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Conor Kelly



the poet

Conor Kelly was born in Dublin where he spent his working life teaching in a school. He now lives in Nova Scotia's Western Shore, Canada, from where he runs his Twitter (now X) site, @poemtoday, which is dedicated to short-form poetry. Conor has had poems published in literary magazines in Ireland, Britain, America, Canada and Mexico.

the poems

The Immaculate Conception

00:00 / 00:53

            (Mary speaks)

            It happened at a feast in Palestine. 

            When the meal was over and the remains were being cleared, 

            somebody slipped on grains and spilled onto my lap 

            enough red wine to make a patch of dress incarnadine. 

            I’ve cleaned it often since, but it retains 

            the faintest shadow of those crimson stains 

            picked up some years ago in Palestine.

            And when my earthy father sent his seed 

            surging with love into my mother’s womb 

            to match and merge and predispose my fate, 

            why should it, then, from Adam’s stain be freed 

            and not from Eve’s distress at Abel’s tomb?

            Sometimes it’s hard to understand my faith.

Through The Medium

00:00 / 01:27

            It is quieter than I had supposed.

            Often I hear what may be a river,

            the sound of water infiltrating stone,

            but I can see nothing at all clearly.

            It is, if you will pardon the irony,

            like looking through a glass darkly. Perhaps

            there is nothing to see. I do not know

            any more than what I can discover

            in what is not quite darkness, nor yet light,

            but a kind of fog in which the dispersed 

            vapours flow past me, continually. 

            There is a faint sweet odour in the air,

            one which I find hard to identify

            although it reminds me of aniseed.

            But there is nothing there to taste,

            nor any object that feels tangible.

            I doubt this is either Heaven or Hell.

            It is far too cold, and there is no one

            with whom I can share happiness or pain.

            Not that either emotion excites me.

            Sometimes I can feel the mild dejection, 

            a kind of post-flu depression.

            Occasionally, the desolation

            of unrequited conversation grates.

            And there are times, times I used to call night,

            when I crave the consolation of sleep.

            Most of the time, though, I just want to die.

The Writing Spider

Argiope aurantia

00:00 / 01:44

            They left the poet's desk the way it was

            the night before he slept and never woke,

            the night before his final heart attack

            left one last sheet of paper on that desk

            half-filled with spider-like and scribbled words

            with some encircled and with zigzag lines

            leading to changes in the margins where

            his latest words were fatally ensnared.

            There are no spiders in the poet's house.

            A woman cleans and dusts it every day

            before it opens to the few who come

            to visit, for a modest entrance fee,

            and see the poet's desk the way it was

            the night before he slept and never woke;

            and see, also, the view from where he wrote

            of sunflowers wilting in the summer sun.

            There is, for those who wander round the back,

            behind the trash cans, near the café door,

            between a freshly painted metal bench

            and the next door garden's large camellia bush,

            a writing spider busily at work,

            its stabilimenta (those zigzag lines)

            catching the sunlight as it shines beneath

            the black and muted yellow banded legs.

            Desolation and determination:

            the poet and the writing spider both

            weave and unweave their patterns day by day.

            While every evanescent word evokes

            the emendation of essential loss,

            the ritual rebuilding of the web

            affirms a zest for life. Nevertheless,

            we all zigzag our way to certain death.

Publishing credits

The Immaculate Conception: The Irish Times (December 1992)

Through the Medium: exclusive first publication by iamb

The Writing Spider: The Rotary Dial (August 2016)

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