(for Diana)


A quagga does nothing for it.

Nothing is the back of a hand why a quagga is regular and is nothing without hands.

The dark place under a quagga's lip seems significant.

Darkness pretends it is something in a new way but it is only something.

What can it hope.

Hope is a quagga's hoof before it was something or nothing.

Like a piano key or the darkness beside it.

Like spit.

Like spit blue-green or the sky so going that some take it for nothing.

All the same.

A quagga stands for a page.

That a page is a white something going a little black reminds it of sheets to a leaping of eyelids a stumbling brown dribble of information.

The sun can suck another night from this dead dirt horse.

All the same.


n.b.. quagga: a zebra-like mammal of southern Africa; extinct since the late 19th century.

The stark geometry of its eyelids made them valuable to the fashionable women of Europe and the American East who used them dried as earrings or to decorate their elegant hats.

Only the eyelids were taken by the poachers who would not kill but only stun the animals. When they came to consciousness, the quaggas could not adapt to a life without eyelids. It is believed that an uninterrupted view of their world drove them mad. They forgot to eat.

This poem was composed before I discovered that Guy Davenport had used the quagga in some interesting ways. Dammit. I thought I was on to something, but it was nothing. Blame it on Gertrude Stein.

All poems by Br. Tom Murphy, O. Carm.

My Poems

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