02 May 2006

Crap writing

Patry is working on equanimity. I’m not sure I’d recommend this exercise to her, but I found it effective. To the best of my knowledge this is the only ode ever written about one of these subjects.

Equanimity—an ode to cat shit

One long rope the colour of clay,
resilient as putty; the tail end almost liquid
with a reek to revolt the dead. Dung

doesn’t do it justice—nothing less than pure shit,
the disaster following an evacuation. There, festering
on the floor, a true test of equanimity. Even

between tripled tissue the texture’s there
a soft pudge of disgust on a quick flight
a dump dumped and flushed. You wonder

maybe it was a gift, the chance
for enlightenment, like the splash of that turd;
but you’ve missed it, glad it’s gone

down the drain. Equanimity, you think
if enlightenment’s too lofty you’ll settle for less
—equanimity; washing your hands of it

only to throw them up when you glimpse
a golden pool and find a puddle of piddle. Equanimity
you think, setting about the sopping up. Pissed off

perhaps, but you have to laugh.
Lesson learnt.

"Did not one of the great masters attain enlightenment upon hearing the splash of his own turd into the water?" P. 233 in Matthiessen, Peter 1978: The Snow Leopard. London, Harvill. 312 pp. ISBN 0-00-272025-6.

Photo 1: Matiu/Somes Island, Wellington harbour. From Eastbourne.

Photo and words © 2006 Pete McGregor


Duncan said...

Thanks very much for that Pete, I read it straight after a very nice lunch with the flavours still lingering in my mouth!! Exits hastily stage right to the garden and fresh air.

Lulu said...

*Chinese food gurgles unpleasantly in stomach.*
I am reminded, briefly, of this: http://www6.head-fi.org/forums/showthread.php?t=130574
(Check the first post on that page)

But only of the last paragraph.

pohanginapete said...

Sorry Duncan — but you have to admit it's a true test. At least, it was for me... Anyway, I thought it was time to post something to encourage a different crop of adjectives... ;^)

Lulu: thanks for that :^D I'm impressed by his eloquence.

Patry Francis said...

With two dogs and two cats around, I've performed a variation of this exercise more times than I'd care to admit. Still haven't reached enlightenment though.

Still, I agree with you: it's a true test.

butuki said...

I haven't read "The Snow Leopard" in a long, long time, but the last page still haunts me, when Peter Mathiessen realizes who his guide was.

It's funny how different cultures perceive things. I was at a meeting of children's books illustrators and writers two weeks ago, where I presented a dummy of a children't book I recently finished. One of the scenes depicts a hamster meditating in a temple and in response to a beetle who is disturbing his concetration he lets out a big fart. The reaction of the other illustrators, both Asian and Western was markedly different. The westerners all told me that I had to take out the "adult" content, but the Japanese and Koreans just laughed. Which group of people saw things more clearly? With "equanimity", as you ventured?

Rexroth's Daughter said...

Sorry Pete, I'm seriously shit-phobic. I'd stay happily unenlightened, if equanimity is measured in the handling of shit. When I clean out the cat's kitty litter box, I often wonder which one of us is the enlightened one.

One of the things I took away from the book Tuesdays with Morrie was Morrie's recognition that at the end of life, we sometimes become much like babies, and have to be gracious and even comfortable with someone else wiping our bums. In that light, love and compassion could precede enlightenment for both actors in the moment--like all other moments of deep intimacy.

pohanginapete said...

Patry: but is it helping your equanimity? I suppose I should say I envy your opportunities to learn, but... no, I don't think so.

Butuki: I bet my nephews would've laughed, too. Let me know when the book's published!

RD: Good point. I trust I'm still a few years away from needing someone to wipe my bum, but who knows what life has in store? Things can turn to... er,...custard pretty quickly. I just hope when/if it happens, whoever deals with it has a great deal of equanimity — and compassion. And a good sense of humour, too.

Dave said...

I like this, especially the first two stanzas. Good shit-and-piss poems are rare.

pohanginapete said...

Thankyou Dave; glad you like it (the poem, that is).

KiwiSoupGirl said...

*belly laughing* - and at the same time, utterly impressed at your creation of the wee/poo poem... Awesome form! (subject matter...? heheh..! well, whatever works WORKS...!)
Scary how my (rather odd) mind cast back to similar situations - and experiences rendered to friends with far less aplomb and flair, I must say...!
Musta been raining outside - it's known as "cat's revenge on the weather - and all those who use toilets".

KiwiSoupGirl said...

...forgot to say - what an incredibly beautiful photograph... It truly took my breath away! Wow...! Thank you...

pohanginapete said...

KSG: I guess that's one of the advantages of being a cat — the whole world's a toilet. Actually, it was raining, or had been...

Thanks for the comment on the photo :^)

zhoen said...

Yes, well, some cats just think outside the box.

Sometimes they are cute and furry, and sometimes they are hawking up green slime.

pohanginapete said...

Wonderful, Zhoen. Now I'll never hear anyone use that execrable phrase, "thinking outside the box" without thinking they're talking shit. (And they probably are, if they use that phrase).

Schwelmo said...

"You wonder maybe it was a gift, the chance
for enlightenment" ... if you ever come across somebody who got enlightenment through cat shit, please asked him/her how she reached that state of mind. I am not sure if I will try his/her method or do everything to avoid it.

yllstonewolf said...

does the fact that i am the resident 'queen of crap' in my two dog, one cat, one husband house mean that i am enlightened, that i am in good balance, or just that i am good humored? thanks for the smile...i'm going to do the cat box now...

yllstonewolf said...

...oh...and the image is exquisite. such gorgeous light!

pohanginapete said...

Hey Schwelmo, I really do hope there are more pleasant ways of attaining enlightenment; however, when faced with situations like this, you have to chose a response. Laughing seemed good to me. :^D

YSWolf: I won't even attempt to answer your question — I'll just wish you good luck. And, I'm still struggling to figure out where your husband fits in that list (LOL)... I wasn't optimistic about getting a usable photo of this harbourscape because of the extreme contrast, but in fact it proved very easy; it needed very little post-processing.

yllstonewolf said...

the husbandly 'crap' is of the figurative variety, and also good natured :)