Hillman City Haibun_1-(Dead_Cat_Magnet)

Zappa Out of the Box

Zappa Out of the Box

2014 was not an easy year over on Lucile Street. My cat Zappa died March 30. Meredith’s beloved Tupelo died on October 17 and Mer was entrusted to care for a neighbor’s elderly cat over the holidays. I bet you can guess what’s coming. In one way it’s a good sign that another being entrusts you with their transition to cat heaven, or next cat incarnation, or wherever your cat cosmology tells you they go after tripping us in the kitchen, covering our black clothing items in hair and urinating on our beds when we’ve been away too long. Cats also provide a whole genre of American Sentences, usually involving vomiting or their rear ends, or both. When there is little or no emotional attachment between the cat care-giver and the deliverer of bad news, it can open up some possibilities for dark humor, especially if you were raised in the Upper Midwest, as both Meredith and I were. So when Mer got the bad news on January 3, I was sympathetic, but also ready with pen and pocket journal to write down what the vet said about how to deliver the news to our dear neighbor. Never is it an easy task, but to do it with some tact is important, as community is built in moments like these, and perhaps deconstructed in this case with this past week’s top American Sentence.

1.3.15 – Vet says: “She may not want to see her cat again, he’s in the freezer.”


About Splabman

Paul Nelson is founder of SPLAB (Seattle Poetics LAB) in Seattle, the Cascadia Poetry Festival and the August POetry POstcard Fest (PoPo). www.POPO.cards. He has published a collection of essays, Organic Poetry & a serial poem re-enacting the history of Auburn, WA, A Time Before Slaughter (shortlisted for a 2010 Genius Award by The Stranger) and American Sentences, a book of 17 syllable poems drawn from the first fourteen of his 20 years of daily practice. The tenth anniversary edition of that book includes Pig War: & Other Songs of Cascadia. He’s interviewed Allen Ginsberg, Michael McClure, Wanda Coleman, Anne Waldman, Sam Hamill, Robin Blaser, Nate Mackey, Eileen Myles, George Bowering, Diane di Prima, Brenda Hillman, George Stanley, Joanne Kyger & many Cascadia poets (see: https://paulenelson.com/americanprophets/) has presented his poetry and poetics in London, Brussels, Bothell, Cumberland, BC, Qinghai and Beijing, China, Lake Forest, Illinois, Ukiah, CA, and other places & writes an American Sentence every day. www.PaulENelson.com
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2 Responses to Hillman City Haibun_1-(Dead_Cat_Magnet)

  1. Eyes bulging: whatever you do, don’t look in the freezer!
    On discvering the chihuahua was there because my brother couldn’t bear to part with it.
    Do you think poets, writers and script writers collect this sort of life experience? Always enjoy your posts.

    • Splabman says:


      Yes, I think that writers live to document the odd moments, those that illuminate the shadow side of the human experience. I just knew when I heard that vet on the speakerphone that it was poetry. So sad for our dear neighbor, but she will have a story anyway. Congratulations on bringing the Lewes project home. Bravo! Thanks for reading the blog.

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