Two Poems | James Conor Patterson | Granta

Two Poems

James Conor Patterson

the spiritualists                                                           

thinkin thena the mcginn widow –
to whom a caul-wrapped stillborn was bestowed

by the passagea time & local rumour –
that wi word seen through a ripped strainer,

she’d have us cleaved in two
by the enda my english breakfast or yours. . .

that for the sake of an extra tenner,
she’d open themara like the cadaver

of her caul-wrapped boy, an end us
with a word; this bridget cleary, this tasseomancer.

i think again, love, that t believe in this
would be t chapen the accident of our own gift:

a shared impulse over gins at the garrick,
two photons kept unobserved through the double-slit.







greedy fer my own derangement, i pulled
a six-foot swatcha cheesecloth from my gullet

like a never-endin hanky – passed it
around the livin room proclaimin, magic!

then spokea how it was this resurrected thing.
next, i tugged on a hidden catgut string

so that the light disappeared, an in the fuss
that follaed, a man outlined in phosphorous

steered intae view & moved agin the gloom.
meanwhile, a reachin rod thrust about the room

and all around me was chaos! chaos!
i fuckin loved it when my house was in séance.







an obdurate fuckin nightmare, this –
at the eleventh hour – tryin t manifest

the apport of a swollen fish head
from the secret compartment in my trouser leg. . .

but here we are, st anthony: patron
of lost & stolen things; scourge of satan

and subject ova devotion so specific
t newry that yer name is still physic.

help me deliver these people from their wants
in the form of recovered accoutrements –

badges, flors, ten spots, coins, mobile phones –
anyhin which doesn’t press agin ma tailbone

with too much vigour, lest i go t sit,
and extract their heirlooms all covered in shit.






maturity date

it’s not that am afraid / grandda
/ of you or yer carpet slippered
revenant hauntin the trevor hill
bank of ireland like a pulse
from the silent alarm / nor of
my own face caught again in
plexiglas at the cashier window
/ surrendered to its guise of
yours / though weak jawed an
crooked from an afternoon
spent consolidatin debt options
an bordered by financial advice
/ but of bein here / years from
now / an ghostin my way
through the bank’s mullioned
windaes like groundwater
pulled through the wand ova
dowser / because when i finally
come face t face with my own
younger image / assessin each
personal loan / negotiatin some
long term repayment package /
i’ll have to say to him then / as
you say t me nai / that this is the
diffrence between life & death


Image © Michael Foley


These poems are taken from bandit country by James Conor Patterson, published by Picador.

James Conor Patterson

James Conor Patterson is originally from Newry in the north of Ireland. In 2019 he received an Eric Gregory Award, and in 2020 he was shortlisted for the White Review Poets’ Prize. He is editor of the anthology ‘The New Frontier: Reflections from the Irish Border’ published in 2021 by New Island Books, and is the author of  ‘bandit country’ published by Picador in September 2022. He currently lives in London.

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