The other night, for no reason known to me, but one no doubt connected to Satan, some cat, or cats, upended a bookshelf, and spilled the poetry books to the floor.
The cats of my acquaintance have never really approved of poetry. For instance, in another decade, in another abode, the poetry volumes were subjected to a wanton urine rain.
The culprit has never been caught or confessed, and remains at large.
The bestained tomes, meanwhile: too many just too odd and obscure, and therefore not replaceable. So they remain in the collection. Ruint.
Cats are actually proud of their Luciferian penchant for drizzling urine. See the recent best-selling collection of poems, penned by cats, I Could Pee On This, pictured there to the left.
It is a known Science Fact that cat urine is so pungent that fresh spray let fly in, say, Albuquerque, can be smelled within moments on the Moon.
I am not really sure why, of all earthly substances, cat urine is the King Reeker . . . save for “the powerful and obnoxious odor of mendacity,” as Big Daddy puts it in Cat On A Hot Tin Roof. (See: cat: there are no coincidences).
I believe it may have something to do with the fact that a cat’s natural diet is 100% flesh and bones. This requires stomach enzymes so powerful they can basically break down concrete. In their power, these enzymes are of stench.
Cats also use their urine as a territorial marking mechanism. And apparently it is necessary for a cat marking something in, say, Icepick, Minnesota, to olfactorily announce ownership to cats living as far away as Venus.
Anyway. Among the odd and obscure bestained volumes in the poetry collection is I Never Saw It Lit, which is pictured there to the right. This book I remember, and retain, because years ago it caught my father’s eye, when he and I were roving the old Berkeley wholesaler Bookpeople for tomes to retail in our modest bookshop up north, on the Russian River. He thought it a worthy effort. But then said, “though probably nobody would like it but me.” I put it in the cart. Because it wasn’t, it developed, to sell. It was for me to keep. To remember him by.
Another of the poetry collections that the other night spilled to the floor was a thing called Leaves of Poetry. This volume contains a poem or two written by me.
And this is where we naturally segue from cat urine, to my writing.
Apparently I wrote these poems when I was 11 or 12 years old. And they were then pressed into a book, together with poems by other wee ones, and distributed to the masses by the county school system.
One of the poems I wrote bears the wildly creative title “Summer,” and goes like this:
Summer is hot, dull, and dry
It’s when under the sun
Your skin starts to fry
And when, on beaches,
Boys like to spy
On girls in bikinis
Who might walk by.
I see that here I was not only already wedded to the Oxford comma, but also afflicted with the need to employ commas at every opportunity, even inventing opportunities that, to a Normal writer, might not exist. I was also then too aroil with these little mini-strokes that cause me to arrange words in odd order. I was grousing about the blasted heath of summer, a constant to this day. And, even at age 11, Eros was elbowing in.
I frankly do not understand how the bit about bikinis was permitted in a collection of poems by junior-high students assembled and then peddled across the land by school officials.
If, today, I were 11 years old, and submitted such a thing, the teachers receiving it would shriek and poke their eyes out. Then hustle me down the halls—patrolled by “school resource officers” bristling with mace and pepper spray and guns and truncheons and whatnot—to be taken into custody by the deans. Who would immediately and permanently expel me. I would then be placed in a cage, and paraded through the streets, pelted by the outraged populace with eggs, tomatoes, and full beer cans, condemned as a dangerous pervert. I would be thrown in a dungeon, and there be subjected to electroshock treatments. Until I had been transformed into a True American. One pledging allegiance to Thanatos. Rather than Eros. Hoorah.