Issue 4: Connor O'Callaghan


I believe in the classifieds’ sepia first thing.

I believe our southern persimmon

houses a northern flicker. I believe in wind-chimes,

economy rentals, the silt of old dreams.

I believe in lakeshore overviews mid-afternoon,

my son’s sneakers beneath the ottoman,

pylons, shadow puppets, the gravitational pull

of goosepimples in the half-light of an instrument panel.

I believe in upping sticks and losing touch,

the matter in hand perhaps, evensong at a push,

even meteor showers thrown from a truck ahead

on a good night, and yet I draw a line between god

and ghosts. Snow’s coming. Asheville’s up to its neck.

We’re next. I step out late to check

the stationwagon, chanting Tenebrae factae sunt

under my breath that an acquaintance burned

to disc as “Darkness enveloped the lot.”

I could buy that.

June First

The Peaks were so beautiful,

out loud. A moustache opposite

smiled ‘Quite.’

England were friendly with Brazil

that night. A Russian in a VW

dropped me at the airport hotel.

I left a bar half-full on the table.

The carpark was late and greeny blue.

It started about there.

The stars out even looked made up.

Between every boom a gap

and rooks you could hear

until watery black fell, or rose

more like, like a name told once

and wished away on a month’s

afternoon’s heaven’s bruise

or some open mouth

bubbling its last of loads of ‘I am’s

or the pair of flooded arms

that still can’t catch my breath.

Kingdom Come

That arts & crafts still for sale,

shutters all always shut,

is the safest place to park.

Blaming the market, they shipped north.

Who’d have thought a year

would find me stalking our old selves

while neighbors wheel their trash

to the sidewalk for the morning

and try to memorize the reg

of the navy wagon back again?

Mostly I mark papers

by light run off the alternator.

Though lately I’ve been praying, lady,

that whatever kingdom come there is

is a street we owned a place on

where the life we meant to love

and ran screaming from mid-stream

completes itself without us

and it’s evening over and over again.

A piece of Plantation House chandelier

is dismantling the last bar of sun

into bit and bobs of iris.

In the yard each lost wish still chimes

even though there’s no wind.

There is a barometer stalled on ‘Fair’,

a slow air remastered on the squeezebox.

The sea, gone miles out of its way, is there

as a screensaver reflected in the screendoor.

And our heirs are there in the ping-pong

and hip-hop of the garage’s murk.

And I, in some shape or form,

am there as well. And you are there.

Conor O'Callaghan was born in Newry, Northern Ireland, in 1968 and grew up thirteen miles away in Dundalk in the Republic of Ireland. he has published three original collections of poems. The most recent, Fiction (2005), was a PBS recommendation. A comic prose memoir, Red Mist, appeared from Bloomsbury in 2004. He teaches creative writing both in Sheffield Hallam University and on the distance learning MA at Lancaster University. He lives in Manchester.