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Pat Welch

Catku: What Is The Sound of One Cat Napping by Pat Welch
Kansas City, Andrews McMeel Publishing, 2004, 64 pages

Cats share our homes, our lives, and the sunny spot in our favorite chair. We may like to think we own them, but in reality, they have the upper hand, uh, paw. Alternately maddeningly aloof and irresistibly affectionate, mysterious yet familiar, they always keep us guessing about their inner motives and thoughts. And just how might a cat express its innermost thoughts? Undoubtedly in haiku, the ancient 17-syllable form of poetry from China and Japan. With clever illustrations in the style of traditional Japanese woodcuts, more than 100 witty "catku" are collected into chapters such as "The Way of the Hunter," "Mind/Body/Spirit," "The Path to Enlightenment," and "The Physical World." Each one illuminates the Zen-like nature of the cat.The prudence of the hunter: "Stealthy and silent, I stalk birds-but listen for the can opener. "The vagaries of the physical world: "Seeking solitude I am locked in the closet. For once I need you." Catku will delight cat lovers who will recognize the feline attitude reflected in these verses and perhaps realize that the so-called lazy cat perched on the back of a favorite chair is really just in deep meditation, seeking the path to enlightenment while composing a few more catku.

You seek fulfillment
Through love, wealth, travel, career.
Have you tried kittens?

Suspecting disdain
you sense my indifference
You're getting warmer

The food in my bowl
Is old, and—more to the point—
Contains no tuna

Three a.m., silent.
Suddenly, six dogs barking.
No one here but me.

You open a book.
Flat, white, clean, smooth, like a bed.
Any more questions?

My day: first a nap
Then a leisurely dinner
Followed by sleeping.

You've bought a new toy
Money wisely spent on me.
I love the boxes.

So you want to play.
Will I claw at dancing string?
Your ankle's closer.

Furiously climb,
Descend, and do it again:
Brand-new loose-weave drapes.

My claws need a trim.
But where? All has been shredded.
Except the new couch . . .

There's no dignity
In being sick—which is why
I don't tell you where.

Can I really land
On my feet? Yes, but is your
Insurance current?

You give me food,
Like gravel in a sandbox.
Perhaps I'll use it . . .

One room, one thousand
Apes: War and Peace. One thousand
Cats: Do Not Disturb.

Tiny can, dumped in
Plastic bowl. Presentation,
One star; service, none.

My brain: walnut sized.
Yours: largest among primates.
Yet, who leaves for work?

Am I in your way?
You seem to have this backwards.
This pillow's taken.

Seeking solitude
I am locked in the closet.
For once I need you.

Your mouth is moving,
Up and down, emitting noise.
I've lost interest.

The dog wags his tail,
Seeking approval. See mine?
Different message.

Cats can't steal the breath
Of children. But if my tail's
Pulled again, I'll learn.

Most problems can be
Ignored. The more difficult
Ones can be slept through.

My affection is conditional.
Don't stand up,
It's your lap I love.

I don't mind being
Teased, any more than you mind
A skin graft or two.

So you call this thing
Your "cat carrier." I call
These my "blades of death."

Toy mice, dancing yarn,
Meowing sounds. I'm convinced
You're an idiot.



Catnips: A Book of Haiku on Cats by Joseph Gustafson
Leicester Hill Books, 1984

The flight of the bee
straight into the clear marble:
behold, a cat's eye.

Bare foot
on cat's belly-

Muffled sound
coming from somewhere
Lulu in drawer

Cat Haiku by Deborah Coates
Grand Central Publishing, 2001, 144 pages