The Cat Lives Rent Free, by Bill Richardson

The Cat Lives Rent Free

This black and white cat arrived in the garden one day
and I made the mistake of feeding them.
I say them because I don’t know the cat’s gender
– or is that sex? –
and who’s to say they’re not sensitive about these matters.
You have to be careful these days.
I mean: not to offend…
Careful too about feeding a feral cat.
I didn’t go looking for a cat.
I don’t love them.
But they’ve got the idea now, of course.
The habit. Calling by each day -
sits patiently at the back door
licking paws in anticipation.
I open the door, and the cat seamlessly,
at the last second, shifts to one side.
Examines the food with multiple sniffs.
There are days when only the sauce will do
and the sardines get left behind.
Especially if they’re not John West.
What is it about John West?
Is it that they get John West at the house of the other neighbour,
the other one they’ve trained…
Or maybe more than one?

Bill Richardson’s poems have been published in a number of magazines. He is Emeritus Professor of Spanish at the University of Galway and has re-engaged in recent years with his passion for creative writing. He enjoys swimming in the Atlantic and practising tai chi to the music of Arvo Pärt.


Oscar and Silicon Valley, by Anne Irwin

Oscar and Silicon Valley

Zen-like on the car roof,
Oscar inhales the autumn air
absorbing the warmth of the metal
into his marmalade body.

Languishing in his sleekness,
pristine as Silicon Valley,
he preens himself, one eye
on the chaffinch in the rowan.

Empathic as the Valley,
with its modern sensibilities,
egg freezers for the nubile,
fuzz-ball, beanbags, mindfulness spaces
for its twelve-hour-day workaholics
with no time for slackers,
he emanates serenity
while his internal algorithms calculate
the trajectory of his leap
from roof to branch.

With a twitch of his tail
a narrowing of eye, he springs
and the chaffinch shrieks its dying call.

Anne Irwin’s poetry is inspired by the glory of the universe seen in the microcosm of everyday life, and her ever-increasing family. She has three sons, seven grandchildren and two great grandchildren. Her poems have been published in many literary journals including Poetry Ireland Review, Irish Left Review, High Window,


The Owl and the Pussycat (went for a curry) by Leanne Moden

The Owl and the Pussy-cat went to eat
At a beautiful restaurant.
They took some Naan, and plenty of yarn,
Wrapped in a French croissant.
The Owl looked up to the menu above,
And sang (for he’d bought his guitar)
“O lovely curry! O curry, my love,
What a beautiful curry you are,
You are,
You are!
What a beautiful curry you are!”

Pussy said to the Owl, “You indolent fowl!
Please, pass me the chutney, I pray!
Too long we have wasted! This food must be tasted!
Stop singing. Let’s hit the buffet!”
And so they both dined, quaffing plenty of wine,
‘Till they grew almost too fat to stand.
And, when they were finished – their hunger diminished –
The bill came to over a grand,
A grand,
A grand!
Yes, the bill came to over a grand!

“I’m not paying this!” The Owl swung his fists –
And smacked the poor cat in the neck.
It was accidental, but Pussy went mental;
The parlour was thoroughly wrecked.
Then they were barred, and thrown out in the yard
With nowt but a runcible spoon.
Now each one agrees that he favours Chinese,
Or a pint down the old Wetherspoons
The spoons,
The spoons,
Or a pint down the old Wetherspoons.

Leanne Moden is a poet from Nottingham. She has performed all around the UK, including sets at Trinity College Cambridge, the Nottingham Poetry Festival, Aldeburgh Poetry Festival, the Cambridge Festival of Ideas, the Royal Albert Hall and Bestival on the Isle of Wight.



The One That Got Away by Sarah J Bryson

We had a mouse in our kitchen. The cat brought it in;
a small soft toy with a squeak to make the cat’s tail switch.
But when the mouse had lost interest in being batted about
or tossed in the air- it escaped to the safety of the dark

right under the kitchen cupboards. It scrabbled around
and found – underneath the built-in dishwasher –
a home, safe from cats and inaccessible to humans.
A comfortable existence, most of the time.

Even a hot wash in the dishwasher above did not evict him.
Believe me, Mum tried it.

Sometimes a snout could be seen checking out the scene.
Then if no cat about, the mouse would leave the under cupboard dark
and nip across the floor, under the door – to the utility and the cat’s bowl.
One lump of ‘Whiskas’ was a good sized meal for our little guest.

Every now and then the cat would suspect and inspect.
He’d sniff around gingerly then, tail upright, he’d walk off in a huff.
But at night the mouse would explore, leaving small calling cards,
far more than you would expect from one small mouse.

We had a mouse in our kitchen. But it had to go.
Mum said. She’d had enough.

We returned from the shop with a trap and a jar of peanut butter.
The trap was ‘environmentally kind’ – designed to catch and nourish,
so the mouse could be released (far away) and flourish.
Night after night the cat’s bowl would be raided

the cardboard blockade for the gap under-the-door, left in in tatters.
Peanut butter untouched. This mouse preferred ‘Whiskas’.

The mouse had outstayed its welcome. Two new traps were set
(‘infallible’ it said on the box). The under-door gap was sealed
with extra strength tape, heavy duty cardboard, and military precision.
We went to bed with our fingers crossed.

We had a mouse in our kitchen.
But the one that got away did not get away again.
We found him in the morning: snapped,
stiff and cold, his nose poked in peanut butter.

Sarah J Bryson is a poet and hospice nurse. She runs occasional poetry workshops, and more regularly she works in care homes as part of a project taking poetry into residential care. Her poetry has been placed in competitions and published in anthologies, in journals and on line.


Postcard from the Cat by Sarah Watkinson

(after Craig Raine)

Of their many prostheses the saddest of all are forks
to correct clawlessness. So many,
and so many different. Detachable, ranked by size,
the smallest for pinning down food −
detestable, pre-killed pap. I pity

their soft bodies propped at tables, in their paws
unresponsive metal that will never retract,
never clutch and tear with the whole arm’s force,
but instead turns weakly over into a mere scoop
to push mush between their hairless lips and pointless teeth.

And these little ‘dinner forks’ are no use
to prepare a latrine. For that
they use a ‘garden fork’ in a fastidious hand.
They turn and pat the earth, toss plants aside,
but then, forgetting their purpose, fail to perform.

Sarah Watkinson is a lifelong scientist and new poet. Her work has recently been published in magazines including Antiphon, Clear Poetry, Ink Sweat and Tears, Pennine Platform, The Rialto, The Stare’s Nest and Well Versed, and has won several prizes in open competitions.