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Saturday, 8 September 2012

Frank O'Hara: Cantata ("loyal tawny and apt")


Kip the cat: photo by historique (K M), 1 July 2012

How could I be so foolish as to not believe
that my great orange cat Boris (Armed with Madness)
Butts loves me when he rises to the door like a dog
each night when I come home from work and
probably isn't even particularly hungry
...............................................or lays
his conspicuous hairs on my darkest clothes
out of pure longing for my smell which they do have
because he looks like my best friend my constant lover
hopelessly loyal tawny and apt and whom I hopelessly love

Frank O'Hara (27 March 1926-25 July 1966): Cantata, 18 February 1965, from Collected Poems, edited by Donald Allen, 1971

"He began to change, beautifying himself, scrupulously and elaborately as a cat."

"Birth and ruin and exile, and a name not like green hills, but a wild, snow-crested tree. He would take Boris away. He would go back into Russia with Boris."

-- Mary Butts: from Armed with Madness, 1928

File:Cat blending in.jpg

Tabby cat blending in with its surroundings
: photo by Clavecin, 18 May 2007


Anonymous said...

love the independence of cats...!

Jonathan Chant said...

Absolutely beautiful.

TC said...

In the ancient gaze of the cat deities, one falls back -- so near and yet so very very far.

Anonymous said...

hail the little household gods

Susan Kay Anderson said...

Scorpio, I miss you, butterscotch swirl.

You, in the raspberries
waiting for them to drop
during your tenure
at Nonpareil University.
You took note of the rows.
Figured the horoscopes.

They miss you, too, and are now
just starting to come back.
Loyal, like the cedar.
Like your rounds up the fence
behind the lilacs and over
to the other roses then
back to the garden. Daisy
jealous. Lily could have
cared less. Mimi short-sighted.
Hypnotized by thousands of years
an ancient command
carried out by rulers
or their mummies
Live, Love, Kill.

Susan Kay Anderson said...

Mr. Frank O'Hara
a man surrounded
art music
people those upside down
possible anger humor city
exasperatingly alive

what he sinks
his face into
night after night
is Boris Butts' fur
an animal smell

buried beneath
a triangular construction
half asleep but listening
listening to the creak
of stones as they
are moved aside
in the name of science
of discovery
all for the sake
of modern citizens
who pretend
they forgot
the ancient command.

Susan Kay Anderson said...

Don't bother looking directly
into their cat eyes
they are already hypnotized
already dreaming of movement
alive life beauty

their training taking place
under our very noses!
Infiltrating our senses. They steal. We steal their time.
They are so busy! Don't bother them. Doctors of landscape. The perfect grammar of their tails.
Explict ears, punctuation by claw.

Like that guy's book about his dog
watching car races on TV
and everything
with him--
I will meet you,
Aries, Scorpy, Daisy, Moonshine, Auden, Shumagin--
when I catch you
reading Recollections
of Gran Apacheria.

Susan Kay Anderson said...

If I sleep in the green jungle
pretending to sleep
I will dream myself
not miniature any more
but larger in my loneliness
the infamous green idea
previously studied
friendly tawny loyalty
with pink or blue
somewhere purple and cream.

Susan Kay Anderson said...

Frank O'Hara, Frank O'Hara
the jazz den calls
out to neon
down Zeitgeist cheeks
with the blue note

they noticed
shiny reflections
beehive Wolkenkratzers
plastics still brand new
not quite so suspect
true true.

larry white said...

As an O'Hara fan from way back, and a Butts fan from just the past month or so, you know how I feel. Maybe better than I do.

I'm not alone in the house, of course.
Not to mention all the insects
who find the windows open doors:
the new black cat such a friendly kitten
on a kitchen chair a-sittin',
now lyin' with a foot a-twitchin',
now quiet as she can be, next to me.

vazambam (Vassilis Zambaras) said...

Frank’s always been one of my favorites; thanks for posting this little gem that illustrates why.

TC said...

Aries, Scorpy, Daisy, Moonshine, Auden, Shumagin, Boris Armed with Madness Butts -- let them all come alive again in the mind now, even as the three clamouring senior felines here are rewarded for their continuing dependent independence by receiving their pre-matutinal ration of one-third of a small can of wet food, per head.

dfleischer said...

oh, Tom ! you splendid cat. Got me purring with thanks, Donna

TC said...

A tawny fur-lined thank you, Donna. (And I'm sure Frank would have wanted to thank you, too.)

Daniel Abdal-Hayy Moore said...

Ah, Tom, I googled that poem to send to a friend in Paris with a sick cat (named Marley), hoping not to have to prop up The Collected O'Hara to type it out, and voila! Thanks! How fresh... and then there's those cats of Baudelaire! What a range of felinity... infinite felinity! Best to you after all these years (you were leaving Santa Barbara when we arrived...)

TC said...

Great to hear from you, Daniel.

That O'Hara Collected is a magnificent thing, but it's not easy to breathe when under it.