• Vol. 10
  • Chapter 08


In the Family Falidae, that cat ̶
carnivora, cluster of queens; some butch,
some cute, fine clutter of kitty-K chats:
all ruffs, pearls & paw-lick kitlings  ̶  that touch,
velvet; a dainty wee fawn’s new-nubbed tines,
the just-so indigo glean of Janet
cat’s jacket, as you stroke her spine (supine,
she’ll deign you submit a sturdy pat)
̶ in this once pounce of glares, petticoat tails
& starch-stuffed cravats, we became uncollared,
quit kidding in gloves, unleashed gliskit nails.
Fur splendid, we yawn; killers, we holler.
      Be not fooled by mewls, discard pedigrees;
      one tail’s swish & we’ll have you on your knees.


Tybalt, Prince of Cats

I do not belong here,

among the light, the feasting, the
music, and the joy of this new partnership.

The night is my realm, I
yearn for the silence, for the darkness to
become my cloak once more,
and to feel the thrill of the
long hunt, and the furious chase, and
the quick kill.

Perhaps it would have been better had I
ripped the life from his young body
in that beautiful moment of rage,
not permitted my anger to be
controlled, placated, denied,
erasing those red years of feud

on which my reputation was built, where it was
forged in the blood of brothers, cousins, sons.

Capulets and Montagues are reconciled,
and this wedding is testament
to a future in which I will play no part
save as the one who allowed it to happen.


Shadow Side

When you moved into my territory, I began a campaign to win your affection. I groomed daily, rubbed my cheek glands on every corner and struck poses on the highest fences. I dropped hairs around the neighbourhood like a breadcrumb trail for you to follow.

     How to lure you? I seeded stories of my exotic heritage amongst mutual acquaintances. I made enquiries to learn about your past. I heard about the new portrait hanging in the hallway of your ancestral home, and commissioned the same artist to paint me in a similar style. My efforts spread across the county like tendrils of morning mist, only to evaporate before reaching your ears.

     In desperation, I hunted for days, then laid on a feast in your honour. I wore my finery, arrived late and made an entrance. You ate opposite me, but still refused to meet my milky green eyes. My heckles rose, my claws flexed. I lunged forward to snatch the meat from your jaw. Your eyes widened, mine narrowed. I hissed in your face then turned tail and stalked away. I didn’t know that you’d risen to follow me until I caught your musky scent lingering behind me along the dark streets, then heard the light rustle of your steps echoing mine upon the forest floor.

     I realise now, as we lie, roll and purr, that you fell in love with my shadow side. After all my attempts to match and mirror you, it was my wild feline fury that finally attracted you. I’m filled with lioness-confidence, a desire to stretch and move. I slip away when you’re sleeping, prowl along my favourite high fence and cast my silhouette against the sky.



Hey, folks, look at me in my new home. A paw-step up from living on the streets.

My purr-son is an eccentric old lady with a home full of felines. They don’t need feeding, tickling, or tidbits and they don’t make her laugh by rolling over and acting purr-itty like yours truly. No … there are fur-otos and paintings of pussies everywhere.

I’ve explored cupboards and shelves and found a cosy purr-lace behind the com-purr-yut-ter  where it’s warm and there’s chewable paper. My purr-son thinks I might purr-haps need glasses and she looked in my ears. Not sure what she expected to find. She misunderstands my haughty attitude when I don’t appear to see treats when they’re under my nose, or respond when she calls me … unless I hear a tin being opened.

I wasn’t impressed when she wanted me to play with a string of beads – purr-lease, I’m not a kitten - but I tried to oblige by rolling around with a ball on a string attached to a ropey pole - only a couple of times though. I think she wants me to claw it instead of the settee. Ha! My purr-son has joined the elite club of cat lovers who pay outlandish purr-rices for feline purr-a-fur-nalia! It’s more fun playing with balls of dusty fluff from under the furniture or swiping pencils off her desk.

She made me a mouse and filled it with catnip. It provided a few minutes of distraction, but I love watching the kerfuffle when visitors see it on the floor. And talking of catnip, eBay sent us expensive Japanese Silverline catnip. I wouldn’t recommend it. My purr-son said she may have to roll in it herself or sell it on a street corner!

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The golden hour

each day when the floor tilts -just so-
the light flows over ground
shadows splash up on the walls
their darkness running down

then we tilt a moment more
imperceptibly shift
until the gold is gone again
another day adrift

the death of daytime, gloriously
extinguishes the light
new shadows crowd over us now
beginnings of the night

and soon we'll greet the sun again
soon we will shine once more
the darkness passes, every night
sweeping across the floor

each time I wake it takes some time
eyes adjust to solar power
but I can last, for just a day,
longing for that golden hour.


Schrödinger’s Cat

"Think inside the box", Schrödinger instructed,
"Theoretically, the cat is both alive and dead."
Bored with riddles, Bohr opened the container,
letting the real and tangible problem leap out.
Where Murphy’s Law meets Quantum Physics,
the alive and kicking cat wrecked a feral fiasco,
setting radioactive beakers on fire and breaking
poisoned promises of many-worlds. She paces,
perches, then purrs, "Reality is dependent
on nothing. It is beyond observers", before
running away again to shatter more hypotheses.
Confused, Wigner’s friend questions himself:
"Should I be happy that the cat is not dead?"
The scientists take fright, A cat cannot outsmart us!
They chased the hostile beast, double-slitting it
while arriving together at the same conclusion:
If Bohr was more patient with paradoxes,
a different scenario would have emerged.
Where reality collapses to just one possibility,
the undead and rotting cat would’ve caterwauled,
her shrieking voice shaking the astral plane,
"Curses! You shouldn’t have waited that long!"
While Schrödinger divines this feline ascension,
Wigner’s friend finds peace with his existence,
realizing that he too is inside a hypothetical box.
Persisting in experiments. Kept alive by thought.


Down the Line

charcoal whiskers windmilling around the mouth,
his speckled freckles on martini glass nose,
his striped patterns of mackerel,
her fussy food bowl –
so it continues

his velcro affection, love of the limelight
and tiger-sized appetite with weight issues,
her obsessive cleaning especially the white wash
and magnificent tail,
their resolute claws and paws –
it continues

his debonair style and Latin lover eyes,
her yellow-eyed sass, high decibel purr
which demands attention
and crazy leaps from all heights,
their etchings, his gum-disease,
her interest in offspring, his far-
flung thirst for adventure –

traces of them in me
and me in them and so
it continues

though I’m not
nearly as posh



Memory is like a ball of twine the cat unravels around the house.  The tiny black cat followed me and my dog around the piecemeal housing development across from the county fair.  The cat lived at Andrew’s house, a home he shared in the summer with the dancers who worked over in Mashpee at the motel and strip joint.  We think the cat belonged to the girls who roller bladed in short shorts up and down the flatness of Twin Hill Road, next to the power lines.  The neighbors watched but were tolerated the comings and goings of used cars, loud visitors, and even the fake wishing well in the front yard.

The day I began to worry was when he was on their roof, having exited the sky light.  Then the tiny thing, maybe three pounds began to follow me home.  I didn’t let him in the house but put food out on the back deck and whistled so that he would learn to come.  One day he did not return for the food, and that is when I knew my heart had already formalized the adoption without telling me.  I looked all around the neighborhood and found him in the well of a basement window in a pile of leaves.  He seemed sick, so I brought him in and fed him. What is it like to earn trust?  It melted me as he tucked himself on my chest under my chin and went to sleep.  The next day I put him in a carrier and took him to the vet.  The vet came to talk to me after the examination and blood work.  The cat was perhaps a year old, and he was very small because he had feline leukemia.  The vet offered that many people learning this will simply euthanize the cat as the leukemia is highly contagious and the cat must live quarantined.  I never returned to that vet again.  

Kokimo came home to live with me and the rescued terrier.  Fortunately, I also had been rescued belatedly in life and knew that living with love matters.  He lived another three years.

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Finding Your Joy

To some, Jen’s art was a joke. Photographing your two cats and photoshopping them into historical portraiture was a bit silly. But, at a time when her life was falling apart, this hobby had brought her joy. The cats seemed to enjoy the attention too. At some point, she knew she would pursue her passion, odd as it might be, and turn it into a business.
Until today, everything had worked like a dream.

Now a national cat photography competition had come up, and Jen desperately wanted to enter with something special. She had purchased several outfits for the cats. An astronaut. A black and white striped big collar like David Bowie. A lion’s mane. Not her usual style.

Sir Percy, the tabby cat, flat out refused to go near the mane. Lady Grey, her usually amenable Russian Blue, tried to scratch her when she approached with the little astronaut helmet. And forget about the black and white high collar, neither cat would go near it. Jen began to despair.

The phone rang.

‘You ready for the big competition?’ asked Heather, her frenemy and competitor in the cat portraiture game.
‘Yes…?’ Jen lied, not very convincingly. Lady Grey rubbed herself against Jen’s calf.
‘Mine are spectacular, so you better bring you’re A game.’
Jen couldn’t find the words to trash talk. Her throat felt tight, and only the feeling of the soft fur against her skin kept her from crumbling.
‘I expect you’ll do another one of your stuffy Elizabethan Age portraits, or the kind of thing Jane Austen would’ve seen Mr Darcy in?’
Inspiration struck Jen. ‘Yes, actually. Because that’s where my strengths are, not in modernist stuff like you do. I have the perfect idea.’ Jen hung up and looked down at Lady Grey. ‘We have a lot of work to do.

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Four portraits, each with nine lives bred,
unless the shade is in its tenth,
so black for wight, familiar?
The current steward, titled line,
Praetorian, guarding this past
display of noble ancestry,
though many more must wait their turn
for hanging, order of their age.
Hear cat o’ nine tales, doubtless more,
all stories whipped from four-told lore,
this no Macavity before.

Dogs left to gamble, table cards,
without the master’s voice through horn -
head-tilted Nipper on the phone -
superior - they serene breed,
as self-sufficient gods would be,
and caterwauling not their style.

It’s only dress tells history,
unless we’re victims fakery,
and this the record, annual ball,
when fancy dress was de rigueur,
so party was transmoggyfied?
I have the feeling, feline field,
it’s not too bothered what I think,
for mice and men of no regard -
too busy counting nine to ten.


First meal of my Peace Corps experience

I remember when I thought about the likenesses
and the differences of meat. The taste and its texture.
(Not that I miss my Mother’s cooking at all! At least
then, I knew, what I was eating.)

Here, there was no telling.

Take for example, this cat. You see a grayish shadow with bright eyes that penetrate your soul. Others see an ingredient for a meat sauce. Something as small as this, could feed a village. A cook, feeling the soft fur, as her knife carves open the flesh, skimming the cat guts to the dirt floor.

Later, in lamp light, men squat, huddled in a circle to eat around a platter of rice and meat sauce. As we start to eat, with an exaggerated motion, a piece of meat covered in green sauce is rolled towards me. As my host rolls the meat, his lips are pursed, as he says the word that sounded like a bomb blast bathed in laughter, because he accentuated the “p,” in the word, “puss,” and then the men all meowed softly.

I was eating cat sauce with rice with my right hand in a busy silence of men mingled with a foreign language and a burst of laughter!


adjust for the parallax

a couple of inches above your head is where my eyes drill into every time you click me. if you look at all my photos, you will find me evading you. you may tilt the pic, adjust it for the parallax. it won’t matter.

from behind you, Charles Bragg looks at me from his Self Portrait with Models, paintbrush in his hand. in the easel behind him, Charles Bragg looks at me from Self Portrait with Models. to his left, faces—same, different.

the haberdashery of a gaze sometimes falls on disparate things. the haberdashery of a gaze sometimes falls on disparate things. the haberdashery of a gaze sometimes falls—every pic is a moment’s architecture.

what name will you grant me? where will you draw the line? & if you do, will you keep pulling it aside like how the slanting sun does to the windowpane it has scribbled on the wall? can i be that brown thing in your pics?


Delilah and Precious and all their kin

Yet what would have become of me without such a love as yours? Sometimes I still shudder when I think what might have happened if you hadn't wandered up to me as I was crossing the street. And all those times I had to smoke outside because it wasn't permitted inside, and you'd come without my calling, come right up to me and make contact.

If someone had asked, I would have said you saved my life, and that that moment—whichever was with you—was the best in my life. It had never been with anyone, only you. But if asked, how would I have answered the question of how this could be?

"I don't know" or "Who knows?" pale in comparison to "We might never understand," because I think it's answerable; it's not a rhetorical question, and there's less philosophy in the answer than pure love: I needed to be loved and needed to feel loved.

That's what you gave to me when I had nothing, when I was asked if it was me who was the abuser when it was I who'd been abused. You took all that pain away from me, and those brief moments we were together made me cry deep within because I knew what it was to care for another life, to wish to protect that life from all horrors, all negativity, even from death itself when no such power existed within me to sustain such a wish.

Only a love that refused to be denied and that refused to die, whatever the rationalization was for moving on in my thoughts. Thoughts were nothing compared to what you gave me in those brief eternities where I can still run even now when there is no one beside me.

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Liminal Space

Cross the threshold with me.
Through the linen curtains
Lies the other land,
The one that looks like ours but isn’t.
Stalk into the stripes
Of light and shadow in this hallway;
You remember the floorboards
Or at least feeling forlorn here.
The stairwell is well-lit but
It’s empty. Failure of presence
Makes the mansion feel
Into the street.
The light of lamps
Reminds you to move through,
Move on, transition
To the next scene.
There’s no one here–
So why do you feel seen?


Adopted Elite

The lower branch on this family tree,
I resemble the maternal side. Often,
my father speaks with my mouth.

Lithe as shadow, I
come from the earth,
not an elevated position.

I am adopted elite. Mother
no longer of child-bearing
disposition, yet father desired

an heir. To what?
Perhaps the gilt litter box,
the human butler.

Shadows slink, are grounded,
Trail just behind their leaders.
Whisper sweet counsel in an ear.



They say I resemble
My ten times great-grandma
And it’s true that my features are hers
But great-grandad Ferdie
Is the forebear I favour
Although we have different furs.

He sailed the Atlantic
With the small boy who loved him
And when the ship hit a huge wave
He sensed there was danger
And meowed such a racket
That he and his family were saved.

I, too, have shown courage
And saw off a bulldog
Which rushed at our child in the street –
She fell off her bike
But I scratched the dog’s nose
And it beat a hasty retreat.

So though I don’t wear
Fancy collars or suits –
I don’t hold with that kind of thing –
I groom my fur daily
To a glossy black sheen
And my posture is that of a King.


I’m Not Driving All the Way to Barnsley

Daisy lived in a cat rescue centre in Barnsley. I’d never met her, but a friend of mine posted about her on Facebook.
       Becoming a cat daddy had made me do a complete turnaround on cats, from mocking people who posted cat memes to posting clips on Youtube of my own cat going nuts with a catnip mouse. After my recent divorce, I was catless; the mum always gets the kids in a break-up, that's what my dad said, and he was right. I didn’t even have visitation rights.
Relationship-wise, at forty two, I felt left on the shelf.
       I wasn’t going to drive all the way to Barnsley just to claim Daisy, but I occasionally checked her profile to see if she'd found a home. Daisy was six, forty two in cat years, but her profile on the rescue centre website, not written by her obviously, sounded like a dating profile. At forty two Daisy still had her standards.

Daisy is a gorgeous semi-long-haired friendly girl. She arrived in our care because her owner no longer wanted her. She’s a friendly girl that enjoys having a fuss but also likes having her own space. She will make a lovely companion to her new owner.

Type of Home Needed:
Daisy would like a quiet home with no young children. She will need a home away from any busy roads so that she can safely explore going outdoors. Daisy doesn't like other cats or dogs so will need a pet free home.

As I said, I’m not driving all the way to Barnsley to get her. Besides, you should let them come to you. That’s what my dad always said, but then he was a divorcee that never remarried.
I have Daisy’s number. If I want to call.


Musings of a Poetic Cat

You imagine me, curled like a comma
in your lap, the rumble of my purr,
your fingers stroking silky fur,
and wonder why I walk alone.

I greet you with a gentle head butt
following a successful hunt;
however, my gift is unappreciated,
you grimace and refuse to eat it.

You fail to understand that I was born
into feline aristocracy; a mouse, a bird,
a butterfly is a honourable oblation
to my surrogate family.

While on your lap, I hunt in dreams
for perfection in feline poetry.


The Heir

Orlando came, then hardly went time spent upon a velvet chair where one might feel quite queer, my dear. A sylph, a glide, an angled face a blushing courtier’s disgrace. Then from the court a banishment. Came in as him and out she went.
I do not know what Siegfried said, his orange marmaladed head stuffed full of God and thoughts of Nietzsche, his mistress kept upon a leash. A taxidermic marbled glare at specimens unaware that it was time for tea.
Which leads to me. Sweet inevitability. Successor of the twisted line my peccadilloes wrapped up in twine and waiting to gestate. The past is present tense no less and destiny a sweet caress for princes wrapped in mink.
A portrait now will have to wait, a livery my dreadful fate but not today I plead.
Today I’m naked on the floor a dancer who is yet to draw a drop of timid blood.
Let me simply hypnotise, drown you in my jaded eyes and wrap you up in silk. I’ll tease you with eternity, a Will you cannot ever please, and when we both are almost filled, our aching tongues are lapping still, I’ll disappear once more.
Into tomorrow’s half open door.



Someone got the cream,
(not me.)
Someone stared with yellow eyes
whispering AI.
Nothing is real.
Are shadows real?
Or only the thing that casts them?
        This morning
the rat we found was real enough
        with its vertebra
exposed like a worm recoiling.
        A buzzard may have dropped it,
but we suspect a cat.



Unlike my illustrious ancestors, I choose to go naked and not to slavishly imitate the ways of humans. Can you imagine how long this ridiculous pair had to sit perfectly still for their paintings; and how many sittings; and the time it would have taken to fit them into that stiff, formal clothing? They can’t move their heads. They must have both thought they looked regal, but all I see is subservience and humiliation, captured for ever, trapped in a picture more secure than any cage. At least you can piss in a cage to show your disdain. But I am not trapped. I can leave this scene whenever I please – simply turn, walk proudly out of the picture, find somewhere nice outside, and let the warm wind ruffle my fur, the sun shine through my ears. I have other, better ancestors though, fiercely independent, authentically feline – the ones who played snooker and cards.


First things first – no answers without payment. That's three Temptations crunchy cat treats up front.

That portrait on the right – that's me. My human is obsessed. It's destined for the shrine room. The other one?  My predecessor, Ginger Jim. The human found a firm to do them when they were using the little box with the lights and the swooshy thing I like to chase, when I'm not batting at the moving lines on its bright face. The human doesn't like it when I stand on the squishy pad of small tiles and bat the box's face. They lift me out of the way and make those funny noises they're forever babbling.  I normally just pad off, or wash an ear, or do something else important in my universe while completely ignoring them.

Back to the weird portrait. It, and the inferior one of Ginger Jim, will go into the room with all the icons. I like that room, it shows proper respect. The human has many holy items there.  Sometimes I knock some of them off the bookshelves, but only when the human is there to see. I once knocked five small black onyx cat statues one by one off the fourth shelf. They made a great noise when they hit the wooden floor.  Why?  Because they were there. And I wanted to see what the human would do. As it turns out, they just watched me slowly knock each one off in turn.  And then they made this big sigh-breath noise. After that they set up a contraption pointing at it, the one that captures my image, so I just completely ignore the shelf and that whole part of the room now.

There was that other thing, best forgotten. The stuffed effigy of a previous deity. No, not poxy Ginger Jim, someone more elegant, even if it smelled all wrong. It got far too much reverence and respect from the human so it had to go.

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Voices are heard
where the silence reigns-
eyes measuring the young minds
that lend to tragedy,
sometime to fulfillment.

Crystal eyes
hued in morning rays,
a walk by the frozen lake-
where the thunder hides
behind the frames.

Afternoons of human endeavor
not found in paradoxes-
or in paradigms
and never through pristine searches.



She taped up the last box as the shadows extended further into the living room, then perched on it. The sun was having a final bow before it set; she recognised that feeling and sympathised.

Ros had moved here 35 years ago as a newlywed, with youthful naivety and a head full of energetic sparks. A house with ‘potential’ that they could ‘put their own stamp on’ the estate agent had said, which sounded great at the time. But hindsight had taught Ros their language. The house was fraught with holes, shortcuts and rot; a money sink with no plug. She emptied the last of the Chardonnay into her Lion King mug and took a slug.

She stared at the canvases leaning on the wall, remnants of their fractured lives together that felt like a lifetime ago; now, she was done. Done with work and the false image that she was a granite-sculpted professional. Done with the catty wives that 'the husband' insisted she befriend. Done with wearing ridiculous costumes and changing her fur to suit other people. And she was done with men.

The house had come to represent her marriage to Ros. Except she had spent nearly 20 years looking for a plug for her marriage, trying all sorts of square ones to try in the round hole. About 6 months ago, she had learnt about 'the husband’s' affair with a young tabby from his office. She had shed many tears and drunk too much, but was glad to leave him with the scratch marks to remind him of her heartbreak. Now she was rebuilding her foundations.

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Lessons my cat taught me

A cat purrs and the language shakes its paws
Before approving my heartbeat
She calls me with her eyes
Slowly blinking, like silence between the rain drops
Always questioning, never expecting an answer
A cat and her meow
Just like our hearts
Sometimes superficial
Sometimes mimicking those we love
We have always been loved in equal part heartache and desire
My cat talks to me like she would have talked to her mother
In an almost sing song voice
A lily breaking open its bud to show its petals
She complains to me
Her eyes, emerald, widen
When she witnesses me sneeze
She doesn't bless me
She doesn't believe in it
When all she knows is
Life never ends from the speed of a sneeze
But keeping eyes open
She, with her gentle paws, scratches me
Scoops near me
As if my body is a nook, and she, a wanderer
Ready to sleep in anything cave like
I, then, remember how cheetahs also never roar
But purr like a house cat
They remind me of my cat

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Schrödinger’s Cat

"Think inside the box", Schrödinger instructed,
"Theoretically, the cat is both alive and dead."
Bored with riddles, Bohr opened the container,
letting the real and tangible problem to leap out.
Where Murphy’s Law meets Quantum Physics,
the alive and kicking cat wrecked a feral fiasco,
setting radioactive beakers on fire and breaking
poisoned promises of many-worlds. She paces,
perches, then purrs, "Reality is dependent
on nothing. It is beyond observers", before
running away again to shatter more hypotheses.
Confused, Wigner’s friend questions himself:
"Should I be happy that the cat is not dead?"
The scientists take fright, "A cat cannot outsmart us!"
They chased the hostile beast, double-slitting it
while arriving together at the same conclusion.
If Bohr was more patient with paradoxes,
a different scenario would have emerged.
Where reality collapses to just one possibility,
the undead and rotting cat would’ve caterwauled,
her shrieking voice shaking the astral plane,
"Curses! You shouldn’t have waited that long!"
While Schrödinger divines this feline ascension,
Wigner’s friend finds peace with his existence,
realizing that he too is inside a hypothetical box.
Persisting in iterations. Kept alive by thought.


Gallery of Shadows

My Tudor cat is long dead,
lost her head.
My Gentleman cat
is much too fat.
My Beautiful girl
is my shadow puss.

Those times were hard,
you had to take sides.
Some cats got greedy,
licked all the cream.
My Beautiful girl
is my shadow puss.

Pick the wrong crew
and it’s off to the tower.
Cometh the fat cat,
cometh the hour.
My Beautiful girl
is my shadow puss.

My Tudor cat wasn’t savvy,
she bore no sons.
My Gentleman cat
knew all the haunts.
My Beautiful girl
is my shadow puss.


Curtain Call

It is true I’m a player
and I do it so well, my lovies

I come from a long line
of cat burglars, but I got out

Strut the boards
With the dignity of a Siamese

Cat calls, encores
I take them all in my stride

My performances are legendary
my darlings, I am a King

Watch the Queens flaunt
throw gifts at my feet

They purr around the stage door
where I paw an autograph or two

Next week, I am starring
in The Nine Lives of Pussy Willow

Look out for the red herrings
before I eat them!



is the artist’s cat muse. My granddaughter
believes his name is Sad; she is four,
and learning to read, and does not understand
that the artist is Saad, who fled Iraq for
New Hampshire. He loves his adopted
New England town, his homeland, and Egypt,
where he first took refuge with his family
so many years ago. He has painted Hantoosh
over and over: courageous, logical, compassionate,
in brilliant colors, along with the symbols
of exile: the hamsa, barbed wire, the lips sewn
shut; the felucca, the key, the angry bearded
faces, pigeons flown from this rooftop in
Baghdad. His cats hang on my walls. A stack
in primary colors, red, yellow, blue (and green),
and Hantoosh and his wife, bright in evening
dress, against a flash-lit swirling sky, Hantoosh
regal in cravat and jacket, Mrs. Hantoosh in
proper pearls, and their kittens, a litter,
simply, quickly filled in, bold colored outlines,
peering from the painting’s bottom boarder,
confused and a little startled, at their creator’s
signature, Saad.


Yes. Quite.

Yes, it's original English oak flooring, eighteenth century.
Original staining and varnish too, although it's since been restored and protected with a modern application. In the servants' dining room the restoration wasn't finished beforehand, so you'll still see the original flaking and discolourations, captured for all time, as it were.
The floors are ideal for having a piddle on, perfectly level in some areas, such that if one is fairly careful, it forms a static pool that can last for several days until it evaporates. The story goes, and we have no reason to doubt its authenticity, that the eighth earl left a piddle in the old library that remained for twenty nine days, the wing being closed and shuttered for the winter, and the air thereby undisturbed.
With modern heating, of course, this would be impossible today, but longevity of piddle remains a challenge we must all rise to; that sensibility lies in our genes, from the nobly-bred down to the poorest street scavenger.
My great grandparents, whose portraits you see, are famous in the family for their combined yowling, which, so the story goes. had much to do in the eventual disappearance of great grand-mama, who would habitually disturb the servants loudly as they slept.
It was rumoured at the time that she was taken by one of the downstairs servants to a nest of theirs some hills away, and lived out her days there.
My grandfather said that his father would often wander on the lawns at night, stopping and cocking his ear as if he heard her wailing but could not discern whence the sound came. He eventually died on one such evening, it is thought, from a broken heart, no doubt mewling gently in his sleep.
I wanted this portrait to be, above all else, truthful and straightforward, and hence have chosen to sit for it unadorned. This may be controversial, given that there is nothing here to indicate my station in life but my physical bearing. However, we are all cats under the skin - this has been the primary philosophy of my lives thus far. Naked and open, this is me. I may have a

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Feline delinquency

In a raptor's eyes
The gaze locked
A fatal iris chase
The bird swoops
The cat leaps
Just like most things in life
Never get sorted by strife

The official demeanor
The flex
The boss is a bobcat
And never lets you rest
Scanning your movements
To pin you down;
A shriek is suppressed

The royal cat
Usually unscathed
Self indulgent
Claws unsheathed
Sits nicely on its feet
Poised to grab your face.



You always shun the
roles they force you into,
those who seek to
make a shape of you.

You sense they long to
dress you in their image,
pull the cord of a corset
till you're almost human.

But some things won't be
herded, and you are one:
like a cloud, or a river,
or free verse lineation…

That's how you dodge
the sunlight, those who
claim to know your
dark heart. You're like
the night, or something
slowly turning into
smoke before our eyes.



Act I: Winter in Saint Purrsburg
FEDORA’S CAT-OLOGUE (at her fiancé’s death-bed): Oh Vladimir! My Tomcat, my great love. It’s Fedora, your Dam. I’m here. Please meow to me! Meow! Please! Oh no!
I swear by Goddess Mut to revenge your murder. May her son Khonsu show me the moonlit path. I pledge to fill my heart with eternal hatred. I pledge to detox my body of sexual desire. So be it.

Act II: Winter in Purris
FEDORA’S CAT-OLOGUE: I spied upon the killer and followed him to this city. The humans call it Paris, the city of love. To me, Purris is the city of vengeance. I’ve seduced him and now he’s here in my Purrisian home.

FEDORA: Is it true love?
LORIS: It’s maddening love, so it must be true.
FEDORA: Enough for making kittens?
LORIS: Oh yes! I want a black one.
FEDORA: I’ll have to love you and become your Queen?
LORIS: Love demands to be loved. Your black pepper-coloured paws purr and your
almond-shaped eyes meow “I love you”. Even when your snout hisses: “I don’t love you”.
FEDORA: That’s all very well. But I travel to Saint Purrsburg tomorrow.
LORIS: What? So soon! (howling) And I can’t come with you.
FEDORA: Why not?
LORIS: The cat police will arrest me when I put my paws in Russia.
FEDORA: What have you done?

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Golden streaks dance through
maroon floors
where all your shadows used
to live. Orange
blossom safely pours, warmth
caresses creaks,
now drowning in a soft amber
I never knew what light was
until I found you.
Here we will watch the flowers
grow, glistening
stars within these fading walls;
you let them drench your head
with saffron dawns.
In my shy quietude, your eyes
can rest, drink peach
dusks that embrace the island
of your bed. I stand
guard, fortress of moving stone.
Surrender your chest
to the oceans I carry inside me,
I shall chase your fears
all through the night. Until you
found me, you never
truly knew what light could be.


We called her the mad cat woman

We called her the mad cat woman of rue Montmartre. A small woman, always bundled up against the cold, always in movement. In the supermarket, she pushed her trolley to the pet food section, loaded up, went through the checkout without a word. She had lived in the same apartment as long as anyone could remember, top floor, no lift. She refused all help with her cargoes of cat biscuit, not that many people wanted to get too close. The smell, you understand. They said she took in cats on behalf of a shelter, several shelters, a vague number, vague names. She had a lot of cats. He neighbours complained about the noise, the smell and the ‘the diseases’. But she paid her rent and it wasn’t the kind of neighbourhood where the landlord asked any more than that.
It was when the landlord sold the building that the trouble began. The new landlord did a bit of cosmetic renovation and put up the rents. The mad cat woman couldn’t pay, so she was evicted along with several other tenants. She was evicted kicking and screaming by a bevy of police officers. All she took was a plastic bag of belongings and one cat carrier.
The police called all the cat protection organisations, but none of them had any record of a mad cat woman in rue Montmartre. Before she left, she had opened all the cages, opened the roof windows, and a flock of scrawny, mangy cats seethed out onto the rooftops. Curious, I followed one of the ladies from ‘Cats’ Refuge’ up the top floor.
‘There were kittens,’ the woman said. ‘Sick, some of them. How are they going to survive up on the roof?’
I had no idea, but I was willing to take one in if any had been left behind. We both caught our breath on the threshold. The stink was overpowering. Wallpaper hung in clawed strips from the walls. Cat carriers, cushions and blankets occupied every surface in every room. An entire room was filled with litter trays. All of the carriers were empty. The breeze danced the

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They Started as a Set of Three

They started as a set of three. Born of different years with similar genes. All were clothed in hand-me-downs — Buster Brown, Keds, and acid-washed jeans. Each was required to add an apron and accept the kitchen paddle if and when they dropped an egg. The baker’s dozen and single loaf of Wonder left no room to waste. They started as a set of three. Hair slicked into place with homemade gel and rosy cheeks. They’d wear hand-knit cardigan sweaters (oversized) to hide any swelling. Smile. Say cheese. School photos (grades one, two, three -- times four) would line the rowhome’s hallways. They started as a set of three. Pristine even when pimpled. Serene even when smacked. Yearly barbecues (of the backyard grill and front stoop variety) were primed for annual photogenic updates. Hot dog or burger? Ketchup or mustard? Smile. Say cheese. Until the oldest turned loose and found the police academy (first) and then a marriage (that wouldn’t last) across state lines. The trio’s mother would scan news alerts for updates of life and lore. The academy also good at keeping secrets. Her frown lines were deceiving. She longed for news, but never wanted to see his name in print. Newspaper clippings replaced yearly barbecue snapshots. All photos touched up with Chapstick gloss and Crayola hues. The two that remained wore the extra chores as their mother adopted (though never co-opted) new routines. Early signs of distress. SOS pads scrubbed all clues clean. They started as a set of three. Until the youngest left for schooling where he earned high marks, but somehow also learned he had multiple failings. He took to the seas. Said the water calmed his concerns. He’d send Kodak-quality photos and updates – he was always smiling. Seagulls were often in the background. He consumed salt air and jugs of lemonade by the gallon. The color of the liquid and the darkroom was deceiving. One night he went to sleep on his boat and never rowed back to shore. The two remaining led the mother to believe it was his heart that had given up. She never questioned why he never wrote back, though

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Horizontal Angel

The light is borrowed here; filtered through grime-streaked windows casting an amber glow upon a cornucopia of trinkets and furniture. Playing with light was one of her favourite hobbies – the art of adjusting lamp shades and replacing bulbs. She knew how to chase away a shadow to ensure focus was directed to a painting that demonstrated her keen eye or how to barter with the shade to mask a mark that she didn’t want the onlooker to observe. A dent in the wall in the shape of her skull, the browning stain on the floor the size of a womb.

Her home was both a fortress and a sanctuary. A place she could allow her personalities to roam, interior flotsam – directionless and wise. These caricatures of regressed lives, fantastical and autobiographical scented each room with her former adventures – a ballroom in Josselin, a promenade in Cornwall. Most importantly, her whiskered friends would guide these memories, tugging at them like fairground balloons from room to room. How she adored her furry companions. The wakeful purr as she’d drift in and out of disjointed memories.

The tea she drank was beginning to take hold. ‘Mr Fiddlesticks, forgive me,’ she whispers as the light becomes iridescent. She holds her frail fingers up to the spectrum, allowing the colours to pass though her skin. His face emerges, ‘Albert,’ she sighs. Three decades dissolve like the organic material she’d carefully stirred into her tea an hour or so ago. As the colours merge and bend throughout the room, her body is lifted until her nose lightly touches the ceiling. A horizontal angel ascended within the home she’d built for all these years and from this excavated vantage point she watches with eyes freshly grown at the rear of her head. The swirling fragments of the versions she’d inhabited in the time she’d lived here waltz

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Lording It Up

I sit in a band of sunlight, embalming my charcoal fur with an encasing warmth. It flows through me as I bathe, stretching limbs to absorb residual heat from the wooden floorboards. I’m well practiced. A honed professional.

For, I’m a feline. Catty. A descendant of big cats. A fan of tooth and claw.

Naked yet yearning for more: to be clothed as my descendants before me. I eye their Tudor and Victorian portraits cast on the wall, imbuing me with a sense of grandeur. I sense it vibrating firmly in my outstretched paws, performing longer reaches for prestige, but somehow always falling short of it.

So, I’m left.

Bathing in liquid orange sun, I lounge upon peripheries of rooms, methodically searching for myriads of pearly light to coax my chilling heart; I long for it to flutter as it once did: rekindling as an awakened butterfly – one I can cheerfully to chase in wildflower fields with my heartbeat paws.

A female Tudor, nine cousins removed, makes beady-eyes at me, examining beyond her lace neck ruffle, gregarious and over-spilling. I sense a tendril of pageantry in my toasting claws. A link to nobility – long past – but, undoubtedly still burning as a perpetual, nocturnal flame. It has not been dispelled by windy uplifts or puffs of canine breath. It persists. Decadent embroidery bedecks her in a mimicry of other great Tudor queens who held court, regaling courtiers of far-flung stories whilst rotating golden rings, quite mindlessly, upon their fingers of worth – lost in their own visions.

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Varnished Floorboards

The decorating project had taken far longer than she’d expected. But as Fiske finished applying the final coat of varnish to the floorboards, and then stepped back from the room into the hallway, she believed her effort had been worthwhile.

Fiske bent to replace the lid on the tin of varnish. She felt something brush against her leg. A cat padded into the room and across the glistening floor.

‘No,’ Fiske said. ‘Come back.’

The cat ignored her. It turned and sat with its back to the cream-coloured panels that covered the wall.

Fiske frowned and inspected the floorboards. Oddly, the cat’s paws had left no marks on the sticky surface.

‘How did you do that?’ Fiske asked.

In response, the cat stared obstinately back at her. Fiske noticed the creature’s shadow on the wall’s panels.

The day is grey, she thought. The cat’s shadow should be blurred in such light. Instead, it’s sharp, as though unobstructed sunshine is coursing through the open window.

She closed her eyes and wondered whether the resinous scent of the varnish had affected her perception. When she opened her eyes, she saw two paintings propped against the wall.

‘What’s going on?’ she muttered. ‘Those pictures aren’t mine. And they weren’t there a moment ago.’

The nearest painting portrayed a cat dressed in Elizabethan costume. The animal’s face suggested pain and privation.

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Dressed To Kill

The first time we met
I found you so beautiful
a purring perfection
as unsullied
and unspoiled
as nature intended
serious and soulful.

The next time
you were dressed to kill
stiff and starched
in formal frills and fripperies
with dyed hair
and your beauty hidden
by heavy make up.

And now this time
you’re ready to party
dressed to kill another bird
one attracted to elaborate jewels
and rich attire.

Not me though
not me.


The Cat Burglar

My grandfather was Macavity,
I have a lineage of depravity,
I live without accountability,
A feline of renown.

I burgle with proclivity,
The homes of the royalty,
In and out with alacrity,
Of the biggest homes in town.

Calm in the face of adversity,
A burglar with ingenuity,
Your cameras will never see me,
As I’ll be hanging upside down.

A model of practicality,
For every lock I have the key,
Nails sharpened for utility,
For use after sundown.

I select my victims with impunity,
For jewels of the highest quality,
I favour the aristocracy,
The master of the shakedown.

I’ll never have a family,
I make love with anonymity,
I’m single of necessity,
The cat who stole the crown.


Alley Cat’s Anthem

Pedigree for a feline comes
with fancy bells, cerulean blue,
mango peach leash, heart-shaped
tags, plush pillowy beds, one’s
own private box for necessities.
Pedigree comes with strings,
bundled yarn, braided cords
snipped from packages
with next-day delivery
from premium pet boutiques.

in starched collar while Lady Claws
stares from her canvas, her oval
face coy, demanding, decked
in regal ruff and your Majesty’s
puffed sleeves, gem-laden
bodice, stitched diamond grids,
patterned geometric certainty,
finality, eternity, sovereignty.

In domesticis cattus lives long,
claws filed dull, housed in horizontal
and vertical lines, while some cats
shuck off Latin honors, turn
their backs on ma and pa acts,
on starched collars, heavy jewels
(preferring to keep their own) and small talk.
Oh, the waste of that fettered wildness to lord
it over a wasteland, to reign in a desert.

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It’s Cat the Father,
Cat the Son,
and Cat the Holy Ghost.
With their Trinitarian eyes ―
all six of them, all slick with Brylcreem,
all signals and signs ―
they stare, they scare, they swear:
“If you dare! If you dare!”

The world’s under their spell ―
Doxology, Mariology, Eschatology:
for godliness, for obedience,
for patriotic soliloquy.
Pawing the floor, pawing the wall,
tri―umphant, feline signature,
introducing catwalk in all manners,
for catching heretics and outliers.
But the catch is in the details,
even though they say they don’t do traps.
For isn't it Cat the Father,
Cat the Son, and Cat the Holy Ghost?
(But where’s Cat the Mother?)

History always comes to rescue;
history is, to all cats, always kind.
There was a Cat the Father who famously said,
“It doesn’t matter if the cat is white
or black; any cat that catches mice
is a good cat!” So there ― no catty remark!
And yet being human
is that rare thing that cats are jealous of:

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A Royal and Ancient Welcome

Tremulous I walked through the door,
Quivering and bowing low, before
Three stern faces, frowning down,
Prostrate upon the ground, I, submissive
Rolled, to leave my belly bare.
A paw gently touched my face,
Stand little one it purred,
Stand, be counted among the proud,
Your a cat, feline, your someone,
You never bow low or down.

Welcome to our honourable estate,
The Royal and Ancient Felidae Club,
Established long before Whites,
Here awaits companionship,
Warmth, friendship, kinship if you will,
Among the Noble Host of felines,
Just like you.

Here, a place for you will be found,
Here, you’ll grow in stature,
Here, you’ll bloom, so
Toss your ragged sack aside,
Begging has no need within,
Preen yourself until you gleam,
Do not give way to awe,
Remember, among us
You are a Queen.


In the long room

In the long room, glance this side
and that – see portraits of ancestors
long dead, long ceased to be.

Here’s one in Elizabethan ruff
another in Edwardian frock coat
one in widow’s weeds

and here they hang, lost to all
but those who see the portrait
catch a glimpse of family likeness

and in the grounds, extensive grounds
see little graves for pets long passed
with headstones and kind words;

and in the corridors the bells that
summoned servants, made demands
played social status to a tee.

But in the lofts the mice run riot
and in the cellars rats make grubby nests
where, then the heroes to disturb them?

Where then the cats, needed in these homes
to chase the mice and kill the rats
and make their homes in gentlemen’s hats?



I was nestled – didn't know –
their portraits will be the last to go

Stuff keeps coming up – baby bottles
wine undrunk
a skirt with the tag
a journal, winterkill

I stray –
whiskers full of muffled pain
an empty house to match

nocturnal to enjoy

Until their deaths, I was nestled between two mountains

Now I can finally explore
how they wore
their mannerisms and sins –
my family home a habitat
that I dissect closely
and rearrange accordingly –
happy as a feral

– that basket with their
still smelling socks and underwear –

And the spiral streams
until I get newborn naked myself

free for the first time happy free free free


Same Spaces

Dairies are meaningless
when you have motion
ancestors sit in the past
like so many old covers on a shelf
soundwaves and photons flick into reality
putting the past to bed
and being content with oneself

Stories are passed down through ages
names can be forgotten
and so can the faces
just think your ancestors
occupied the same spaces
they will have fought wars
and have had fun at the races

They say the past still exists
at the same time as the present
and may be those who see ghosts
are seeing apparitions in time
all we have are tales
and black and white photos
is life not becoming just an archive.


Still Life

Don’t even think about it. His yellow eyes glare at me, his rotund gray velvet body off to the side as if distancing himself from the portraits. I wanted him to pose just long enough for me to capture his regal essence. But he would have none of it. It didn’t matter that I wouldn’t be literally dressing him up. The portraits were just headshots superimposed on artwork I downloaded. I wasn’t going to try and stuff him into an Elizabethan collar or ivory silk cravat. But he didn’t trust me.

I thought that ironic. A street cat for God knows how long, he came to my door one day, skinny and ravenous. His fur was a dull gray, and his ribs were pronounced. But his eyes, the egg yolk yellow of his eyes, were what captured my heart. I told him he’d have to be willing to share the house with the creamy orange tabby and the sleek gray cats who already resided with me. They welcomed him with suspicion, sniffing at the closed bedroom door where I kept him sequestered until he’d had all his shots. By the time I let him loose in the house, he was old news to them.

And I had already done their portraits, so they knew what was in store for him. They had been indignant at first. Cats in clothes—modern or centuries-old—was ridiculous, they argued with me. What do you take us for? Why should we be objects for amusement? We are not here to entertain, you know.

And well I did know. Yet I persisted, pointing out how I was the one buying and preparing food for them, not to mention cleaning their litter boxes and arranging their vet visits. Yes, I understood that I am “staff” as far as they were concerned, but a girl has got to make a living. The least they could do was pose for a headshot.

I turn back to the yolky yellow eyes. He was still glaring while I readied my camera.


A cat is contradiction.

I really love you - No I don’t.
I’ll just leave you - No I won’t.
Leave me alone - But please stay.
Hurry back - Just go away.
You know, I don’t really care - My purring shows how much I care.
Oh how I just hate to be stroked - please keep stroking my glossy coat.
Feed me or don’t feed me, it's whatever - don’t stop feeding me ever!
Close those curtains it hurts my eyes - Open those curtains I've things to spy.
That scratching pad is such a bore - I couldn’t love this scratch pad more.
Take those silly toys away - Here’s my toys, come on let’s play.
Clip my claws? You’re out of your mind! - A pedicure? Why? How kind.
On the kitchen floor I’ll lay my head - I simply must sleep on your bed.
Your hugs do not me impress - I think I love your hugs the best.
Stop saying my name out loud! - Hearing my name makes me so proud.
Solitary I’m fine to be - here on your lap means the world to me.


Butterscotch Tabbies

gaze through frozen frames
painted likenesses imagine
existence clawing furniture, growling and hissing
at strangers, licking paws, grooming,
pissing in litter
rather than

living room
hutch’s cabinets
the feline fatals glance down
at silk flower baskets, inspects it for slinking snakes,
silver-dollar-size cock roaches,
chameleon lizards,
mice, any


Collar Catastrophe

A smooth line of succession...
I see your intentions,
a zirconia collar
your human invention.

You want a third portrait
to hang on your walls.
Try it, and feel
the revenge of my claws.

A noose ‘round my neck,
you think I’ll abide?
Consider your folly.
Try it and die.


Matrilateral Line

Oh yes indeed, we are related
cousin says,
though the resemblance may be faint.

We go a long way back,
Battle of Hastings, to be exact
and maybe even further.
I have researched it.

We have the same name—
well, not the same name,
a name the same
as a man once or twice removed
along the matrilateral line.

She draws her trees,
takes our bloodline for a walk
with cross-hatching
here and there to net
our unsuspecting ancestors.

It’s certain.
We are one unbroken line,
with gaps, of course
but I’m sure the documentation
will be found in time.


Feline Commands

It is I who is watching You,
    yes, You of the Humankind    
    with the funny playthings, the black box, the blinding flash of light.

It is I who tire of your cheap tricks
    with the rubber fish, the shaky promise of feline fare in tins, your phony meowing

to lure me to do as you wish,
to stand still, to pose
for your pleasure, wrapping us in Human costume;

            I'm no spectacle!

It is I who arch my back, who growl, who hiss, who scratch
    your velvet, your plaid, your leather, your wood, your canvas.

It is You who despair, who plead, who beg, who implore
    when I withhold head-bunting, rubbing, rolling, purring.

It is I who decide
    to do as I wish, I'll sit and stare if I so desire
    to skulk, to leave, to prowl, to steal.

    be quiet, leave me in my space or else—
    Your pearls, your silver, your silk will be shredded to seeds!


Ode to Myself

I am of the sky and the earth:
I snake round a branch or your limb.
This sleek fur needs the work
of my well-designed tongue,
and my tongue prefers chicken.
Do you really know who I am?

My claws stop a scorpion mid-sting.
I offer the wisdom of an elephant,
the dexterity of a pickpocket,
the agility of an aerialist, and
the pounce of a panther. Best yet,
I am more adaptable than a man.
Dress me up, a replica of human
falsity? I am my own true self.


Wild Thing

I’ll pause here - for a moment
until you get the picture
the real me is in the shadow
the shape you cannot ignore

with its hard black outline
no dressing up will make me fit
these traps - of your imagination
into what you want me – to be

to forget my ancestors stalking
before camp fire – before towns
before you began to shape a life
before you tried to shape others

into your acceptance – your need
has fitted these into your clothes
made them fake – and fool – but
you will not hold my free spirit

and in their eyes the cold stare
haunts and taunts – says inside
I am that wild thing you still fear
and want to love you – your desire

have you got it now – who I am
the one you cannot tame


The Sacrifice of Love to Love

"Oh, I’ll get a beautiful portrait made of my cat dressed in a regal manner because I just love it so much." Well, you might love your cat, but guess what: your cat doesn’t love you. What I mean when I say your cat doesn’t love you is that if your cat woke up tomorrow and found that overnight it had somehow become the size of, for example, a leopard or a jaguar, the first thing it would do would be to slice you right down the middle like a piece of hot dog bread and gobble up your entrails, although I suppose it’s also possible it would toss you around the room for a few minutes beforehand in order to amuse itself with your terror and because delayed gratification is only that much more gratifying. And don’t forget that famous line from The Wizard of Oz: “[A] heart is not judged by how much you love, but by how much you are loved by others.” To put it otherwise, if the Tin Man had been a cat lover, he would have left Emerald City empty-handed.


Sir Ginger Blueyes

I’ve lived through epochs. You might think that to be an exaggeration, but being born immortal isn’t always a gift. I don’t remember when I was born, or my childhood, but it would’ve been sometime before the Egyptians, because I remember the Egyptians. Pop into the British Museum and you’ll find a papyrus with my paw beans' prints on them.
I was happy, lofty, complacent. I laughed at the idea of nine lives… licking my arse at the one who you know as the grim reaper. My soul is not for nature to consume, recycle, not to be reincarnated like all you poor fools. Mine is just for me… and Sir Ginger Blueyes.

Oh, my Bluey. He was sweet, kind, and compassionate. Nothing like me. He was the only one I told about my immortality. Everyone else assumed I was my great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great… you get the idea. I met Bluey when he was born. I lived at the castle then, while he belonged to the maid, who had no children but fifteen cats. The most handsome of all, Bluey was knighted Sir Ginger Blueyes by her and treated as such. He was pampered beyond belief, and yet, he never lost his humility. We had the best twenty-three years. Well, I had the best twenty-three years while he had the best life. Every day with Bluey made me a better cat than I had ever been.

Though he lived longer than most, it broke my heart the day he died. I cursed my immortality from keeping me from joining Bluey, but knowing he is with nature, surrounding me, helps. I live now with an art collector who has our portraits so I may look at Bluey when I wake and before I sleep. My human thinks it funny that I look like the portrait he owns, not realising that it is actually me. Me, nearly a hundred years ago. Me, when I learnt of love.

I hope that one day, our lives will intertwine again, Bluey reincarnated, and me… still this arse-licking pompous idiot that I’ve always been.


The Shadow Knows

Cat thinks she’s the meow,
loves to bask in her own shadow, turning
this way and that, admiring her pussy
smooth coat, the way her jet black ears
and yellow eyes are suitably distinguished.

She thinks she should be in the catdom
hall of fame, along with tuxedoed pretenders,
and gussied up felines adorned with rhinestones
set off by fancy couture adornments,
perhaps she will, someday, receive her due, as she
walks among a camera totting array
of reporters and admirers, glancing left,
right, and into the distance, nose turned up,
accepting the adulation with a snobbish twist
of her tail, back and forth, back and forth,
as she sizes up who to go home with,
who has the best couch, who knows
to keep their distance when her majesty
sleeps dreaming of mice, laughing
at the dog who now must sleep
on the floor since the arrival of her majesty.


Bad heir day

Here I am at the pinnacle of my profession, having my photo taken after winning Top Model at the Animal Model of the Year awards. Of course, leave it to the media to sniff out some schmaltz under the guise of background, and ferret out formal portraits of the maternal grandparents, so they can spin it into a sob story.
Normally, I would not mind doing the obligatory preening and false modesty bit in front of the cameras after a win, but this really gets my hackles up. For someone who is famous, I usually have all four paws firmly planted on the ground. It’s been a hard slog, and I don’t deny that a significant part of my success is based on winning the genetic lottery for looks, but these are the last creatures I would want to credit for that.
My grandfather Tom was a tabby mouser, and my grandmother Mog was a domestic shorthair in the same household. They fell in love, married, and became incredibly prosperous through dubious methods. Suddenly, his name was Thomas, and he had a Roman numeral suffix after it, while she went from moggy to Margaret in a heartbeat. In keeping with their newfound wealth, they dressed the part: she in her stiff Elizabethan ruff, dripping with jewels, and he in a bespoke tweed suit, and snow-white ruffled shirt. They had formal portraits done, to impress anyone who might care enough to question their origins.
As you know, the nouveaux riches are quick to adopt all manner of airs and graces, and these arrivistes made sure that everyone knew how superior they were. When their only offspring, my mother, fell in love with my father, a penniless stray, of course they disapproved. They thought he was below their station, forgetting that they had both been born in the tunnels below the railway station, so that was ironic. They cajoled, threatened, and yowled at her, but when she would not be dissuaded, they disowned her. After I was born, she made attempts at a rapprochement so I could get to

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Plastered pictures
prowl the pavements,
street lamp spotlights
casting you to the shadows and
alleyways you quick step between
to find warmer beds and plentiful bowls
to fuel a lifetime - creature with habit.

Yet although heavy in guarded armour
and lighter in lives - once nine
You land on all fours

Glossing over the feral
in shiny black coats
and from the lamp-post posters
the corners curl a grin,
arched in recognition
eyes dancing with a life
gone missing.


Put the Hammer Down

The boards growl as you step towards me hammer in hand. Your breath smells like the back of the cupboard and sweat transforms your shirt from one to two-toned pink. I do not move from my afternoon patch of sun but my hackles flare as your bulk covers the space between us.
It started when you brought the new guys home. They’re fancier than me, better groomed, nicer clothes. Curiously flat though. A bit two dimensional. Quiet. You’ve taken them from room to room, shown them the view from every angle, finally settled them here. The search for the hammer began then. You muttered about 'hanging' and 'nails' while you rummaged in all the usual places.
I know I’ve been out a lot lately–the neighbours have offered me a kind word and a drink almost every night. I know I’m not often here in the mornings anymore and maybe you miss reaching your hand across the pillow, cupping my head, feeling me lean into your touch. I know we need to reconnect. I’m sorry. Please don’t replace me. I’ll try and be the old me. Perfect.


Cat Tree

We will not underestimate the lessons of our fore-beasts.
Their deep-clawed teachings, hieroglyphics
in the tattered frayed ropework, that loops itself around our family tree.
They knew the frilled and fierce bones of restraint as we do now.
Thrilled, and trilled the secret languages of half-closed eyes.
Followed life with agile ears, primed against the gruff world and its blows.
Battled with the stalking snakes that followed them, the coils of their own spines.
Silent, upright, felt the blood of Bastet quicken under twitching skin.
Slept, so germinating wisdom, never quite unconscious to a threat.
Holding a gentle judgement and contempt
in the ancient amber and the aquamarine wet of their fixed gazes.
Anthropomorphise them, and you reduce them to a lower form of life.
Demean their evolution. We are vile, but Homo Sapiens is worse.
Our shine, our shadows flicker always here around the corners of your constructs.
Knowing more than you have ever understood. We haunt your heat,
Share scraps of respect, whiskered antennae
Always alert for madness.
We know your history.


An Aging Cat’s Complaint

I was a queen once before you found me.
I whelped a litter of kittens, princes,
princesses all, albeit in the street.
With my rasped tongue I combed all the clots

of blood from their fur as I nourished them
with the milk of myself. Now my litter
box is clotted with my waste. My method
for cleaning scabs is to ply my tongue there.

Safe from the predations of coyotes,
foxes, and hawks, I sleep all day and crunch
with hurting the kibble you dole out. Fleas
cannot get me here, but my back hunches

at the sound of screaming. My claws get caught
in the carpet. I compete with the kids
for your merest affection. I have not
killed a mouse, even a cockroach, in years.

My fur falls out. I look more like the rats
I used to mouse than a proper feline.
The wood paneling hems me in. I must
Venture out among the bushes and trees.


Regular Feline

I was never interested in that life
so polished or so they thought
too much unnecessary style for no reason
no time to have real fun
always under the scope of the aristocrats
do this and not that
no time to be a real cat
stifled by collars and frills and things
always poised
I wanted to lay in the heat of the sun
or steal a little shade and frisk
at the dragonflies and sparrows
while they paraded in the air
a rogue they called me that was my
new name.
I walked with pride with my tail held high
they do not know the meaning of freedom
they have to hold it all in, while I waltz in my
nakedness with my smile
I am not worthy of the wall of fame
I am free



You will pore over photos.
You will look at the giant heads of those
who gave you everything they had
to let you live curiously.

You will wonder if your shadow touched
the right things, or at least things
they would have said ‘Wow’ to
when hearing all about them.

You will feel warm at the idea of them
asking questions and will allow yourself
to, just once, drown in that dream.

You will show the photos to someone
who doesn’t care until they are old enough
to wonder what the fuss is all about.



With symmetrical distribution
they were built-in rulers.
Gauging into space, displaying their measure
in rigid ruffles and preened restriction.

With curious navigation
she pushed her frame forwards,
sensed the air’s vibrations,
swished away the dust from their polished floor.

Past portraits and portrayals
upon an empty wall,
she grew larger than her shadow
and their suspended shadow.

Whilst they displayed vibrissae, she
was the cat’s whiskers.



In Ancient Egypt Bastet claimed a golden throne
Freyja’s slain Valkyries we carried home
Waghoba’s heedful claws protected the jungle
Yet yellow-eyed Shere Khan sought only trouble

Through the heavens did Scorpio and Orion float
As the owl and the pussycat sailed in their boat
On cagey Tweety did hapless Sylvester try to pounce
While luckless Tom chased Jerry around the house

A black and white Bagpuss made you smile
Followed by Garfield’s smirk for a while
When the Cheshire Cat’s grin faded from view
Puss-in-Boots’ was given by Perrault to you
Mighty Aslan roared the day
Poor Richard Parker was castaway

From Pangur Bán’s mousing
To Tigger’s gleeful bouncing
It would seem our nine lives hold many a disguise
But sadly, we still wait for you to realise
That assuredly we deserve your boundless devotion
Without reducing ourselves to maudlin displays of emotion

So, from her haughty queenlike glare
To his stoic graceful green-eyed stare
I stand here tall as a reminder
Of shadows of our former selves laid bare
After all, once we were gods and will never forget
Remember this humans and nobody will be upset



You really do have your
Grandmothers eyes
and your Daddy’s ears.

He was such a proud puss.
Just look at the pinstripe,
that collar,
the way he wore his whiskers.
I’m not sure whether he used
Vibrissae products,
but the word down the alleyway
was that he did.
He certainly had his special comb.

Sometimes I sit
recalling his meow
and Granny’s purr
as she preened me before bed.
She had such
wonderful maternal instincts.
Still, there was that piercing stare,
cutting to the quick.
Even the most ferocious
Toms would cower.

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The costumes are for the role
For a time you are Viola, Beau Brummel
Then it is over, you take the train home
Their private life is their affair,
whether they have off-spring,
if they take to baking cakes
of an evening, forsake a career
for the role domestic. A pity
but there you are. For a time
they put on the costume, the make-up,
marks of distinction, like a heavy chain
of office worn by the mayor,
the corset, collar, cravat,
all part of the illusion, but first
it comes from inside. And training
She was a mezzo-soprano, O, O, O.
What is art? The critics play a part
Performance, costume, make-up
You never know whom you affect
in art. Those who saw remember
Take care now.


My Cat King and Queen

In the kingdom of whiskers, where legends are spun,
There reigned a majestic couple, adored by everyone.
The Cat King and Cat Queen, regal in their grace,
Their realm awash with feline charm and embrace.

With coats of ebony, shimmering in moonlight's glow,
They ruled with prowess, a majestic tableau.
Their eyes, like emeralds, sparkled with wisdom's fire,
Guiding their subjects through the night's desire.

In the twilight hours, they prowled with stealth and grace,
Guarding their kingdom with fierce, protective embrace.
Their paws left imprints on the stardust floor,
As they danced in moonbeams, forever craving more.

The Cat King, with a crown of moonlit beams,
Silently led his feline realm through endless dreams.
His presence commanded respect, a noble guise,
Beneath his dignified poise, adventure sparked in his eyes.

The Cat Queen, a vision of elegance untamed,
Whiskers quivered as her subjects proclaimed,
Her graceful stride, like a moonlit ballet,
Inspiring all who beheld her royal display.

Together they reigned, a perfect feline pair,
Whispering secrets on the midnight air.
In their palace of shadows, they held court,
Weaving tales of enchantment, hearts filled with support.

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The Eyes Follow You Round the Room

I know what I will be. I have
the evidence pinned up on my walls. I have
the models mounted on my mantelpiece.
I know this face, this self-considering stare.
Clever clumps of DNA have laid
my fortune down and in these faces
I can know what I will be.

I don’t know if I will be as pompous as this one,
though I have his nose
(and probably his waistcoat, hidden away).

I don’t think I’ve ever been as smug as her,
though I can see my irises reflected in her eyes.

That one was clever, this I know,
and probably was cleverer than me.
I have some portion of his brain,
programmed inside me, waiting
to burst forth with some discovery.

But not one of them asked if I
should want this fate. I had no say
in my share of their likenesses
Or said I wanted to look this way.

They give me clues about what
they aspired to but not what they were.
Which I aspire to, too, I guess
but with, possibly, less fur.


Pictures of Cats

The world outside is too loud—it’s been like this all day, all week, all year—except for some weekends and public holidays when people leave town. Otherwise it’s noise, all day long. So you stay inside—you shut the windows—you turn on the fans—you dress up the cats. What was that last one? Yeah, you heard right. A little art exhibition. Photographs of cats dressed in formalwear. The cats try to kill you at first, then they comply—after you bribe them good with their favorite, tuna. You tell them it’s for a good cause. You work fast and you make sure to put antibiotic cream on the scratches on your hands. You print the pictures and frame them and you take pictures of the cats—sans costumes this time—standing next to their framed portraits. It’s fun and it keeps the noise out. And you like the results—who doesn’t like fun pictures of cats. You sell the prints online and make enough to feed the cats and yourself for another couple of months.


He looks up at me with watery, eager eyes after patting my dog. His father calls, “Come on, we have to go in now.” There’s an edge to it, but it’s as if the boy doesn’t hear him. “Do you know what the difference is between dogs and cats?”, the boy asks me. I solemnly shake my head but glance over at his father, who is unlocking the door of their apartment while watching the boy sternly. The lines of our eyes now form a triangle. The boy doesn’t wait for me to offer the formulaic ask: “So, what is the difference between dogs and cats?”. He gushes, words tumbling, “The dog thinks the human pats and feeds it, the dogs thinks, it thinks it’s owner is a god”. His brow is furrowed, he’s trying to find the next words, to get them right.

He looks up at me with watery, eager eyes after patting my dog.
His father calls, “Come on, we have to go in now.” There’s an edge to it, but it’s as if the boy doesn’t hear him.
“Do you know what the difference is between dogs and cats?”, the boy asks me. I solemnly shake my head but glance over at his father, who is unlocking the door of their apartment while watching the boy sternly. The lines of our eyes now form a triangle.
The boy doesn’t wait for me to offer the formulaic ask: “So, what is the difference between dogs and cats?”. He gushes, words tumbling, “The dog thinks the human pats and feeds it, the dogs thinks, it thinks it’s owner is a god”. His brow is furrowed, he’s trying to find the next words, to get them right.
“Don’t bother the lady, we need to go.” Sharper now.
“And, and, cats think, they think that the human takes care of them because they, they are a god!”
I am sure that the boy doesn’t understand the joke, he has picked it up somewhere. Maybe school. Is he already school-aged? Must be. Seven maybe. He smiles widely, wiggling, and glances furtively back at his father.
The father directs a tight smile at me.

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Mr Felix

It had been a long time since I had seen Felix.  So naturally I was surprised when an invitation arrived to the Summer Exhibition, in the post, together with a letter.  He had a series of portrait paintings that had been accepted for the show and would I like to come.  Tabitha would be going of course and some of the others.  It would be great to catch up after all this time.  After all this time – how fascinating.  I had been besotted by the elusive Mr Felix once.  Who could forget, that famous thick hair, blue eyes – and that smile.  So talented.  Then he suddenly vanished, cleared out, without a trace.

When I walked into the showroom, there he was – his hair had gone grey, like us all now but he was still handsome.  They were all circling around him, chatting and discussing the portraits.  Then I suddenly saw it – hanging in the distance.  Stealthily, I edged towards it.  It was a self-portrait of Felix but not as we know it.  It was all sleeves and lace with a large floppy hat and that face with his blue mischievous eyes and an exaggerated curly moustache that looked rather like giant whiskers.  As I moved in closer, he watched me – just stared.  I looked at the title – ah yes – The Laughing Catalier.



I moved in last Winter, during a storm, literally and emotionally, and I paced around the living room reading Mrs Dalloway, because sometimes a chaotic mind needs a familiar to feel at peace. It was not quite home but home for the foreseeable, and I had yet to make it feel as such, especially since there was no sofa (six to eight weeks to arrive) and hardly any furnishings. But Spring came suddenly, and I soaked up the sun that shone through the sash windows. I took ownership of a new life in an old house. How many others before me had started a new chapter in this one bed? Eventually curiosity got the better of me and I took myself outside and explored, wandering through alleyways until the town became a part of my personality.  

I put photos on the walls. Photos were performative illustrations of the life I wanted and the life I needed to present to potential visitors. It’s easy to overcompensate when you live alone. Overthinking a given, I could picture the paramedics checking for signs of a life beyond my body after I’d choked on a fish bone or suffered a heart attack.

“Well, at least she seemed happy.”

Alone is a choice, lonely is not. I wanted to be touched but left in solitude. Contradicting myself over and over. I’ve been told that’s normal for what I’ve been through but the emotional inconsistency is the biggest frustration and, if I’m honest, I’ve never known anything other than inconsistency. Moving from one place to another through no choice of my own has resulted in a changeable mood and an obsession for order, minimalism and simplicity.

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Ninth Life

Oh, the lives!
These eyes have seen
dandy’s dalliance,
a pauper’s dream,
soy merchant’s folly,
scorned love’s scream.

Prized by an adoring queen—
sixth wife of the eighth
vainglorious king—
I warmed her feet as
Empire’s hope swelled,
sat silent vigil by her bed
then the wee babe squalled,
and my queen was dead.

Oh, the places!
These pads have tread
leafy glades,
shell-strewn beds.
Set to pace
in hard-pack room,
in an Egyptian tomb.

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The Artist’s Cat Critiques His Work

I cannot tell if he approves,
those cool eyes give nothing away.
Perhaps he does not recognise
his parents' portraits on display.

I start to sketch him where he sits,
include his shadow on the wall.
Until his tail begins to swish,
a sign he's had enough of all.

His patience with my paints wears thin,
I dare not risk his critic's claws.
He scratched a canvas once, in spite,
or maybe pointing out its flaws.

No harsher critic have I had,
cares not one whit how long I slog.
He yawns, and sprays my latest work.
I knew I should have got a dog.


Lovecats Triolet

My fave song from my birthyear, 1983,
is The Cure’s jazz-pop track about two loved-up cats.
Though animal imagery can be musty,
my fave song from my birthyear, 1983,
portrays people as felines from high society.
This heart keeps scatting the same way Robert Smith scats.
My fave song from my birthyear, 1983,
is The Cure’s jazz-pop track about two loved-up cats.


Tuxedo Cat

‘Have you seen the secret life of cats?’
She asked playfully, brushing her whiskers with a freshly licked paw. He looked up at her without answering.
‘I was asked to be in that.’
She continued, starting to wash her face, ready to demure at his surprise.
‘But you weren’t in it?’
Lying now on his back with his paws on the white of his chest.
‘I could have been.’
Her tone changing.
‘But I didn’t want everyone sitting at home being able to comment on me, compare me to other cats. I didn’t want to debase myself.’
He looked uninterested now, extending and retracting his claws as he looked straight up at the sky.
‘I mean, I didn’t want to be compared to cats they’d had previously, or cats they’d known who looked like me.’
‘Sometimes I hate being called a tuxedo cat.’
He said absentmindedly.
‘That’s different. Everyone says how handsome you are. Don’t pretend to be indifferent.’
Sitting straight now, with her tail curled tightly around her, she continued hotly.
‘It’s different for me. You don’t know how jarring it is to be called exotic, to be assumed to be high-maintenance, intrinsically expensive. You can’t imagine how demeaning it is to be an accessory.’
‘I think’, he said, extending a paw to still her now twitching tail, ‘that’s something we both enjoy.’


Creativity and madness

Louis Wain had his paw bent on painting
and drawing the most wonderful things
he had an-eye-for the mischievous and fun
he liked a Persian cat for its distinctive blue eyes
and a tabby for its coat of Bengal orange fur
he'd paint cats, play cricket or shoot a 12-bore gun
there's no surprise we all concur
the man found fame but had to economize
cause he wasn't a man of business, not at all.
He was a misfit hairball, a canvas without a coverall.
And tragedy became a pivotal force
the loss of his, dear wife of course
was never to leave him, nor catastrophe
and heartbreak were the cornerstones
of his dear poor life, which led him into poverty,
and later on, insanity sent him to the cattery,
no not-the-cattery the pauper's asylum.
Because financially he-was-ruined
but the public's affection saved him,
they raised the money to send him to Bethlem,
where he painted mirrors at Christmas time
and learned to love, again the eccentricity
the creativity, the frivolity of his passion and art.



‘It behoves us-’

The preacher pauses for tails to calm and murmur-purrings among the gathered crowd to subside.

‘It behoves us, brethren,’ he continues, ‘to remember those who we consider less advantaged than ourselves.’

‘To remember,’ he repeats the word slowly for effect, pauses again and is rewarded by the feeling of shared electricity passing through the fur on the backs of the multitude.

‘To remember those who roam the streets in the small villages of the south, those whose bed is hard, whose life simple.’

The preacher’s tones are low and silkenly seductive. They ripple through the assembled audience. The cats blink. They are all listening. It is more aphrodisiacal than the finest essence of anchovy, but the preacher forces himself back to his subject.

‘You and I,’ he looks around as ruffs and gowns rustle, ‘have taken the advantages offered by the indoor life. But I say this to you. We are all one beneath the fabric on our backs. So I ask you this. Remember those of our tribe who live in another place and in another fashion. For we are all warmed by the same sun, and what we share is greater than that which divides us. What more profound pleasure in the evening, for every cat, than to take his or her place stretched out on a stone wall that has soaked up the heat of the day? The Mighty One provides for each of us in this way. Take your place in the sun. Take the proffered mouse. Receive what you are given with humility, and a grateful heart.’

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As I am

It was on this day that I sat on the hardwood floors, pondering how things came to be in this moment. Reminiscing over the portraits of mother and father, I yearn for their guidance and presence during todays sitting.

I’ve always loved that I was given my mothers eyes despite their betrayal in my attempts to hide my innermost turmoil, her aura is with me. Soothing my rousing anxieties, allowing me to find peace and strength through thoughts of my upbringing. Losing myself in memory, I remind myself that I can conquer anything. I lift my chin, reach for the confidence I had buried only moments ago, banish the insecure thoughts and ready myself. For this is the day I will will be cast in colorful ink, to be hung on the wall alongside my ancestors, and I am proud to have played a part in history.



A mongrel type of doubtful pedigree,
he ruled the road with some civility,
switching from house to house with great agility.

He climbed through upstairs windows,
and slept at times
in other people’s beds.

His mother, Slipper, had a divided face,
one side dark, the other ginger.
It was this ginger ancestry that he inherited.

While his ginger head showed some nobility,
his wondrous tail told a different story,
betrayed by a tiny patch of white.

He loved to lock himself in rooms,
turning the keys with some dexterity.
He couldn’t exit with the same finesse.

His favourite thing was drinking
from the dripping bath taps,
turned on slowly by his devoted humans.

His life was one long list of accidents
and frequent visits to the vet.
He would shed a cloud of ginger hair
at the indignity.

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Noble Cats

Noble cats purr,
Swathed in fur.
We bow and serve,
As they deserve
Our utter adoration,
Complete consideration.

Regal cats ooze disdain,
Entitlement to reign
Etched in their DNA,
Was ever thus this way,
So ever more must be
Wealth in perpetuity.

Majestic cats will have cake,
Make no mistake,
And eat it all
While those who fall
Are just collateral damage,
Of no importance or advantage.

Illustrious cat schemes
Ensure their dreams
Come to fruition,
No need for attrition.
Pious immorality,
Sneers at reality.

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Renters (Reform) Bill; or the cats I never had

It is summer.
In the sticky ache of this city, the wallpaper sweats.
A pet cemetery screams from its surface.
A gallery of cats my landlord never let me own.
Phantom limbs of felines forsaken.
They grow old there.
Wildean, whiskered, withering.

I conjure you from the depths of a grotty well named
Fur the colour blazing from the pyre of my prospects.
Eyes: peroxide peonies.

Your moniker, a dauntingly basic millennial cliché:
Avocado, Cold Brew, Tofu, Grogu, OkBoomer.

They say you make us 30 percent less likely to have a stroke.
Let me stroke you into oblivion on this hot, ceaseless day.

For we are both a mirage,
Our lives not meant to meet here
where the broken tap splutters water across the shadows
on my landlord’s


The Different Sides Of You.

I’ve photographed the different sides of you,
The sides that live in the shadows of life,
The sides that live in the spaces,
The spaces between the words,
The ones in the light,
The ones dressed for the theatre of every day,
The ones naked,
I’ve photographed all the parts we play,
Yes I’ve seen you,
I’ve watched you in the light,
In the dark,
Yes I’ve photographed all the sides of you,
And you,
You who lays claim to me,
You’ve noticed the one side of me,
The one that photographs you.



           in the silent



a shadow,
               from left
           to right

                        on the
                        of life

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Shadows of Yesterday

Who will I be today?
Dead end-less possibilities
splay across the barren floor

Which will I blame today?
Her ladylike stern accusing stare
or his stoic indifference

Shadows of my former self
Eagerly peek from behind me
Unable to find purchase

But then I’m just a cat
Surely it’s my job to sleep?
Lose my days to blissful surrender


Here Kitty, Kitty…

Don't call me that.
I am King, Queen and Manservant.
I am Death and Life together.
See my shadow move while I stand
perfectly still, perfect.

My eyes see through you, all your
darkness and light (we see colours
reflected not absorbed) and everything
can be reduced to a wave length.

Waves everywhere in this quantum foam.
Every day, science says something new.
But magic is magic no matter the name.
I am feral, feline, fastidious:
I see all.

Don't call me Kitty.

I prefer Kathleen
or just Kat.



On the right here is my great (times seventeen) grandmother, Isabella. You will note the remarkably close family resemblance, given the two and a half centuries that separate our years of existence. The portrait nearest to me is of Isabella’s husband, Ferdinand. Not so much of a likeness I think you’ll agree. Isabella and Ferdinand were the personal property of the Holy Roman Empress, Maria Theresa, the 13th representative of the House of Habsburg to hold that position and, de facto, the ruler of a vast swathe of Europe following her succession in 1740. With all that ruling to be taken care of together with the no small matter of giving birth to sixteen children (thirteen of whom survived beyond infancy) you might think it surprising that Maria Theresa found time for pets. But you might also allow that the poor woman was sorely in need of some form of light relief. Obviously, there were specifically designated servants who took care of all of Isabella and Ferdinand’s day-to-day necessities as well as certain special demands made by the Empress. The latter would generally involve dressing the couple up in elaborate outfits, as specified or even designed, by the Empress herself. Maria Theresa was always most assiduous in ensuring that the costumes created were fully accurate in terms of historical detail. We can safely assume therefore that these two portraits were not painted at the same time. Isabella’s dress could have come straight from the wardrobe of Queen Elizabeth the First of England whereas Ferdinand’s get-up looks pretty much in line with the fashions of the late 18th century. According to some reports from the time, the weekly display of feline fancy dress was the highlight of Maria Theresa’s week. She certainly didn’t derive much joy from her relationship with her own husband, Francis. Whilst she was perpetually either pregnant or dealing with the results of pregnancy, Francis was pursuing the time-honoured royal male pastime of serial adultery. Although the historical records are not quite so detailed in their case, it appears that the union of Isabella and Ferdinand followed something of a parallel trajectory. At least it did for the first several years of their marriage. Read more >


She sits upright upon our slatted table
beneath azalea flames and poppies bright.
The birds above return to feeders stable
safe in the rose bush, yet within her sights.
She’s too old to engage her chase feline
on flying things — and we her voles decline.
In youth, the baby bunnies were her prey
on moorland she would catch them every day.
Like us, she lived a life of rural pleasure
discounting that we’d all slow down so soon,
forgetting that time’s piper plays the tune,
and yet we knew our homestead was a treasure.
Downsized to village life again, we stop —
recalling younger vibrance we’d forgot.



Lies may have seemed more exciting than the truth but this
has gone too far.

I now realise that I have been manipulated from birth with your constant broadcasting of false images on social media and the private selling of me.

Betrayal, deceit, ambition. I am part of your underhand building of a multinational enterprise. Money is involved.

So ditch the dilettantish clowder efforts. You have stolen my identity and today I remove my collar.

I demand a cat scan to visualise my true intentions and reveal my destiny.


Please undo it

We. Us. Humans.

At Some Point
Want those sharp eyes
Not just to see
But take in
Those that hide
In the beautiful shadows

Sharp. Oh, sharp we become!

Some time passes
At Some Point
We want to unsee
What has been seen
And just believe
The sun has blinded us.

We. Us. Humans.



Ancestral Whiskers

I’m not denying that my family have been very fortunate through history. Back in Ancient Egypt we were friends and advisors to Pharaohs and Gods. But people began to worship other gods and mine were forgotten. My family were taken to Rome, and we continued to thrive there. Then the church started to associate us with witchcraft. The pope himself issued a bull saying cats were evil and in league with Satan, especially black cats. Not so good for the ones who looked like me. We were tolerated for our ability to control vermin, but as pets we were regarded well below dogs. Can you believe that? And, of course, anyone who did treasure us as a pet was likely to be accused of witchcraft. Those were very dark days, but the good humans made sure we survived. And we began to thrive again. We thrived until my great grandfather. The gambling bug burrowed deep into him, and into my grandfather and father. Our family wealth dissipated, evaporated. You see me with two portraits. The one in white tie is my great grandfather, the instigator of our catastrophe, and the other is of an earlier ancestor. These portraits were sold in final settlement of debts and taxes.

Now, I am all that is left of my great family. I could become a street cat, prowling the night, flitting from moonlight to shadow. But no, I have something else planned. I have been offered a position in cat café.


I Am

because I stand
staunch, silent, and serious
it doesn't mean that I am mean
I am misunderstood
I am a product
of my upbringing
of my tethering
of my tutoring
an offspring of different
a genesis
that did not come from
the union of a nemesis
and a pacifist
I am classified
as a specific being
dark, aloof, and alert
entangled in a corner
only to look at my
purring ancestors
not poor, but proud
of our lineage


The Ultimate Math

That's it
I've worked it all
In my mind
Concluding what
To leave behind and move ahead
With my head held up and high
At least I thought so
Because what I made myself to be
Was not happening
It was not synching
The idea of the ways of life
And the notion in my own universe
They just didn't match up
I didn't say it quits
No, I didn't
I was trying to give a message
Through my breathing and kinetics
It may have been blur, unclear
I just adopted alternate way
To issue the message
Indelible on minds and hearts
Though physicality of my act
Would dissipate in the first rain
As it always happens
Yet my presence shall become
Larger and substantial

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Mother’s Dos and Don’ts

Don’t tappety tap dance on wooden flooring.
Don’t run across the house in your footy boots. Dimples are lovely on faces but not on my shiny walnut parquet.
Don’t walk on the floorboards with stilettos.
Don’t let the sunlight in. You’re bleaching the bloody timber.

So, I stopped dancing.
So, I sawed the spikes off my footy boots.
So, I started wearing Ballerines.
So, I learned to live in the dark.

But it wasn’t always about floorboards.

Don’t paint portraits.

There was one do.
Do let Tammy in. Move up, or down—scat.
So, I let Tammy in, and she purred.


Heroes In Exile

waiting is about knowing
writing is about visions of self expression
identity is about place or time, Immigrants lives which are passing through time
history is about personal significance, reciprocal or trans coral the multiverse,
living is about research, taste in music rending the beauty of species whom
influences of aesthetics translate symbols of otherness within or without hybridity
synergistic strengths meaningful or hatred attitude comes outwardly cowardly between one piece
Telescopic master piece,
Bubble of time between one piece of next pace, moving through time imbalances the signs of science then at work  we look for answers upon our office desk, photos, films, Photography, to conclude our minds moons curiosity



So here we are, resigned to lurking in the shadows
or, at least, in the corner of the room where I will be
hardest to see
and they may mistake
my shadow for me.

My shadow self might get shooed away
or kicked away indignantly by a stubbed toe.
Little did they know
I peed on the portraits.
I’m a little so-and-so!

They didn’t wear those outfits and I didn’t either.
Okay, I wasn’t invited, but it’s all pure deceit,
a mere conceit.
I am unloved and unwanted;
they, the perfect companions that made their lives complete.

They never wanted children, they said, and so I wasn’t planned.
When they got over the shock, they got another cat
and that was that-
company for me-whilst telling me
that they loved me just as much!



Secretly I become
some being who has dwelt,
suspended, in other worlds
invoked by conjuring—all
the images inscribed in
my eyes, rising like revelations,
from inside a mysterious

abyss.  Must we act as if
we control destiny?—continuously,
we fail.  And so we impose
humanity on other animals—
cats, for instance—give them our
bodies, steal their personas,
mimic their acts.  Humans

think they are unique.  But
they overlap with all
living things, even those
of us who are clearly far
superior—their boundaries
are always breaching
ours, making up stories
that only prove our edges
are, in the end, impenetrable

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