The Cat Prince
I am the Cat Prince I declare, already on all fours, already balls naked in the house of Hastie, where there’s Adam (Hastie), Daniel & me—the Cat Prince. We’re boyhood budbursts, twelve years of silly in us. Adam laughs frantic gasps, guffaws, then pegs it to his bedroom anticipating the chase. Daniel, wavering between cat & laddie, compañero & fugitive, succumbs to the gnostic glamour—strips for a full feline transformation. Down to our little furs, little bloods, ready to breenge past the chide of absent classmates, who might well hear of this and smite us with shame. We are cuddle kings hankering for Adam’s adulation—all moggy moxie we embrace the cat life, vow inurement to the side-effects: carpet burns, wind-lashed pimpling; the sacrifice of language in each falsetto yowl. As hunters we’re tasked by the Creator: our gaze a crosshair; our pounce a ripple of bravura. Who else so guilefully stalks sunbeams? We’d do well here —it’s those damn cats again the neighbours would learn to yawp, as I raced by with a robin redbreast between my jaws & Daniel finished shitting in their rhubarb patch. It’s convenient not to think of the killer in us, holding back our purr, assassin still. As we coil our new cat bodies to a spring, Adam clambers feart atop his bed. What happens next is louder than we hoped for. Adam’s mum, startled by the cacophony, arrives then screams, curtailing the playdate. Later that night, she calls my mum concerned. Though my mum never mentions this. I can only assume she was wise to it —the mythos, the hieroglyphs—fathomed we’d soon meet the type of trouble that could really shake boys down: long days when the teeth tear it out of us & the claws don’t stop coming. But not yet I hear her whisper, not without this moment’s orchestra of feeling. As a boy I was whiskerless, weighed down by the nest of knots squat in my belly. As a cat, I was so much more. Of course, as mother to the Cat Prince, she knew all this.
Queensferry’s Lost Not Found
It’s something only you could draw, that’s the infuriating thing: ickle fish enmeshed in thick beard, limbs in seaweed stookies— in your pocket two jostling crabs. Shoes salted, teeth gooped, a beatific smile pious as a new kite. Skipper, this is how I imagined you’d be found, having undergone an aquatic mummification you’d overseen personally, fastidiously; a lewd merman belching by your flank. The big question was not whether we wanted to spot you— like a stricken porpoise or seal too curious—but whether, if we did, to throw you back or take you home for supper; the colours having shifted. Yesterday’s battering whittled to a scorch of hours, snuffed to a wound. No. More than that—this purse of love, pilfered by another universe neglecting to leave a note; body-break foil-wrapped. On a balmy Thursday night in May, after a second day of searching, abrupt waterworks beneath a lamppost in Leith, a cauldron of light wombed around life’s whipping, ripe bawling. I took the call. I’ll admit, I’m relieved it wasn’t me.
of my own first word
i’ve not a scoobie nor does it grate but i do have suggestions for the last of them experiments in furnishing breath before the dip of death mind both still & racing the way a winter stream can be frozen on its crest whilst galloping away below the ice what’s more when it fades i’ve already decided
my hand will not need held my hands will hold each otherwho’ll be holding my hand
not so much written as gifted
the smell of burnt halloumi in my hair & seed-speckled shoelaces vaulting towards my lover for a voyage down the riverbank i’m riding this bike like a corsair of the cycle paths hopping potholes & snatching blackberries straight from the bush in moments like these this work seems god-given having used their egg-teeth to tear through the shell the poems arrive total & chirruping caked in chutzpah ensorcelled i peddle faster & yell into the sun release these words from in me
Click here to read Lindsay Johnstone’s review of Michael’s new collection, The Cat Prince