Stephen Connolly

Two Poems (after Catullus)

Stephen Connolly

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Oh the Shark Has

Because Egnatius has those teeth like the lights on a bus
his weapon of choice is the smile. If he’s sitting in court
watching some hot-shot drawing out a victim’s tears,
his smile is primed; trailing the hearse of some mother’s son
with the mother in sight & weeping for her only child,
his smile is primed. No matter what it is or where he is
or what he should be doing, his smile is primed. It’s sick,
graceless, improper & just not on as far as I’m concerned.
So, Egnatius, here’s what it is: if you were really from here,
or from way up north or way out west, or even if you weren’t
& didn’t have such flashy teeth, but kept them out of sight
& hadn’t been splashing in dirty water, we’d still hate you.
Before I concede your right of reply just let me say this:
there’s nothing as stupid as your stupid laugh, we know
your past, your morning routine, the way you get on;
we know how your kind really are, which is why
we find your smiling face so difficult to stomach.

Our Glorious Leaders

It’s safe to say that people love this pair of twisted roots
as much as they’re supposed to hate each other,
& why wouldn’t they? These shit-stirrers sit high
above the pot: one from here, the other one from here,
both with ways so deeply set they almost seem to be an act
(did you know ‘agreement’ comes from ‘covenant’?)
whose flourish is to share a seat as if it were a tightrope walk
& why wouldn’t they? They feed on hope like children might,
yet neither of them will drop their mask before the other’s slips:
the twisted pair are shameless, yes, but idiots they are not.

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.