5 Poems by Jenny Blackford


The Doomsday Clock is set at 
two minutes to midnight 
for life as we know it.
I’m set at two seconds 
to tears: 
my mother, his father.
Not for the old reasons
which seemed so urgent
back then. 
I could laugh


Just when we should
have been having
the time of our lives

his father fell
on a smooth surface.

My mother can’t remember 
what she can’t remember
again and 
again and 

And time disintegrates.


Tuesday mornings are sacred to yoga. The washing 
and writing and parents and overgrown garden can wait 
till I’m done, stretched and strengthened
and calmed.

Little pause after the in breath.

Foot strain, joint pain, migraine; endless specialists 
have looked me up and down and in and out, 
and asked, Have you tried yoga?
Oh, yes.

Little pause after the out breath. 

Hands and knees on mats for cat pose: stiffened spine 
curls smooth again. Bottoms up for downward dog: 
release the hamstrings
and the head.

Little paws pressed to our mats.

The parquet floor is full of people
keeping ourselves well.
The only side effect
is calm.

On the Putative Darkness of Cats

The household feline wants to think
he’s dark-mysterious, scourge of the night lands,
savage with delight; uncanny hunter,
companion of witches and poets.
White Death, they call him
in his silky dreams.
We’re all in the spare room, furry
and smooth-skinned family members together
because the silly beastie lost a baby rat 
in the big bedroom, and I can’t find it.
The cat is in disgrace, but even he won’t stay
overnight in the same room 
as the tiny terrifying wild thing.


A week before I leave
for my first cruise, a coldsore 
the size of a bus and twice as sore. 

On the cruiseship balcony, the saddest 
soul trapped in the wood and metal rail, 
wailing in the wind.

On the plush stairs, a teen retro-goth 
in the one-act tragedy “Everyone hates me”. 
I try not to laugh.

At bus-tour lunch after 
the treasure-sodden Hermitage, 
a Muslim couple fighting in undertones

staring morose 
in opposite directions. Echoes
of my past. By bus reboarding time

they’re all smiles again
over their baby girl 
in her gigantic pram. 

The whole bus smiles.

Egret with attitude

An egret coolly snacked on tadpoles 
from the pond, white cuphook neck 
bent with the elegance of aristocracy.
Ivy, protector of frogs and froglets,
waved long pale arms at the bird. 

What exactly is your point?
it almost said, lowered its lordly neck
for another refreshing bite.
Too civilised to shout at wildlife
the frog-defender ran close as she dared.

Go! Leave the pond alone!
Unrushed, skilful on its stilts,
the white-necked bird complied, strolled 
to the lush lawn, fished the damp grass
for undefended worms.

About the contributor

Jenny Blackford lives in Newcastle, Australia. Her poems have appeared in Westerly, Going Down Swinging, The Pedestal Magazine and more. Her poetry prizes include first place in the Thunderbolt Prize for Crime Poetry 2017, the Connemara Mussel Festival Poetry Competition 2016 and the Humorous Verse section of the Henry Lawson awards in 2014 and 2017, as well as third in the prestigious ACU Prize for Literature 2014. Pitt Street Poetry published an illustrated pamphlet of her cat poems, The Duties of a Cat, in 2013, and her first full-length book of poetry, The Loyalty of Chickens, in 2017.

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