I was born in Dublin, Ireland (1952) and spent my adult life teaching in a school in the Dublin suburbs. In 2011, I retired to a small village in the Charente region of France to play boules, sample the local cuisine and run a twitter site, @poemtoday, dedicated to the short poem and a Tumblr site (poem-today) which publishes a classic or a contemporary poem on a daily basis. I have had poems printed in American, Mexican, British and Irish magazines.
Three Poems on the Topic of Violence in Public Places
Author's Note: These poems are a response to public manifestations of violence and hatred. The first, written after the Roseburg shootings, commemorates those students and teachers whose lives were brutally cut short due, in part, to the cowardice of American legislators. Cowardice of another type is the subject of the second poem, written after the Charlie Hebdo massacre in Paris when certain newspaper editors pixelated the news rather than confront religious pressure. The final poem, written after the shooting down of MH17 over Ukraine and after another bomb in Gaza City, is an oblique reflection on a world riven by violence.
The Gun and the Gown
(for a dead student)
The gun has gained against the gown again
and you lie dead beside an upturned chair.
Stuff happens, someone says when we complain.
We clean the classroom desk, remove the stain
of blood and wipe away the traces where
the gun has gone against the gown again.
The library books you borrowed will retain
no sense of your intensive reading there.
Stuff happens, someone says as we complain.
The essays you were writing will remain
undone. You’ve no assignment to prepare.
The gun has gained against the gown again.
There are no future grades you can attain,
no graduation gown for you to wear.
Stuff happens, someone says, then we complain.
Those who loved you endure the constant pain
of finding you beyond the range of prayer.
The gun shall shred the blood-stained gown again.
Stuff happens. Stuff will happen. We’ll complain.
“The Gun and the Gown” was first published in Rattle Poets Respond.
Words for a Craven Editor
A cartoon is not funny if I say
a cartoon is not funny. You may think
what you may think, but I will print
only what I decide to print. You may
object. You may at least expect a link.
But I decide what I will not reprint.
A picture may be worth, as someone said,
a thousand words. An image may, also,
encapsulate what words may never know.
But I have no desire to join the dead.
They knew what they were doing and they bled.
I ask myself if I could ever show
such courage, such defiance. Oh hell, no.
I’d rather cut the news and die in bed.
“Words for a Craven Editor” was first published in Rattle Poets Respond.
You could stand at a bus stop in a small town
south of Boston, north of Frankfurt, east of Canberra
and watch the vapor trail from a distant plane
so far away you cannot hear a sound
as that trans-continental jet moves high above
a world from which it's never quite immune.
You could stand at a bus stop in Gaza City
and use your camera-phone to photograph and tweet
a disembodied hand, in blood, beside your polished shoes.
There is a loud explosion. Then you see
a woman's hand; her bright engagement ring
has diamonds sparkling in the mid-day sun.
“#BusStop” was first published in The Ofi Press Magazine (Mexico).
©2015 Conor Kelly