2018 Spring Contest Winner: 2nd Place, Theme–Borders and Boundaries

Muggins Discovers His New Boundaries

by Dave Harvey


Full of years when we moved here,

he took to the back yard

like an old soldier,

patrolled his post,

lolled in the summer sun

(working on his kitty-tan).


Then a foreign cat came in,

and Muggins,

deep-dyed chauvinist

about foreign cats,

launched a silent assault,

charged at that strange cat,

which turned and ran—

knowing he was on alien land.


In a bound, he topped our fence.

In a bound, Mugs leaped for the top—

his old back legs no longer spring-springy—

he hit the fence about two feet low,

slid miserably back into

his own flower bed.


It was enough.

The other cat jumped

down the other side,

took off,

never came back.


And we knew our gallant, Holstein-spotted cat

would never leave our new back yard

on his own.


He had just discovered his new boundaries.




Judge’s comments

I was drawn to the category, Borders and Boundaries, because it is a subject that I ponder often and I often have lived in between places: countries, regions, cultures. These poems didn’t disappoint. The poets explored a lot of ground, figuratively and literally. And it was fun to explore with them.  The poems that really stuck with me were those that took me someplace. The poem in second place, “Muggins Discover His New Boundaries,” is a wry look at the joy, sorrow and discovery of the older cat, told with gentleness and humor. I smile every time I imagine the poor “Holstein-spotted cat” sliding down the fence.

—M. E. Hope



Dave Harvey’s poems have appeared in Summit, California English, Toyon, Verseweavers, and Encore. He coordinates and is often MC of the Down Towne Poets, a group holding monthly open mic readings in Talent, Oregon. He is the author of five chapbooks, three novels, and The Fifteen-Speed Cowboy, an account of his bike trip to Alabama, where he found his Birmingham Lady. She is Carol, a fiber artist, and they live in Talent.

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