Five Poems

by Holly Day

Too Easy

the little gray sparrow in the birch
is a slut. she sits on her branch
quacking suggestively at the brightly-colored males
as they fly by, showing a little leg
hunkering down and splaying her tail feathers.

I shake my pen at her as she
takes another lover, cringe at what
she is not embarrassed at.
I am embarrassed for her.

after they’re done with her, the males congregate
on top of the garage roof, peck at one another
tell exaggerated stories about how good they were
how good she is. in her tree
on her branch, the little gray sparrow
preens contentedly, chirps to herself, eyeballs me.
she has no shame.

The Old Woman on the Bus

She is a character study of how old
I could get if I just stopped smoking
and drinking and got a good night’s
sleep every once in a while, the old lady
smiles at me from across the near-empty bus
tells me she’s having another good day, I

say I’m happy for her, her skin is so soft
and pale it could have been manufactured
at a factory that made tissue paper and stuffed
it into perfectly square boxes covered with
watercolors of purple spring flowers or
wild roses.

This Guy I Saw Sitting in a Car

He was parked in the lot at Thrifty’s Drug buck naked save for
A big white cowboy hat and a pair of dark sunglasses he was
Holding onto his erect penis and grinning proudly and happily like his penis
Was a prize he had won as a bowling trophy or at a carnival ring-toss
Or like it was something a teacher had given him for being
A real good boy in school instead of a gold star or one of those
Phony certificates of accomplishments that can be traded in
For a cheeseburger at McDonald’s with the purchase of a
Large drink.

This Thing Has Set In, and These are Her Words

she says she wants me to drive her
far, far away, out past the tall gray concrete
city buildings, past the picturesque farms with shiny
silver grain silos and peaceful black-and-white cattle
munching on bright green grass, past the tumbled-down
beat-up mobile-home park guarded by junkyard dogs
and bearded men leaning on their long steel-barreled rifles
cowboy hats tipped forward just far enough that you can’t see
their eyes, past the foothills of the cloud-colored mountains
and up and up and up because

somewhere in that collection of snow-capped peaks is
a valley filled with curly ferns and thorn-tipped rosebushes
and climbing twining vines, a tiny green place that she’s only
seen in dreams but she knows it’s there and when
we get there I am to let her out of the car and then
go straight back home, I am to leave her to spend
the few shorts days or hours or she has left sitting on the banks
of the empty pond we will find there, watching her reflection fade
to an emaciated skeleton in a torn red dress.

Cat Gut

across the room from me, my guitar
pulses bright colors, throbs dreams
I can’t ignore. I think about sleep
but the music’s too loud.

my guitar sprouts lilies
not intended to twine, purrs
of birds I’ll never see
but it knows all about them.
even idle, I can feel

the razor-slide of metal strings
cutting grooves into worn calluses
changing my fingerprints just enough that
future scholars will recognize the damage.
my guitar blooms like a lotus

floating on a blue sea I can’t climb out of
pulses waves of songs near-realized even
when silent, invades my dreams to remind me
that the music never stops.

Holly Day has taught writing classes at the Loft Literary Centerin Minnesota, since 2000. Her poetry has recently appeared in Oyez ReviewSLAB, and Gargoyle, while her newest poetry book, Ugly Girl, just came out from Shoe Music Press.

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