The Cat Who Came in from the Cold

Day 4 of NaPoWriMo/GloPoWriMo dawned shortly past 7am. And I was awake! I am not a morning lark by nature. It wasn’t as if I went to sleep particularly early either. (Although I am a bit tired from March’s Mad Haring around from event to workshop to event to workshop to evening committment.) But the prospect of a fresh poetry prompt has me itching to get at it. Although I did need two massive cups of lemon tea to fuel the creativity.

Today’s prompt is about fleshing out an abstract. The idea (should you detect it) is one that I mull over often given where I live here in West Cavan.  Dogs make a cameo appearance. So I tick that box.

Our craft resource today focuses on the use of concrete nouns and specific details, using the idea of “putting a dog in it.” Today, we challenge you to write a poem that is about something abstract – perhaps an ideal like “beauty” or “justice,” but which discusses or describes that abstraction in the form of relentlessly concrete nouns. Adjectives are fine too! For example, you could have a poem about sadness that describes that emotion as “a rowboat tethered with fishing line to a willow that leans over a pond. Rainwater collects in the bottom, and mosquito eggs.” Concrete details like those can draw the reader in and let them imagine the real world where your abstract ideal or feeling happens.

The Cat Who Came in from the Cold


In the country we live

In parallel, if not side by side

With the badger RTA on the verge

The fox corpse draped over a fence post

A caution against stealing lambs

Same as the pine martin nailed

On the Hen House door

Life with teeth, claws, other priorities

They have theirs. We have ours

And it’s fine most of the time


In the country we live

Sometimes with boundaries blurred

The feral cat, tick ridden mangey coat

Stilty legged, more bone than skin

After eighteen months

Reconnaissance and indecision

Came in from the cold

Who learned not to claw the hand

That fed and wanted to pet him

To play nicely with the dogs

Had manners put on him by the other cats

And sure there were some scuffles and squabbles

But what family hasn’t those?


In the country cottage where we live

He swapped one stress for another kind

Learning the customs of our dark continent

All for a stable food supply, warmth and vet’s visits

He will always be a bit of a foreign import

Slightly other, with his swagger and quick glare

Whiff of leaf mould, bonfire and barn mouse hunt

Closer kin to the badger and fox

Or even the model for the stuffed red squirrel

In his basket

That he savages

Before falling into his dreams and sleep


© 2018 Bee Smith


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