By Holly Day

Music Stillborn, or Just Interrupted

Strewn with the bones of sailors lured to its rocky shores
By sirens singing songs of love and sometimes loneliness
Arms outstretched to passing ships as if in joyous embrace. 
A broken heart floats on a cold, neurotic sea.

The waters beat upon the beach in bone-crushing white embrace
Death himself parks his ferry sometimes close to shore
A cold wind blowing at his back, bearing his loneliness. 
The coastline ringed by monsters guarding the deep, neurotic sea

On the decks of passing ships, sailors stuff their ears against the loneliness
Aim their ships at the dark horizon, away from gloomy shores
and mermaid songs on rocky cliffs and whispered dreams, the cold embrace
of roaring waves glittering high above the cold, neurotic sea.

The Future Critics and Judges

Someday, archeologists will uncover the door of our home, make wild guesses 
about the exact placement of the house number, and how 
to read the characters that make up our address, write papers based upon theories
impulsively grasped at our lack of a doorbell, deduce our financial state 
at our time of death by the words scrawled across the tacky dimestore doormat. 

Someday, the clay ashtray I keep at the table next to my bed will become
a relic in a well-guarded museum, complete with a plaque attempting to decipher 
the chicken-scrawl imprints made by kindergarten hands, the paint blob
on the inside that only I know is supposed to be a heart.  Children like my own
will stare, bored, into the glass case, led by some museum docent, loudly announce
to each other that people from the past were stupid, that they 
could make a pot as good as that one
in an afternoon. 

Someday, future hands will stroke and catalog our furniture 
wonderingly, mutter incessantly, much as we as we do now, at the way 
we must have contorted our bodies to fit comfortably on chairs 
too short for you and too tall for me, and on the way 
no one piece matches another.

Soft Tissue

The mummy comes to my door, tells me 
he’s moved in down the street, only now realized 
we were neighbors, we should go out for coffee 
sometime, we should catch up. Startled, not expecting
this shambling wreck of my past to just show up 
on my doorstep as though nothing had ever
happened between us, I just nod my head
say that would be nice.

I shut the door and my daughter asks 
who I was talking to, asks why
I look so funny, so strange. I say nothing 
can’t find the words to explain that sometimes
the dead can crawl their way out through layers of dirt
breathe life back into their rotting limbs and 
stop by for a visit, without any sort of warning,
no polite warning at all. I struggle 

for an explanation, finally tell her
that it’s really none of her business, that even mommies
have things in their past
that nice little girls shouldn’t know about. 

The First Bite Is Obscured

all I can remember
first bite of food after a 30-hour fast
peach, a sandwich, I think, but I don’t remember
or sweet mustard and glazed ham
store-bought white bread
is that peach.
or just peanut butter and jelly on soft
whether it was salty pastrami on black rye
filling my throat. I know I ate more than that
a ripe peach, flesh firm, dripping sweet nectar.

When Freedom Becomes Unbearable

We invite the government to read 
our minds, the aliens to beam
new instructions with jagged 
fingernails and broken glass

Give us a purpose! we shout 
into the night sky, praying that 
at least one cruise vessel bent 
on world domination is heading 

for Earth. We want to make wallets! 
we plead, eyes on the stars in 
supplication, heads matted 
with drying blood, fingernails 

ripping at our tin-foil hats and flinging 
them into the air. One of the tiny moving 
pinpricks of white above us must be 
an alien spacecraft, aiming subliminal 

messages into our prefrontal cortexes--we dig 
into our scalps with the hope of making 
mind control that much easier for our oppressors
the communications satellites circling overhead, 
our hands outstretched, cracked and broken. 

One thought on “Music Stillborn, or Just Interrupted and Other Poems

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