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Atop the Square (Oxford, MS)

It’s Sunday, mid-October.
Fall has now begun–
In spurts at least.
It’s hard to tell really
What weather here
In Mississippi
Will be like tomorrow.
One thing is certain.
As I sit atop the Square
With cars driving below me
In the traffic loop
Carved inside it,
It’s not ninety and hasn’t been
This whole week
For the first time since March.

A Midwestern sky has grayed
This college town
And Autumn’s breeze has cooled
Its southern ground.

I sit and write
Atop the Square
With coffee beside me
And bookstore below me.
It’s the only store open this Sabbath
Because students never rest.
They come here to study,
But don’t.

I’ll get to it eventually.
Did you see that new book on Morris–
The unread collection?

I’ll just read a little
And then get down to work.
His story’s like my own
About a boy and his dog.

I grew up like that
And learned to count
In fav’s, nan’s, and tin’s.
Then we moved away–up North
To Dela-where? It didn’t matter where–
Just north of here.

I lost my voice
But gained a heart
And learned to see beauty
Wherever God moved me.

Willie took me back
And now I travel forward.
I’ll graduate soon.

It’s Sunday, mid-October.
Fall has now begun.
My coffee is gone.
This break is done.
Things must get finished.
I’ll start right now.

October 2002, Oxford, MS

Candy from a Bookstore

I strolled into Barnes and Noble last night,
Entering through the left-side of the double-doors.
Temptation urged me to push open both doors
Like Ben Wade in a Wild-West saloon.
The Marshall Law in me resisted.

As the single door swung shut behind me, I stopped.
Nobody stared.
It was nearly within reach—
The prized table of new releases
That even Wyatt Earp’s eye would envy.
It’s where I hope to reside one day as well,
If I can learn to replicate myself a few million times
In hardback form.

A Queen of Hearts caught my eye as I scanned the covers.
It had nothing to do with Texas Hold Em,
But perhaps Billy Collins bet all his chips
That I might defy wisdom and judge a book by its cover.
Before I knew it, I had a brief conversation with Collins.
Through his poems, he asked me where I was as I read him.
He was in Paris writing.  I was in a bookstore
Eavesdropping on his questions intended for buyers.
I hope he couldn’t hear my response.

Another cover called as I hung up on Collins.
The Whiskey Rebels by David Liss.
As the first page transported me to a Pennsylvania tavern
In the late 1700’s, a recurring thought haunted my reading.
If I was in a grocery store, would this be like stealing candy from a bin?
Maybe the outlaw in me doesn’t care, but I returned the book
To its foster home on the display table.
I promised to return for Collins and Liss’ creations, when they
reincarnate as paperbacks
With cheaper bounties.

BQ 2008


When I look at nature, I can see
How well you’ve dressed the lily.
Then in utter certainty,
I know how much you care for me.

But times do come when I lose focus
And I get caught within life’s circus.
When that occurs please remind me:
You bless those who wait for thee.

Heal my heart and my eyes.
Reveal your presence at my side,
Where you have been throughout my life—
Summer, winter, day, and night.

O God, to you I pray that I
Will give you all that I call mine
And as you lead me down life’s road,
I won’t think twice as I follow.

Though fear and danger will arrive,
Though death may come, I will abide,
As we travel side by side,
Hand in hand, and stride by stride.

Written 99-00, Freshman Yr @ Millsaps – BQ

The Elephant Inside

We lived. We laughed. We lied. 
We longed for love that died 
The day we hid behind 
The elephant inside. 

Insatiably it dined, 
As the peanuts of our pride 
Relentlessly supplied 
The elephant inside. 
“Feed him more!” We cried. 
“His size will help us hide.” 
His presence plagues our lives– 
The elephant inside. 

Written in 10th grade, ’96-’97


Cliché scene
College town
Andy Warhol
Would be proud

Turn what is
Into what isn’t
Art is in
The perception
Bridge at night,
Can of soup
Miss Monroe

Snaps the scene
Edits pixels
Like a dream
Lighten here
Sharpen there
Ansel Adam’s

Post and share
Like it or not
Do you care?

Art is in
The perception
As you scroll
Take a second


Song and
Sometimes need
A second’s chance

To speak

Oh Robin! Dear Robin!

Oh Robin! Dear Robin!
You shouldn’t have died,
But I understand
You were plagued by a lie.

It’s funny how minds
Can be beautiful things
Creating such humor,
Art, hopes, and dreams.
But uncanny strength
Can become our weakness
Changing in moments
Where we look for meaning.

I’m sorry for what
You and yours lost
In shadows of doubt
At such a high cost.
I thank you for all
You did in your life
I pray for your friends,
Children, and wife.
I hope that they find
In this tragedy
Courage to serve
Where there’s a huge need.

We all have our issues
Locked in our vaults
Securing the lies
That claim they’re our fault:
“You are who you are.
Don’t try to change.
Whatever you do,
You’ll still be the same.”
But if we can share
What shames us the most,
The sooner we’ll find
That we’re not alone.

Oh Captain! My Captain!
You served us so well,
Causing us tears
As we laughed like hell.
I’m sorry we took
All that we did–
Expecting and wanting
Like greedy kids.
I wish that we could
Have been there for you
To be a bright light
In the midst of your gloom.

Oh Robin! Dear Robin!
You shouldn’t have died,
But I understand
You were plagued by a lie.
Oh Robin! Dear Robin!
You shouldn’t have died
I wish that you hadn’t
Succumbed to the lie.

Brendan Quigley

@ The Local Well

He occupied my table @ The Local Well.

Another poor hitchhiker

With a not-too-pleasant smell.

He wasn’t from around here.

That was plain as day.

Though where he’d been

And where he’s from,

I really couldn’t say.

All I know, I’m here for work.

I’m not a charity

To hand out drinks and food to all

Who want something from me.

He was single as a dollar.

Not a penny to his name,

But acted like he owned the world

With untold wealth or fame.

I tried to walk on by him,

But he stopped me in my tracks.

He said, “Get me some water.”

The utter nerve of that!

“Why should I?

 What’s in it for me?

You don’t have a cent to pay.

My service isn’t free.”

He nodded like he heard those lines

A thousand times before,

But he ignored my attempts—

To get him out the door.

   “If you knew the man before you,

Instead of what you see,

You’d ask him for his living drink

That quenches every need.”

He was single as a dollar.

Not a penny to his name,

But acted like he owned the world

With untold wealth or fame.

I rolled my eyes. I stood in awe.

I sat down next to him.

His words and actions swirled inside.

He shook me from within.

Who’s this man that said these words?

Why do I even listen?

He could be some psychopath

That preys on hopeless women,

But in his words I heard a truth,

A wisdom I’ve not known.

Though when I asked him for this drink,

He told me to go home!

   “Get your husband,” he ordered me,

As I stared in disbelief.

Who can say a thing like that

After promising relief?

  “I have no husband,” I replied,

Confused now more than ever

Though something told me that he cared

And already knew the answer.

“You’ve married five and live with one.

What you say is true.

I’m here today because I have

Good news to share with you.”

   “They were supposed to last forever,

Until death we weren’t to part,

But each forever ended

Before death played its part.

You sound like you’re a prophet

I’ve heard rumors of a king.

Are you the one they talk about?”

   “I who speak to you am he.”

I stood up from the table.

His drink would be on me.

For he paid in full with hope and love

And life eternally.

I called and texted and spread the news

To everyone I knew

About this man @ the Well

Who’s words just rang so true:

“He said he’s the Messiah,

And told me all I’ve done.

Can he be the Son of God,

The Christ, the Chosen One?”

Word of him went viral

After my story spread,

And I believe he is the Christ,

Just as he had said.

He’s now my forever

And I’m not afraid to tell

How I found eternal love

One day @ The Local Well.

He was single as a dollar.

Not a penny to his name,

But acted like he owned the world

With untold wealth or fame.

He offers an eternal love,

One that death can never part

And quenches every single need

And heals the broken heart.

Take the time to drink his words.

Trust him like a friend

He’s not a pauper with wise words

He’s the Beginning and the End.

(See John 4:1-30)


I have. She has. We had.
I do. She does. We did.
I shall. She will. She should. We would.
I may. She might. We must.
We can. We could… Love.

To Mom for teaching me helping verbs in 5th grade. I will never forget. I miss you.

Twas the Night Before Christmas® 2018

Twas the Night Before Christmas® and all through the town

All the people were frazzled and running around.

The stores were jam packed with frantic parents,

Who had just enough cash to pay this month’s rent.

The children were restless on their late-model phones–

Playing Fortnite®–Zombies vs Drones,

And papa was doing all that he can

To afford the maximum shared data plan.

When up in their bedrooms arose great commotion,

The Zombies had won and the kids threw convulsions.

Last year’s big ticket was now worthless junk

And the I-PhoneZX® was flung in their trunks.

Kids sprang from their beds straight to their I-Pads®

And Tweeted® poor Santa this season’s must-haves:

From Apple® to Sony® to Best Buy® to Gap®,

Tweet® upon Tweet®, “I gotta have that!”

When the hurried old driver glanced down at his phone,

His sleigh veered into a FannieMae® home.

More rapid than eagles, bystanders appeared,

Shocked to see Reindeer and the man with the beard.

“Oh Dasher! And Dancer! and Prancer and Vixen!

Oh, Comet! Oh, Cupid! Oh, Donder and Blitzen!

Even dear Rudolph took a great fall!

I shouldn’t, I shouldn’t have taken that call!”

Out came the smartphones from everyone’s pocket.

They Googled® the closest emergency vet.

In minutes the vets and medics arrived.

They triaged the reindeer so all would survive.

The kids on their tablets still up in their rooms

Were soon streaming YouTUBE® for this breaking news.

The web was ablaze with all kinds of chatter

As video viraled of this “Christmas Disaster.”

The toys were destroyed and the red sleigh was towed

By Elves from the Shelves® back to the North Pole.

The children responded with tears on their cheeks

And millions sent Santa “Get-Well-Soon” Tweets®.

The must-have’s kids wanted under their trees,

Changed in an instant–One-Eighty degrees.

Lines in the stores dispersed like the gnomes

And parents drove frantically back to their homes.

The families then gathered around their flat screens

And watched as Wolf Blitzer updated the scene.

An on-site reporter caught her big break

When Santa showed up to give her his take.

He was dressed in faux fur from his head to his foot

And his clothes were all tarnished with ashes and soot.

His eyes–How they twinkled! His dimples how merry!

His cheeks were like roses! His nose like a cherry.

An e-pipe was clenched in his pearly-white teeth

And it’s vapor encircled his head like a wreath!

With a broad face and a round little belly

He shook when he laughed like a bowl full of jelly.

“Excuse me, Dear Santa,” the reporter had asked,

“Since Christmas is over, how can you still laugh?”

Santa replied, “With all due respect,

Christmas was over before my big wreck.”

“We wanted. We needed. We cried and we got

Bunches and bunches of gobbledygop,

But now with this pain comes fresher perspective

Of what is true need and how we can have it.

We have it by sharing the resources we have

To help those in need, when they need it bad.”

Santa then motioned to all those around

And thanked them for helping him off the ground.

“Day is approaching and I have to leave.

Time’s running out on this Christmas Eve.

My children don’t cry if around your nice trees

The only true presents are your families.”

As dry as the leaves before a wild hurricane fly

When they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky,

So Santa spun upward and away he flew

Back to his family to have Christmas too!

by Brendan Quigley 12-21-12

Dedicated to Sandy Hook Elementary 12-14-12

Updated 12-15-18

Merry Christmas!