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 alongside many student poems in the Mendocino Poets in the Schools 2016 County Anthology. This Spring 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?” It turns out the kids like it, which is about as high a compliment as a poem can get.
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.