published poetry

My Mother in a Washing Machine
by C.L. Quigley

Trying to lift the pain with a stain fighter,
Cold Cold or Warm Cold but not Hot Cold.
Hot – burns the tender flesh fighting so hard.
But will a Gentle Cycle wash away
The Scream and bring back her smart smile?

Gently, with care, I lift her bones and skin
into the wash bin. Her eyes reply.
I know this will work, mom.
The broken ratchet sound, I spin the knob.
It’s time to wash clean the pain, bleach
the invader and arm the fighters.
I pass Normal Soil, Light, Gentle Speed
and pull the knob at Heavy.

Mom spins, silently enduring –
Is she okay? Can she breathe?
Her night gown – wet and soapy,
clings to her brown legs.
The knob spins slowly, like a clock.
Heels over head, she (Permanent) presses on with belief.
The arrow passes Rinse, and the Spin Cycle begins.
F  a  s  t  e  r
F a s t e r
Faster the machine dances across the linoleum CLICK!

The violence slows to a hiss.

A stopwatch,
ticking, wondering,


Published in print with gratitude to Cosumnes River Journal, 2011.
Second publication by Haggard and Halloo Publications, 2012.

Prem is a Sanskrit Word Meaning Love
by C.L. Quigley

I press my cracked lips against the rusty
beer can because I want you, I want love.
I’ve seen your trash: Hamms, Dutch Lunch.
Tell me you had more than Prem and beans.

Oh gentleman of distinction
(back when the lookout was a man’s job)
on the spindly wooden spire
halfway between heaven and hell,

Did they ask you, too, if it gets lonely?
Dark browed and square jawed, tin pots
against the blue, you were America’s hero.

I pull your harsh mouth closer
and push my tongue inside you.
Rust and soot sweep the insides of my lips.

I pull your boots off in a burning
fit of urgency, and the icy, red metal
cuts my back when you unclasp my girdle.

Well past midnight, the forgotten radio
crackles my eyes ajar. My cheek
is wet against the pillow,
and my boxers bunched tight.

The moon relaxes on the horizon.
Wind rips past the windows and
Crater Peak is the shadow next door
who won’t tell me how he really feels.

Published with gratitude to Haggard and Halloo Publications, 2011.

I Found Your Poem, Samuel Clemens
by C.L. Quigley

2015-01-15 00.58.51

Credits due to Mark Twain: Roughing It, Volume II, Chapter VIII
Published with gratitude to WordPress
, Freshly Pressed, 2014.
This poem received between 500 and 5,000 readers, but never went viral, RIP.

by C.L. Quigley

Last night, I wrote a poem
for you in my dream.
Titled “Islands,”
it must have been about
the water
between hands and bodies
standing alone within the blue.
When I try to remember the poem –
words and letters spelled out
lines without rhymes –
My desire dams the truth.
Past midnight –
Over dormant cinder cones
between stars and black –
Letters written on air
in my sleeping brain
evaporate from my pillow.
Above the roof, ink fades –
pages brown.
Waves lap gently
on mountain peaks.

Published with gratitude to Haggard and Halloo Publications, 2013.

by C.L. Quigley

It’s not easy to get moving after a hard day’s writing.
My dog starts to whine with anxiety
when the sun sets to thirty degrees above horizon.
I look out the window at drifting snow flakes
as if they were spoonfuls of cold medicine falling from the sky.
I pull socks onto my twenty-four year-old feet
like an old man pulls slippers to his bony ankles,
or like Mr. Rogers changing his shoes without the smile.
My arms are heavy, as if they’ve been chained
to the wall of a dank, medieval dungeon.
I wipe wet hair across my forehead and stiffly
slip on my familiar shoes without bending down.
Leash in hand, I turn the gold door knob.
Sunlight pangs the back of my eyeballs.
We’re going to the lake to look for ducks.
In the green fire hose pack: a pair of binoculars,
a bird book and an extra sweater.

Published with gratitude to Plumas Arts Art and Literary Calendar, 2014.

“Intention leads to”
by C.L. Quigley

Intention leads to
Not knowing which way
the branches will bend.
Examples include: watering seeds,
needing affirmations, but not
thinking about the flow of water
in arteries and veins
over lights and pain.
Never what you hoped for.

Published with and inspired by “A Great Intention” at Thomas Sheridan Arts of Scotland.

Lily Pad Lover
by C.L. Quigley

I fall in love with photographs,
mustachioed Union soldiers,
baby faced and hopeful hippies,
or late-Romantic composers.
I wake to find my lovers dead,
better off dead or immortalized.
Everywhere I look — graves,
if I see a mound, a ditch
or a pile of dirt, a cairn.
I breathe radiation,
my cilia singed, the sun
a merciless master.
All I see are graves,
another casualty, a number,
an obituary (or not)
blowing in the wind
or waiting for a Google search.
I’m advised to wait —
for my Marine with one leg,
control issues, or
a weekly therapy appointment.
He’ll be fighting evil
from a Lily Pad.
Who would disagree with that?

Published with gratitude to The New Verse News, June 16, 2015 in response to U.S. military base expansion in Iraq presented as the “Lily Pad” strategy.

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