Three Poems by Janet Rogerson

The Queen of the Monkeys


was married to my father—

big house heart sick and lost—

poor mother shovelled love in the yard,

she lived downstairs with the help.

The queen of the monkeys was

my mother now, she told me it all,

taught me if you can’t have him, just

pretend you find him, like in a dream

and he’s yours, simple. Just imagine,

cruelty becoming so wonderful.

She said I always wanted a daughter

and you’ll do, you’re pretty / no you are /

no you are. Father says in jest: a family

is like an engine: loud, dirty and too

complicated for girls, that’s why you

are good at dusting. Nanny shouts through

the thick door, the children are hungry,

can they have a metaphor?

Father, incensed, bellows, please remove

the forcible entry tools from the hall.

Then to me, slip the ice into the drink don’t

detonate it. Your stepmother is coming,

On the rug! I slip onto the rug.



After Church


We had just returned from church that Sunday

when the Dog appeared.

At the end of the road you squinted and asked,

what’s that by the gate?

The Dog was leaning on the wall and watched us

as we walked up the path.

We opened the door and a rabble of butterflies

flew out, the Dog slipped in.

It had a sort of smile and we decided it could stay.

We put down some water

but it couldn’t drink, it leaned towards the bowl,

opened its mouth and a slack

purple tongue fell out. We stroked its fur bones

and it sunk onto the tiles.

Without a tongue the Dog would struggle, we tipped

water through its ribs

into its black stomach. The Dog gasped over the house,

staring down at the floor,

it was looking for something. It would move through

each room eyes on the boards.

At the kitchen it stared at the spot its tongue had fallen

expecting it to be there,

that it had simply overlooked it the hundred other times.

The Dog slept by our bed

each morning it would leave behind a hunk of flesh and fur.

We used a dustpan and brush

to sweep then drop it out of the window for the blackbirds

who, like black sapphires

gathered on the fence as if it were the neck of a woman,

each day more and more.

We suspected the Dog was dying and got into bed with it

held hands through its ribcage.

We would keep vigil, it was the least we could do.~


Old Man Haiku


Old man

where are you going

with those flowers?



Image Credit: Stanislaw.k

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