A Few Admissions and Disclosures

I want to make a few admissions and disclosures.
With my heart in my mouth, I shoveled Morgan’s dead letters
into the recycling so they could become somebody’s coffee sleeve.
With my heart in my mouth is also the way I get dressed.
Sometimes when the light is complicated and Swiss in the morning
or it molders at night, I get locked in this dead-wall reverie
with my own reflection. I think almost exclusively about myself.
If I disappeared completely and had to recreate my existence
I’d probably end up with a boy who thinks the cast is his new arm.
I know the smell of old books is really the smell of old glue.
I’ve never been the guy who understands white wine
but I have an ongoing love affair with the word Chablis
and I want the guy who understands white wine to notice me.
His wife, too. I hate my body and I hate my fear
but I love being immortal on an electric Citi Bike. I spent
ten years in examination rooms pretending the problem was physical
when all I ever needed to do was listen to my mom.
I don’t call my mom when I think about her.
Every movie I love is about memory and time and loss
but when I leave the warm oozing darkness of the theater
and step into the gunmetal street eroding in winter rain
I think I’m above all that. I don’t like cloudy days because
they look over-medicated. The mystic in me believes
I’m destined for the same early death that came for my dad
and my dad’s dad. When I lament the things I’ll never get to do
in my limited time, a disappointing amount of them revolve around
money and accomplishment, although some of them frighten me
by their triviality—buying yellow gloves, for example, or
eating another watermelon popsicle. When I feel slung over the railing
like damp socks in summer, my instinct is to be alone.
A bit of wreck in the mid-Atlantic.
Pretty soon the Atlantic will be knocking on our doors,
delivering our drunken noodles, persuading us to vote for its candidate.
Then I’ll be alone with you all. Like gulls on the drenched gray rock
of the tallest buildings we’ve ever made, so tall we must have known
they’d be an escape someday.

James Kelly Quigley’s poetry has received Pushcart Prize and Best New Poets nominations. His manuscript Aloneness was a finalist for the 2022 Brittingham and Felix Pollak Prizes in Poetry. Recent work has been published or is forthcoming in The Los Angeles Review, New York Quarterly, Denver Quarterly, and other places. He lives in Brooklyn.

Appears In

Issue 15

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