Friday, December 12, 2008

a tribute to mark roberts

you may or may not know that i love mark roberts and his class. he's a FANTASTIC mentor and i wish i had a class with him next quarter. but i don't.

i picked out my favorite poem that he read to us last week.


The History of One Tough Motherfucker

he came to the door one night wet thin beaten and terrorized
a white cross-eyed tailless cat
I took him in and fed him and he stayed
grew to trust me until a friend drove up the driveway and ran him over
I took what was left to a vet who said, "not much chance... give him these pills... his backbone is crushed, but itwas crushed before and somehow mended, if he lives he'll never walk, look at these x-rays, he's been shot, look here, the pellets are still there... also he once had a tail, somebody cut it off..."
I took the cat back, it was a hot summer, one of the hottest in decades, I put him on the bathroom floor,
gave him water and pills, he wouldn't eat, he wouldn't touch the water,
I dipped my finger in it
and wet his mouth and I talked to him,
I didn't go anywhere, I put in a lot of bathroom time and talked to
him and gently touched him and he looked back at
me with those pale blue crossed eyes and as the days went by he made his first move dragging himself
forward by his front legs
(the rear ones wouldn't work)
he made it to the litter box
crawled over and in,
it was like the trumpet of possible victory
blowing in that bathroom and into the city,
I related to that cat--
I'd had it bad, not that
bad but bad enough

one morning he got up, stood up, fell back down and
just looked at me.
"you can make it," I said to him.
he kept trying, getting up falling down, finally
he walked a few steps, he was like a drunk,
the rear legs just didn't want to do it and he
fell again, rested,
then got up.
you know the rest: now he's better than ever,
almost toothless, but the grace is back, and that look in his eyes never left.
and now sometimes I'm interviewed they want to hear about
life and literature and I get drunk and hold up my cross-eyed,
shot, runover de-tailed cat and I say, "look, look at this!"
but they don't understand, they say something like, "you
say you've been influenced by Celine?"
"no," I hold the cat up, "by what happens, by
things like this, by this, by this!"
I shake the cat, hold him up in
the smoky and drunken light, he's relaxed he knows...
it's then that the interviews end
although I am proud sometimes when I see the pictures
later and there I am and there is the cat and we are photographed together.
he too knows it's bullshit but that somehow it all helps.

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