Hollie Hardy


There are handprints all over your weekends
Windows thrown wide to the night
The curve of loneliness
Renders strange fingers
Brushing your bare shoulder

You concoct an elixir of fire
Goldfish swim below the surface of sleep

Unfurling the lantern sea
Until you can’t stop dreaming the wet of it

You savor the sensation of drowning
Instead of writing

An impossible crush unfastens
Something that was neatly folded

Paper thin panties hit the floor
Dissolve into mint ice cream
The fragrance of another Wednesday night

But desire is never permanent
And something new inflates your lungs
Vacating old beliefs

In the nick of time
In the nick of bone
In the bed of another lesson
In the unspoken

Miles are traveled

And with these scissors
You can mend the holes


Survey the melted sherbet horizon
of the city at sunset 
as seen from the bridge
over silver blue water

buildings in silhouette
glitter the fading day
adorned with the festive glow
of light pollution

not a Christmas tree
strung with white lights
festooned with ornaments
and myrrh-scented presents

but a carnival at dusk
when the Ferris wheel first comes to life
and the smell of popcorn butters the air
jaunty music unchains its eerie charm

when children are filled
with cotton candy and wonder
because they haven’t yet realized
that there is no Santa

the river winks and nods
and reaches for your hand
you can see yourself reflected
in its wet black eyes

savor the evening’s last moments
with each breath of sky
the river summons
your slow free fall into night


Sit down by the window’s heartbeat

to listen for rain

fingertips brush the body as Braille

seeking cracks in the façade

or an egress

from this book of wind

breath recurs often

brazen as the north star

a test of endurance

through layers of weather

how many stones are required

to collapse a lung

or a desire?


for Oscar Grant (1986—2009)

Begin by living in Oakland
near the urban center

                       become a casual observer
                       of racial injustice
                       watch a white cop shoot
                       an unarmed black man
                       in the back
                       on the news
                       over and over

Watch the crowd
gather like storm clouds in the city center
ready to tear themselves
in protest
to loot, burn, destroy
their own city
for justice

                       board up your windows
                       turn out the lights
                       hold your breath

We will avenge you
with our bodies (arrest us!)
we will get drunk and rap
about truth
on a bed of broken glass
inside the shattered façade
of a Foot Locker shoe store
while kids dash out cradling liberated
Nike Air Jordans

                       The mother cries
                       When the verdict comes down—
                       two to four years
                       for involuntary manslaughter
                       then the killer goes free

We will fuck up your 7-Eleven!
We will fuck up your car!
We will break your windows!
Steal your stereo!
Riot on your porch!
Shit in your yard!
This. Is. Protest!


                       lock your vehicles and cover them with tarps
                       hoping to render them invisible

                       convene with your neighbors on the roof
                       like victims of a flood waiting to be rescued

                       watch the flash mob grow like a chaos parade
                       in front of your home


a kaleidoscope of sound—
sharp shrill discord of car alarms, sirens wailing
kids clapping shouting
crack bang of fireworks
dogs barking from windows, unseen bells ringing
news helicopters beat the air
someone’s pounding a dumpster or a window
with a metal pipe, or a ball bat

smoke bombs cloud the sky, fires
bright orange and soot black
smolder in garbage cans
kids on foot and on bicycles with cameras
black bandanas cover faces like bandits
running laughing drinking


they’re climbing your back gate like lemmings


they see you watching but they don’t care


nothing makes a town more beautiful
than boarded up windows,
sidewalks sparkling
with blood and glass


                                   On channel 4, the local news shows
                                   hundreds of police in riot gear
                                   marching down Broadway
                                   like martial law

                                   cheer as they swoop in
                                   to clear the vandals
                                   from your lawn, then
                                   remember Oscar Grant




- - - - - -

Hollie Hardy is the Editor-in-Chief of Fourteen Hills: The SFSU Review.  The Survival Poems featured here have titles appropriated from The Worst-Case Scenario Survival Handbook. Her work has appeared in Parthenon West Review, sPARKLE & bLINK, One Ded Cow, Transfer, Milvia Street, and other journals. Send love to: holliehardy@gmail.com




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