It’s rather startling: a recurring line in poetry that reads “I could pee on that.”
Charles Bukowski, perhaps? Sandra Bernhard waxing softly poetic?
Nope. A cat.
Her new sweater doesn’t smell of me
I could pee on that
She’s gone out for the day and
left her laptop on the counter
I could pee on that
Her new boyfriend just pushed
my head away
I could pee on him
She’s ignoring me ignoring her
I could pee everywhere
She’s making up for it
by putting me on her lap
I could pee on this
I could pee on this
That’s the title poem of I Could Pee on This: And Other Poems by Cats by Francesco Marciuliano. You may have heard of him; when he’s not recording poems by cats, he’s co-authoring the comic strip Sally Forth. Marciuliano writes the strip; Craig Macintosh draws it. The strip has no cats; those are saved for this book.
Growing up, I was a dog person. My family always seemed to have one, usually mixed breeds. We never had a cat.
My wife and I were married four months and living in Texas when our first cat came on the scene, a kitten huddled under a bush near the mailboxes of our apartment complex. No one else was around. I put up signs saying she was found. The signs were torn down. After the kitten became an adult, a friend charitably described her as looking like a silver polishing cloth. She also had the personality of a silver polishing cloth.
Every poem in I Could Pee on This is true.
Our cat lived until she was almost 18 years old. She was one sturdy silver polishing cloth.
A few years after her death, a black cat (a male) wandered into the neighborhood. The neighborhood children, including our youngest son, took pity and fed the cat milk and potato chips. A late cold snap promised to drive temperatures below zero, and my wife took pity. She allowed the cat to spend the night in our garage.
Thank you, my wife. To a homeless cat, that’s a sign of immediate adoption. The cat was so grateful that he left my wife a present on the doorstep – a headless bunny.
The cat moved in.
The only poetry book about cats I’ve previously been aware of was T.S. Eliot’s Old Possum’s Books of Practical Cats, which inspired the musical Cats. But Eliot wrote those poems. There’s no question that the poems of I Could Pee on This were written by cats.
Published in 2012, it’s a laugh-out-loud collection. The poems are divided into four sections: family, work, play, and existence. Which means they are mostly about sleeping.
It’s 8 a.m. and time to rest
It’s 10 a.m. and time to relax
It’s noon and time for repose
It’s 3 p.m. and time for shut-eye
It’s 6 p.m. and time for siesta
It’s 9 p.m. and time to slumber
It’s midnight and time to snooze
It’s 4 a.m. and time to hang upside down
from your bedroom ceiling, screaming
This is a tell-it-like-it-truly-is collection of poems about cats and by cats. At the end of the month, Marciuliano is publishing I Could Chew on This – poems by dogs. At least there will be some balance.
Except with cats, no such thing as balance exists. Even a book like I Could Take You to the Taxidermist: And Other Poems by Cat Owners still wouldn’t be sufficient to counter cats.
Cats rule. And they know it.
Image by d’n’c. Sourced via Flickr. Post by Glynn Young, author of the novels Dancing Priest and the recently published A Light Shining.
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Maureen Doallas says
Dogs just let cats think the latter rule.
Fun post, Glynn! My guess is that this particular poetry collection is a best-seller. Anything to get people to read poetry…
The book has 410 reviews on Amazon. Sounds like a best-seller to me. And the dog and I tried to maintain that dogs rule. The cat let us believe that, too.
Ann Kroeker says
I’m sending this link to my mom. I grew up with cats. They like knowing they can pee on whatever catches their eye…not that they actually follow through (unfortunately, many do), but knowing they can gives them a sense of power. It’s one of many reasons they act like they own the place.
Now I’m allergic to cats. I have a dog. Looking forward to reading him some dog poetry. 🙂
They act like they own the place because they own the place.
Marcy Terwilliger says
I’m a collector of cat books, my collection grows larger each year and yes, many are poetry books not mentioned. I must buy the one reviewed. Having had cats since a small child, my love goes beyond the bounds allowed for a human to have for these beautiful souls. Two loves died a few years ago, one year to the day apart, I’m down to two. My old Tom is black & white, the love of my life and at 16 has reached his last days. He says “MaMa” he’s my talker, bunts his head into mine which means I love u so, & rests his head on my pillow at night. We both know he’s here for only a while, I spend as much time with him as I can, he licks my tears, somehow, one of us must be strong for the other. I keep falling to pieces, can you actually love an animal too much I ask myself? I remember the verse, Bless the beasts and the children. Two of my favorite things because they depend on us for food, love and care. He, my cat isn’t going to make it till Christmas and a picture in his red stocking cap.
I never thought of myself as a cat person, until the day I took our first cat to the vet. She had so many physical problems that we all knew it was time. And I cried like a baby — over what still looked like a silver polishing cloth.
Megan Willome says
Sir Glynn–I did not recognize this as you! I don’t think you’ve ever mentioned being a cat owner in all your posts. I’m shocked, shocked!
It’s a whole new you.
I was a reluctant cat owner. With the second cat, I tried to maintain a wall of indifference, having bonded with our dog. The cat knew that, of course, and insisted on jumping on MY lap anytime we watched television. Which might explain my aversion to television.
Nancy Franson says
My daughter has this book and, if I didn’t have such strong feelings about cats, I would probably think the poems were funny.
But it’s true. There isn’t anything they don’t conspire to pee upon.
But it’s still funny. When we lived in Houston, our first cat was a collector — of cockroaches. She’d play with them and then, upon their expiration, stash them in a pile under our dresser. Which I discovered the day the movers came. (For the record, everyone had cockroaches in Houston.)
Marcy Terwilliger says
Wonderful, funny, comment about cockroaches Glenn. We have one little one left about 7 years old, she became an indoor cat when she bought home the baby rattlesnake. Here she came running with the body of the snake flying in the air. They are proud ones aren’t they?
A pile of dead cockroaches I could handle. A rattlesnake, even a baby — I don’t think so.
Diana Trautwein says
We had a pair of litter mates several years ago – from a Siamese mom and a tabby dad. One of the two was a tabby, small and lithe. And one was a long-haired, blue-eyed Siamese who literally ruled the universe. So much so, that he kicked his brother out; the tabby found solace 3 doors up. When we had some work done on our roof at a newer house (to him), he ran scared and never came home again. I looked for him for weeks but I think he probably died in someone else’s garage – he was about ten years old, I think. LOVIN’ this side of you, Glynn. The comment conversation is worth the subscription to the site. (as is everything else here, I hasten to add.)
Our silver polishing cloth was so devoid of personality that we resorted to making up stories about her. I even wrote Christmas stories about her for our two sons; we referred to the stories as “another episode of Used Kitty Litter.”
nance rosback says
My father hated cats, until we got a siamese. She had short hair, cream coloured body and dark brown tips. When dad was returning home in the evening, she would race to the door step before we could see his car coming around the corner and a block away…and his was the prefered lap as well.
They know. They just know. Sometime I’ll have to tell you about my Uncle Revis, who sat on his back step with his rifle. The goal was to discourage visits by the next-door neighbor’s cats. And the next-door neighbor was the in-laws.
During our relocation saga we lived in a rental that reeked of cat pee – it ain’t a purty smell. My husband, a pulp mill employee for 15 years at the time, apparently had no existing sense of smell when he signed the housing contract. I left everything in boxes for six months while we lived there, except for a few clothes and linens that I stored in airtight coolers in the bathroom (because it was the only carpet-less, cat peeFree room in the house).
Needless to say, dogs rule ‘n drool in this house.
And sir Glynn, I still think you are a talented and funny fellow, even if this piece gave me the cat pee cringes.
Nancy Franson says
Miss Darlene, I just knew you were a kindred spirit!
Be casreful, Nancy. She also rides rodeo horses, from what I hear.
Marcy Terwilliger says
This entire role of comments has glued itself to my mind, your sense of humor for cats and yet your feelings lay bare for us to see. My big husband over 6 feet tall, big wide shoulder basketball, football player now a soft golfer cried like a baby also when we had to put down our past two cats. The second one was so special because that old tom was recused right from the road he worked on. Sick as could be we nursed that baby back to health and at 22 lbs. he made the softest landings you ever saw. Licked you like a dog and was so loved but he loved us more. That huge paw would be placed on my cheek just to look at you and say, man, I love you. He’s gone but I swear I still see him some days laying on the black rug, Toby had a way of blending in. He never asked for anything and to this day I still cry for those big green eyes. We new he was leaving us so on that last day in January we took turns rocking him on the front porch with a big red plaid cover to keep him warm. Funny how some things stick with you like it was yesterday and how tears still fall because they really were part of the family.
Our second cat, whom we gave the original name of Kiddy, made himself quite at home once he became an official member of the family. He’d knock at the glass-windowed back door whenever he wanted in, unless there was a thunderstorm — then he’d attack the back door, demanding to be let in. He also liked to follow me and the dog on walks. You should have seen what that procession looked like.