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Colloquy by Weldon Kees

December 23, 2011

The poet takes his torments to his sleepy cat.

Get on with life and give me my dinner, says the cat. He’s as wise as you, whoever you are.

And what is “owl weather”? It’s not in my dictionary. I guess a clear night, cobwebs visible in the moonlight.

And why does the yellow New Yorker Book of Poems (p134) omit the em dashes [—]? They highlight the poet’s long question. I like them. Anyway, here’s the poem.

In the broken light, in owl weather,
Webs on the lawn where the leaves end,
I took the thin moon and the sky for cover
To pick the cat’s brains and descend
A weedy hill. I found him groveling
Inside the summerhouse, a shadowed bulge,
Furred and somnolent.—”I bring,”
I said, “besides this dish of liver, and an edge
Of cheese, the customary torments,
And the usual wonder why we live
At all, and why the world thins out and perishes
As it has done for me, sieved
As I am toward silences. Where
Are we now? Do we know anything?”
—Now, on another night, his look endures.
“Give me the dish,” he said.
I had his answer, wise as yours.

Weldon Kees

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