Axis - 76/365
Being an artist doesn’t take much, just everything you got. Which means, of course, that as the process is giving you life, it is also bringing you closer to death. But it’s no big deal. They are one in the same and cannot be avoided or denied. So when I totally embrace this process, this life/death, and abandon myself to it, I transcend all this meaningless gibberish and hang out with the gods. It seems to me that that is worth the price of admission.

- Hubert Selby, Jr.

Cheop the Cat Alert

Cheop the Cat is drunk with power! He stampedes back and forth across the apartment! He harasses the other cats! He threatens our very lives! He will not let us sleep! And there is no end to the amount of food he can eat!

Oh, he is gigantic and frightening! Oh, no one is safe! Oh, send help at once!

Hanatō’s Cat Haikus, Pt. 5

The Japanese master of feline versifications, Hanatō Fukui (1650 – 1730), is revered the world over.

Here are three of his Haiku that became very popular in Russia in the late 1800’s:

Cat rolls, shows belly.
I rub once – he purrs sweetly.
I rub twice – torn flesh!

Cat fills my pillow.
I scoot him. Get badly clawed.
I will use the floor.

I sit with rich guests.
Stinky poo smell fills the room.
I accuse Fluffy.

(from the new translation by Trini Savitch)

Hanatō’s Cat Haikus, Pt. 4

Hanatō’s Cat Haikus, Pt. 4

Today, more astounding verse by the Haiku master Hanatō Fukui (1650 – 1730), from the new translation by Trini Savitch.


Three days, no shaving.
White cat rubs my drunken hulk.
When I wake – white beard! 

Moonlight fills my room,
I dream of Kyoto girls.
Hot breath. Claws. Hungry cat!

Lithe cat chases light,
Tries to catch pond reflections.
Koi oblivious.


Hanatō’s Cat Haikus, Pt. 3 | Hanatō’s Cat Haikus, Pt. 5  

Hanatō’s Cat Haikus

Many people the world over revere the Japanese poet Bashō (1644 – 1694), master of the Haiku. Bashō was to the Haiku what Shake-speare was to the sonnet – in some sense simultaneously creating the form and perfecting it.

Not as many are familiar with Bashō’s contemporary, Hanatō Fukui (1650 – 1713).

Among Hanatō’s most famous works are his “Ode To Milk”, “Rumination On An Infection”, and, of course, his “Argument Against Mildness”. He is most renowned however for his sequence of cat Haikus, written throughout his life and finally collected and published posthumously in 1733 in a volume entitled simply “The Edo Cat Haikus”. The original work featured illustrations that Hanatō himself had executed over many years.

We feature today a sampling of three of Hanatō’s magnificent pieces, from the new translation by Trini Savitch:

So many cats around,
So many goddamn cats.
They’re freaking me out.

I wake in the ditch,
Face-down in fishy vomit.
Mine? The alley cat’s?

Cat licks his behind.
Full moon makes all pure and white.
Cat licks his behind.

(ask for the published “The Edo Cat Haikus” at your local bookstore)

Night Of The Living Cats

Changing Times

Kitten vs. Barbie

On top of the computer are two Barbies. Why? Well, that’s just the way we do it here.

The Barbies were given by friends as gifts to my wife. They have been displayed atop the iMac for six or nine months. One Barbie sits astride a plastic polar bear. The other rides a plastic saber-toothed tiger.

The polar bear and saber-toothed tiger are mine.

A small black kitten has taken up residence with us. We already own 3 extraordinary cats (known as “THE V3”–perhaps you’ve read about them in the newspapers or seen their exploits on television). We are temporarily fostering this new kitten, provisionally named “Dickens”, until he can be adopted by a family equipped to give him the attention he needs.

He has just fallen off the back of the desk.

There is no sound of movement.

Perhaps he is dead.

Hold on. Let me check.

No. /445177777777777777711gggasss666666666666666 xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxcsccccccccccc (after the fact addition by Dickens The Kitten–perhaps his own encoded cat-speak commentary on his fall?) Not dead. He is sitting on the floor licking his shoulder.

Cheop the Cat–master of the house, large and tailless and cunning–this morning developed a persistent dry cough. He is resting in a corner, not looking his best. His several attempts at vomiting have brought up food, hair, and a disturbing white foam. Naturally, we are concerned.

My mind can’t help but keep turning back to the possibility that the new small black kitten poisoned Cheop in the night.

As I began this post, the kitten was gnawing on one of the Barbies’ delicate hands. What else is he capable of?

p;…..[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[ ;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;.

O Rambunctious Kitty!

Yesterday’s post about my favorite “autocrats” got me thinking about “odder cats”.

Ha he. Sorry, bad joke. Ha.

But seriously now, I did, for some mysterical reason, recall a vignette from my childhood I hadn’t thought about in ages. It was the first time I heard a popular hymn that eventually became my favorite song of praise.

When I was young, until about age 10 or so, my family attended church regularly. We weren’t strict about our denominational adherence. My dad tended, I think, to favor Methodist services, my mum Episcopal. I got the impression that God was in attendance at every church, an idea which has continued to serve me well.

This particular Sunday, the minister’s sermon was about gratitude, I think. This might have taken place around the Easter season and perhaps the minister was trying to emphasize how grateful we should be that Jesus died for our sins. In hindsight, it was probably a finger-wagging guilt trip he was laying on the congregation. But at 9 or 10 years old, sitting in that church which seemed filled up with the clear light and fresh smell of an April morning, I was swept up: Yes. Yes. We should be grateful. Thank you, Lord …

The minister concluded … a moment of dense silence … then several rich chords from the organ, invisible but somewhere very near … then the minister lifted his arms in gentle encouragement saying:

“Please rise now for hymn number 403 – ‘O, Rambunctious Kitty'”.

We could feel the organ’s bass notes thrumming under our feet as we stood and, cradling our hymnals, began to sing:

No. 403

O Rambunctious Kitty!

In Israel lived a kitty.
His legs from birth were lame
Until he met Lord Jesus
Bound for Jerusalem.
When the Master bent to scratch him,
He was from that day forw’rd
A most rambunctious kitty
And lap cat of our Lord.

O, rambunctious kitty,
The lap cat of our Lord,
You were Christ’s faithful servant,
Disciple on all fours.

That night in Gethsemane,
The kitty climbed a tree
And looked down on the Master
In His moonlit agony.
As Jesus knelt there praying,
He licked his tawny fur.
And when Judas kissed the Savior,
The cat begin to purr.

O, rambunctious kitty,
The lap cat of our Lord,
You were Christ’s faithful servant,
Disciple on all fours.

When Jesus hung up on
The Cross at Calvary,
The kitty sat there ‘neath him
For to Christ’s woe to see.
And when He gave His spirit
Up to the Heavenly Host,
The cat did scratch his claws
Upon the nearest post.

O, rambunctious kitty,
The lap cat of our Lord,
You were Christ’s faithful servant,
Disciple on all fours.
We call you fellow soldier
In our King’s mighty cause.
Let your holy example
Give each Christian pause.


(reproduced by kind permission of E.T. Garrislimbs & Sons)