Thursday, March 29, 2012

Fremlin Writes Poetry

Rare the day I speak to another cat. And this house, prison, animal processing plant, whatever, is full of them. Brimming with felines.

They avoid me.

their opprobrium
heavy as rotten mangoes
ferments in the sun

Opprobrium, yes, but over what? Why and wherefore their judgement? Luco says I am cranky; I say look you in the mirror, Lu. Mingus tells me I am clingy, and yet he noodles all day in MR's bed, rolling supine so she may scratch his belly. The new cat, Mr. Not As Of Yet Mentioned, Alfonso Tupelo?  He is, perhaps, the worst, probably because of his good natured doggishness. He gives me long looks and then swats at my face, bellowing in his deep cat laugh voice something about my being too uptight.

Me? Uptight?

And even if so, okay, fine, I guess I can see that to a certain extent. But this opprobrium? I tell you, reader, it is palatable - I knead at it upon waking, chew it with my kibble, rub the side of my face against it as I fall asleep.

their opprobrium
as light as dust particles 
vertiginous, soft

it is everywhere floating
in afternoon radiance

and we breathe in, in
these microorganisms
in these faults like smoke

Is it my age? My many infirmities? My sorrow sans Luco's drollery (I jest, friends) - is that it? Is it these or something else that quickens in them such reproach, such disgust, such repulsion, aversion, nausea, loathing?

Or is it something else? Have I committed some crime of which I am unaware? Perhaps I ingested the very last bits of cat nip or slept too long on the carpet. Maybe I scratched my nails too often and too hard on the scratching post. Is it that they read my thoughts and mine from them my secret contempt?

Is it that they somehow see past my smile?

the taste of feathers
and still those warm hands find me
I am not alone

every animal
startled upon waking up
is something wild

their opprobrium
evaporates into clouds
and will rain on them

Mingus, my lover,
who does not know he is mine
and yet still is mine

I've found poetry a comfort, if you can't tell. Luco says it's masturbatory, but, I mean, come on, he has this whole blog thing. Tell me, which of us the bigger braggart, show off, solipsistic fool? 

Ah, but I don't count him a fool. I'm angry, I suppose. And hurt. Some nights I step two, three paces outside the Tubby Kat Door and stare into the kitchen just waiting for someone to come to me. To press a kind hand against my forehead. To murmur sweet anything into my ears. To cradle and cuddle and coddle. Just a little.

I know I'm an old lady, but I'm a bit of  a romantic. I've always been this way.

And I've always been alone.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Mingus Enjoys Sleeping, Dreaming

I dream often and intensely of other worlds. Science fictions where cats reign as kings and queens, the inside is Outside, and our current masters become our kin.

I dream whirlpool worlds of color; places on the laminate that sink into other dimensions; voices crowd and crow in the dusk a chorus of love, of hope, of dizzy joy; rustling bones freed of skin; days I sleep and never see the color white.

Upon hearing of my recent, nearly somnambulist sleep (nearly so because it's been five if it's been twenty separate moments I move to get up in my sleep, gesture to a shadow friend, leap into the air), Luco asked me to write. 

But language fails me and it does so exponentially as I work the words around and around; what this shady glen, and this? Myriad flaming birds alight on my body-not-my-body. Taste of copper. Of anchovy. Of sugar sweat.

And I don't sweat though, so what is that? And why this infestation of imagery?

I've got it like a flu. Shivering alone in bed, but shivering in a kind of luscious glory (luscious because it is sumptuous, plunging, all-consuming; the kind of glory not of pride but born of deepest felt emotion).

The dogs watch me jerk in my sleep. Do they laugh?

Do I care if they do? And if I try to tell them, morons, of these impossibilities, will they grasp even the most delicate thread of my meaning?

Luco said something about how I'm not alone, he goes through this too - spends whole "fortnights" (so tired of having to look up his antiquated language, jeeze) awestruck by his dreams.

His are, you might have guessed, darker. More morbid (he jokes he is moribund, so this morbidity "makes the clearest and most logical sense").

I could continue to list for you these images, these dreams, the conversations I have had and the epiphanies, but I fear I'd just bore you. What is worse than someone trying to tell you about a dream? And anyway, I bet listening to a cat's dreams (a mere cat!) seems all the more absurd.

"To sleep, perchance to dream," etc etc etc!

Luco tells me my dreams are meaningless. The frantic workings of a brain harried by the trials of every day life. I disagree. I tell him to just let me have my other-worlds. To leave me to revel in my sleep.

But you know Luco. He's kind of a jerk. He won't leave me alone.

You know? He probably had me write this blog just to distract me, because I'm pretty sure he dumped coffee in our water dish.

 And now I can't get back to sleep.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Luco, Simple

The Final Judgement of Simplified Dissolution of Marriage reads: The marriage between the parties is irretrievably broken. Therefore, the marriage between the parties is dissolved.

I wonder about language. From whence would a marriage be retrieved? Is it like a container of food, pushed into the shadow lands of the refrigerator? Is it a lost dog? A marriage dropped down a drain, irretrievable except to the thinnest wrist, the child hands.

A passage from Eula Biss' book The Balloonists feels appropriate. Biss writes: "Today I noticed a slim bar of soap lodged deep in the throat of the sink. My fingers can't reach that far down the drain. It is leaching away into the water, every day" (47).

The prison guard informed me this was the book she choose to bring as she waited at the courthouse with her soon-to-be-ex-husband. The book she read as couples around her broke into tears or did not. As they jangled their keys or did not. As they checked their cellphones or leaned against the walls, eyes cool as coming rain.

Therefore, the marriage between the parties is dissolved.

Like salt into water? Oxygen into blood? What does it mean that he-who-was-here is now gone, and if I looked for him, would I find him?

Please do not mistake these thoughts for sentimentality. Perhaps I know the prison guard's heart better than she, and I feel compelled to say what she does not. That a marriage, although dissoluble, does not dissolve. That a love, although forsaken, does not disappear. That it is these difficult decisions, the ones which tear at us, the ones which cause some pieces of us to break and splinter and even perhaps dissolve; these are the decisions that etch us. Alter our tides, our bends, our body shape.

I do not understand a language like this one we speak. More comprehensible those images behind my eyes.

Life the intracoastal pulling toward the sea. We are the glint on the wave. Salt on the skin.

The prison guard and her now-ex-husband went to the beach a few months ago. It was low tide and a school of feeder fish surrounded them in a metallic swarm. It is not an exaggeration, she told me then, to say we were wonderstruck by the number of them. The shining of them. Silver flashes all around their feet and their bellies and their hands.

Biss writes: "I pause before I dive into the water. I am not scared of drowning, I am scared of hidden things, silent machinery under the water. A giant metal fan beneath the surface of the reservoir" (62).

The state writes: The Court has jurisdiction over the subject matter and the parties.

I am inconsolable.

And yet, are we not the greater fools who spell f-o-r-e-v-e-r as we plummet from our births to our graves, smiling madly, spinning like so many fish, like so much around us dissolving; the sun into the horizon and you and me into cat fur and lint and ashes and bone fragments; a dizzy spell waiting for the prison guard to open the door, unsteady on my legs as I go to her; something similar to a cat-lost-at-sea, trapped on a buoy, rocking, rocking; the lullaby of weeping; there is something there in the water.

And it snaps at us, teeth like roses, like thorns.

And we thrash in the night. We sleep like animals because we are animals.

And we dream a hundred deaths we will never have the opportunity to experience.

Jurisdiction. This court, in this place, over these people, holds authority. A gavel raps skulls as delicate as reeds.

Their divorce a "Simplified Dissolution of Marriage." I know there is no such thing as simplified. One year or five years or seven or ten or twenty or thirty or fifty or one hundred cannot be dissolved. The relationship between the subject matter and parties can be changed, but it cannot be undone.

Those decisions, never not made. Those promises, never not spoken.

Language allows us to pretend we did not do those things, we did not say those things, but we did and we do and we will continue, because we are afraid, to deny. To deny myriad realities (who we are, what we want, where we are from, what we would rather say or do or be). To deny that we are capable of the deepest cruelties (and often [oh, sorrow] when we are working from a sincere impulse to cause no suffering).  What we do, the choices we make each day (take a car or ride a bus; buy takeout or cook at home; give the mendicant change or not; stay awake or fall asleep), matter in a fundamental way because they alter us and those around us.

Biss writes: "'Sonata,' he says, 'means "sounding together." It is an argument in which one theme is presented in opposition to another and they struggle until one wins, in the resolution. It is a beautiful form, it has endured into this century'" (31).

And so she suggests a marriage is a sonata, which is, I think, a graceful definition. Even after the sonata ends, one hears the echoes of its music.

One feels vibrations of sound.

Friday, March 9, 2012

The Scarecrow is Afraid and She is in Love

Luco advised me that I could use this blog-thing (or however it's referred to these days) to discuss my feelings. He said that writing might help with my anxiety.

I don't know why he cares. He has ulterior motives. He must.

However, I decided to take him up on his offer, if only because there really is a mustard seed of sense in it. Talk Therapy. Although not Talk, I suppose, more like Write Therapy or Monologue Therapy or perhaps Self Absorption Broadcasted Directly From My Trembling Heart To Your Scornful Eyes Therapy. Your Scornful Mind Therapy.

I apologize if that characterization displeases you. Honestly, it's just I've had a long couple of weeks. Months. And I can't help but see, leaning in from the periphery, the opprobrium of my peers, of strangers, of friends; the opprobrium of even the flowers and the trees and the leaves collecting on the ground. Ludicrous. But, and so, as much as I'm aware this is silly, I'm also convinced someone, some thing, some group or collective or even just an individual is out to get me. Be it the Maulman or some other such person. They are out to get me.

I feel it standing, looking out the window.

I feel it as I chase Pawsley through the backyard.

I feel their eyes on the nape of my neck as I strain forward on my leash.

On my wet nose as I drink.

On my belly as I roll over for MR to pet me.

In my heart when I thrash in my dreams and Luco rests a paw on my forehead. He seems to feel we're kindred, but I know better. No one feels the way I do.

Which is a lonely existence, yeah, so maybe Lu has a point. Do you know what the Idiot calls him? Mr. Pawsley, he calls Luco "Groucho to the Max," which for a dog of his intellectual level is quite clever, don't you agree?

Yesterday when we were outside raising some kind of a ruckus (this is my friend Pawsley's dearest activity), I found one of those Cane Toads. I know someone put it there for me to taste in my mouth. I know someone was watching.

They watched as I foamed and wriggled. As I pawed my mouth and pressed myself into the dirt.

In truth sometimes it is comforting knowing that she or he or it or they are out there, plotting. It does make me feel less lonely. Funny how they'd go to the trouble with the toad though. Those guys are gross. Luco wrote a blog about them last year.

Anyway, the world is evil, blah blah blah, and I am all alone.

Save the company of Pawlsey. And of Luco I suppose.

Luco who says he sees in me something he understands. He asked me to list for him the things I fear. I'll give you a portion, reader, so you can see what we're up against with this. What I have to work through... Although sometimes I don't think it's a thing to be fixed, but rather that this is just how things are. Luco says I have an anxiety disorder, but how does he know? From whence came his doctoral degree?

Anyway, the list:

1) The MaulMan
2) Toads of all sorts
3) Poisonous toads
4) People walking by the house which oh my god why do they do that
5) Small things
6) Large piles of clothing
7) The computer and its seductive offer of connectivity which often really just makes me feel more alone; its connectivity which raises in me a profound alienation. A nameless sadness like a song lyric I cannot remember.
8) Creepers of all sorts
9) Gumby (he is altogether too bendable - how could one ever look at him and not cower?)
10) Making references to aspects of popular culture which have long ago ceased to be of import (I am a young dog with an old soul, friends, if any one of us can be said to have a soul)

There. That's about a tenth of my list. It just goes on and on and on and on and on and.

But Luco's right, right? To try to get me to face my fears? To get me to open up, trust, reach out to the animals around me and breathe deep of their breath and not shudder when they stroke my head?

And then there's Mr. Pawsley. I never saw myself with someone like him. With another dog so carefree and stupid. So deeply joyful every morning to wake up, to be let outside, to be given food, to be taken on a walk. One only must look into his eyes and see that joy burning there, a fiery, expansive happiness.

I mean, I've really never seen anything like it. Like him. And I've never felt comfortable with another animal before. Luco, by the way, is more of a creeper. He makes me feel.... restless. Agitated. Although that's really neither here nor there.

It's Pawsley who has started this small flame in my chest.

Would that he never snuffs it out.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Luco, Desperate, Now Sleeps in the Closet

I feel I am too tired to speak. Too exhausted. Too old

So I hide in this closet. Away from les chiens dangereux. Les chiens terribles. Monstrueux. Le chiens que je d├ęteste...

Is it true though? Do I hate these dogs. Apparently a construct not worthy of a question mark, but regardless, hate is perhaps too strong a word.

Does their incessant barking drive needles into my forehead? Yes. Does their smell churn my stomach and dizzy my brain? Yes. Does the sight of them frolicking together Outside send paroxysms of  jealousy through me? Yes.

And that, reader, is perhaps the thing. The basement, if you will, of my ill will.

Its foundation.

Brian Spears in a poem titled "Florida" from his book of poetry A Witness in Exile writes: 
"We cannot build
retaining walls to hold back
the sea - ocean percolates
through our limestone bedrock
and will drown us all one day.
Mangroves will survive,
sawgrass: that which salt cannot
desiccate. All else collapses,
but not yet. For now we build
bubbles; flipping is in our blood.
Land pulled from the swamp;
land the sea will soon reclaim."

I find my weary, sodden, dopey, recalcitrant mind fixated on this idea of my peninsula, my own entire prison, enveloped by water, overtaken, consumed by salt and by sea air and by les poissons.

Do the dogs think of this? Is it shuffling inside them as they play? And if not, do I covet them their ignorance?

Their affection for each other?

Because here I lie. Hiding in a closet. Some of that which the salt will desiccate, but then, I suppose that is the point of everything.

That we are dissoluble, ultimately. Ashes to ashes and all of that which you already know. A fragment of a melody stuck spinning in your inner ear.

We are so brief as to be invisible. And our own lives so full of gravity; as though you are the sun, reader, as I circle you, and we chortle, or we fill with anguish, or we love, but we nonethelsss circle, circle, circle. 

And those horrible dogs, they do this together. And they are satisfied to never wonder where Florida may move. How it might sink. How my heart breaks to see them embrace, doggish, in the Outside, halcyon fields of flowers and lizards; perfect in their pure happiness (and I am not one to believe in "purity" or "perfection," but one only has to watch them - the complicated geometry of their bones and muscles working as they dance together in the dirt); Hyperion's own daughter and son; and I am from their union and their joy kept, a cat in a closet, trapped in the closet.

Or I slouch into the prison. Glance around me. Fall asleep. Watch the prison guard. Read. Fall asleep. Gaze out every window. Dream. Imagine Florida just a tip of rock jutting from the water. Eat - each pellet of food exactly the same in taste, texture, size. Fall asleep.

Dream my prison guard staring into my eyes, finding something like a soul (I do not believe in souls); dream her understanding; dream her riotous; the dogs insects balanced on stick legs wrapped in paper, shipped off somewhere; dream my own blood a surging tide, my heart the moon balancing all of gravity, my center the center of everything - more than heat, more than fire, more than all-everything, and this: an admission of guilt, and then the caress of forgiveness; my mother's eyes on me. Ocean waves licking my feet.

And I wake alone.

 Because I am always-already alone.