Breakfast with Sylvia

Lagan Press, Belfast

click for excerpt


'Lyrical, original, faithful to the moment and its joys but with an undertone of sometimes rueful experience - these are the poems of a man who has come through'.

Anthony Cronin

'Kevin Kiely's writing shows the world alive, in a bracing air, in a sharp light, where a subject is probed and rattled by an Atlantic energy. These poems are full of edgily real things, people and places caught in a sudden urgent perspective that shakes the reader with their nearness. A poem such as "On a deserted beach with a Sony Walkman", succeeds in doing this simultaneously with the material world and with emotions and ideas about art. Poems on erotic themes are incandescent and stormy with an intellectual bite to them. There is nothing glum or staid here and much that is invigorating to read'.

Eiléan Ní Chuilleanáin

'There's an intriguing mixture of themes and tones in Kevin Kiely's new collection. The mythic mingles with the realistic, the spiritual touches the material world, the robust sexuality of many of the poems lies side by side with moments of delicate reticence. There's an energetic awareness of, and participation in, the joy of being. These poems are open and passionate, adventurous and daring. Taken together, they create a world of their own. Readers will enjoy exploring this world so convincingly shaped by Kevin Kiely'.

Brendan Kennelly

'Kevin Kiely, like quite a few of his literary contemporaries, has a reputation as strong in Europe and the US as it is here'.

James J. McAuley, The Irish Times 2005

'Kiely jolts us into another dimension of language, where speech is worked like molten metal, throwing off sparks, allusions, memories and experiences. Yet through the pyrotechnics shines the cool winter light of Donegal'.

Barbara Ellis, Iota, London 2006

'Here poetry redeems itself in Kiely’s assured perspective. The title poem is in two parts which, if they were music, must resonate of Bach'.

Tommy Frank O’Connor, Studies Spring 2006

'Successful is his series about famous artistic personalities. The mix is eclectic: ‘Requiem for Kurt Cobain’ sits between ‘Who’s Afraid of Ezra Pound?’ and ‘Skimming Sam Beckett, while Ovid, Buddha, and Coleridge all inspire poems of their own'.

Val Nolan, Poetry Ireland Review 2006


To Conjure Up

I went absent leaving you for Chicago
The hotel became a hospital
I signed my committal form at reception

At the Sears Tower in the elevator,
A silver walled room, powered by jet engines
Thrust me with strangers to the 110th floor

From this height through the windows - the lights
In the towers of the city, the moving lights
Of traffic and street lights still, far below.

A snowy cloud passed across the window, dimming
The scene of the black and the lights and the towers
With you missing I could only conjure you up.
And then I said: I will give you all of this city

Below us from this mad height if you bow down
And adore me. I bow down and adore you by the waters
of Lake Michigan breaking and breaking in waves without salt

And she said: I will bow down and adore you.
So I gave her the city
With pleasure I gave her the city of Chicago

Yesterday she read Coleridge to me

In the car after communion over the phone
Speeding between flood river, tar road and
Tracts of trees honeyed in morning light,
Fast rewind to repeat the music on cassette,
Along the narrow hill-road to Luttrell castle
A pheasant scrambles up a ditch-a shock
Of colour like the rainbow I cling to
And further on, a tangle of sticks in sunglow
Become a stag's head. You tell me to sprinkle them
With gold dust and bring them to life.
Near you is such life
And away from you such death, and death
Because of you, appears joyful when I soar
Above the valley, heaving out of the body
Into the truer essence, instantaneously falling
Rising and moving in many directions
On the newer zone, with newer senses
New colours, awesome shapes to the sight
After traversing a Milky Way of white light
At such speed, in such a short time.

That is as much as I imagined
On this side of paradise
When the train thundered between waiting cars
At the level crossing of Coolmine station
My eyes drowned getting to a lay-by.
Your shaping flame which burns me, Jesus of women
Coming through a wall panel onto the dancefloor
Outshining your jewels
Observing from a diethylamide haze
Yet introspective.
Give me this day my daily acid burning
From synapse to synapse
Keeping the cellular stairs dusted.
I want to tell you everything that can be said
O matchless one, smoking or non-smoking?
Caressing the music and the air
Laughing at yourself for serious steps
Then serious faced at hanging loose
Stiffening every mudra, reeling into fulsomeness
The bacchanal when opaque talk is broken
Into playful inoffensive chunks of nonsense
With other layers of meaning
When you're above, casting out what is below
When you're the nightsky, city lights
As far as thought can reach
The texture of all minds and their actions
In short, I find god in you
And fuck it all, ease, a feast of hashish
And what might be. Let's go to the garden
Of delightful play among the wine fountains
And feast near the maze of shops and streets
Music and company, last night's fun
The moments by the weir when a bus
Passed beyond the high wall and your
Hand rested on my shoulder and we talked
Much closer than we stood face to face
As if no before and after would succeed
That time emblazoned in some forever.
Believe in my imaginary altar to you
Out there in the rambling city
Where rainbows girder the sky
After rain, and sun shafts the helices
And lozenges of the heavenly dome.
Surely you whose veins are in flood
of which the greater essence is of
Some imperishable spark
Sleep well in the mountains
But come home to the valley soon and steel
The will with plans and schemes
Break in a passionate phrase
'How is every tiny particle of you to-night?'
I am fine thinking of you to-night
The full moon's a photo developing its face
And long to hear you
And sit across from you

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