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Tuesday, 12 January 2010



Cat cleaning itself (showing hooked papillae on tongue): photo by Jennifer Leigh, 2007

Oft turns the ageing mind to Frances
Waldman's blunt query, back seat of full taxi,
Riding downtown, that chill February,
To young Angelica: "Maybe marrying
Him seems like a good idea now, but where
Will it leave you in forty years?
" Being there
Herself, she should have known: old. Low blow, Frances!
The minds of the old are dirty, dirty
With the pained truth of all those years. Old, one grows,
At least in the opinion of strangers,
Ever less loveable (fact of nature), and so,
It follows, ever less easily loved--
Yet still, old does not so easily
Surrender the capacity to love
Nor the need to be loved. If anything
These things increase as one ages, somewhat
Inconveniently let it be said.
No one young likes to think of love among
The old. Consider the film Cloud Nine
In which seventy-somethings conduct
A none-too-discreet affair: things get sloppy,
No fleshy detail's spared us. Would you
O reader, not yet superannuated,
Wish to look away? En route to dust, let us
Guard and preserve, if not our virginity
(Pace Andrew Marvell), then our privacy.
Let's not talk about dignity, only wild
Creatures get to maintain that. And of course
As I'm writing this, Smokey the cat
Fastidiously scours his private parts with
Busy tongue. Animals, unlike us, are clean.
Young, the parts that interested one
Most in books and movies were the dirty ones.


Bob Arnold / Longhouse said...

Ah, Tom Terrific —

"Maybe marrying
Him seems like a good idea now, but where
Will it leave you in forty years?"

The body of this thought must be a star.


Great poem, very funny ("she should have known: old") and 'poignant'. Old smokey still keeping it clean. So the old body goes on, warm flesh on (skeletal) bones. . . .


first grey light in fog against invisible
ridge, red-tailed hawk calling on branch
in foreground, sound of wave in channel

strokes of pen follow, cues
from skeletal drawing

insight, in the first place,
raised as it is there

grey-white clouds reflected in channel,
shadowed green of ridge across from it

CJ said...

Smoky the cat is too cute!

And I think there is a Graham Greene quote, (I'm paraphrasing and showing my 'age' b/c I can't be sure, but....)

Something about
"The cat never shows his age.....but looks as lovely on the day he dies as the day he was born...."

Or something like that....

I'll have to ask my old cat, Pablo. Maybe he remembers! (Or hey, bet you know it, Prof TC!)


~otto~ said...

Loved this, and even as I watch youth get smaller in the distance, waving at me from the shore, I still find the dirty ones more interesting. Although the cat's tongue in the pic at the bottom is very interesting too.

TC said...

Thank you friends.

Cloud Nine is really quite a moving experience. Surprising, tender, sweet and (of course, given the subject matter) also pretty serious. Recommended for several age groups, beginning with... (fill in the blank).

Having a hairbrush for a tongue and the flexibility to extend it practically anywhere one wishes would certainly help with personal hygiene.

I don't believe there's ever yet been a prurient cat.

Anonymous said...

What a subject! I just loved it. I always say love is like lottery. There are very few winners. I admire those people who stay together for years and still respect and love each other. I haven't seen the movie but feel like seeing it. In Spanish we translate Cloud 9 into Séptimo cielo. A curious things with numbers... And cats too! Do they have 9 lives in English? Here they have 7!
Great piece, Tom. A warm hug for you.
Oh, and I will keep that phrase at the end of the trailer: Let life happen to you... =)

Anonymous said...

once a cat licked the mortal dust from its fur
groomed down through time and his own fate
knowing purrs emanate pure disinterest in her own

once a poet cast a shining eye on the world's web
grew up though time a wide understanding of beauty
truth a delicate force ensphering other creators
in the endless.

who is to tell what is once and what is still to come?

TC said...


Yes, here it's nine lives for cats. But I am sure that where you are they make the most out of those seven.

(Cloud nine, seventh heaven -- yes, these must be the same or similar astronomic regions.)

I think often of that Cat Telephone of the great poet of prose JC, one of your many gifts to me.

And too when it comes to the eternally problematic yet eternally magnetic subject of love, I believe I have learned many things from you; though of course it is the one overwhelming and abiding subject of all literature of all peoples in all times, few have written of it with such honesty and clear-eyed life-intelligence as Lucy in the Sky.

(P.S. While I was typing that, Smokey the ever inquisitive Siamese helpfully leapt onto my lap and thence onto the keyboard, creating a spill of "3"'s in the middle of the word "problematic"... I think he has had about 19 lives already, and also nearly precipitated several small heart attacks.)


Very lovely that, were I a cat I would (selfishly) purr myself to sleep and sweet catnip dreams.

Past and future scare me mightily, I can see the drawbacks of a blind dedication to the moment but at present it appears the sole option, so I continue to take the plunge... but even such madness could not occur without company and the sweet encouragement of a few sensitive companions, here in our weird little coprosperity sphere.

What I mean to say, then, is Meow, and Thanks, everyone.