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
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).