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CHEETAH

the tale of a krazy kat

Chris Wayan 1978-86


1: WHO I AM

I am Cheetah. Teeth. Shy.
White men here pronounce me "Cheeter."
Long of leg and thin of thigh
But never a kitten following.
For when I'm hot, there's only Man
And Cougar, in the aspen glen:

Both stocky and slow
As a tortoise you toe
On a night when the moon
Wears a Navaho bracelet:
Silver ring shivering chill.

O I hunt, I dance, on peak, in bar
And they clasp me, their sleek novelty.
Better than lone, when the longing is on
But I never come, nor kitten comes:

A lanky black cheetah dancing in desert moonlight
For cold slow folk are not my breed.
Not my hot need.

I run around a lot. They call me fast.
Some pronounce me cheater.
I lack endurance, a wisp o'will:
Tightjawed westerners whisper it's so.
Yet I stare down their gold-eyed lightning,
Cream-cataract eye of snow.
I live this land made not for me.
Winters, I dream hot grass and crooked tree.

Cheetah slow-dancing with a cowboy
But home's overrun by lumbering bungle-bears,
Black, white, gold and mad
With rocket, knife and claw;
Anopheles-infected, drooling law:
Under the fevered skin of veldt revolt
Seethe idea-germs as colonial
As Europeans, or other terminal termites
Insectarian rivalry.
"Locust plague or killer bee
Choose thy hive and be thou free."
No place for a Cheetah's lean lone style.
No place for anything wild.

This is the hour of the oaf.

silhouette of Africa with explosions in yellow orange and red
So I live in this adobe shell
High on Coconino, above the rising hell,
In that mythical brick factory
Whose passion echoes still:

Krazy, Ignatz, Pupp, Kaolin--
Comic figures of a dead ago
To these so-practical Men--
To me, my totem Kin!

Love and Wildness
Here grappled Order.
How tight they clung!
Was it Love... or Murder?

Ignatz Mouse throws a brick, yelling 'Have at thee!'
Just as in my Africa
Officers loomhover
And rebels throw hatelove
Baked calmly by another.

O Kat of my roots, may I live up
To your mad giving!
Though you were lucky Ink
And I am only living.

Ah, the wind is old
In the land of the Navajo
Oh, the trail is cold
In the wake of the buffalo.

2: WHAT I DO

Krazy Kat whispers blissfully 'I dreamed an angel kissed me' as a brick approaches her head
Churning and burning in their frightening fire
I leap barb wire to bring them down.
Bake them into biscuits
Flat and crisp organic brown.

None of the nutrients lost: add water!
Watch them leap fence-free:
Organic Unicorn Crackers®
From Cheetah's Factory!

Head of the rare Unicornus coconensis, the Four Corners unicorn.
Most I ship west, but for my soul
I Givaway from my worn wood door
Framed in yellow crumbling clay--
But no one comes here now. My well is dry.

Only if hawk-thunderheads
Quarrel, tear, bleed, and fall
Will the angular anglo Men
Venture inside my courtyard wall,
Eat of my unicorn wafers
Pump and drink my runoff well...

But like range-scouring azure sheep
The hot skies trail themselves,
The well as dry as my slit yellow eyes
That grieve in the glare but have no human tear.

Cumulus clouds over red mesas.
And the men sit out in the roadwall shade
In the tire-dust, in the tired dusk,
Hearing cricket castanets,
Watching redwine sunsets.
Drought beautifully bloodies the air.

Man cannot live on crackers alone.
Not even unicorn, juniper-fired,
On steel, in clay, in my back yard.
Even I must drink to digest them right.
I'd offer wine, but the grapevine died.

The Coconinans stoically wait
Snoozing beneath my smokewood tree
But tourists enter my ochre gate
(wanting the cracker to set them free)
Sample my dry sacrament,
And choking on unicorn--
choking on unicorn--
They spit my fragments
back at me.

The rare Unicornus coconensis, the Four Corners unicorn, in profile before desert mesas; blond with black mane and tail.

THE ANSWERS

1: WHO I AM

  • I was learning Chinese. A word leapt out: qita, pronounced cheetá: "other". Thunder flashed. I saw her, Cheetah, the Other, the outsider exile--crazy cat! Me--labeled prodigy, now shy, a hermit. Catty. Sterile? With the wrong mates.
  • Mind-swift? You call us snobs. Sex-hot? Sluts. Light-built? We're wimps and klutz. But stranger than their strange bland, we're brave; survive.
  • Moon-dogs: Offissa Pupp! Cold eye of justice; cold blood of the torpid.
  • Live on plateau: too cold and harsh to go higher. America prefers predictable plateau prodigies.
  • Warm heart land, Africa overrun: the gifted's Malthusian crowd of ideas. The brain is the biggest gun. Cold followers congeal our lovely live ideas into such icy ideologies! And defend like ants their hills.
  • George Herriman: "Krazy Kat" loves Ignatz Mouse who pelts her with valentine bricks, as Offisa Pupp's unrequired love (jealousy?) arrests their sometime sacrament. Kaolin Kelly? He just bakes bricks. Weapons dealer, or a yenta of love?

2: WHAT I DO
  • Einhorn, the soul of health. Can I leach the bitters from Eichorn meal?
  • Roping dreams, cat ching visions... fired into art.
  • Yeats's gyre-falcons; anarchy's not "mere"! Insulting Cat Aluña, Red Tabby Emma, Prokatkin, Harpo Manx, and the Anarchist Mouse who know: the best never lack convictions (often multiple): Offisa Pupp locks us upp!
  • Flesh of Unicorn, Blood of Krazy: Christ too had a trance substantiation.
  • Dry insight, desert clarity! O'Keeffe painted these bone Oljeto comoonion crackers.
  • Cheetah lacks grapevine: isoulation of the quick, of the soul cat cher. Oui mon cher. All that's left's the well. Water you can't share; sights you cannot tell.
  • Concentrated vision, dry dry love, is all a soulitare can give.
    Hard art, hard heart, bitter as an oak,
    Wry cracker, dry cracker, all the people choke.
    How to feed them what they need?
    "Cheetah" is my creed.

So what advice for cheetahs? O drum and dance and catch as cat can; for the only cure is rain.

Cheetah hitchhiking across the Coconino Plateau.
Or, of course, hitch out of town, and find a greener plain.



LISTS AND LINKS: poetry - dream beings - animal people - big cats - deserts - home and homesickness - unicorns - I'm Just Not Myself Today - cross-gender dreams - cross-species dreams - giftedness and genius - a painting on Yeats's poem "The Second Coming": Annunciation to the Sphinx - Yeats in general - exiles and outsiders - anarchists - loneliness

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