the year

i.

the arrogant months of summer
dog days laboring under a leonine disguise
from the spidery throne of stars, the great cat yawns
and melting sky drips from its glitter-spattered claws
i was born in the month named for the caesar's son
and even though my name points toward old julius
i hate his calendar, his sceptred cage of divided time
i am not august, july, june
too cautious for castles in the air and crowns that dangle from celestial perches
and i don't hold with fairy tales or dogma

ii.

autumn's nearly forgotten
bare-numbered barley, wheat, and what's ripe for the plunder—
that golden-boned harvest, the sum of the year—
the heady grapes of vineyards,
dangling from the weighted golden scale
to be stolen and sampled by dionysus
and he sneers, spitting out the bitter pits of toil
as he stalks off to other gardens, seeking only pleasure
i am not september, october, november
not steady as the earth, i flee from delight toward barren hollows, echoes of pain
and my secrets are gangly weeds that suck the roots of the earth dry

iii.

that fetid specter, winter, comes to gorge
sharpening its feral teeth on the feeble hearts of men
to leave scarlet paintings in the snow
the tormented turn to dead-eyed wraiths under the chill new moon
each stab of the icicle just one more bleak dawn to face, one more trial to brave
voices strangled, spirits broken to conformity as society smiles on
but no blood flows from closed throats or dry eyes
i am not february, january, december
too vulnerable for mourning trees and skies that gray in the winter sunrise
and i can't deal with silence or buried hatchets

iv.

spring knows that death is a battle, rebirth, a war
when the equinox comes, it's been gathering armies for weeks
wispy seedling soldiers twitch beneath the thawing soil
and the curly-horned ram knocks its hooves against mother nature
asking, "is it time yet? for change to come?"
and with no answer, it charges heartstrong through the slumbering world
running ragged until it's roused every creature from its hearth
and life's halted cycle starts to spin again
i am not march, april, may
not spry as returning songbirds, i crawl back toward sleepy ambitions, tame dreams
and my feelings are fragile dandelions that dance upon the air

v.

twelve months of complexities, four seasons of contradictions
the cycle of sun-streaked day to moon-blazed night reflected
in the pools of time—those bottomless springs of silvery minutes and gleaming hours,
they swim with the blurring faces of the living and the dead—
and in me
i am not january, february, march, april, may, june,
july, august, september, october, november, or december
i am the year
not as fleeting as thirty sunrises and sunsets, too eternal for mortals to grasp
and my will is stronger than a thousand empires—even rome
i won't be captured or divided by you