Issue > Poetry
Conor Bracken

Conor Bracken

Conor Bracken is the author of Henry Kissinger, Mon Amour (Bull City Press, 2017), winner of the Frost Place Chapbook Competition, and translator of Mohammed Khair-Eddine’s Scorpionic Sun (CSU Poetry Center, 2019). Recent work appears (or will soon) in BOMB, The New Yorker, Ploughshares, Poetry Northwest, Waxwing, and elsewhere. An assistant poetry editor at Four Way Review, he teaches English at the University of Findlay.


I opened my heart and forgiveness flew out
like a dove with a buzzard in its beak

is not how I'd put it. I opened
my heart and three feral hounds

slunk out from under a too-quiet lean-to
also doesn't quite capture it.

Of course there was singing, though.
The singing never ceased

even after the cantor left for the city.
Even after he stopped insisting

I listen to how the telephone
skinned his voice to a filament

leaping strangely through the static
I could still hear his voice,

how every Sunday it opened
the legs of a dead language in search of god

in a rundown chapel near the Hooter's
and the vacant stripmall,

where monsignor promised god
is only found inside

the machinery of forgiveness.
That forgiveness is not a yellow hole in the sky

that vomits blindness. Not a damp cloth
dragged across the chalk drawings of the past.

Not even the hand that tears open or drags
but the tearing open. The dragging itself.

The slog across the gravel parking lot.
The lord flaring up inside your dented

tender knees.


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