Holly Day

by Horror Sleaze Trash on June 8, 2017

Holly Day has taught writing classes at the Loft Literary Center in Minneapolis, Minnesota, since 2000. Her poetry has recently appeared in Tampa Review, SLAB, and Gargoyle, while her newest nonfiction book, Tattoos FAQ, is coming out from Backbeat Books at the end of 2017.






Suddenly, I know what is in the package. It’s

another piece of child, sent to drive me crazy.  The package

is just the right size to hold

a bunch of little bits.

The very bottom of the stack of mail is a large manila envelope,


full of photographs of people I don’t know

or a finger, perhaps.

I gently pick the package up and shake it, it sounds

thick with paperwork, photographs of people I don’t know.


The rest of the mail sits waiting to be sorted through

at the very bottom of the stack is a large manila envelope,

perhaps concealing another piece of child, sent to drive me crazy.  The package

has the return address of the new Baptist church in my neighborhood.


Photographs of children pour out onto the floor from the package

from the envelope, I think I recognize the handwriting.







            Closing Time


You look down at your hands and suddenly

it’s all spelled out for you, in plain, simple language:

this is your life, this is the summation

of your life’s work. This handful of erasers,

the experimental cleaning supplies,

the rolls of transparent tape—this is what all those years of college

the tithe of childhood dreams, this is what your life equals.


Across the table from you is a man holding

a similar pile of office supplies. “Just in time,”

says this man, whose name is “Frank.” 

“Kids start school next week,

and now I don’t have to worry about shopping for school supplies.”

He holds up a ball-point pen

with an eraser attached to one end and shakes it.




Who can tell exactly when and where it was you snapped? It could have been

weeks before the incident. You could have been sleepwalking all those days

before now, standing there, gun smoking in your hand,

a line of writhing bodies in your wake. Or did it happen at all?


This is what your life amounts to—running out the back door

and down the service stairs, so sane, finally. Are those sirens?

Or are your ears still ringing from the reverb

of metal hitting metal, gunpowder igniting,

someone screaming next to your head?

There has to be some way to make this right,


and going to jail is not going to make anything right.


You long for wide open spaces free of concrete, skyscrapers,

glass, and noise, and so you get in your shiny red car and drive.

You drive. You just get in the car and drive. You take off your shirt

while you drive, and your pants, and your shoes,

until you are just wearing your pinstriped boxer shorts and a pair of socks,

your blood-stained clothes random markers

on a life disappearing far, far behind you.


You’re just going to drive until all this is behind you.





            The Pickle Shelves


this bomb shelter is packed with corpses, jars

of heads line the walls as if waiting

to be used as some sort of accompaniment

to mutant fresh vegetables picked from radioactive soil

in some post-apocalyptic orgy to celebrate

an anniversary of the end of it all.

white eyes stare calmly


out through the glass, watching nothing, dreaming

of nothing, just waiting for the day when the metal lids

will be uncorked, the contents of the jars overturned onto

gigantic platters held by grubby hands

for the salted flesh to be poked at with tarnished fork tines

for inevitable consumption. until then


the heads will sit on these shelves, undisturbed

wrinkled skin filling out, growing smooth in the brine

swelling to fit the smooth confines of their jars

like old sponges left in the sink for too long.





            Going First


“I want to” she cuts the lengths of rope

“I want to” four for them and one for her

“This is for you” would be so easy to do it

there is a letter in the hallway addressed to you:

a list of how you could stop this.


So long as she only creeps down the hall

and makes no sound as she enters their rooms

and makes no sound as she ties the knots tight

nobody will know until it’s too late.






            Passenger A


I reached across her mini-skirted lap

opened the car door

pushed her out. the joke’s

gone too far, I said as she

stumbled to the curb.


thanks for the ride anyway, she shouted

flipping me off. and yes, I do remember you

from that place

from that thing

I just didn’t want to say anything

because I didn’t want you to know

I knew you back then

because I thought it might fuck you up

embarrass you

you were a real asshole back then

just like now.


a few seconds after I drove away,

I watched her flag down another car

get in and disappear. It was a better car than mine

passed me going fast down the road

carrying that bitch with it

I thought I saw her face in the window as it passed

she looked scared.

I thought about


following the car

seeing where it was taking her

if maybe she needed me to save her from something

but she was such a fucking bitch to me

back then

at that place

I figured that even now

she wasn’t worth the trouble.





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