Holly Day – Five Poems

Holly Day

Five Poems


on the timeline, I’m a map of wrong turns
detours—15, should have buried myself in computers
like my friends, at seventeen, should have buried myself in schoolwork,
taken advantage of my early college admittance, at nineteen
my father asks, you still think you’re going to be
an astronaut? at twenty, lectures on how
real writers spend eight hours a day writing, not three
twenty-one, my boyfriend asks me how I can justify
spending so much money on postage to
send out manuscripts when I don’t have anything
in the fridge.

I hear myself giving speeches on missed chances
to my children, to a son almost out of the house and I
know I’ve heard these lectures somewhere before, I hear myself tell my daughter
about how once upon a time all I wanted out of life was to
someday push an ice cream cart at the zoo
have a big, fat orange cat like the one sitting in my lap
children who loved me, and I think,
no, that’s not exactly true.

For Now

every Halloween I get to see
a cavalcade of police cars in my yard, oh Midwest
police are so strong and steady, I know my
neighbors are glad to see them there. Oh no,
my best friend on TV just found a gun

now you should knock first before coming
in here. I know, I should have warned you that we were considering gun options
but lost all track of time in the shopping, the choosing.
I know, you and I, we were once so close we could have
exchanged skins, identities, but this new
friendly friend of mine, beamed flat and
bright on the screen from a station somewhere else
is company enough. He’s more than enough.

The Things I Know

I read headlines about cannibals living in
plain sight, drunk driving accidents,
children bringing guns and knives and drugs to school and

I wonder how I’m supposed to send him out there
when five years old seems much too young to see this world.
I read headlines about priests charged with raping boys

daycare providers caught with child pornography
school janitors hiding secret murders for years
trusted neighbors with basement torture chambers, and

I wonder how they can ask me to let him go
when it seems my whole life has been about hiding
from the monsters waiting for us just beyond the door.

The Color of Your Breath

I don’t need to
look when you call my
name your features
are fixed firmly in my
mind all of the
little expressions
that cross your face
when you’re asleep the sound of
your footsteps as you
come up behind me
the smell
of your
skin this is all a part of
me now and even if
I was to go blind
I would still know what you
meant to me

The Night After the Picnic

flesh sears as his leg
drags across the red
hot metal of the
chrome tailpipe, skin peels
against the cool, rough concrete, leaves
red chunks all the way from sixty
to zero. fourth of july traffic
slows to
a crawl, then a stop,
everyone looking
at the four terrified kids out for
a drunk driving drive in daddy’s car. daddy’s
car, the new dent, how will they ever
explain the new dent? traffic slows, stops,
as rubbernecking
onlookers look
for the head of the boy from the accident,
lying headless, next to
his classic design scooter, lying in
a pool of endless blood,
blood so dark that the missing head
could be hiding just beneath the surface.
beneath the surface of the
thin pool, and no one
would ever know.
we wish it so.


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