ISSN 1556-4975

OffCourse Literary Journal

 Published since 1998 by Ricardo and Isabel Nirenberg

Poems by Holly Day

Factory Hands

Only machines should make coffins, soulless machines
or wise old carpenters in fairy-tale workshops
that know what they’re doing. They should not
be made by 20-year-old men in factory-floor settings
methodically assembling one box after another
stapling in the ruffled, padded  liner with a loud nail gun
changing fabrics as needed according to a hand-held sheet containing
the day’s orders. These boys should not have to think of death at all.
This is not how a coffin should be built,

they should be slapped together quickly
by the cold metal hand of a machine
or poured out in carbon filament by the extruder of a 3-D printer
or carefully and lovingly crafted by the old yet steady hand
of a man bent over a block of wood with a chisel, his own loved ones
buried in the fields behind his house
in coffins of his own making.
These are the only scenarios that are acceptable to me.


Guilt and Fear

Go back, let’s go back
will the fluffy-headed little chick back into the egg.
There are too many things to worry about now
that the tiny flightless thing has escaped your womb.
Nights spent curled around a fluttering egg
trying to stretch and escape but trapped
safely inside your body, these were good times.

The little arms stretch and try to take flight
there are too many things to worry about now.
Hands must be held at all times, little feet
forced into submission. Look both ways always
don’t ask questions until we’re across the street.

Little wings stretched and suddenly there are feathers
enough that the first step into the darkness is met with flight.
Too many nights wondering why babies have to be born at all
why children have to grow up, why
it can’t just begin and end
with the safety of the womb.

Holly Day currently teaches at the Loft Literary Center in Minnesota, the Richard Hugo House in Washington, and WriterHouse in Virginia.

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