Cat Poems: Wompus Tales & A Play of Despair, by Christopher Shipman

Cat Poems: Wompus Tales & A Play of Despair, by Christopher Shipman


A cloud, a bird in parenthesis, a ballerina; the theater curtain itself: welcome to the whacky cast of characters of Metaphysique D’Ephemera, the play which innovator Chris Shipman has interspersed with his prose poems about the Wompus Cats, fearsome fabled troublemakers he came to know at his Arkansas grandfather’s knee.

For those of us who still consider poetry a kind of magic, here comes Christopher Shipmans’s Cat Poems: Wompus Tales & A Play of Despair complete with mythic boxes turned black attics, memory turned cat ephemera, bird turned rabbit turned prince turned language, fragment turned knife , and you, reader, you are there too. You turned “heart in a collection of smaller hearts” available for breaking and mending. In his latest collection, Shipman reminds us of ‘the turn’ capable, perhaps, only in language or the disquiet of the image— and in that turn a type of ecstatic despair.  —Jennifer Tamayo, author, You Da One


Shipman’s newest collection considers strays—fragments wander from their contexts, a Prince’s subjects drift from their subjectivities, and a neighborhood clamors with itinerant animals. Yet like an abandoned pet whom may be named “Boomerang” (see: “Boomerang”), the fragments make their way back, especially to where they’re not wanted. And when they arrive, they’re never the same. The imminence of that change is where this febrile book locates its main vein of anxiety. There and perhaps in the Kreuger-esque claws of the Wompus Cat, that frontier whopper who fools God, obsesses over weapons, and tears through the speaker’s dreams.   —Douglas Kearney, author, Patter



My brother is an evil motherfucker. He once wrestled a wompus cat from a dream, like the girl in that scary movie did with Freddy Krueger’s hat, but in this case also his glove of knives and striped shirt. My brother snuck into my room at 3 a.m. and threw the wompus cat on my sleeping face. I still have a scar under my right eye. I’ve been trying to get him back for twenty years, but I can’t figure out how he pulled the cat from the dream, let alone cradled it through the dark hallway, like a hat, like only a hat, and I am the one who can’t sleep at night.