Tina Kelley

Don’t Die in


January

it’s my birthday month
plus there’s that smell of steam heat
the datebook’s best page

February

not Valentine’s Day!
organizing and mending
Joe died then, not you



March

still no leaves, so death
is a black bag rattling
on flooded branches

April

not near your birthday
loss doesn’t fit with rebirth
too pretty for death



May

babyman’s birthday,
my month to be most fertile
and play in the soil

June

I already have
enough reasons to cry with
weddings/commencements

July

two words: it is our
wedding anniversary
don’t ruin it please

August

it’s our vacation
and mourners need more structure
to get through their days

September

beginnings, not ends
heading off to school, not grave
red apple, not worm



October

too many zombies
on front stoops, tombstones on lawns,
skeletons in stores

November

I hate irony
Counting blessings near turkey
you didn’t cook? No

December

Don’t make me force out
hollyjolly cheer with red-
rimmed eyes nope can’t won’t

Therefore

no month is open,
so you’re flat out of options
just stick around

Tina Kelley’s Rise Wildly is forthcoming from CavanKerry Press, joining Abloom and Awry, Precise, and The Gospel of Galore, which won the Washington State Book Award. She co-authored Almost Home: Helping Kids Move from Homelessness to Hope, and shared in a Pulitzer covering 9/11 at The New York Times. She and her husband have two children and live in Maplewood, New Jersey.

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