Cats at the Hemingway House

Last week I got back from vacation with Mr. J in Key West, Florida. And of course I dragged him to the Hemingway Home and Museum. Even though his typewriters, writing space, and the tour explaining all the drama were all amazing, the cats were the best part. The cat cemetery was also adorable. Here are a few photos of the cats we saw.

Ulysses the Cat

Stretched in the sunlight

crowning Calypso’s shore

the big cat dozed,

small blue crabs drown

in a capsized silver urn, cream

filled and slopping beside him.

Why long for plump

tuna steak and cheesecake

crumbs when Apollo

scratches behind your ears

and no storm clouds

threaten tender olive saplings

with shaking? That

rural, stone hearth

plucked from the heart

of the hill your paws pounded

daily is miles away.

Waves lick gingerly

against the pebbly shore

the lambent royal blue of

Penelope’s summer dress.

He is still listless as

he is lifted up by

roughened driftwood hands

and tossed back into the sea.

what runs away in the night

1. good dreams that never want to wake up

2. best friends, unconditional love

3. music only cats can hear

4. rosemary that refuses to stop growing

5. all the stories you want to read

6. all the hours you want back

7. the grey storm streaked with lightning

8. the soft sounds

*

In memory of Bill and later Izzy. Two of my best friend’s cats, gone to join Ghanesh’s army.

This poem first appeared in Lupercalia.

Cuddles

It’s late at night and we’re snuggling in bed.

Me: I love you. I’m so glad you’re my best friend.

Mr. J: You’re my best friend too. You and Tiny Rick. Except for when Rick sneezes in my whiskey. Which happens more than it should.

(Explanation: Tiny Rick has feline immunodeficiency virus so he coughs and sneezes a lot. In spite of this he’s an amazingly friendly and loving cat. But he also loves torturing Mr. J by sneezing in his alcohol.)

Going to Work

Mr. J (opens the door to go to work): Hey there’s a new cat outside!

(We live in an apartment complex with lots of stray cats.)

Me: Yeah.

Mr. J: Yeah!

Me: Yeah (Not the happy, enthusiastic “yeah” but the uncomfortable, defeated “yeah” of a person who all cats know will do anything for them and will ultimately suffer the displeasure of her inside feline overlords because the outside cat made big eyes at her yesterday and she doesn’t know how long she’ll be able to go without paying homage to the outside cat by giving him/her the inside feline overlords’ treats. And once they find out I’m giving an outside cat treats there will be HELL TO PAY!)

Me (again): Yeah.

Cat=Food

Disclaimer: Mr. J loves my cats. But he came into my life many years after they did. They were here first. They don’t understand why he’s here now. They hate him. He does not understand why they hate him, or rather he does but he doesn’t care. Also, we are both vulgar people and swear at our pets just as much as they swear at us in cat language. No cat feelings or human feelings were harmed.

We were watching Master Chef.

Me: Describe the spirit of Tiny Rick if he were food.

Mr. J: A really good stew that you crack a raw egg all over at the last minute.

Me: What?

Mr. J: Because he sneezes all over everything.

Me: Okay, what about Leela?

Mr. J: Tiramisu but you dumped the entire jar of cinnamon over it.

Me: Why?

Mr. J: Because the core is good but if you scrape away the top it’s just overwhelming and slightly annoying.

Me: Okay, Titian?

Mr. J: Chocolate pudding. Because she’s a fat piece of shit and slightly runny.

Note: Titain weighs 18.5 lbs. which is big for an American shorthair.