On a perfect day,  I would be able to open my back door

find nothing but jungle waiting for me, sunshine filtered in through the leaves

of trees IÕd never seen before, the calls of unfamiliar birds coming at me from all angles. 

On a perfect day, I would hear snakes in the undergrowth, 

monsters rustling just out of sight

hear the low rumble of a tiger or a jaguar breathing a warning shot

close by, perhaps as close as the cooling shade beneath my back porch.


But this is not a perfect day, and I have not been transported

to a random scene from a Kipling novel, have not been transported back in time

to march with Herodotus or Alexander through lush jungles untouched by civil war 

am not looking for new species of birds with Audubon 

or stumbling into and through the ruins of Machu Picchu with Bingham.

I am just digging holes in my own back yard for tulips and daffodils

wishing I could be anyone but me. 






My husband storms angrily into the kitchen and tells me

heÕs had another nightmare that IÕve been writing poetry

that I was sending off stacks and stacks of envelopes

spending excessive amounts on postage and mailing supplies

to pursue my worthless ambitions. ÒYou seem to think


youÕre going to live forever,Ó he tells me at the end of his story

Òthat you can keep taking these little steps towards nothing

while people out there are working themselves to death.

It seems like a smart person would have figured things out

given up by now.Ó But IÕm still stuck on this nightmare heÕs had


of me writing poetry—and not of me 

stabbing him in his sleep, or running away with another man, 

or forgetting to feed or even completely abandoning our children

all things my subconscious has terrified me with

all the things that send me running to my desk in the middle of the night

to exorcise with poetry, this terrible thing I do. 




Echoes of the Dog


The first thing we need to do is dig a large hole

one wide enough to fit everything from the past into it

deep enough to be able to cover everything completely once 

the deed is done, deep and wide enough that once the hole is refilled

the ground can be stomped flat without exposing

the errant kitchen utensil, a dusty, furred teddy bear leg. 


Afterwards, seeds must be spread over the ground

something that grows quickly so that in just a few days

no one would ever guess the wreckage beneath the new shoots.

beans, perhaps, some verdant and vigorous writhing vine

looking for a tree or twig to whirl tendrils around

or perhaps just grass, some mixed-seed blend

guaranteed to sprout at the first hint of water. 


Years later, when people stumble over this site, theyÕll find

only jungle, or prairie, or even just hard, packed dirt

nothing to hint that our lives together ended here. 



Hope at the Gates of


We wait for the odd angels to hear our prayers, wait so long

weÕre not surprised when they descend clumsily and awkwardly like

large, winged elephants. When youÕre this lost

youÕll take any type of salvation you can get, even if

the Messiah that shows up is dangling from a lowered rope

or has scores of helium balloons tied around His waist.


When the floodgates of Heaven finally open up

weÕre all surprised to find we know people in the incoming crowd

who really donÕt belong there, should not be in line

for eternal bliss or redemption. Rumors cycle

regarding possible payoffs and bribes, miscommunications of

the general Message, someone says your name

and laughs. 



Mouse Trap


The little mice watch me from their prison of tin and plexiglass

inside the live mouse trap I baited the night before. Four little mice

with pointed noses and trembling whiskers

eyes black and bulging against their dark brown fur. 

I wonder how I must appear to them, this giant thing

that they spend their days avoiding, rushing from one dark corner 

to another at the sound of my footsteps, and now

thereÕs nowhere left to go, they wandered into this baited box

and now I have them in my curious grasp.


I tap on the little plexiglass window and they 

rush to the corners of the box, 

cram themselves into the entrance chute, their thin black tails

twitching and curling, hanging out in the open. I imagine

what it would be like to keep them as pets, these stinky little mice

what it would be like to train these wild mice to live in a cage

to eat only when food is offered, and only what I alone offer them

if eventually, they would learn to anticipate my arrival

at the door of their cage with joy, or if 

they would always be just as terrified of me as this?


© Holly Day 


Short bio:  Holly DayÕs poetry has recently appeared in Plainsongs, The Long Islander, and The Nashwaak Review. Her newest poetry collections are In This Place, She Is Her Own (Vegetarian Alcoholic Press), A Wall to Protect Your Eyes (PskiÕs Porch Publishing), Folios of Dried Flowers and Pressed Birds (Cyberwit.net), Where We Went Wrong (Clare Songbirds Publishing), and  Into the Cracks (Golden Antelope Press).