The Last Day of February


The month, shortest of the year, least popular, ends,
and on the radio there’s “Midnight Sun,” a concept
worthy of a Ramos Gin Fizz, if you have the ingredients,
it being understood that the weight of the world is too
hefty for any one consciousness to bear, let alone to
comprehend. More songs come: Doris Day, Bea Wain,
Bob Eberle sings “Tangerine” like a ballad and then
Helen O’Connell picks up the satire and the pace.
O, music of the 1940s! What sense did you make
to my father-in-law in the ninety-fourth division,
three hundred and first battalion, company G,
from Normandy to Bastogne, “Roosevelt’s Butchers”?
A foot soldier in Patton’s army, he punched a bigoted sergeant,
served in Germany, liberated a camp, was never the same.


David Lehman’s most recent books are The Morning Line (poems) and The Mysterious Romance of Murder (prose). He edited The Oxford Book of American Poetry and is series editor of The Best American Poetry, which he founded in 1988.

[Purchase Issue 26 here.]

The Last Day of February

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April 2024 Poetry Feature: New Metamorphoses

I know it’s October because I wear / shoes without socks. The air is good / to me & I sweat less through my shirts. / Entire days of trees on campus, of stray geese / crowding the grass near the traffic / circle like groupies, as if / the honking cars were a rock band.


At the laundromat the whir of machines, / whorled & busy, the pleasure & difficulty / of stillness     Waiting, sockless, I aspire to be / the cross-legged woman reading a magazine, / settled into her corner of time     I like her gray braid, / the way her skin sings.

two white daisies next to each other

Translation: Poems from The Dickinson Archive

No—posthumous—inquiry will manage—never—to see what I wrote. What I lost each time—to / discover what a home is: stiff body inside the openness it has created. No one will know how / much I insisted, how much I demanded—and with no defenses.