National Poetry Month

Inspired by Black History month, The Academy of American Poets  worked with a variety of interested parties including teachers, publishers, booksellers, librarians, and of course poets to figure out the many ways poetry could be celebrated.  They concluded April was a great month for the celebration, and on April 1, 1996, President Bill Clinton proclaimed April to be National Poetry Month. 

 

Following the Academy’s lead, Writers’ Morning Out has posted a poem-a-day during April since WMO’s inception in 2010.

“Anything But Summer” by E.V. Noechel

 

I dread the weight of summer. Spring and I
are on speaking terms but I know she’s hiding
sweltering, sweaty days behind her back.
Some years she can’t be bothered to show up
at all and summer barges in, taking over
the place, dropping his bags of thunderstorms
and hot, dog-shit scented pavement by the door, already
rummaging around for lemonade, visibly disappointed
at our lack of swimming pools. He wants to barbecue
a whole goat in my backyard and plop mayonnaisey
scoops of potato salad on every plate, overcrowding
my refrigerator with mounding, strange architecture
made out of jello and murky, floating inclusions.

 

He stretches the days past their limit, leaving them
stretch marked and misshapen after equinox,
which you would think would mark his visit half over
but like the days he’s mangled, there’s somehow
2/3 more to go. I’m already impatient for the delicacy
of falling leaves and the arrival of Autumn spiderwebs
long before the screams of his school children,
loosed upon the Earth, have begun their day-long calling.
It’s half a month before I get used to the idea that
blood curdling cries are not distress calls but a quirk of their nature,
an inexplicable and uncontrollable utterance as persistent
and unstoppable as the rooster who counts the night hours
aloud beneath your window.

 

Just when I’m sure he is ready to leave, August bleeds
into September. What’s two more weeks? Three? Dry dirt
crusts the edges of the streets, the plants bowing for mercy
when the water evaporates before it breaks the crust it lands on.
I am bitten and scabby from his entourage. The fleas and mosquitos
find my blood especially delicious. I have concluded that I am
strawberry flavored, but it might be the sun’s delusions seeping
through the faded, baked hair that tries to protect my brain from cooking.
I find another of his ticks in my bed and put on my boots to march outside.

 

I swear to nature and karma, I will tell him flat out right now
how much I hate him. Never mind politeness or knowing
he’s fattening my pumpkins and tightening walnut shells,
gently opening the souls of autumn bulbs by my mailbox.
I don’t care that he’s filled the skies with acorn rain, ready
to send my roof the friendly sound of friends tapping at the door.

 

But he’s gone, and my rage gets distracted ten steps after him.
It flies from my chest like the string of a tailless kite, a yanking
fighting tug that quickly loses momentum and wiggles gently to the ground.
The opossums who were just lately fat pouched with pups wander aimlessly
from dewy wet dirt patch to shadowy hiding place, nibbling at one
crepuscular insect, then another. Summer has taken his bossy heat
and high volume stereos to another hemisphere and left his thanks
in chrysanthemums, dorky adolescent squirrels, and blackberries.

 

 

16 Responses

  1. I can see why this poem captivated Shelby so much – it’s lovely! The personification works perfectly here…it just draws me right in:

    …I know she’s hiding
    sweltering, sweaty days behind her back.
    Some years she can’t be bothered to show up
    at all and summer barges in…

    Right now, where we are, I’m very glad Spring is extending her stay a little bit. 🙂 This poem will stick with me; thank you for that!

  2. A marvelous extended metaphor! A delicious picnic of language. It inspires my imagination. I can almost picture Mr. Summer standing smugly on my side porch as he beckons his ravenous mosquitoes to lie in wait until I venture out into the sun. For me, you have conjured up Summer as an expected, yet unwelcome, house guest who arrives for the family reunion, throws his weight around, lingers obnoxiously and then finally leaves reluctantly. I love the image of Summer hosting the cook-out, sizzling burgers on the grill and serving up the mandatory potato salad.
    But I could also see Summer as a trickster who meets up with the other Seasons to plot their climatic conspiracy wherein they will keep us guessing and tease us with their twists and turns.
    I love that Summer leaves us with the lush images of Autumn.

    Summer has taken his bossy heat
    and high volume stereos to another hemisphere and left his thanks
    in chrysanthemums, dorky adolescent squirrels, and blackberries.

    Thank you for the eloquent reminder that Summer’s standing on the corner tapping his foot.

  3. What a beautiful image filled reverse ode to summer. “The weight of summer” – masterful. I feel this. I don’t like the heat the way I like the crisp cool days, too few in this Southern state.

  4. Love the cheeky voice of the poem and this phrase pulls me right IN,
    “Spring and I
    are on speaking terms but I know she’s hiding
    sweltering, sweaty days behind her back.”

  5. Oh that’s a wonderful poem rich with images and fierce feelings! I would love to post it on my FB Porch Poems page if that’s ok, Robbie sent it to me this morning and I enjoyed it on this beautiful SoCal spring morning in the backyard! Thanks E.V.!🙏❤️🌎

  6. Love this poem. EV’s imagery is so vivid – I can already feel “the weight of summer.”

  7. It’s so hard to live anything summer and you spoke that so much better than I ever could! Thank you for sharing your gift! 🦓

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