Cat haiku

Cat crouching in lush autumn grass
The grey cat crouches
in the lush October grass,
wary and alert.


Notes:

I’ve been a bit busy lately so this one is getting posted a few days after the photo was taken and the poem written.  But here in the Pacific Northwest, the grass stays green all winter, so that hasn’t changed much.  The grass is even greener now than in the peak of summer, when things often get a bit dry.

Funny thing, I can go for weeks without seeing a cat on my evening walks, but one day in October, it seemed like every cat in town was outside, either lurking in the foliage or dozing in the fast-departing patches of late afternoon sun.

They seemed to sense, like I, that the autumn rains would be coming soon.  We all were taking advantage of the last dry days of Indian Summer.

 

 

Love Haiku

Woman and cat

May it never be!
That I fail to remember
the gift of your love.

You say cicada, I say locust

Cicadas shed their skin
Back in Missouri where I grew up, we had an insect about the size of the end of your thumb that folks called locusts.

The proper name for these critters was “cicadas,” but for me, they will always be locusts.

These bugs made a terrible racket when they started their serenade. Some sources say the noise is so loud it can damage the human ear.

I won’t take that bet. They can be exceedingly annoying.

But they are also fascinating because they molt and leave behind an almost perfect exoskeleton. As a kid, I would collect these artifacts like little relics.

My fellow poet over at Dancing Echoes recently wrote a haiku about these creatures.

Dancing Echoes does a great job coming close to the original idea of haiku.

The old haiku masters combined words with beautiful calligraphy and drawings to form a total experience.

Dancing Echoes pairs each poem with a beautiful photograph. In this effort, she approaches the complete experience achieved by the old masters. You could say it’s haiku for the modern age.

The cicada haiku from Dancing Echoes reminded me of an old poem sitting in my files gathering dust. It’s not haiku. But it does feature a cicada — or rather, a locust.

SOMETIMES IN THE
MOONLIGHT

Sometimes in the moonlight
The feeling comes afresh,
The old familiar feeling,
The aching of the flesh.

Sometimes in the summer
The noisy locust strains
Against the skin that holds him.
To shed his crusty chains.

When the trees grow weary
Of their summer masquerade,
And fallen leaves are gathered
I hunger for the shade

Of limbs that never falter
And love that never cools,
Where ruin never alters,
And where death never rules.

Cat poetry 2.0

On a cat, aging
“The times are somehow breeding a nimbler race of mice”

Further thoughts on cats, this time from Scottish poet, Sir Alexander Gray (1882-1968)

His gentle poem On a Cat, Ageing, is a sweet little verse.

On a Cat, Ageing
by Sir Alexander Gray

He blinks upon the hearth-rug,
And yawns in deep content,
Accepting all the comforts
That Providence has sent.

Louder he purrs and louder,
In one glad hymn of praise
For all the night’s adventures,
For quiet restful days.

Life will go on forever,
With all that cat can wish;
Warmth and the glad procession
Of fish and milk and fish.

Only – the thought disturbs him –
He’s noticed once or twice,
The times are somehow breeding
A nimbler race of mice.

Cat poetry

Beloved cat
Pet was never mourned as you … — Thomas Hardy

Remembering our recently departed and beloved cat … and Mark Twain’s quote is hitting home:  “A home without a cat — and a well-fed, well-petted and properly revered cat — may be a perfect home, perhaps, but how can it prove title.”

It seems that poets have kept cats and written about them throughout history. On a trip to Oregon a few years ago, I picked up a book called The Poetical Cat edited by Felicity Bast.  It includes cat poems from all over the world … from the tombs of ancient Egypt … to the  works of the Haiku masters … to Swinburne, Baudelaire, Yeats, and William Carlos Williams.

It is offering some comfort.  Perhaps most apropos is Thomas Hardy’s Last Words to a Dumb Friend, which is an elegy for his beloved, departed pet.  It goes on in his quaint, Victorian way that may sound stilted to our modern ears.  But its final verse is beautiful and heartbreaking.

From Last Words to a Dumb Friend
by Thomas Hardy

Housemate, I can think you still
Bounding to the window-sill,
Over which I vaguely see
Your small mound beneath the tree,
Showing in the autumn shade
That you moulder where you played.

Pretty sad, that verse.

If I tried to write an elegy I would probably blubber on and on longer than Hardy.  So I won’t.

Instead, in honor of our dear and departed Quincy, I’ll offer a couple of cat haiku I’ve written over the years:

Cat Haiku

The old cat forgets
to groom his matted fur. But
there — on snow — feathers!

Little cat using
me for shade doesn’t care I’ve
nothing left to give

Waking with a stretch
the cat falls off the bed’s edge —
dignity wounded