Monday, March 31, 2008

The last cat

Some time later today, when the results of her blood work come in, I shall go off to the veterinary clinic to pick up the cat. Some time after that — maybe one or two or three days; it’ll be a fairly restricted time frame — I’ll be taking her back to be euthanased.

The cat is suffering from acute renal failure, a condition that impairs all the senses. It’s been coming on for some time — I think I commented in a brief, earlier post that she seemed to be suffering from some form of feline Alzheimers — but because of the rain over the first two months of this year, we’d assumed that her desire to stay indoors, curled up in a corner or on top of the towel we had put down to stop water coming in the downstairs door or on the shelf under the tv, was because there was nowhere outside that was dry enough for her sensitivities to allow her to crap.

When the rain stopped & she finally went out, she stayed out. Would initially hang around somewhere in the garden. Then she started disappearing across the road, wouldn’t be seen for 24 hours, once even for two days. We thought maybe she was getting food & water somewhere else, but she kept wasting away. She just appeared on the driveway in the evening, wouldn’t respond to calling, wouldn’t react to movement, would just sit there, would have to be carried in. Would run downstairs with an urgency, eat but not drink, & then run back up the stairs even faster than she came down them, & sit somewhere near the door yowling noisily & plaintively to be let out. Then, once outside, she would go & sit in the middle of the, fortunately quiet, street.

After the two day disappearance — & to be honest, I didn’t think we’d ever see her again — I took her to the vet. She’s been there for just under a week now, most of the time on a drip in an attempt to see if her condition would improve. It has, but only slightly. We went in to see her on Saturday, & though she was brighter, she still didn’t respond as she used to, didn’t seem to have that zip she used to have. Today’s blood test, taken after she’s come off & away from the influence of the drip, will tell us if her condition’s stabilized or worsened. If she was a younger cat, a kidney transplant might be an option; but she’s at least 15 years old, possibly a year or two older. But no matter what the prognosis, I shall bring her home for a few days, to sit in the sun, to hopefully chatter at the birds.

I’ve shared nearly all my life with cats. There are photos of me at four or five, straddling the first of them — it so large & me not much larger — as if I was riding a horse. The cat we had in the next town we lived in got hit by a car. I can remember the driver coming in to tell us of the accident, how the cat had crawled away down a stormwater drain, probably to find the dark to die in; but that night, with plaintive sound & massive injuries, it came crawling back to the front door, was immediately taken to the vet & survived.

I don’t think we had a cat in Wellington where I spent the first part of my teenage years, but after I left home at eighteen, cats were constant companions. Always kittens, always strays, usually female. Various breeds — part-Burmese, tabbies, indeterminate. Cats that have given me ringworm, that have got diabetes, that have sat with me as I wrote poems, sometimes even about them. Lizard-eaters, bird-catchers, cats that learnt the wisdom of not eating birds, cats that were happy to share their space with frogs. This one’s a tortoiseshell, &, of the three of us, seemed to be the one that has adapted best to this environment we now live in.

There is a poem by Borges in which he posits that whatever we do, we may possibly be doing it for the last time but never know. That this will be the last cat, however, is something I am certain about. Acquiring another cat now would mean it would outlive me, though, if I reach eighty, I may change my mind.

(The vet has just rung to say that the cat’s condition has deteriorated badly since she’s come off the drip. So I’ve asked that she be put back on it for another day so that when I bring her home, she might be bright enough to enjoy the sunshine for what will probably only be a single day.)

Sunday, March 30, 2008

One of these days,

hopefully in the not too distant future, I’ll get around to starting an Otoliths Books blog. In the interim, some recent reviews & such.

Geof Huth stratifies Spencer Selby’s Flush Contour at dbqp: visualizing poetics.

Thomas Fink at critiphoria & John M. Bennett at Mad Hatter’s Review look at Sheila E. Murphy’s The Case of the Lost Objective (Case).

Sam Trimble at Philadephia citypapernet & Jesse Jarnot at paste (jpeg of the article here) talk to Paul Siegell about Poemergency Room.

Jack Kimball follows up on Rochelle Ratner’s Leads at Pantaloons (post date 2/21/08).

Friday, March 28, 2008

Genji Monogatari XIV: A Boat upon the Waters

The camera is a kind of
surrogate supervisor, colon-
izing bare stones from
beneath the water surface
& then rough tumbling them
to remove the matrix—truth
values, brandname medication,
YouTube videos of girls fighting
in suburban schoolyards. It is
a repository of spatial memory
where everything retains
its own personal space, their
heavy burdens & polemical
charges. There is a small picture
of Genji sitting on a massive
flower under a crescent moon.

Thursday, March 27, 2008


As the speechtrack to a cable series about a serial killer serial killer — or should that be serial serial killer killer? — creeps down the staircase from the living room, I’m reminded of the “morality” prevalent, thanks to the Hays code, in the Hollywood movies I grew up on, in which “evil” could never be portrayed in a “good” light & nobody could ever benefit from a crime. I have no memory of the name, or who was in it, but I do remember seeing a movie — fifties? sixties? maybe even the seventies — that, possibly for the first time, shifted away from this premise. Not too far, mind you. Sure the main characters got away with a million dollars, but they would have got, had they stayed around, a million dollars through legitimate means.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Tuxedo inJunction

The only time I have ever worn a tux was fifty years ago when I played at a New Year’s Eve Ball for the local Polish community. We didn’t play a polka all evening — they had a separate band for that — but there were 57 varieties of potato salad for supper.

Monday, March 24, 2008

another proof-
of-existence hay(na)ku.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Famous disasters #739

went down
on the Titanic.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Let me admit

to using digital time as a kind of mini-omen. 12- or 24-hour displays, around the house, in the car, occasionally in the wider world. Something comforting about them. Equal—12:12; sequential—10:11; the year—20:08; the day, the month—22:03; pi—3:14. A small warm buzz. No downside to them. Something else & they’re just the time.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Do pubescents dream of electric sheep?

What, early on, shapes our beliefs? Why, contra parental values, prevailing current opinion & a reasonably straightforward upbringing, should I have believed that left-wing politics—socialism, if you like—was the greater respecter of human values, that capital punishment, nuclear capability, totalitarianism, armed conflict were wrong. No-one I knew shared these values, certainly not my parents. There was no television, the most radical films I’d seen were Charlie Chaplin’s The Great Dictator & Modern Times, DC comics hadn’t reached New Zealand, there were no alternative newspapers, TIME told us it told the truth, rock ‘n roll hadn’t beaten a path to my door, wasn’t even beating yet.

What I got from my parents was a love of reading. What I got from my brother, twelve or so years older & away from home, was the collection of science fiction that he’d left behind. What I got from that were alternative views of the world, supposedly the future but written from the perspective of the present.

There was a dichotomy of perspective. The fascism of people like Robert Heinlein; the socialism of writers like Philip K. Dick, Fritz Leiber, C.M. Kornbluth & Theodore Sturgeon. The political tags came later, when my reading widened & I recognized them for what they were. The preferred beliefs stuck with me immediately.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

five years on / forty years on

Marking the fifth anniversary of the U.S.-led invasion with a touch of the swagger he showed early in the war, Bush said in a speech at the Pentagon, "The successes we are seeing in Iraq are undeniable."

She knows there's no success like failure
And that failure's no success at all.
Bob Dylan: Love Minus Zero / No Limit


I want
to fill her

mouth entirely with
my new

pecker? Certainly
a talking point,

but how to
talk around

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

even if it’s
just to say

i’m still
propping up

my little
corner of the


Tuesday, March 18, 2008

for Richard Kostelanetz

FACT     /     IONS

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Who's the Boss?

Today the
postman brought
me a catalogue
found objects. The
catalogue was in-
cluded in the
catalogue. Gödel
wouldn’t have been
happy about
that inclusion.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008









Saturday, March 08, 2008

The weather has improved. It is time for my homage to catatonia to end.