new gear

(Justin Holliday)


Sole Survivor

“Presumed Gacy victim found alive in Montana.”
                                                               —Daily Herald (December 19, 2013)

He was not the sole survivor. He was
not dead. He was lying, his eyes
not forced open, his face not
preserved in quicklime. Four decades
he was labeled presumed. He was
not alive, not dead, not exhumed.
He felt no dirt/bodies,
nothing lifting off his chest, not even
another body/a man to cover him. Not that
he was presumed anything on his farm,
not the quiet animals/fields, not
that anyone could now wonder
if he ever felt the river washing away
not just skeins of flesh unspooling
from fingertips, not just death;
it is not irrefutable, not true, not inevitable
not to come back from the dead. He was
not corpse-cold in Montana, not torn
by wind, not a body only a few can identify.
He could not whistle a tune of life
underground; he was/not
walking cross country. He was/not 
in Chicago; he was/not 
working odd jobs
at construction sites. He was employed
not by Gacy; he was
not a victim; no one asks
What did you survive?



May 10, 1994: When the Needle Slides In
The Execution of John Wayne Gacy

no more hands around necks no more
fingers squeezing no more nails tearing no more
dirty half-moons reflecting no more
tracheas giving way no more gagging on cock no more
saline trails down cheeks no more chloroform no more
charity events no more piss down legs no more
children’s parties no more struggling no more
pits of boys no more landscaping no more
quicklime no more dissolving no more
new boys no more new streets no more
street parties no more KFC no more
prowling no more photos with first ladies no more
clowns under beds no more painted masks no more
boys opened like presents



Justin Holliday is an English lecturer. His work has appeared in Queen Mob’s Teahouse, Impossible Archetype, Fire Poetry, Lehigh Valley Vanguard, Rag Queen Periodical, and elsewhere. 




8 Responses to new gear

  1. Raymond Farr says:

    Philip, terrific poetry! Again!

  2. xtx says:


  3. fez says:

    They’re so grand

  4. Compelling. Shared on Twitter.

  5. Are you guys responding to my above story? And hi xTx, either way! If you are, I’m might thankful. If not, whatever you are responding to, I’d like to read it 🙂

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