Some of the light has gone from my life. A source of inspiration, direct or indirect, for my poetry has been extinguished. For his own well-being and my responsibility for it, my cat Dizzy was helped to his final sleep.
So. An old man commiserates about his pet cat. Maudlin, you say? Perhaps so. But this cat among the many I have known was special, special to me and my poetry. Here I want to talk about him not as a cat, but as poetic inspiration.
Those who know me and my work know that one of the themes running through my poetry is the interconnectedness between the human and the natural. Often I will use animals and their behaviors to reflect that of people. Don't take me wrong, it's not anthropomorphic; they just become symbolic of human strengths and weaknesses.
Many of the animals I use are those I observe. The animals I know best become the most important to my poetry. Dizzy was one, perhaps the most important one. He was part of the mindset behind "Premises for a New Animal Husbandry" that won the GRAIN prize for prose poem in 1995. ("Cats are not animals.") He was the subject of my poem "Sandburg's Fog" which won several prizes. ("My black cat has oversized feet.") He inspired several more directly.
And now he's gone. Can I say I am partially blinded? So much of my view of life was based on seeing it from outside my self, and Dizzy was much of this "outside" space. I intend to get another cat. The house is too empty; there is no one to talk to, to curse at in foreign languages. No one but myself to hear my poems spoken. I need another non-critical and honest companion like Diz.
Another cat will probably not be like Dizzy; I can't expect that. All I can hope is that I can again establish a bond that is favorable to what I write.
We write what we know and love.