Cat Mac Music & Writing (Catherine Mcneil) she/her is the author of ‘Under the Influence’ published by Bedazzled Ink in September 2016 which won the Milieu Collective’s emerging writers national contest.
She’s a vibrant singer-songwriter with gutsy lyrics and a multi-instrumentalist. Her first cd is entitled ‘have a little heart,’ her second ‘the me in we.’
She has been widely published in literary magazines and anthologies throughout Canada, the United States and England for 30 years.
Her current manuscript ‘Emily & Elspeth’ is looking for a publisher. She resides between Vancouver, BC and a women’s RV resort in Apache Junction, Arizona with her dog Gaia and her cat Lavender. Learn more about Cat and her music and writing at catmacmusic.com
i am on highway three east on the interior plateau of the similkameen valley standing in my pj’s locked out of my room in the countryside inn at five am o where is the sun? my dyke country band ‘bushy park’ play the 12th annual princeton traditional music festival last night on jon & rika’s big ol’ porch geraniums waft, remind me of their stink lining the basement window ledges at mom & dad’s where i plunked on the keys of the upright grand folkies with tummies stuffed with chilli their voices rise in unison rhythm of feet pound on the porch “rain in my beer & rain in my grub hey rain, rain comin’ down on the cane, on the roofs of the town” fiddles, bouzoukis, & bodhrans below & i heard “i heard, i heard the old man say john kanaka kanaka tura yay” i think back on the isle of Barra, where grammo wove & rocked & sang like soph and i yesterday harmonizing to ‘bye bye love’ in the car as we pulled into hope next day we plunked our bottoms into the tulameen river in our sunhats wind in the willows silver backs of leaves quiver sip tea & chat about this little town that welcomed the dykes who put gender twists on country tunes, the little town that called out for more
the rainbird cut the night in two at four am, Oct. 1rst. ghost clouds & the night wind chestnuts conk the concrete like godsong
she’s not held at US Customs for the first time in seven years. she offered the officer her grapes “what do u think i am – a fruit cop?” but the young Latino officer said “you’re a snowbird,” stamped her file, told her to enjoy herself
she bursts down Highway 99 like a Zeppelin, her spirit cries for leaving
“i don’t want to be a suitcase!” skies out to southern hollers to catch some tunes
Rita Wong, preventing mass extinction of the human race, has been released from jail
Greta Thurnberg’s mural in Alberta has been defaced
blue sky in her eye, the sun cuts through trees, signs like dyke access & $100 fine for animal abandonment.
on oct 2, it is 5 am & black out. she prays like a bugger that she doesn’t run out of gas on the highway in the dark outside of Eugene. when she finally reaches the gas station, the attendant says “did you know the back door of your van is open?” she sees that a bunch of her bags have fallen out : her hundred dollar bills, her passport. at that moment, a fella drives up & says, if you’re looking for some bags, there are some out there at the intersection.” she found them stacked neatly at the side of the road, everything intact. this is America
while she retrieved them, her dog Gaia scarfed down her whole bag of teriyaki jerky
her rellies in Reno gleefully use paper plates & cups so they have no dishes to do. this is America. for much of her mother’s life, her mother did not know she had siblings here
they have shut down the recycling program in Phoenix due to expense
& in the dog park, at her new RV resort in Apache Junction, Arizona, her neighbor said he moved here cuz’ he didn’t want to be a minority anymore
in the hottub, she discusses getting dental work in Mexico. a chap said “Mexicans have worked for me for 35 years & if you seen where they put their hands, you would not want them in your mouth.”
putting her bathing suit on is like fighting with an elastic
and she’s lost her name tag
couples boogie by in golf carts, some tie on their flying shoes
cars must go 10 miles per hour, but the golf carts go much faster
her pal Peg dropped her, saying that they are ‘unequally yoked’ & she does not ‘approve of her lifestyle’ (after peg has been a lesbian for 37 years)
people are trying to set her up with older widowed men in the park. she is thinking of saying she is separated
Trilby’s cat Scout was taken by a coyote right in front of her
she writes this outside at 12 pm in Mexico’s stolen territory, pineapple for breaky, jicama for lunch. she sees who built this country, who continues to, right here in this gated community
on TV commercials, girls are holding tools like guns to rip down houses
in another commercial, a girl ducks & covers with her bulletproof backpack, the caption reads “preparing for the active shooter”
driving down Palo Verde road with her BC plates yesterday, a man held a gun out the passenger’s window of his truck at her
this is America
to quote her friend Jen Currin “But that doesn’t mean anything.”
Mellow Mama ain’t doin’ nothin’ but doin’ nothin’. life with fibromyalgia’s like that. sitting, like eden robinson, with her feelings : old friends. trapped in her intestines : popcorn seeds
there is a lot she can’t tell you. won’t tell you. don’t tell you.
she is in her 60th year
in her vancouver bed running her lines
the whole world asleep & she pops up singing
“it’s the last time i will buy tp here
the last time i’ll make the bed
i’m goin’ back to Az with the rice i bought there last year”
& in the dream, her favourite romantic poetry prof. Rob Dunham asks her why she doesn’t work in India & her whispersecret is that Ellen D. was her gf all night long
Gaia the dog is disgusted with mama when she hears the “fff” on her lips, Ma cussin’ out the assholes driving. Gaia turns
her back to Ma, stares out the window. ma bolts for a buck
dangles her head in front of the AC. dries her hair
moody blue crows huddle on the road. not even god himself could blow the snow bright clouds that nudge the mountain tops away
a hawk above the US army freedom ranges. talons spread military choppers alarm the starlight pines & congestion relief projects but the scarlet sunset scores the sun-scalloped surface of the Superstitions. Ma sees herself spread out on the landscape like paint
bent over books
bent over boobs
boobs on tum
bob on top
on top of me
why i didn’t report
my SFU prof
on top of me
bob on top
her groin is groan pulled
stuck at the entry point *
drives by Angel’s Ladies Brothel where the plane landed. Area 51. nothing else around for miles.
when she was just a little girl
dad told the anti-abortionists to “Fuck Off”
her mom had flowers for her, 7-up, popped-her-cherry-jello
Gramma meet her on the other side
days when it is easy to be alive
it is not hallowe’en but there are needles in the apples & bananas. she has spent most of the day magnifier on her head plucking micro-splinters out of the sides of her fingers
it could take a person down. one thorn at a time, finger at a particular angle place it, lick it, pull it, ouch! trust a must. upwelling. tears. colourless streams on a windshield
she dreams in full colour
is a purple prickly pear cactus
a rattler on the bank of the Salt River
now it is twenty degrees in her park model
narrow hallway to fold her body in
not pull her shoulders back
but hold her breath. she’s been holding it all day so far
newscasters asks folks to pick apple snails out of scottsdale waterways
a piece of fluff spooks her as it spiders across the bathroom tile & she sees faces in the kitty litter. strangers hobble by her trailer in walkers, buzz by in golf carts. ladies bob in her pool on oodles of noodles. she has become one of those gogograndparents with the tv on. she knows the authors of the books on her shelf but opens Netflix. the food party on. god bless her ‘lady of blessed whatnot’*
in the Redding newspaper: a beaver is struck by a car in Columba Park. a woman wrapped it in a towel, went for help. she will not tell us what Richard Delp was doing when she returned. the place where fire ravaged the earth this july. flames up to their doorstep.
what is that out of the corner of my eye?
girls in Tahiti don’t go to school cuz’ they can’t afford the tuition. in Target, a fella is taking a little look-see, pictures up a woman’s skirt. another woman, detained by loss prevention agents, switches the labels at Walmart. she remembers those agents calling the cops on her when she was eleven. Molson/Coors Canada are getting into the cannabis business. more people were killed in the settling of the US than in WWII. loomis trucks are being blown up in Johannesburg with the guards still in them. nothin’ really to write home about
are all the girls going to bed at night like beached
refer to the whaler’s dictionary.
there was an old lady who lived in a shoe
she blesses each swallow of water
peace is somewhere
where is home bill bissett time p.160
fake poem jamie reid a temporary stranger p. 37
stuck at the entry point jonina kirton an honest woman p.6
lady of blessed what-not amber dawn sodom road exit p.10
social media’s shut me down. my writerly voice has gone into hiding because my audience has gotten too big. there’s so much now i can’t tell you.
whereas once my audience mostly consisted of canadian writers, musicians & close friends, now i have many facebook friends who may or may not share my political beliefs. as i approach sixty, one would think the need for approval would vanish!
the american government has flagged me at the border for ties and equities. they tear my van apart every time i cross the border. the city of vancouver want five thousand five hundred dollars from me for the empty house tax even though my house was not empty. facebook removes posts from my thread that they don’t like. google knows the minute i step out of the house; where i am at any given moment. i have become catatonic.
i went to a family funeral the other day in north vancouver. my mom’s best friend died & i was shocked at how i was reacting to folks there. i remember thinking when i was young, he’s tall, dumb & german so i didn’t talk to him. we knew dad didn’t like eastern europeans, germans included. what had happened in the second world war was plenty alive when i was born in ’59. when i tried to strike up a conversation with this fellow at the funeral, i wondered why he didn’t introduce me to his wife hovering behind him. maybe that’s how it is with some straight fellows talking to a nice looking woman who they are not suspecting is lesbian.
i suppose the racism in our household was not that unlike the racism going down in the other houses in north van. in the sixties.
i have just driven in from phoenix with my cat & dog & the renter has stained my grandmother’s duncan fife table and my coffee table ; the chance you take renting out your home to strangers. he left me a joint, three bottles of vodka in the freezer, japanese whiskey in the cupboard & a bottle of white wine open in the fridge. i’m glad the booze didn’t call to me. i called him & asked him to take them away. “pour them down the toilet” les said. that’s where the joint went. the renter looked like a rain cloud when he came by.
the boy i had a big crush on in high school just hung himself. there is no talk of a celebration of life. so few people know he’s gone. our april vancouver sky weeps.
& my friend laureen just suddenly died. i had always been jealous of her friendship with rola. they became closer because they had children of the same age & why wouldn’t they? laureen suddenly got pneumonia & a week later, was dead, at 58.
these are the few things i can tell you. there is much more of far reaching significance. i guess i am going to just have to write another book. if i could only get through my editor’s eight hundred comments on my current manuscript. wish me luck!
yet, i return home after six months to discover that the trans mountain pipeline is not a done deal. great balls of fire!
65 Queer and Feminist Books To Read In 2018, a list by Carolyn Yates at Autostraddle. Look at all these lovelies. Why, you’d never have to read a book by any author on that idiotic UBCA list to be edified, shocked, enchanted, moved, transported, renewed, challenged, taught, expanded!
“The Paris Review publishes twice as many men as women; are men twice as good? The New York Timesdescribed Stein as “regarded by many as a champion of new talent, including some women writers,” but that “some” is poison. One can’t really make the case that Stein was a champion of women writers generally; under his auspices, The Paris Review went from one-third women writers to… one-third women writers. So who broke through to be part of the illustrious third? This is not to say that the writers who did make their way into The Paris Review’s pages aren’t worthy, but we should illuminate the hand that picked them, and the other work it cast aside. In short, if you weren’t already paying attention to the ways that whiteness and maleness determine what we value in art, you should be now.”