All the Days After


days pass into weeks

and now even the flowers

are dead, curled brown in their vase like squirrel paws

little hands. I call

my husband

tell him to take

the vase full of withered

baby hands away. He

looks at me as if

he has something


he wants to say to me but

doesn’t dare, instead, he

takes the vase off the nightstand, takes

it out of

the house. I


can hear the trash can

lid outside slamming, metal

lid, metal can. I listen for his footsteps

downstairs, heavy boots

on wood, but

I fall asleep


sometime during the waiting.


Last Days of the Fever


I can see him in the dark, there, in the corner

he says he loves me but I can feel

his distain.

I disguise my self-pity as thirst

and he’s there


quick as a vulture, a cup of cool water

in his hands, just for me.

I pretend I can stand to be

near him, to be touched, to

be grateful for his concern

but I just want him to go.


The Rules of Remarrying


There are no wicked stepfathers in fairy tales

because you must never criticize stepfathers. Even if

the stepfather in your story


wants to lock his children in high towers or basement dungeons

drops his children off in the middle of the woods

or wants to marry his own daughter someday


he must never be criticized, his actions must never

be judged unreasonable

or he might leave.


There are too many wicked stepmothers in fairy tales

as if only a selfish, mean woman would date

try to fill the hole left behind by a dead one, as if


any woman could look at a broken widower

sheltering his motherless children

in a house falling apart without the ministrations


of a woman’s care, and think

“what a perfect place to flex my claws.

I think I’ll marry that one.”


Road Trip


I watch my cat try to play my guitar, paw

batting at the metal strings again

and again, a contented look on his face

and I suddenly want to buy my cat his own


guitar, because maybe if he had his own


he’d get really good at it, maybe good

enough that we could record an album together

call it, “Me and My Cat,” it would

have a picture of him right


on the cover, posing with

his brand new guitar, we could even

go on tour together, drive


from city to city in my shitty little

car, him, heavily tranquilized in

his plastic cat carrier, me, frantically


trying to read a road map while driving


trying to sneak my cat into hotels

with “no pets allowed” signs taped to the front door

trying to explain to surly hotel managers


that you have to make exceptions for superstars.


The Violence in My Back Yard


the birds in the yard are at it again, fluttering in puddles

preparing for rape. they congregate at the lip of the birdbath

ten males, bright chestnut, yellow crests blazing.


a lone female flutters into the yard and lands in a low-hanging

bough of the apple tree. she is oblivious to the rape-plans

of the males in the bath. she ruffles her feathers, preens


and they’re off. ten males, one female, a lone squirrel taken

by surprise at the violence of their rape. the bough shudders at the flurry

of wings and too many feathers. I see the female briefly


emerging from the squawking mass, diving past the squirrel and down

into the shade of the cranberry thicket behind the garage. I run outside

banging my frying pan with a spoon, shouting, “Hey! Hey there!


Hey you guys! Leave her alone!” and startled, birds fly in all directions

stop and turn to stare at me from high-up branches wonderingly, even

the nonplussed victim, perched alongside her pursuers, and then I remember


they’re just birds.



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