the history of a tough motherfucker…

he came to the door one
night
wet
boney
beaten and
terrorized

a white
cross-eyed
tailless cat

I took him in
and fed
him and
he stayed

got to trust

until a friend
drove up the driveway
and ran him
over

I took him to the vet
who said,
“not much chance…
give him these pills
and wait…
his backbone it was
crushed, if he lives
he’ll never walk
again…
also the x-rays show
he’s been shot, look
here, the bullet is
still in him,
also he once had a
tail, somebody cut it
off…”

I took the cat back
it was hot summer
one of the hottest summers
in decades,
I put him on the bathroom
floor, put the fan on him,
gave him water and pills
(he wouldn’t eat)
and talked to him.
I put in a lot of bathroom
time
with that cat.
I gently petted and talked
and talked.

he got to dragging himself
about by his front legs,
the rear ones wouldn’t
work,
he dragged himself to
the litter box and
back.

I shouldn’t say this
but I related to that
cat, I’d had it bad,
maybe not his kind of
bad
but bad enough.

one morning
he got up
stood up
fell back down.
he just looked at
me.

“ah, shit, man, I’m
sorry…” I told him…

he kept trying it,
getting up and falling
down.

finally he walked a
few steps, he was
like a drunk, weaving,
then he fell
again…

you know the rest–    now
he’s better than ever,
cross-eyed
almost toothless
all the grace is back
and that look
in those eyes
never left

and sometimes I’m interviewed
they want to hear about
life and literature and I
get drunk and hold up my
cross-eyed, shot, runover,
de-tailed cat
and I say, “look, look at
this!

but they don’t
understand…

“you say you’ve been influenced
by Celine…”

“no, no!” I hold the cat
up, “by this, by this!…”

it’s about then that the
interviews end,
although I am very proud
sometimes when I see the
interviews later
and there I am
and there is the cat
and we are photographed
together.

he knows it’s bullshit too
but it helps get the old
catfood,
right?

Author
Charles Bukowski
Written
1983
Source
Original manuscript