It's just poetry, it won't bite

On the Stand


04.26.10 Posted in words to linger on by

Some would say Telly McGaha is passionate, low key, unpredictable, charged, and has a great relationship with karma; he would say he really has too much creative energy and not enough time to channel it. His vices are bluegrass and bourbon, so he chose to return to Kentucky, where he now lives with his partner, a son, a border collie, and, currently, cat number four. He was the 2009 Hayward Fault Line winner, and his fiction has been published in Doorknobs & Bodypaint. His poetry is maintained at his web site. Telly’s use of humor serves to underscore the emotion in his work. Read this poem a few times and then write one about your own Empress Ching Meow. You know you’ve had one at some point.


On the Stand
By Telly McGaha

You tell me Jamaicans do not
keep company with cats
and provide no evidence
yet these pusses have blown
a hole in your contrite case.

Exhibit A
Sarah Pooh Pooh, the Muslim
cat, was sly and relished my
chanting om mani padme hum,
which you found odd when
entering from work to discover
the collision of two religions.
Then you found the way
she greeted you dog-like at the door
sentimental and sweet. Still,
you had her removed
from the crime scene after I
left for Maryland. Poor Sarah
Pooh Pooh. Your cruelty
was almost unforgivable.

Exhibit B
Empress Ching Meow, Queen of
all she surveyed in her kingdoms
of Baltimore and Kentucky,
a Siamese actually from Thailand
discovered thanks to Thai
Arroy’s window sign: Free
Siamese Kittens. You loved
the story of getting her
from a restaurant more than her,
and enjoyed the naming rights.
When I could not hold her
while dying, you cradled her,
and did not complain about
the cost of cremation. She 
wiped you kitty-clean, as white
as the snow that fell that day.

Exhibit C
Shoog Night Tina was a cross-
eyed, bucktoothed, kink
in the tail stereotype yet you
found her struggle to survive
endearing, saying any who escape
from West Virginia to Maryland
deserve another chance. Why
then did you not heed my warning
to let her in from the balcony 
as the storm drew near? Did you
truly believe morning rubbing
and gliding weaved between ankles
while shuffling with hot iron
and coffee was an attempt to kill you?

Exhibit D
Nina Simeown/Princess Jasmine,
by this point our son has decided
to not let murderers give them
names,  and so she has developed
a dual personality, one of love and
one of fear and angst. It is as if
she has spoken with the twenty-
seven lives of her purring predecessors
and knows of your unintentional 
slip ups. Your attempt to love
this one has come too late,
and you say she is trying
to scratch out your eyes
whenever she leaps hellcat
style from behind hidden
curtain onto warmed pillow.
I admit I enjoy waiting
to see who will get the better 
of whom this time.




3 Responses to “On the Stand”

  1. Jessie Carty says:

    Tel this is just so fantastic :) my three cats give it two paws up each!

  2. bobbie troy says:

    Great poem! I think you read this one on Annmarie’s radio show.

  3. Jessie, I’ve got you beat. My four inside cats give this a collective sixteen paws and four tails up. This is one of my favorite Telly McGaha poems. I recommend everyone visit his website – he is one of the most consistently great poets I know.