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Second-place Winner – 2018 Poetry Contest

What kind of times are these, when
to talk about trees is almost a crime
because it implies silence about so many horrors?
Bertolt Brecht, “To Those Born Later”

My sons told me that November was coming
but I didn’t believe them. There’s no way
it will ever be November, I said. We’re not
that stupid. Not here, this is America.

Now, when I meet up with my friends we don’t
talk much about November even though it’s
November and that’s all we used to talk about.
We talk about sports and our kids and our work.
Before November, we prided ourselves on not
talking about our work, but there it is.

My wife doesn’t like to watch the news during
November because November reminds her
of her father and her bosses who did things
to her in November during the years when
every month for her was November.

I sit at my desk and force myself to read
the stories about November in the paper.
Sometimes, I want to shout about November
but the guys I work with go through their lives
as if November never happened. I think they
think I’m crazy to worry so much about November.
Sometimes, I wonder if they even know it’s

November, though, is no time to be quiet—
not with wind whistling through the trees
and the leaves and dead branches waiting
to be cleared away.

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Thomas J. Erickson is the second-place winner of the Wisconsin People & Ideas 2018 Poetry Contest. Erickson is an attorney in Milwaukee, where he is a member of the Hartford Avenue Poets. His award-winning chapbook, The Lawyer Who Died in the Courthouse Bathroom, was published by Parallel Press in 2013.

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