Poetry by Holly Day χ Photography by Aparna Mendu




he went crazy while I was still

at work. his friends had come over for lunch, saw him

go from reasonably odd to completely insane in

a matter of minutes. our son was sleeping in his crib

otherwise, they would have left, too.

I came in the door after

a long day at work, saw him pacing, pacing

lecturing wildly and waving his arms around his

head like he was trying to scare off

invisible flies.

“he’s all yours now,” his friends said when

they saw me, shaking their heads in sympathy but

not wanting

to get involved. Ten


years later, I’m sitting in court, telling

stories of how things went from bad to worse.

“I don’t remember any of this,” says the husband

I haven’t seen since our son was two years old.

“I’d like to apologize for

anything I did to you back then.” the lawyers smile at me

as if this will make it all better, will excuse the violent fights

the things he stole from me, the nights I slept with my son

curled up in my arms, afraid

of what was coming next.


Midnight Caller


at night the

angry thud of the



sounds like monsters

the groan

of the house quietly settling sounds like



I can almost see the deranged face

of my family’s murderer pressed against


the glass

sliding doors.






when it was finally warm again, we let the horses

out of the stable to feed on the new grass growing

in the front yard. I’d always be the Indian

my cousin, the cowboy, and we’d run screaming after

one another in an obstacle course between the horses.


I fell in love with Jason because the horses did, I think

Daisy and Dodge would let him drop from an overhanging tree branch

onto their backs without a twitch. I tried with Daisy

once, ended up flying halfway across the yard, and that was enough

for me. “She just don’t like Injuns,” Jason said

holding me in his strong, sunburned arms

while I tried to catch my breath

and I tried not to cry.


he married young, so young, and his wife

tried to kill me the first time she met me

a twenty-year-old maniac who drove with a kitchen knife laying in her lap

told me he had confessed to being in love with me

told her all sorts of quiet things about me

I tried to explain that things happen when kids grow up together

sure as curious farm animals, cats and dogs in heat

but she just didn’t want to listen.





the irony is not lost on me: checking

strips of treated paper every Monday, every Friday

praying and praying and failing to see

a “plus” sign appear in

the second window of the pregnancy test.


the irony is not lost on me: five years before

seeing this same sign made me

think briefly of suicide, led me to a life

I never would have lived, left me with a child

I would now die to have more of

if they could only be just like him.


the irony is not lost on me: two years, a single mother dating

squeaking by safely, using various forms

of uncomfortable contraception, and now

Husband #2 and I

can’t conceive. it’s ironic to think

that after the absolute hell #1 put me through

abuse, divorce, and complete financial abandonment

I owe him something

for giving me my son.


Take It


folded wolf

soft flesh beside me, I

am so hot, unfurls into something I know


baby bird above me, wolf

clutched in its beak, I

touch the white skeleton man, push it up, I know


what you want, man-child, wolf

creature, put it in my head, through my head, I

dream in kaleidoscopes, know


love for fractions of seconds, wrap me in sick sweat, wolf

spit, take this burning I

am almost burning–rip me up, make me know.


Holly Day has taught writing classes at the Loft LiteraryCenter 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, andThe Book Of, while her poetry has recently appeared in New Ohio Review, SLAB, and Gargoyle. Her newest poetry book, Ugly Girl, just came out from Shoe Music Press.

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