Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Decisions and Revisions which a Minute Can Reverse

The President of the War on Terror sat, mute, his lip quivering, in the bole of The Mayakovsky Tree. He swung his legs back and forth like a child.

The President of the War on Terror leaned back, reclining his arms on a bough. He barely could keep his eyes open.

"You feel an insurmountable hatred for the language existing before your time," the tree said to him.

A frown shook bark from its trunk. The Mayakovsky Tree continued:

"You are an insatiable thief. The gold of all the Californias isn’t enough for your desire's riotous horde."

"He's staying," the President of the War on Terror said. "I listen to all the voices. But he's staying."

My tail twitched on the window sill. A door opened downstairs. So this is why the virulent squirrels make their wretched home in this tree. They smell him. They know that no predator would come near his execrable punk scent.

A key rattled the lock. Tony and Shelly are home. If I stare at them long enough, I can make them chase me.

"Give it up!" said The Mayakovsky Tree. "Forget it. Spit on rhymes and arias and the rose bush and other such mawkishness from the Pentagon."

The President of the War on Terror waved at me, as if I were a journalist at an Oval Office news conference eating Hairball Control pellets from a bowl.

Why was he waving? How did he know I was watching him?

"Shimmy, I hear the voices," he said, "and I read the front page. And I know the speculation. I'm deciding what to do for lunch. I'm deciding to do yoga in the early morning, without taking any breakfast or even water. I'm deciding that I should keep a journal to track my feelings. I'm the one who decides every morning to hose the blood off Rumsfeld. I'm deciding what I'm going to have for dinner when I get home. And then after dinner, I'm deciding which food I'm going to have for my 10 o'clock snack. Then after that, I occupy my mind while I'm doing whatever I'm doing, by figuring out what I'm deciding."

I heard the crush of Tony's soft burgundy shoes in the kitchen. Is he opening the magic kitchen cabinet? Will he scrape wet food into a dish or chase me? What about opening the goddamn back door for a change -- let me stroll on the porch if it's not too scary and filled with dogs?

The Mayakovsky Tree swayed in the wind.

"Rumsfeld told me we are moving through another important milestone," said the President of the War on Terror. "Unity is at an all-time high in Iraq, except for the civil war."

"There are no fools today to crowd, open-mouthed, around a maestro and await his pronouncement," the tree said.

Plush burgundy shoes, footfall in the spare bedroom. The President of the War on Terror reclined in a fit, just barely hanging on, in the bole of the tree. I sniffed a milk-bottle-cap-ring in Tony's hand. Chase me or throw the ring, or scrape tuna from a can or break a goldfish in half with your bare hands. Give me a catnip mouse that will pull the republic out of the mud.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

New Constitution

"Gimme that," he said.

The President of the War on Terror sat at the lip of my litter box, his right arm outstretched and his feet dangling.

I heard something upstairs. I blinked, just in case it was a goldfish. A slanting sound of wind against the glass. And a potted plant on the window sill I can't reach unless I jump.

"Give it to me, Shimmy."

"It's mine."

I knew that he would bury it again. This was all the President of the War on Terror wanted it for -- to cover the Constitution with mounds of sand in my litter box.

But I couldn't confront him directly, because he just would lie to me anyway.

"It's a memento from my cousin, Winter," I told him. "She is fierce and gray, the Queen of Oakland. She wrapped it for me in brown paper."

Last week, Winter sent me a new copy of the constitution to replace the one buried by the President of the War on Terror this past February.

No one believes in Winter's psychic abilities and no one understands her preaching style. Two years ago, at a different apartment two blocks away in Oakland, my dear cousin Winter lived one floor above a shrimp farm in a wading pool. Odious, malignant shrimp, imperious swimming. Day and night in a child's plastic pool . . . and Winter trapped by the four-square walls of Trish's apartment.

"I just want to read it, Shimmy. It sounds like Winter gave you an interesting book."

His eyelids fluttered, like he does when reporters ask him questions and he's making up a lie. The tip of his fulsome Texas lip quivered.

"But you don't even know how to read," I said. "And you buried my last copy."

"I won't this time. Promise. I rescued a mother and her children from alligators in front of the Mayflower Hotel yesterday. Lech Walesa offered me the presidency of Poland but I said no. Ann Coulter put her hand on my leg last night as we watched a snuff film together in her basement."

"You're lying to me again," I said.

"I built a 4,000-mile suspension bridge across the Atlantic Ocean in the middle of the night."

"Did you hose the blood off Rumsfeld this morning?"

"Gimme that copy of the constitution. I promise I won't bury it this time."

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Spring Comes to Chicago

They are out there. Hiding in the Mayakovsky tree. The door propped open, I'm sitting on the wet and prickly back-door welcome mat. A breeze brushes my cheeks, a violent sash against my dazzling whiskers. Spring is an occasion for the back door propped open and the mangy, virulent squirrel family hiding from me in the bole of the Mayakovsky tree. Spring is an occasion for patience. I stretch myself on the welcome mat. Staring is a practical act. I remember sitting in the sun-room window on Wolcott Avenue, hissing at pizza-delivery drivers buzzing the door. I guarded the fireplace in that old, broken apartment, in case squirrels dropped into the living room. I hissed at the neighbor planting her basil garden. It is spring and I cannot be touched or picked up today. I hear Tony and Shelly in the kitchen, inadequate cats holding coffee cups and prattling, and I wait for the tree to open its chest to me. The Mayakovsky tree complains, "These squirrels are a nail in my boot!" I know. It is spring. I snip at the wind.

Sunday, April 09, 2006


Rumsfeld and I are in a rocketship together. Stars fly past the window.

He is eating a bowl of cottage cheese. He pushes his glasses up his nose.

"Why don't you crawl up here on my lap, Shimmy?"

"Don't touch me. Don't even think about it."

Lush tropical plants everywhere in the rocketship control room. Somehow I know we've passed Mars already.

"I kill all life on earth," Rumsfeld says.

His dachshund, Reggie, climbs a palm tree. I'm staring at a gray iguana with red fins running down its spine. I want to go snorkeling with Guy Debord.

I wake up in the dark on Tony's computer chair. The night-owl El train rumbles out the window.

Monday, April 03, 2006

Thunder Under the Bed

Crack, the crude thunder. I growled back at the storm last night, hiding under the bed in the spare room. Thunder is not made from anything -- it's a calamity, a blind quotation, a giant shape in the dark outside the back porch that squeezes till you break. You can't hide in the tub or dark places. I haunched my spine against the bottom of the mattress, pressed myself against the back wall. I heard voices from a television. Crack, then rain, the drizzle slick as the vet's chromium examination table . . . they dump you on the cold table and nothing smells like it should. A dachshund sat here less than an hour ago. I feel the loathsome whiff of puppy. The veterinarian's hands should be taped shut like lobster claws. A growl from my ribcage -- Linda Blair's head twists in circles, Wendy O. Williams blows up a 1977 Dodge Dart on television. Revolutionary technique, swatting and hissing, in the service of poetry. I didn't ask to be in your office. The vet says something to Tony and Shelly about my teeth. I can't hear the words from the hissing. If you want to examine my gums, you'll have to kill me. Thunder is brown, it's unnecessary, the shock of two dogs chasing each other upstairs. The Satanic Majesties Veterinarian at Petco in 2003 tried to give me a rabies shot and said to Tony, "Is she always like this?" Dr. Weiner in Boston couldn't touch me in 1998 without forcibly injecting me with sedatives, and I shat on his examination table. At the Allston-Brighton Animal Free Clinic, I hissed at plodding dogs and pissed on the vicious sheet-metal exam table during a 1997 rabies vaccination. I threw up this morning. Thunder is Ialdabaoth's intelligent design, the fraud of angels.