3 Poems by Holly Painter


The day will be beautiful

 

My knuckles itch and I wonder if you’ve been tested lately

if you parallel park correctly, in only three swipes

if you would know how many times to thump my sternum

and how to seal my mouth completely with yours

 

The day will be beautiful and it will be my duty to notice

 

Your father posts us baggies of knotted walnuts

already freed from their round wooden cells

We stay in bed all afternoon and don’t go out

until the hailstones stop plopping on our roof

 

The day was not beautiful but I didn’t notice

 

One night, a toothpick alloy bridge straddled the tracks

and was oranger than anything else on the island

We took pictures because we were together

while the streetlights jiggled like we couldn’t keep still

 

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Turn Back Your Clocks

 

An answer phone retrieves the voice

Ahem, the prodigal babysitter

 

Hi, this is Jenny. I’m living in Hawaii.

 

On an empty stomach

Glass-bottom boat

Maui’s face flattened to the fishies

 

Fill in the lines of her face here

House-paint white cupboard canvas

 

Kneel inside the bedsheets

Mandolin chin, feathered fringe

Bra slapped across the backseat

 

Was I your minder?

 

Six days in a psych ward. Stomach-pumped.

Just thought you should know

 

You should know everything about me

 

I’ll turn your clocks forward

and sell back the hours to

your lakeside castle children

 

Read off the name here

(Jenny’s boyfriend steals home)

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Save Radio New Zealand

 

When the radio deejay signs off

Good night you glorious country

he means us, he means

high heels are a turn off

keep your feet flat til he teaches

us to curl our toes

 

He means for us to break hearts

in succulent glass gardens,

planetariums, post shops

and the toilets at the rodeo

nowhere so obvious as a

corner café called MASH

 

He means for us to turn in now

dream of circus ladders, ourselves

at the top, turn ourselves in now

come whistling forward

when we realize we can’t

stay balanced forever

 

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Holly Painter is an MFA graduate of Canterbury University. She can’t decide if she lives in New Zealand or the US, so she lives in both. She is currently working on a book of poetry about Detroit and a novel about Antarctica. Visit Holly at http://adoptapoet.wordpress.com/.