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Two Poems by Justin Quinn

Riddle

So what do you say to a five-year-old
who’s realised that everything will die?
You fight it, but no matter how you try
you still repeat the lies that you were told.

It was last year in summer, the fields were gold,
etc. Had there been cotton, it would’ve been high.
His frame is retching with the question why.
But soon the old words work and he’s consoled.

And as the clever lies dispelled his fit,
arrived here with great speed, now at his back,
a towering black wave was about to hit.

I held his eye and the wave froze in the air.
He wandered off to play. The watery stack
remained for anyone who had a care.

 

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For Evan & Jonas, Brewers

…tant ilz me firent boire

1.
I remember a saucepan of such size
that you could boil a large-ish dog in it
with room to spare. I remember my surprise
at the copper element shaped to fit
its depth, on both ends garden hoses tightened
that slapped and slathered across the work top.
I remember how a two-year old recited
the recipe, how his father at the sink
smiled but corrected him with Cascade hop,
how snow was coming down (it was December),
how I said yes to all suggestions, the clink
of glass on glass on glass. I remember
little else, so much they made me drink.

 

2.
Next thing I’m lying on the soft hillside.
(White rugs have been spread out in my neighbourhood.)
I’m watching snowflakes in their millions glide
out of some origin in the space above.
I’ve moved from the cold edge of everything
to the centre, radiant, suddenly
at one with truth. I seem to hear it sing.
The night. The snow. The city. It’s all good.
Then I realise as yet more snow descends
that if I don’t get up eventually
I won’t get up at all, which seems profound.
But before I prise myself from the ground
and shake the snowdrifts off my cloak and shanks,
I make a note to set down these events
as fully as I can, by way of thanks.

 

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Justin Quinn’s latest collection is Close Quarters (Gallery). He lives in Prague.

Image Copyright: Ann Kristin Kåsin

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