James Connolly

                                                                                          for Sandy

My wife has a hole in her heart.
                           We listen

for the snap of a twig,
                                         for the lessons of silence,

that dark world of shape and shadow,
the articulation of the alphabet of rain.

My wife has a hole in her heart.
Our life is the reading
of systolic numbers
and we want a stay against

against her arteries gone wrong.

We remember the mouths of those just dead
and long to hear them breathing

and it is breaking apart
this hole in her heart.
The topography of her veins is a map
                                                                          without meter and rhyme—

my wife has a hole in her heart
and each day becomes
the pressure of blood—
we are growing so old—

                                                                                                a poem that keeps
                                                                                                rearranging its lines.

My wife has a hole in her heart.  

James Connolly

The dance floor was white, the Rexicana’s
pine bleached and shuffleboard slick:
My friends and I slid across the Rex’s floor
like Bandstand kids, jukebox dancers beneath
Dick Clark’s smiling eye. In penny loafers
we clicked our heels to her “Baby, baby”
and sidled up to her throne on the stage
as if to say “We can touch you.”

We were taken by the Motown sound of soul,
a rocking that we took and made our own.
The halo that the lights created above her head
became a joke we wanted to forget.
We thought we were Jackie Wilson singing
“Lonely Teardrops.”  His body moved
like water and we mimicked his “moon walk.”
We were eighteen. We knew nothing—
and it was years before I would study
“Andrea Del Sarto” and understand
how a man can get lost in a woman.
Whatever suffering was I could not
hear it in Wilson’s “Higher and Higher”
and I would not hear it in her beating
beat of “Stop in the name of love.”

Her voice called out “Come see about me”
and I couldn’t take my eyes off of her.
That “Baby, baby, where did our love go”
held us in a night supreme—and kept us
in a blinding refrain, boys who would put on
fatigues and carry M-16s, young men who would see
their world change and who would learn
that the color of love is the color of sound. 


J. F. Connolly teaches at Milton Academy and lives with his wife, Sandy, in Brockton MA. His latest book is Picking Up The Bodies, and the poem “The Night I Fell in Love with Diana Ross” is the tentative title poem of his next book.