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A Short Cat Tail of Fifty Fifth on Fifth

by gard 

Posted: 03 January 2005
Word Count: 475
Summary: Hi everyone been away will read everyones stuff shortly. Posted this up to keep my hand in..firstish draft. The form was influenced by some work from the brilliant poetress Dorothy Molloy especially "Conversation Class" (thanks Nell for remembering her name for me)
Related Works: Finale at Grand Central • 

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A Short Cat Tail of Fifty Fifth on Fifth

It's as curious as a cat how the beggar is well dressed even though he has a calling card on the ground where the dirty dank ink sends his message of Please Help painted in simple stark print. Either side of his shoes further apart than each can reach sits Fortitude on the left a little Patience on the right wrapped up in cigar shaped tombs black in red grey in blue opiate eyes cast down and ears still.

Itís as cruel as cat the people walking by, some stop to steal a photo-shot as they marvel at the apparent loyal marble of the two tiny cats. There is no response to touch. I cannot see their limbs. The frightful stiff frames sit on grey cold slabs like the stony lions on 42nd rooted to forced labour and there is no grace in fear, huddled-stiff and alone never to see Justice never to be just a cat.

He's as cool as a cat the devil as a beggar his collection bottle crackles as the cash falls in it rattles and the bills I drop send up a swishing sound. Then inside the MoMA where the bright and beautiful live all the people hover at Klee The Cat with Bird my heart begins to shatter, I see death caught in the simple stupid weave of my thoughts.


other version 2 (thinking or removing the cliches)


A Short Cat Tail of Fifty Third on Fifth

It's as Kooky as a Cat how the Beggar is well dressed even though he has a paper calling card on the ground where the dirty dank ink sends his message of Please Help painted in simple stark print. Either side of his shoes further apart than each can reach sits Fortitude on the left and a little Patience on the right wrapped up in cigar shaped tombs black in red grey in blue opiate eyes cast down and ears still.

Itís as Cut-throat as Cat the people walking by, some stop to steal a photo-shot as they marvel at the apparent loyal marble of the two tiny cats. There is no response to touch. I cannot see their limbs. The frightful stiff frames sit on cold grey slabs like the stony lions of 42nd rooted to forced labour and there is no Grace in fear, huddled-stiff and alone never to be Just a Cat.

Heís as Skilled as a Cat the Devil as a Beggar his collection bottle cackles as the cash falls in it rattles and the bills I drop send up a swishing sound. Then inside the MoMA where the bright and beautiful hover at Klee The Cat with Bird my heart begins to shatter and I feel death caught in the simple stupid weave of my glove.







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Comments by other Members



Nell at 07:53 on 05 January 2005  Report this post
Hi gard,

This is extraordinary and courageous - you're taking a leap to see if you can fly, and, difficult as this poem is to assess in this format I think you can make it. Some wonderful imagery here, and the last line is IMO just perfect and intensely telling and memorable. You must surely have seen this beggar with his two cats, and I felt for them too. There were a few things that made me pause. An apostropy missing at that first 'its', but you have one at the second para. ...further apart then each can reach sits... - I had to read this line again, wondering if 'then' should have been 'than' as I couldn't somehow gain the sense of 'then'. I wondered if there were too many adjectives - simple/stark, dirty/dank, in the first para, but they do set the rhythm swinging. These last two are small things, and you must see what others think as the opinion of one as regards poetry may not be enough. One of the difficulties of writing poetry in a prose format is that the punctuation becomes more difficult as one isn't assisted by line breaks, and I found myself wanting to punctuate for prose. IMO the second version works better than the first, but I still had a strong desire to break the lines myself just to see what would happen. Is there a special reason you've used a prose format for this particular poem? An exciting and memorable piece.

Nell.

Mr B. at 12:41 on 05 January 2005  Report this post
I agree with the bravery breaking convention requires and it's fantastic to see a piece that is unique and works well. Both versions had the impact of a black and white picture - sharp and memorable. It made me feel like a scene on a New York sidewalk than a London pavement - but I'm probably just transplanted a film-noir mentality onto it.

Certainly one to read again and reflect - look forward to the finished thing

Anthony

Brian Aird at 15:14 on 05 January 2005  Report this post
I can sense the clever beggar making us feel sorry not for him, but for his cats!

I liked the nod to Paul Klee's Cat and Bird in the MoMA and I liked the 'death caught in...stupid weave of my glove..' for the sound it makes - but I didn't know if you were nodding again to another exhibit (or a poem) or had some reason to think about your gloved hand and death.

I liked lines like - 'rooted to forced labour and there is no Grace in fear, huddled-stiff and alone never to see Justice never to be Just a Cat'

It's worth the effort your making....


Brian

P.S. Isn't the Museum of Modern Art on 53rd?

snoozy at 20:00 on 06 January 2005  Report this post
This is fabulous. Had to read both a few times but have decided that I like the second version best. Favourite line is:

his collection bottle crackles as the cash falls in it rattles and the bills I drop send up a swishing sound.

All the sound affects of crackles, rattles and swishing; as though the bottle is making the most pleasant noise when the better money goes in it! Also I first read 'crackles' as 'cackles' which, even though a mistake on my part, gave me the image of the bottle gleefully cackling at obtaining some money!

Great!

Snoozy

Lawrenco at 21:59 on 07 January 2005  Report this post
Hi Gina, Happy new year.
Had to read this through a couple of times but felt it well worth it.Little punctuation: Noted.
I felt it to be a very communal flashing thought the abstract of life,some mixed caulage effect almost cubist doesn`t quite make sense, that makes you want to puzzle it out.Good to here from you again.

gard at 00:49 on 08 January 2005  Report this post
Hi Nell Mr B B Aird Snoozy Lawrenco thanks for you comments.

Nell than you! So kind. I altered the punctuation language errors as advised (thanks). Its funny I removed a lot of the punction I originally had (commas etc). I just felt it was interfering with the rhythm. Yes I saw them. It was really sad. I spent a lot of time on the internet etc trying to get them rescued after that. The man is wanted by the ASPCA but he always manages to give them the slip...and they need the actual evidence. Apparently they get a huge number of phone calls about him, fingers crossed they catch him one day...to late for these cats though poor things..

I was influenced by a poetress we studied inthe poetry seminar. I forget her name off hand(sorry..will look he up and put it in the intro at the top) she was an irish poet who died reasonably young. I read a prose like non rhyming poem of hers about feeling freedom blow through her red skirt (if I remember correctly please correct me if not). I removed the line breaks to see if the poem would work in a similar manner and then decided I preferred the new form as th epiece lost the choppiness it had originally.

Snoozy I like cackles better than crackles. I will add it to the second version.


Mr B Aird, yes MoMa is 53rd but this happened on 55th. Uuum maybe I should change it to 53rd...poetic license...but less confusing.

re glove: Well I suppose I was searching for an expression to show how ineffectual I felt. I stroked them and I gave the man money, so that involves my gloved hand, the cats looked half dead. I suspect they are dead by now. I wanted to express it as if it were a stain (moral or something) on my own hand (and every passer by), becuase I did not help them soon enough (like grabbing them and running off for instance). So the "stain" of their deaths would be on my hand c
seeping through my glove, caught in the weave of my glove encapsulates all of that but includes my guilt I guess. So the glove is also myself. i.e. some people talk of peoples way of being/inner fibre/feelings as "the coat they wear", "the hat they wear". I suppose I felt angry with myself/guilty and angry with the man and hence simple (gullible but also the straight forward feelings I felt (i.e. this is wrong - anger sorrow etc) stupid (ineffectual or not intelligent enough to change the situation) and glove being myself "my coat" my psyche I guess. But also wrapped up in the context of all the beautiful/spiritual art I saw in the MoMA compared to the artless or ugly sight I had experienced outside, example of beauty is the beautiful cat painting by Klee, . I hope that helps?

As usual I expect someone else will come up with another psychological angle I had not thought of....



G

Nell at 07:57 on 08 January 2005  Report this post
Gard, you must mean Dorothy Molloy and Conversation Class. A brilliant poet.

gard at 14:12 on 08 January 2005  Report this post
Hi Nell

hooray...I am so glad you remembered her name!! I spent quite a long time searching unsuccessfully for her last night. I added her name to my intro (also so I won;t forget to read more of her work). Its funny how The Conversation Class must have stayed in the back of my mind for such a long time.

G

Brian Aird at 12:09 on 09 January 2005  Report this post
Thanks for the explanation of the glove. I liked that. Can't think why I didn't see it. It's obvious now.

I'll look out for Dorothy Malloy now too.


Bri




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