by Holly Day

The Elephant-Killer

Screaming on color, I gave you
my blood, loved you on canvas
made it hurt. Now

I paint houses, broad up-and-down strokes
design soft pastel borders
for windows and doors. Here is your

peace, my whitewashed
happy face, some Midwest ideal
you once sold to me. Take it back.

New Entrée in a Meager Tuesday

There they are. By the water.
Erase the line of sunburnt trees
and you will see them, nutbrown and
slender, bending like reeds as they hide
from our sights.

Now. As they bury their hands into the thick duckweed mud
catch them in the hung-over eye of red
cross hairs, now, paused
so still, near-invisible
let them know.

Still their prayers. Tell them
a new god has arrived, tell them
the old words are defunct. There will be no more
pagan chicken-scratches before the fire,
no throwing of bones or readings
in silt—Quick, before they slip beneath the water,
river sprite and sunbeam
tell them your name.
Address them as King.


The terrible stories he tells me this man
you sleep with, this man
I wake with, monologues
of pain and desperation, confessions of self-loathing-
I lie between your bodies at night
just as I live between you
during the day.

Say “Salome” in that way again, that way that makes you
seem angry and fierce. “I’m your mother!” you scream,
echoes in my head on nights under him—This affair of yours
is destroying me.
So I am asking again for the head of your lover, the man
and your faith has caused the abandoned
to stare full into me—half-deity
sprawled bare on the bed in a place
not-quite empty—please save me
from what lies
with me

Too and Little

Something outside last night even
helpless hey I wanted to strip for a
he I blew a I probably could’ve
hole through made more money if
in between my object used.

And when we woke fleshed pressed
wet plastic sheets lines like corduroy
on me face she I still trapped
beneath his your body in thick arms
too old to scream.


©1999 Holly Day

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