Friday, June 22, 2012

"No poems about cats," M Bromberg

"No poems about cats"
(M Bromberg)

There, at the last, is the instruction
in the abrupt style of the young, dismissive, a topic
beneath contempt of any serious poet:

"Absolutely no poems about cats."
What? You might as well command
thunder not to rattle your hat.

Mention your critical embargo
to Wallace Stevens and T.S. Eliot
and see where you go.

Even Burroughs, the old cat in the hat,
envied the con jobs of every sly tom
looking for shelter and a milk bottle:

"Someone said
that cats are the furthest animal
from the human model.

It depends on what breed
of humans you are referring to,"
he wrote, "and of course, what cats."

A writer must have words
about cats, his, or the world's.
Kerouac. Hemingway, of course. Twain:

"A cat is more intelligent
than people believe,
and can be taught any crime."

Who speaks for my old Dexter,
Dylan, or his sister Flame, whose rhyme
is worthy of a turn in any poem

as in a Broadway musical:
Grizabella's got nothing on the lady Flambeau.
And just so you know,

what of the unnamed hysteric calico
who rattles the nerves  at three a.m.
with an aria outside your window?

Deny, deny, deny, you might,
but you'll get no sleep that night.
Papa Hemingway was right:

"One cat just leads to another."
Auden and his cat would tell you, too --
that is, if either of them cared enough to.

Beckett, and Ginsberg, and William Carlos Williams,
Stephen King and Joyce Carol Oates,
PG Wodehouse and Robert Graves;

and here's Abraham Lincoln:
"No matter how much cats fight
there always seem to be more kittens."

No poems about cats? Editor, then
perhaps it's best to state it plain:
he'd just as soon leave you out in the rain.

Consider Christopher Smart just for a start.
Turn down Ray Bradbury? Jean-Paul Sartre?
All right, editor,  if that's not art

don't expect a reply from cat.
It doesn't matter if he's out or in.
No one really speaks for him:

"Dogs come when they're called.
Cats will get back to you on that."
That's the cat's meow there, Jim.

Dylan (left) and his sister Flame, 2012

"No poems about cats" by M Bromberg is a response to the contemporary impression that writing about feline companionship is beneath comment in many literary journals. The previously unpublished poem is dedicated to all authors and their cat muses, and specifically to the seventeen-year-old Dylan and his sister Flame, who have been the author's feline familiars for many years. Dylan is currently in hospital awaiting surgery for a serious wound from defending his sister from bullying by a neighborhood cat, Tiny B. Such gallantry should not go unremarked nor without poetic honor.

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