Someone said it was better for me to be here.

I don’t believe her.


In my papery blue gown, I refuse breakfast.


Plastic cups with foil tops of warm orange juice.

She’s quick to remind me


I can’t bring it back to my room.

Who knows what harm I could do.


Later she calls me punk rock

and means well. Every hour, signs


of how alive I still am

are measured by the weight of machines.


Next in line, I’m promised a kingdom


of Benadryl, clean underwear,

cold water. I return to my place with the rest.


What are you doing here? She finally asks.


Defect of memory reversing:


Self-portrait with body,



and with knife, tenderly pressing shut

the thing that came open.


Richard Quigley
is a graduate of the MFA Writing Program at Columbia University School of the Arts. He also holds a BA from Purchase College, SUNY where he was a two-time recipient of the Ginny Wray Writing Fellowship and the Friends of Humanities/Academy of American Poets Prize. He was a named a semi-finalist of the 2019 "Discovery"/Boston Review Poetry Prize from the 92Y Unterberg Poetry Center. His poems have appeared or are forthcoming in The Adroit Journal, Day One, Phantom, B O D Y, The Grief Diaries, among other print and online publications. He lives in Brooklyn, New York and is a Lecturer in Creative Writing at Purchase College, SUNY. http://www.richardquigley.com.