Witnessing from the Grey Zone: Kevin Conroy

Witnessing from the Grey Zone: Kevin Conroy

 Considerati si questo è un uomo / Che lavoro nel fango / Che non conosce pace /       

 Che lotta por mezzo pane / Che muore per un sì o per un no.  – Primo Levi


Always with us, the one-way-my-way men

and those who live or die by yes or no.

Always with us, the banal legions who dance

with the jailer in victim-complicit rituals,

crack a whip, stalk, stake, and stoke,

while Spartacus, Primo Levi, Madiba, Ghandi,

bore pain as a habit.


Sometimes with us, the grey zone hiding place –

where ambiguity, equivocation, apathy lie;

honour, duty, empathy lie low –

a brave retreat for the powerless, for the time being

holding on in circles, whose circles move, regrouping,

silent seeking where the victors forgot;

knowing that knowing is not enough.


Fleeing the city to sup with past heroes

is not enough, for that place has been rezoned.

Praying to be spared is not enough. Proof is not enough

to halt the endless line of chameleon leaders,

who make maps not territories,

are too few to hold all women

within their diktats, all men to follow.


Secret recitations by the Anna Akhmatovas,

the small histories of the Rosa Parks, subvert

the chaos of victors, lictors and victims with infinite play;

not zoning out, not playing at, always putting into play to keep playing,

in a place that has been banished. For the time being

a tactic of retreat, but indifference to the dead heart of power

makes poetry and citizens where the lictors and victors forgot.

About the author

Kevin Conroy

Now living in Kildare, I have been published in the moth, THE SHOp, Southword, Burning Bush II, Boyne Berries, The Blue Max Review, erbacce, The Runt, Skylight 47, Poets meet Politics 2016 anthology and the Hibernian Writers’ anthology The Lion Tamer Dreams of Office Work. A prize-winner in Trocaire & Poetry Ireland Competition 2012 & shortlisted for Cork Literary Review Manuscript Competition 2014, I was selected for Poetry Ireland Introductions 2014, shortlisted for Fool for Poetry Chapbook 2015 and Fish Poetry Prize 2016. I was the runner-up in The Patrick Kavanagh Poetry Award 2016 for a selection of 20 poems.

One Response to Witnessing from the Grey Zone: Kevin Conroy

  • Grey | Sixteen Magazine

    […] This month’s featured poet is Kevin Conroy with his poem, Witnessing from the Grey Zone, a very interesting commentary of how women emerge from the shadows to making massive shifts in the world order. Read his poem here >> […]

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