This recording was made Saturday, Sept. 12, 2015, at the Anchor Bay Home Companion hosted at Dragon’s Breath Theater by Fred Mitour and Blake More. Special thanks to Jason Siadek for capturing the video and editing it.
This poem was originally published in the 2016 Mendocino Poets in the Schools Anthology, alongside dozens of poems by my students. Recently, I was teaching rhyme to a class of fourth graders when one student raised her hand and said, “Why don’t we read your cat poem?” I was delighted. To be famous to your students is like Naomi Shihab Nye’s river being famous to the fish.
Cat Gone Two Weeks
by Jasper Henderson
Cat be nimble Cat be quick Cat sleep on window And then get sick Cat be happy Cat be sad Cat bites ankle Cat is mad Cat be bored Cat be aware Cat hear noise Cat get scared Cat be fat Cat be in love Master’s home Time for a rub Cat be hungry Cat meows Food bowl refilled Cat chows Cat in the hat Cat in a box Cat in a fight Sounds like a fox Cat is tired Cat takes a nap Cat wins a job The better mouse trap Cat on a fence Cat in a hole Cat in hiding place Where did cat go? Cat has gone out Cat is due back Where could cat be? Alas and alack! Cat has gone missing Cat just flat gone Cat left no clue Cat left no song Cat was so mean Cat did us wrong Cat gone two weeks Cat gone too long Cat came back! Just yesterday Cat sauntered in We said hoo-ray! Cat is the best Cat is my friend Cat needs a rest So this is the end
Here’s a translation of an obscure Russian poem that I completed five years ago. Although the translation takes a few liberties, I hope these help capture something of the playfulness of the original. I found this poem in the great anthology Poetry of the Silver Age (Поэзия Серебряного века) published in Moscow by EKSMO in 2002.
by Sergei Tretyakov
You in darkness read, like a cat,
Small print on snowdrifts.
Vertical is our common path,
The singsong lift.
Just us two in this mobile pantry.
Don’t flinch, with a gaze that’s stingy,
From the wreath of myrtle.
After all, you know, at love play the birds!
Oh! God grant me health!
I quite forgot that your floor’s the third,
And mine — the twelfth.
(tr. Jasper Henderson, 2011)
Вы в темноте чимаете, как кошка,
Отвесна наша общая дорожка,
Нас двое здесь в чуланчике подвижном.
Не бойтесь взглядом обиженным
Венка из мирт.
Ведь, знаете, в любовь играют дети!
Ах боже мой!
Совсем забыл, что Ваш этаж — третий,
А мой — восьмой.