Epic of a black cat

So Henry responds to Bluejay's invitation (see previous).  He starts his tale.  This is another one of those tendrils of saga spun out of mundane fact.  Bluejay voodoo-man emerged from an actual bluejay in the backyard;  "Pushkin the lost cat" was actually just that.  Silky black Pushkin took off one afternoon and was gone for 3-4 days.  He later appeared, very weak, with a leg broken in two places, on the neighbor's doorstep.  Our theory was he had been abducted (he was a very attractive animal), had escaped, and had then been hit by a car.  This was what Pushkin told us, anyway.  It all happened just as Stubborn Grew was starting up - merging its cat-tail into the tale of a cat.

But there's more.  I noted how the style of Stubborn was modeled on some translations of Mandelstam (the Monas/Burago versions).  I was also taken with M's working lyrical method : the way he produced little sequences, "versions", repeated patterns which built up a kind of landscape.

Pushkin, of course, was the central sun of the Petersburg poets called Acmeists (Mandelstam, Gumilev, Akhmatova).  Pushkin, the Russian national poet, Russia's Shakespeare, was of African descent - was a "black man", at times an endangered outcast.  What's happening here, though, is that with "Pushkin the cat", the epic mock-epic Stubborn is snaking out invasive vines, binding Russian & American culture.


I'm looking for a lost cat – Pushkin
whispered Henry, in the whisper gallery 
of the grey-leaved garden.  Whitely
his teeth shone, a ghostly grin.

Disappeared one day, last Halloween; 
pirated away, no doubt, by a hateful crew 
abroad, aboard some Lovecraft canoe 
for no good – some unseen kerosene

kids' goatsblood adventure, some dim 
dullday's decadent grotesquerie – broiled 
Bruegel, missing his crossbred breath of old 
mastery. They've all forgotten him.

Left my home, left my family, left them all 
behind, for the sake of that gypsy feline;
a four-legged green-eyed sailorman – a 
Manx, with an extra leg for a stolen stool. . .

Henry peered into the willow branches 
weaving a blurred grey pattern overhead. 
His memory. . . a mountain range (gone dead). 
Bluejay smiled – a shadowy Sancho Panza.

RIP dear Pushkin

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