Ken Holland


Childhood in a tract house:
eight feet of earth marking
the boundary between neighbors,
springing green for two weeks
every April
before dying back to the color of a tin can.
Each family claiming half and laying in
slabs of colored flagstone
or cunningly uneven shapes of shale,
the better to catch the feet of children
and send them laughing toward five more stitches.
And the dog won’t shut up—
you’d think it’d never licked
blood before,
like raw hamburger had never been tossed its way
from the incessant weekend barbecue—
everyone fired up on Saturday, lighter fluid
and a six pack of Schaeffer mixed into a 1950’s cocktail
that just doesn’t taste the same
all these years later.
You blame the brewery for changing the formula,
you blame the farmers for impure hops,
and you blame God for allowing acid rain
to spoil the fermenting process.
Because all you’re trying to do is
pull back a jag of memory sharp as
the chipped lip on a long-neck bottle,
the one your father snuck you so
you could taste what it was like
to be an adult.
And when your lip bloodied from the drinking,
it didn’t really matter which house you turned to.
You could have called any one of them

                                    High Storm Coming

                                            day just
                                           keeps on
                                           coming a
                                         wave a wall
                                       of light the sky
                                    bristled in blue the
                                 light rising high enough
                               for some god to sweep it
                              into his hand and add it as
                            a charm to the necklace that
                           chimes about his neck you can
                         hear the belling in the electric lit
                       air in the burned waves of wind lick-
                    ing the curtains you can hear the voice
               in the muttering of the shutters their insistent
          hard-edged rattle like harridans scolding the shingles
      you can feel the house leaning away as you lean away from
   a stranger’s sudden raised fist as the day keeps on coming with-
out reason or apology struck senseless with its own ascent drunk on the
                             whim of the whip and its lash.

Fathers and Sons

If God had a mistress
And they a child
Neither heaven nor hell
Would suffice.

God would, I believe,
Cast about the stars
And there, at the farthest
Reach of His creation
At the farthest tip
Of a spiraling galaxy

Plant his bastard son.

The cartographer’s map
Is bordered with hydras
And ships sea-wrecked
Within the grip
Of benthic one-eyed horrors;

The ocean’s mass pours over
Its edge, like words inside
The mind of a mute,
Crying that the world is round.

Michelangelo created God
Creating Adam
Finger nearly touching finger
The imminent inspiriting of our flesh

But the longing in Adam’s eye
Was for the loss of rapture,
For God was not nearing
He was simply saying goodbye.

About the Author

Ken Holland, a Pushcart nominee, has had poetry and fiction published in several dozen literary journals including Southwest Review, Rattle, Confrontation, Texas Review and Portland Literary Review. His poetry has appeared in several anthologies. He earns a paycheck working for a NYC publishing house. He has no website, has published no chapbook, and generally has a sour view of technology.

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