Much of it was impasse—
we were hefty, unglamorous,
carried ourselves with grace
and humility to the boucherie,
ached in our bluesiness,
modelled self-discipline when convenient,
elected botulinum but
refused the triple bypass,
squinted toward Sol to salute our slain
in their endless pre-dawn processions.
We sat in separate dim rooms
and remembered shaping adobe
into brown bricks; breast milk;
being doused in gasoline.
We kept track of each other’s amputations
and yellowcake uranium,
watched our birdfeeders wither,
our seatbelts hold firm, our iron lungs
vamp on a theme.
We bade farewell to the mosaics,
flipbooks, stained glass windows,
printer paper magazines, notes in erasable pen
scrawled on slick palms, broadsides,
galley proofs, murals, graffiti, caricatures,
charcoal impressions, canoes dug out
of fallen cedars, five-dollar erotica,
psychedelic projections,
abstract expressionist dripwork,
latex moulds of dragonfruit and pomegranate,
papier-mâché casts of neckline and scapula and armpit,
sand mandalas, nocturnes, leitmotifs,
grands jetés, soliloquies, smash cuts,
and dissolves.
It was either worship or waiting;
waiting or winnowing;
we knew and did not know.



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James Kelly Quigly

James Kelly Quigley is the winner of the Phyllis Smart-Young Prize in Poetry. He is also a Pushcart Prize and two-time Best New Poets nominee. His manuscript Aloneness was a finalist for the 2022 Brittingham and Felix Pollak Prizes in Poetry. He lives in Brooklyn, New York.

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