Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Holly Day Explains A Mummy's Confession, Belgian Monasteries, Rampant Bulbs, and The Frigid Coast of the Simulacrum

The Mummy, 20 Years Between Visits

this bundle of dried skin, matchstick bones
hands folded over one another in
frozen yet thoughtful contemplation
caused me such nightmares
impossible, this

tiny brown thing, half-seen through
the crumpled, painted lid, teeth not
bared in an angry grimace as I
imagined as a child but in
a peaceful, purposeful smile
as if to say

I am dead, I really am
I’m dead.

The Monks in My Head

my garden makes me think of God, of
the Alsatian monks toiling endless to create
climbing, bright-faced clematis that would spread
all over a wall, taking tiny yellow down-turned flowers on thin
upright stalks and unleashing something holy, wholly
new twining plants with palm-sized flowers in shades
of blue and white and pink and purple.

my beer makes me think of God, of how
hours of studying and painstaking labor
in the basements of Belgian monasteries helped improve
guttural meads flavored with clover and honey
how those monks must have thought they’d bottled something holy
when they tasted their own creations, kept them secret and hidden
from the hungry flat-ale-swilling masses outside.

Stunted, Thwarted

The tulips I grow in pots
never do as well as the ones
spreading rampant in my backyard
bulbs swollen big as fists
sprays of flowers bursting like fireworks
from a single hidden point. Every time I try

to recreate the flamboyant show of color from out there
in here, I end up with
shrunken, mold-speckled bulbs bearing
withered, yellow-green stalks
twisted striped buds that
open sickly as sea anemones
in polluted tidepools
on some frigid coast.

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

M. A. Schaffner Navigates Peripherally Through Ambient Pornography of Snowbound Bookshelves and Spilling Honeysuckle

Miracle Machine

They could be with you or the someone else
on the object they hold as they walk along
next to you, so you go online to check
having learned to navigate peripherally
even in spring as blossoms compete with the sky
in color saturation and bees pop up
advertising scent and pollen, your eyes
flickering like a defective screen, teared
and itching from ambient pornography,
the sweet hectoring of horny warblers
and lusty cardinals and jays, just as
you walk down the street side by side checking
images from elsewhere and tweets from beyond
the slightly less intrusive world around you
and when you put the device back and look,
the two of you, at each other and around
the trees newly leafed seem improbable.

Zefiro Torna

The demanding season, promoting sprawl,
while burdens of culling the spoil from last fall's
forgotten herbage make an urgent call

on hours best suited for observing all
the feathered migrants who this time of year
conjure a spell when they simply appear.

Blistered from spade and fork, crusty with sweat,
rasped by clouds of pollen, wearied, and yet
amazed by blossoms and the rakish set

of a warbler's beak as it sifts the leaves
newly sprouted to weave infinities
of caverns and shifting balconies.

It had all seemed dead, or nearly so, just
a week ago, as I came to the fire
to read from bookshelves snowbound in dust.

Buy Now

Not little things but little short of all
we hope for when we think of it or feel
what life could be beyond the money spent

in hopes of comfort or validation
from the images in a catalog
or the music and voices from the screen

where everyone seems delighted with the car
or counter tops and carpets, where worlds
distill to number sequences on cards

and all the friends who "like" your purchases.
It's the other little things that disagree,
from the honeysuckle spilling over

the chain link fence that fastens every yard
to the next in a chain of property
that couldn't hold a hummingbird at rest.

M. A. Schaffner has had poems published in Shenandoah, Prairie Schooner, Agni, and elsewhere -- most recently in Hermes, Modern Poetry Review, and Pennsylvania Review. Long-ago-published books include the poetry collection The Good Opinion of Squirrels and the novel War Boys. Schaffner spends most days in Arlington, Virginia juggling a Toshiba laptop and a Gillott 404.