-by Brian Quinn
Originally published here: Five:2:One Issue 16 (Volume 16)– May 31, 2017


i’ve got this poem now

relating a memory i had of
the Polaroid I took of this pearl i
once found.

it’s all that i have.

that’s not quite true:
i also have a yellowing copy of
Henley’s Twentieth Century
Formulas, Recipes and Processes.

it was given to me by my mother.

it warns that pearls(too)
yellow over time.
by absorbing perspiration
from being worn in the hair, at
the throat, and on
the arm.

this poem i have(now. that
i wrote?)
tells me that i
never had the pearl.
I only.took a picture of it(leaving
it where i found it),
put the Polaroid in my pocket to
carry around with me(to
to help me remember
its beauty).

Henley’s Formulas, Recipes
and Processes. and
the Polaroid of a pearl.

they were all that i had.

the Henley’s was yellowing from age
(does the poem mention
that? i don’t remember). the
Polaroid was just starting to,
around the edges, from
absorbing perspiration(from being

Cleaning Pearls*

Pearls turn yellow in the course of time by absorbing perspiration on account of being worn in the hair, at the throat, and on the arms. There are several ways of rendering them white again.

The best process is said to be to put the pearls into a bag with wheat bran and to heat the bag over a coal fire, with constant motion.

Another method is to bring 8 parts each of well-calcined, finely powdered lime and wood charcoal, which has been strained through a gauze sieve, to a boil with 500 parts of pure rain water, suspend the pearls over the steam of the boiling water until they are warmed through, and then boil them in the liquid for 5 minutes, turning frequently. Let them cool in the liquid, take them out, and wash off well with clean water.

Place the pearls in a piece of fine linen, throw salt on them, and tie them up. Next rinse the tied-up pearls in lukewarm water until all the salt has been extracted, and dry them at an ordinary temperature.

The pearls may also be boiled about 1/4 hour in cow’s milk into which a little cheese or soap has been scraped; take them out, rinse off in fresh water, and dry them with a clean, white cloth.

Another method is to have the pearls, strung on a silk thread or wrapped up in thin gauze, mixed in a loaf of bread of barley flour and to have the loaf baked well in an oven, but not too brown. When cool remove the pearls.

Hang the pearls for a couple of minutes in hot, strong, wine vinegar or highly diluted sulphuric acid, remove, and rinse them in water. Do not leave them too long in the acid, otherwise they will be injured by it.

the poem doesn’t explain
what happened to the Polaroid of
the pearl. only that it was supposed to
help me remember beauty.
i really don’t remember ever
having it. the only
thing i can say
is that my pockets
are empty.

that’s not quite true:
i can say that my clothes smell of vinegar.
the milk tastes like soap.

i read in the poem that
i held on to the memory of the Polaroid
for a long time. it was all that i had.

i sometimes wonder what happened to
Henley’s Formulas, and Processes,
but i don’t really want to know. i think
i wear it around my neck, a comforting
oppression, but i can’t see it.

maybe it’s that i simply don’t
think about it anymore.

what I do think about is that
the poem is beginning to turn yellow.
i no longer have the paper
it was written’s the poem
itself.turning yellow.i carry it
to(keep it safe)remember the Polaroid.

images-2it’s all that i have now.

i don’t know
if any of
it is true

but i think i.wrote it: this poem of
a me(mory)i had.of this
Polaroid.i once.


*The section on Cleaning Pearls is quoted from
“Henley’s Twentieth Century Formulas, Recipes And Processes”
Author Norman W. Henley
Copyright 1916, The Norman W. Henley Publishing Company

and i carry

and i carry
-by Knight Quinn

and i carry
you with me
in (y)ears and tongue
and try(
oh god must i try?) to
and ignore
these achingly long

are covered in
i licked them
for traction)
rummaging through
stacks of old poetry
for some explanation of

but all i
but all you
showed me
but all we wrote
(will write)
cause and effect
(formally, conditionally):

if you trust
then you will trust
and it’s all logic
except when it’s lust
and then it’s all
the more logic(ally
lustfully beauti)
aware of shyly
and exposure.

(before me)
behind you(r
behind) and
with now-healed
(stacks of poetry
set aside for later
and empty,
open palms
that you blessed
with breathless


Published in
Return to the Gathering Place of the Waters
by Vegetarian Alcoholic Press, 2017

A Drier World

A Drier World
-by Knight Quinn


is a new word
I found. I
like this word.

is a drier word.
A desert word.
A deserted word

that leaves behind
glossy pamphlets
promoting a motel’s
swimming pool

and your father’s
umbrella, unused and
leaning in the
dark corner by the back door.

You would like to
find a drier

where all umbrellas are left leaning
and pamphlets are the primary form of literature.

Either will do.
We’re too wet, you say.
We sweat
just getting up
off the couch, leaving
stains on the leather.

Aren’t we
wet enough with
humidity and
rain forests
and condensation
and ocean

No. I am not wet



Published in
Return to the Gathering Place of the Waters
by Vegetarian Alcoholic Press, 2017

adam, made of silt

adam, made of silt
-by Knight Quinn
photograph by Adam Pomozov
“depression drowning”
copyright 2015

she(‘ll speak a delic)ate gravel

into your
hardened ear
on the day you sling in the towel:
on the day
you(r dick) declare(s)
war on her lips.

behind those lips
you(‘ll find)
cement words that’ve been churning since
your lacquered words made
your bed seem appealing, made
your bed seem a safer place
than her own suspended high
above a doorman and his spirit
and high
above the street and its sp(ir)it,
with its deeper,
cognac-colored steam
tunnels lit by lamps burning
dimly of an angel(‘s fire)s

but then again,
you’re You
she’s She
now there’s a grave
in the graveled dirt
just as pale and shallow as Lake Eerie (pre)tends to be
until the silted bottom suddenly drops out
when you are far from shore,
when you forget how to swim in a Lake,
when you find yourself wishing for an
ocean for no other reason than the salt,

would rather drown with
salt in your throat and salt in your lungs
than the sickly silt of a lake-floor that drops out
when you are far from shore,
when a serpent breathes the water,
when your child finds murder.


Published in
Return to the Gathering Place of the Waters
by Vegetarian Alcoholic Press, 2017

(dis)course at Ma Fischer’s

(dis)course at Ma Fischer’s
-by Knight Quinn

The urinal seems abnormally high. I
hope I’m not shrinking but back at our
table, I’m eye-level with water glasses.

I climb up into my seat. I want
to ask for a phone book but your
silence has taught the waitress to ignore

me, too. The diner is full of people.
People chewing. Like we’re
chewing. As if everything is all right.

We continue. To chew. Long
past the final course. After all
the plates are cleared.


Published in
Return to the Gathering Place of the Waters
by Vegetarian Alcoholic Press, 2017

Return to the Gathering Place of the Waters


Created as a companion piece to the 1983 collection, Gathering Place of the Waters: 30 Milwaukee Poets, this book aims to connect the history and present of Milwaukee’s poetry scene since the 80s by showcasing new works from young poets currently coming up in our community as well as contributors from the original anthology and mainstays of our city’s revered tradition of verse.

Contributors include:

Christina Zawadiwsky, Nicholaus Westfahl, Ed Werstein, Paul Vogel, Angie Trudell Vasquez, Monica Thomas, Harvey Taylor, Nina Szarka, Chuck Stebelton, The Skrauss, Anja Notanja Sieger, Emily Sharpe, Aimee Sellon, Claire Schriefer, Caitlin Scarano, Charles P. Ries, Brian Quinn, Bethany Price, Kristin Peterson, Sam Pekarske, Ivana Osmanovic, Casey O’brien, Rachel Niemann, Roxanne Nickolie, Freesia McKee, Greg Manlove, Ed Makowski, Jonny Lohr, John Koethe, Kavon Cortez Jones, Jenny Janzer, Sisco Holland, Roberto Harrison, Annie Grizzle, daniel grego, Benjamin Gray, Keith Gaustad, Louisa Loveridge Gallas, Susan Firer, Kathleen Dale, Franklin K.R. Cline, Bryon Cherry, Jim Chapson, Brenda Cárdenas, Watt Burns, and Antler. 

Purchase your copy here. Support the small press!


by Knight Quinn
Art: Dystopia by Maciej Frolow

Dragging hand-me-down virtues
through tunnels of
barbed wire, wrapping
ethic(and morality, some
times)inside oily rags
on the verge of igniting themselves.

we fight and
we spit
and we wild an-
d we spark,
fearful of being over-
heard by glass-walled neighbors:

our louder, American pastime
of digging in our back yards
at midnight for only the latest
psychologies, hoping they won’t
calls the cops. no. we need
something aching, ancient.

pine and hemlock come to mind. and rites
that demand more blood and dance.

to fight and
to spit
and to wild an-
d to spark
is to dig in the back yards of
our ids and our egos regardless of .
philosophy’s agency.

there is no more time to
kneel before, only to rail
against, to lean and press
against, to fight-spit-wild-spark

to share the splinters
from this, our baptism.

Baptism was originally published anonymously.

Great: Poems of Resistance & Fortitude

Authored by An Anonymous Collection

An anthology of anonymous poems saturated with messages of resistance, fortitude, and subversion, dedicated to November 9, 2016. These poems were written and submitted from across the United States: An honest, brutal, determined voice echoes the narratives of women, people of color, assault victims, and working class people.

The revised edition is dedicated to the six journalists among more than 200 people arrested and charged with felony rioting during the 2017 Presidential Inauguration.

You may buy your copy here.

New Year

​In these final minutes of the year, we ponder the dreams and poems that brought us here: dreams given life and dreams that remain dreams; poems written and poems that never made it to paper. We then look to the coming year ask ourselves if these un-lived dreams and un-written poems are worth holding onto, or if we need to discover new dreams to live and new poems to write. We must dream; we must write, we muse immerge. So, in these remaining minutes, what will we do to finish out the year, to set ourselves for the coming one? How will we manifest? 

Thus, I wish everyone a Happy New Year, for what is a wish but a dream manifested as poetry.