Holli Carrell
It Wasn't Love

A moon has fallen,
broken inside me.
Muses won’t speak

for me now: I own this
beginning. How his eyes
led me outside

and coated my throat
like two cups of cold
milk. In my dreams

there was never enough
food, and I was always hungry.
Before we even touched

I needed his voice
in my mouth, my hair,
everywhere—

It wasn’t beauty
that led me. It wasn’t love.
A goddess opened

her eyelash
of light and gave me
my choices:

Either I die
or I die.

Deeper, deep
just below his skin
he smelled like slaughter.



The Woman Next Door

God seeded breasts, watered ovaries
and depending how good or bad

you were, put the babies there.
God was vengeful, I knew that.

The woman next door had seventeen
children, wild as crows, what had she done

to deserve boys who tortured kittens
and scrambled eggs on the hot sidewalk?

I’d seen her in her bedroom,
massive and flowered, pale

as yeasted dough before the beam
of the television, floundering

on her patched-up water bed,
her eyes glassed and flat; and I saw

myself like a pressed, dead
flower inside the pages of her bed,

each future-breast a dropped anchor,
and the windows always shut.

Holli Carrell is a writer originally from Utah, now based in Queens. Her poetry has been published in Bennington Review, Quarterly West, Blackbird, The Florida Review, Fugue, Puerto del Sol, and other places. She has received support from the NY State Summer Writers Institute and is a graduate of the MFA program in poetry at Hunter College, where she was a recipient of the Colie Hoffman Poetry Prize and a Norma Lubetsky Friedman Scholarship. She was a semi-finalist in the 92Y’s 2019 Discovery Poetry Contest.