October 11, 2015

Conor Kelly


for a dead student

The gun has gained against the gown again
and you lie dead beside an upturned chair.
Stuff happens, someone says when we complain.

We clean the classroom desk, remove the stain
of blood and wipe away the traces where
the gun has gone against the gown again.

The library books you borrowed will retain
no sense of your intensive reading there.
Stuff happens, someone says as we complain.

The essays you were writing will remain
undone. You’ve no assignment to prepare.
The gun has gained against the gown again.

There are no future grades you can attain,
no graduation gown for you to wear.
Stuff happens, someone says, then we complain.

Those who loved you endure the constant pain
of finding you beyond the range of prayer.
The gun shall shred the blood-stained gown again.
Stuff happens. Stuff will happen. We’ll complain.

from Poets Respond


Conor Kelly: “Reading reactions to last week’s mass murder in Oregon in NPR, in the Washington Post, and in other news media (then followed by more school shootings) is a depressing experience. I decided to focus, in this formal poem, on the students who died, rather than on the gun law arguments. I’ll let the reader decide whether ‘stuff happens’ or whether it is made to happen. Philosophy is for another day.” (web)

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January 18, 2015

Conor Kelly


A cartoon is not funny if I say
a cartoon is not funny. You may think
what you may think, but I will print
only what I decide to print. You may
object. You may at least expect a link.
But I decide what I will not reprint.

A picture may be worth, as someone said,
a thousand words. An image may, also,
encapsulate what words may never know.
But I have no desire to join the dead.
They knew what they were doing and they bled.
I ask myself if I could ever show
such courage, such defiance. Oh hell, no.
I’d rather cut the news and die in bed.

from Poets Respond
January 18, 2015


Conor Kelly: “One of the major international news stories of the week was the publication of the regular edition of Charlie Hebdo with a print run of over five million instead of the usual 60,000. The cover was a nuanced response to the terrifying events of the previous week. However, some news editors decided not to print this cover for a variety of reasons. This inverted Petrarchan sonnet with a Yeatsian title is my response to what I see as cowardice.” (website)

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