Holly Woodward


Nothing, you said,
lies between you and me.
You pull the sand out from under my feet.

You are the reason
drowned men come back.
Your court is: every madman who thinks he’s a king.
Your psychiatrist is a wolf.

You dance on my grave though I’m not dead yet.
Each time I call your name, you change it.
Battered, chained patron saint of insane asylums,
you still crawl from us an inch a year.

Meanwhile, you’re devoted
to some golden boy who hardly knows you
exist. Love is the loneliness you invent
to fill the empty hours in outer space.

Einstein could not solve your skin problems.
Nights strip ancient powder from your spinster skin.
We see the mask beneath.
Veiled in lunatic fringe,
you keep another face
turned away.
Each night, the dark takes
a slice of your flesh. How does it feel
to lose face over and over?

This poem isn’t about you, is it, my old,
burned-out flame. It’s about me.
Flickering ceiling light for insomniacs, how can I sleep with you
peering in my window?
Your profession is answering in questions.
You will not admit anyone
into your library of wind.
Nobody owns you though they try.

My tombstone in waiting, light without fire, hanged moth,
Surveillance camera globe above the roulette wheel of black and red,
queen of wounds, broken clock—
you want a mother, like everyone else.
Moon, is the face you hide even more scarred?




Holly Woodward is an artist and writer whose works have won over a hundred honors. She spent a year as a doctoral fellow at Moscow University; she also studied for two semesters at Saint Petersburg U. She served as writer in residence at Saint Albans, Washington National Cathedral. Holly was a fiction fellow at CUNY’s Writers Institute for the last four years.