Saturday, January 31, 2015

Rod McKuen 1933 - 2015 I loved his work, perhaps "Sloopy" is one of my favorites - RIP

A Cat Named Sloopy

For a while
the only earth that Sloopy knew
      was in her sandbox.

Two rooms on Fifty-fifth Street
          were her domain.
Every night she’d sit in the window
among the avocado plants
waiting for me to come home
    ( my arms full of canned liver and love. )
We’d talk into the night then
 Contented but missing something.
She the earth she never knew
me the hills I ran
  while growing bent.

Sloopy should have been a cowboy’s cat
with prairies to run  not linoleum
and real-live catnip mice
No one to depend on but herself.

I never told her
     but in my mind
I was a midnight cowboy even then.
Riding my imaginary horse
down Forty-second Street,
going off with strangers
to live an hour-long cowboy’s life,
          but always coming home to Sloopy,
     who loved me best.

A dozen summers
we lived against the world.
An island on an island.
She’d comfort me with purring
I’d fatten her with smiles.

We grew rich on trust
needing not the beach or butterflies.

I had a friend named Ben
who painted buildings like Roualt men.  He went away.
My laughter tired Lillian
after a time
      she found a man who only smiled.
Only Sloopy stayed and stayed.

Nineteen fifty-nine.
Old men walk their dogs.
Some are walked so often
that their feet leave
          little pink tracks
in the soft gray snow.

Women fur on fur
           elegant and easy
only slightly pure
hailing cabs to take them
     round the block and back.
Who is not a love seeker
when December comes ?
Even children pray to Santa Claus.
I had my own love safe at home
and yet I stayed out all one night
           the next day too.

They must have thought me crazy
 screaming  Sloopy  Sloopy
as the snow came falling

down around me.

I was a madman
to have stayed away
  one minute more
than the appointed hour.
I’d like to think a golden cowboy
snatched her from the window sill,
    and safely saddlebagged
      she rode to Arizona.
She’s stalking lizards
in the cactus now perhaps
    bitter but free.

I’m bitter too
and not a free man anymore.

  Once was a time,
in New York’s jungle in a tree,
before I went into the world
in search of other kinds of love
nobody owned me but a cat named Sloopy.

  Looking back
perhaps she’s been
the only human thing
that ever gave back love to me.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

We hurried outside with our blankets and pillows and lay down at the end of the driveway. It was just after 4:00 a.m., the sky was black but filled with the radiance of billions of stars.

There was a bit of unrest, the ground was hard and the early chill crept under our pile of blankets. Hush now, lie back and just watch the sky.

A quick inhale of breath, look look, there's one and there's one and the sky was filled with meteors, long tails clashing and stretching across the sky. The restless fell still and then silence.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015


I quit smoking 15 years ago after nearly thirty years of filling all my spaces and that of others with stinking smoke. It was no big deal, I just quit. The secret is don't tell anyone you're quitting.

Someday though when it won't matter anymore, I'm going to sit down with a cup of steaming hot coffee and a Benson & Hedges, if they still make them. I'll cough and hack but then my lungs will recognize their old paramour and thief of time and settle down to it.

After all, cigarettes will never let you down. They may kill you, but if it's not that, it'll be something else - too much ice cream maybe, or not-so-subtle indifference and abandonment. In the end it doesn't matter, does it?