Monday, April 18, 2011

The Arrow

It is said that the predators among the four footed, or the winged ones only kill for food. This is not so. They kill for play, for joy, for practice as well. When young they may wound but not kill so that the prey escapes to die of the wound later in some way. My porch cat, named Hell Boy by the neighbors who left him behind when they moved, is well fed by me and others who agreed to look after him and yet he has killed many small birds and leaves the remains on my porch. At least he eats the birds, mostly, but he does not need to. He is not slender. The birds are taken not from hunger but from some place in him that demands it.

My relationship with this predator is quite complex. I was slow to warm to him. He is too feral and I didn't like his face either (though now I do). He is easily spooked and holds unpleasant memories more than most cats. If you offend him or wound him he will register that change in relationship for quite some time. He does trust and is warm in some ways but the veneer is thin and he can lash out quickly. He is vocal, both awake and amazingly, asleep, in dream. I know this cat is quite bright. However, to see that you have to speak cat because this cat does not speak human at all.

The bird of this poem died in the early nineties, wounded and left paralyzed by some other cat, a cat probably dead of old age or some other thing by now. So would that bird be. Soon enough now, so will I be.

The Arrow

I had to kill a bird,
left for dead after
a cat's wild bite broke her neck
and breaking broke my heart.

I wrote a poem,
and in my poem
was a rage within my grief,
a shout,
an arrow so compressed
that it flew all the way to God.

Do not doubt.
God still bleeds.

November 20, 2009 8:24 PM
Modified March 18, 2011


  1. Liked the poem. Have had similar experiences, and as a kid went through a phase of being a predator too, with a BB gun. We all start off as predators. Like love and compassion, not being a predator, is something that has to be taught.

  2. Me too. I lived in farm country, in the San Juaquin valley - three blocks away was out of town into open fields and irrigation canals. There are things children do, sometimes because other children show them how. It is a strangeness inside me I still carry.

  3. Thanks for the David Bowie. I have always rather been fond of him, more as a rocker than his music itself. I just have always thought he fit his part really well, like a man with a true calling. I think of him more as an entertainer than a singer.

    Big cats are of course dear to my heart, even though I could not live with a keystone predator. What's the word I'm looking for??

  4. Christopher I asked you about Hell Boy before I read this post. I guess the ether had our minds in concert for a small moment.
    He ment well

  5. :) Hell Boy, of course could give a shit less about all this. Right now he is sleeping in the middle of my bed, ensuring that I will soon piss him off. Again.

  6. By the way, the word I am looking for is something like climax. As in when the forest reaches fully mature ecosystem balance they say it reaches a state of climax. A climax forest. Or some such word. And I have heard one used for predators who cannot really flourish without a fully mature ecosystem in which they have their niche.

  7. "Like love and compassion, not being a predator, is something that has to be taught." it is recent that i have learned this. wtf? had i been sleeping? inherantly what? we are inherantly what? not good? i was shocked. what and why then? only biology spilling out? as natural and predatory as the cat?

    watched Blue Velvet last night. suburbia suprised by the true nature of the cat. and so it becomes macabre and twisted, and yet, is an intrinsic part of us.

    what and why? and then, how is love and compassion born? seems to be such a conflict. is this of god? i don't know of god specifically. i only know i am drawn to love and compassion and yet flash ugly time to time.

    a very thought provoking post, Christopher.


  8. Things shift along the way. I am not sure I was taught to abhor the hunt. Something happened in my life though and I woke up. I mean it wasn't anything the human part of me did. Neither did I receive instruction by others.

    I think it was a the blackbird I killed and how difficult it was for him to die. He died in my sight and at my hand and I never wanted to live through that again. Of course, I have not escaped.

    I keep cats. Part of the responsibility is to attend them in old age and death, or in accident, illness and death. This devastates me each time.

    I will put them down. I will sit with them at the last as I did my mother. What I do not do is think about the creatures I eat, at least not much beyond the theoretical like now. I do not think of the slaughterhouses employed for my steaks and chops and wieners. For that matter I do not think of the crops grown for me.

    Of course it is of God. It is of God quite intimately and directly. That is how I know God grieves, that grief, forgiveness and atonement are at the heart of things in the human soul where God is found. We cannot even breathe without myriad sparks of sentience winking out, or for that matter being born, only to soon wink out in some other way.

    Life eating life is in the core of life and predation appears all along the span of living things as fundamentally as using the raw materials that suit life's flow. How can God be absent this?


The chicken crossed the road. That's poultry in motion.

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