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Murder on Garland Street and Other Poems – Linda Quinlan

Apr 4, 2022 | Poetry | 0 comments

Murder on Garland Street

My father shot a crow
the whisper of autumn leaves
hushed by a thump on the ground
open winged
beak heading north with the moss.
My young sons standing next to him.

He told me this on his death bed
his blue and hooded eyes
needed me to know
but I couldn’t hold his regret.
He’s 90
diapered lying on a hospital bed.

He said he was a cruel man
yet not always
and I’m sure he was thinking of me.
The time we made a doll house
in the basement
little people sitting on chairs
watching tv.
At 16 the keys to his 1956 Chevy.

Nights at the hunting lodge
when men cut off the balls of deers
and threw them into flames.
Why had he done that,” he asked?
Did the crow’s mate mourn
as he did now
lying with a blistered heart,
the crevices in his body filled with medicine
that can’t fix him.

Do you think there’s a God.
This man of faith
asks his athiest daughter
and I have compassion still
that sweeps between anger and love
back and forth
the way a broom does
unconsious of what it picks up.
I open the blinds
watch them lift higher and higher
to reveal the city.
A police car goes roaring by.
The death rattle stops
and I never want more than now
for there to be a God
who will forgive him.


(for my grandchildren)

Memory slides on top
of inheritance
sears into your genes
and crashes through generations
a phenotype change
not recorded in time.

Will you curse me
on those mornings
when you catch a glimpse of me
in the mirror,
when you blink away tears
that seem to come from nowhere?

This is the kind of root
that entangles generations
and you must have courage.
The boat that brought relatives
from Italy to escape Mussolini
The wild currents
swim across a path
that remembers the waves
and partisans hanging from trees.

Or the last Irish potato
in the blight of love
given from a mother’s hands
to a daughter leaving for America.

These are pathways you look down
asleep and awake.
Someone is reciting Plath
you love the darkness.
There is Andy Warhol
in the attic just before he’s shot
laughing with his friends.
The picket line you can’t cross.

Memories that reach out from the grave,
on top off or in addition
to what you’ve been given.


A River in Massachusetts

My favorite stream
as a child
was the Ipswich River,
slippery boulders crashing currents
along banks of grass
where pines grabbed the hooks
my father carfully untangled.

Opening day was April 1st.
We left Chelsea.
I sat on his lap and drove
past Kelly’s Roast Beef
where ums lifted trash lids
and sat against cement walls eating.

We arrived before my boy cousins
who baited me
and shrieked when my bobbin dipped
below the surface.

The only girl among boys and men
reeling in some luckless trout
into a net
how cold my hands felt
against the metal reel,
how cold
my stare when the trout stopped moving.

My father smiled.
I was passing through
the treasure of rocks and sunlight.
Shale under my boots
hiding dinosar tracks
who once roared here
before they became extinct.


Linda Quinlan

Linda Quinlan

As part of Linda Quinlan’s 49-year publishing history, her work has appeared in such journals as Sinister Wisdom, A Fine Madness, The New Orleans Review and Conditions: The International Edition. Her book of poems, Chelsea Creek, published by Brickhouse Press takes place in a working-class city outside of Boston in the 1950s, evokes the landscape of pre-Katrina New Orleans, and addresses life in small-town Vermont. Topics involving motherhood, homophobia, religion, and class trace her artistic development as she engages actively and observantly with many of the pressing issues of our time. Linda currently lives in Montpelier, Vermont where she co-hosts a cable access news/interview show called All Things LGBTQ and is one of the founders of Rainbow Umbrella of Vermont.


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