POET TO NOTICE: Linda Quinlan

We are pleased to present our next Poet to Notice: Linda Quinlan.
We hope you enjoy these 3 poems as much as we did.

A NEW ORLEANS FAREWELL

You left me an African mask
left me
to enter the Please U Cafe
on lower St. Charles
bacon grease settling on my skin
where short round waitresses
older than we
leave work swiftly
on a washed out Saturday night,
where tourists wander streets they shouldn’t,
Erato, Tchoupitoulas, Clio
past Charity Hospital
where a half broken banana tree
slaps at the heat of July
making not a bit of difference to anyone
and I can’t remember you there
no Mardi Gras beads around your neck
no music to sell
lying in a hallway gurney
stomach so bloated
that tears are orphans here
and the stifling air has no arms
so I carry your ashes
to the Mississippi River
and remember to be an outlaw
to ripple through people’s lives
with a soft rebellious wave.

~~~

CAMPGROUND FOR JESUS

At my parents’ lake house
Betsy and I pause by the bay.
A crow has warned the others
we are here
early morning intruders
deniers of tasty morsels
the sun has rotted.
This piece of heaven
where bikinis aren’t allowed
and drinking is forbidden.
My father hides his rum bottles in the trunk of the car.
I envy their easy belief,
knowing who to hate and who to love.
Still, the landscape has magic,
a superstitious touching of toes to sand,
the ritual of my diving right in,
her slow and careful walking.
Blood sisters at fourteen
the touching of fingers
a timing of cycles
among the other teenagers on the beach,
no one else mattered.
We were heathens
and never once got saved at the chapel.
I became formless by the fire pit
and delighted in burning marshmallows
with pitchforked sticks we plunged into the flames.
Sometimes I play devil’s advocate,
but not in this place,
a place that captures the hateful church bells
and the lingering sound of preachers.

~~~

POPPING FROGS IN THE 50’s

Beside the Soldier’s Home
the knotted rope swing pulled
between our legs
as our bodies swung
and our toes touched the leaves below.
This was before
the boys opened us
like the names they carved on bark.
They gathered frogs from the pond
and threw them under cars
just to hear them pop.
Us girls
held each others hands
and tightened our roller skates with keys.
On the stoop
our fathers played poker
and laughed at the frog crackers
as the heat exploded into twilight.
The porch light and shirts went on.
I saved as many frogs as I could
but most weren’t quick enough
to hide in the summer grass.
They slipped in oil as thick as mud.
I sat down by the pond
making mud pies,
listening to my mother yell about polio
as if that were the only danger.

~~~

Linda Quinlan has been published in many literary journals, some of which include, Pudding, The New Orleans Review, The North Carolina Review and Sinister Wisdom. Her play, “When I Go To Sleep” was produced at Players Theater in Vermont. She was Poet of the Year in Wisconsin. Presently she lives in Monpelier, Vermont where she and two others host a TV Show called “All Things LGBTQ.”

“A New Orleans Farewell” was first published in Freshwater.
“Campground for Jesus” was first published in Best of Burlington Writers.

linda-ptn

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