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The Cat and the Devil


The cat can fall too

123456though her nine lives

123456123456help her twist

out of harm’s way –


watch her twirl

123456through legs and broom sticks

123456123456see her slither

between spark-blown chimney stacks.


The devil has come to cast her

123456as a virgin in taffeta

reclining on a sofa

how will she sheathe

123456her claws123456hide

her teeth?


will she embroider

123456123456song birds’ feathers

123456into macabre still-lives

string delicate charms

123456123456from rat vertebrae


123456or needle-point the flesh

of her lovers while they sleep

123456123456so they wake

123456itching from her touch

wondering123456whose brand

123456adorns them?


However she hides

123456her brindled pelt

one night123late123a call

123456will come123456singing

through the iced air


and she’ll arch123her back123leap

123456from the casement

leave her silhouette

123456123456against the moon

123456an absence

123456123456in her lover’s eye



© Jessica Traynor

Picture  10006946, illustration by Grandville, circa 1840, image copyright Mary Evans



Jessica Traynor’s debut poetry collection, Liffey Swim (Dedalus Press, 2014), was named one of the best poetry debuts of the past five years on She is currently under commission to write an opera with the composer Elaine Agnew for Galway 2020 European Capital of Culture. A thirty-minute choral song cycle, An Island Sings, was commissioned by Poetry Ireland to be performed in the National Concert Hall in March 2019. Prizes include the Ireland Chair of Poetry Bursary, the Hennessy New Irish Writer of the Year Award and the Listowel Poetry Prize. Her second collection, The Quick, was published in 2018.