Thursday, August 14, 2014

Words and Images (part two)

"Empathy" -- copyright 2014 by Bea Garth

Another blessing of starting this blog has been reconnecting with long-time friends like Bea Garth.  (She and I were in Joan Dobbie's poetry workshop in Eugene, OR back in the days of typewriters (ugh) and snail mail...and the chapbooks we put together at the end of the semester.)  I remember how striking Bea's art (paintings, drawings, and ceramics) and poetry were, so I am very happy to present both her words and images!


I’m the hippest cat
from way back,
from men to men,
from men your business
from men your button
that fell on the floor.
Men, I’ll tell you
I got the longest P.J.s in the world,
they cover the entire floor
with just the tip of the collar,
just the elastic in the waist.
Men, I’m the cat
from way  back
with the slippiest
piece of pearly gate
the slippiest note hanger
the slippiest recalcitrant
peach pit you never ate—
pit and all—like an oyster that got bit
like a penumbra that got numb
like a silhouette that fell in the shadows
waking the rooster with its
cat walk
cat on the cake  walk
derriere in the air
hippier than the sky falling apart
in little window pane slats
filtered like dust turning somersaults
in the sunlight
licking its chops
swishing the bobcats, alley cats
and all kinds of feline pussy-willows
trying to kiss and such
and regurgitate to the sky
quickly, silently, in a ferocious
anticipation of an anticipation
of a yowling hyena brushing her teeth on the subway
kindly minding her neighbors
not to knee jerk too high
from being hit by the balling
bellicose cat conductor
turned bandied old lady with yellow teeth
from smoking too many yellow butts
behind the bushes behind her grocery bag
sitting on the bench at night
yearning to the sky about all she
could have, should have, didn’t have
--howling like the hippest cat
of them all and we fight
tooth and claw, letting out
great quantities of foaming cockroaches
over the blinding sun setting
in the abandoned parking lot
with our shirts ripped open
knees apart, derrieres in the sky for all to see
and never knowing why
each other is the hippest cat around.

-----by Bea Garth, copyright 1983 (note corrected date)

Note: I wrote this after listening to a magnificent jazz piece which I thought was called “Jazz, She Is a Woman.” However I have never heard  it again. I am curious if anyone else might know what it was based on. I thought it was a Count Basie tune, but apparently not. It was a ballad about how jazz originally came out of Africa to New Orleans and finally to New York City. As I started to write this poem I recalled this old woman in Eugene, Oregon I talked to one night sitting amongst her bags on a bench. I combined her with a bombastic character I knew at the local community college. The speaker in the poem then became a woman living on the edge in NYC, and the rest flowed with the ins and outs of the music.

"Who Am I Really" copyright 2008 by Bea Garth

I, too, have been trying to find "Jazz, She is a Woman" or perhaps "Jazz Must Be a Woman," but Ted Joans' "Jazz is My Religion" is the closest I've gotten:

Here Joans is scatting with David Amran:

Amran performs one of his compositions ("Waltz from 'After the Fall'") with Pacquito D'Rivera:

We'll finish with some more performances by D'Rivera:

Enjoy!  My cat Callie may not be dancing, but she is intrigued by Paquito D'Rivera.  Perhaps you will want to dance to him.

"Cat Dance" copyright 2014 by Bea Garth


  1. Wonderful, Bea! I love your work. I miss you!!!!

  2. Inspired selection of music to go with my artwork! Thank you Marianne!

  3. Glad you are inspired, Bea. :) Looking forward to your next set of words and images!