Red Cat 'Till I Die
Hungover, my hands still crusted with whole-wheat, never bleached, never bromated lasagna pasta, helping my second oldest friend move up a flight of stairs, and realizing the toothache I'd been entertaining for a week thought himself family, I endured the schlep and emerged mucky-eyed as any infant in the mid-afternoon. I showered, napped in same state, and woke a poor dice throw later refreshed and ready to be defiant if the circumstances arose.
I bought an album about a red cat in the thirties who befriended Lefty Mouse and Rev. Tom Toad. They went around agitating for the unions and the workin' man. Cat's name was Buddy.
One cat. One vote. And one beer.
Sometimes one wakes and realizes he's been brought by misery or accident near the solution and he's got to stumble to conquer.
I knew that Pegasus was the wrong book store. Black Oak was the right one. Moe's is a Sabbath of his own. He needs not me nor me him in such ciphering.
There were poets reading at Black Oak. I could have easily replaced the Byatt I lost when I lost my bag-but that dogged my hurtin head and I can usually read a map all right. A bald man tall and a cute blond small. They'd workshopped together. I felt like the usual asshole and as usual didn't care. I resolved to find a new way to read outloud.
For months I've been looking for a cheap edition of Tristam Shandy. Gold gilt three foot tall faux-hide bound edition for twenty five dollars. Nothin doin. But the introduction was by Christopher Morely.
I have a 1918 crush on the man.
After a brief and perfunctory sojourn into the Judaica section I looked in the M's for Morely hisself and found a signed edition of John Misletoe. I bought it anyway.
"The old mulberry by the ruined arch, the prostrate mock-orange tree below the cricket shed, the tall pines by Chase Hall, the feathery clumps of of pampas grass, the copper beeches, the fallen flukes of mapleseeds, all such became a part of one's innocence. In spring there was the constant drowsy whirr of the big lawnmower, drawn by a horse who wore huge leather slippers on his feet to spare the sod. Nor he, nore the rhododendrons, nor anything else in that perfect picture were in vain. One had an idea of peace. It would not be until many years later one might divine an almost ominous loveliness in some lights and shades. Under the copper beeches , in Pennsylvania's reckless sun, there is a lustred shimmer that knows no argument...rambling in thos groves you will sometimes be aware that the woodlands of Penn have never been wholly won back from the wilderness. Whatever that visitor may have said, those are not the tame trees of "an English nobleman's park," they are still forest timber, and sometimes the voice they whisper is not of Penn but of Pan. "
I read this and more in Triple Rock until a clandestine and nascent cold unveiled itself in a trumpet sound of abundant and clear mucas. I found the path, but had broken the brush such that any and all could follow.