top of page
Image by Sidney Pearce


the madrigal, volume iii.v

Weldon Kees

by conor kelly

I met him at a bar in Mexico,
some small cantina in a border town
where old men wearing sarapes, drinking beer,
were gathered round a table playing dominos.
He looked a little like the man I sought.
The elegance had gone. The trim and black moustache
was bushy now and grey. It stretched into a beard.
He wore a thick wool sweater and a pair of jeans.
“You look a little like the man I seek.”
He never smiled. He seemed, to me, depressed.

“My name is Robinson,” I said,
“sent here for very little pay
to see if you’re alive or dead
and where you’re hanging loose today.”

“Of dissipation, of desperation,
of disillusion, of desolation...”
he began; but, then, abruptly, he changed tack.
I tried to talk of poets still alive
but he proclaimed he knew no one who wrote.
He never heard, he said, of Ezra Pound.
And when I mentioned those I thought he knew
his face remained impassive, free of guile,
“The crack,” he said, “is moving down the wall.”
“Are you,” I asked, “re-reading Proust?” “Fuck, no.”

“My name is Robinson,” I said,
“sent by New York Newsday
to see if you’re alive or dead
and drowned in San Francisco Bay.”

He left abruptly, as a body might
abruptly fall from the Golden Gate Bridge
and drop into the bay below and drift away;
and, all that while, his car, a 1954 Plymouth Savoy,
keys in the ignition, the radio playing jazz,
parked neatly on the Marin County side,
awaited a discovery. The mystery was set.
I thought he’d reappear, but he was gone.
I paid the bill and followed him outside.
I neither saw nor heard from him again.

My name is Robinson.

Conor Kelly was born in Dublin and spent his adult life teaching in a school in the Dublin suburbs. He now lives in a rural area of West Clare in Ireland from where he manages his twitter site, @poemtoday, dedicated to the short poem. He has had poems printed in Irish, British, American and Mexican magazines. He was shortlisted for a Hennessy New Irish Writers award. At the ceremony one of the judges, Fay Weldon, asked him, “Where are you in these poems?”  He is still asking himself that same question.

bottom of page