Letter to February


The bru in you is brutal:

manic storms, guttural winds,

deluges of ice and harm,

dingy snow that lingers

long past white. It’s not

lost on me that you

are an upgrade—a month

instead of “Negro History

Week,”—but the struggle

is realer on snow days,

my Caribbean blood

angry at sub-zero wind chills

and merciless montages

from arctic regions.

I propose we swap February

for June—after all, Juneteenth

needs the publicity, and we can’t

all escape to the Bahamas

the second month of the year.

You are too short and mean

to honor any people’s history,

and the fact that you make bills

due even faster makes me hate you

even more. So go home, February,

you’re drunk on raging drifts

and blizzard smackdowns.

Sit down until we tell you to get up.


Photo by Richard Walker

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About Author

Allison Joseph lives, writes, and teaches in Carbondale, Illinois, where she is part of the creative writing faculty at Southern Illinois University. She serves as editor and poetry editor of Crab Orchard Review, moderator of the Creative Writers Opportunities List, and director of the Young Writers Workshop, a summer writers workshop for teen writers. Her books and chapbooks include What Keeps Us Here (Ampersand Press), Soul Train (Carnegie Mellon University Press), In Every Seam (University of Pittsburgh), Wordly Pleasures (Word Tech), Imitation of Life (Carnegie Mellon UP), Voice: Poems (Mayapple Press), My Father's Kites (Steel Toe Books), Trace Particles (Backbone Press), Little Epiphanies (Imaginary Friend Press), and Multitudes (forthcoming, Word Tech Communications). Her awards include fellowships from the Illinois Arts Council, the Bread Loaf and Sewanee Writers Conferences, the John C. Zacharis First Book Award from Emerson College and Ploughshares, the 2009 Aquarius Press Legacy Award, the 2012 George Garrett Award for Outstanding Community Service in Literature from the Association of Writers and Writing Programs, the 2014 Paladin Award from RHINO for "extraordinary longtime contribution to poetry in Illinois," and an honorary doctorate from Kenyon College in 2014.

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