Conor Bracken is the author of Henry Kissinger, Mon Amour (Bull City Press, 2017), selected by Diane Seuss as winner of the fifth annual Frost Place Chapbook Competition, and translator of Mohammed Khaïr-Eddine’s Scorpionic Sun (CSU Poetry Center, 2019). His poems and translations have earned fellowships from Bread Loaf, the Community of Writers, the Frost Place, Inprint, and the Sewanee Writers' Conference. An assistant poetry editor at Four Way Review, he currently teaches English at the University of Findlay, and lives in Ohio with his wife, daughter, and dog.
Photo Courtesy of Colette Kulig, Photographer
The Enemy of My Enemy is Me
In his debut collection of poems, Conor Bracken traces the nerves of toxic masculinity—white as maggots but taut as lyre strings—that twitch and fizz inside events as homegrown as school shootings and as distant as the execution of medieval French heretics. Everywhere, though, there are bodies: the stout slouch of Henry Kissinger in a towel, a headless snake writhing in a footwell, a cantor with a beautiful voice and an inexorable need to be touched. And then there’s the body of our speaker: “white and alive and in love” and damaged by the same ravenous appetites he isn’t always able to curb. There is no hero here, only a song that turns towards and away from reckoning with the costs the neo-imperial world order extracts from bodies both supine and thrashing. These poems flicker like fire and billow like night’s velvet curtain, which you can “roughen with one hand / and smooth with the other.”