Our Class’s Hamster Horatio with Teacher Notes by Katherine Gallagher

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Sometimes it’s my turn

to take him to our house

for the weekend. We celebrate.

I give him the nicest titbits

And he spins and spins on his wheel.


When I take him out of his cage,

he wanders about my room.

He’s extremely curious

and sniffs at everything in his path.

But I watch him constantly

in case he zooms away.


Katherine Gallagher

(Published in A First Poetry Book, Macmillan Children’s Books, 2012, ed Gaby Morgan and Pie Corbett)


Teacher Notes: – for Primary years 7 – 11 years


Most of us have pets – fellow creatures that we care for and love.

In cities, sometimes it’s more difficult to have enough room for preferred pets such as rabbits or dogs and we may  have to accept having smaller pets such as cats, hamsters and guinea-pigs.

Then again, a class may like to share caring for a pet as in this poem, ‘Our Class’s Hamster Horatio.’

Suggestion: Write about a pet you used to have at school.




“Dog” by Katherine Gallagher

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Dog waits in and out of shadows.

Dog dives around chairs and feet.

Dog looks for the spill of hands.

Dog sings the Ballad of Less and More.

Dog sleeps with one eye open.

Dog’s life isn’t negotiable.

Dog circles moons of language.

Dog barks for homecomings.

Dog is a name away.

Remember you can’t lose Dog.

Sooner or later, Dog will find you.



©Katherine Gallagher, 2018

“Circus-Apprentice” by Katherine Gallagher

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I’m learning it all – acrobatics, clowning,

riding bareback and trapeze,

fire from a sleeve: my hand’s a wand.

I weave my life around dancing elephants

who spray the air while turning their backs

on the crowd;

lions who never put a foot wrong.

I’m taking their cue, I’ve seen

what people want.

Prancing ponies teach me steps:

pacing, adroitness, like my fellow-dancers

keeping their spot.

I’m walking the high-wire, making my mark

poised, balanced, don ’t look away –

you are my gravity’s other edge.

© Katherine Gallagher

(Published in Carnival-Edge: New & Selected Poems (Arc Publications, 2010)

“1942” by Katherine Gallagher

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They’d hoped he’d be back for Christmas –

the lights shining down on him, the tree

somehow shielding off the horror. A break.

The family hadn’t seen him as a soldier,

in his uniform, among harvested paddocks,

the dried stubble that pricked your legs.


Arriving home, he said Merry Christmas,

hugged people and slapped them on the back.

Wandered about the place, eyes crinkled

with strain, lines dug

into his forehead. So young, he seemed

to be either laughing or very sad

as though, in between,

there was nothing.

(From Tigers on the Silk Road, Arc Publications, 2000)

”My Mother’s Horse Shoe Ring” by Katherine Gallagher

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My Mother’s Horse-shoe Ring

  (after Grace Nichols)

Sometimes when I see it

on my index finger 

I am reassured,


rub its ruby stone, her gift.

I need this small reminder

of her, its lucky charm


that catches me

like an itinerant fire

chipped from the sun.


©Katherine Gallagher

Published in Acres of Light  Arc Publications, 2016)

“Art Class on Observatory Hill” by Katherine Gallagher

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Art Class on Observatory Hill, Sydney

Here, the sea’s bowl ̶

the harbour with still, white boats

and coloured flags ̶ a Dufy carnival,

lines crisscrossing, the arch of the bridge

against roofs of scattered houses, shops.

It is afternoon, late summer ̶

how the promise of ships lies lazily

across the myriad bays

reaching as far as eye can see.


The landscape-class, easels set up

have it leisurely before them.

Their canvasses reflect this bluest of light

where the tutor’s words float like gulls

wheeling in and out among Moreton Bay figs.


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