Daniel Roy Connelly was the winner of the 2014 Fermoy International Poetry Festival Prize, a finalist in the 2015 Aesthetica Magazine Creative Writing Prize and winner of the 2015 Cuirt New Writing Prize for poetry.
He is forthcoming in Acumen and on Uncle Vanya in Critical Survey.
He is a professor of creative writing, English and theatre at John Cabot University and The American University of Rome. www.danielroyconnelly.com
Up and back with Charon
From recent appearances things are weighted towards hatred, Charon concludes, up river alone, grimacing through the dripping stalactites to his daily sight of Earth’s surface, his turn-around, where he works the lines of dead-eyed young men clogging the sunlit quayside.
Passports annulled, he takes his €2 barge upkeep from each passenger’s tongue and sets his quarry upright aboard the rickety skiff which recedes gently at first through the gaping black arch and into the speechless river of night before the ferryman starts to rock the boat, rocks it till the statues tip and are gone, fearful as he’s become of punting haters into Acheron.
The sensitive matter of farewell
Rare though it is I get to speak at funerals, I do keep to hand updated eulogies for friends who are running headfirst to the door of the oven or straight down their hole in the ground. ‘Debunk Cliché’ is my motto which when put into action along with a few public speaking tricks-up-the-sleeve is likely to liberalise forever our attitudes to the sensitive matter of farewell.
Beginning at the lectern with deep laughter and a couple of asides pertaining to the heart attack and what really caused it, I cue up a song on the CD player whose lyrics reveal everything sordid. After this I read a glowing tribute to the departed from a serial killer on death row. I assuage the mourning family – who will perhaps be getting restless – with a slide show of their loved one with a recent haircut having sex with a youth perhaps older it’s a little grainy. Raising my hand, I conclude with a self-penned poem which touches on the themes of tax evasion, domestic violence, psychiatric sectioning, and Christian hope.
This will be followed by a pun intended mass free-for-all accompanied by a fretful organist during which the coffin will spill from the stand and the body of the now-gone will roll out dressed head-to-toe in white linen with the intense smile of inner heaven spread wide on his or her face.
Relative to body mass your brain is a dinosaur’s which is why I have killed you and am observing it now. It really is a tiddler, easily the smallest I have ever held, only the amygdala is normal size, whereas your thalamus is a little baby’s fingernail, it looks so frail it needs nibbling off. Your cerebral cortex appears to have existed for thirty years as a single cross-sectioned slice. Your brain stem – and I apologise for my part in this – is pulped asparagus and how did anyone make it out of their mother with a frontal lobe like that? In fact the whole thing is like it’s been dug up after 3 million years in a peat bog.
As soon as I’ve formaldehyded it and washed my hands, I’ll get on to Frank at the Coney Island Freaks, Wonders and Human Curiosities attraction, tell him I’ve outshone myself this time and he can e-Bay the foetus of Bedelia the two-headed pig, the sand-filled snout of Lionel, the Lion-Headed Man, the body of the Tennessee Belle with the lower limbs of a dipygus twin sprouting from her pelvic area and what remains of Oesophageal Amanda who could deep-throat a scimitar without making a sound. These previous acquaintances are just so yesterday, so out-of-touch with what the modern family looks for in visual entertainment during coastal holidays. Here’s where your brain is a game changer. Frank might even open through winter this year.