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.