Alan Catlin of MISFIT MAGAZINE Reviews Holly Day's INTO THE CRACKS

Alan Catlin, editor of Misfit Magazine just sent us this advance copy of his review of Into the Cracks. It will be featured in their upcoming issue.

Holly Day, Into the Cracks, Golden Antelope Press, 715 E, McPherson, Kirksville, MO, 63501, 2019, 55 pages, $14.95

Day is a poet of deep relationships. In her previous books she explored family/personal relationships in ways that show a dynamic disparity, an ambivalence ,where complex emotions intertwine with dreams. She says quite emphatically: real people don’t live like people on TV. Life is not a sitcom nor is it a celebrity reality show. Day knows that there is no such thing as a “reality show.” Maybe there is a TV reality, as anyone knows who watched what it might be like to be at home with the Osborne clan (minus the kid who refused to be hounded by cameras). More likely, real people are going to face hostile family members, parents and in –laws becoming mentally abrasive, succumbing, slowly to dementia. Children grow up and become their own people, often estranged or downright hostile. There is not simply an empty nest but an abandoned one.

When the poet dreams of tiny things she evokes a hostile place not unlike Hitchcock’s “The Birds”, where birds and squirrels become threatening agents of harm. She notices a spider’s nest in a funeral home, has macabre thoughts at a bus stop, sees a crossing guard as a headless man, nature as the enemy, and dreams that are further threats from another world she cannot control.

Many of these poems are astonishing in their virtuosity. Lines are crisp and impactful; there are no wasted words anywhere, no padding, just the necessary ones. “Just the Facts, Ma’am”, as Joe Friday would say. The most astonishing poem in this collection is “Laika” and she saves that for near the end of the book. Laika, for those of you who may not know, was the first living creature launched into space by the Russians. The poet tries to explain to her daughter why these men are putting a puppy in a box and launching it into space. The people in the news item look so proud to see their dog thus chosen but, more importantly, Day wonders “what stories they told their daughter/when they talked her into letting the stray she’d rescued/become part of the space program”) . The final poem in this collection shows as well as any the deep ambivalence Day’s poetry excels at.


Frog Princess


I watch my daughter playing in the yard

singing to earthworms and dancing with toads

and I know she sees all the magical things

I’m missing. I join her games

make fairy house out of mud and broken seashells


share stories of how wonderful it would be

if we were frogs or fairies ourselves

and I can tell she believes

we could be these things if we really wanted to be

and that being just what we are is some kind of choice

I can tell she believes this

and I wish I could, too.

(quoted in full)


Day’s language is immediate and visceral and she takes you to places you may not ever wish to go, but be assured, she has been there already, and she is as good a guide to follow as any.