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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