Monday 5 November 2018

4 Poems by Hayley Mitchell Haugen

(for David)

it can rain down in cinders

at the strike of any kitchen match

get tossed into corners, crumpled

and forgotten among the day’s lost words

look, already it has lifted from us,

floating towards our personal history

like so much paper on the wind

where did it go, our first year —

so fragile, so fleeting — this time

I nearly forgot to cherish

The Blue Wife

read a story once about a woman
who walked into a cornfield, just left
her gaping husband at a roadside Super-quick
and strolled into the embrace of night,
the fireflies closing the gaps behind her,
briefly lighting the spaces she had been.

Blue Wife, though, is no romantic: the forest
behind her house slowly encroaches,
all coyote howl and jaw bone, deer tic
and smothering kudzu. Poison ivy strangles
her shrubbery, darkens the sun porch walls,
and the hope that is the firefly, is too fleeting
to light the way.


The Grimm girl wakes up in November

To an awful stench

Some tangled evil rotting on the US beaches

In the sewer drains – they call it a transition.

Grimm girl doesn’t wait till January to pack her bags

She simply takes what she can carry,

Retreats back to the forest

Quick and silent

To the safety of the wolves.

Sloth Must Know Something
(for Connor Ewing)

because sloth is always smiling – could be

sloth just sees you coming, turning that head

ninety degrees, or that up high, hanging

around in a forest of rain and clouds,

the best leaves are the ones others can’t reach.

Sloth is so slow algae grows on sloth’s own

furry backside, but that’s all right, sloth thinks,

green camouflaged ball that sloth is, perched in

a fork of tree. Sloth doesn’t get around

much but can breaststroke as well as any

water polo player – if sloth wants to.

Most days are best for snacking, for sleeping –

ten to twenty hours if need be. Sloth’s

got the pacing wired – so what that sloth climbs

only six to eight feet each day? Sloth’s got

this sloth-body down, sloth’s own slothy joy,

like all the other sloths sloth knows, and, yes,

like healing boys.


Hayley Mitchell Haugen holds a Ph.D. in 20th Century American Literature from Ohio University and an MFA in poetry from the University of Washington. She is currently an Associate Professor of English at Ohio University Southern, where she teaches courses in composition, American literature, and creative writing. Her chapbook What the Grimm Girl Looks Forward To appears from Finishing Line Press (2016), and poems have appeared, or are forthcoming, in Rattle, Slant, Spillway, Chiron Review, and many other journals. Her critical work appears in Proteus, The Body in Medical Culture, On the Literary Nonfiction of Nancy Mairs, and Stephen King’s Contemporary Classics: Reflections on the Modern Master of Horror, and elsewhere. She edits Sheila-Na-Gig online:

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