felix and jango

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  • Published 20231107
  • ISBN: 978-1-922212-89-4
  • Extent: 207pp
  • Paperback, ePub, PDF, Kindle compatible

two black cats patrol our street

felix and jango

I can’t tell them apart

when I see one of them walking past

I say, ‘hey felix or jango’

they don’t bother to look at me

they know I’m a dog person

and they know I know they know 

felix comes from up the street

jango lives in the house opposite ours

they’re pretty good at avoiding each other

but every now and then

they’ll end up on the same stretch of paving

and have to work things out

sometimes it’s a mini fracas with a few pretend screeches

other times it’s a full-on fight with genuine screams

these run-ins happen beneath my study window

I’m convinced they’re in a territorial battle

over who gets to ignore me 

when we moved onto the street six years ago

the previous owner explained

‘there’s a black cat, he’s in and out all the yards

the last couple of years he started coming inside

we love him, you’ll love him

his name’s felix’

we had a dog, so felix never came around

then our dog developed arthritis

and felix started dropping by

he’d slink over the fence and slowly cross the yard

he’d pause beside our sleeping dog

right at his nose

and glance up at me in the kitchen window

he meant it as a threat

then he’d move on, and lazily hop up over the fence

into the neighbouring yard

jango and I properly met when his family were away

I popped across every day 

to check on his water and food

and clean out the litter tray

after a time jango got comfortable with me 

and began requesting affection 

when I finished my chores I’d sit on the floor 

and wait for him to emerge from under the bed

and circle me

he’d lean into my back and legs

and invite me to stroke him

by the time his family returned we were best mates 

but jango ghosted me

I didn’t take it personally

I’d have taken it personally if jango was a dog

now, whenever I see him on the street

I call out, ‘jango’ 

he darts a little way into the distance, and turns around

and stares back with untrusting green eyes

I hold out my hand, and call again 

he never approaches

honestly, it’s probably felix half the time

cats know when you don’t know

last night felix and jango got into it 

it was past midnight, and I was up late in my study

first it was screeches, then silence, then more screeches

I cocked my head, knowing it could go either way

I was hoping one of them would take the higher ground

maybe scuttle off, or step to the side so the other could pass

but felix and jango had something to sort out

they went at it for a hard minute

sixty seconds of two cats screaming and clawing

is the equivalent of hagler-durán fifteen rounds

every crying rally burned a scar on my soul

I was sad for a long time afterwards

I appreciate felix and jango without really knowing them

when they hurt each other they hurt me 

maybe it’s because they’re fighting over who gets 

to walk through my yard and look at me in the window 

with disdain

I hope their wounds are superficial

and healing well

they are the dons of our street

and though they take more than the protection they provide

we need them

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