The American Journal of Poetry
"Strong Rx Medicine"®


James Kelly Quigley



when James struts in the alley the hoodlums scram and dice fall from their jackets

when James struts through fog he knows it’s not really fog but another elaborate plot

when James is intimate with Rachel she ignores the stench of baked beans

when James is intimate with himself he gives a thorough spit shine

when James admires his nakedness in the mirror he traces the sorrow of his collarbone and the pencil hairs that garnish his chest

when James admires art he says “now that’s art!”

when James was hypertensive he reached into a ventricle and parted his own red seas

when James was hypertensive his enemies prayed for cholesterol

when James memorized the stations of the cross he whispered “we’re a bath away from true love, Lord.”

when James memorized his alphabet soup it was in Spanish

when James has a good dream there is a balloon

when James has a bad dream there is a balloon with no string

when James was purchased for silver coins he jumped for joy and the Romans wept

when James was purchased at Walmart he was an affordable shotgun

when James uses his tongue he is using it for either sex or democracy

when James uses his legs he likes to boogie on down

when James bows the tulips bow

when James laments in his very own balcony scene Rachel laments in her very own balcony scene

when James was a 14th Street gypsy he never shaved and the police took note

when James stopped being a 14th Street gypsy he ordered a mimosa

when James followed the star it led to a hollow barn

when James offered frankincense it was 1995 and nobody knew what the hell it was

when James left the church he squealed like a grease fire

when James re-entered the church he was clean as a whistle



James Kelly Quigley

Waiting For the Toxicology Report


as the watchman
fingers his
cold pulse,

I’m not writing
about birds.

when creeping
red fescue
pokes through

the hand-me-down
doll house,

that darkness
under the floor

I dig out
his inner ditches

to find
what used to be
a blizzard

in a small
sandwich bag.

by the way,
the Feds
are buying toxic acids

and bursts of

and now our mobiles
that dangle over baby
have no Pluto.

I’m not making a mess
just to watch the maid scrub:

before I was

in my father
I was

an aggravating wall sconce,
your nearest pub,

the hairs
your barber



James Kelly Quigley

Bowie's Final Will and Testament Disguised As Greatest Hits


Lady Stardust my femme fatale and your perfect bulge
Lady Stardust the hetero has taken over
I know it’s not makeup but tribal scars
I know dying wasn’t the only way to say goodbye but it had the most teeth
I want to be my own ghost in a bedsheet with eyeholes
I want to be the schizo who sells secondhand roses in Suffragette City
Ziggy without you I’m a total blam-blam
Ziggy save me I’m trapped in a Polaroid
I’ve always been a sick fuck and almost an atheist
I’ve always kept the darkness as wallpaper
Turns out I was a rock ‘n’ rollin’ bitch for you
Turns out I was a mellow thighed chick
You went to fight in Belfast
You went to rescue the spiders from Mars
I’m not the Iscariot who went electric
I’m not sparkling just for the hell of it
Don’t forget me baby when the ice caps go
Don’t forget me Ziggy I want to return your bright blue jeans
I want to believe in idiot love and jump in the air but do I have the gumption
I want to believe you were the nazz Ziggy and not just a wild mutation
When the kid kills the man it’s half-off on funeral suits
When the kid kills the man Ziggy it’s time to break up the band




JAMES KELLY QUIGLEY  is a graduate of New York University whose poetry has appeared in Catfish Creek, Minetta Review and West 10th. He was born and raised in New York.



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