Pick-a-Poem: “Quails”

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Welcome to another edition of Pick-a-Poem, where we feature a poem for you to read and — hopefully — enjoy. As always, this week’s poem has come from Poetry Daily, which is a very helpful website if you’re looking for new and interesting poetry on a daily basis, as the site’s name might suggest. This week we feature a poem entitled Quails, which is written by Meg Kearney.

According to her page on Poetry Daily, Meg Kearney has written two books of poetry, An Unkindness of Ravens and Home By Now, which won the 2010 PEN New England L.L. Winship Award. She has also written two novels in verse geared towards teens, The Secret of Me and its sequel The Girl in the Mirror. She has a picture book, Trouper, forthcoming from Scholastic. She currently directs the Solstice MFA program at Pine Manor College in Massachusetts.

Quails, by Meg Kearney

    Pliny told that migrating quails rested in such numbers on the
sails of ships at night that the vessels were in danger of sinking.

—from 100 Birds and How They Got Their Names

All night our ship creaks
and groans under the weight

of countless scale-bellied
quails. Bad luck to shoot

them—so fifty-two men
dream of drowning while

white-feathered crests sag
our rigging worse than any

wave. Still, death by bird
is not how we plan to go.

We pass some rot-gut wine
in the dark while the deck

turns slick with shit. Touching
crosses round their necks,

those who believe side with
drunks who think they see a pink

horizon, but dawn comes
only when it’s ready. Then

the sailor who sees farthest
bows before the bevy of quails

rising reluctant but steady
toward their memories of stars.

I hope you enjoyed this week’s featured poem! For more of these posts, click right here.

— Jet Fuel Blog Editor, Mary Egan

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