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Cat Zero

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"There is nothing to be found in this whole living world so deformed that Soul does not attend it,
that a gift of the Soul is not in it."

—Marsilio Ficino


╚══════════════╝



Cat Sistrum

The world, we learn, is not all that it seems,

and weary of the way are we,

who journey to Bubastis in our dreams.


For there, above the gates where conscience leads you,

in ancient characters, for all to see:

the sesheshet: "Don't bite the hand that feeds you."

That's all of wisdom, or so it seems to me.




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Catspit

The title of this poem

refers to the mysterious element

in the saliva of cats

that's supposed to induce hysteria in histamines;

but of course science, like sex

when reduced to absurdity

by a materialist world view,

is,

as Beckett's Molloy memorably puts it,

"a mug's game."




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Cat Noir

It had rained cats and dogs all day and custom was off.

The joint was deader than a church on Black Friday. A few regulars only. The diehards. Lost souls impermeable to rain.

I had taken a cat nap in my office, though there's no room to swing a cat back there, and had just come out to spell Lee behind the bar,
who went back to the office to phone his book, when she walked in.

Well, dog my cats! I almost muttered. But I'm not given to muttering. And I don't know the phrase.

She floated across the place in a Hollywood dolly zoom looking like a 40s glamour photo by George Hurrell.

Look what the cat dragged in, I said frostily.

Hello, Max. Long time no see, she said in her smoky voice, and the room temperature rose two degrees.

You've changed, she said. She looked around. This place hasn't changed though. She slid onto a stool.

In the end we had fought like cats and dogs and so I wasn't about to play cat and mouse with her now. Same poison for you? I said.

She carried a smart hand purse, and from it she brought a gold cigarette case, a gift from me once upon a time, inscribed and all,
and from this gold cigarette case produced a long slender cigarette.

I lit it for her with a clang and flick of a gold cigarette lighter she had given me once upon a time, also inscribed.

Cat got your tongue, Max?

There was a lot I could have said, I suppose.

I suppose there was a lot I wanted to say.

But it had all been said before.

Under the circumstances I decided to wait and see which way the cat jumped.

So I took Harvard with the points—, Lee started to say when he came back behind the bar. Hey, Della, he said in sluggish surprise.

Hey, Lee, she said. What's the matter, Lee? You look like the cat that swallowed the canary right now.

You know, Della, Lee said, I think it was a canary.

Lee, I said, there's a case of Angostura in the basement. Why don't you bring up a couple bottles.

I already did, Lee said.

Well, bring up a couple more, I said.

Right, Lee said, already on his way downstairs. Looks like it's going to be a big night for bitters.

What was there to say really? I asked myself.

She had the morals of an alley cat?

While the cat's away the mice will play?

This was an old story after all. Della was a cliché . Even Lee was a cliché. Cold comfort in that.

Being part of an old story made everyone in it a cliché.

That was hardest to take.

Jonesy! she said, warming the air again with her voice.

A tuxedo cat, long and sleek, in slow pacing gait, strode along the top of the bar, avoiding plates of bar nuts.

Lee left the door open, I said. Let the cat out of the bag again, you might say.

Mr Jones is the same, she said, greeting the cat with a stroke from crown to tail.

Still wearing your black mask, sweetie, she said, grinning like a Cheshire cat.

The cat nudged at her hand at the beginning of each stroke.

That's called head bunting, she said. It's a sign of trust.

I clucked.

You know there's more than one way to skin a cat, Mr Jones, I muttered.




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Cat Purring

After time wasted

playing with words

cat o'nine tails

and

cat o'nine tales

for example

composing lines fingers kneading

the warm underside of a supinated tabby cat

belly to breast

breast to belly

belly to breast

back in bed after breakfast

feeling the first chill of autumn in the dawn

other fingers palping

scalp to scruff

scruff to scalp

all amid

the while

all under the silence the while

the low

continuous

vibrancy

pedal-point of the cosmos




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Catswort

if all in all of all that lives and dies

it is like something to be this or that—

a thing that walks erect, or creeps or crawls or flies,

or swims, or frisks about and curls up on a mat—

then does this heart, of all these living miracles in guise,

above all wonder what it's like to be a cat




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Cat Oneiric

Last night I was coming back from somewhere

relieved to be coming back and glad to be back

thinking I would get me some ice cream

celebrate with some ice cream

yes, some nice ice cream would hit the spot, I thought

but then thinking maybe just some sesame noodles from Szechuan Village

except I got food poisoning from there a few months ago

puked so hard it scared my cats

and hadn't taken out from Szechuan Village since

so maybe ice cream after all


Not sure what I decided in the end because the next thing I know one of my cats is hovering in the air all aglow

like some Vegas magic act of levitation

then falling in slow motion and landing awkwardly on a foreleg

and he starts limping around and me sick with worry

my first thought was to call my mom but then I remembered she was dead

my second thought was the 24-hr veterinary emergency hospital where I had once taken my other cat

when he had that strange bout of vestibular disease

awful time, that

the hospital magnet was on the fridge as I recalled

but just as I was growing frantic about who to call

facing the hard fact that I really had no one left to call in life

I saw my cat's foreleg fall off

Like a manikin arm it just fell off

No blood or gore

just detached


In shock I was wondering whether it could be reattached if I acted promptly

and dashed into the kitchen but I couldn't make out the magnets on the fridge

they were all a blur

and I grabbed my flip phone and started looking for the number of Doctor X

my veterinarian

but I couldn't spell the name and couldn't find it among my Contacts

all the while glimpses of my poor three-legged cat hobbling around the living room were breaking my heart

and while I just stood there helpless and precious time passing

unable to find the number of the vet or make out the magnets on the fridge

all of a sudden my other cat, the one who had had the strange bout of vestibular disease, started tearing about the place in a state of panic

leaving swathes of blood everywhere

very red blood

I rushed after him into the bathroom and there found my three-legged cat vomiting blood in the litter box

and on the bathroom sink a small box of lye I had left out that they had got into

and my first thought was what am I doing with lye in the house

and I prayed that this was all a dream

I prayed hard that what was happening was all a bad dream

and tried to wake myself up as sometimes works

but no

this was real

this was really happening

and momentarily despair laid a cold comforting hand on my anxious heart

and despairing I prayed again

then




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Cat Infinite

The cat walks on tiptoe

between naps

(or didn't you know)

waiting for the wave function to collapse

in time and space

and in the event of mice

just in case

God does play dice




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Cat Minus One

On my way over today

I saw a man crouched down low at a curb

by two small dumpsters

cleaning the ass of a small dog

wiping it with a tissue

a Yorkie of some kind



I passed and stopped a small distance away

at a vantage on the scene

and when the man stood up

I knew him


I couldn't remember his name

a former student of mine

and something vaguely off-putting in the recognition

and yet it was not without a pang I noted

the bald spot and the paunch

as I watched him drop the tissue in one of the dumpsters

Then two young women stopped by to fuss over the dog


When I got home later

I told my cats the story

it made them smile




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Cat Zero

Sure but I get goosebumps

Whenever I tink about it

Whenever I tink

That the Wildcat

Ten tousand years ago

In the Middle East

Made the first move

Toward Man

By Christ

What a moment




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Cat One

Me ask me cat

why he so fat

and what he alway starin at


Me cat meow

Me like me chow

Me starin at the cosmic dao


Me tell me cat

Go chase a rat

and don't be givin me high hat


Me cat he grr

Me cat he purr

then lift a paw and lick the fur


Then yawn me cat

Me am all that

and stretchin up just there he sat


To me surprise

Me recognize

Bast starin out from me cat's eyes



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Eli & Raisin in the grand finale of the Toby Katzen comic operetta Yin Yang Yodel
from a performance at the Annual Washington Square Park Dog Run Halloween Fair and Fundraiser
October 2017
 
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Angel Trismegistus, "Catness", acrylic on butcher paper, 10' x 10', Museum of Mammalian Art


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sold at Sotheby's for $826,000

My Wife's Lovers - Wikiwand
 
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Vlad and Marlon with friend
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Patricia Highsmith and friend / Doris Lessing and friend
 
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“I love cats because I enjoy my home; and little by little, they become its visible soul.”
—Jean Cocteau


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Jean and friend / Colette and friends
 
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“A cat has absolute emotional honesty: human beings, for one reason or another, may hide their feelings,
but a cat does not.”

—Ernest Hemingway



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Ernest and friend

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Raymond Chandler and friend
 
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"When a man loves cats, I am his friend and comrade, without further introduction."

"Of all God’s creatures, there is only one that cannot be made slave of the leash. That one is the cat. If man could be crossed with the cat it would improve the man, but it would deteriorate the cat."


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Twain's cats
Mark Twain quotations - Cats
 
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Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats (1939) is a collection of whimsical poems by T. S. Eliot about feline psychology and sociology, published by Faber and Faber. It is the basis for the musical Cats.

Eliot wrote the poems in the 1930s, and included them, under his assumed name "Old Possum", in letters to his godchildren. They were collected and published in 1939, with cover illustrations by the author, and quickly re-published in 1940, illustrated in full by Nicolas Bentley.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Old_Possum's_Book_of_Practical_Cats

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Ezra Pound and friends
 
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"I loved Tyke with all my heart, he was my baby who as a kitten just slept in the palm of my hand with his little head hanging down, or just purring, for hours."
—Jack Kerouac, Big Sur

https://www.johnnytimes.com/jack-kerouac-cat/

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Kerouac and Tyke

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Ginsberg and friend

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Burroughs and friend

“My relationships with my cats has saved me from a deadly, pervasive ignorance.”
—William S. Burroughs
 
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The Philosophy of Cats and the Cats of Philosophy

Michel de Montaigne, in An Apology for Raymond Sebond (1580), captured this uncertainty eloquently. ‘When I play with my cat,’ he mused, ‘how do I know that she is not playing with me rather than I with her?’

Wood points out that Foucault named his cat Insanity, and Derrida named his Logos, names which he takes to signify how "to experience the animal looking back at us challenges the confidence of our own gaze—we lose our unquestioned privilege in the universe."

Ethicist For Hire: The Philosophy of Cats and the Cats of Philosophy

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Foucault and Insanity
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Derrida and Logos
 
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Jean-Paul Sartre and his friend "Nothing" / Albert Camus and his friend "Cigarette"
 
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“I believe cats to be spirits come to earth.
A cat, I am sure, could walk on a cloud without coming through.”

—Jules Verne
 
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[video]http://audiosoundclips.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/01/Cat-purring-3.mp3[/video]
"pedal-point of the cosmos"
 
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"tuxedo cat"


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This did not make the cut:

I sat down to write a poem about a bout of cat allergy early in my life

and how I overcame it by ignoring the standard recommendations of medical science—

medication and avoidance—

and by instead starting to cat-sit my neighbor's cat.

But this quickly became a poem about cat allergy in se, as they say,

and then a poem about the spiritual nature of the world,

but seeing as such a theme is above the eyes, nose, throat, and skin of most folk suffering from the sublime wretchedness,

in the end I was forced to make this poem about a book on that theme,

a distancing that allows those who suffer from the allergy the only reading experience they are capable of in their condition,

and that is the humorous reading—

it must be the antihistamines, I want to tell them, but they won't see the humor in this, and that's the point.


This from the frontispiece of the book:

I suffered, sure I suffered,

I'm here to tell you that

but over time I suffered less

and then I got a cat!



This from the title page:

Cats: From Allergen to Allegory

a spiritual journey



Awarded the Nobel Prize in metaphysics, the author began his acceptance speech in this way:


"I grew up with dogs.

The dog is man's best friend.

No question about this in the end.

I grew up with dogs, but that's another story.

Today I'm here to sing another glory.

our spirit animal

our brother

(smiling pause)

and sister

the cat"




He delivered the speech holding a European Shorthair.

What a moment for the World Spirit!

I wish you all could have been there!



...​
 
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This sweet Calico cat approves of this blog
 
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