Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Off the Shelf Archive - January #3

Wrapping up January with a final Off the Shelf selection, and this time it will be two short poems by the 20th Century American poet and writer Richard Brautigan (1935-1984) Brautigan wrote during the end of the Beat era and the full onslaught of the 60's counterculture years with black humor and directness. He may be best known for his longer works like A Confederate General from Big Sur or Trout Fishing in America, but his poetry has a sad and clean feel well worth a read or reread. Friend of the blog the walking man suggested 
Karma Repair Kit, Items 1-4, and I've added  Hinged to Forgetfulness Like a Door.  

You'll find them here in Off The Shelf Archive for February, #1

As always, feel free to comment on either poem or make suggestions for next time here, as comments are disabled off the main page.

Thanks to the walking man for the  Brautigan rec, and you can find his own ever-intriguing writings here on his blog, The Walking Man

Here for a last look is the prior selection,  Pablo Neruda's excellent poem, Cat's Dream

Cat’s Dream

How neatly a cat sleeps,
Sleeps with its paws and its posture,
Sleeps with its wicked claws,
And with its unfeeling blood,
Sleeps with ALL the rings a series
Of burnt circles which have formed
The odd geology of its sand-colored tail.

I should like to sleep like a cat,
With all the fur of time,
With a tongue rough as flint,
With the dry sex of fire and
After speaking to no one,
Stretch myself over the world,
Over roofs and landscapes,
With a passionate desire
To hunt the rats in my dreams.

I have seen how the cat asleep
Would undulate, how the night flowed
Through it like dark water and at times,
It was going to fall or possibly
Plunge into the bare deserted snowdrifts.

Sometimes it grew so much in sleep
Like a tiger's great-grandfather,
And would leap in the darkness over
Rooftops, clouds and volcanoes.

Sleep, sleep cat of the night with
Episcopal ceremony and your stone-carved moustache.
Take care of all our dreams
Control the obscurity
Of our slumbering prowess
With your relentless HEART
And the great ruff of your tail.

Pablo Neruda

Image: Sleeping Cat, Pierre Auguste Renoir, 1862, courtesy google image search


  1. Neruda is always a fine choice. Perhaps you'll feature him again, one day. But what kind of a loon writes about a cat? Oh wait, I do. never mind!

    Love the Brautigan. I remember that Karma Repair one. My favorite was Rommel Drives Deep Into Egypt.

  2. Glad you liked it, MZ.

    @FB I wish I still had that book but as I may have mentioned it was stolen by hippies along with a lot of albums I could probably sell for real money these days...I like this little one from that collection also:

    "Have You Ever Had a Witch Bloom like a Highway"

    Have you ever had a witch bloom like a highway
    on your mouth? and turn your breathing to her
    fancy? like a little car with blue headlights
    passing forever in a dream?
    ~Richard Brautigan

  3. I've often envied cat's their ability to sleep deeply and well at a moment's notice. This was wonderful. Thank you for sharing it.

  4. Glad you liked it Talon. I haven't had a cat for many years, but I do love them, and this poem just says it all. I could post Neruda every day and never get tired of him, I think.

  5. I had forgotten Hinged to Forgetfulness. Thanks for bringing that one back Joy.

  6. Neruda is a favorite of mine, too, but I had not read this one..
    .."after speaking to no one, Stretch myself over the world." wonderful! Thanks.


"We make out of the quarrel with others, rhetoric, out of the quarrel with ourselves, poetry." ~William Butler Yeats