Jeff Phelps

Herding Cats

Some days words sit up on sheds
licking their fur. They look down
disdainfully, refuse to be tempted
onto the page.

Words stake out their territories,
go wandering off
in search of some elusive scent.
They sulk and disappear

for days on end, returning
well-fed by another hand to occupy
the best armchair in the house.
Words spit and scratch when cornered.

They yowl all night, give birth
secretly in the shoe cupboard.
Yet on good days the slightest sound
of spoon on tin will bring them in.

Then words will curl tails around your legs,
doze on sunny windowsills,
end the day contented on your lap,
purring as if they had never been away.

Jeff Phelps has recently moved to Melksham in Wiltshire. He has had two novels published by the award-winning Tindal Street Press and he was 1991 winner of the Mail on Sunday novel competition. His poetry and stories are widely published and anthologised including in London
Magazine and Critical Quarterly. His poetry booklet, Wolverhampton Madonna (2016) is published by Offa’s Press. He also works in words and music with his son, the musician Dan Phelps.