BY JAN HAAG


INTRODUCTION + POETRY + ESSAYS + MUSIC + TRAVEL + FICTION + TEXTILE ART

HAAG'S BIO

ART & POETRY - ACCUMULATIONS



THE OPINIONATED CAT

(In chronological order)

ALPHABETICAL INDEX


Over the years I have written many a cat poem, but here is a special collection of Shiva (the God) - purna (full of) poems.

Jan Haag
Collected and posted
July 19, 2004, August 10, 2004





WISDOM

#73 Death of the Mind is Birth of Wisdom
07-08-02

Siva-purna came to live with
me yesterday. Auspiciousness complete! Annapurna, Goddess
of food, "food + full":
the white cat and Siva-purna,
the image and the real
kitten dwell in the eyrie
now. Nisargadatta speaks of silence.
Silence cannot be heard without
sound, but when the words
have been spoken, the silence
before and the silence after
are not different. Annapurna. Shiva-purna.





TRUTH II

#74 Truth is Here and Now
07-09-02

"To be, you must be
nobody. To think yourself to be something,
or somebody is death and
hell." "...mind has its limits;
to go beyond, you must
consent to silence." The morning
of sunshine and the playful
kitten Siva pass in laughter
and silence. Siva plays with
his shadow which runs ahead
of his bounding, pouncing chase
-- a shadow of Shiva's shadow.





KISSING

#10
01-16-03

My kitten sits in the sink, or,
if I can persuade him,
on the counter.
His sweet, white-masked,
Siamese face gazes up at me
I kiss his pink nose.
Modestly, he bows his head.

Only recently,
has it occurred to me --
though I have had no thought
of training him to kiss me in return --
that he might be trying to train me
to better manners,
to -- in the way he does
with his two-inch, pink tongue -- unfurl my
broad human tongue, lick his face, show
proper affection.

At times,
I wonder on what spring-roller-system
he curls his disproportionately long tongue
back into his white-booted, silk-soft body.
Is there a little round case from which
it stretches out like a tape-measure
and snaps back on command?

On the other hand,
no doubt he wonders where
I keep the rest of my tongue hidden
and why? For, as far as he can tell, I suppose,
it is disproportionately short
for my massive height, broad bulk,
big fur-less face, naked paws,
non-fastidious habits.





BELIEF

#01
01-06/07-04

The greatest joy beneath the sky
is watching Shiva-purna,
lying flat as a squashed frog,
his head stuck through
the brown-bag's-handle,
attack
-- dragging the rattling bag --
the vitamin bottle's white plastic ring,
beneath the clipped twigs of the black bamboo,
strewn on the floor,
having overturned the juice-bottle-vase
set there to tempt him,

while I, warm,
-- maybe even too warm --
comfortable, lie on my cushions,
cocooned in my comforter,
on a snowy morning reading Ved Mehta's
1963, tempest in a teapot:
The New Theologian
proving
or not proving, as the case may be,
some minor theological point
as to whether or not
God does or does not exist.

1963
is the same year
that, in San Francisco, it came to be believed
that Plate Tectonic Theory
-- the continents
of the earth,
powered by internal combustion,
had, did and would continue to
move about, re-
configuring
the earth daily --
was true.





THE FISHES ARE REFRESHING*

#03
01-10/11-04

Fishes, fishes, O fishes of the sea,
26,000 kinds of fishes
fattened on red, yellow and green scree…

The cat, brown, white and black,
lies on the floor
flattened like a squashed frog.

How many are there now? 6, 7,
8 billion of us? and you're trying to tell me
that a handful** of stout, sinecured German,

Swiss, English, American theologians -- trying to figure out
if they are Christians (the deadliest of all faiths)
and, if so, with or without God, with or without religion:

idiot savants arguing about the color
scheme of the Emperor's new clothes as they
rearranged the chairs on the decks of the Titanic --

should mean even zit to me, us, anyone -- then or now?
Talk about intellectual isolation, as Ved Mehta (one of the best
of 20th/21st century writers) does on page 138 of his "New Theologian"

(1965), regarding Dietrich Bonhoeffer's time in prison, 1943-45,
before Bonhoeffer died in Flossenburg. The squashed frog
has arisen and bats my fingers on the keyboard.

He has as many opinions as a theologian,
meows about the fog moving in from the distant
hills of Bellevue where, earlier in the morning,

it covered all but the tips of the trees,
converting the landscape into an ancient Chinese
painting of spiritual ecstasy.

Some of the fishes -- however many are left -- will find
their way from Lake Washington, through the cut,
through the locks, through the Sound to the sea.



*Their study -- with Professor Pietsch in Biology of Fishes, 311, UW, 2004

**Karl Barth, Eberhard Bethge, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Emil Brunner, Rudolf Bultmann, David Edwards, William Hamilton, Eric James, D.M. MacKinnon, Reinhold Niebhur, Arthur Michael and Ian Ramsey, John Robinson, Nicholas Stacey, Paul Tillich, Paul van Buren, A.R. Vidler






FIBONACCI III

#23
02-05-04

WARNING!!!

Prevent!
THAT CAT

from having adventures!
Or immediately notify Jan the
Jailer.
To prevent HIM getting used to Performing
in the Chapel and becoming an intolerable SHIVA-PURNA wag -- with that insouciant tail.

P.S. HE spent the night of 02-04-04 in the Chapel -- cavorting, I presume --
and came home with dirty paws, dirty belly,
to say nothing about a
heart-rending wistfulness to
repeat the
adventure.

HE
thinks HE
can make up
for everything by being adorable,
affectionate, coy, but I assured HIM that is
unbecoming in a cat of HIS exalted name. Nor is it my intention

to watch HIM spend the whole next day licking the dust out of
HIS fur coat, pretending HE missed us enormously
and doing penance by sitting
at the tightly
CLOSED Chapel
door.




Posted on the Attic Artists of the Nunnery's hallway door into the Chapel.






FIBONACCI VI

#26
02-06/14-04

Tom
cat loose
in the nunnery,
velvet paws and iron claws
blue-eyed puma, wild animal, the nuns are gone,
black bamboo was brought for you, blood on the floor, purr pussy purr.





PRIME 7

#34
02-22-04

Head
down, padding
toward me, my
not-so-miniature, tawny cougar stalks in
stiff-legged. Nose to nose, he stops, drops
a little, purple, grape-bubble-gum box, fetched, I guess, from the trash
of the neighbor-up-the-hall -- one more gift in a growing catalog of unusual treasures.

Shiva-purna has brought home to me: feathers from another neighbor's duster, two pieces
of ruby glass from a delicate wine goblet he reduced to fragments
before transporting it, a golden bracelet, lying
(twice) in the middle of
my bed. Even
though my
hands

and
feet drip
blood from his
bites and scratches, can I
doubt his love, his wit? Adapting to
the urban jungle, he does his best. Would I prefer gifts
of mice or that, trying flying, he caught crow on the nunnery's window-walks?





PRIME 11

#38
02-28-04

My
cat looks
upon himself as
an alarm clock, not only
an alarm clock, but a righteous, sentient,
maker-of-rules clock, striking at meal times (wake-up-get-up-you-lazy-bones)
early morning times and just-one-more-hour times. He takes it out on Quan Yin, my little,

eighth
century bronze,
very heavy icon
who sits with a crystal
guarding my life and my thought, guarding
my mother's ashes, incense ashes, skillfully draped in golden chains. His
white paws dig into the corner where I have shoved her white, serving-as-a-shrine

table.
He wedges
his paw between
the statue and the wall
and gives Quan Yin -- glancing at me --
a little shove. I sit up from my floor-bed and give
him a withering stare and a glare. He taps her again. The heavy

little
Goddess of
Compassion moves half
an inch. I clap, sharp
and loud. Shiva-purna, the cat, lifts his
blue-eyed head and gives me a quizzical stare. Another white-pawed tap
tap. Another explosive clap clap. Another who-me? stare. Tap tap tap. Clap clap

clap!
Blue-eyed defiance.
Who me? Yes
you! Black tail gyrating,
curving to a crook against the white wall:
tap tap tap, CLAP CLAP CLAP! Barely a glance -- tap tap!
Yes, you! You wicked wicked wicked cat! Interestingly enough, he never attacks Quan

Yin
when I'm
from home. Tap
tap, CLAP! Now I'm on
my feet. Ah, that's all I ever
wanted, he smiles his one-sided smile and, tail like
a velvet hook, hops down and strolls across the studio. I clap again. He

swings
round, arching
his back at me, laughs
with me -- my righteous, opinionated,
defiant, extra-sensory perceptive cat! I wonder,
at times, if he is going to spend all nine lives with
me? -- tap tapping Quan Yin and, bat-like, ringing the room.





PI VI

#44
03-13-04

WAKE-UP CALL


My cat likes
to
be petted early (5:00
a.m.)
in the morning. By 7:00
his claws are out. However, at 2:00 a.m. he

has already attempted
to
persuaded me to chase
him
up the hall. When he
runs, rump to paws, down the well lit, red-floored,

golden hall, my
big,
(20 pound) cat sounds
like
the "thundering hoof beats
of the great horse Silver." I dare not follow --

at 2:00 a.m..
But,
along about 9:00, he's
ready
for another romp or two:
me thundering, clapping, cat-talking behind, 'til he skids into

the laundry-room --
bright
eyes flashing behind the
hinged
and open door, scimitar claws
out -- no more petting his seductive fur 'til tomorrow.

For the rest
of
the day it is
Food
and Fight -- proving, his leopard
and yeti heritage against my frail furless female flesh.





PI - VII

#45
03-13-04

PUSSY-CAT PURRS


Aside from which,
he
has a lopsided grin --
not
much used -- only seen at
particular times in a particular light. Clownish, puckish, I
see his

teasel-like laughter in
the
light brown dash on
his
lower right jaw. A white-booted
Siamese with irregular marks, his face is black with
white streaks

and muzzle. His
eyes
are blue and different --
one
more Siamese than the other.
His brown belly is white-lightening-streaked through his soft-as-ozone fur.
His white

paws, big as
a
pup's, delicately tap tap
tap
each tabled-thing to the floor.
Bang! Fanged, cobra-quick, his claws flash forth for blood.
Pussy-cat, Pussy-cat --

is also addicted
to
paper-pawing. A snorting brown-black
steed
pawing pawing frosty ground, Shiva-purna
paws my papers, rattle rustle rattle rustle rustle through
the night.

I bought him
an
upholstered mushroom when he
was
young, a low, bar-stoolish sort
of thing. Sleeping there, Sphinx-like, paws out-thrust, he over-sees
my life.





PI IX

#47
03-18-04

CICHLID


Every once in
awhile
I hear a cry
in
the walls, an odd thump
from the floor, a meow from the roof,
but no,
no roof, no other cat -- Shiva-purna well
accounted for, sniffing my bloody trail.

I live high
in
an attic, but above
my
eyrie-attic is dark-attic, inhabited, possibly,
by the ghosts of cats past. Did the nuns
have cats?
At night I hear their velvet-pawed
shades leaping the beams, the studs,

descending walls.
I
hear these mirages of sound --
along with tingling hopes of eerie adventures. Shiva-purna looks
to the
ceiling, I look to the walls.
Are there cichlids there? Mouth-brooding,

mother-watchful, multi-breeding cichlids?
But
this is not Lake
Tanganyika
nor anywhere near the ocean
or Africa or the sea of my brain filled
with weed and the startled awareness of other sounds,
other worlds.
Shiva-purna watches the walls, I crawl
along the cold gold floor.





TETRAKTYS II

#49
03-19-04

Panthers
sleep in
trees. My cat
sleeps with me by
day. At night he wanders, pussy footing, with the moon.

Lions
loll in
long, wind-blown grass,
companionable, king of beasts.
My cat walks on water, sits in the sink, yodels.

Tigers
spend hours
changing their shapes.
My cat insouciantly strolls,
changing patterns where I'm permitted to roam in his house.

Cheetahs
careen across
the Serengeti plain
faster than an SUV,
lithe and limber, my cat runs the halls like thunder.

Cougars
haunt forests
in the Cascade
Mountains. My bewitching cat
lounges in his high, round window slowly melting Mount Rainier.

Leopards
with thick
long tails wander
the Himalayas licking their
spots. My cat, with thicker tail, grooms his white boots.

The
great white
Yeti wanders mythologically
remote, dangerous, never seen.
Ubiquitous Shiva-purna lies on the sill and in my heart.

Don't
forget the
fanged Puma, nor
the kitten purring in
my pocket dreaming of fresh flesh, heart, liver, kidneys, blood.

Felidae
in feline
felicity lies across
my life, languorous, lithe,
suited up in fur, leg-stroking, wet-nosed, blue-eyed, giving pink-tongued felicitations.




1 2 3 4 10, idam ch'dam cha, z->z2+c






TETRAKTYS III

#50
3-21-04

THE OPINIONATED CAT


You
pay extra
for more fat
in formulated kitten food,
but my opinionated kitten, not quite two, now that he --

apparently --
considers himself
a cat, won't
eat fat -- or beef
or chicken, just a little fish, thank you very much; small

portions
of pork,
liver and kidney;
but not much flesh --
please. He likes nettles, nutritional yeast, seaweed, water, an occasional

asparagi.*
He's offended
by eggs, oils,
butter, but likes sambhar,
or highly spiced Indian vegetables, or Mexican or Thai. Anything

on
my plate
is worth sniffing,
if not for eating,
then touching with a delicate white paw, hooking by claw

to
the table
or the floor.
He bears the name
of the great Indian God: Shiva. With his Ardhanarisvara-like** smile,


he
takes advantage,
when he can,
of my giddy delight
in his kittenhood that persuaded me to name him Shiva-purna.

Shiva's
dance as
Nataraj creates all
that is and destroys
all that will be. I should have known better. Cats

have
the tendency
to turn out
exactly as named. I
expect, at any moment, to see Ganga*** drop into my

eyrie,
course through
Shiva-purna's fur
, pick
up tears and wild
rain on her flow beyond the Sound toward the sea.



1 2 3 4 10

*"A plant (Asparagus officinalis, N.O. Liliaceae) cultivated for the sake of its vernal shoots, which form a well-known delicacy of the table." OED, p. 492

**Ardhanarisvara, "The half-male [r] and half-female [l] form of Siva. It symbolizes...the transcending of all opposites." A Concise Dictionary of Indian Philosophy, John Grimes, p.53

***The Ganges river

Tetraktys: "A set of four; the number four; esp. the Pythagorean name for the sum of the first four numbers (1 + 2 + 3 + 4 = 10) regarded as the source of all things." OED, p. 230

idam ch'dam cha, z->z2+c







TETRAKTYS IV

#51
03-25-04

The
cat and
I use a
lot of dishes. He
likes dainty, meaty bites multiple times throughout his day

and
night. Yummy.
Sleeping, walking, slicing
liver to feast my opinionated
cat, I stumble forth from my warm cocoon, a suicidal

butterfly,
ankles deliciously
exposed, toes for
nibbling at, the leaping
stalking, tail-arched, 20 lbs cat shadows my half-awake half-life.

He
lifts my
papers: paw paw
paw, scratch scratch scratch,
like a officious tax-collector come to haunt my wakeful nights.

He's
a vivid
personality. Better, I
like to think (I
have no choice), than a purring, curling, soft-pawed, affectionate puss.

He
keeps me
on my toes, sniffs
my computer, criticizes my
poetry, keeps my world in perspective, my words as words.

Butterfly
affections though
he has, he
returns every time I
cry out for his company, thinking he is gone. Bounding

and
bouncing stiff-legged,
back from the
laundry, stairwell or hall,
willingly fighting each red-and-speckle-feathered demon I manage to manifest at

the
end of
a string. Dishes
pile up, cat fur
clouds the corners, Shiva-purna, on his back, boots aloft -- sleeps.









TETRAKTYS V

#52
03-26-04

I
spent days
and days and
days reading "Old Fourlegs"
the book about finding a living Coelacanth -- old "hollow spine."*

For
300,000,000 years,
he's been with
us -- or we with
him. He got here first -- a first of the first.

And
here he
still is, as
I read -- Shiva-four-white-booted-legs, striding
toward me, lion-leopard cat, native to the wild, clawed for survival.

I
curl up
in the night
feeling like the yoke
of an egg, trying to comprehend my driving hunger for

strawberry
jam against
the big, old,
armored fish's clever, concealed
swim for three-hundred-million years survival, a shadow among the rocks.




1 2 3 4 10

*"Old Fourlegs, The Story of the Coelacanth" by J.L.B. Smith, p. 231, Longmans, Green and Co., 1956
"A set of four; the number four; esp. the Pythagorean name for the sum of the first four numbers (1 + 2 + 3 + 4 = 10) regarded as the source of all things." OED, p. 230

idam ch'dam cha, z->z2+c






TETRAKTYS VIII

#55
03-29-04

Life
opens up
from each small
drawer as rain drops
splash on the window, quite willingly anoint the black crow

Shiva-purna's
jaw trembles
for. Shiva-purna's a
house cat domesticated into
a rather intellectual view of life, his jungle is limited

to
the attic
of The Good
Shepherd, six artists, ghosts
of nuns and wayward girls, high ceilings, golden floor, rompable

halls.
No things
is too big
but can be knocked
to the floor. He's an attack cat, a civil guard.

Cross
his path
at your peril.
He loves only Jimmy,
a high, black, silken dog, next door, and Uncle Roger

with
his ten
thousand possessions plus
a TV, and a
small red cat I just made for him of clay.

These
are his
small windows on
the world along with
giant animated pictures that attend his sits on the sills.





TETRAKYTS IX

#56
04-04-04

My
cat spends
a lot of
time making himself ubiquitous.
Again and again he tries to tip over the big

jar
of daffodils,
but the jar
is too heavy for
his spill-tactics to succeed, so Shiva-purna, with his white paws,

dances
round the
room shoving the
daffodils and secretly eats
the falling daphne blooms trying to convince himself, or me,

that
aside from
being a nettle-eater,
he is a flora-tarian,
a dancing flora-tarian, who extends his pristine paws staight out

over
the Shiraz
rug and buries
his face between them,
to study the design, conning intricate possibilities of teasing me.

My
cat, like
a crystalline structure
filling the universe, taps
my leg with his soft paw as I walk by.





LAMBDA SERIES

#58
04-07/08-04

Now,
what has
she done? Hung an
umbrella on the wooden screen to tempt me.

Ha!
I easily reach
it. She moves it further away, sets a plant

at
the screens
base. When she uses
that umbrella, I notice, she makes double sure

I'm
not about to
bound. Before opening the window, I'm not supposed to

go
out of,
she thrusts its
handle against the lowered upper window -- which I

can't
fly from
in any case -- and
pushes like hell to close it, then hangs

the
black umbrellas on
the white screen again. O glorious just-out-of-reach temptation -- maybe…

I'll
try when
she's asleep. That slick-stiff
umbrella material is perfect for honing my claws.


Later on in life, having broken the umbrella's crooked handle, he inherited the black silk for a cave.






IT UPSETS MY CAT

"Is it better to be caged and freed, than never to have been caged at all?" Barbara Meneley

#73
07-15/16/17-04

You
know my cat
well enough to know
that he is as opinionated
as a cheetah, a snow leopard, a yeti,
whose white paws tap at the universe,
the objects of perception.

It upsets Shiva-purna
to see those twelve 22 foot dresses
(hanging in our Great Hall the "living room,"
Closet, if you will, in this 100 year old nunnery
that supports Shiva-purna's perch and my eyrie)

made of felted, bright wool, layer upon layer of reds,
yellows, and a shade as dark as a Siamese cat's ears;
made of clear plastic and dog-hair, ballooning like Marie
Antoinette's ball gown; made of a slim column of silver mist,
dissolved by sunlight, buttoned with black pearls; made of dark,
scented, diamond cuts of ecologically-to-be-treasured Scotch-broom;
constructed of stained-glass-mullioned-window trim beneath a dimpled
scarlet silk; made of a torso-ed chandelier, shimmering with
white-thread-weaving crystals;
made of tightly twisted-living-newspaper
stories -- a kimono, thirty feet long, its train splaying out across the ancient, saged boards;
made of
slim rusted-wire, a mannequin-ghost, its drooping,
sleeve-arms snaking
around the polished floor;
made of saris and ties, a peacock-tailed-phoenix; made of
ceramic, a white-bodiced, hearted-paean; made of white-polypropylene crochet
with blue-belting-straps feathered to enclose the blouse; made of pale blue-gray canvas
and white, a medieval nuns gown with pomegranate heart.

Shiva-purna,
atop the balcony wall, gazes and gazes
as if he expected the out-sized birds to move about.
He is stunned by their immobility and silence.
He hops down, hunkers in the well at the top of the stairs,
meows to go home.

So intense is his desire to return
to his furred, brown velvet pillow
that he learns to paw open the dead weight
of the fire door.

Tomorrow, he crouches again in the hall,
guarding the door to the "Closet"
begging to be let in to face his terror.

One morning,
a bird perched on the west shoulder of the kimono.
Shiva-purna strained forward.

Before he can sprout wings,
I open the door, toss him
toward home.






Copyright © 2004 Jan Haag
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
Jan Haag may be reached via e-mail: jhaag@u.washington.edu


INDEX OF THE OPINIONATED CAT POEMS


Belief, 01-06/07-04

The Fishes are Refreshing*, 01-10/11-04

Fibonacci III, Warning, 02-05-04

Fibonacci VI, 02-06/14-04

It Upsets My Cat, 07-15/16/17-04

Kissing, 01-16-03

Lambda Series, 04-07/08-04

Pi VI, Wake-Up Call, 03-13-04

Pi VII, Pussy-Cat Purrs, 03-13-04

Pi IX, Cichlid,03-18-04

Prime 7, 02-22-04

Prime 11, 02-28-04

Tetraktys II, 03-19-04

Tetraktys III, The Opinionated Cat, 03-21-04

Tetraktys IV, 03-25-04

Tetraktys V, 03-26-04

Tetraktys VIII, 03-29-04

Tetraktys IX, 04-04-04

Lambda Series, 04-08-04

It Upsets My Cat, 07-17-04





RETURN TO THE 2004 POEMS


OTHER POEMS



BY JAN HAAG




ART & POETRY - ACCUMULATIONS

INTRODUCTION + POETRY + MUSIC + ESSAYS + TRAVEL + FICTION + TEXTILE ART



HAAG'S BIO

21st CENTURY ART, C.E. - B.C., A Context