Dragon's Breath Magazine, April '92

Collected Cat Poems, by Bill the Cat

     Bill went wanderin late last night ta tryta soothe his soul; annoyed by flashin Christmas lights, he wished he had a bowl. The weirdos were out prowlin round at that ungodly hour; Bill just kept on scowlin, like he'd swallowed somethin sour. He made it to the railroad tracks, and there, he stopped his roam; lyin down ta rest his back, he felt he'd made it home.

     Bill don't keep up with fashions; he don't possess the urge. He spends his bread on stashins, for a neuropathic surge. He likes ta score a bag o' stuff, and smoke it 'til he's high; his lids descend with every puff, like curtains for his eyes. Bill don't keep up with news events, his brain functions in slow-mo; his presidential preference is still Mario Cuomo.

     The bubbles in Bill's beer have mathematical precision; they're pleasin to his ear, and transfixin to his vision. They're goin up in tiny streams until they reach the foam, ardently pursuin dreams ta find themselves a home. They represent a castle in a city made o gold; Bill's whiskers give them hassle, then they die before they're old.

     Christmas came and went, leavin Bill with nothin. His energies are spent; he's a turkey with no stuffin'. The remnants of his flesh are bein slowly picked away; his thoughts no longer mesh, so he ain't got much ta say. Noises make Bill edgy, like his brain's a swellin' blister; he's gettin sorta "veggie", or so his roommates whisper.

     Exorbitant electric fees engender fear in Bill; with costs as high as GTE's, they make him want ta spill. The people who receive Bill's checks don't give much in return; they treat him with the same respect you'd give a trampled fern. He sends 'em everything he's got, and still they're never pleased; maybe if he sent some pot they'd finally be appeased.

     Bill scored some stuff today; it was pretty mersh in grade. He toked in clouds o gray, till his thoughts began ta fade. It took a lot ta get him high, but its better than nothin; thunder claps were in the sky, but Bill thought they were bluffin. He can't ascertain if he'd got a decent deal; he walks out in the rain, but he wonders if it's real.

     Recumbent on the drownin lawn, Bill don't know no pain; he's like a frozen, stir-fried prawn who sucks up all the rain. It seeps between his eyelids, and it permeates his fur, controlled by drunken pilots whose propellers got no "whir". Missiles miss their destination, buzz-bombs rarely fly; slowly, Bill's disintegration, blendin with the sky.

     New-Age hacks are tryna foist simplistic views on Bill; the lukewarm quacks' ejaculations usually make him ill.Intellectual carrots spoutin off simplistic precepts; with brains like those of parrots, they keep flauntin off their defects. Why're they gangin up on Bill, who doesn't buy the crap? He wants ta slip 'em cyanide pills; he's fed up with their pap.

     Bill needs a little silence, cause he's not had sleep in days; his thoughts are gettin violent, and his eyes are thickly glazed. His roommates' New Year bashes leave no doubt he stays annoyed; he wants ta give em lashes til their veins are null and void. He hears their stupid music and their wretched conversation;nothin can excuse the ceaseless mental masturbation. All the dreadful noise invades the corners o Bill's brain; he hasn't got much choice; he admits himself insane.

     Bill the Cat is drownin in a feculent, gray mud; its quantity's astoundin, and it's density's like blood. Attemptin ta relieve his plight, before he loses it, he sparks himself a yellow light, and takes a good, long hit. Little flakes o catnip dust mingle with spilled liquor; they constitute a muddy crust that's slowly gettin thicker.

     Another year is history, the province o the past; Bill's eyes are feelin blistery, and that's just how they're cast. He sits there reminiscin, like a person in his eighties; his whiskers need some kissin, so he thinks about the ladies. He'd like to talk to Emma, but he'd rather sleep with Joyce; each day's a new dilemma, and each night's a fatal choice.

     Despite the frigid atmosphere, Bill could use a drink; perhaps a draft o German beer would bring him from the brink. Drownin in a black lagoon o turgid allegations, he craves a nicely-lit saloon inhabited by Haitians. He'd have a shot o Stoli, and two bottles of champagne, water for his oleander hidden from the rain.

     Starin through the orange screen, with glaciated features, Bill the Cat knows what it means ta be a Nature's creature. Beams o yellow herald that the mornin sun is risin; Bill restrains a bellow as it vacates the horizon. Once again a sullen creep, the Cat resumes his scratchin; another night without no sleep has slightly skewed his action.

     Bill had nearly given up on meetin a nice girl. But one day as he downed a cup, she danced into his world. She said, "you catch my fancy, but I wish that you were black"; she started gettin antsy, til she smoked some hits o crack. She had it all: both brains and looks; this babe was worth Bill's while; forget about the chains and hooks, she dressed with lotsa style. Bill loved the little starlet til he found out somethin scary: She was the same harlot who'd been blowin Mayor Barry.

     Today Bill's mother died, perhaps o diabetes; but this cat never cried, he just curses Basilides. The cosmos is a thoughtless, out-o-key improvisation; when Bill the Cat is potless, that's his only observation. The intro is a slide down a mile o icy glaciers; the coda's just a stride through a field o rusted razors.

     His roommies keep repeatin that they think Bill's in his dotage: "All the drugs you've eaten have reduced your brain to rottage!" His friends in Chico say they're hearin rumors he's unstable; "You got freak-o?" No, Bill says; that's just a silly label. Stupid morons tryna fuck Bill's awesome reputation; he oughta drown their rubber duck and switch their medication.

     The skin around Bill's eyes has turned a pleasant shade o green; maybe, he surmises, cause o all the Ovaltine. His diet has no balance, he don't eat like Paul Prudhomme; his culinary talents wouldn't make a muzzle foam. His stomach's like an empty fridge, a crushed-up can o Coke; Bill subsists on beverage, and -- when he's lucky -- smoke.

     Bill's brain is like a salad that's been drowned in too much dressin; his life's a maudlin ballad, whose composer took no lessons. He wishes for an oracle, or any kind of sage; such types may be historical; at least they're not New-Age. Bill goes uptown ta score some pot, and stops by the museum. He stumbles into Alan Watts; what a thrill ta see 'im!

     Throbbin, grayish blotches are cloudin up Bill's vision; sounds of tickin watches make a gradual incision. Funny little phrases keep on enterin his mind; thoughts are lost in mazes where the darkness leaves em blind. There's a warm spot in his chest, but he's not sure if its pain; he tries ta sit an rest, but it causes too much strain.

     Bill's shades are usually closed, cause his view is so damn barren; he tries ta keep composed when the landlord's kids are starin. His eyes are red an veiny; his skin's as white as paper; his mouth is dry an grainy; his tongue's a rusty scraper. He needs a warmin plate o gruel, his stomach's outta practice -- sorta like a garden tool, amidst a field o cactus.

     Bill's heartbeat is erratic, like a message sent in Morse; his signal's mostly static, like he's overdosed on horse. His paws are bruised an swollen from some trip he don't recall; his mind just keeps on rollin, like a moon about ta fall. Tryin to maintain some haste, his muscles are a-tightenin'; Bill the Cat is bein chased, by somethin vague an frightenin.

     Bill's neighborhood is like a Rome, whose emp'rers have gone wild; his next door neighbor burned her home ta hide a murdered child. The sleazy folks who hang around exchange their knowin looks; p'raps it's time ta get a hound, ta foil the endless crooks. From Bill's fucked-up perspective, this whole town's a pile o ash; are his eyes defective, or is it just the sash?

     Bill the Cat was frozen as he lay awake in bed; the liquor he had chosen left its mark upon his head. His pulse was inconsistent, maybe he'd enter a coma; later, in an instant, he'd be hired at Cafe Roma. Then the pain of hunger pangs becomes a mighty fleet; outside, the sound o rival gangs pervade San Andres Street.

     Nobody who looks at Bill would say that he's obese; he eats too many diet pills ta emulate Ed Meese. But globs o fat flow through his veins, resemblin melted butter; occasionally, they give him pains, or make his heartbeat stutter. Bill don't watch his calories, an he don't plan ta start; his body's like a gallery -- for pornographic art.

     Bill the Cat's a struggler when it's time for him ta think; he's sorta like a juggler, with his elbows outta sync. The blades he's tossin whirl around, resemblin fallin fans; they emanate a hissin sound, endangerin his hands. Occasionally, they hit a wall, or injure nearby folk; at other times, they merely fall, and make Bill seem a joke.

     The money Bill collects don't provide a daily fix; maybe, he suspects, he belongs in politics. He'd argue with Bill Bennett from the mornin til the noon; elected to the Senate, he would shine the silver spoon. Like a dried-up sponge, he would drink 'til paralytic; and prob'ly take a plunge when he visits Chappaquidick.

     Judging from its features, Bill's apartment is a grave; unfit for human creatures, it's a dank, abysmal cave. Insects in the carpet, and asbestos in the ceilin; drownin in a tar-pit is the all-pervasive feelin. Bill's pestilential nemesis emerges from the floors; the truth o abiogenesis is somethin he abhors.

     When catnip's unavailable, an liquor seems too borin, when crack is just unsaleable, then Bill begins explorin. One night he had Chloral Hydrates, but they went down like tacks; another time, cheap opiates reduced his lungs to wax. Some drugs induce anxiety, and other kinds amend it; one time Bill tried sobriety, but he don't recommend it.

     Bill's ailments go untended; they deepen like a quarry. His abdomen's distended; it makes his roommates worry. He's used up all his years, no doubt he's soon ta go; a hummin in his ears induces vertigo. He meets the wall o sound like the mighty ship Atlantis, an tumbles to the ground, like a withered prayin mantis.

     Bill's a Cat who's pollicle, impoverished indeed; the rich are diabolical, but Bill admires their greed. The Still Discordant Multitude is waverin about, but Bill attempts a nice etude, ta try ta earn some clout. He asks if there's requests, perhaps ta be Socratic; he takes too many rests, an his melody's chromatic.

   Cat Poem time!! (Bill dedicates the one ta Colin!)
     The creature has a soft-spot at some point around its belly; make a lucky shot, and you'll find he's fulla jelly. Little kids are playin with their plastic swords and wagons; one o them keeps sayin that he wants ta kill the dragon. He's got the biggest sword, or that's what he's concluded; he rules the motley horde, though some say he's deluded.

     Bill smoked some marijuana an he started feelin good, like a somnolent iguana on a floatin piece o wood. Bill would not deny that he's a cat and not an otter; but somehow when he's high, life seems like underwater. If he had just one wish it would be ten pounds o floral; if Bill were a starfish he would prob'ly smoke the coral.

     Bill's leaden eyes are closin, like a rigor-mortis fist; he wants ta do some dozin, maybe clear his mind o mist. Daylight's like a president about ta be impeached; slumber's like the accident that follows every screech. Dreams might bring on panic when you're caught in some morass; just pray that your mechanic ain't been sniffin too much gas.

     Bill ain't got the sharpest chops, especially when he trembles, but he goes inta music shops ta see what he resembles. At one time he mighta been a Stradivarius; this is now an that was then; his life's precarious. Bill is like a trumpet who's been stopped with too much spit; an sorta like a drumkit who falls over when he's hit.

     Bill was feelin scuzzy, like he hadn't bathed in weeks; his tongue was dry an fuzzy; there was acne on his cheeks. His fur was think with oil, so the fleas were trapped inside; maybe he should boil the fuckin thing in fungicide. Ta get this way takes more than skill, so call this Cat courageous; but always stay away from Bill, cause it might be contagious.

     Bill was feelin edgy as he wandered out the door, sorta like a veggie with a steamin plate o boar. He can be a glum one when he's runnin outta stash; would he run inta someone who he owes a lotta cash? If he takes the back-roads, maybe then he'll be alright; he fires up some tobacco, tryna keep away his fright.

     Bill the Cat could use some rain ta clear his cluttered skies; bats are circlin in his brain in search o butterflies. Wings are flappin outta caves, on bodies black an sleek, emanatin sonic waves an endless other shrieks. They're kids in bad disguises who await their favorite clown; when the daylight rises, it'll find em upside-down.

     Life is like a novel with an endin you can guess; or maybe like a brothel where you wish you payed much less. Occasionally it's much too brief, an even artificial; protagonists are sometimes thieves or government officials. Is the work a blunder by some cat who's got no craft? Then you start ta wonder: pr'aps it ain't the final draft.

     Bill is usually dour when he hasn't been imbibin; everythin seems sour, like the taste o psilocybin. He 'specially gets annoyed with the ones with whom he lives; they oughtta be destroyed, cause they're damn insensitive. Their televisiom blares while Nintendo games are loud; heads are fulla air, an occasionally, a cloud.

     Bill's flea collar has gotten stale, but he can't shake it off; he's barely able ta inhale, an worse yet, he can't cough. His scratch-post is all worn away, revealin yellow plastic; the moldy cover's gotten frayed, an beaten like a spastic. Bill's eyes are broken glasses;his voice, a bent cornet; his thoughts are old molasses; he's no-one's favorite pet.

     Bill likes ta go ta keggers, even if he's uninvited; actin like a beggar, he partakes til he's delighted. "Who's that cat so greedy that he's drinkin all our beer?" "Clearly someone needy, so let's all just persevere." When Bill's good an toasted, an his intellect is biffed, he thanks the one who's hosted: on the rug he leaves a gift.

     Bill sorta doubts his sanity cause nothin brings him glee; an he detests humanity cause it won't let him be. While tryna make a beeline, he quite often takes a trip; clearly, he's a feline with a knack for smokin 'nip. His coat which was once tawny has become a good deal paler; Bill's also gotten scrawny, an considerably frailer.

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