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. Cannot help but consider the phenomena of this title – the possibilities of its pre-edit density – if the original was even longer – or demanded enhancement for Okaji clarity …?
    Love the envisioned ghost cat yowling along with singing ghost dog!

    Liked by 1 person

    • The title was longer, and demanded attention that I couldn’t provide given the constraints of the challenge – a poem a day for 30 days. Here’s the original title: “Robert Okaji, Forced By This Title to Write a Poem in Third Person About Himself, 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, In a Meditation Which Following the Form of Certain Sung Dynasty Poets Also Happens to Be Written in a Way That Can Be Chanted to the Tune of a Popular Song of His Youth.” I actually broke out the guitar and tried to write something to a Doors tune, but realized that I needed weeks to do that. Maybe someday. It would be fun.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. The Chinese literature scholar in me always geeked out on Jeff’s titles; you just can’t resist playing with it yourself and being intrigued by where it goes. And I think of all the classic poems titled “To the Tune of x” — the actual music of which has been lost over the millennia. I look forward to that “To the Tune of ‘Riders on the Storm'”… and the notion of distant future generations trying to recover the melody! ^_^

    Liked by 1 person

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