April 7th, 2021 – National Poetry Month

Calendar Days

by Jake Adam York

One day you wake and they’re there, flecks of mud

weed-eaters throw against the window, moths

in their dark migrations, salmon that taste like dust.

All month long, they fall from the laundry, dead

receipts for burritos, coffees, books. They’ve lotused

toilet water, drinks left out from the night before.

They rifle into floodlights, their exit wounds

so much skin, so much powdered glue. April’s cruelty

is, isn’t it, just a rumor floated by May and June

while everyone fans the rice pages of their Bibles

in sermons’ hot wind. It’s the dry air makes them rise.

In these parts now they say sirocco, entirely

out of place. They say monsoon, which is a way

of not saying fire, virga, haboob. I’d like to feel

the milt wind off Erie or Ontario, fresh strawberries

and airlift oysters to chew, but I’ve got to rise again

to pull the locust beans from the choking gutters,

which I explain as a prayer  for rain. Tomorrow’s

my birthday day in a different month, a twelfth

of a reminder  of something I can’t remember,

though they say I was there, Polaroid, Panavision

images dreamed or dreamed for me, half-holy

half-haunted, like the streets of Jackson slowly going

Kodachrome, gelatin silver, dim,

my father’s menthol still reporting in the tray.

You have to look away so the smoke’s cursive’s

written clear, my grandmother’s card, her best

farmer’s Palmer method, Our pride & joy,

flutter of money, even after all these years,

take the day off. But there are bills to pay,

even without stamps, days in advance

so they’ll post on time, someone born or someone

dying so near midnight, one day’s clocked,

the next not yet in. It takes a while to sort it out.

You may already be a winner. I check, of course,

the numbers each day, though I’ve often forgotten

to buy a ticket, as my father reads the obits to see

if he’s still alive. It would be a great excuse,

he says, call in dead for work. In the joke, God says

give me a chance. You should know, he says,

the trade-in on your car in case you want to ditch

it in a quarry, set it on fire, though the heat’s never

hot enough to melt it back to stone. The fireflies

rise from the evening grass, whispering in a language

I mistake for fire, into the boughs, a few

floating higher than hunger, toward the stars.

There, the bears move slow as days,

so slow sometimes I forget what day it is.

And sometimes, thank God, they go on forever.

Published by ccharle2

A digital services librarian. When I am not reading, I can be found running or counting bats.

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