The Bird

Art by Charles Kaufman   Poetry by Holly Day


The Bird

The tiny bird flaps in the grass near me

watches my approach with eyes like glass beads

opens its mouth as if expecting

random acts of maternal kindness from everything

around it, even me. Overhead


the mother catbird peeps in distress, also

watching me with shiny eyes

a look of resolution on its face as if

it’s already decided I am incapable of love.






Could Spirit Alone

blood, the good Christian

angry at his lack of power, skin broken

under the onslaught of memories, terror and omniscience

transferred to different targets:

me. wings pump

when I talk but won’t take me away.

he doesn’t understand me, fingers

moving game pieces intuitively but not


following any rules. I can breathe fine

when my glass is full, like now

but otherwise


I am too afraid to understand

too confused to leave.




  It’s Best to Forget


We must not speak ill of the dead. Even if


she was a fucking junkie slut who

beat the shit out of her children

abandoned them for weeks at a time to

entertain some big talking high-roller from Vegas

some borderline pimp who wanted to show her the good life

or just another junkie who was in the mood to share


we must only speak of her accomplishments,

the good things she did

the charities she worked for

the people whose lives she touched, people that would have been worse off

without her good example and personal strength

because we must not speak ill of the dead, even if


he was a fucking drunk who beat his wife

put her in the hospital so many times

he should have been picked up by the police

who eventually smashed his car

into the back of a minivan full of kids

put their mother halfway through

the front window of the van


we must only speak of the good things he did, the way

he could always be counted on to pick one up from the airport

even at the last minute

the delicate woodwork he designed for the church

the way he reinvented

the blues harmonica


we must not speak ill of the dead, even though

we know in our hearts they won’t come back and haunt us

if we tell the truth, even if we tell

all of it.


My Faith in Him


He protects me from everything

real, wraps me in bright thoughts

of tomorrow. I burrow my head into his arm

inhale the scent of sweat from the day before—


this is the only thing keeping the world away.


My own dreams are as weak

as the sodden end of a cigarette

fluttering in the rain

useless against vampires and

vacuum-wielding salesmen.


I will hide here, against this man

wrapped in the sweet warmth of his skin

until all the clouds of black smog

roll away to sunshine, revealing a world

of gleaming city spires and sparkling streets

peopled only by friendly unicorns and things

with soft, gossamer wings.





The Disruption This Morning


the seagulls huddled on the beach, pressed together

seeking warmth from each other, the cold

of the corpses unearthed by the storm

was contagious. they swarmed over


the small bodies huddled just beneath the sand

noisy where they landed, brief gaps between white feathers

revealed fingers, a clenched fist

an arm exposed to the shoulder

a head of close-cropped blond hair.


the firemen came with hoses

the shrieks of angry birds could be heard

all the way down the beach.


See more art by Charles Kaufman at

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 New Ohio Review, SLAB, and Gargoyle. Her newest poetry book, Ugly Girl, just came out from Shoe Music Press.

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