Poetry | ‘Perspectives’ & ‘Collision’ by Paul Connolly | Issue 41 (May, 2021)


The suburban station’s mawkish, chocolate-boxed
its lights cast a feeble Christmas through the dusk

of late summer on the mock-Tudor waiting-room,
where that morning he’d seen a black work suit

close on fake tan and gym slenderness,
elegant hair, scarce-distinguishable threads

of white-blonde in the warm, all bowling confined
in tight stillness, breakers that will never find

their break, which didn’t disguise haggardings of birth,
nurture, toil, menopause, things unearthed

in a single furrow, which made her Line Lady
in its breadth across the brow, though artistry

would reject the snaggle, its open clumsy jag
of thickness, pause black as space, a brand

which upset composition’s spirit-level edge,
unlike this Hopper on the tracks, where the bridge

is sanded sharp with dark and shadows chapelling
the disused substation crane the bridge, swing it

up and turned, then pull it forward in a balcony,
the substation’s a hotel visited before, though he

is standing above the hotel in sideroad hills
and he never visited the hills above it, and the bridge

he knows is at right angles in front of the substation
bike shelters and a car park between them

as its stairs bend and the bridge grows fanciful,
temples on giant glasses, a sidebar swells

for an enormous pushchair. Bach’s invention streams
his headphones till lone-voiced, foreshortened as beams

he tries to spy round past the eye into darkness,
it ends on a corner, where


She walked in, so normal to be there
as though there’s normality in being anywhere,

the room’s expected thick aroma,
cigars, coffee, books, hours.

She smoothed her skirt, scratched her calf,
sat and smiled generally for the class,

while somewhere a note held softly,
flatted a half-tone, sharpened by three,

she barely noticed him, the new student.
But this is the collision of worlds, bent

constantly across each other’s paths,
mostly swerving, occasionally they dance

on the event horizon, sometimes collide
smash together, shattering their life

and shattering other lives into newness
from catastrophes mapped later, which bring us

births in rough hands nursed
from horror by forced forgetfulness, cursed

beyond hatred to the phoney indifference
of ‘I never think about’. She smiled, yet

he didn’t look up. Not yet. She scrawled
to make her ink run, and yawned.

He looked up, hated what he witnessed
everyone’s positions relative to his,

repulsing poles, orbits adjusted.
Destruction would do. She looked. He hid

in a dart for coffee. Pleats bladed
his ill-fitting trousers, the nylon basted

then glued the tucks and folds of his legs.
The tutor stirred. ‘Let’s begin,’ he said.

Paul Connolly’s poems have appeared in Agenda, The Warwick Review, Poetry Salzburg, The Reader, Scintilla, Dawntreader, Takahē (New Zealand), Dream Catcher, Orbis, The Journal, FourXFour, The Seventh Quarry, Sarasvati, Envoi, Obsessed with Pipework, The Cannon’s Mouth, Southlight, Foxtrot Uniform, Guttural, The High Window, Nine Muses, Eunoia Review (Singapore), The Honest Ulsterman, Canada Quarterly, Ink, Sweat and Tears, Littoral Magazine, Northampton Poetry Review, and London Grip, and will soon be published in Quadrant (Australia), Stand Magazine and Chiron Review (USA). Shortlisted for the Bridport and Charles Causley Prizes, he was highly commended in the Sentinel Quarterly and third in the Magna Carta Competitions.   

Leave a Reply