Stray Cats

By David Glenn Cox

I watch the sun go down reluctantly. This world offers little, and I

have little to offer in return. I have lost everything, so as the birds

sing at daylight’s demise, I hear no music. The world has lost its

music for me; it is just an endless grind with a police siren in the


I went to Wal-Mart. God, I hate Wal-Mart, but I needed dish soap and

hand soap, and well, beer. Some days are harder than others and this

one was a difficult one. I live on hope, vain hope, that maybe I can

reach some of you. I know I’m reaching some of you because you tell me

I am. God bless you all.

I also bought cat food for forty-four cents a can to feed the stray

kittens outside my door. My heart goes out to them because they are

alone in this world and no one gives a phuck about them. They are

siblings and I named them Moxie and Blackie. I watched as they ate

their fill, then just for a moment they began to play on my door mat

and it reduced me to tears. For just a moment they could forget their

situation and play like kittens. Then a full-grown stray showed up and

they remembered their place in this life and retreated under a car.

They are the unloved and unwanted, burdensome minutia striving for a

life in a world that doesn’t want them in it.

I relate because I am one of the millions who have lost homes and

spouses and jobs and futures. We live on our past now because it is all

we have, like a dream, a mirage. Was it ever really real? Did we ever

have a happy life with happy children and a happy spouse? I understand

and I want to make you understand, as well, when your spouse is

employed and you cannot find a job it is easier for that spouse to

blame the person rather than the situation because it gives them an

out. A free pass, so they can cast you adrift because it is your

failing and not the situation.

How can you blame the situation? You should find a job even if there

are none; you should cringe and crawl and take jobs that wouldn’t pay

enough to keep the wolf from the door, as a sign of your devotion.

When, in fact, it is a fantasy, a make-believe dream that if you took

that job that cost more in gas and laundry than it paid that somehow it

would all work out. Yet to paraphrase Twain, “It’s troublesome to do

right and it ain’t no trouble to do wrong and the wages are just the


I have contemplated taking my own life, not in some melodramatic

movie scene but instead as a patron tired of the movie melodrama. To

cast down my popcorn, disgruntled by a lousy plot, and hit the bricks.

Like a salmon, I have swam upstream and now I am tired; I have done my

bit and now I look for a back channel in which to rest. We are

disjointed and separated, yet we are connected by what is going on and

by what is happening to us and being done to us. I am not alone; I see

you out there in fortress America. I have seen your homes boarded up

and your cars repossessed. I wonder where have you gone? Just like

those kittens, I wonder where will you go and what will become of you

when the thunder crashes and the rain pours down?

Why doesn’t this country give a phuck about us? If they can rescue

banks and mortgage companies and automakers and insurance companies,

why can’t they rescue us who have become as stray cats in this society?

If they are not going to help us, why not at least offer us suicide

booths or Kool-Aid stations to give us an out?

I look for jobs and it makes me angry, Tom Joad angry, job listings

that don’t say what the job is or how much it pays. Like picking

peaches for a nickel a basket, but my basket fills with rage and I want

to scream, “Phuck You! Phuck you and your bullshit job!” I’d rather

drink the Kool-Aid. At least with the Kool-Aid I control my own destiny

and don’t need to snivel, hat in hand, mumbling, “please sir?”

But I can’t do it, I can’t drink the Kool-Aid, I must try again to

break through. I have a computer and a brain and maybe this time I can

reach you. Reach you to make you understand that you are me and I am

you. I am homeless and you can become homeless, too; you are not

indemnified. Your husband or wife will leave you because you are

unemployed. They will not go down with you!

They will kick you to the curb because it is easier to blame you

than to accept the situation. “Till death do you part” rings hollow

when the mailman brings only threats. It is better to pluck out an eye

than to corrupt the whole body. So we are cast out, into a world which

has taken everything from us and now expects us to say please for the

privilege of shoveling its crap.

But you out there, who are like me; you are all that I hold on to. I

understand you and relate to you. I am inverted by you, converted by

you. My life is no longer about wants; I want nothing for myself. I

have no more dreams for myself but only for you. I am liberated by the

sense that they can take nothing more from me, not even my life, for I

don’t give a phuck about that any more myself.

I want to see change, not marginal change but real change, because

without it you’re all no better off than I am, only you’re still

clinging to the illusion that it will get better. The cable news

channel says so, but they lie because that’s their job. To lie and tell

you it’s not so when it is so. To tell lies that look ten foot tall

from in the house but out in the street where I live you can see them

for what they really are. Lies to protect those who put us here and who

fear that the government will spend their precious money trying to

assist us.

Well then, leave no room in your luggage for patience and dignity,

you won’t need them. You will need to find extra room for repressed

rage. You will begin to realize that this government that claims to

represent you cares no more about you than stray cats; you’re just a

thump in the wheel well of their limosine. When that reality hits you,

the scales will fall from your eyes; you will no longer see political

parties, the party’s over and you weren’t invitied.

We need to stop traffic and to stand in the street, to grab this

society by the testicles and shout, “This is our country. Either share

it or we’ll take it from you!

“His is a relationship to his little local bank or local loan

company. It is a sad fact that even though the local lender, in many

cases, does not want to evict the farmer or home-owner by foreclosure

proceedings, he is forced to do so in order to keep his bank or company

solvent. Here should be an objective of Government itself, to provide

at least as much assistance to the little fellow as it is now giving to

the large banks and corporations. That is another example of building

from the bottom up.”

(Franklin Delano Roosevelt)

Mortgages modified under the Obama plan: 9,000.

Foreclosure notices sent out since the plan was implemented: 800,000.

Democratically-controlled Senate votes down mortgage assistance for home owners 51 to 45

(photo by Terry Hollis)

Ben Cohen is the editor and founder of The Daily Banter. He lives in Washington DC where he does podcasts, teaches Martial Arts, and tries to be a good father. He would be extremely disturbed if you took him too seriously.