Here’s a poem …

les chats de la victoire

Les chats de la victoire (Photo credit: Isaszas)

Here’s a poem *not* about cats (well, maybe!) by J. Stephen Rhodes from the journal qarrtsiluni’s recent “Animals In The City” issue. I think he captures cats’ moods and behaviors perfectly:

Hyeres

You can’t write a poem about cats,
some professor said some time ago,
so this is not about them and how
they might run this old city that slopes
down to the Cote d’Azur and draws
in the sea. And, why should anyone bother
to describe the water either, blue beyond
blue, what Plato would have called the color’s
essence. So, this is not about how
each yard in the Cite Medieval has
at least two chats—landed gentry—
black, white or gray typically
but also the occasional yellow
or brown, though these latter figure more
in alleys, les chats ordinaires,
sleeping with legs or tails draped over walls
built during the time of Francis the First,
Charles of Anjou, or Julius Caesar.

You can’t write about them, even though
they’ve been here since the Phoenicians,
maybe, and if that’s the case they might
have been chasing rats onto triremes
from Egypt itself, mother of all
their unmentionable kind, perhaps.

Nor should you describe how they stroll
on the Avenue du General De Gaulle
past Jeff de Brugges and other fine stores,
tails erect, on the lookout for good deals
like everyone else. In windows, on stoops,
you can’t mention their toilettes or their naps,
or the occasional rendez-vous, either
courteous or, it must be said, sometimes rude.

All this having not been said, as they
are beneath some people’s notice, one might not
want to add that we, being human,
are beneath theirs, as well, and thus stare
with the same perplexity some of us share.

— J. Stephen Rhodes

(from http://qarrtsiluni.com/2013/05/29/via-negativa/)

Btw, I also have a poem in the same issue, but mine is about bees!

“A Couple Of Wittgensteins Slinking…”

In solidarity with our winter-bound friends on the East coast, here is a lovely short essay on ‘the mind of
winter’ by poet Charles Simic. It’s on the New York Review of Books blog.

Note the essay’s fourth section, in which he imagines the natural philosophizing of cow, dog, and cat around him–those “Wittgensteins slinking around back porches in the vicinity.”

So, if your cat were a philosopher, which one would s/he be?

I’ll have to think about that one because I can’t really think of Callie thinking, but rather as purely existing. That makes me think of her (as with our perception of all cats) as a Zen practitioner.

But that is a well-worn trope and probably a facile misreading (either of cats or of Zen). Maybe I should rephrase this and ask what Western philosopher’s thought a cat would exemplify.

Simic invokes Wittgenstein; I don’t know enough philosophy to have an opinion.

Anyone?

Read his essay here:

www.nybooks.com/blogs/nyrblog/2011/jan/04/winter-philosophers

Callie on a footstool-cum-meditation bench

20130209-083428.jpg

“The Cats Will Know” (Cesare Pavese)

Here is a depths-of-the-year, broken-hearted-lover poem from Italian poet Cesare Pavese. The poet looks ruefully forward to the “light rains” and “hyacinth dawns” of spring … with cats.

Here is an excerpt from the poem:

“The cats . . .
are the sad smile
you smile by yourself.”

Read the rest of the poem at the Poetry Foundation website:

http://www.poetryfoundation.org/poem/182021#.UOcLB3AhWgY.mailto