Elizabeth Barrette (ysabetwordsmith) wrote,
Elizabeth Barrette
ysabetwordsmith

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Poem: "Wanton Kittens"

This poem is spillover from the August 15, 2017 Poetry Fishbowl and the August [community profile] crowdfunding Creative Jam. It was inspired by prompts from [personal profile] mama_kestrel, [personal profile] we_are_spc (Fallon and Jay), and [personal profile] curiosity. It also fills the "comfort" square in my 7-31-17 card for the Cottoncandy Bingo fest. This poem has been sponsored by [personal profile] mama_kestrel.  It belongs to the Officer Pink thread of the Polychrome Heroics series.


"Wanton Kittens"


Ansel found it challenging
to deal with telepathic kittens, but
there weren't a lot of people who
could do it at all, and even fewer
who also had a therapy cat.

Riposte carried the kittens
in a big wicker basket.

That was a compromise,
because they wouldn't tolerate
wearing leashes, but if let loose
they tended to run everywhere,
and carrying them in bare hands
only ended in claws and tears.

Once Riposte put down
the basket, the kittens were
free to explore Ansel's office.

Ansel had carefully put away
all the breakables earlier.

All three kittens scampered
around the office, sniffing corners
and crawling under things and
looking for stuff to knock over.

Boots watched their antics
but made no move to intervene.

"Thanks for inviting us back,"
Riposte said. "I appreciate it."

"It's no trouble," Ansel said.

"They're pretty wild and wanton,"
Turq observed from where he
was huddled on the couch.

"Too much?" Ansel asked.
"You can go outside, or we
can take the kittens upstairs."

He hoped it would be okay.
Turq had been acting wild himself
all day yesterday, so it was no wonder
if the boy felt exhausted today.

"Nah, they're fine," Turq said.
"I may not have much energy now,
but I don't want to toss them out,
and the weather is freezing."

"Will he be okay?" Riposte said
in a low tone, looking from
Turq toward Ansel.

"I hope so," Ansel said.
"It's been a bit rough here,
and Turq isn't quite ready
to give that up yet."

Boots settled on one side
of Turq and purred.

Napoleon bounded from
the back of the couch up onto
the narrow shelf over the fireplace,
then to the one above the television.

It gave him a chance to look down
on everyone else, which he liked.

Cayenne stretched to reach
the fabric on the chair and
began sharpening her claws.

"No. That furniture is for sitting,
not for scratching," Ansel said firmly.
He picked her up and deposited her
beside the new sisal scratching post
that he'd bought so the kittens wouldn't
have to share the one belonging to Boots.
"This furniture is for scratching. Have fun."

Cayenne lowered her ears and growled.

"The lady at the pet store told me
that no cat would be smart enough
to understand a verbal explanation,"
Ansel said. "I thought you were, but
she's the expert. I wonder who's right."

Cayenne licked her shoulder at him,
but she did deign to sample the post,
and then began scratching in earnest.

"If you like that kind of scratcher,
then we can get one for you to use
back home," Riposte offered.

Cayenne hissed at him, but
she did not give up the post.

At least they weren't trying to turn Ansel
into a human sockpuppet this time.

To his surprise, Mrrhow the Mercurial
crept up to Turq, sniffing his hand,
then tentatively licking him.

"Wow, she feels like water or
something, in my head," Turq said.

"Gently, please," Ansel said to
Mrrhow. "Turq isn't feeling
very well right now."

For all that had happened
to him, Turq was still a teenager
and needed some time to run wild,
but it was hard on him, and
even harder to watch.

"Mrrhow, ask before you touch
someone's mind," Riposte said in
a tone that implied he'd been
saying it over and over.

"It's okay," Turq said.
"She's not hurting me, or
even talking to me. It feels
weird, but it's kind of comforting."

Mrrhow butted her head
under his hand, silently
asking him to pet her.

Boots got up from his place,
padded across Turq's thighs,
then herded Mrrhow carefully
into the hollow of Turq's lap.

There he mooshed her against
the boy's belly and flopped down,
pinning them both in place.

He purred so loudly that
Riposte grinned at Ansel and
mouthed, Now YOU try.

Hesitantly Mrrhow joined in
with a sweet, musical purr
that instantly reminded Ansel
of a desk fountain he once had.

"If only she were ordinary, I could
put her up on Purr Little Things
and find her a forever home
in no time," Riposte said.

"Mrrhow is herself, and I'm sure
that she'll find her own place,"
Ansel said. "She has talent."

"She's also a bundle of
mischief," Riposte pointed out.

"I wouldn't worry too much," Ansel said.
"Wanton kittens make sober cats,
more often than not."

Riposte looked at Turq
petting Mrrhow and said, "Then
I should say the same thing to you."

* * *

Notes:

wanton kittens make sober cats
One who behaves wildly in youth often shows more restraint in adulthood. I wouldn't worry too much about your son's interest in partying—wanton kittens make sober cats most of the time.
-- Kitten Quotes

This is the home of Officer Pink (Ansel Nicholson) which used to be part of a resort alongside a lake. When the resort closed, the rental cabins were parceled into individual lots and sold, while some of the resort's main facilities -- such as the lodge and the main boating dock -- were set aside as neighborhood resources. See the exterior and the lower floor plan.

Ansel's office has a leather couch and loveseat along with a tapestry rocking chair around a large square coffee table. His desk and its chair are along the inside garage wall, not visible in this picture. The carpet is short tan-and-gray pile. One stone wall has been plastered over, but the other has been left bare and features a stone bench, fireplace, and entertainment center. He has a writing desk with bookshelves along the front and drawers underneath, which faces into the room. The chair is brown instead of black, to match the couch. A matching computer desk with a tall hutch of bookshelves stands against the interior wall. There are several throw pillows including this forest tapestry pillow.

This is the sisal scratching post for the kittens. The scent glands on a cat's paws are used for marking territory. For this reason, some cats get territorial about scratching posts and refuse to share. Boots is more phlegmatic than that, but the kittens are touchy as hell already without giving them an excuse to fight over something.

Teenagers tend to engage in wild behavior due to their developmental stage. Expecting them to behave like rational adults is as inappropriate as expecting a toddler to stay dry through the night before his bladder is big enough to last that long. Talk to teens with respect, and more importantly, listen to them. Troubled teens may need extra support, because stable relationships are crucial to improving their lives. Here are some general tips for dealing with teenage boys.

Feral or stray kittens have little if any close human contact, which inclines them to fear and distrust humans. They can be socialized gently. Notice that many of the same techniques apply to gaining the trust of kittens and traumatized teenagers.

Modeling is a form of teaching by doing. "Now you try" is a signal that the demonstration part is done and it's time for the learner to make an attempt at the new skill. This is absolutely ubiquitous in Terramagne-America, to the point that small children will say it to strangers when inviting them to play. Most people have seen it on Semolina Lane and other shows, even if they're not hearing it at home.

Purr Little Things is a charity which rescues cats. The ones they can't find permanent homes for are put to work as purr generators. Among the services offered are borrowing cats to purr on people -- very popular in cases of grief or broken bones -- and making videos of individual cats or piles of cats on a bed purring. Even some of the "less adoptable" cats have found homes after becoming popular through the videos. The program is so successful that branches of the charity often break even, and sometimes turn a profit which can be reinvested in helping more cats.

Believe it or not, I found a video of a cat (as far as I know, only one) purring that sounds very much like Boots and Mrrhow the Mercurial. The loud deep rumble is his. The high, liquid, musical trill is hers.
Tags: cyberfunded creativity, family skills, fantasy, fishbowl, poem, poetry, reading, weblit, writing
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