“mehitabel dances with boreas,” by Don Marquis

On a hibernal note, a cockroach types, regarding his friend Mehitabel the cat:

well boss i saw mehitabel
last evening
she was out in the alley
dancing on the cold cobbles
while the wild december wind
blew through her frozen whiskers
and as she danced
she wailed and sang to herself
uttering the fragments
that rattled in her cold brain
in part as follows

whirl mehitabel whirl
spin mehitabel spin
thank god you re a lady still
if you have got frozen skin

blow wind out of the north
to hell with being a pet
my left front foot is brittle
but there’s life in the old dame yet

dance mehitable dance
caper and shake a leg
what little blood is left
will fizz like wine in a keg

wind come out of the north
and pierce to the guts within
but some day mehitabel’s guts
will string a violin



Further Christmas presents for people who already have Little Star #3, Everyman Library’s new anthology of Don Marquis‘s Archy and Mehitabel, reset, apparently, for the first time in half a century, with E. B. White’s introduction of 1950. (Though one would miss one’s 1930 edition, with pages as thick as slices of bread.) It was a far different newspaper reader that found these tales of a free-verse poet transubstantiated as a cockroach typing out his woes and those of his friend Mehitabel the cat in the Evening Sun of 1916. Type on, old friend, type on.

moon you re as cold as a frozen
skin of a yellow banan
that sticks in the frost and ice
on top of a garbage can

and you throw a shadow so chilly
that it can scarcely leap
dance shadow dance
you ve got no place to sleep…

eight of my lives are gone
it s years since my fur was slicked
but blow north wind blow
i m damned if i am licked

girls we was all of us ladies
we was o what the hell
and once a lady always game
by crikey blood will tell

i might be somebody s pet
asleep by the fire on a rug
but me i was always romantic
i had the adventurous bug

caper mehitabel caper
leap shadow leap
you gotto dance till the sun comes up
for you got no place to sleep

i might have been many a tom cat s wife
but i got no regret
i lived my life as i liked my life
there s pep in the old dame yet…

dance mehitabel dance
till your old bones fly apart
i ain t got any regrets
for i gave my life to my art

whirl mehitabel whirl
caper my girl and grin
and pick at your guts with your frosty feet
they re the strings of a violin

girls we was all of us ladies
until we went and fell
and oncet a thoroughbred always game
i ask you whotthehell…


This entry was posted in News and tagged . Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post. Both comments and trackbacks are currently closed.

Comments are closed.