”
not modified in the “guts”
or on the blog:
“For poetry makes nothing happen: it survives”
so there it is,
no one need worry.

“Encore! Encore! More! More!”
OK, ok, settle down;
this is no time for pathos, but,
“Wild nights – Wild Nights!”
Emily Dickinson reasoned,
racked with want on the windy,
open sea of her dainty,

daunting room of gloom,
and who knew better even
than the audible Auden
how poetry makes nothing
happen, again and again,
like seizures,
and so I give you this, this wildcalm night:

Poem for Ones
Who Know One
They See One:

Poem for Ones

New Cat, Mew Cat

New CatHave you seen the new cat?
How could I miss?

Big cat.
And fast.

The new cat changes a lot.
Big house, zero lot.

So comes here.
Our lives will never be the same.

They never were the same.
What were we doing?

Waiting for what?

It’s what we do.
How does the new cat change that?

The new cat does not appear to wait.
What are we doing if not waiting?

Wait not, want not.
Want not, think not.

Think not, wake not.
Wake not, watch not.

Watch not, pine not.
Pine not, itch not.

Itch not, cat not.
Cat not, can’t not.

I am a cat.
That I know.

The new cat changes
not that cat.

New Cat Happy Cat

Privacy Poem

Where do we get this notion
of privacy?
Is privacy a value,
or is privacy a virtue?

If privacy is a value,
it’s simply a worth
we want, and what we want
is not always what is good
for us:
we want alcohol,
tobacco, and firearms;
fast cars with sound
so loud we need
instant accesses
to tête-à-tête boxes
where we spy
on our bosses.

But is privacy a virtue,
like love, patience, for
joy of living, or courage
to befriend?

Abuse of surveillance
does not make a virtue
of privacy,
just as, as Ivan Illich
is not the same as

But getting back
to privacy:
we want to be seen
and heard at the party
but not in the morning
when the porcelain white
face throws up
its image in the little pond.

The poet wants to be read:
“Read me! Read me!”
But the words seem so
no way to enter
the text.
“I’m in here!”
the poet exclaims,
as if from the depths
of some Xanadu privy,
and when we hear
the roller of big cigars,
his call a private scream
behind a rude screen,
we know the poem
is finished
and about
to go

In public the words squirm
for privacy, wriggling
across the page
for a clear margin.


Cold Reading

“Yr lines, sunny boy,
bingy, not calm,
head busy jabots,”

read Madame Fraus,
by the tide that rips
rocks thru yr palms.

“Saline swim,
bit sweet lit life,
palms stage aligned,

neck aflame, hair
shorn horizon
frizzled smile.

Silverfish whitecaps
aquiline wings smack
& bay across draft brow.

Paddle out, palms
cupped, plod, slog,
moil, & no sloom.”

No sleep, steep crag
to pine green palms,
in line for clay water.

Around another point,
the persuasive ocean
spreads open palms.

“I’ll see you next week,”
Madame Fraus said.
“Leave the door open.”

Cold Reading

Teeda, Sped, Flotsam, and Twist

Mr. Teeda with tart taste
hairy-scarfy lips late but at last
arises to seize downtown bus amid
yawns and snort, sneeze and nicks
himself hie shavely in tortello
braggadocio hurry-scurry.
“Out-a-my-way, out-a-my-way,”
Teeda cocoons the mod you
muddle of his noggin.

Meantime, Mr. Sped, cold splash
asleep in red tide road dust,
implacable rouge shore,
weird civic bird waggles past,
rubber fins folding dreamily,
tail swerving to and fro, football
public service posters advertising
Hollywood endings posted to fuzzy
windows frozen shut with rust.

Salt shakers fill the upright oak seats,
and time passes so terribly slowly,
magazines, cigarettes, styrofoam cups
of coffee and newspapers near boiling point,
Mr. Sped grows wonky waiting,
hoity-toity, charged with C of C,
expectant umbrellas aloft as Line 15
stretches in cap and scarf
amid coughs, and heaves, and spews.

“All one needs is the fare,” Mr. Flotsam claims.
“The rest depends on the robes
and suits of one’s
sword swallowed piers.”
“Brobdingnagian egos these
competitive solicitor types,” Mr. Twist explains.
“Half a man most of them, don’t feel
whole without an opponent in their ring
to tort down their ecomanic day,” Teeda says.

The firm still self-identifies
with vocational pigeonholes,
so when the toilet stops up,
they call in a travel agent.
In the boardroom, near the whiteboard,
Teeda polishes his burgundy wingtips
with the hands-off electronic
machine, rubs cream in his hair,
hears the snake’s whir.

Inside Li Po’s Restless Night at Berfrois

In my essay put up by Berfrois this morning on variations on a theme of Li Po, a notebook of poems I’ve been working on for years, originally suggested by my reading and writing experience with my former student Florence, I make reference to a few books she gave me. Below, I’ve posted some pics of the books, which I still have in my library. Among her many experiences Florence shared with me, she told me that she and her husband had fought with the resistance in the mountains of the Philippines in World War Two.

Florence was an excellent cook. Each quarter, my classes devoted an entire period to a potluck meal to celebrate the closing of the term. Recipes learned in kitchens around the world ended up on my classroom tables for our refugee feasts.

Travel over to Berfrois to have a look at the essay on Li Po’s poem.