Cally Conan-Davies







After Seeing Women Of Troy


When there is nothing left, it’s done. The actors put on

disarming smiles, and the strain of long-drawn-out

applause finally silences the rifle’s last report.

Our eyes angle down in the shuffle to the door.

We form a knot in the foyer. We drown in talk

of marriage, children, work, the issue of his lines—


What’s Hecuba to me? Andromache,

keening? Cassandra’s bloody gusset, her spasms?

A grandson’s broken body? Helen pleading?

Bird-chorus, clutching crumbs to stave off dying,

packed in boxes by faceless men, all grey,

with cell-phones, masking-tape, a staple-gun,

a shutter-click as trolleys roll away.

Women, slit, shot, reduced to freight. What’s done is—


written long ago, sustained by bodies of men, bodies of women.

Art rendering ache, we put our hands together, promise to call,

move gently past the hopefuls waiting in rows by numbered doors

while fresh black blood is let run down the Trojan walls.




On Watching The Opening Sequence of a Nature Documentary


The day, of course, is fine. A mother coot

leads her buoyant brood along a pond,

paddling in the reeds, looking for food.


She steers from sheltered banks to rougher water;

the young must follow, a little wobbly in her wake.

And when she turns

in an instant

on a single chick

pecking at it, seething,

slapping it under, beaking it

repeatedly, cold in the deed and caught

in the opening music till the feeble squawk

and frantic twist in the tiny torn coot is finally stilled,


something down in me

is forced

to breathe.




The Gods Are Geography


The taxi driver shakes off the Athens traffic,

cuts to an exit up a slope where poppies grow,

fluttering bits of bright red life

above a basin of light, a white city

spread out between the hills

and beyond this miracle, hazy, the sea.


By marble steps, toothless Apollo roasts

chestnuts, wreathed in tobacco smoke,

stares down the street where Athena,

a little apart from her gang of girls,

stirs up the market, a hard dreamer

climbing through cracked walls daubed

with flaming hearts and stenciled swastikas.


Under shattered windows

a dove dives on a cat

fixed on a grasshopper

among the fallen oranges.

At five o-clock the marble entries close.

Soon, night falls on the bed,

a moth arrives on the sill

and the speech of men flows below.

One strokes the soft cover of a book he wrote

about the war. Peace is to know—I did that.

Now I can easily shut my eyes forever.

Nights are for the strong and haunted

where thought becomes the wild poppy,

a bright thing closing to grow more so by morning.


I see a man lean on a broken wing,

see a blind eye rolling,

hear a mechanical larynx prophesy,

hear the call to prayer rung

from bells that once were bombs,

and a small boy scold his devoted father,

papa—don’t be lie to me.


I stumble after a peacock’s cry for a final view

of the poppies clotting in a wind from Africa.

But the oldest road is hot, untrue, and in the open air

Aphrodite gestures, brushing sand from her lurid souvenirs,

and I, on my way, turn back to look at her.











Author Bio:



Cally Conan-Davies hails from the Island of Tasmania, famous for apples and wilderness. She moved, for love, to the United States in 2012. Her poems can be read, now or soon, in such places as The Hudson Review, Subtropics, Poetry, Quadrant, The New Criterion, The Virginia Quarterly Review, The Sewanee Review, The Southwest Review, and various online journals.

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