Open 2021 Poems - William Conelly



By William Conelly


Once, to wake her
from the world’s sleep,
he uttered Luther’s
fervent dare:
we all must stand
as witness to
the fire and air,
all be, at once,
shepherds and sheep.


She laughed out loud.
She should renounce
the work she loved,
called by church bells,
to pray and preach?
In truth or out,
that would sum hell’s
—not heaven’s—closely
kept accounts.


She slept with him;
and woke at dawn
as its bright daughter,
dearer then
than penned beliefs
or scolding creeds
had ever been—
one love’s endless



The striving brother writes a novel,
page after page in broken pencil,
about as fast and fluently
as one-armed kibitzers can shovel.


Bunk bedroom shut against the others,
a single spray of light condensing
cursive from the humid night,
he plots a bridgework through the walls

of thin suburban harmony:
mother bleaching out the shower;
brothers itching to enlist
in hard rock’s fledgling army;


bog-brown retriever hunting up
and down a murky corridor,
claws clacking bestial metaphor—
the tale is rare. And yet the mortal


locks our striver’s fixed on picking
foil his daring, will not reveal
his household’s existential core.
One touch and tumblers realign.


Dead bolts shoot home. His spirits wane.
Frustration drones his lamp light like
an insect aeroplane: he grows
incensed, a gnat’s wing less than sane…


until his tickled brothers slip
a note in from their grab-bag
trove of quotes: Patience, Comrade.
Hunger will not ripen oats.


William Conelly from UK took a Master's Degree in English from UC Santa Barbara. Following on from research and composition work in other fields, he returned to academia in 2000. The Able Muse publishes a collection of his early verse under the title Uncontested Grounds. Retired from teaching as a dual citizen, Conelly resides with his wife in the West Midlands town of Warwick, England.


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