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Saints and cats


King Street cat

Ears back, he steps through
our fence's jagged hole
then freezes in the sun
seeing my head move
back-tracking to the limestone
baking in our winter garden.

Over heavy, glossy lawn
that rockpile floats
like a ragged cloud.
Cat waits inside.
No-one else knows.
No-one hears his heart tick
under that hot stone.

–Graham Kershaw 


The cat stretched in the sun.
The olive dappled light on his coat.
The tail black, a spot of white at the tip.
Under the gum, the spitfires
seasonal. Bees
in the lavender. The scent
rubbed between fingers. A tennis ball
in the seaside daisy. The thyme
dying. The liquid amber
by the tap and the water meter ticking.
The suckers cut back at the base
of the olive. The sudden sky
that looks back from behind
a day moon, like a lover.
The memory of salt. The hand of the soil in
my hand. Gritty with gumnuts.
The pollen in my breathing. The matter

–Anne Elvey

Cat poem

While in the thickness of dreams
Plush sleep,
There was a screeching of wheels
Which turned,
A skull
Only made for mice and mewing
Was crushed under the blow.
You had been found curled up
Along the road
Tongue protruding
Eyes rolled,
Blood trespassing from your mouth
To chest
I stretched,
Embellished the sumptuousness of sleep
You writhed, struggled
As if respite lay in shifting the pain
From one place to another,
As the sky turned purple,
And then a bright white.

–Kerry Ridgway

The muse

Adjusting the seat simply by sitting,
the brooch on her breast, a butterfly flitting,
a rhyme scheme too pretty,
but scarcely without meaning,
when she speaks of cats and dogs,
suddenly, it's teeming.
Each day now, dressed in autumn's hues,
is met with an umbrella, yet never shoes.

–Michael Crotty

Saints belt Cats

The very first footy game I saw up close and personal with my own naked holy eyeballs
Was just after the twentieth century after the birth of the thin dusty Jewish guy shuffled
To a close at last; people were still gaping at the smoking century like it was a car crash,
And the new one had opened with murder as well, thugs crowing in a cave over the kids
They roasted by sending other older kids to be roasted. The normal ever it has been thus.
We walked to the arena in a burbling seethe of red and black and blue and white scarves.
I didn't have much hope. Soon I would be fifty. Love was fitful and glorious and painful.
Ever it has been thus. I had no concept of the game at all. We were near the St Kilda end.
Generous friends explained the game to me as best they could but I saw only mere chaos
Until a moment in the second quarter, when a slight player, not one of the vast karri trees
In the belly of the field, dove through the arms and legs of a pack of men, snared the ball,
Leapt to his feet, started to kick it, somehow with an eye in his shoulders sensed mayhem
Arriving, ever it has been thus, faked his kick, spun around, and punched the brilliant ball
Over his shoulder without even a glance. Of course it was caught in full sweet wild stride
By a teammate who sailed into the goalmouth and scored easily, and the crowd went nuts,
And there was a seethe of whipping scarves and etc., ever it has been thus, but it was right
Then, I think, that not only did I understand something deep about footy but about how an
Irrepressible seed keeps rising in us despite certain knowledge that hope will be murdered.
We make too much of sport as theater of the soul, as arena for national character, as a play
That can be willed this way and that by the tall children in the middle of it, but an absolute
Certainty came over me that evening and that ship has never since left my muddled harbor.
There will always be thugs in caves murdering children and crowing; ever it has been thus.
But we are capable of creating wonders beyond our imagination every second of the game.

–Brian Doyle, bowing to Martin Flanagan

Graham Kershaw is an architect and writer living in Denmark, on the south coast of Western Australia. He is the author of two novels published by Fremantle Press: The Home Crowd and Dovetail Road. He has published poetry in Westerly, Indigo, Famous Reporter and The Canberra Times. 

Anne ElveyAnne Elvey's poems have appeared most recently in Going Down Swinging, Island, Mascara Literary Review and The Best Australian Poems 2010. The Centre for Comparative Literature and Cultural Studies, Monash University, and Melbourne College of Divinity support her research and writing.

Kerry RidgwayKerry Ridgway is a Melburnian who enjoys writing articles and poetry. She has written a book and screenplay, and enjoys writing about anything in any form.

Michael CrottyMichael Crotty is a Sydney poet.

Brian DoyleBrian Doyle is the editor of
Portland Magazine at the University of Portland, and the author most recently of Thirsty for the Joy: Australian & American Voices

Topic tags: new australian poems, Brian Doyle, Michael Crotty, Graham Kershaw, Anne Elvey, Kerry Ridgway



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Existing comments

It seems to me that cats lend themselves to poetry more than dogs. Perhaps the latter are just too obvious, too honest for the slight distancing or revelation of poetry? Or perhaps we just don't (in general) have the skill to see past their friendly solidity? They don't seem to need translation. (Dogs that is, most definitely not cats. They're a different kettle of fish.)

Penelope Cottier | 22 February 2011  

It could be that cats lend themselves to poetry because they are seemingly more mysterious, or just plain satanic, like the Los Angeles Lakers and Manchester United; I alwys remember the great line from W.C. Fields that cats are why God invented handguns -- a line that always makes me laugh partly because it occasions such an uproar from cat fanciers.

brian doyle | 23 February 2011  

You seem to have published a poem where the author has deigned to rhyme the lines. Is this the first ever? I seek a Eureka with rhyming and timing. My seek it is bleak and the google is frugal.

Andrew Coorey | 25 February 2011  

I am told that cats are the only domestic creature that domesticated us, rather than the other way around.

PHILIP HARVEY | 03 February 2013  

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