an Aotearoa poetry journal | ISSN 2744-3248

Poems by Conor Doherty

Golden Years

Conor Doherty

Published on
page 10 of Tarot #4
(June 2022)

There is nothing quite
Like the present moment
With you.

The brown grass
Is ticklish on our backs
And the late summer sun
Casts our skin
Golden in re-creation
Of heaven
And the never-cool-enough wind
Blows in softly from the Pacific.

At the end of it all,
What more could we have done?
The chants and cries
Of the riotous crowds
Echo up the valleys.
Did we do it right?
Did we live it right?
Were we enough?

Seeing the world
From above,
Bathed in its soft pastels,
Will never be quite as
As it used to be.
Sliding over the aquamarine
Never again so carefree,
When you could get lost
In the rocking of the waves
And the whispers of the winds
And the worlds which saw you pass.

What path should we have taken?
Flames crackling up window panes.
Death in the air.
Blood in the streets.
No one in charge.
Wasn’t it all inevitable?
Weren’t we our own executors?

We’re the audience
Of the show
We’re all trapped in.
The laugh track
Plays and plays.
It hits all the emotional
Cues; there’s ooohs and aaahs.
Tears and applause.
We turn off the TV
And go to bed.

Wind blows through
The long grasses
In the fields,
And you remember your childhood.
The end a cruel mockery
Of the beginning.
Puddles splashed,
Wrists slit,
Of every sort.
I still remember
The scars you wore.
You can still see them.
The apples from
The tree at the end of your yard
Are starting to fall and rot.

God, it’s a cesspit,
But where else would you have us?
No, this is our home,
This is what we deserve;
We made this bed,
And the night has fallen,
And it’s time to tuck ourselves in.

Time & Other Occurrences

Conor Doherty

Published on
page 51 of Tarot #4
(June 2022)

I had to write your name
On a form for
The first time today,
And I misspelled it,
And I wonder if that’s indicative
Of something

I keep getting told how
Fast time is passing,
And that’s not doing wonders
For my mental health.
Teachers keep talking
About exams around the corner
And my mother
Mentions universities
At least once per night
And my friends are getting
Jobs and restricteds and partners;
This is the happiest I’ve felt
In forever
And it feels like it’s slipping away.
Every Friday night
When I get sad,
I want to write a letter
To my future self
Like I never wanted to in school,
Because at least if I can’t hold
Onto this happiness forever,
I can remind myself
One day
That I had it once,
And maybe that will be enough to keep going
I go for runs
Every Saturday
And I get out of breath
And I have to stop every 200 metres
And the headaches come and go,
But my coach tells me I’m doing great
And I’m showing great progression.
And I spend hours in my room
‘Working’, ‘studying’, whatever,
But really I do nothing,
Because I can’t make myself focus
Or maybe it’s really because I just
Don’t want to admit that I don’t know what I’m doing
And I don’t want people to know.
And I wake up
And I get on trains
And I go to school
And I go to parties
And I go to bed
And maybe Lorde was right,
Because Ribs won’t stop playing
In my head
And it makes me think about
And how I learnt to ride a bike
And how I climbed out on the roof
And how I put my head through the wall
And how I was only 7
And lord where did that boldness go,
Because by god if now I’m not just
Some shell who blushes when called on in class
And who can’t talk to people he sees every day

You should have nothing to
Do with this poem, really,
But like most things these days,
I link it back to you nonetheless.
And maybe it’s because I don’t know what we are yet
Or maybe it’s because I know how it’ll end
Or maybe it’s because I know you, you’re like me, and I know we can’t work,
Not really;
But everyday my friend tells me about how happy he is,
How he can’t wait till the next time he sees his boyfriend,
How they’re both going mental because they haven’t seen
Each other in a week (gasp!),
And I want that,
God I want that,
But I can’t feel it about you,
Or anyone, really;
Because I want that life
Of pining
And picnic dates
And kisses on public transport
And being so loved up everyone hates you;
But I think I love the chase more than the catch,
I think, to paraphrase another writer better than me,
That I’m fundamentally broken,
In some subtle but essential way
But I still address every poem
As if you’re reading them,
My imaginary audience;
Well, how’s this?
I couldn’t wait for puberty to kick in
And now I go nuts if I don’t shave
Every other day (which you know is more than necessary),
And should I be more guarded about this?
What’s the point?
This way,
I get to hear my history teacher
Stumble terribly over my new pronouns
(She is trying),
And watch the senior staff
Sweat over the threat of my existence
To their precious school image,
And worry day and night
In the back of my head,
Like a broken record player,
About how everyone else would react,
And how I would look
(Would I be hot??),
And sometimes I look in the mirror
And am disgusted with who I am
And other times I look in the mirror
And am disgusted with who I want to be.

I just feel like I have to make a decision,
But I don’t wanna ruin Senior Ball
And look like some grotesque in the photos,
But my hips don’t set until I’m 18,
I just feel like I’m running out of time!

It’s always the fucking clock!
Ticking away
Death’s faithful little right-hand man