8pm Cat

I came upon this quote before reading this week’s prompt at Big Tent Poetry
http://bigtentpoetry.org
The quote started humming immediately. When I then went to retrieve the prompt, I swear it took one look at me, ran off backstage and hid somewhere in the rafters. I tried to follow, but the humming just got louder and louder. My apologies to the rest of you who found the prompt. I never did. Got into a bit of music no one else could hear.

Whoever leads a solitary life, and yet now and then wants to attach himself somewhere; whoever, according to changes in time of day, the weather, the state of his business and the like, suddenly wishes to see any arm at all to which he might cling – he will not be able to manage for long without a window looking on to the street.  (Kafka, The Street Window

Do not own a street window, one that allows access to people busily moving
from chore of obligations, racing toward leisure, checking time
to make sure they can spare space in minutes spent purchasing a life,
or simply driving through one. Peering out other windows, unable to see
own pleasure or envy. Meeting for lunch, or secret liaison, gathering
in large, or small bunched groups, to celebrate a likeness only hoped
to be visible. Raising a raucous voice in true or false sounds of laughter
or gaiety. No, for that, I must walk down carpeted hallway to a door
which owns only small glazed aperture that affords no more than blurred
shadow of what lies beyond. Most days, I don’t go that way.

Rent instead, windows that reach all the way from floor to ceiling, clear
view of small concrete patio, and green grassed alley that runs to tall
wooden fence blocking entrance to all but rooftops, high branches of trees,
and evocative sky that forecasts coming weather. Tells me all of its feelings:
sometimes dances like a devil to thunderous music, or broodingly looks on,
like silent audience in darkened threater, where strobe-light flashes reveal
unreal world of slim gnarled trees that lash themselves with branches as thin
as arms of child starving in Africa. At times, tips its finest blue bonnet
to show me gigantic white mums that trim its crown, or pivots that I might
applaud mauve and lavender veils it swirls around itself for warmth on cool
summer evenings. Always allows just enough sunshine to nurture
whatever life finds root in this narrowed pasture.

And what life there is: small finches in various shades from butter cream,
to almost orange of jasmine yellow. Bobbing morning doves that coo
in soft hues of tan and grey, pecking their way through curve of tree roots.
An occasional cardinal who answers call of pursed lips with a swift flick
of his cocked head, and once, a hawk who mantled, then landed 
for only a moment in camera ready pose, before launching himself toward
currents, and a slow game of tag with wispy clouds of spring afternoon. 
Rabbits, soft brindled brown, chase and race one another through grass,
as squirrels prance along top of fence, stopping only when I softly click
my tongue in their direction. A black and white cat that, each evening,
just after 8pm, streaks her way past on sure path to somewhere.

Know of a man who takes photographs through different shaped windows,
to frame moon with all of her valleys, canyons silhouetted in grey
indentations. And another, who once bought, then installed brand new
windows, but never finished, so drapes hid cracks of crumbling plaster,
gaping wounds of darkness the color of moon shadows. 8pm cat
streaks by, whirling my thoughts like wind that sometimes whistled through
those broken gaps of plaster. And remember how, every week or two,
that black and white feline brakes her run, slinks over to rest on haunches
as she peers into my tall glass wall, and I wonder if it has become
her street window… my arm, that one she unwittingly seeks to cling to.

Elizabeth Crawford  7/30/10

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About 1sojournal

Loves words and language. Dances on paper to her own inner music. Loves to share and keeps several blogs to facilitate that. They can be found here: http://1sojournal.wordpress.com/ https://soulsmusic.wordpress.com/ http://claudetteellinger.wordpress.com/
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32 Responses to 8pm Cat

  1. Stan Ski says:

    An epic! And a great read!

    Like

  2. 1sojournal says:

    Thanks Stan,

    got a bit worried because it was so outside my ‘comfort’ zone, but the Kafka quote started humming the minute I read it and just had to see where it went. I’m glad I did.

    Elizabeth

    Like

  3. tillybud says:

    Great stream of consciousness effect. I love the opening line.

    http://thelaughinghousewife.wordpress.com

    Like

  4. This poem begs to be read again and again. Wonderful images and evocative thoughts. I like the long full lines that seamlessly pull me along to the next line, next image. Bravo

    Like

  5. 1sojournal says:

    tillybud, thank you, but I had no idea when I penned it that it would turn out to be a treatise on owning another view, lol. But, I very much like your definition of stream of consciouness effect. I don’t believe I have ever written such a dense piece of material before. Yet, poetry, for me has ever been the doorway, threshold into that murky thing we call the subconscious, that shadowy space where so much more resides, often hidden and deliberately so. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and for helping me see more clearly what I myself am about.

    Elizabeth

    Hi Linda, and you have captured exactly what it felt like to write it. I wasn’t so much pushing my pen along, as being towed in its wake. And, if I’m honest, I did go back, again and again, to explore and tweak, but more just to read it. Thank you for reading and for the Bravo, that is really satisfying to hear.

    Elizabeth

    Like

  6. Mary says:

    You have a gift of writing about nature. I enjoyed this!

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  7. 1sojournal says:

    Mary, thank you, but that might be because I don’t get out in it as much as I used to and would still like to. Glad you enjoyed and thanks for stopping by,

    Elizabeth

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  8. beyourownstory says:

    Very dense, lots of layers. New voice: it’s SO different. Lot of evocative image. Will take me a week to get a clear picture: better clean my windows!

    Like

  9. 1sojournal says:

    Lol, I warned you, didn’t I? Been cleaning my glasses this entire past week, still am, as a matter of fact. So take your time,

    Elizabeth

    Like

  10. twitches says:

    It does feel stream of consciousness-y, with the lack of articles in places. Gives it a breathless, urgent quality, very immediate. Nicely done (and thanks for the quote, too – interesting).

    Like

  11. brenda w says:

    There is a revery toward the second stanza’s closing that resonates for me. Your observations are engaging, your images clear. Beautiful piece.

    Like

  12. 1sojournal says:

    twitches, it was very immediate and sort of an incredibly urgent piece of writing. Not my usual form or process at all. If a quote can be seen as a huge church bell, this one tolled and I got lost, twirling in its rolling echoes. Not at all an unpleasant experience, but also a constant awareness that I had somehow slipped into new, but somewhat? familiar territory.

    Elizabeth

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  13. 1sojournal says:

    Brenda, resonation is a wonderful thing, and I have often found it in your poems, as well. And thank you for sharing that, it is extremely pleasing to know that someone else found something of themselves in my words.

    Elizabeth

    Like

  14. pamela says:

    Elizabeth this is an evocative piece of writing!
    I love it!
    Pamela

    Like

  15. nan says:

    Really enjoyed the imagery — especially the picture you painted of the different birds and the cat in view. You were wise to follow the humming, and you’ve given us a very nice gift. Great poem!

    Like

  16. 1sojournal says:

    Pamela, thank you for your kind comments. It certainly surprised me and came from a much deeper place than usual. And I’m glad you like it, I do too.

    Elizabeth

    Thank you nan, I’m glad you enjoyed. I think I might have risked further deafness if I hadn’t followed it. And therein might lie the best piece of wisdom involved. I so like giving gifts.

    Elizabeth

    Like

  17. Dick says:

    Rich in detailed and enormously evocative imagery. You make the difficult long verse style really work for you here, Elizabeth: momentum is maintained, but so is the consistency of theme and narrative – no mean achievement.

    Like

  18. 1sojournal says:

    I hope you don’t mind Dick, but I’m laughing. If you could have seen me writing this, all the while muttering, “Why am I doing this? I can’t, I can’t, I can’t,” and then it was all done and I said, “Oh shit, I did it!” So, if again, you don’t mind, I’ll take all of your wonderful and well placed compliments and comments, tuck them all securely under my arm and run like hell. Oh, almost forgot, thank you.

    Elizabeth

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  19. systematicweasel says:

    A very enjoyable read! Excellent post!

    -Weasel

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  20. 1sojournal says:

    Thank you a lot, weasel.

    Elizabeth

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  21. I wasn’t familiar with that Kafka quote, but I can see how it captured your attention. Lots of wonderful descriptions of your alternate view, but I especially like the dramatic moods of the sky.

    Like

  22. 1sojournal says:

    Francis, thank you for commenting. I actually found the quote on another blog that explores Jungian theory and went looking to see where it came from. It’s part of a larger quote, all of which is titled Street Window. This is just the part that pulled me in, because I am one of those solitary creatures of whom Kafka speaks and I found the different “view” rather striking.
    It is the very reason I grabbed this apartment when it came open. I am, however, not as solitary as that statement would seem to suggest. I do not shun society, simply prefer it at times of my own choosing. And perhaps, some of the imagery reflects what others might define as some amount of moodiness on my part. I come from a region that has four distinctly different seasons, and find that one does reflect that natural phenomenon with little coaxing.

    Elizabeth

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  23. Ben says:

    I am a huge fan of poems with longer lines, so I like this a lot. I really like the things you did with language here, too. Have you ever read this poem aloud? I think it would make for a fantastic recitation!

    Like

  24. EKSwitaj says:

    This is definitely a different direction than I expected your poem to take. I like the preference of renting to ownership, a neat reversal of common values.

    Like

  25. Tumblewords says:

    I do love the free flow and timely images that move this from start to finish.

    Like

  26. 1sojournal says:

    Ben,the long lines are new to me, as of this poem. Confession? They remind me of Walt Whitman, and when I was first introduced to WW, I got an image stuck in my head that if one was ever to enter his space, it would have to be with an oxygen tank in tow, because those long lines seemed to suck all the air out of any enclosed space. However, my mentor was a rather well-known Whitman scholar and eventually I softened my response, but think, until I actually wrote this piece, over the past few days, I had held onto that prejudice about those long lines, lol. Which answers the last part of your comment. I have yet to make it solid in my own head that I actually wrote this poem! Read it aloud? Maybe someday…when the reality finally settles in, lol.

    Elizabeth

    Hi EK, I think in many ways the entire poem is a sort of reversal, on many levels: read my response to Ben, above. I have owned homes when I was married. Single now, I much prefer renting and the lightening of much obligation and responsibility.

    Elizabeth

    Thank you Tumblewords. I rather like all of those things myself.

    Elizabeth

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  27. I love the way the cat enters in and steals the scene.

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  28. 1sojournal says:

    Hi Philip, and again, I have to laugh because the cat was a rescue. I was thinking I’d never find the end of these seemingly endless lines, when she popped back into my head, not streaking, but sitting quietly watching me watch her. Whew! I was really glad to see her. And still watch for her even now.

    Elizabeth

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  29. Utterly mesmerizing! Beautifully written, Elizabeth the 3rd!

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  30. Pam says:

    Very nice take on the dance of the 7 veils. I love the use of changing perspective and that you ultimately chose to free the dancer forever.

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  31. neil reid says:

    Wonderful. Out of your comfort zone? (Well honestly, I still don’t really know your “style” enough to say.) But Elizabeth, it sounds “just like you”, like everything I’ve yet read of you, and I include your journals and comments too. But if new to you, then I say keep it around, invite it back for tea and company!

    (My time this morning is running short, soon off to work.) However must pause to say, oh yes, this is much appreciated. I understand that relationship-with-cat. How it even feeds both ways for you each.

    You write this way in a light and welcoming manner. It is very easy to read, like meeting someone in the flesh. Good company it makes for those of us fortunate enough to read. Maybe you’ll even encourage me to try this stance myself. I definitely see something I like! See possibility. Good in and of itself. (I’m afraid sometimes I can get too verbose, so have been shy to write this way.) But I’m old old fashioned enough to think a poem is what you say it is. And this is just a wonderful example indeed, and the ending so well brings it all back home perfectly. Thanks.

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  32. 1sojournal says:

    No, thank you, Neil. Much of what I have done in response to the prompts has been new to and for me. It’s opened doors in so many ways, brought good strong sunlight in to dissipate so much that had been in shadow. I just wrote about this on the 1sojournal site, and it is also in response to yet another prompt. But, your words are so uplifting in so many ways. And I am glad for both of us that whatever is spilling out has, contains plenty to go around.

    Have to admit though, I don’t drink tea. Caffiene doesn’t much like my system, so I steer clear for the most part (that doesn’t apply to chocolate). Anyway, I know exactly what you mean. I want to keep this and hug it to me.

    And yes, I would encourage anyone to try this. It takes concentration and focus and an ear to sound as well, but it certainly is worth attempting.

    Thank you so much Neil, for your enthusiasm and all the rest,

    Elizabeth

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