Four Poems by Joey Connolly



On the one hand, there is the morning sunlight

insinuating itself helically with the fibres

of the canes and their dusty-leaved tomato plants


about them. On the other, the plump primary note

of a woodpigeon swelling rhythmically into the air

like the drop at the lip of a non-off tap, swelling


into the dialetheic air, clean but ripe, gamey, with its two

quick stabilisers: the glue goes. We pool so, it

schools us. The rules: yes, they fooled you, accruing…


The air is in the constant moment

of being rinsed so miraculously clean by the sunlight

that it vitrifies into sunlight, thin and brazen. And then


because light and air are ten things

it’s thickened again by the baking masonry which insists

on a history magnificently, manifestly distinct


from the ferrous bramble it seems in England; a history

of certain people completing dignified tasks

in sonorous metals; of Indian summers both cruel


and unusual. But this brittle bauble, this Mexican standoff

of air, and light, and time avers               (retooling)

what nonsense it is to talk               (it’s true, Joe)


of elements. We are pylons of yew, made up

of the smell of dry grass, the scent of its silent rustle,

its quiver like a decision going unmade,


the glucose unspooling, the bluest undoing.



2018, 2017, 2016, 2015, 2014,


at an indeterminate point of a night

hot as an hourglass of finest Sahara familiar hands

remake the disorient echoing

chamber of your room and all of you


out of glass planes drawn implacably

across faces of schist and brass discs

so tenderly they will never break. Your world must

sometimes be the world. Rises again. Were it


some balaclava of the psyche… but it’s not:

it’s gas and rent and rail and all those

hyperreal almighty sappers which will

not be salved by any


shrink or deep breath or mythy tincture,

nor any counting backwards



Some Pecuniary Observations


Like a hopelessly bourgeois but charming market town

in the heartlands, in which

the moment the poetry festival ends

the In Bloom horticultural extravaganza

grows inaugurate. Town criers in regal blues

roam the squares, ringing bells,


the pealings of which startle upwards

like the sudden flight of noisome, heraldic birds.

Oh heartlands, you garlanded warehouse

of cherished ideals and cosy ropes of conjecture;

you trader motoring to the market town

with a trunkful of chintz you know you’ll shift


at magnificently bemargined prices. Accordingly

and moreover, the pursed lips of the very beautiful;

the conclusive redundancy of simple pleasures

in the face of those yet simpler. The barter

of comfort for hope. Oh heartlands,

you total 24/7 engine of destruction.





You died in the back of a Cairo cab

thinking of a man wrapped in: bandages

and the twenty thousand tonnes of sandstone

it takes to point a pyramid at the sky.

Another time you died outside a Calais café

tasting a coral-pink macaroon in the February air.

On the drive to a Stockholm hotel you remember

dying on the steps of a university library,

a handsome dark-haired man bending to restore

your dropped books and each death was only

a part of that starry arsenal of memory from which

you had daily recrafted your idea of home

slipping off. The foundations

are not the thing, the contents

of the cupboards are not the thing, the draught

both entering and escaping is not

the thing. But there are bandages, there is indication

and there is cold air, and every carven moment

will shed the memories we have of it

like you, slipping from an old, comfortable bathrobe

into a death of body temperature and steam.



Joey Connolly lives in London, where he’s the manager of the Poetry Book Fair. His poetry and criticism have appeared in The Poetry ReviewPoetry LondonThe Sunday Times and Best British Poetry 2014 (Salt), as well as on BBC Radio 4. He received an Eric Gregory award in 2012, and his first collection, Long Pass, is forthcoming from Carcanet in 2017.



Image credit: JR_Paris

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