Beautiful Noise

Crazy Cat

"We had a great big tom cat in my town

when I was little.

He didn't allow

any others around ever.

We had some kittens in the cellar,

living under the house

in the crawlspace.

That big tom cat snuck in through

an open window and


killed them all, all

those cute little kittens. He

was jealous of them. He

wanted their mother to



attention to him. He

hated the kittens. He

killed them all. We

just found fur

all over."

There was truth enough

in that story

to make a myth of.

The myth, I hated, and I refused

to keep it alive

except in the back of my mind where

that tomcat hovers still,

In the background of my dreaming,

being this old man or that,

being me, my father,

all us jealous men.

I never knew a tomcat

who hated kittens. And I had

a big black tom myself, six years, and

he sired two litters at home,

God knows how many in his nightly prowls.

I never heard that he had killed any

of his children.

Maybe he wasn't clever enough to

exercise that male impluse, and

maybe he prowled the alleys,

black shadow in the moonless night,

hearing weak mewls behind walls and

shut windows,

lurking outside feline nurseries

to suckle his own murderous rage,

waiting in dark hedges,

his green eyes neon in reflected light,

till some foolish mother leaves his prey

helpless and unguarded . . . . Then:

Then murder, with rape, perhaps,

for dessert.

Today I think

that even that big tom lived

only in her fancy, and

in the dreams of other


finished with their husbands, making myths

around the shutting out of men.


One son's life slipped slowly out of focus,

his glasses growing thick as walls,

the seen world dimmer and diffused.

He lives with her, at twenty-five.

He left once, joined the Army.

They gave him a discharge

after a week at Fort Bliss.

He went home, blinking angrily

through coke bottle bottoms,

hunching his shoulders

in hazy grey rage

against the hazards of bus travel.

He lives with her now.

He can't very well live by himself:

People will try to take advantage of him.

People will try to trick him.

People will cheat him if he goes outside.

He lives with her now.

Someone has to take care of him.

His father doesn't talk to him much.

His father just comes home to sleep,

lives at the gas station,

plays lots of cribbage,

sneaks calls long distance

to his children.

He cannot see his father very clearly now.

He sees her clearly, though, under

other names, now, names

he gives the women on

the stages of his dreams,

the pages where his stories grow,

the paper he covers with ink–

drawing under the radiance

of a neon magnifying lamp.

When he was twelve, he liked to rock.

It was better than toys.

The rocking chair was his.

It was too big for the new children she loved.

He rocked gently, as if lulling a child;

gently, sometimes facing

somewhat towards the corner,


away from all of us engaged with

trucks and Lincoln logs and


She watched him rock, one day,

spending half a


watching, only

her eyes

moving, as if he

were a tennis match seen far away.

"We had a boy in our town

when I was little, he

rocked all the time. One

day he killed his mother

with an axe," she told us

as we watched her watch.

He lives with her now.


Poetry Writing Dancing Badger