James Kelly Quigley

2021, Poetry

SEVERAL QUESTIONS

I’m already tired
of writing another poem
for you, but I have
several questions
and you only listen
when I get very, very quiet.

Can you tell me again
what broke the cherry branch?

Why were we sleeping close
but not next to each other? 

How often do you think
about that blistering
ashpit of the fallen
towers under a pale
exsanguinated dusk?

That lidless
miserable cyclops
hovering over
the island?

Flutters of paper
like a flock
in its synchronized
turn toward the sea,
kiting the alkaline?

I remember you saying
search and rescue
was a misnomer—

you used the word
misnomer—

and for years asleep you saw
a spark traipsing along
a curlicued fuse
laid playfully through
every room of the house.

But that’s just an observation.
Let me ask something else.

What if you’re every part of the proverb?
The glass and the house and the stone and the throw?

At what point does long ago
become so very long ago?

You taught me to look up
at the austere rock
and light and none and black
of what’s out there.

So,
what’s out there?


James Kelly Quigley’s poetry has received Pushcart Prize and Best New Poets nominations. Recent work has been published or is forthcoming in New York Quarterly, Sixth Finch, Harpur Palate, Narrative, Nashville Review, SLICE, The American Journal of Poetry, THRUSH, and other places. He received both a BA and an MFA from New York University, where he taught undergraduate creative writing and was an editor of Washington Square Review. James was born and raised in New York, where he lives and works as a freelance writer.