“Feral” and Other Works by H. Day

Holly Day’s writing has recently appeared in Analog SF, Earth’s Daughters, and Appalachian Journal, and her recent book publications include Music Composition for Dummies, The Tooth is the Largest Organ in the Human Body, and Bound in Ice. She teaches creative writing at The Loft Literary Center and Hugo House.

Holly Day’s work has been previously featured in In Parentheses.


Address me with all of the care you would give
when checking the inside of a conch shell before putting it to your ear
because I, too, may be full of monsters.

You should always poke me with a stick before attempting an embrace.

Before you leave, you should flip me over with your foot
to make sure I’m sleeping and not dead.
If I flip right back over again I’m just pretending to be dead
and you should leave me alone because I might be feral
I’m not much of a morning person.

If I say your name during sex
it means you must have an extremely common name
because I’m really bad with names.
You must not take any of this personally.
I’m really just here for the beer.


My dad had me rip out pages from the Bible
roll them into little pellets and put them in the bowl with the feed.
“You gotta make sure they eat at least one full page,” he said
as he held the bowl out to our cow. “It’s the only thing
that make the sores go away.” The cow cleaned out the bowl
licked it with her huge, pink tongue when she was done
belched loudly. “She should be okay tomorrow,” said my dad
and we went into the house for the night.

The next day, the rash was still there, stretched across her hide
like mange, as bad as anything some stray dog would have.
She came up to the fence and wanted me to touch her
but the sight of that raw, red skin, the hair flaking off in clumps
well, I couldn’t touch her. My dad came out
Bible tucked under his arm, and sighed

“Sometimes you gotta do it a couple of times
before it works.”


Then there was that one day when everyone who came to see the fortune teller
had a super short lifeline, like they were going to die in the same bus accident
or maybe an explosion, and she was so curious about the extent of the disaster
that she kept trying to read people’s palms even after she left her parlor.

But it’s hard to read people’s palms
when they’re carrying bags of oranges, their hands wrapped around loafs of bread.
It’s hard to find an excuse to make someone stick their hand out for a palm reading
when they’re fighting to get their kids in the car in the parking lot
or trying to make a phone call.

And later, at the bar, where she usually ended her night
she could almost see the life lines of the people sitting in the next booth over:
the tall, handsome guy watching her from the bar through half-lidded slits,
the bartender himself, his hand mostly obscured by washcloths and bowls of peanuts
almost, but not quite. Around closing, wobbling drunk, she decided

she’d probably just predicted the end of the world, that everyone’s hands
spelled doom and destruction and some horrible fiery end.
“I’m not going to read my own palm,” she said aloud as she fumbled with her keys
let herself into the front door of her home. “I’m not going to look
because I don’t want to know.”

The Road to Then

She holds tight to the side of the pickup truck as it bounces down the dirt road
giggles as she’s tossed against her cousins, all piled into pickup bed with her.
There’s a light sunburn stretching up her arms from being out all day
freckles dark against the bridge of her nose.

At the house, an old woman drags a hose out and fills the metal horse tub with water
sets some towels down on the ground, waves as the truck pulls up.
Somehow, all of the kids fit in the rusty old tub just fine, splash from one end to another
as though it was an Olympic-sized pool
and they were training for the Olympics.

The cows come in as the sun starts to set, veering close to the kids in the tub.
The older boys shout at the cows to stop them from dropping their dirty snouts into the water
as the younger kids squeal and jump out to save themselves.
Wrapped in towels, they wait until the herd has disappeared into the barn
before heading into the house themselves for the night.

Past Flight

Sometimes, poems
are as elusive
as orgasms.

when it comes
to losing my place
in a poem

I can only blame myself.

From the Editor:

We hope that readers receive In Parentheses as a medium through which the evolution of human thought can be appreciated, nurtured and precipitated. It will present a dynamo of artistic expression, journalism, informal analysis of our daily world, entertainment of ideas considered lofty and criticism of today’s popular culture. The featured content does not follow any specific ideology except for that of intellectual expansion of the masses.

Founded in late 2011, In Parentheses prides itself upon analysis of the current condition of intelligence in the minds of these young people, and building a hypothesis for one looming question: what comes after Post-Modernism?

The idea for this magazine stems from a simple conversation regarding the aforementioned question, which drew out the need to identify our generation’s place in literary history.

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By In Parentheses in Volume 6

80 pages, published 10/15/2020

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