Alternative LaLaLand by Cally Conan-Davies

Alternative LaLaLand

An Award and a spangly dress, an elegant hairdo and a bow tie
is all well and good unless shit is flying from every fan and hitting every eye.
A false eyelash won’t afford cover nor will a sideways look or dropping your glove.
A red carpet is only an edit away from a river of blood.

The fourth wall crashes down, we’re all Humptys now, on show
with all our colours clashing from clown-wig orange to Indiegogo.
Huxley predicted we’d eventually trade our souls for soft porn;
Orwell feared too many of us would leave well enough alone

until truth became the official word for hate; the news, staged. Easily done
is hard to undo. So do it extremely well. Do it by starlight and the sun
will show the old gods in their tottering style are not gone but gone ahead
and their hearts were never hollow. They meant every word they said.

by Cally Conan-Davies

Editor’s Note: Careful form allows the function of this poem (enlightenment) to slide into the reader’s mind more smoothly than most startling truths ever do.

i.m. Seamus Heaney by Cally Conan-Davies

i.m. Seamus Heaney

so, by the time I met him he was a kingfisher
dawn was his straw time
and a tall mooring pole at the marina
like a slightly blunted pencil, the kind
with an eraser on the end
his favourite perch
so, with all the sleeping boats holding their course
he trilled a tune
cursive rings on the cross-hatched water
and just like that he turned into the rising sun
and was gone

by Cally Conan-Davies

Editor’s Note: In this poem, allegory creates a relationship between a bird and a mourned poet, and it is through the kingfisher’s story that the reader understands the fleeting nature of life.

Look Out by Cally Conan-Davies

Look Out

I grew up with clouds
full of promise. White cotton.
I always drew them that way,
mouth open. When they didn’t
rain for the longest time
I closed my mouth.

Dead birds on the sand dune have come clean,
the child I loved has gone too far, love
as far as time goes . . . and the lighthouse
clear-eyed through the fog
points out just how bulky the night is
(an eye for an eye-lid)
a star of sorts, winking at the storm
(so a child might laugh), but the child is gone
where boats go out for mackerel in the dark
(but you can’t see the deck lights winking back)

by Cally Conan-Davies

Editor’s Note: The title of this poem is a command to do something, and it grabs the attention, giving the reader a framework upon which to place the imagery of the poem.

Talking with Sakis by Cally Conan-Davies

Talking with Sakis

My aunt is no longer
in her life he said,
as if her life remained
where she had left it,
holding the air behind
the soft click
of her last breath.

As if a life, as it were, could be ever
so gently woken
to breathe for a moment
here, by the pearl-grey bridge
where the quickening gulf
stands wide open.

(Antirrio, Greece, 2013)

by Cally Conan-Davies

Editor’s Note: The careful enjambment corrals the imagery in this poem into quiet moments where the reader can reflect on all that is said directly, and all that is not.

Can’t. Can, Too. by Cally Conan-Davies

Can’t. Can, Too.

The curve of her half-smile is not unlike
a scythe. The way he leans on the ladder-back
chair is something very like a cat,
demure, before the fur stands and the rat-attack.

Most people never take time to think that a crack
or chink need not indicate a spot inclined to break.
There’s more at stake than a fix or a mate. Look
to the less and the lack, those who speak kind of quaint.

Me, I’m a little bit like a kite, caught up
in a current, content the moment before I’m cut
then suddenly the somersault and tangled strings
fighting the wind, then smack, my colours crash,
but like other things, most capable when I seem least.
A paper sheet flies creased and creased and creased.

by Cally Conan-Davies, first published in Quadrant.

Editor’s Note: Word play in poetry can be overdone, to the detriment of the meaning of the lines, but in this verse, the rhyme, consonance, and imagery serve the message. The last line’s repetition is particularly well-done—it forces the reader to pay attention.