Bill Hollands

Exam

I am laid out, strange

chicken under heat lamp as

she feathers my head

to expose blue scalp, stretches

the wax webbing between

my toes. Who else

looks at me this closely?

Bug-eyed, inscrutable,

she ponders the great mystery

of my back, inks what must be

frozen or gouged out –

barnacles, dirty warts, moles

in hiding. Fecund eco-

system of death and desire

what good my thousand lovers?

The Title of My 10th Grade English Textbook Was ‘The Perilous Journey’

Beautiful trees, right?

Yeah, no, I don’t know

what they are either. Pine?

Gorgeous. This hike

has everything! Little

Red Riding Hood forest,

Sound of Music

meadow, that stream

we had to cross. Boulders!

And just enough

elevation to get

the heart going. Wait,

where’s Steve? He was

right here. Steve? Maybe

he’s waiting for us

up ahead. Brutal

switchbacks, huh? I’ve

heard the prize comes

next. Snow Lake! Oh

hi. Who are you? Look

at that flower. This is

weird! Does it seem like

we’re going down

now? When did that

happen? I guess we missed

the lake. Well, 

it’s not like we were

planning on swimming

anyway – my skinny-

dipping days are over

lol! Maybe this trail

is a loop? Maybe if we just

keep going it will lead us

back to the car. I was really

looking forward to those

nachos at that Mexican

place. I hope we’re not

too late. Man, this

downhill sure is

steep. How much

farther do you think?

Bill Hollands is a teacher and poet in Seattle, where he lives with his husband and their son. His poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Rattle, North American Review, DIAGRAM, The American Journal of Poetry, Hawai`i Pacific Review, The Account, The Summerset Review, and elsewhere. He was recently named a finalist for North American Review’s James Hearst Poetry Prize.

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