Sunday, April 18, 2010

NaPoWriMo #18 - Dwelling


“I’m cursed. I’m a tiger,” says Read Write Poem member Irene. She’s talking about the Year of the Tiger, and it’s the inspiration for her NaPoWriMo prompt:

The tiger is a creature known to create wildness and tumult. In Chinese superstition, it is not a year to marry or have children. The tiger is too aggressive. It stalks and preys.

Write a poem featuring the cat family, whether big or small.

There are many cat poems that may inspire you. The first poem that comes to mind, William Blake’s “The Tyger,” wonders why such a creature is created in the first place. Did such a creation come from the Devil himself? God will only create a lamb, right?

Ted Hughes wrote about the jaguar, a not-so-distant cousin. I think a jaguar looks even more fearsome. There’s a playful feline quality about the tiger. Not so with a jaguar! It is like black rage. I’ve seen a jaguar in a zoo, pacing endlessly in its cage. Here’s how Hughes wrote it, in “The Jaguar,” “He spins from the bars, but there’s no cage to him” and “his stride is wildernesses of freedom.”

Then there’s the pussy cat. In “Esther’s Tomcat,” also by Hughes, the cat becomes, in a figurative sense, the protagonist, the beleaguered husband. Hughes describes him as “an old rough mat” and reveals, “Continual wars and wives are what/ Have tattered his ears and battered his head.”

Is that enough to go on? Roar! Purr! (You choose.)

I imagine your despondent gaze
looking past the rough flatness of the land

below you, an impressionist's palette
serene and lit by blinding fluorescents. Next door

gazelles portray their flirtation with your
death snarl. You are demonized as witches

with their daily routine, cooking Sunday dinner and
rearing their young ones. Behind prophylactic glass

your horror is a glass slipper, never
fitting the fantasy that you wish to escape.

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