review

CLAW THE SYSTEM: POEMS FROM THE CAT UPRISING – FRANCESCO MARCIULIANO

Claw the System: Poems from the Cat UprisingClaw the System: Poems from the Cat Uprising by Francesco Marciuliano
My rating: 3/5 cats
One StarOne StarOne Star

They can only say “No!”
So many times
Before they realize
You already swallowed
and threw it up

you have to be in a pretty determined sulk to not be amused by poems written by cats. fortunately, i am a very determined girl. i mean, i used to be amused by poems written by cats, and even some written by dogs, judging by my giggle-reviews for marciuliano’s previous books:

I Could Pee on This: And Other Poems by Cats (5 stars cats)

I Could Pee on This, Too: And More Poems by More Cats (4 stars cats)

I Could Chew on This: And Other Poems by Dogs (4 stars cats)

I Knead My Mommy: And Other Poems by Kittens (5 stars cats)

You Need More Sleep: Advice from Cats (4 stars cats)

but this one is just…less fun. i’m not sure if it was because the cat-authors were trying too hard to adhere to this ‘oi revolution’ theme, which made the poems less joyful and more topical, so it felt like watching the news, which is a real bummer and the kind of thing one turns to cat poetry for to avoid in the first place. or it might just be that the style of these poems has become formulaic, with a big dramatic build followed by some I’M A CAT punchline, although i did like this one for its commitment to absurdity:

YOU CAN’T HURT ME WHEN I’M NOT FEELING YOU

A cat’s greatest possession
Is our lack of self-doubt
As it makes it almost impossible
For anyone to put us down
Knock us down
Call us losers so we double down
On winning anyone’s approval
When we already award ourselves
Every time we think
“I KNOW! I DID THIS!
I WROTE ‘HAPPY BIRTHDAY’
OR HOW I ASSUME IT IS SPELLED
ON YOUR ICE CREAM CAKE ALL BY MYSELF
USING ONLY MY GOD-GIVEN GIFTS
OF TEETH AND CLAWS
AND BELLY WHEN I SLIPPED AND
FELL ON THE ICING
AND RODE THE TOP LAYER OFF THE COUNTER
STRAIGHT INTO THE COMPOST BIN
THAT ALSO FELL OVER!
THIS! THIS HAS BEEN A GOOD DAY!
THIS! THIS SHOWS ME ALL I CAN DO!
I ATE THE BIRTHDAY CANDLES!”

*********************************

and this one because it was unexpectedly CHILLING:

JUST A CAT

“You can’t play catch
You can’t play dead
You can’t shake hands
You can’t roll over
You can’t take a bow
Because you’re just a cat.”
Actually
I do all those things
All the time
Only I taught myself
So it’s not your command
It’s my choice
For how to occupy my time
In the middle of the night
When the ghosts are too busy watching you sleep.

*********************************

and this one seemed to get the cattitude just right:

THINGS NO ONE CAN EVER TAKE AWAY FROM ME

My knowledge
My experience
My pride
My determination
My hope
Myself
This slice of pizza from my teeth
Go ahead, just try to yank it away
See, now you got pepperoni on the floor

*********************************

but, yeah – too many of the poems came across earnest/self-helpy when all i wanted was naughty cats; naughty for naughty’s sake.

THE REVOLUTION BEGINS

Every revolution begins
By ignoring one phrase
“You can’t.”
Then “You can’t go there.”
Then “I SAID GET OFF
OF THERE!”
Then “STOP! STOP! STOP!
GET OFF OF THERE
RIGHT NOW!”
Then something
that sounds
Like a smash or
a crash or the
collapse of drywall
As I ignore
All the muttered,
sputtered cursing
While I stride
confidently
toward a
better day.

*********************************

maybe not all cats were cut out to be poets, and it’s a win some/lose some situation, or maybe this batch of cat poets are coming outta the more-strident-than-fun school of cat poetry, taught by millennial cats who find all humor to be problematic.

I’LL BE THERE

I’ll be on your chest
When you wake up in your bed
I’ll be at your feet
When you sit down on your toilet
I’ll be in front of your eyes
When you work at your computer
I’ll be on your lap
When you’re late for your wedding
Or court hearing
Or organ transplant
Or as a PA system is blaring
That the aliens have breached the perimeter
After having already taken London and New York
All the while never giving a hint
of when I might get up
Because the first step to not being overlooked
Is to make sure you can never be ignored

*********************************

in any event, there were far fewer poems overall that made me even crack a smile. and i do not like being disappointed by cats, please! make better poems, cats!

read my reviews on goodreads

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