• James Kelly Quigley

Three Poems


My Father Took Me Hunting

because we had given up other ways to make music. The white hummingbird of buckshot is not melodic, but neither is silence. What I recall I recall scarcely. Like a sostenuto hanging so faint it may not be there at all, I could convince myself this is just resonance. To this day I forget the aurora of gunsmoke gathered over a rabbit. Pink slime wetting the dry pages of what he explained was now more fertile ground—this is not what I return to in my sleep. Not what I kneel before on a granite slab & confess to. Nothing reminds me of the slump of boots in far-off mossy places. The cadenza of hooves from a doe bolting in the brush is still not playing. How could I have known that what is said is just the opening to what is not, when he paused on the trail & whispered not bad, not bad

Getting Over It

You call it a process of becoming

more fully human. How we’re sustained

when these corridors of grief & the wax

museum at the end of them collapse

into something hot & dense. You say

you can’t recontextualize a landmine.

It’s right there in the dirt, with

the bird bones & apple cores. Let’s

call the bombs bombs, you say, they

have no issue naming us. Let’s mourn

the bonefish even as it slaps against

the pier. The illusion that love can be

its own redemption. You say this is

just a way to tread water. & water

will only remind you of that insatiable

thirst for landscape. The figure / ground

dynamic you can’t point to purely,

but exists a little bit more each time

you try. There’s something generous

about it; loss that is the result of

discovery. & if you can’t discover,

you say, invent.

Notes at the Grave of James Felix Quigley (excerpt)

November, resodded

Okay but there are some things I believe in if not this

The delicate work of harmless androids

Watch them crane their alloyed necks

Like tulips to sunlight

As they solder each boy to his mother

Each father to his private dogma

Each idle night to its hillside

An assembly line of perfect mechanical ghosts

Putting the world on a belt

That goes on & on

Everything heads where it’s headed

With such efficiency

You might not think of a pearl no one ever finds as efficient

Slim & milkwhite but useless

This is where I say love is a useless pearl

James Kelly Quigley is a Best New Poets- and Pushcart Prize-nominated poet whose work has been published or is upcoming in Narrative Magazine, Nashville Review, The American Journal of Poetry, and other literary journals. He is an MFA candidate at New York University, where he currently teaches creative writing and serves as Copy Editor of Washington Square Review. James was born and raised in New York, and lives in Brooklyn.

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