Forced By This Title to Write a Poem in Third Person About Himself, the Poet Considers the Phenomena of Standing Waves, Dreams Involving Long-Lost Cats (Even If He Has Not Had Such a Dream Himself), And the Amazing Durability of Various Forms of Weakness

 

Forced By This Title to Write a Poem in Third Person About Himself, the Poet Considers the Phenomena of Standing Waves, Dreams Involving Long-Lost Cats (Even If He Has Not Had Such a Dream Himself), And the Amazing Durability of Various Forms of Weakness

Five White cat always made sure no rats gnawed my books.
— Mei Yao-ch’en

His brain is squirming like a toad.
— Jim Morrison

 

Standing by the water, the poet wonders if,
as in this dream, his dead dog and Five White

might seize the separate ends of a rope and blend
their tugs, matching highs and lows, growls and purrs,

with near stillness, dawn to dusk and back again,
always equal, sharing through death their love

of work and honor. He throws a small branch
and asks the dog’s ghost to fetch, but it remains

at his side, as if reluctant to leave. How to release
what you no longer hold? Shadows disappear in direct

light, but always return at its departure. The
raindrop remains intact through its long plummet.

Words, though unspoken, hang like lofted kites
awaiting a new wind, a separate rhythm,

beyond compassion. He cannot hear it
but joins his dog in singing. The cat yowls along.

 

This piece first appeared in deLuge in fall 2016, and was drafted during the August 2015 30-30 challenge. Thanks to Jeff Schwaner for providing the title (which I edited for publication).

 

 

13 thoughts on “Forced By This Title to Write a Poem in Third Person About Himself, the Poet Considers the Phenomena of Standing Waves, Dreams Involving Long-Lost Cats (Even If He Has Not Had Such a Dream Himself), And the Amazing Durability of Various Forms of Weakness

  1. Lots to contemplate here … including “Five White Cat” as translated … cannot get comfortable with that being precise in any language. Fine White Cat … maybe? Or, stretching, a black cat with five white spots? One cat the size of five combined? I guess the thing now would be to release my fixation on this tag? Or just howl along?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Five White was Mei’s cat. If you plug “five white” into the blog’s search function, you’ll find my version of Mei’s lament about the cat. I’ve wondered what he looked like, and have imagined white spots.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I’m guessing we’re stuck with a literal translation of “Five White” where some other could better convey Mei’s cat name. (Given the many literal translations of Chinese/Japanese poems that are vastly improved with a little smoothing.) Pet names are fascinating!

        Liked by 1 person

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