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mehitabel and her kittens -- Don Marquis

Guest poem sent in by Suresh Ramasubramanian
(Poem #1079) mehitabel and her kittens
 well boss
 mehitabel the cat
 has reappeared in her old
 haunts with a
 flock of kittens
 three of them this time

 archy she says to me
 the life of a female
 artist is continually
 hampered what in hell
 have i done to deserve
 all these kittens
 i look back on my life
 and it seems to me to be
 just one damned kitten
 after another
 i am a dancer archy
 and my only prayer
 is to be allowed
 to give my best to my art
 but just as i feel
 that i am succeeding
 in my life work
 along comes another batch
 of these damned kittens
 it is not archy
 that i am shy on mother love
 god knows i care for
 the sweet little things
 curse them
 but am i never to be allowed
 to live my own life
 i have purposely avoided
 matrimony in the interests
 of the higher life
 but i might just
 as well have been a domestic
 slave for all the freedom
 i have gained
 i hope none of them
 gets run over by
 an automobile
 my heart would bleed
 if anything happened
 to them and i found it out
 but it isn t fair archy
 it isn t fair
 these damned tom cats have all
 the fun and freedom
 if i was like some of these
 green eyed feline vamps i know
 i would simply walk out on the
 bunch of them and
 let them shift for themselves
 but i am not that kind
 archy i am full of mother love
 my kindness has always
 been my curse
 a tender heart is the cross i bear
 self sacrifice always and forever
 is my motto damn them
 i will make a home
 for the sweet innocent
 little things
 unless of course providence
 in his wisdom should remove
 them they are living
 just now in an abandoned
 garbage can just behind
 a made over stable in greenwich
 village and if it rained
 into the can before i could
 get back and rescue them
 i am afraid the little
 dears might drown
 it makes me shudder just
 to think of it
 of course if i were a family cat
 they would probably
 be drowned anyhow
 sometimes i think
 the kinder thing would be
 for me to carry the
 sweet little things
 over to the river
 and drop them in myself
 but a mother s love archy
 is so unreasonable
 something always prevents me
 these terrible
 conflicts are always
 presenting themselves
 to the artist
 the eternal struggle
 between art and life archy
 is something fierce
 my what a dramatic life i have lived
 one moment up the next
 moment down again
 but always gay archy always gay
 and always the lady too
 in spite of hell
 well boss it will
 be interesting to note
 just how mehitabel
 works out her present problem
 a dark mystery still broods
 over the manner
 in which the former
 family of three kittens
 one day she was taking to me
 of the kittens
 and the next day when i asked
 her about them
 she said innocently
 what kittens
 interrogation point
 and that was all
 i could ever get out
 of her on the subject
 we had a heavy rain
 right after she spoke to me
 but probably that garbage can
 leaks so the kittens
 have not yet
 been drowned

-- Don Marquis
well, we haven't had an archy poem since at least a couple of years, i
think.  the last one was on oct 9, 1999, from a cursory look at the
minstrels archives.  i hereby propose to remedy this.

motherhood and career - as seen through the eyes of a cat on her ninth
life whose soul once belonged to cleopatra.

        -srs (all lowercase mail for an all lowercase poem)

[Martin adds]

Suresh is right - we have indeed not had one of these in a while, and I do
thank him for remedying that. One of the things that I like about the Archy
and Mehitabel poems is that they work not just as poems, but as continuing
episodes in a narrative that is enthralling in its own right; Archy and
Mehitabel are characters that we come to care about, and in whose
development we can take an interest quite orthogonal to the (considerable)
poetic merits of the individual pieces. Today's poem is a genuinely moving
glimpse into Mehitabel's moral dilemma, and the ending is as artistically
satisfying as it is disturbing.

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