There is nothing left to see.

Tarred wings of a blackbird.
A goldfinch. A mourning dove.

There is a bay of frozen water
that traps a pier in moment. I sit
next to it, waiting for movement.

In the middle of winter, I unearth
all flooring from the house. Wrench nail
from board until all walkable surfaces
fade. Stuff the mailbox with letters lacking
postage. Make breakfast out of eggshells
& salt.

There is nothing like the time we waste.
Spent years that consume our veins.
The minuscule moments that darken
eyes, & solidify reaction.

I have dreams of a Cold War.
Of weapons composed of silence.

I saw my death. It was a fleeting panic.
Glassy eyes glaring up from under a solid
surface. An escapade of belligerence.
Falling through a weak spot of ice,
& getting trapped.

I put my hands out, as if begging
for freedom more than breath.
As if the thought of dying wasn’t
terrifying as much as the thought
of standing still.


-by Jess June
Photo: “North Ave Bridge” by Ridire Quinn

A Fold of Chairs


I need somewhere to sit.

There are curves carved from backyard
trees; ones where the leaves gave up, & flaunted
their defeat. Open windows where breezes
trapped free falling.

I need that instance.

If there were a way to construct a savior,
I’d bend my knees. I’d lay down depths
of weighted world to feel delicate again.

I do not remember anything
but shadow. The failure of light,
the smell of dust, the cradled
passing of promised time.

I stand.


On legs that surrendered days
ago. I promised myself a rest.
Two arms & a body that could hold
what I want to lose.
In this room,
there it stands.



To slouch, slung
leg over cushioned
arm. Velvet
demanding a harpsicord(but
there is a separate
room for those). This

room (more like a hall),
brims with endless,
intentional chairs, awaits an
audience as much as it

chairs face the
same way. Except that
there is no notion
of front of the room(and
the room seems
to be in the shape
of a chair). These

chairs face the
same way. Except that
they seem to emanate
from the room(more
like a hall), as though
the room itself has birthed

them. So quiet!
So much space.
For sitting. For
Slinging. For sleeping. Except that
these chairs

There is no one to sit in them.


An empty room is an illusion.
A masquerade of silence, waiting
to be filled. An empty seat is an aching.
A desperation of lapsed haunting.

So much past is held in a room.
So many exhaled breaths. So many sighs
of jubilation, & exhaustion, & finality.

You see anarchy. Chaos(ed) movement
of perfect placement.

There is beauty in the echoes.
The arches of bodies that stopped
their fall long enough to recuperate.

I spend my time on the floor. Measuring
the angles of sunlight on the backs
of once great tree trunks. I inhale the scent
of sawdust like I cut the cedar.

I only know how to keep my legs crossed.
How to keep my ear to the ground. I put
my drink on an ever unoccupied seat.
I watch how the water ripples
whenever someone is near. I never take
a sip.

I never grab a chair.

View of the Chair Park, on the Lower Level of the Milwaukee Art Museum

A Fold of Chairs
-by Jess June & Ridire Quinn
Photo by Claudia Mooney:
View of the Chair Park, on the Lower Level of the Milwaukee Art Museum


a play-poem in one act

Act One

Scene: A Prairie, open and sprawling. A run-down house on a patch of sun-cracked dirt, porch sagging, the screen door hanging by a single hinge. A young boy hanging laundry on a clothes line. A wolfhound old, wild, mangy.

Not far off, a fire raging across the plain, the dry grass fueling.


Kid’s table or
kids at a table
where they are ignored
by aunts or servers,
until they are noticed by
annoyed neighboring tables.
Complaints & heavy sighs & eye rolls.
What ever happened to the kid they used to be?


The kids we once were
are riding their bikes
down alleys of abandon.
You grew up. I refused.
Dilated dialogue into
mazed stories. Tell me, how
High are the bills piled?
What did you make for dinner?
How clean & empty is your plate?


There is no more trading your
for their jasper, or for lost
summer days by raging rivers and tempting
river boats.
Whitewashing means something different today.
I can throw away my plate because it
is paper,
or worse.
Cheap ceramic, new ones on sale
at some Walmart.
Plates are no longer treasures to


I fold paper plates into origami swans.
place them in canals disguised
as rivers. Watch them float, and soak
up water until they sink.

I dig graves for all the porcelain
I’ve lost. I break just to buy.

You tell me to clean my nails.
I beg you to get dirty.


Then promise me secret signals &
passwords, handshakes &
little gifts. What kind of dirty?
There is no drive or need to run whiskey or numbers
these days. Our lives are no longer
innocent, and our heresies are
profitable. Don’t blame
technology for our cleanliness.


I’ve never taken the time to place blame.
There’s a speakeasy under your floor-
boards where I polish glasses in my down time.
What kind of dirty is there
but teeth gritting – mind numbing self-control?

Day in, day out, I cut my fingers
on dollar bills left as a tip
of impression. I serve with a smile –
but pray to you:
What god judges
heresy other than ones who can’t
hear their call?
My knees are red from bending.
My fingers are cemented in intertwine.


Birth, or
or motherhood, or children, or
child rearing…anything other than childhood.
There is no god of childhood.
Childhood doesn’t need one, except
to tear off tie & Sunday shoes an hour after
service to run barefoot in the mud and chase
river boats. Don’t worship

Worship the child who lets their Sunday best
get covered in mud, who accepts the devil’s punishment
and does it again the following week.


We worship what we’ve lost.
In unbridled holiness – we’ve lost
everything, watched the House burn
to foundation, cursed the mud
that trapped our sanity.

I watch children play. Suit coats
ruined. Ties sway with gingered wind
and gentle break.

I do not miss what I do not know.

Please, come closer.
Whisper the devil in my ear.
Show me the ease of wanting.


We’ve too much sanity, and not enough devil
to race again, to rile against.
Sanity is what happens when we no longer need
the devil to regulate us. Mud never trapped it.
Mud helped us to let go of it. I’d be your devil
if you’d turn to rebel against me.


Rebellion leads to uprising.
I watch – out of focus –
soldiers in empty fields.
I leave the screen door open –
apron on – inviting the breeze
to dinner.

Can you feel the change?
The violation of natural law?
The devil stopped showing up
so much that we stopped setting
a plate.
We transform into
the things we need.

I find myself folded into the shape
of desire.

The only thing I want to raise –
is the soiled flag of unrest boiling
at the brink of you.


a play-poem in one act
-by Jess June & Ridire Quinn
photo by Jess June