Holly Day | Five Poems


Sometimes the letter is so good, you want to publish it too, so we will:

Dear Poetry Editor, Motherbird:

Somehow, it’s January, and only this past week have I had to worry about putting a real coat on to go outside, and haven’t even bothered replacing my regular canvas shoes for boots. For most of the winter, any snowfall has melted on impact or within hours, and for the first time ever, my neighbors have had no trouble keeping their sidewalks cleared of ice. I even heard an Eastern meadowlark somewhere up in the trees this morning, its voice standing out stark against the regular winter cackle of crows as if it, too, was confused, and needed to tell someone about it.

Thank you for reading my poems,

Holly Day


When I was 13, my mom was best friends with a professional photographer
who grew pot in her back yard. She also had a daughter my age,
who went to the same junior high as I did, and partly because my mom
wanted to be on the good side of her new dealer, partly because
she was worried that I didn’t have many friends, she really pushed
a friendship between me and this new girl.

Diana was okay. We did have fun together. But she was upset
that I wouldn’t wear makeup, that I wore jeans and t-shirts
to school instead of dresses and high heels, and especially
since I didn’t care that I was a fashion casualty. She’d invite me over
to her house after school and spend hours and hours giving me
makeovers, then totally flip out when I’d show up at her door the next day
for school, wearing my hair and face the same way
I always did. She told people at school she was only my friend
because she felt sorry for me, which I got to hear second-hand
from the boy sitting behind me in English.

Sometimes I’d get pissed off at her for saying shit
behind my back, and I’d take off for home after school
without waiting for her at our usual meeting spot, and she’d
come running down the street after me, shouting my name,
begging me to stop and wait for her. When school
wasn’t in session, we were pretty good friends.
When we were at school, she barely spoke to me.

Milk Cartons

Those little pictures on milk cartons always seem so
ineffectual and insubstantial to me, as though
I have the only milk carton with that face on it
and I myself am entrusted with finding the face in my refrigerator

attached to a living being, perhaps hiding somewhere in my house
as if there aren’t thousands of other houses with the same picture
on their own milk cartons. It seems

that something as tragic and grave as that of a missing child
would warrant his or her face carved in Olmec proportions
in giant blocks of butter or cheese, or stretched out over the frames
of automobiles, plastered on the sides of city buses,
skywritten in intricate detail by cropdusting planes

milk cartons just seem too small to carry
the weight of something so important.

Whispered Into Your Ear

If my skin was flayed from my body, and only
Red, wet muscle held my bones together, would you
Still want to take me in your arms, hold me close, swallow your
Revulsion at my ragged state? And if

This thing inside me can’t be killed, and instead
Wastes me into a picked-over shell, will you
Still tell me I’m beautiful when I’m in your arms, as you
Brush the clumps, the dry knots, out of my thinning hair?

Will you still love me when I’m less than
Skin and bones, a faded memory, a pile of photographs
Rubber-banded together in a shoebox hidden
Under our bed? Or will you painstakingly count off the days that must pass

Before the people around us allow you to forget?

Lunch Break

I can only imagine why he takes so long
To return from the bathroom every day at lunch, picture
Him straddling the toilet, left arm stretched out in supplication to some
Drug god like I’ve seen on television, needle
Dangling precariously from the vein it’s rooted in
His eyes rolled back in his head in delirious orgasm

Or maybe it’s some official religious thing, not a heroin-based religion at all
He’s kneeling before the stand of urinals, facing some static
Compass point, dragging an ancient stone blade over his body
Tattooing new lines across his stomach
Piercing his tongue and ears with a practiced hand
That draws little blood. For all I know
He could be covered in chicken excrement from noon to twelve-fifteen
Every day, using his cigarette break to entreat his homeland gods.

All I know is that I will not continue to use my own lunch break
To answer his phone line, will not take orders from warehouse men
Redirected by the note on his door to ask for my help instead.
From now on, I am in an official state of meditation when his desk is empty.
I am sleepwalking, and am not to be disturbed.

The Things that Come Back When You Finally Have Time

After she was moved to the nursing home, my grandmother
began having reoccurring nightmares of being chased,
held down, raped, again and again. The night nurses had to keep
changing her medications so that she could sleep through the night
quietly, without dreams

so she wouldn’t wake up the other residents. “Your grandmother’s
had a hard life,” said her social worker when we came to visit.
“She’s a strong woman.” She went on to tell us
that years before, before my mother was even born, that my grandmother
had been attacked by a neighbor, that there had been this huge
controversy regarding whether my grandmother was a slut
just asking for it, and had been leading the much-older man living next door
since she was thirteen, fourteen

or if the man, an upstanding member of the community, who ran
the only grocery store in town, really was some sort of monster
some leering thing that hurt little girls. In the end, my great-grandparents
dropped the charges against their neighbor to keep things quiet, put up
a 7-foot-tall wooden fence between the properties, just tall enough
that they couldn’t see the man as he went about his yard
that he couldn’t look over the fence into theirs. My grandmother

went away to work on the family farm in Wisconsin, attended the tiny
Catholic school attached to the neighboring parish
and when she came back, after high school,
the incident was never discussed again.

Sixty years later, she’s having nightmares about being attacked
telling strangers about the rape we never knew about, so doped up
she doesn’t recognize her own children, her grandchildren. “She can’t
do without the medication right now,” says the social worker
when we express concern about her rapid decline, the way
she falls asleep in her chair when we visit as though exhausted, how sad she looks.
“All we can do is hope the dreams go away
once she feels at home here.”

Holly Day has taught writing classes at the Loft Literary Center in Minnesota, since 2000. Her published books include Music Theory for Dummies, Music Composition for Dummies, Guitar All-in-One for Dummies, Piano All-in-One for Dummies, Walking Twin Cities, Insider’s Guide to the Twin Cities, Nordeast Minneapolis: A History, and The Book Of, while her poetry has recently appeared in Oyez Review, SLAB, and Gargoyle. Her newest poetry book, Ugly Girl, just came out from Shoe Music Press.

JD DeHart | Three Poems

jd dehart

To Lay a Blame

to lay a blame
is simple, is easy,
is as simply as picking
up a light word, laying
it down thickly,
squarely on someone else

now taking blame
is another matter, feels
weighty, an Atlas feat,
but shuffling blame
is a simple process, barely
lifting a finger, better to
do the heavy lifting.


my story is connected
to your story
we are the threads
that spell the word human

where I was may be
where you are
will be, where you will be
is tied back, like a branch,
to where I sit today

where I wait
is where we meet
our roots intertwining
below the surface.


He was a giant
though small
a warrior, though
seemingly peaceful
because he had
the simple courage
to speak a word
and then keep it.

JD DeHart is a writer and teacher. His chapbook, The Truth About Snails, is available from Red Dashboard.

Natalie Crick | Eight Poems

Natalie Crick has found delight in writing all of her life and first began writing when she was a very young girl. Her poetry is influenced by melancholic confessional Women’s poetry. Her poetry has been published in a range of journals and magazines including Cannons Mouth, Cyphers, Ariadne’s Thread, Carillon and National Poetry Anthology 2013.


Dear Sister

It is Winter here.
Snow has fallen.
“I am afraid”, said the moon.
She is beautiful tonight.

Now it is darker than December.
What is dead is a different colour.
My dead sister is neither a man nor a woman.
She is a ghost.

We do not speak of her
I turn away from mirrors
When I see her reflection.

The dead can no longer see
I no longer care.
O Lord of darkness,
I want my innocence.

Night’s End

Snow had fallen, I remember,
At the night’s end.
Do you hear his voice?
I am never alone.

And at the end?
I do not live.
It is forbidden to die.
The winds are changing.

Our dead brother waited
But very dark, very hidden,
As the earth became black.

The field was parched and dry,
Filled with death already.
You walk through it.
You see nothing.



God, He Is In The Air

God, he is in the air,
Rushing through the wind and
Over the hills.
Coming at her in waves at the seashore.

Grey gusts
Colour her cheeks crimson
As a bandstand balloon.
She doesn’t know why.

Polka dot flags
Hang in the air
For Madeline to stuff into her pinafore
In handfuls.

Mother and Father
Stand like sheep
In a snowstorm.
Turned into each other.


Out There, On The Hill Somewhere

The grey skies are
A strange chill
Rushed across the moors
Spreading panic.
It is her, she is trying to tell us.

She is out there,
On the hill somewhere
Left all alone in the cold and dark.
I imagine it and rock.
Coming in the middle of the night.

Wanting to remember
Made her try to die
All night long.
Longing to bleed it out.
Crying for yesterday
With eyes like black holes.

A mirror breaks.
Something is not right.
I swear
I saw her standing there.
Bells tinkled in the wind
And I gaze all around and up to heaven.

Drowning in emptiness
In the thick, still air.
My darling, she is voiceless now.
I dream and dream

Of asking she:
“Are you the Queen of Death?”

Each day we drift into nowhere.
Life will end at the end.




The snowfield
Is still and quiet
In slumber.
Frosted blue in grief.

Remembering your eyes
Is what hurts the most.
Your eyes, your lips, your hair
Falling into a black amnesia.

I breathe in your air.
One kiss to thaw your bones.
You are frozen dead beneath the ground.
Now there is no sound.

Your little voice
Whispers in the dust
With white hair
Like Granddad.

The sky rolls
In depression.
And I am screaming your name
In the dark.

No one believes
That you are there.
You are following me around

To tell me I am
Not alone.
When another day
Is done.

An angel is crying in heaven.
How far away
Is that star in the sky.
Goodbye, Goodbye.



Secret Life of Life

I am a child
Thrust open and disregarded,
Trashing through corridors unchained.
The sound poured into me then,
Like birdsong,
Sweet and softly tapping
At my heels.

Short bursts
Of stigma
Are attached to this threshold.
I wandered out, caught
Between the lines of cars.
Such activity frightened me
So I died with leaves.




Journey Into Afterlife

I wanted to go
Like “this is a last chance”.
To see you at nightfall
And see my shining star.
Brown rain streaks down my face.

And we
Stir passed stooped cottages
Of witchery.
What are you doing in there?
I feel drugged.

A dull throb above
My left eye.
I wish I could hold
Your hand,
Pressing your nails

Into your palm.
I wish
I could meet you
And find out
And drown in thick filth.




No Surprise

There was no rain
Through the sky sagged and slumped,
An old coat cradling the lane,
Wearing thin with empty pockets.

You are inclined to believe the latter; luminous purple, ashen green.
And you are wrong because I remember that part
But, I forget where we were. Does it matter?
For poignancy is often personified when we are lost.

We swallowed the road with great swooping gulps,
Bounding with confidence, as very small cars often do.
The moon ran with us, I noticed,
Which was thoughtful, because we were all alone.

The forest mob loomed up on the left,
Hurling hostile tremors from her core.
We bravely edged onward
Though our faceless friends were engulfed in her silent roar.

We tore through the black
And he followed.
In a soundless haze, the hooves vaulted upward,
Clearing us with space to spare.

GOD TOO DOZES | Poem by R.K. Singh

God Dozes Poem


It was too late

I realized

long after his passing

I still prayed for my father

God didn’t answer

my prayers had become mechanical

like sex

ejaculation without orgasm

and pilled sleep.

The itch prevails.

The tags in the mind

don’t respond


absent memories

confused faith:


faster than remembering

in moments of lapse

God too dozes