“Baby Cakes” by David Berman

David Berman


Food is his heaven; abstinence his hell.
A neutered cat who shares his house without
mice or another pet, he tends to dwell
on what there is to eat. I bawl him out,
in sermons, calling gluttony a sin
punishable by death. I quote his vet.
A sideward glance suggests that I have been
hoodwinked by science. He knows how to get
his way through scolding or cajolery
in equal measures more or less. Besides,
I understand him, practically agree
that food is life while appetite derides
warnings from scientists or clergy that
too much to eat bodes ill for man or cat.

from Rattle #62, Winter 2018


David Berman was a wonderful member of the Powow River Poets with several awards to his credit, a fine translator and scholar, a distinguished lawyer, and a beloved friend whom we’ve lost to cancer. He studied with Robert Lowell and Archibald Mac Leish, worked with language the way a jeweler works with stone, and served as a kind of yardstick to the rest of us during the many years he graced our monthly workshop. Although he had published excellent work in three chapbooks and many journals, he left the bulk of his work unpublished, as his profession left him short of time. Several of us—A.M. Juster, Bruce Bennett, Rhina P. Espaillat—have acceded to his widow’s desire to submit some of David’s poems to the magazines we most enjoy reading and to which we submit our own work. These two happen to be about David’s relationship with his cat, but they transcend by miles the typical “cat poem” genre.

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