Wednesday, November 3, 2021

what is up with you people?

The prompt from yesterday's workshop: Write about your morning routine from the point of view of your pet. And so, once again, Oscar observes how the world doesn't conform to his expectations.


This morning, Oscar, our bulky tabby, stretched out of his thick curl behind my knees and then climbed up my legs, arranging himself along the ridgeline of my body, pinning me in a kind of wrestlers move created by his weight and almost savage intent on getting breakfast and then outside. First he nuzzles and then he glares, restless, needing the Comptroller of the Cupboard, the Doorman of the Door to stir and attend to him. 

Ahem he seems to say, with every shift of his considerable bulk, ahem!. Why are you still abed, with the morning larks a-buzzing and the dawn gilding the slight horizon? What is this snoozing, when squirrels are beginning their taunting dance and I must attend and chase? Up up, lazy bones, get a move on!  Okay, so  maybe they aren’t larks, maybe they are finches and winter sparrows, but I must remind them who is the Boss of the Lawn! 

And now why must you spend so much time in the water closet, that place of Growls and Gurgles? What gods are you appeasing before you stagger to the location of bitter smells, the Grinder of Beans and Clatter? What is up with you people? 

I implore you and your thick legs, I rub them with my most endearing pheromones of pleasure and appeasement. I watch your every move; I trouble your legs with my double-cross leg-weaving to guide you to the Big White Doors that hold the most deliciousness of treats, the Salmon Pate, the Tuna Snackerals I so desire. Like right now! My mouth waters, I reach out to remind you with my Sharp Reminders which way to go, not toward the door to shoo me out, no no no, but across the kitchen to the Big White Doors. 

Dang howdy, that was fast! Up by the scruff of my neck and now I am outside, in the damp, in the cold, no Tuna Snackerals, no Salmon Pate, just the graze of my Reminders in your salty, marbled flesh. 

That was a mistake, yes, yes, but not something I can’t recover from. A well timed thud against the door should work. Thud! Um, no. There’s some anger behind that door, in those grumpy phrases. Okay, up on the ledge under the window, a few scritches on the screen. That always cheers you up, right? 

Um, nope. Not sure why I deserved that howl, that slam of window. I switch my tail to indicate my displeasure with this whole process, but I’m beginning to worry that I might be served chum - outside, on a metal plate, with pickles, like a prisoner. 

The wind is coming up, fluffing up the fur along my flanks. I offer my most piteous Meow of Apology. Now I need in, I want in, I’ll be patient, I swear. A splatter of rain drops, a fine mist floating across the grass, a heaviness in the dark thick air, a dampness, a pressure. Okay, okay, I’ll be good, I’ll behave, just let me in. 

I raise my paw but don’t scratch, I squeeze and pulse my eyes, to become the greenest of greens, as I’ve heard you say. Open the door!!! Open the door!! Jiminey Crickets, where did this all go wrong? From a warm bed to the bitter cold sideyard in less time than it takes me to stalk a squirrel. Oh woe is me, oh woooooh meohhhhh is me!

Wednesday, October 27, 2021

Before the rains, she goes into the forest.

Wrote the following piece one evening last week on the cusp of the mega-rain last weekend, in response to these prompts and also memories of hiking up in Mendocino, at Russian Gulch State Campground:

  •  “The forest is a place in which everything your heart desires and fears lives.” by Charles Simic, in the book Dime-Store Alchemy: The Art of Joseph Cornell,  a quote I found on Peg Alford Purcell's Instagram: .
  • Arriving at the Church of Poetry.*
  • She gave a sweet, slightly mocking, smile.*

* Sources undocumented. Apologies. Will try to track the authors down for these two quotes.  

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Arriving, she gave a sweet, slightly mocking smile. This, indeed, was the church of poetry: this forest, which the heart desired, this forest, where fear conspired. She walked into the cathedral of tree trunks, dwarfed by the redwood spires that twisted slightly as they rose; that smell, as pungent as cinnamon, that damp as close as a best friend. The path was wide and spongey,  bordered by ferns at times, ferns as big as cows, as big as desire, as big as the space between molecules, which when she thinks of it, is a big as it gets.

She sidestepped a big yellow banana slug, munching its way along the muddy edge of the path and then was startled by the big eyes of a mottled salamander, skin glistening as it turned and vanished under the soggy edge of a log, the felled corpse of a redwood lying parallel to the trail for a hundred feet or more. The horizontal trunk, blanketed by green moss, was high enough to be a bench to sit on, wide enough to walk along with out having to balance, simply placing one foot casually in front of the other.

She walked along the wide trunk, soft and crumpling a bit underfoot, a highway to the inner courts, to that confluence of light and mist, that tapestry that captures just what is molecule and what is wave, where dissolving is not so much an act as a state of being.

Wednesday, October 13, 2021

Writing Prompt: “Well, you know, he was in a prison in Dubai”

 These are the warm days, the warm side the hot side of the year. We have gone from keeping track of wooly cowls and warm shawls to searching out the gauzy, light fabrics. Crinkle cottons, wide-brimmed straw hats. We’re putting up the shade-sails, unfurling the umbrellas against the blast of the bold sun, rising higher and higher in the sky.

The mockingbird pair bounce along the top of the fence, jabbering at the indolent, rotund tabby cat, who might have once in his younger years been a threat, but now is more intent on loafing his days away in sun or shade. He’s a real garden cat, lolling about under the stunted artichokes, sunning himself on the hot rocks. He watches a caterpillar inching down the slender trunk of the new pomegranate tree. Meanwhile, the mockingbirds, feeling he is too close to their nest in the wildly blooming pyracantha bush on the other side of the fence, take turns to dive at him, skimming his fur and causing no end of consternation from us witnesses. Nevertheless, Oscar, that thick-headed tabby cat, continues to loll and flaunt his considerable flanks, the lines and sworls of his sides like a map of a forgotten island in an atlas of abandoned lands.  Where we all seem to be residing this spring.

This is not a crowd of mockingbirds; nor are they repugnant, evil little dive-bombers. They simply refuse to believe in the serendipity of a fat cat in the garden enjoying the sun before it becomes intolerable even to this inveterate heat-seeker. They understand only that the shape of a predator is far too near their babies and they are determined in their strut and bluster and buzz-drills to drive him away.

But you know, Oscar acts like he had once been in a prison in Dubai. Nothing excites him, nothing annoys him. He is on the bulky side now, as if making up for those lost meals from prison, which adds to his look of imperturbability, but there comes that moment when one of the mockingbird scores a more direct hit, grabs a twist of fur, yanks. Oscar snarls and hisses, then curls up to sitting, gives himself a lick, and waddles off, as if he intended all along at precisely 10:13 a.m to move around to the other side of the house. And so he does, tail tall and stately, like a flag of state. Not giving up exactly, but not sticking around, either. 

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October 2021 

I found this post anguishing in my stack and thought I would publish it, seeing that it's from that other side of the summer, before the heat drove us half-mad and the drought drove us the rest of the way.  ~ lk

Sunday, October 3, 2021

Maybe I Am Wrong

This October morning, redwing blackbirds swarm the backyard trees, absolutely loud with their raucous chatter, scratchy and scritchy, like a foreign language I almost understand, but don’t. But maybe I am wrong, maybe my body does understand — as I rouse and walk outside to refill the watering bowls, padding along the few soft, still-damp sections of the mostly brown and crispy lawn. 

Squirrels bounce along the top of the brown wooden fence, taunting the taut and laser-focused yearling kittens hunkered down behind the wire grid of their catio, set across the lawn. One squirrel, an acorn gripped in its teeth, dances down the thin trunk of the young ceanothus leaning against the fence, skittering around in the dusty dirt under the mulberry tree, hopping straight toward the kittens. The two kittens sit hunched side by side, frozen in their desire to capture this tail-snapping, sassy-ass squirrel. 

Maybe I am wrong, but it seems like the flippant creature hops closer and closer, throwing a knowing glance or three at the kittens trapped behind wire, and digs in the duff and old wood chips conspicuously within leaping distance. The kittens stare and swivel their heads in exact unison, like two heads on one cat neck, conjoined in their focused desire, side by side, just behind the wires.

 Today, I wake up with ideas, with a plan. Time to get my book out of the laptop and into the real world. I can't keep it trapped within wires any longer.

Saturday, May 8, 2021

.... apologies for the slump in activity. I think I fell into some kind of mental ditch this winter. Or hibernation. Or coccoon. Or just general languishment.