Furball and Freddie

This piece is taken from an unpublished collection drawing on my experiences working in the field of psychiatry, tentatively entitled ‘The New Asylum’, currently being developed into book format in collaboration with my wife Leanne Murphy.

Furball the tabby cat
is a calamity
of sorts

add up his losses and you get
just about half of a cat

the tail is gone
an ear
the eye on the left
is quite blind

but he’s been
part of the institution
for years
and every so often
one of the staff
gets him trimmed up
and shaved

a slender peculiarity
that merges
into an oversized head
like an Egyptian sphinx

quite alarming
to the uninitiated

Furball’s day
is in and out of the residential units
and stalking birds
generally smaller
than the black and white ibis
that reside in the yard

it’s not a bad life
when it’s all said and done


Freddie was Romanian
way back when

migrated his aspirations
to the mental asylum
of a very small town
in Australia
and grew old there

sometimes he cries
just like a baby
in torn-up Romanian
or nonsense
maybe he’s not even using
the words he was born with
just voicing an anguish
only he feels

in the bedroom
his personal touch is the skeleton
of a piano accordion

the bellows are ghosts
and the buttons have sagged
deep into the frame
a long time ago
leaving just the holes
as suggestions

but it’s there
and it’s his
and maybe it brings back
the polka

da-dat-da da-dat-da da-dat-da

except for what’s in his head
he’s a loner
but I couldn’t tell you
what might be happening there


on the medication round
I surprised him
already in bed
and I couldn’t help notice
that Freddie does not
sleep alone

before rising to face me
he tucked in and settled Furball
the cat with no ear
with no eye
lacking tail

medicine down
the two snuggled up
with a purr
in Romanian
as I turned the light out

I’m sure it was meant as

© Frank Prem, 2012

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