John McIntosh

The Rope

A saucer of milk for the holiday cat;
we all know how that ends.
Just so, he sits, polite and deferential,
mildly gazing round to spin his sorry tale
in that croaky, eloquent miaow.
Oh, he knows how to work the room alright.

And where’s the harm? It starts with bacon rinds
and crusts, but soon enough it’s swithering
in supermercados over the beef (in jelly!)
chunks or the juicy chicken pieces
‘Por Los Gatos Conocedor’.

I wonder if he thinks that this will last;
that all his days from here on in he’ll wake
to a friendly ‘Morning puss!’ and rub behind the ears.
Finally, he purrs, I’ve found the place where I belong,
where people know me and I’ll catch that dolce vita
that I’ve hunted all along.

Or does he know deep down inside
(he’s seen it all before), that when this
Autumn Break is done,
We’ll all be gone,
And he’ll be left,
Alone, once more
Outside the door?

After the sun drops down, I gaze along the
silver shawl the moon drapes round the sea,
along which shoals of flimsy boats grope grimly
north. Ship klaxons whoop whoop whoop
and searchlights shine on wide-eyed pilgrims.
I picture shivering backs, new-turned on loves
and childhoods left behind them in the night.
They are falling through a dark towards a light.

Is there no end to desperate? Is there no end to hope?
Is there no end to creatures clinging to its fraying rope?
I wake in midnight’s silent black, imagine
orange flotsam candles burning on the shore,
the hushed waves sliding swollen offerings onto
sand, then shrinking back in shame.

A million skinny cats are scratching
at the window in my mind.
Here be monsters!
Nothing human; nothing kind.

Copyright © John McIntosh 2018

I’m 58, a professional teacher and amateur versifier from Glasgow. One day, when I grow up,  I want to be a proper writer.

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About sunnydunny

Poet, publisher, gardener
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