Abecedarians by Devon Miller-Duggan

It occurred to me that writing three successive blogs about a formal project and not sharing any of the poems is kind of a tease. So here are partial (and barely revised) chunks from one of the pairs:

Disorderly Abecedarian 5: Calendar

November courts martyrs—birds die, women exhaust themselves.
Xylology: The study of wood, not trees. Study of corpses, not being
torn from corpses. Hagiography: Writing the corpse.

March and May—the only month-names meaning something more. Well, August.
Grating, grunting, each day does both.
Zephyr my heart, three-weathered day, keep

January—the old year’s corpse lingers,
elements disbursing into crystals, into “ask from the
wooden heart of the puppeteer.”
Can I leave? The house’s layers of air
keep thinning. . The closer layers
have their own hands.


Proper Abecedarian 5: Ferguson

August and its burning done. Come snow. Come winter and
bundling. Yet burning—cities and the shuttered bodies of black men and children.
Can fathers’ hands un-raise, cops’ guns un-aim, black not be the darkness of
white hearts? Can
December and its Everywhere-raised weapons be instead Waiting-upon-unfearable-births,
elementary un-killing, elementary un-beating, on allchildren children of light?
February and its raised hands. Black lives matter. Raised signs. Black lives
grate against white fear and their own. Black lives
halved, quartered—thrown at, thrown out, thrown against, thrown
in like feed for the caged.
January and its already-failures, its surrendered bodies, its MLK birthday, its
kept new open, uncleansed, unclosed.
value against a raised hand. This poem raises its hand, fisted around nothing
wooden, leather, metal. This poem speaks
xylology—the study of trees, which stand, which rise like black bodies singing:
Yes, we matter. Yes, we voice. Yes, we are trees, tall even when cut down. This
zephyrs its small breath across the bad years, praying.


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