Poetry for Cats

Call me crazy, but I like to write poetry.

For cats.

Cats are a good training ground for poets. They are largely indifferent to poetry, like the overwhelming majority of people, but that still makes them a more receptive audience than my wife, who is openly hostile to the stuff.

Writing poetry for cats is low-level mental stimulation, like doing crossword puzzles or Sudoku, but you make up the problem to be solved, rather than some faceless drone at a newspaper syndicate, so when you’re done you’ve created something. Albeit on a par with a gimp necklace at summer camp.

It takes very little activity, or inactivity, on the part of my cats to serve as my muse. Here’s a cat poem I thought of just last night:

I take my laser pen in hand
and shine it in a circle.
My little cat goes chasing ’round,
it drives him quite berserkle!

Then I take what I’ve written, crumple the paper up into a ball, and throw it across the room. My cat pounces on it, extending our fun, and conserving precious resources through recycling. I’m trying to reduce our humor footprint.

Just because I write poetry for my cats doesn’t mean they’re sissies. They’re both males who will stay out all night, getting into fights with all manner of beasts. They bring us sustenance; field mice, birds, chipmunks. Once Rocco, the younger of the two, horse-collared a squirrel from behind, like a member of the New England Patriots’ defense, and dragged it, dying, to our back patio. As a former high school middle linebacker in a 4-3 defensive alignment, I found this to be a most gratifying spectacle.

Horse collar tackle

T.S. Eliot’s “Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats” is perhaps the most famous collection of cat poems, but it has always struck me as a bit fuss-budgety, like its author, a native of St. Louis who became a British subject in 1927, thereby missing out on seven World Series titles by the St. Louis Cardinals. What a dope! That book, of course, was turned into the hugely successful Broadway show Cats.

T.S. Eliot: And you call yourself a Cardinals fan!


My wife once bought us tickets to see the show for my birthday, assuming that because I liked cats, I would like the show, but she sensed my indifference to Eliot’s work at dinner. As we left the restaurant for the theatre we were approached by two show tune mavens who breathlessly asked us if we had tickets we were willing to sell. We gave each other a look that lasted as long as the flutter of a hummingbird’s wings, then sold the ducats at a premium. This is the first and only known instance of scalping by a Presbyterian woman since the church was established during the Scottish Reformation in 1560.

Cats: Thanks, I’ll pass.


Lots of poets have had cats, chief among them Samuel Johnson, whose cat was named “Hodge.” I had a girlfriend whose cat was named after Johnson’s. When we had her refined friends over she’d tell the story about how, when Johnson learned of a wave of cat-napping sweeping London at the height of the popularity of cat’s meat pies, he looked down at his cat and said “They’ll not have Hodge!” Sort of NPR humor, as Harry Shearer would say–loads of muted titters. We broke up; she got the cat, and I got the hell out of there.

Johnson: How do you know you won’t like cat’s meat unless you try it?


For my money, the greatest of all cat poems is For I Will Consider My Cat Jeoffrey by Christopher Smart (1722-1770), from Jubilate Agno. It’s a work that all pet store owners and cat groomers should have on their walls, in needlepoint. Surely you know its stirring opening lines:

Christopher Smart, wearing his “everyday” mortarboard


For I will consider my Cat Jeoffrey.
For he is the servant of the Living God,
duly and daily serving him.
For at the First glance of the
glory of God in the East
he worships him in his way.
For this is done by wreathing
his body seven times round with elegant quickness.
For then he leaps up to catch the musk,
which is the blessing of God upon his prayer.
For he rolls upon prank to work it in.

Musk is the smelly substance found in a small sac under the skin of the abdomen of the rodents cats kill, and to “roll upon prank” refers, in a charming 18th century way, to cats’ preferred method of applying it. Yep–that’s a real cat there, not some Broadway-bound dancer-pussy.

Oh–I neglected to mention that when Smart wrote the above, he was a resident of Bedlam, the London hospital for the mentally ill.

Call him crazy.

Available in Kindle format on amazon.com as part of the collections “Cats Say the Darndest Things” and “poetry is kind of important.”


Cat Fancier Magazine Names “Kitten Stuck in Tree” Top 7 News Stories of 2017

ST. PAUL, Minn.  Cat Fancier Magazine, the leading newsweekly for cat owners, released its annual list of top news stories of the preceding year today, with “Kitten Stuck in Tree” taking the top seven honors.

Daring rescue.


“While 2017 was a year of great upheaval in the realms of politics, the environment and social justice, we felt that stories of kittens stuck in tree outweighed the threat of nuclear holocaust and strife in the Middle East in terms of human interest and newsworthiness,” said Editor-in-Chief Carmella Hewlett.  “Mr. Wifflesworth agrees, dudn’t he?” she adds as she scratches her ten-year-old, fourteen-pound orange tabby under the chin.

In eighth place was “Kitten Rescued From Storm Drain,” followed by “Lost Kitten Returned to Owner” and “Trump Inaugurated, World to End Soon.”  In response to critics who found the list too heavily oriented towards kittens in peril, Hewlett blamed demographics and the changing market for special interest magazines.  “I plead guilty to that one–our readers just find stories about kittens to be more appealing, and we’re a business.” she noted.  “But Mr. Wifflesworth is just as cute as those kittens, idn’t he?” she added as she scratched her cat’s belly.

Mr. Wifflesworth, Jr.


Kittens stuck in trees have been a staple of the news business since the 19th century, when a period of intense competition between the Hearst and the Pulitzer newspaper empires resulted in low content, sensationalist reporting that came to be known as “Yellow Journalism.”  “With the dawn of the internet age the hope was that lower production costs would result in higher-quality investigative stories,” says Floyd Harches, a professor of journalism at the University of Massachusetts-Seekonk.  “The exact opposite happened, with cat videos placing second only to porn as the premier source of on-line banner ad revenues.”

Hewlett notes that a cat doesn’t have to be “fancy” to appear in Cat Fancier Magazine, a misconception she says causes more reputable news outlets to write off her reporting as “fluff.”  “It’s used in the British sense of a liking or a fondness for something,” she notes.  “And it’s not as fluffy as Mr. Wifflesworth, is it snookums?”

As Year Winds Down, Crowdfunding Comes on Little Cat Feet

HAZELWOOD, Mo.  Mark Verblanian is a long-time employee of Applied Widgetronix in this suburb of St. Louis, but he owes his longevity not to productivity–which he admits is sub-optimal–but to his ability to ingratiate himself with a wide variety of co-workers.  “I try to support everybody’s fund-raiser,” he says with the warm, open smile that makes him a consistent runner-up for employee of the month.  “It helps every time there’s a round of layoffs because people can’t imagine this place without me, even though they can’t figure out exactly what it is I do.”

“Wait’ll I tell Mr. Whiskers how generous you guys are!”


But now the shoe is on the other foot as the 29-year-old finds himself in a tight economic squeeze; his 8-year-old cat “Mr. Whiskers” needs an operation, and like most private health insurance plans, those offered by his employer don’t extend to pets.  “I guess I should have paid more attention during open enrollment period,” Verblanian says, an expression of self-disgust twisting his mouth on one side.  “It’s all so complicated and Vicki, the Assistant Benefits Coordinator who explained the different options, had on this really tight sweater that day.”

A young Mr. Whiskers


But the distraught cat-owner–a rarity among single men–responded with a 21st century form of outreach to everyone at his firm, and some beyond.  He started a “crowdfunding” appeal on INeedMoney.com, which helps those in need raise funds outside normal charitable channels without the benefit of a tax deduction, but also without the scrutiny that organized charities are subject to.

“It’s been a godsend,” Verblanian says, as he posts a daily update about Mr. Whiskers to keep his “page” fresh to potential donors.  “Hey everybody,” he writes, “thanks for all your support to date, we’re at 21% of our goal and momentum is building.”

“You’d do the same thing for us if we had cats with only one liver!”


He leans back in his chair and casts a sorrowful eye at the picture of his cat he keeps on his desk.  “Mr. Whiskers is suffering, but he’s counting on you to help get him through this rough patch of catnip!”

With this update typed Verblanian hits “send” and returns to the backstory behind the looming tragedy.  “Mr. Whiskers was born with only one liver,” he reads aloud over a lump in his throat.  “For those of you who like liver and onions, you know what this means: an inability to cleanse his system of impurities or go to the bathroom or something.  At some point, his little body–which actually is pretty big at twelve pounds but still smaller than yours truly!–will just shut down.  I’d hate to see that happen, when most of the 1% of this country are all walking around with two healthy livers!”

Depleted by the emotionally charged task of composing his heart-rending appeal, Verblanian goes to get a package of Chuckles candy from the vending machine in the employee lounge.  “Hey guys,” he says as he greets Tina Laughlin and Aaron Swelting, the former a “floating” secretary and the latter an in-house accountant, generally known as the company’s cynical office wag.

Mr. Whiskers–after years of suffering.


“I am so sorry to hear about your cat,” Laughlin says, her heavily made-up eyes glistening as she fights back tears.

“Thanks, Tina–appreciate it.”

“How’s it going?” she asks with an optimistic tone she hopes will give her co-worker encouragement.

“Good, good.  Two weeks to go, if I don’t hit my goal I still get to keep the money net of a service fee.”

“Cool,” says Swelting, as he looks through the steam rising off his free but awful cup of office coffee.  “So there’s really no downside for you, is there?”

“I guess you could say that,” Verblanian replies, “although Mr. Whiskers will be taken from me if he doesn’t get the treatment he needs.”

Swelting says “Um-hmm” in apparent agreement, then pokes at his phone to search the internet.  “You know, it says here that cats only have one liver.”

“Really?” Verblanian says, with as much feigned innocence as he can muster.

“Yeah,” Swelting continues.  “So what’s so special about your cat only having one?”

Verblanian’s face clouds over at the question, and the implicit suggestion that his motives are somehow less than pure.  “Did I say liver?” he asks.  “I meant kidney.”


Baptizing My Cats

Another weekend with the in-laws ends on a sour note as the question is again raised, once the Agnostic-Rastafarian in the family (that’s me) steps outside to load the car, why our children aren’t baptized.


For some reason this discussion always takes place when I’m out of earshot and can’t participate.  I think it’s because of my reputation as boy theologian, the kid who received a little plastic statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary every year in grade school for the highest score in Catechism class.  That kind of street cred scares off church-goers who worry more about what to wear to Sunday service than the parable of the lilies of the field (Matthew 6: 28) would suggest is proper.

“The kids are grown–it’s their choice,” I say when the uncomfortable discussion is relayed to me once we’re on the road.

“I know, but it’s really important to my parents,” my wife says.

“Do you think it would help if we baptized the cats?” I ask, trying to think of some way to heal the rift that I’m blamed for causing.

“Why on earth do you think that would help?”

“Well, that way they’d know you’d have company when you get to heaven, since I’m not going to be there.”


“I don’t think that’s the solution, but I know you’re going to do whatever you want, so don’t mind me.”

We drove on in silence, but as soon as we got home I broached the subject to our two male cats, Okie–a grey tabby–and Rocco, a black-and-white “tuxedo” cat.  “Grandma and Grandpa think you can’t get into heaven unless you’re baptized,” I explained.  “Would you guys be interested?”

“Is the cat food better in heaven?” Okie asked.

“It can’t be any worse than that low-cal Iams crap they feed us here,” Rocco said out of the side of his mouth.

“Everything’s supposed to be perfect up there, so I’d say yeah, it will probably be an upgrade,” I say.

“So we’re talking ‘wet’ catfood for once–like every other cat in the freaking universe gets?” Rocco asks with more than a trace of bitterness.

“Yes,” I say.

“Okay, I’m up for it,” Okie says.  He’s gotten by on his dashing good looks his whole life, and as a result his critical thinking skills are–shall we say–underdeveloped.

“You maybe ought to ask him what’s involved in this ‘baptism’ ritual everybody thinks is so important,” Rocco said, as he lifted one leg and licked at the spot where his balls used to be.

Rocco: “You can’t be serious.”


I was silent for a minute; Okie stared off into the middle distance, profoundly incurious.  Rocco gave me a look like I was a chipmunk peeking its head out of our stone wall and asked–“Well?”

“Let’s just say it involves water,” I said, trying to keep things vague.

“How much water?” Rocco asked.

“Depends.  Could be a little on the forehead, could be what the Southern Baptists call ‘full immersion.’”

“I’m a martyr for my faith–or lack thereof.”


“What do those words mean?” Okie asked.  Every now and then he shows a spark of intellectual curiosity.  About as often as Halley’s Comet comes around.

“It means I’d dunk you under water and hold you there while I repeated some religious mumbo-jumbo.”

“You’d let me up–right?” he asked nervously.

“Don’t worry–I was baptized Catholic, it’s the lower orders of the Protestants who are the real wing-nuts.”

“So that would involve?”

“Just a little moisture on the forehead and you’re good to go.”

“I’m in!” Okie said as he ran to the laundry room sink, the one he knows from past experience he can drink from without getting in too much trouble.

“How about you?” I ask Rocco, who’s been taking all this in with a gimlet eye and a skeptical ear.

“I think I’ll stay rational and maintain my membership in Agnostics of America in good standing,” Rocco says, not even trying to conceal his mammoth indifference to things religious, that source of comfort to so many.

“I baptize thee in the name of the Father . . .”


“You know, the irrational is way underrated,” I say as I prepare to administer the holy sacrament to the more credulous of our two pets.

“You ever notice how Okie hides under the bed when there’s a storm–and I don’t?” Rocco asks.

“Yes, you’re brave that way,” I say.

“Not brave, just not stupid,” he says.  “It’s a simple discharge of electricity,” he says.  He spent a lot of time sleeping in front of educational TV programs when our kids were young.

“I think the two go hand in hand,” I say, as I scratch his head a bit to show him that we two are of like minds, although I’m pretty sure mine is a good deal bigger than his.

“Lightning and thunder?” he asks.

“No, the tendency to believe in a world of spirits, both benign and malign.  People who think there’s an afterlife where the rivers flow with beer and wine are also the ones who get spooked by mundane natural phenomena,” I say.

“Tell me something I don’t know,” he says as he washes a paw with his tongue.  It garbled his message but I understood him.



“Are you guys about finished, because I’d like to get a dish of that wet cat food before I die,” Okie calls from the sink.

“As usual, you missed a fairly essential part of the program,” Rocco replies.

“What’s that?” Okie asks.

“You have to die to get it,” Rocco calls back to him.

There is silence from the laundry room.  Rocco and I wait to see whether the paradox of the belief in an afterlife will penetrate Okie’s thick but good-looking skull.

After a moment the suspense is broken as we hear Okie say “I can live with that.”

Rocco and I look at each other with, as Keats said in On First Looking Into Chapman’s Homer, a wild surmise.  That’s the Okester for you.

“How about you, Roc?” I ask as I get up to baptize Okie.  “Don’t you want to go to heaven?”

He looks at me for a second, then returns to the task of washing that paw.  “No, pops.  I’d rather be with you.”

Available in Kindle format on amazon.com as part of the collection “Cats Say the Darndest Things.”


My Chipmunk Can Beat Up Your Chipmunk

My chipmunk can beat up your chipmunk–
seriously, he can.
When my chipmunk walks on the basketball court
the other chipmunks go “You da man!”


He is storied in song and poem,
like the one you hold in your hand.
He’s the toughest chipmunk on my property
if not in the entire land.

He hides in the stone wall on our driveway
waiting for your chipmunk to come along.
He creates a false sense of security
before doing your chipmunk grievous wrong.


Sometimes it’s assault and battery,
other times merely a threat.
You’d think he harbored a grudge
or was trying to collect a debt.

When the bell rings and the round-card girl
holds up her little sign,
only one chipmunk will take a beating
and I don’t think it’s going to be mine.


You say you want to see my chipmunk
but I can’t accommodate you on that
because as tough as my chipmunk is
he was recently killed by my cat.


My Cats’ Luxury Apartment

     An official of FIFA, the governing body of international soccer, maintained an opulent lifestyle that included a luxury apartment in New York–for his cats.

                                                              The Wall Street Journal

Image result for wet cat food
“Put down the Friskies and nobody gets hurt.”


As I turned the key in Apartment 31G, high above Manhattan, I closed my eyes and braced myself for the spectacle I was sure to encounter once I entered.  I opened the door and, just as I expected, saw empty bags of Iams Less Active Catfood in the distinctive turquoise bag strewn across the floor.  A Fancy Feast Classic Seafood Variety Pack was sitting on the counter, with three cans empty.  My roommate Rocco had apparently used the sports page to relieve himself rather than make the arduous trek all . . . . the . . . way back to the kitty box like a civilized cat.

Image result for wet cat food
Working on a six-pack.


The situation was nearly intolerable, but I had no one to blame but myself.  After all, I’d acted in The Odd Couple in high school, and should have remembered that roommates were like drinking–never mix, never worry.  But there was something about Rocco–the tuxedo cat I lived with–that made him hard to turn down when he asked if he could move in with me.

Maybe it was his lack of manners, the way he bowls over everything and everybody in his way to get what he wants.  He’s an alpha male, and I’m a beta.  He’s Oscar Madison to my Felix Unger; he’s a slob, and I’m–well, let’s just say I’m . . . fastidious.

Image result for odd couple

I heard a burp from the vicinity of the couch and knew he was home.  I supposed that should have been some consolation, that he hadn’t left his mess for me to clean up.  On the other hand, if he were out somewhere I could straighten things out without his interference; the infuriating indifference he shows to any attempt whatsoever to maintain a luxury apartment in a state that wouldn’t warrant condemnation by the Board of Health.

“Geez, ya scared me,” he said as he lifted his head up from the sofa cushion.

“I hardly think so.”

“Why do you say that?”

“Because if I’d truly scared you, you would have at least jumped out of that heap of trash you’re lounging in.”

“I’m comfortable with whom I am.”

Who not whom,” I said.

“Geez–I woulda thought you’d go the other way on that one.  I was tryin’ to use proper English.”

“I’m glad I’ve had some influence on you, even if it’s only superficial.  The relative pronoun functions as part of the relative clause, not the main clause.  So think of it as ‘I am comfortable with the person who I am.’

“If I ever think of it again, I will.”  He sat up, grabbed the remote and turned on “Top Cat,” the 60s cartoon that’s his favorite–dare I say “only”–artistic interest.

Image result for top cat

“You know, our master works very hard to provide us with a luxury apartment–it’s the least you could do to pick up after yourself every once in a while.”

“Define ‘hard work,’” he said with a skeptical tone.  “Is it ‘hard work’ to open up an envelope with a large cash payment from a television network?”

“Well, probably not.”

“Is it ‘hard work’ to accept sexual favors from a precocious jeune fille sent to persuade you to site the next World Cup in Moldavia, or Upper Volta, or Burkina Faso?”

I had him dead to rights now.  “Upper Volta and Burkina Faso are the same country, you dingbat.”

“You get my drift,” he said as he stretched his arms before hopping up onto the counter and popping the top off another can of Fancy Feast.

Image result for tuxedo cat
“Oh, give it a rest, wouldya?”


“You’re getting quite a gut from lying around all day eating that . . . junk.”

“You know and I know that being an international soccer official is just about the most corrupt job in the world, after New Jersey traffic court judge and Massachusetts Democratic elected official.”


“So you’re in this up to your whiskers, don’t come on all high and mighty with me.  You’re in pari delicto with the whole scam.”

It struck me that there ought to be a Latin logical fallacy for what Rocco had just done–“argument by changing the subject” or something–but there wasn’t, so he had a smug little smile on his face as he made his way back to the couch.

Image result for indicted mass speakers of the house
“I’m as innocent as the last Speaker of the House, who has paid his debt to society.”


We went our separate ways, as always.  It’s no fun having a roommate who doesn’t share your interests which, in my case, include washing myself 6 times a day.  Still, we were very fortunate.  It isn’t every cat who has a luxury apartment, and a room of his own to sleep in–on the bed!–to look out the window of, to retire to when the din of the television in the living room becomes too annoying, to . . .

“Holy crap!”  It was Rocco, screaming at the TV.

“What?” I called out to him.  He doesn’t usually get excited, it had to be something important, like a Today Show interview with the editor of Cat Fancy or something.

“They just indicted a bunch of soccer officials for bribery!”

I came around the counter and looked at the screen.  There was our master, doing the perp walk, while the announcer droned on about a $150 million kickback scheme.  I shook my head in disbelief.  “We’re doomed,” I said finally with disgust.

“Why do you say that?” Rocco asked.

“All of this,” I said, sweeping my paw before him.  “You can kiss it goodbye.”

But as always, the Roc-man saw things a bit differently.  “Don’t be a sap,” he said.  “We’ll turn state’s evidence and write a true crime tell-all book.”

“Isn’t that prohibited by ‘Son of Sam‘ laws?”

Image result for david berkowitz

“You mean the guy who claimed he was possessed by a demon in the form of a dog named Harvey?”

“Yeah, that’s the one.”

“Wrong species–we’re cats!”

Available in Kindle format on amazon.com as part of the collection “Cats Say the Darndest Things.”


At the Cattes Film Festival

          The Walker Art Center, a well-regarded modern art museum in Minneapolis, held what is believed to be the first Internet Cat Video Film Festival recently.

                    The Boston Globe

“Truffaut? Please–he couldn’t change my litter box.”


I’ve come with Rocco–my tuxedo cat and the only one I have left after the recent death of his fractious older brother Okie–to the Cattes Internet Video Film Festival. We have high hopes for what we believe to be the Oak Man’s greatest work–Laser Pointer a la Mode–a moody noir meditation on the futility of love for a long-gelded grey tabby male.

Okie, as he approached Orsonwellesian size.


“What do you think of our chances?” Roc asks. He’s wearing a beret–a French touch that strikes me as an affectation. I have opted for the rough-and-tumble red-blooded Americanski look favored by directors such as John Huston. Huston famously divorced one of his wives when she demanded he choose between her and a pet chimpanzee. I’m not that far gone as a cat-man–not yet at least.


“Anybody seen my monkey?”


“I don’t know,” I say glumly to Rocco. It would be great, a feather in Okie’s cap, if the world of film were to recognize Laser Pointer for what it is–the capstone of a great career–but the competition’s tough. The simplistic videos of cats in t-shirts, cats playing the piano, we’ll blow through those amateurish efforts like shit through a goose. It’s the avant-garde I’m worried about; the long-angle re-tellings of The Cat in the Hat, the shifting points of view to be found in Kibbles ‘n Bits, Mon Amour. There’s a new new wave of young cat film directors out there, NYU, UCLA and ASPCA-trained. These kids are good, whereas Okie, Roc and me, we’re a bunch of old-schoolers stumbling around the house Blair Witch-style with a hand-held camcorder that looks like the VHS equivalent of a room-size Univac computer.

“Je regrettez to tellez-vous, le chat has upchucked on le rug again.”


“You have to admit in terms of visual comedy, we’re right up there with Harold Lloyd and Buster Keaton,” Roc says as he signs the flea collar of a young female admirer.

“Are you staying at the Radisson?” the cute little Persian asks.

“We’re going to be pretty busy meeting with studios,” I say as I steer Roc away from what could be a potential paternity suit if he hadn’t been fixed about the same time I was.

“Hey, I want to have a little fun while I’m in town,” he grumbles to me.

“Your fun days are over, as are mine,” I tell him with a censorious look. “From now on, we’re dedicated to our art–not chicks, okay?”

He doesn’t like it, but he doesn’t have much choice. We’re swept along by the crowd into theatre #3, where Laser Pointer is scheduled to start in two minutes.

“So what if we come out of the festival without a studio deal?” Roc asks with a note of concern in his voice.

“We stay on the festival circuit,” I say. “Sundance, Telluride, maybe even . . . Boston.”

“Why bother?” Roc asks with a withering deprecation of his home town that surprises me. After all, he caught his first mouse there, humped his first couch there.

“You never know,” I say. “We might get a short-run distribution contract. Anything to avoid the stigma of direct-to-DVD.”

That seems to mollify him and, after I get refreshments–Raisinets for me, Liva Snaps for him–we settle into our seats.

We sit through the obligatory safety recitation–no smoking, where the exits are, turn off your cell phones, et cetera–and the lights go down.

“Cross your fingers,” I say, and he looks at me as if I’m daft. “I’ve got six digits per paw and can’t cross any of ’em,” he says and a bit huffily I might add. “Cross your own damn fingers.”

Slo-Poke: Essentialment a l’enjoyment du cinema.


The credits roll and our hope and dreams are launched into that artificial night of le cinema, which has inspired so many dreams, provoked so many nightmares, launched tongues to lick so many Slo-Poke All-Day caramel suckers. I exhale, feeling a sense of relief at the end of a long, difficult process over what we’ve accomplished. The festival received 10,000 cat videos; that’s right, five figures of Americans wasting their time as we have, blocking out shots, dealing with Friskies-fed prima donnas who want to stay in their trailers when the light is just right outside. Now it’s all come down to this; twenty-minutes of what we think was Okie at the very pinnacle of his cinematic powers.

Bergman: “We’ll have to re-shoot the death scene–he woke up from his 6-hour nap.”


I can sense the mood of the crowd as wave upon wave of Okie’s bleak end-of-life vision washes over them. It’s like an Ingmar Bergman movie with a concession-stand size pack of Twizzlers Red Licorice. I hear one woman sobbing down front; false alarm, somebody stepped on her foot trying to get to his seat.

As the lights come up it’s clear we’ve got a winner on our hands. I turn to look at Rocco, and he’s got a sly little smile on his face that says “Hollywood here we come.” I can see him sizing up a kitten on a casting couch in his horny little mind: “I want you to play a scene in which you’re desperately, tragically in love with an eight-year-old tuxedo cat.”

After a hush, the audience begins to applaud, softly, reverently at first, then louder and with an intelligent, critical enthusiasm. “Auteur!” someone yells, and others take up the call. I look at Roc, we shrug our shoulders, then we make our way up the aisle to the stage.

“Thank you, thank you very much,” I say since Rocco is capable only of a caw-like meow. “On behalf of our late colleague Okie, we are pleased that you enjoyed our entry in the Art-House category here at the Cattes Film Festival.”

“Art-House?” a cineaste in an aisle seat says, incredulous. “We thought it was a comedy.”

Available in Kindle format on amazon.com as part of the collection “Cats Say the Darndest Things.”