COUNTRY, CAT CITY, CAT by David Kherdian


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Twenty-one tiny, mostly vertical, unrhymed poems, only a few short lines or a few words each, offer fleeting glimpses of cats and other, smaller animals. There is little if any reductive cuteness or straining after imagery (""butterflies roost/ on the new flowers--/ Swedish maidens basking in the sun"" is the most obtrusively ""poetic"" selection); Kherdian's one failing lies in a shortage of the sharp, fresh vision that is evident, for example, in Valerie Worth's Small Poems (1972). Sometimes his flatness of manner adds to the picture (""the flea-bitten dog/ in front of the/ ramshackle garage/ in the aging New/ England village/ [on the last day/ of March]// sits alone in the/ new dust of spring""); more often it just misses delivering: ""OPENING THE DOOR/ ON THE 18TH OF JANUARY,/ LATE IN THE EVENING,/ TO LET THE CAT IN"" (that's the title) reads ""as the moon glides through/ streaking clouds// the cat with frightened/ tail// sniffs and enters/ his only home."" But this is always appropriately scaled, direct, and uncondescending. Nonny Hogrogian's silhouette-like woodcuts are similarly modest.

Pub Date: March 6th, 1978
Publisher: Four Winds