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Tim Staley

Are You at Risk for Shingles


At the orgy

there’s a campfire

on Lydia’s once beautiful breast.


We’re here to party, but don’t be like me

obsessed with the enemy’s coach.

God, will he ever come?


I believe in a non-personal God

a God of space and magnets

lava and breast milk.


I also believe in a God who spends

up to three hours a day

listening just to me.


On the way home from the orgy

I’m not talking to my wife of ten years

I’m thinking about chickenpox.


How sometimes chickenpox is a flashlight

in limbo until it’s reborn

stronger than before.


Lots of people blabber on and on

but I like the people

who keep their shingles a secret.


I started a church where everyone

dresses in dirt and worships

nature shows without words.


I see a dead cricket beside the nightstand.

I pick it up and his body comes away

like nothing from his legs.



Tim Staley was born in Montgomery, Alabama, in 1975. He completed a Poetry MFA from New Mexico State University in 2004. Poems have appeared in over 20 journals including Border Senses, burntdistrict, Chiron Review, Circumference, Coe Review, and RHINO. His newest poetry chapbook, The Sickness Suite, is available at His poems have also been featured on Lively Words, an online reading series. He was a finalist in Imaginary Press’ 2013 Full Length Book Contest. He was the winner of The 2012 Luminaire Award for Best in Poetry, awarded by Alternating Current Press. He also won The Peter Harris-Kunz Endowed Award in Poetry in 2004. His hobbies include Bocce Ball, canoeing, potty training, and thinking. He lives with his wife and daughter in Las Cruces, New Mexico.