Stephen Connolly

Sweet Suffering (after Catullus #22)

Stephen Connolly

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Your man Suffenus is a friend of yours, right?
He’s a well-heeled & witty man about town.
But he would have it known to all & sundry
that he has ten thousand poems to his name.
More if you count his early work. He’s not like us,
because we lowly plebs are known to scratch slowly
on the back of old photocopies. But for this friend
of ours only the finest things will sate his needs: 
Moleskine notebooks & gold-nibbed fountain pens
are the implements demanded when honing such a craft.
Though if you come to read his work, if it deserves
that word, you’ll see that emperor Suffenus himself
is standing bollock naked flaunting his dodgy wares,
& though his power to infer his skills might have you think
of Sligo’s lofty hills, of Derry’s rolling plains, his poems,
all told, are no more crack than a rainy day in Larne;
yet he loves nothing more than getting his dribbling chin
to the soft bosom of the muse, so much does he love
being a poet; his powers of pleasing himself are great.
Having said that, do we not all take a shine to ourselves,
have an angle at which we like to meet our own eyes
in mirrors, do we not all have a bit of oul Suff about us?
Are we not all carrying around tailored, ebullient faults
like notes on our backs saying kick me, kick me … ?


Stephen Connolly


Stephen Connolly is 25 and from Belfast, where he studies and teaches in the Seamus Heaney Centre for Poetry. He co-runs The Lifeboat.

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