Maggie Queeney




I knew about the gun. And the gun, it knew about me.

The money was gone. We were surrounded by things.


Days were spent in subtraction: ghost-like ends of bread,

eaten oranges, eaten eggs. The heat circulated the vents

and made our bodies lighter. Furniture cast shadows

over the floorboards,  pathing the bedroom to bath,

kitchen to front door to window and back.

Days we spent dusting, wet cloths in our hands.


Days we spent keeping the moving parts noiseless

with grease. We kept casings from dust, engines

from rust, shed rags like rosary beads ringing

our feet. We kept windows locked, blinds turned

against the soundless, churning street,

the light exhausting color out of text and cloth.


The gun hung mute and heavy inside the drawer

farthest from the door. At night, claw marks scored


a radiation around the lock gleaming a gold, distant

sun, small enough to hide with a hand.

Strain in Horror Vacui



I too abhor the vacuum,

the pulling empty


empty of empty, lunar inhalation, the heft

of the portraits of the dead


slivered inter-page

I too shore up against


the flooded, fractured, besieged,

and the fruit to rot soft and sweetly


on the counter, dresses hung

in beheaded, female delimbed


strata of impossible plumage

in the closet, the flash and clang


of jewelry crude as handmade

lures and the constant unspooling


of music from the corner of the room

while the television mutters aquarium blue


across the wall windowed in pictures

I too must break


silence against that I crack

jokes, prod a laugh, mock, affect


a bird faking flightlessness

in a circular hobble weaves and drags


a wing in one half

of a cape and danger


away from the breast of the nest

that offers, platter-like, the defenseless eggs—


and rhyme an upended bottle, medicine

and poison, the cut


of meat that disappears with a sweep

of an ink-black top hat


from the waxing white plate

ringed in chipped wild flowers


vased wild flowers performing

death in a softening technicolor


centerpiece, tablecloth pattern pathing

back and away and when I pray


I pray to the tic stitching moment

into future, utter into mimic,


into distract, into hide, and I cry

out in the melodic strains of my prey


MAGGIE QUEENEY reads and writes in a pink house in Chicago. Her recent work has appeared in Copper NickelMatterSouthern Poetry ReviewThe Southeast Review, and Handsome.