Issue 17 June 2018


Editor's Comments

Issue 17 highlights my favourite animal - the cat. I've been a slave to various cats throughout my life. I love their haughtiness and their total disregard of humans (apart from meal times). I'm envious of the fact that they are able to spend two thirds of their life asleep. As a poet have noticed that a number of poets have written excellent poems about cats and I wanted the same for Allegro. As the vast number of poems reaching my inbox showed I'm not alone in my love of cats and I hope you enjoy this selection.

Sally Long


Remembering Cleo

Snug in the crook of my arm
you’d shift as we lay together,
one paw languorously extended,
hypnotised by your purring
into absolute content.

I’d watch those beautiful owl eyes
narrow then shut then again
open less wide until a last yawn
closed on silence, yours, mine,
and we went our separate ways.

John Mole


There is little reason,
there is no good reason,
there is insufficient reason,
there is only a feeble,
wholly inadequate reason
for getting up and leaving you snug in bed

(with me replaced by a smug cat)

Seth Crook

The Aspirationals Cat 

The door frames are all similar and there’re no shops. 

It’s one of those estates built for an apparent class 
of aspirational people. It’s the middle of the day  
and nearly all the houses are empty, and a cat  
is scratching at one of the doors where there’s no flap. 

It’s one of those odd blends of colours, like a drip painting.  

Maybe they were in a hurry in the morning, and it went  
out through their feet. The scratching is annoying.  
Maybe the cat is just annoying, and they’ve left it out  
as a punishment for getting out. Maybe it’s just one of those cats  

that seem to exist purely for their inconvenience, 

that keeps wanting to go in then out then in then out,  
not eating its food, but pawing where the food’s stored  
for no reason that’s comprehensible, it carries on,  
but what it’s aspiring towards, ultimately, who can say? 

Samuel W. James


I can live without company but not without
talking to myself. Blame it on the cat
who became a person. No one visits.
Procedures must be followed to a t.
Cooking for one equals tears an onion outlasts.
Perhaps these ministrations become habits.
Nothing new under the sun, all is vanity,
Permission to speak? Ecclesiastes.

I could have been more than I am but
things can’t be undone. The accident
happened. One wrong move and still at night
it could happen again. When your back quits
is a matter of time. Be blameless, soft-
toned, don’t froth so at the mouth of it.

Judith Skillman

Barrington Megatron Morley

Barrington Megatron Morley
black and white creeping
claws pouncing

Penny Tuttey

Haiku Cats – take your pick of the litter


the gingersnap cat stares as
I get undressed.

What does this cat think
strumming his tail with such ease
to fugues of Bach?
Shut Eye
Black and white kitten
lying under clothesline in
soft circles of sleep.
Street Walker

Calico cat
curving corners
against the cold.
Free Throw

A tiger cat with
big green eyes
tosses balls of yarn.

Joan McNerney

The Lion 

At a place translated
as Return to the Wild,
the warden killed
his walkie-talkie,
hushed us
and extinguished the lights
of our open-topped jeep.
The persecuted beast
is active at dusk —

from murky savannah
a male stalked up 
to the vehicle’s skirts
and paused, dead still,
pinning us to the last bare 
urge of evening in his eyes,
hunting us with smell,
daring us to challenge
his right to the stench.

Not a soul spoke
though insides were screaming
as primordial hackles rose,
a sense of fight-or-flight
eventually invoked,

until, with a growl
and a shuffle in his dung, 
he loped away at the click
of the ranger’s safety-lock
and tourists firing 
quips of relief
from a quicksand 
of primeval subconscious.

Tim O’Leary

This Morning

He goes for a run this morning
still dark out
proud of that
he takes it slow
when he gets to the hill
he says out loud
I'm going to run to the top fast
and he does

There's a Henry Moore sculpture up there
a woman slipping into stone
red in the face and gasping clouds of steam
she looks at him
and the stone woman curves
swells and falls like the sea
water rolls down her cheeks,
breasts, then over the whole city

Coming home feels stiff
and he nods to the man running the opposite way through rain
heading uphill in pilgrimage
his face caught between
headphones and a bad dream
when he gets home I'm still in bed asleep
with the cat watching me like a lover
the windowpane is thick with milky beads
I'm glad that it has rained.

Ezra Miles

Life on hold

Julie or possibly Jackie is – apparently
too busy to respond but –
as the voice reminds me frequently –
she still attaches great importance to my call
and so has kindly placed me back on hold

But somehow –
even the cat doing a headstand
is not spectacular enough today –
it would take at least a somersault
and perhaps a triple backflip
and the endless loop of on-hold tunes
to burst unannounced into a bonfire
of inanities to put me right,
and even then it’s only maybe

Julie or possibly Jackie is, I know,
a good person, mother, daughter, lover,
but she is also, as far as I recall
the third person in a row to thank me for my call,
then hand me over to her colleague -
also called Julie or possibly Jack or …..

a click, a pause a silence
expectation raised –
and then –

Josie or possibly Jamie  
are still – apparently
too busy to respond but –
as the voice reminds me yet again –
they still attach a great importance to my call
and so once more have kindly placed me
back on hold

But somehow…….

Roger Bloor

From out of the night

Over the threshold  of sleep it appears 
in ripples of flame and shadow, trails 

your scent —
a soft pad through the half-light. 

The sinews of your heart almost snapping, 
you recoil from teeth and claws; 

but it settles against you, presses close 
its warmth soft as kitten fur

and your knot of fear is only a breath away 
from the rasp of  tongue on your skin.

Yvonne Baker


I would like to sell my cat’s memory
in smoke pricked with foxglove
from a travelling cabinet. 
Tiny vials of wild.

He remembers through rough wounds,
in the vernacular of seasons,
crushed leaves and rodent skulls,
in the prickle of storm and bitter of insects. 

He remembers in lonely nights and fur
snagging between elite and dismembering claws 
and of older times of ox bone
and the seduction of spitting fires.

He remembers sun reflecting off
a starling's eye and wallowing 
in the stolen comfort 
of a boys bed.

I remember the sea; but it is gleaned
from a picture or book, even when 
the spume spits in my face and 
the shingle sings.

I remember our love, but in a way that 
is carefully folded.

Even my memories of memories
are put in this box or that.
All my memories are carbonated;
pressurised with the unreal.

The cat blinks and asks
where have you buried them?

A sip of his memory tastes of taut lungs,
nosebleeds in summer,
and makes me choke until I cough
out those truisms that had drowned me.

Rushika Wick

I Am Jack the Cat

I am Jack the cat.
What could be better
than that? I am the most
intrepid orange,
my claws are the spears
of Achilles.
I purr Fuer Elise,
I dance James Brown,
I nap Chopin by the fire
—I am Jack the Cat.
What could be better than that?

Leland James

Poetics the Ginger Cat
Ποιητική: ‘poi-EIGH-tee-keigh’

By a caged fire I read. Around me walls
of ancient lore, of poetry and war….         
Prometheus bound, flames behind glass doors:                               

I pause, plying the sage, musing upon
a well worn Mediterranean page. Poetics            
now rises before me upon this little stage:                    
I watch the cat play.

Flute and sinewed lyre, a smirk of teeth,
the lightness of cat feet in Titian wreath.
What grace of flowing shoulder, savage art!                          
I watch the cat play.

What dread symmetry! hammer and golden chain.
Cat paws toss, tease and bat. I gasp. I laugh.
I smile. I shiver. I ply this heart and brain.
I watch the cat play.

If Aristotle kept a cat, its name
would be Poetics—and it would be a ginger cat.
Fire and ice and catnip mice: Poieighteekeigh.
I watch the cat play.

Leland James

After Reading a Poem in Which the Speaker Hits a Cat on the Interstate

with apologies to Jeff Worley

I feel a little queasy
and take a sip of the wine I poured myself
when I gave up on work tonight and decided
to sit down and read poetry instead.
With a little more intention
I pet the cat on my lap—
McGuffin, my oldest,
whose brother died this winter.
The poem was well done,
ending with a beautifully honest image
I will not reveal here, as you may one day read it,
and it is ungraceful to scream
“Spoiler Alert!” in the middle of a poem.
Anyway, trust me. It’s good.
I hope you stumble upon it sometime.
If you do, perhaps we can talk.
If you do, perhaps you can tell me how you reacted
to the soft thud, the black bundled thing
knocked from one machine to the next,
to the speaker who, as the poem’s theme required,
kept driving without letting loose his breath,
leaving me hoping that, as poets often do,
this one made up the story, or at least changed details
so that he hid the time I hope he took
when he did exhale slowly, when he did stop his car,
stepped out on the shoulder despite freeway danger,
made sure that nothing more could be done
before going on to do nothing more—except, of course,
write the wonderful poem that leaves me here pausing,
reaching out for a pen,
drinking a little faster,
loving more exquisitely
what tenderness is given in this life.

Jo Angela Edwins


To the Editors
of the important magazine
whose rules for submission
declare that no stories,
essays, or poems
about cats will be printed:

Dear Sirs–
and we know you are “sirs”--
understand this much–

each night we stare
at the pale of the moon
and pray you will never
know loneliness,
need comfort even
liquor can’t provide,
or shiver at the sting
of your own snowy feet in winter.

If you do, may the horrible moment
give you adequate pause
to beg nature’s forgiveness
for your ill-conceived clause.

Jo Angela Edwins

A Sonnet on Grace 

There could be a reason my cat shows grace.
A woman from the church brought her to me..
She roves the house bestowing redemption.
The frayed fabric mouse she leaves on my bed—
it’s her sermon on the Beatitudes.
The fern fronds she plucks, places in my shoe—
she’s a church lady arranging flowers.
She’s grateful— those teeth will always be gone
but her street wounds healed. Still, she hides, cloisters.
The house-painters called me a crazy cat
lady with an imaginary cat.
They never see her but I do. She moves 
room-to-room with assurance, connection.
She kneels, knowing, with the greatest repose.

Jane Simpson

The cat sitter 

A week in the bunker;
'Resting'; collapsing. You say 'just chill out with cats'; in your mind I am a different kind of babysitter; one with feline paws and a hybrid mind. 

The streets here are familiar but the pain has eased since my last visitation. 

Then in Sainsbury's and the Co-Op supermarket, old wounds are resurrected; 'There's something wrong in your head', they say. 'There's something wrong in yours', I say. 

I cannot bear the oppressiveness of the market, or the machinations of oiks who prod and poke unprepossessing customers like me; older, and without protection. 

In their eyes I will always have something to prove. If I survive it is because I continue to fight. 

When I am here I always feel like I am walking along the street with my petticoats showing and my hair in a royal mess. Like I am being tarred and feathered by everyone I meet. 

Inside the bunker the cats are my home. I sit with them in the kitchen; loving, but knowing I must always be prepared to leave. I must always be ready to transform again. 

And their purring renders me silent. 'Sweet things', I say. 'I am here because of you'. 

Claire Sexton


When Cain stored his grain,
a horde of black rats raided.
A gaunt wildcat followed
to feast on that plague.

When rival brothers charred
offerings to the Lord,
the cat followed the odour
of the herdsman’s bait.

When Cain and Abel quarrelled
in jealous love and hate,
the cat, like a shadow, followed
and, yawning, lay down to wait.

When Cain struck down his brother
and crouched there shocked and stiff,
the cat crept up and licked
blood from the farmer’s fist.

When Cain was cast out, scarred,
to wander the fierce world,
the wildcat did not follow
but, for the first time, purred.

Dan MacIsaac


Firelight glints
on onyx teeth
and topaz eyes.

Coal rosettes
glow, scorching
a pelt of gold.

Smoke spooks
that prize from
its pungent den,

contraband flushed
careening to
garrote of net.

Black market bait,
trafficked exotic
smuggled over

warped borders,
bootlegged for
a carnal trade.

Beauty defanged
and declawed, all
grace deformed.

Lightning trapped
in a metal pen
bolted shut,

its last charge
shorting out  
in a tin can.

Dan MacIsaac

Reigning Cats

They say you shouldn’t keep
more cats than you have
rooms in your house,
though they probably mean
your average, 12 x 14 foot rooms.
Perhaps at Versailles
you could squeeze in a few more.

Cats playing tag and skidding
after balls down the Hall of Mirrors,
accepting as their due bowing
servants, curtained beds,
and a profusion of gold
reminiscent of their days
with the pharaohs.
Every strutting tom
would fancy himself the Sun King.

You might be able to house
a whole dynasty of cats
if they were allowed to roam
the grounds, willing to risk
the trick fountains
and clumsy feet
of bourgeois tourists.
Though, frankly, cats are not
so keen on égalité and fraternité
as we.

Alarie Tennille

Negative Space

The cat, still just a kitten, curled
on the back of the couch, looks up
at every noise to see that I am

still in the room. We have an understanding.

He follows my every move. I feed him
and offer him empty boxes he fills
with yarn. He’s learning to live

with complacence. I’m learning to live with silence.

Not exactly silence but the absence
of the sound of human voices. Replaced
with clicks, whirrs, and chirps that signify

movement (something to do with physics

or waves or the existence of a vacuum).
The broken January trees fan the house
with small gentle taps and shudder

before bouncing back up in the breeze.

Anne Graue

The Good Old Days

If I could travel back in time
to one day, it might be
the day we pretended
to drive the red convertible
Austin Healey abandoned behind
the fence, where I sang “Me and Bobby McGee”
and you sang “Country Roads,”
spending hours driving to California
in that suburban Kansas lot
behind ranch houses lined
up with driveways wide
enough for cars and games
of jump rope in the early seventies
complete with fringe, bandanas,
and a brother in Viet Nam whose
letters we read with black and white
pictures while we played
“Honky Tonk Women” on the record
player as loud as it would go, distorted
and scratched, and we danced
on a picnic table in the garage
where Topsy had her kittens,
and we watched them emerge
one by one.

Anne Graue

spring sunrays -
a kitten opens its eyes 
for the first time

Goran Gatalica

Iambic Hotline

Iambic Hotline, thanks for calling. How
may I direct your call? I’m sorry, please
hold (muzak plays). Apologies, meow-
(oh dear, the cat is back!) what are your needs?

If you don’t mind, speak louder. I can’t hear
with all the rhyming in the background and
this silly puss, of course, with her raised rear-
she wants some scratches! Now, what have you planned?

A villanelle? A sonnet? Some blank verse?
You do know that no one will read it, though.
It’s sad but true. I’m sorry that sounds terse
but kitty here (and I) want you to know.

Unstressed, then stressed! Relax, don’t sell you soul-
let’s place pens down, put more milk in her bowl.

Karen Shepherd

Night Pearl

In the warm shell of blankets
curves my crescent moon body
and curled inside like a pearl
my cat breathes a wave crest
and fall, his heart beat reaching
for the shore of my own.

As the moon begins to fade
in dawn’s wash of watercolour
we’re adrift, aloft,
hover just above the Earth
dreams still a tangle of reeds
that catch at our ankles
bob us up and down again.

Until the sweetness 
strong as a beacon’s light
pushes open my eyes, my heart
and the thrum and purr of morning
vibrates through, we surface together  
to greet the birds, the wind,
day stretched out before us 
vivid as a cat’s bright eyes.

Colleen Lynch


They rat-trapped all the clichés – perched on walls, shared naps
on the deep sofa, were playful, docile, gave the slip

to mutts, snagged their curious claws on endless balls of string.
All those memories are all too strong.

But most of all an impression sticks of standoffish-
ness. That attitude of theirs! Both blithe and selfish,

refined in coolly careless glances back: “and you are . . ?”
Even cooler, contradiction came when they’d purr

beside you, on you, padding at dawn across the bed;
they knew you then, all right. As household creatures should

who need you – or at least would, nestling, seem to need
you – keenly. Who seemed (we fell for it) as if they cared.
Michael Caines


Yvonne Baker has been published in numerous magazines. Her work has been included in Second Light’s anthology Fanfare; the Emma Press anthology The Sea;  and Paper Swans anthologies Chronicles of Eve, The Best of British and Love Pocket Poetry.

Roger Bloor is a retired psychiatrist and is currently a student on the MA in Poetry Writing from Newcastle University studying at the Poetry School in London. He has published poems in the Hippocrates Prize Anthology (2017) and Still Born (Affect Formations 2018) as well as occasional online Instagram poems.

Michael Caines is a journalist living in London.

Seth Crook
loves puffins, has taught philosophy at various universities, rarely leaves Mull. His poems have recently appeared in such places as The Rialto, Magma, Envoi, The Interpreter's House, Causeway, Poetry Scotland, Ink, Sweat and Tears, Snakeskin, Antiphon.

Jo Angela Edwins teaches at Francis Marion University in Florence, SC. Her poems have appeared in various venues including CalyxAdannaQuarterday Review, and New South. Her chapbook Play was published in 2016. She shares her home with seven cats and one beleaguered dog. 

Goran Gatalica (Virovitica, Croatia, 1982.) graduated physics and chemistry in Zagreb, after which he entered the doctoral study.  He publishes poetry, haiku and prose in literary magazines, journals and anthologies He won several awards for poetry and haiku in Croatia and abroad. He is member of the Croatian Writers’ Association.

Anne Graue, the author of Fig Tree in Winter (Dancing Girl Press, 2017), has published poems in The Book of DonutsBlood and Roses: A Devotional for Aphrodite and VenusThe Plath Poetry Project, and Rivet Journal. Sheis a contributing editor for the Saturday Poetry Series at

Leland James is the author of seven books of poetry and a book on poetry craft. He has published over 200 poems worldwide, including The Lyric, Rattle, The Spoon River Poetry Review, London Magazine. He was the winner of the UK’s Aesthetica Creative Writing Award and has won or received honors in many other

Samuel W. James' poems can also be found in Allegro, The Eyewear Review, Dissident Voice, The Literary Hatchet, London Grip, Clockwise Cat, Peeking Cat, Sentinel Quarterly, Scarlet Leaf Review, Door is a Jar, The Beautiful Space, Elsewhere Journal and Ink, Sweat and Tears.

Colleen Lynch left her childhood farm (and the multitude of cats there) to study creative writing at York University in Toronto. She is moved to write poetry, both by country memories and by the city life. Publications include Whetstone, Women’s Education des Femmes and Paperplates.

Dan MacIsaac writes from Vancouver Island. His poetry has appeared in many journals, including Magma, Agenda and Standand is forthcoming in The Interpreter’s House. Brick Books published his collection, Cries from the Ark in September 2017. His website is

Joan McNerney’s poetry has been included in numerous literary zines such as Moonlight Dreamers of Yellow Haze, Seven Circle Press, Dinner with the Muse, Blueline, Halcyon Days and included in Bright Hills Press, Kind of A Hurricane Press and Poppy Road Review anthologies. She has been nominated four times for Best of the Net. 

Ezra Miles is a poet and filmmaker from London. He studied Moving Image at The University of Brighton [BA].  He is interested in the magic of the mundane and the modern, near-subconscious occult rituals we all perform.

John Mole's most recent collection is Gestures and Counterpoints (Shoestring Press). He has received the Gregory and Cholmondeley Awards for his poetry, and the Signal Award for his poems for children. His work can be heard on The Poetry Archive website ( )

Tim O’Leary, 
former photographer and archaeologist, has been shortlisted in competitions including Live Canon, Munster Lit Fest, Poetry on the Lake and Strokestown. He won Cork’s Wild Atlantic Words in 2015. His work has appeared in Poetry Salzburg Review,  andotherpoems, Ink, Sweat and Tears and The High Window, as well as several anthologies.

Claire Sexton a Welsh, forty-something librarian and writer, living and working in London. She often writes on the subject of mental illness, with which she is well-acquainted, and has been published in Ink, Sweat and Tears, Peeking Cat Poetry, Foxglove Journal, and others. 

Karen Shepherd lives with her husband and two teenagers in the Pacific Northwest of the United States, where she enjoys walking in forests and listening to the rain. Her writing has been published in various journals including riverbabble, CircleShow, The Society of Classical Poets, The Literary Nest and Writers Resist.

Jane Simpson’s chapbook, On the Porch, Under the Eave, was published in 2017, and her book, Blessings of the Beasts will be published in 2018. Her poems have appeared in Atlanta Review, BorderSenses, The Chattahoochee Review, Penwood Review, POEM, Poet Lore, Psaltery & Lyre, Sojourner’s and elsewhere. She lives in Atlanta, Georgia.

Judith Skillman’s
recent book is Kafka’s Shadow, Deerbrook Editions, 2017. Her poems have appeared in many journals, including Cimarron Review, Shenandoah, Hawai'i Review, and J Journal, and in anthologies, including Nasty Women Poets, Lost Horse Press. She has been a writer in residence at the Centrum Foundation, and is the recipient of a 2017 Washington Trust GAP grant. Visit,,

Alarie Tennille (Kansas City) was born and raised in Portsmouth, Virginia, with a genius older brother destined for NASA, a ghost, and a yard full of cats. She graduated from the University of Virginia in the first class admitting women. Alarie hopes you’ll visit her at

Penny Tuttey is a previously unpublished rather senile poet writing for pleasure for many years now.  Barrington was a rescue cat who provided great concern bringing live mice and birds into the house as gifts and chasing them madly.  Eventually a fox got him.  He is buried under the horse chestnut tree.

Rushika Wick is a poet and doctor with previous poetry and prose publications including in Litro, MIROnline, Word-o-Mat Edition 2 and Cold Lips Ed.3. amongst others. She has previously run a pop- up clinic prescribing poetry and have read at various literary nights. She is currently a student at The Poetry School in London and is mostly writing about social contracts in relation to body and mind.