Sphinx (Salò Press, 2017) was my first small poetry publication. Read poems from Sphinx below. You can buy Sphinx directly from Salò Press here.
The poems in Sphinx are written in the knowledge that one's voice is something upon which everyone and everything already has a claim. They ask, how can I even begin to speak? What do I/they/we sound like? Whose voice is in my mouth right now? Speaking under the threat of silence on the one hand, and the threat of noise on the other, these poems are deeply lyrical, deeply ugly; they contain healing rage and defiant joy, hatred and tenderness, and are redemptively motivated. Sphinx is speaking in and to the crisis. Which crisis? All of them. What have you got? This speaking necessitates new arrangements of language and address; belligerent, beautiful, female, Sphinx is the attempt.
Poems from Sphinx have appeared in Lighthouse, The Literateur, Tears in the Fence, Visual Verse, Brittle Star, Ink, Sweat & Tears and The Interpreter's House.
'Pick up this book...then flick to any page. Now, have you read a poem like this recently? No, no you haven't.' - S J Fowler
'Sphinx is a truly urgent, original, and electric collection, gorgeous and fizzing with anger and tenderness...These poems smell like violets and plastic, like what is to come - I urge you to read them.' - Rebecca Tamás
'Sphinx, the impressive debut poetry collection from Cat Woodward, is a surreal and unsettling book...What is at stake in Sphinx is important: to be able to exist in language. Woodward’s poems fight for their own place in language and create something captivating in the process.' - Adam Warne
I Have Seen This Before IV
Conservative politics is just indirect love and that is why it burns as if suffering were a specific noun in someone else’s language as if compassion were auto-guilt comfort-shame I shout and cannot breathe in again I shout consciousness washes up on the shore of a red-legged bird and in her brayed ugliness-song I am a me there hearing such grey-feathered red-legged goddesses the many such waters of many-ness surfacing for a while bird-like and singing a song to someone there on the shore the future is full of invisible light the future is bright so bright so very bright I cannot see it
there is this hoof in him
a kind of homelessness
made out of parties
be a largeness
be a saying hello
you are here
these are not my colours of wanting
this is me as a nanobot
as savaged seashell
i am an Easter Island head
and the cold black stars
who love that head
the Trinidad to his Tobago
an instruction guide in obtainable sobbing
and sudden frightening levitation
the provisional deconstructing
of a thousand
how gentle is the finger to the poem
how closed the caterpillar to the palm
pigeon chest like a child’s salt dough ash tray There’s
more hair on her pubic mound than on her head thighs
like bacon but she doesn’t turn you on He said veal is
force fed baby cow there’s nutrition enough under your
nails for a week Her father died i was like ‘ok’ a dead cat
now a bag full of insects and one frog Crawling is holy
on the worms of our bellies dog shit lined the street as
though it were palm trees Take this pain away o God-
dess take this pain far away There wasn’t much to say
about his skinny arms the crushed hand in which one
terminated like a dead spider in shape colour and size
In the name of wind and rain O Goddess take away this
pain i walked blackbirds impenetrable eyes soulless onion
A boy’s body about 12 she lifted her dress i said ‘cool’
lips like live animals he could be famous i remember the
dog vomited up something of unbearable significance
But she doesn’t turn you on we have been sober through-
out all this really A white candle burning to represent
health and the moon my name on paper blood mixed
with milk lemon verbena string The canned herring whose
eyes blazed with emptiness and venom brother’s bronchial
thunder calling for interim cloud In the name of wind and
rain Her pagan eyes like disused bathrooms like cephalopods
O Goddess take away this pain in the name of wind and rain
This Spring I'm Doing a Fire Party
Tristan in the car
Tristan not in the car
and that other thing
like men singing
Michael by the river
Michael on the river
next to me
to love boys
like green and yellow
toe on the carpet looks like a bean blood is more red from
the head strawberry jam/cherry pie dogs will eat anything
No means yes, no? Crowning the ring of muscle But it doesn’t
fit back on Girls scream like gulls What can you do when
the world gets on top of you? You can be crushed And one
just holding a leopard on a chain His teeth smacked the ice
one incisor shooting left the other right What can you do
when the world gets on top? You can be still as an oyster and
as quiet No Yes mother with a small hill of pink in her
hand Kids cry just like dogs have you seen The Road? Dogs
will eat anything What can you do? You can lie back and think
of America cornbread grits a bowl of raw liver beans But it
doesn’t go back on Elbow pulled open like a chicken wing
hard ground/moped If it’s not taken it’s not given Falling is
English for ‘catch me’ sometimes it’s just falling A rope burn
healing and other burns custard KY What can you do? You
can enjoy it Hurt me just don’t damage me crowning the
muscle Brother forgive, yes? It’s not been loved if it’s not broken
It’s not been owned Coffee-coloured rings/jam stains dogs
are the most yolo animal This is what it is A gull in mid-air tips
arched fire-engine legs spread putting on the brakes Falling
Falling yes yes yes Hot damn!
On Looking for One's Enemy and Finding Her
i eat. i eat her
dog her. dog eats
me she. i eat myself. i
dog eat dog. eating girls
dog me. me eat. i would like to
meet someone. a girl who likes dogs.
spaghetti with pork sausages.
shake can. hiss like.
spaghetti with pork sausages.
muttley. google how to make.
spaghetti with pork sausages.
red sauce with pig dog.
hot pig spaghetti.
haha. o me.
o hungry for.
o me. haha
constructing a sort of doorway that cannot be passed through
constructing a sort of doorway that will not be passed through
where in the non-atmosphere
in the reddish liquid
help sounds like woof.
[voice] is the material element recalcitrant to meaning, and if we speak in order to say something, then the voice is precisely that which cannot be said...Beyond the voice “with flesh and bones”…lies the fleshless and boneless entity defined purely by its function – the silent sound, the soundless voice.’