New York City, #6

Poet Eileen Myles amid the cat food on 9th Street, NYC

Last Saturday: Great dinner with poet and novelist Eileen Myles, Ernie the Cat’s mother (see below), at the Café Orlin on St. Mark’s Place off 2nd Ave. Many great topics of conversation, but also she retold me the story of Ernie the Black Cat, how he came straggling up to her place in San Diego, black baby cat, big globs of gunk dripping from his eyes. Eileen babied little Ernie, gave him a name when the vet wouldn’t treat him without a name. So Ernie was named and familied and mothered up. Rosie, Eileen’s (friend, partner in the old sense, travel companion, also pet) pit bull was still alive, so Ernie lived in the garage, made friends with the family and became an indoor/outdoor cat. But on his own terms. Ernie always insists on his own terms. Even Rosie liked him. Then Rosie died. Poor Rosie. Poor Eileen. Ernie took over some of Eileen’s heart. She has a big heart. Lots of space to move around in. But they moved to New York and Ernie hated being an indoor city cat. Also he didn’t get along with Eileen’s new partner. Probably a little jealous, knowing Ernie. So Ernie got to come live the Byrds on Louisville in El Paso. It was okay with Ernie. He had stopped by to visit once and spent the night. Eileen and her partner now happily have two dogs and two cats. And Ernie and the Byrds are happy with each other. Life is good.

So Eileen gives me her new book, which is really two books, one book Snow Flake: New Poems, and turn it over and, lo, it’s a second book Different Streets: Newer Poems (Wave Books). Here’s a poem from Snow Flake where Ernie gets to talk—


yes, Ernie
why can you
have junk
food & I
cannot. Why can
you have a
giant plate
and I can
no longer have
my crunchy
treats. Why
am I served up
a cold fish
you’re not
so thin
I know.  

Ernie the Cat at Home in El Paso: Yes, sure, he misses Eileen.

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