In Lieu of a Red Pencil. 5 Poems by Holly Day


Sometimes you have to get super close to see what the problem is.
You’ve got to take a thing apart and study it under a magnifying glass, a  microscope,
an electron microscope, a nanoscope. Only then can you see how truly fucked up
something is. I tell you this, I wave the photographs under your nose
tell you all the things bubbling under family picnics and Christmas sweaters
but you have subsided beneath concrete and denial. I  could set a barbecue
on top of your hiding place, have all the neighbors over
and no one would ever know
The police could come with their dogs and even they would not know.

Sometimes you have to rip a wedding dress into shreds and make a ladder out of it
sometimes you have to stuff bits of the wedding dress
into the necks of bottles filled with gasoline
before anyone listens.
Sometimes yelling isn’t enough because people develop selective hearing over time.
Sometimes you have to get super close to see what the problem is.

and Run

You can wake up before the sun rises, pull the suitcase out
from under the bed, slip into your shoes
step quietly out the door
but you will never leave them. You can dress up in any
traveling costume you want, apply for a passport
tell the dog you’re sorry it has to be this way
slip into your children’s bedrooms and kiss them
in the dark

but you will never actually step out that door, no matter how much
you’ve spent on that plane ticket, that overnight bag
those high heels that seem silly on a mother, a wife.
It’s all pretend, which is why
You always keep receipts for anything other than groceries
you always cancel your flights, your cruises, you rental cars
within the 24 hour return window

because there is nothing that can tear you away from this reality you’ve built
there is no fantasy strong enough to pull you all the way out the door.

When It Happens

When I kill you, it will be as a bird, a crane with a long, sharp beak
great wings stretched out like an angry cape, there will be no misunderstanding
no talking me down, as a bird I cannot help but be very single-minded
with eyes as black and sharp as my intentions. You’ll see.

When you hear me singing outside your window, perhaps tapping on the glass
in the middle of the night, when a bird should be asleep, head tucked under a wing
you’ll know why I’m there and how I’ve come and what I’ll do
because you’ve read it all in the chicken scratch of diary pages
in the letters I’ve folded into the thatch of our nest.


I slip a piece of paper beneath the perch and ask the bird to take a letter
paint ink on its little toes and dictate in German. In between my bad diction
and the canary’s inability to properly shape words, I imagine
that someone might think we had composed a poem together,
written in some archaic language from an extinct desert people
who carved words in the mud with the ends of pointed sticks.

This is how hard it is for me to talk to you, it’s as agonizing
as corresponding via avian persuasion. In the end
the letter I pull out of the bird cage will need heavy editing
before I fold it into a paper crane, puff air into its chest to fill it out
toss it out the window and pretend it’s fluttered away.

 In Lieu of a Red Pencil

The longer a book sits on a shelf in the basement
the more editorializing book mites and silverfish makes to the passages
the more likely entire passages will be excised from chapters
by brachiating arms of lichen and blossoming paper molds.

Eventually, the book will become more the property of the tiny editors
that swallow words whole and allow pages to disintegrate
until it becomes so unrecognizable  from the original text
that even the author will have a hard time explaining the inspiration
behind phrases reduced to nonsense, illustrations encrusted beyond repair.

Holly Day

Short bio: Holly the books, and Day’s poetry has appeared in over 4,000 publications internationally and she is the co-author of Music Theory for Dummies Music Composition for Dummies.She currently works as an instructor at The Richard Hugo Center in Seattle and at the Loft Literary Center in Minneapolis.

Holly’s cover note to the Editor:

Dear Robin Ouzman Hislop, Poetry Editor, Artvilla:

Just outside my window, hundreds of brown and white sparrows are covering my back yard. They blend in so well with the curled brown leaves and dried-out plants that the only way I can tell they’re there is when one of them encroaches on the other’s foraging space, resulting in an explosion of tiny wings and the occasional puff of loose feathers. Every fall, this congregation of birds both excites and depresses me—excites me because it’s simply glorious to see so much wildlife, even if it is just sparrows, right outside my window, yet depressing because they only gather like this at the end of summer.

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THE TIME OF NOSTALGIA . A Poem by Nolo Segundo


by Nolo Segundo

We went to visit our old neighbor
after they moved her to a nursing home,
an old English lady of ninety-one,
still with that accent of east-end London
and the sweet pleasantness of the kind.

She was too old, too alone to live alone.
She would forget to turn off the gas range
or how to turn on the thermostat or TV,
She had trouble following a simple talk,
but remembered the Blitz, 75 years past,
as if the Nazi bastards were still at the door,
and London was in turmoil: as though Hell
had crashed through the gates of Heaven.

So her family moved her, leaving empty
the house next door, empty of our friend
of 30 some years, empty of her lilting
English accent and her sharp sense of
good old fashioned English humor…
and it seemed like someone had died.

After a few weeks we went to visit her,
my wife and I, taking some sweets and
a small plant– oh yes, and our sadness
too– though we made sure to leave it
outside, unattended to for the moment.

We entered a very large and rambling
sort of building, with pleasant lawns
and locked doors and intercoms for
some voice to decide if you can enter.
It was like sort of a prison, you think,
but a very nice and very clean prison.
Our neighbor was in a special wing,
called rather romantically, ‘Cedar Cove’
and as we entered through yet another
set of stout doors, we greeted her and
she smiled back, but very much as
one might greet a total stranger….

Nolo Segundo, pen name of retired English/ESL teacher [America, Japan, Taiwan, Cambodia] L.j.Carber, 76, has in the past 6 years been published in 165 literary journals/anthologies in 12 countries. A trade publisher has released 3 collections paperback on Amazon: The Enormity of Existence [2020]; Of Ether and Earth [2021]; and Soul Songs [2022]. These titles and much of his work reflect the awareness he’s had for over 50 years since having an NDE whilst almost drowning in a Vermont river: That he has–IS–a consciousness that predates birth and survives death, what poets have since Plato called the soul.

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5 sonnets from the poetry of R.W.Haynes


The Knife and the Retreat

One awaits the knife, not that that
Is all that dramatic, cathartic, or just.
But anticipation can miss surprise in the dust
And there it pops up, wagging its hat.
And that’s the great crisis right then, of course,
That jolt of suddenly being unprepared
To cope with emotion one had never cared
To consider might land with unexpected force.
“I’d rather be a Stoic,” old Wordsworth might say,
His teeth clamping down on his old corncob pipe,
“Than be clotheslined to whimper and to gripe
While my sweet fantasies evaporate away.”
Now retreat and recover, live, do not die.
Be that imagined hermit, lonely by the Wye.


The Cliffside Stroll

Her sonnets struggled along the cliffside path,
Shells and flowers tracking her aimless way,
As a dark spirit followed in shadows of the day,
And blue jays whispered, choking back their wrath.
But the bright sun vanquished in the blue sky,
And earthquakes held themselves in control
As she nibbled wafers and prayed for his soul
A little, and watched the hungry seagulls fly.
Below her, breakers gnashed at the rock,
And old prayers ascended upward as mere mist,
And memory quietly reft how they’d been
One sweet time, never to come again,
Since they’d looked at each other and kissed.
But now the jays can resume their clamor
And earthquakes swing their devastating hammer.



So there is madness in exaggeration
And some cold, bold sanity, too.
Get unexcited by unthinking silence
Till the dogs start barking madly at you.
They know, these dogs, what’s in your mind.
They hear everything, and they’re not blind.
They smell all the aromas of violence
And long for the bite of imagination.
It is the bark of time that philosophy
Avoids waking us with to keep us free
From madness and unleashed disorientation,
One kind of wisdom, our mortal enemy.


Last Conversation

Do we mix admiration and regret
For prudence managed half-heroically?
For half-blind pleasure felt half-painfully?
Ha ha, no paradise has come here yet,
Nor has a fatal drama played for us
With gestures, shouts, soliloquies,
Devastating recognitions—no, none of these
Has come, no, no bother, no fuss.
One turns away, right, when warning lights
Blink in the guts, and one’s breathtaking act
Of false control works to distract
Destructive impulse as it wildly fights.
And, O you craven philosophic Judas,
You let the grinning Fates come burn and loot us.


The Quicksa-a-a-and of Laughter

One cannot keep writing sonnets.
			Tennessee Williams

The double-Debbie’s dud dude did
What he could and whenever he could
And sped sometimes up to no damn good,
And they all laughed hard wherever they hid,
Laughing like lobsters with haha like crows,
In musical moonlight uttering chuckles and snorts
And torrents of turbulent hilarious sports
In musical starlight until the sun rose.
“The operation of masks,” he nervously spoke,
“Is best done by women, whose all-wily wits
Confound men’s arguments and logical fits
Like music the mad game of mirror and smoke.
Get away, Cassandra!” he shrieked in agony.
“All right, brother—have you no faith in me?” 

R. W. Haynes, Professor of English at Texas A&M International University, has published poetry in many journals in the United States and in other countries. As an academic scholar, he specializes in British Renaissance literature, and he has also taught extensively in such areas as medieval thought, Southern literature, classical poetry, and writing. Since 1992, he has offered regular graduate and undergraduate courses in Shakespeare, as well as seminars in Ibsen, Chaucer, Spenser, rhetoric, and other topics. In 2004, Haynes met Texas playwright/screenwriter Horton Foote and has since become a leading scholar of that author’s remarkable oeuvre, publishing a book on Foote’s plays in 2010 and editing a collection of essays on his works in 2016. Haynes also writes plays and fiction. In 2016, he received the SCMLA Poetry Award ($500) at the South Central Modern Language Association Conference In 2019, two collections of his poetry were published, Laredo Light (Cyberwit) and Let the Whales Escape (Finishing Line Press). His Latest collected works are Heidegger Looks at the Moon (Finishing Line Press 2022 ) The Deadly Shadow of the Wall (finishing Line Press 2023)

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