Monday, January 31, 2011

Friday, January 28, 2011

The Two Cats and a River by Troy Morash

The Two Cats and a River
By Troy Morash

At around the time Man was being invented, there was the theory that a cat could lose one of its nine lives just by being under water for one second. For a cat this was understandably undesirable as not all a cat’s lives were necessarily spent as a cat, at least at that time. Therefore cats, being superstitious and cautious creatures, avoided water like the plague.

During this illustrious time there were two rather adventurous cats. One was black and the other was caramel. And they had set out many years ago to find a teacher who could teach them to think like gods.

One day they came to a raging river. Upon closer inspection the question naturally arose: how to cross the ten-meter span without getting wet?

The caramel cat was lazy and imagined that living a happier and more intelligent life meant nothing more than finding ways to make less and less effort. So without wasting another thought he jumped onto a stepping-stone near the bank.

‘Maybe we should think this through. The stepping-stones look slippery and are far and few between,’ said the black cat hesitatingly.

‘What’s there to think about, come on,’ his friend called after him. But when the lazy cat turned around he slipped into the water. And to his friend’s horror, the caramel cat slipped under the water and stayed there for more than a second thereby losing a life.

‘The only thing to do is to build a bridge,’ decided the black cat. Luckily he had read many books on engineering. He began straight away. He felled trees, collected stones, cleared brush, built a bridge pier and weaved rope from his own fur. The lazy cat just stared and laughed in amazement, ‘that seems like an awful lot of work. One just needs to be more careful, that’s all!’

But the black cat made no reply. He finalized his calculations as the lazy cat basked in the sun.

Once the lazy cat was dry and had had a nap he was ready to try to cross the river once more. This time he had some experience and took a moment to study the rocks that lay in the river and so managed to go much further than he had on the first attempt. He had gone two meters when suddenly a rock rolled over. The lazy cat naturally lost his balance and fell into the water losing yet another life.

Seeing this the black cat became all the more determined to finish his bridge. After building a model, he tied posts, built a kiln, made cement and mined for iron, coal and gold.

‘That was strange,’ the lazy cat said as he came back up onto the bank of the river dripping with water, ‘I must learn to be more careful next time and look out for those loose rocks.’ And he laid himself out in the sun.

On the third attempt the lazy cat managed to get half way across and rested on a small sandy island. He shouted back to his friend, ‘Hey, look at me. I’m half way!’ Then suddenly a large wave threw the lazy cat into the water taking away yet other life for it had been under the water for more than a second.

The fourth and fifth attempts brought the cat even closer to the other side. There was no turning back now. He only had four lives left. Then he noticed how the sepping-stones grew scarcer. The next stone was a good two meters away and it would take all the luck in the world to make the leap accurately. He decided to wait on a boulder and take a nap before making the big leap. Everything had to be planned

Meanwhile the black cat had finished setting the foundations of the bridge. He too was very tired but did not stop for a break. There was too much work to be done.

When the time came to make the leap the lazy cat was understandably nervous. The black cat warned him that the distance was too great but this only angered the lazy cat. There was nothing he could do about that now. He was trapped in the river and he didn’t think he had enough lives to return. He took a step back in order to get some space to build up speed. But as he stepped back he slipped off the boulder and into the water and promptly lost another live.

‘That’s six,’ his friend yelled.

‘No it isn’t! Anyway who’s counting?’

Once the lazy cat was dry, he wasted no time in taking the big leap, without any more thinking. ‘It’s doing all that thinking that has gotten me into trouble in the first place,’ he fumed. He leaped and as expected missed the far rock and slipped into the water, losing another life. He grappled with the slippery rock but couldn’t get a grip and slipped underneath the water again. Now he only had one life
left. His little heart was beating frantically. He felt different now that he only had one life left. He felt frightened, as does anyone with only one life.

After he was dry he made the final journey and was relieved to have reached the other side. The black cat had by this time managed to finish his bridge and after a little catnip cake and milky tea to celebrate, he walked across.

‘Big deal,’ his friend said. You did all that work for nothing. I told you it was possible to cross the river without all that work.’

‘Yes but you lost eight lives in the process.’

‘Says who? That is only silly superstition. You can’t prove anything.’

‘Nor do I have to,’ the black cat argued.

They continued on for many miles before coming to a sea. But that is another story. And according to the rumors, the lazy cat performed many noble deeds to the end of his life, which was not as long as he would have liked.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

On Explorers by Heather Elliott

On Explorers
by Heather Elliott

When I come home in the evenings
my grey cat waits by the door.
She steps up to the opening and looks out
at the unremarkable hallway, the blank doors
of facing apartments. Sometimes
her front paws pass the doorframe onto dull
blue carpet; but no farther. She sticks out her head
and tilts it, quizzical.
I hold
the door open with one foot
so she can look her fill, as I take off my coat
and hang it on its hook, deposit my bag and keys
and mail on the counter. I hold the door open
because this is a moment and thought I recognize;
the known universe has suddenly, inexplicably expanded.
What a moment! The chair she sits on
is not everything, the refrigerator
her canned food emerges from is not everything;
the litter box in the corner and place on my bed
where light slants an hour or so in the afternoons
are not everything.
this is what it’s like to consider
crossing an ocean, even though you’re told
the world is flat. Surely this is what it’s like
to spin the globe and imagine
moving jobless to the pink country
where your finger lands. I hold the door open
because I know after a second or two
she will back into the safety of my kitchen, stretch,
her tail a feathery question mark, open
her mouth and demand food.
when she has draped herself across my lap
or is rolled tight beside my pillow
in humming warmth, I will think
this is surely what it’s like watching
the ladder drop down the first time;
the moment you decide you will set foot on the moon.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Essay Memory Cats by R.D. Hartwell

Memory Cats
by R.D. Hartwell

I do not like dogs. I realize that this pronouncement may scar me in the eyes of my daughter, my grandson, and perhaps many another. However, I do not like dogs. This actually is not based on the fact that they are dogs, canines -- I like wolves and coyotes -- but is, rather, based on the fact that dogs are domesticated. They are, in theory at least, house-tamed. This does not always equate of course to being house broken. Hey, I have a broken house and a ruptured family and my daughter’s puppy still pees on the carpet!

Now cats! I like cats. I love cats. Cats are not domesticated. To them a house is merely a large cavern in which to go spelunking until comfortable with the knowledge of its extent (vast), its dangers (few), and its pleasures (many). I do not own cats, never have, but I’ve been tolerated within the cave by many cats. Presently, ten felines allow me concurrent residence within their cave. (Please, before you contact the local city authorities, these all have been rescued litters.) I consider this cordial of them, and crafty, particularly since I continue to feed them and clean the sandbox in the back.

While typing this I look down and notice one cat, Gabriel, continuing to sleep atop my computer. Gratefully, he is not on the keyboard this time, but on the CPU; he is curled on the tower, the memory, soaking up the thermal energy within the cave. It’s strange how so many cats weigh heavy on my memory. I think of Ignatz and Pericles, Pumpkin to his friends, of Daddy Kitty, and most recently of Bug. There have been so many others throughout six decades, inside the cave and outside, that it is impossible to keep all their names straight. But my memory holds bits and pieces of images -- bytes if you will -- flashes of action, lengthy scenes of lethargy, and occasional slashes of terror and tears. Through all these years I have been pleased to have been the companion of cats.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Note to Contributors

Coraline as a Kitten

Hello there, my wonderful, talented writers, poets and artists! Time for another update. I'm still working my way through May submissions. That was the busiest month for submissions, and I hope to have May finished by the end of February. I will send you an email when payment is sent and your post is up.

At this time, I hope to reopen paying submissions in May or June, depending on when I finish posting my backlog. I will have paying submissions open for one month. At a later date, I will post the submission period dates.

I have been very fortunate with donations to Hazard Cat, and the quality of these donations astounds me. There is so much talent out there. And so many cat lovers. I thank all of you who have donated pieces. It has helped the weeks when money is tight.

I'll have another Bad Cat Week soon, probably in February, so there's something for you to look forward to if you are a reader. Bad Cat Week is always fun.

Give your kitties treats often, and don't forget leftovers.

Edited to add: If you have any questions or concerns, don't hesitate to write.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Shadow Cat by C.L. Rossman

"There are many kinds of cats. And somewhere out there in our Galaxy, there are upright, intelligent cats, evolved from the great felines of their home world. They still have some of their feline features, like fangs and claws and manes. They come in the many patterns and colors of their forbearers---spots, strips, rosettes, and different skin colors. And they have the instinct to hunt and kill prey. It is this instinct which keeps their worlds pristine and beautiful, even as the Hunters use technology to enjoy their comforts and to explore from world to world, in search of the new and curious. Here, in Shadow Cat, many years away from the tautschen's home planet, one descendent comes face to face with the great cats which he believes are his ancestors.....and his life and theirs hangs in the balance." - C.L. Rossman

Shadow Cat
by C.L. Rossman

“One more crate!” the animal seller called, “And Spirit’s own luck to you!”

“What’s in it, honored hunter?” Starseeker asked, wondering at the last words.

“You’ll see soon enough, tyr-rakash,” the other said with a snaggle-toothed grimace. “No offense intended…”

“Chak,” agreed his cohort, the second ship’s hunter, who was standing atop the ramp at the starship’s bay door. “Come up here, Surash, and help me get this on a sled.”

“Coming.” He mounted the ramp and Starseeker’s gaze followed him.

A heavy crate, then, if it took two tautschen to lift it, the Shadow warrior thought, though not as large as those which held cattle-like krolf and the bigger ground animals. And when the two hunters set it on their platform sled, it rocked and snarled.

Starseeker craned to see, but the crate was completely unmarked except for some small air holes. “What do you have there?” he asked again.

“A trap-full of trouble!” one of the hunters called down, and “Something expensive and rare,” the second one said. “Here, watch your footing, Tarulen, and back up slowly.”

After they had levered the sled down the ramp, Surash decided to answer the warrior.

“A pair of Shadow Clan’s big cats, that’s what,” he said proudly.

Starseeker snapped alert. “How? Those cats are held sacred by the clan.”

Hrrnnt—don’t I know it! We couldn’t have been able to get any if they hadn’t expanded their range into Burning Forest’s territory, and it wasn’t easy even there.”

While Starseeker stared at the box in fascination, his friend and leader Renegade came up beside him. “Shadow’s royal cats, and a pair, you say, honored hunters?”

“Oh yes, sir.” They became instantly more respectful. “Male and female. And worth a stretch more hideshare, vr’Champion.”

A smile shaded Renegade’s face. “We can’t even see them to know what condition they’re in.”

That set off the haggling. Starseeker heard little of it. He was leaning over the crate, trying to see inside. All of the tautschen, or Hunting People, as they call themselves, are descended from the great cats of their Homeworld. They have a humanoid shape, but feline features, and here Starseeker had a chance to see some of his almost-mythical ‘ancestors.’ He could make out only two heavy, shifting shapes, which blocked and unblocked the light. He needed to get closer…

A hard slam jarred the crate and a large hooked claw jabbed out of the nearest hole and tried to scrape down whatever it could catch as it pulled back in.

Everyone jumped, including the animal-sellers.

Starseeker recovered, then laughed. “That is as much as I’ve ever seen of one. Even though I come from Shadow Clan myself.”

Renegade chuckled and turned away to pay the sellers. That done, he walked over to his rakash-wahr, the warrior-poet of his clan, and remarked, “You may soon get to see more of them, Starseeker. The rest of these animals will go on to restock other worlds—but we have a good boreal forest on this one. We could release them here.”

Leader and warrior looked at each other, and Renegade asked, “Would you like to take them to the release site yourself, brother?”


Of course he would. But even as he backed up his personal flying vehicle, his rakka and its sled to take on the crate, he felt relieved that his mate High Mountain Song, wasn’t here at the landing to worry over him and remind him to be “very careful.” Just because he’d been a little depressed the other day and asked her (rhetorically, of course), “What does is the longest life mean if it is continually slipping away from under. You wake and you are newborn—then next -throw you’re 300 and on your death hunt?” (Starseeker was only 50, but poets and warriors thought of these things a lot, apparently.)

And at first she’d been shocked and speechless, then, after clasping his hand had looked him seriously in the face and said, “I know you believe in the Spirit-of-all, my heart, but sometimes even that does not soften our worries. “ Then she’d smiled and leaned over to whisper something in his ear…

Well, he said, he’d think about it. And he lashed the crate down on its sled, ready to rise and fly.


Because they couldn’t feed or water the new animals easily, Renegade Clan members took them away for placement as soon as they could. Some would go to another waiting Life-ship, as they called it, for distribution among Ten Systems’ worlds. A few would go here to the Twin Worlds of Kr’ra’klv’tt and Rakul. Local hunters and warriors hitched small sleds to their rakken, their personal flying vehicles, and flew them away quickly.

Worlds in Ten Systems had some life-gaps among their habitats, thanks to a voracious Enemy which had passed through eons before. The Hunters were trying to rebuild them.

Starseeker took on his two mythological beasts alone. His heart beat higher and his breath came faster with excitement. He knew that Renegade had been itching to send him off with some warning or a partner, but he felt pleased that his leader had awarded him this honor alone. Starseeker was an excellent hunter; he vowed he would not make a mistake. –But to see the fabled night-cat for himself, after decades of listening to its legends and lore! It had been thirty years since Starseeker had left Homeworld, but he still remembered those legends.

The airborne ride seemed to soothe the great cats again. Or at least, settle them down. The warrior flew low but swiftly, taking them to the smaller northern continent “across the pole” from Renegade’s territory.

“There’s prime boreal forest there," he said, talking to the living cargo behind him, “plenty of herd animals and plenty of water, too.”

“Did they give you food or water, lately?” he wondered. ‘They’ were supposed to care for their charges, these animal-catchers. Often they tranquilized the animals when first caught, but unless the beasts were too ferocious to approach, the traders were supposed to feed and water them regularly during their trip to the Twin Worlds.

But that crate didn’t look as if it had any amenities, made of plain hardwood with a few air holes in it, no sign of an attached water line or a shelf for food. He couldn’t see inside it at all.

That’s why Starseeker was anxious to free them as soon as possible; and he forced his personal flier to as much speed as he could stand, straddling it unprotected in the wind.

The open flight across the pole chilled him, even though it was summer. His passengers had become very quiet, and he spoke to them to calm his own anxiety:

“Good hunting on this side of the world, and no competition. The snow cats and sabertooths haven’t reached this continent yet, but the shoveljaw come through in great herds, and there are kai and smaller game in the woods, all of them good meat,” he said, then shut his jaw, feeling foolish.

Our ancestors may have talked to other beings, but we have lost that ability, he thought, and all we know are their cries and calls. His own ancestors had supposedly sprung from the great cats themselves. Anatomically, they were close. Shadow Clan shamans had reverenced them and held them in awe. Some said a shaman could even become the cat. Today, the clan on Homeworld forbade all but the top ranked hunters and huntresses to take one of their pelts.

We are already less than our forbearers were, he thought, if we can hunt them.

He finally crossed the northern pole and most of the pale tundra, and rolled on until the deep blue-green of the needleleaf forest broke the horizon. Thousands upon thousands of kri-veh it stretched away, making up half the northern continent.

His “passengers’” continued silence worried Starseeker, so he flew in only about 20 kri-veh and chose a good spot for the release: a small clearing surrounded by tall conifers and a few broken boulders, with a clear river edging it nearby—“one that never goes dry,” he promised, and brought both rakka and sled to a gentle halt, then began lowering them slowly.

Still no sign from the enclosed beasts. Had their latest outburst been their last? Their last desperate defense against their captors before they collapsed and died? Starseeker agonized through the descent, yet still managed to keep his hunting senses honed. This world was still wild, and he must be prepared for anything…

There. Down. He disengaged the flier from the burdened sled so that he could get away if for some reason the cats decided to take possession of the crate and attack him. He coasted the rakka into the trees, left it to hover and returned to the crate unlock it.

Still nothing. Very worried now, Starseeker thought he should stay, perch on top the crate, and be ready to look in.

He almost did. But an old teacher’s voice came back to him and said, “Do not yield the watch; do all that you know every time.”

And in the end he chose the cautious way, setting the container for remote release, and backing off to shelter among the trees. Not cowardice, just caution. Feckless bravado had killed more hunters than he could count—some of them had been friends.

So Starseeker crouched behind cover, the release-button in his hand. Still no movement from the crate. Would he see the fabled cats only as corpses? Restraining a sigh, he pressed the button.

Something erupted from the crate with a roar like thunder. It became a blur, a dark wind charging out to do battle, a primordial force.

“Shain rt-tai!!” Starseeker jerked upright, cried out. “Night-panther,” he breathed.

The great cat stilled head up, back arched. It turned from tornado to statue before the hunter could even blink. It was alive—alive!—and it had lunged for freedom at once, ready to deal death to its captors….what magnificence! For the first time, the Hunter looked upon the cat his clan called “ancestor.”

It was incredible. The wonderful sinewy muscles in legs and shoulders, the long tail raised in a proud curve, and held there, a pose no other feline could strike. The great tigerish head uplifted, the scant ruff of ebony fur surrounding the onyx face—the fangs like white sabers, the head completed by shimmering golden eyes.

It seemed to be looking directly at him. Does it know I’m here? Would its next move be to attack? And where was the other--?

A shadow eeled round from the other side of the crate and paused, also looking at him. The other cat! Starseeker—or anyone else—would have focused so intently upon the first one, he would have been easy prey for the second.

Well done, he thought.

The first rt’ter-shain, the male, glanced back at his mate just long enough to communicate something, then returned his stare to the Hunter. When the cats’ muscles rippled, their sleek coats flashed, and they showed two different patterns: the male lightly striped in silver-white, while on the female, ghostly shadow-spots rippled and gleamed. The same two patterns shone on the People of Shadow Clan., directly on their skin.

Both cats glared in his direction, as if he were open to their eyes. Were they going to attack? Slowly the warrior rose. He didn’t want to fight them. He would probably have to kill them—their ferocity was legendary, but…better to meet death standing than on your knees.

What he or they might have done next remained a mystery, for at that moment, everything changed.

A rustling and clacking came from the woods next to the river—sharp, loud noises, as if many branches were breaking all at once. Something coming—perhaps even a herd of somethings…

The cats’ heads whipped round in that direction. Abruptly the pair faded back behind the crate, using it for cover.

But they have no cover; and whatever is coming will keep them from the trees.

A joyous bounce of flashing eyes and spiral horns and gleaming coats galloped through the trees, and Starseeker recognized the K’sariens or Windrunners, romping here on the far side of the world, where they had no right to be.

A bachelor herd, he thought, as four, five, six, of them loped into sight, young stallions not yet old enough to win mares of their own. But what were they doing here, on the far side of the world? Could they have wandered this far? He had no way to know…

The sight of the strange object—the crate—stopped them in their tracks. Every curved neck stretched out, went rigid, every nostril flared, every leg stood still.

They were tall four-leggers and Starseeker realized they must be able to see over the crate to what crouched behind. But how would they react?

One of them tossed its head and screamed—not a whinny at all but a shriek of defiance and challenge. The others echoed it. They stamped their feet and reared, then came down and lowered their horns…

…directly at the two great cats.

“No, oh no.” Starseeker’s thoughts raced. The fight would be six against two. The shadow cats were unfamiliar with Windrunners and they had no place to hide. And he knew what would happened, he knew that the great cats would stand and fight; they had too…but the Windrunners would lower those deadly horns, bare their strong teeth and storm down to surround and kill them both.

Suddenly the big male shadow cat appeared on top of the crate, his ruff bristling and his fangs bared. He answered the Windrunners’ challenge with a roar of his own.

Chai’k-hai—by honor you are called.

Rarik-hai---I come! The ancient tautschen Challenge rang through Starseeker’s head as if it had been spoken.

The Windrunners thundered forward; the male cat leaped to meet them; and the female snaked from cover, going for their legs.

Too many against too few.

Starseeker charged, running, swinging a spear and roaring out the old battle-cry.

The sight distracted the combatants: the shadow cat missed his leap, bounced off a strong arched neck, and the K’sariens looked around, surprised.

But the she-cat bit the first ‘runner’s foreleg and her weight pulled him over.

The others screamed and galloped up to stab at both cats. Starseeker wouldn’t reach them, couldn’t run fast enough.

So he sent the spear on ahead of him.

It smoked over the nearest K’sarien’s crest and sank into the shoulder of the next one over, deflecting him from the male cat. The steed stumbled and shrilled.

Then Starseeker himself landed in their midst, nothing left to throw, but a laser set to shoot, and he tried to fend off one stabbing horn while another beast raked him with its teeth.

The Hunter was strong, but they were stronger. They could kill with their hooves or a single thrust of their horns.

Starseeker shot into a chestnut flank; a hard body slammed into him from the other side and he went down, rolled under the stamping hooves, shooting upward, trying to stay alive. He heard roars, saw flying feet and dust, and a strange thought came to him, almost in tranquility:

He remembered his remarks to his wife. How life drained out from under your feet like water pressed from a puddle, and suddenly you were old, and had no more time. Would his life leak out from under him now, today? In this strangely silent space carved from chaos, in this one moment when everything slowed down, at last, at last he could see—

Laser-fire spat into the chest of a big Windrunner coming down on him, and Starseeker waited, at first unsure he had fired.

Then a huge black shape flew over him and crashed into the Windrunner, and time sped up, Starseeker sprang to his feet, saw his spear sticking out of a fallen foe, snatched it free and danced death with a brace of flashing horns and stomping feet, and another black shape rose beside him and lashed out with its knived paws.

Death blew by in a slice of spiral horn, death missed him by a fraction, and a mass of muscle and power slammed onto his spear and drove him backward. Something roared; something squealed.

And suddenly it was over.

Dust fell through filtered light; the warrior stood between heaps of dead flesh; and the only sound he could hear was the rhythmic hoofbeats of the last Windrunners, running away. Three of them, heads down, galloping away, taking caution from their companions’ lives.

Starseeker blinked and looked around. At the same time, the female shadow cat lifted her head from the throat of a downed Windrunner, gave it a shake, and sighed. A very tautschen-like sigh. She stood up and put a paw on the fallen animal as if claiming it as her own.

The male cat. Where was the male? If they’d killed him…

Then Starseeker felt something move behind him, felt its presence grow. Very slowly, he turned around. There stood the male, looking at him.

Would he now have to fight the great cat too, Starseeker wondered in dismay. They might see him as an enemy as well. And they had him perfectly bracketed between them, primed for the kill.

Words came to the warrior’s lips which he had never uttered before, from the deep wellspring of his heritage:

“O great ones, blood of my blood, will you slay the hunter who fights for you?” And he let his posture ease and his gaze withdraw from his eye-lock with the male, and slant aside. If they attacked now, he had just made himself more vulnerable. When even a long life may be cut short by misadventure, he found himself yearning for the full.

The huge male shadow cat made a whuff or chuff sound in his throat and lowered his head.

Behind him, Starseeker heard the female give a soft call so like a tautschen mother calling for her child that it stunned him. A moment later she appeared, almost brushing his left side in passing as she went to her mate.

The male took a step towards her; they met and sniffed; then he licked her brow and she began to strum the deep throaty rumble of her purr.

Starseeker turned quietly and left them. He walked all the way across the clearing and over to the trees when his rakka waited.

After he mounted it and prepared to rise out of the trees, he looked back to see both cats nuzzling each other, apparently hearty and hale. As he let the airbike ascend, he saw the cats finish their greeting and get back to the sterner basics of survival. They picked out one of the slain Windrunners, and the male lugging it by its neck, the female guarding his flank, they took it into the tree-cover for a safe banquet.

Oh. He’d forgotten to take the crate. Well, it was wood; it could stay where it was for now. Starseeker found himself trembling and something deep in his center felt swept clean, as if some great answer had been given and he was at rest. He could leave now.


He remained in this strange exalted state, flying back toward the pole, when his comset crackled and a familiar voice called down to him:

“Starseeker! Brother, we’re in s scout ship barely a kri-veh out, and we’re heading your way. Might we give you a faster ride home?”

Renegade, his leader and friend. Following his outward track because he was concerned about Starseeker as he would be about any of his friends….but pretending to just be jaunting along in the same direction, so as to save a warrior’s pride. Renegade took on the care of each and every huntmate as a personal duty, as for a family member he would not want to lose.

Starseeker smiled. “A faster ride home would fit me like a second skin, brother. I’m honored.”

“Oh, t’chak; the honor is mine,” Renegade chuckled, and brought the scout down to Starseeker’s altitude, where the warrior could just glide the rakka inside the belly-bay. “And how do the shadow cats like their new home? We’re eager to hear the story.”

That was the other thing about Renegade: the leader loved to talk philosophy, to puzzle over meaning beyond the mundane—the only other hunter who did so that Starseeker that ever known.

“I’ll be pleased to tell you,” he replied. “It’s a story to ponder;” then switched off and got ready to board.

He’d just remembered what his wife answered on that day gone by, when he’d questioned the value of a life forever fleeting away:

“Oh my heart,” she’d told him, “why question and doubt, when the meaning lies all around you? Did not the Spirit of All give us this day and every day to savor, to live at the fullest as we come to them?”

Quite the philosopher herself, she was.

Renegade: The Hunter by Constance Rossman

Monday, January 17, 2011

Tips for Quieting the Cat by Susan Rooke

by Susan Rooke

When your cat prowls the bedroom
in the small hours of the night, regretting
a decline in philosophical discourse,
complaining of an excess of ennui,
don't be drawn into that conversation.
Complaints have no answer, requiring
only sympathy and your tireless ear,
which, offered once, will be exacted
every night to come for the rest
of your natural days, a span that soon
will feel longer than it is. Never again
will you know the peace of deep sleep
at 3 a.m., and your cat will be no happier.

Instead, begin by complimenting
the vertical pupils, a striking statement
unusual in mammals, then continue
by reminding it of the supremacy
of nine lives over one. Point out that
it may look boldly upon kings, that
its forebears were revered as gods.
That there once existed solely for its use
a choice of small canopic jars, should,
perhaps, remain unsaid. For who
among us wants to contemplate his insides
sealed tight within a jar so that his mummy
may sail uncorrupted through the ages?

Oh. Of course.
Hint: It's not the dog.

Susan Rooke lives in Austin, Texas. Her poetry has recently appeared or is forthcoming in The Aurorean, Main Street Rag, Time of Singing and U.S. 1 Worksheets, among other publications. She is the editor of the Austin Poetry Society’s monthly MuseLetter, and “Tips for Quieting the Cat” took 2nd Place in one of the Society’s 2010 Annual Awards Contests.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Cats and Dogs Don't Fight by Rick Hartwell

Cats and Dogs Don't Fight
by Rick Hartwell

I'm sitting here absentmindedly feeding Cheeze-Its to Christopher, the grey-and-white patriarch of the cats who own the house. He is of disputed lineage. He is so very large. His stomach sags with age and inactivity. His sister, Nicole, never eats the Cheeze-Its. She's very skittish and one of the family myths has it that she was brain-damaged by a severe fever when she was just a kitten. Her head is too small for her body and she appears to be a cross between a matron and a midget.

Christopher has taught Gabriel, the kitten, to also eat the crackers, but unlike Chris, Gabriel has no manners and leaves the marmalade crumbs strewn across the dun carpet. They look like orange ants on parade. My daughter's dog begs for some with his demeanor; his brown eyes seem to plead for his fair share. Harold, the dog, has no manners and his appetite insures that the crumbs are sucked off the desert floor and the carpet is left pristine. He's not one to leave kitten scraps as evidence of my bad habits.

The kitten attacks him again, bellying up across the veldt of the kitchen's green linoleum. He makes a final lunge for the dog, eager to pick a fight to insure the domination of six cats over one pug dog. Harold endures this obscene display of milk teeth and kitten-hood yet again. He's well aware at which end of the hierarchy he lives.

The shrill scream of brakes outside, unheard by the dog's ancient ears, provides relief as the kitten shies away from Harold, distracted by the piercing cry.

Rick Hartwell is a retired middle school teacher who lives in Moreno Valley, California, with his wife of almost thirty-five years (poor soul, her, not him), their disabled daughter, one of their sons and his ex-wife (?) and two children, Rick and Sally’s grandchildren, and ten cats! Yes, ten. Don’t ask.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Ode to Blackie by Lisa Gurney

Ode to Blackie
by Lisa Gurney

I couldn't let my Blackie go without a word or two.
A tribute of some verbal kind is the least that I could do.

I met her 20 years ago as I walked through a shelter's door.
A tiny black cat in a giant cage, I would feel love forever more.

Her beauty was often remarked upon, but once you got past that,
you'd know her gentle, contented spirit - more angel divine than cat.

Together we shared in joyful moments and weathered some stormy days.
She gave me comfort, she made me smile, and helped in many ways.

"How can a cat affect one so?" you may ask as you read through.
If you met my Black you would surely know and I'd guess she affected you too.

So now I leave her in God's hands to delight all those above.
To run through heaven's lovely fields. Oh my little, tiny love!

You will be remembered each and every day, of that you need not fear.
You remain eternally in my heart. I will hold you forever dear.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Friday, January 7, 2011

Want Some Food! by Susie Swanton

"Want some food!"
by Susie Swanton

The kitties cry when they want food
They say meow meow meow give us some food

Connor wants some food
Maeve wants some food
Seamus wants some food
Siobhan wants some food
When Aoife comes home from walkies she will want some food

Fiona doesn’t want any food because she’s dead.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Purrsonal Story My Sister's Cat is My Role Model by D. Drover

My Sister's Cat is My Role Model
by D. Drover

When I was younger, my sister had a cat that always used to meow and throw herself at the vacuum cleaner anytime it would come on and emit the loud noises that vacuum cleaners have a tendency to do. The growl never silenced the kitty, and when I had a laugh about it at that time, I grew older to realize how respectable this cat was, how ahead of this time the cat was.

The cat, in essence, was a political activist, a punk rocker, an artist, an individual with her own values and ideals who would not be silenced, and no matter how loud the opposing growl was, how frightening it appeared, she would always speak up.

I suppose we all grow up and learn to be silent. Some of us learn not to explain our opinions, do not care enough to describe what we are feeling, do not want to say what is right or what is wrong. Or worst of all, some of us don't bother to ask why, to want an explanation, some of us don't want to care.

And if I said I cared about half the evils of this world, I would be a hypocrite. But I at least know what's right and what is wrong, despite sometimes participating in the latter. But that's okay, I have good will, and with my sister's cat as my role model, I'll get by with little doubt.


D. Drover is a writer and poet from Newfoundland, Canada. He writes different little things every now and then that he enjoys enough, at that time, to show other people.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Starting the New Year with Two Cat Poems by Joe DiMino

Meow, Meow
by Joe DiMino

Meow, Meow
You talk to me—
But I answer
With foreign words;
Meow, Meow
Concise your vocabulary
Yet senselessly I reply…
Meow, Meow
Unlike you
I have made a dictionary
Of love
And you say as much
With soft little purr—
Meow, meow
I try your way
But sound absurd…

Five Cats
by Joe DiMino

One cat two cat
Three cats four,
If you don’t like them
Don’t open up the door
(And one more makes five)
I opened the door
And five cats ran in;
I managed to get two out
Then there were only three;
Got another one out
But two ran back in;
Got four out
But couldn’t find the fifth;
Found the fifth
Shooed him out
Only to have four race back in;
Finally I opened a can of tuna—
Got all five out
But the weather had severely changed
And it was getting quite cold
So I let five cats in….