Months, Part 2
Same The Note as part 1, y'all. To skip this and move on to the poems, click here.
The readers of and contributors to this publication, who I think probably share a lot of shaded-in space on a Venn diagram, seem to love a challenge. We’ve offered some over these last 15 years. Write us poems with fewer than 20 words, we said. Write us poems that have as their titles the names of United States states. Or cities. This is part one of a two-part issue composed of poems with the names of the months. The Gregorian calendar months.
Given the Gregorian is just about globally universal, it seemed the right way to go. But there are cooler calendars. The Nisga'a are an indigenous people of British Columbia. They have a traditional calendar that lines up nicely with the Gregorian but is related to seasonal landmarks, or what they harvest during a given lunar period. K'aliiyee (January) means “to walk North.” The sun begins to go north again. A corresponding month name, Luut’aa, marks the month when the sun “sits” in one area of the sky for a longer time. The sun walks. The sun sits. It walks. It sits.
Xsaak means to eat oolichans and they are harvested in March. Oolichans are small smelt-like fish. I ordered smelts once in a restaurant and they were pretty good. You have months whose names refer to salmon (two actually), trout, berries, and marmots & ermines. The meaning of Mmaal (April) lends itself to poetry.
the river ice breaks
in the afternoon
Of course, we tend to associate poems with other aspects of nature. January and February are associated with cold weather, mood disorder, and the inability to lose weight. They could easily be combined into a single month, Melancholia, and the government could mandate that all episodes of clinical depression occur in that 60-day month. March is associated with college basketball and my birthday. April is the season of taxes and cruelty. May for graduating from a two-year program training one to install and repair air conditioning systems.
The summer months are mostly about kids being out of school, with a corresponding increase in burglaries and emergency room visits. These months carry guns. September is associated with going back to school without having done one’s summer reading because of the time spent talking to the lawyer your dad hired to get you a square deal on the burglary charge. Or recovering from injuries incurred in the fall you took from that second-floor window. October, November, and December are all associated with granulated sugar, going to the mall, and ordering stuff online.
The call for submissions to this issue yielded so much bounty, the poetic equivalent of a giant haul of oolichans, that we had to split it into two parts. Part 2 will slide into the cold river in mid-K'aliiyee and move quietly downstream.
I want to thank our editorial team, F. J. Bergmann, F. John Sharp, José Angel Araguz, and the incomparable Laura M Kaminski for reading and selecting the pieces for this issue. Thanks to all contributors and all who submitted.
Happy New Year!
We lived down the street from the Prince William County Fairgrounds. The county fair came every July. I loved the two weeks every summer we would wander down Lucasville road and sneak in the back way. We would eat candy apples and go on all the rides. Once I had cotton candy and a giant lemonade and went on the Tilt-a-Whirl. I lay on the ground afterwards waiting for the nausea to go away. People stood around in a circle looking down at me as if I were one of the freaks in the side show. At night we would walk around and play games and we went to see the bearded lady and the man who swallowed fire and nails. Once there was a two-headed baby. We thought it was fake. There was a burlesque show that my dad liked. Julie and I would peek through the curtains to catch a glimpse. In the fall there was smashup derby at the fairgrounds instead.
In its prime,
the cooling Bombay
monsoon is the time
to fall in love
and an open pothole.
She’s too cautious
to fall for either. She walks
head down, eyes on the ground,
under a black umbrella, small,
phone in her pocket—
Through the door
and into the dry,
she washes the sludge off
her bare calves
and hums "Stormy Weather."
The hills still choked with smoke,
flame licking the edges of human planning,
only rumor of a breeze teases
fluid tendrils of grapevines on the slope.
The wind will rise again, reckless
of the deal, the finely balanced covenant
binding roots to concrete, green growth
to pauses in the human sprawl.
Quiet now, like a kind of thinking,
holds time at bay. The fire freezes;
the edges of the city wait. Clearly,
forever was never agreed upon.
I change my password
for the android deity
clothed in light
Thin likenesses wave
on the line
are a morning chore
before sun beats
the colors out
Still, the bed dances
on its bare legs,
a sheer blue sheet
After the waters subsided,
we dragged the headboard
to the curb
and she asked me
if I would be
I have cradled a dying thing to my chest.
I was fearless.
It is summer now,
and I want to go home.
is only secondhand.
I couldn’t wait to put on my new outfit
for my first day of fifth grade
with Ms. Tibbits. It was a short white romper
with red trim and a big red number one
on the front. I looked like I was going
to play tennis, which I never did.
I had white shoes with a red swoosh to match.
This years’ outfit was better than most.
I also had my knee wrapped in an Ace
bandage because of Brian Welch.
He pushed me backward over his brother Mark.
And my knee twisted.
I wore the Ace wrap for three weeks.
We made our own Halloween costumes.
Once I was an eyeball. A leftover science project.
The lid went up and down with a pulley system.
Another year I was a giant queen of hearts,
literally a playing card. The best was Julie
and I going as a pair of dice. We painted
each box white with black dots and cut
out holes for arms, legs and our head. Julie’s
brother, John, thought it would be funny to put
us on our backs and take our candy. We lay
in the woods for a while.
The Instagram witches observe the waxing moon through tall, lead- glass windows. Their nails are filed to points, painted like jewels. They tuck rosemary and lemon balm into muslin bags and float them in bath water. They whisper the veil grows thin. Curled up alone in bed, I scroll through their still-life tableaux: tarot cards, carnelian, melting wax. I wonder what veil? Google says it’s the veil between this world and the other, between the breathing and the not. At this time of year the veil can slip away like a sheet off the clothesline and there, presumably, my father would stand. Not the way he was when he left me, not thin and bewildered, but on the heavy side, still, whistling quietly through his teeth and sanding a piece of balsa wood. How mercurial is a vision like this, how fragile? Will he disappear if our eyes catch? Or if I start to say the things I never got around to saying, and he lifts his hand to my chin? That’s what happened the first time I lost him, anyway.
Hansen Tor Adcock
Feel the crystal fright.
The leaves are turning to summer shrouds.
Onsetting cold repels the warmer folk
encouraging frostbitten nails
as we leave Mother to sweep out the House.
Night is drawing down already.
She has no idea what to say
as she opens Hell's old door,
unravels the corded line,
and hangs the ghosts out to dry.
A bruised apple
and the last onions
wrapped in tight skin,
to the soup pot.
Once field fires
for ghosts to decide
what they made of themselves
in the burn aroma of leaves.
Overlooked windfall pears
only good for a day
or maybe two.
James Roderick Burns
Not quite November—
still a frail sun manages
to gleam down the line,
tree after tree upturning
its collar of fading green
He’s coming down the street
with a crumpled morning face,
an Alsatian alongside
that might wag its tail
or rip out your throat.
Then he smiles,
the man, not the dog,
and this seems a good sign,
early in spring,
right around the corner.
Hooded crow on the gatepost
of the year waits for carrion.
We wait for the roar of fireworks
across our pitch-black sky.
The dead’s little stones
stand crooked in the snow.
Everyone buried here
once looked out a window
or twisted a ring. An icy bench
says try to rest. Some of them
walked with a cat to the barn
or liked a wool hat on days
like this when deep snow
deafened the world to all
but the sound of their boots,
their breath writing
its brief story in the air.
This is the month when the dark breeds.
At midday the sun clears the tenements
just enough to glance a five-minute
side-light at the white under-wing of a seagull,
circling and circling as if it knows
this is no time to be earth-bound.
The earth clutches at the living
with dank insistence; dragging down and down,
it buries all hope and growth in rotting leaves,
neatly heaping chilly skeletons
for the dark’s reconstruction.
from a matchbox
―the day darkens
Hansen Tor Adcock writes short stories and longer short stories under the penname Han Adcock. Some of his poetry and flash pieces can be found in BFS Horizons, Clockwise Cat and Poetic Diversity. Find him on Facebook here.
Hugh Anderson has nightmares, the curse of an overactive imagination, too much TV news and maybe getting up too many times at night. He's been around a while, but recent publications include Grain, Vallum, Right Hand Pointing, The Willawaw Journal, and Praxis Magazine Online. He has one Pushcart Prize nomination.
Gayle Augenbaum is a Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist who practices in a small town in Northern Westchester. She lives with her husband and three children, along with a menagerie of animals in Armonk, NY. She has just begun an adventure into the world of poetry, having taken a few classes at Sarah Lawrence. She is now enrolled at the Hudson Valley Writer's Institute in Sleepy Hollow, NY, with Jennifer Franklin.
Ruth Aylett teaches and researches computing in Edinburgh. She is widely published, including a jointly authored pamphlet, Handfast with Mothers’ Milk. Her work has appeared in Prole, The North, Agenda, Envoi and was anthologized most recently in Scotia Extremis, Umbrellas of Edinburgh, and Silent Fire: Poetry about the Moon. She co-authored the online epic Granite University and is known to occasionally perform poetry with a robot. Read more about her work here.
James Roderick Burns is the author of three short-form collections, most recently The Worksongs of the Worms (2018). His work has appeared in The Guardian, The North, The Scotsman and Silent Retreat: Haiku 2019. He lives in Edinburgh and serves as Deputy Registrar General for Scotland.
Caroline Davies is a recent graduate from the MA Writing Poetry programme (Poetry School and University of Newcastle) She has two collections published by Cinnamon Press, Convoy and Voices from Stone and Bronze. Her feminist re-telling of the Noah's Ark story was published as Elements of Water by Green Bottle Press in autumn 2019.
Kristin Fouquet photographs and writes from lovely New Orleans. You are invited to visit her humble virtual abode, Le Salon, at the web address https://kristin.fouquet.cc
Sejal Ghia received a degree in mass media from Mumbai University. She currently lives in Oakland with her husband and a dozen houseplants. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in The American Journal of Poetry and Terribly Tiny Tales Vol. 1, an anthology of micro-fiction by Penguin India. She writes limericks here.
Katherine Kuhn grew up in Western New York, eventually earning a degree in Literature and Gender and Sexuality Studies at Bard College. Her biggest inspirations include Virginia Woolf, and phrases her friends said to her that got stuck in her head.
Tricia Knoll is a poet who recently moved to Vermont and rediscovered winter. Her work has recently appeared in Windfall: A Journal of Poetry of Place, About Place Journal, and Gyroscope. Website: triciaknoll.com
Mark Mahemoff is an Australian poet based in Sydney. He has published four books of poetry, most recently Urban Gleanings published (Ginninderra Press) He regularly reviews book on poetry and psychotherapy and works full-time as Senior Couple Therapist and Clinical Supervisor.
Amy Miller’s books include The Trouble with New England Girls (Concrete Wolf Press) and the chapbooks Rough House (White Knuckle Press) and I Am on a River and Cannot Answer (BOAAT Press). Her writing has appeared in Gulf Coast, Right Hand Pointing, Tupelo Quarterly, and ZYZZYVA. She lives in Oregon. The editors extend special thanks to Amy, who has 5 poems in this two-part issue.
Veronica Montes is the author of the chapbook The Conquered Sits at the Bus Stop, Waiting (Black Lawrence Press, 2020) and Benedicta Takes Wing and Other Stories (Philippine American Literary House, 2018), a collection of short fiction. Her flash has appeared in SmokeLong Quarterly, CHEAP POP, Lost Balloon, and elsewhere. Twitter: @vmontes
Ken Sawitri was born in Blora, Central Java, Indonesia. She completed her degree in psychology at Universitas Indonesia. She is writing haiku to celebrate her homecoming. Haiku dedicated to her motherland appear in