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June 2014

What does the month of June suggest to you? Summer? Weddings?

In Richard Wilbur's poem, "June Light," the month is present in someone "with clear location" and "the just soft stare of uncontested summer."

The Latin name for June is Junius. Ovid offered multiple etymologies for the month's name: from the Roman goddess Juno, the goddess of marriage and the wife of the supreme deity Jupiter; the second is that the name comes from the Latin word iuniores, meaning "younger ones", as opposed to maiores ("elders") for which the preceding month May (Maius) may be named. Though we might associate JUne with weddings, in ancient Rome, the period from mid-May through mid-June was considered a bad time to marry. Ovid says that he consulted the Flaminica Dialis, the high priestess of Jupiter, about setting a date for his daughter's wedding, and was advised to wait till after June 15. Then again, Plutarch said that the entire month of June was more favorable for weddings than May.

I like the Icelandic folk story that says that if you bathe naked in the morning dew on the morning of June 24, you are supposed to keep aging at bay for a longer period.

If you believe in the power of the heavenly bodies, the start of June finds the sun rising in the constellation of Taurus, and at the end of the month it rises in the constellation of Gemini.

Does the month mean to you, as in this month's full moon, strawberries and roses?

This month we asked readers to consider June as the theme for a poem.

As always, there is more about this prompt and others and things poetic on the Poets Online blog.


First thought: disease
not the sign of late June and July.
My birth sign, a time of year
when summer is fresh.
I met my friend Elaine for lunch today
a day long and lush and an afternoon
that might seem endless.
The air was soft and fragrant.
She told me that she was diagnosed with cancer.
Her prognosis is hopeful.
We were having lunch outside
and kids, free from school, were running
past our table bursting with life.
Roses and peonies were in bloom
in pots around the restaurant.
We ordered fresh strawberries and cream.
Cancers are ruled by the Moon
Great Mother of the heavens in ancient times,
fertility, ruler of moods,
and the element associated with Cancer is water.
Elaine said she was going for a swim after lunch.
This summer that seemed so new an hour ago
rushed to twilight.
Day and night,
two rivers
silently merged.
I felt a rush and then

Lianna Wright


seven boys
in jeans
dark shirts

report cards
last papers
in backpacks
half off their shoulders

appear from the left
skim two southbound lanes
on skateboards

some bounce onto
some fly across
the medium
as my son would have
ten years ago

their fast feet streak
toward fast food

I brake
for someone's sons

Wilda Morris


The pivot of the year, its duality and reflection,
the rush of green echoing the sheets of December’s
ice; summer’s fire at its zenith—ripening corn,
pulsing through vines, exploding in flowers and
their visitors, the bees; consuming forests, breeding
deserts, crackling lightening and wind, sending
torrents and cooling rain, creating and destroying,
making and unmaking as the earth sweeps through time.

We are all creatures of earth, bound together by its
irreducible presence, caught in its nexus of relationships,
its web of energy and matter, of alive and inert—
of Being, and its opposite; we rise and fall with the

seasons, the tides, the droughts and the floods, the
wheeling migrations of birds and the salmon runs,
the armed uprisings, the children crashing against
the border, and the derelict in his cardboard home.

We can but look up at the stars and the vast energy
that surrounds them, the giants and the dwarfs, the
pulsars and the binaries, the whirling clouds that beget
the stars, and the end of all beginnings—the black hole;
the thousand-fold planets, the comet with its icy tail,
the explosive meteor as it shocks the night sky; and
these too are part of us, part of our beginning and our
ending, our birth, growth, decrepitude, and death.

So we seize the fullness of summer’s dream, we
laugh, plan, yearn, travel, couple, and sleep; we
remember and forget, we celebrate and lament, and
we know we are not eternal—our existence the outcome
of chance, of force and matter, of random fluctuations
and mass extinctions, of minute changes over millions
of solstices; we know we are not eternal, and that each
moment, each solstice, each pivot, is our last and our first.

Robert Carroll Miller


I came upon you
when I was a child
and kept the memory
close, through every
feverish year.My hair
was silk from corn; yours,
black as the birds upon the snow
I fed the winter long. I opened books
at night and looked at barest
trees and wished for Spring. I watched
for leaves birthing like the stars. I made
poems, and saved the lights I found
waiting in my marrow. One day I would tell
you of the music I heard between its honeycombs
and followed til words rested
on a page. You would understand. You
would hold the glass and pour my amber
work until it filled you to a brim.
You would say, this flames the trees
and you are the harvester of my soul.

Charles Bane, Jr


A sea breeze pushes showers
inland late in the day.

The temperature warms
and the air turns muggy -

a typical June day
in Southwest Florida.

This morning dawned clear
and bright,

now rain is on the radar.

Even the birds wilt in June,
so do the young brides.

June suggests we stay indoors.
There is nothing romantic here.

Iuniores, give yourselves plenty of time
to reach your destination.

Be aware of the maiores
who travel our roads.

In Southwest Florida
the month of June

announces the arrival
of sudden wind, rain,

and big mosquitoes.

Bobbie Townsend


In the high country, June’s the come-
back month. Its insignia,
meadow rainbows of lupine
and hellebore, paintbrush in eight
shades of red. We forget last March’s
snow-survey, the slow melt
that opens the rutty dirt road two miles
from pavement.
And here we are, stuck to the axels
in a snowbank aside.
The new puppy doesn’t whimper,
but takes it as adventure.
We’ll dig ourselves out. We’ll make
camp here, cook supper
over a lodgepole fire, then watch
for shooting stars, and listen
for coyotes in the dark.
Beyond our snowbound truck,
just below switchbacks to the pass,
the meadow’s blooming
like even spring won’t last up here.

Taylor Graham


Out the cabin door, a rush of cool air hits my lungs.
Late morning song birds dive in a rush from the pine tree,
as if they know they have a few short months to do it all:
fall in love, have babies, raise them, send them on their way.

Blinded by the sun, I blink, and watch the low-traveling clouds
brush the tops of the tree line, their shadows spinning after.
With wispy white fingers, they pull the fir and spruce
into line, arranging them in the Appalachian tradition.

Stepping off the porch, I round the corner quickly.
My face stings, slapped hard by flowered sheets,
forgotten on the line, thrashing out their measure,
as June decides it needs my full attention.

Anita Sanz


Past the Summer Solstice celebrated
Around the world for the most hours of sunlight
Pagan rituals some modernized, some not

Past the introduction of warmer spring days
Hope the heat will not swell too quickly
The rain will subside

Past the tulips and daffodils
Await the next bloom
Greening the garden

Now spent and soggy with rain
Dust off the porch
Empty drawers of clothes

Refill them with lighter, airier fabrics
Past the Outdoor Public Pools opening day
Water still cool but inviting

Beyond the last day of school for the year
Fall down from exhaustion
Dark circles under eyes and weariness

Wait for the last seven days in June
When the burdens begin to lift
Life is simpler

Gardens are greener
Cats are happier
Slowing down the pace

Wish to linger in June
A few more moments
When July comes

The spirit of summer takes over
Whisks away June
August is sadder

But the last seven days in June
Those, are the sweetest

Margaret R. Sáraco


I have a stiff neck today
from gazing up at the clouds--
those giant, white, kindergarten blossoms
firmly pasted upon storybook blue.
Seemingly incapable of movement
(until I bend down to tie my shoe,)
they oh so slyly readjust their shapes
just enough so that when I look up again,
the butterfly, to the left of the llama,
now has three wings instead of two.
Silent, yet humming with vibrancy,
this ivory choir sings the sky alive,
lifts both the birds (and my spirits) into flight
and echoes through this bright, June day
with eternal amens.
Yes, I have a stiff neck, but with every pang,
I praise the clouds.

Barb Caldwell


June, my love and dearest, do you remember me?
I walked beside you in all my being and startled your gaze against the sun;
its heat and light distracting my presence of youth we begun.

You must be older now in the counting years; I've been busy.
I hope you still feel the heat.

We walked together for long hours and surprised the glistening sweat
with clammy hands that dried in height.

I remember you my June, in all the beauty of sight.

I can breather the heat,
beat the wink
and know we'll meet again in June...

because only butterflies are as pure as you.

Suzzette Jones


Born from the depths of January
wholesale sentimentality flows
along with confident promises and ardent oaths
regarding what will be

Between the rain and endless evening sun
June provides the empty spaces
emphasizing the ease and contentment
of what is

Eric Steggall


The jabber of geese breaks
into the silence of my morning.
They call out to me.
I struggle to hear their
message, but the words
dissolve in the wind.

There's a cardinal, perched
on the lowest limb of my
neighbor's oak tree. He
spots me, flies off in
a whir of red on black,
searches for a meal.

As the sun begins to set,
I spot three fawns nibbling
the grass in my front yard.
The mother closeby,
feasting on the rose begonias.
It's only June. They'll grow back.

Marie A. Mennuto-Rovello


June holds in her eyes fireflies,
in her wildly beating heart thunderstorms that rock the damp,
then dry,
then wet earth.
She changes her mood on a breeze.
June tills and plants.
She harvests nettles growing wild under a great circle of pine trees to make the tea that tastes like the damp,
then dry,
then wet earth.
June is a wild child, even in her fitful sleep.
She rumbles and falls against twisted sheets.
She calls out the name of change and carries it back to me as tiny seedlings.
I am the mother,
she is the wet nurse.
Breasts full of white milk that rain down on me
And this earth
damp, then dry, then wet again.
June is a field of golden weeds that holds my heart still.

Patty Joslyn


What does June mean for me, a question for more than one cup of tea.
For while Australia sinks into winters grasp, Scotland's alive with butterfly and wasp.
And where are you my love do your eyes see the moon as I.
As the long awaited summer heats your bones, fragrant winds carry sweet heather scents home.
Alas for me the winter takes hold, wind and rain dampen my soul.
Hmmm, Does the moon for you curve left or right, as we gaze upon from the oposite pole spikes
It's funny to think is it our feet that are more close, though mine are cold and yours warm as toast.

Every year i shed a tear for d day the 6th of june, when the mighty ship guns did boom.
Omaha, Utah, Gold, Juno and Sword a million men in amphibious accord.
The strangers that now live in eternal memory, fought and died for you my love, and me.
Now I'm more old true reality had dawned, a million souls are really, truly are gone.

Another june landing reached our shore, 1745 bonnie Charlie, our king came home.
The standard was raised the loyal clans drew sword, against the old enemy in one accord.
Back then we fought with sword and lance, now with the mighty pen, Scotland nears independence.
My rose i wonder how will you soon vote, will you remember the heartless red coats.
Or will you see now no enemy, but a nation who together endured atrosities.

My precious lets not be sad in this summers song, even though for me it's night and you fresh dawn.
Do you remember the how salmon now run, the river where we had such youthfull fun.
The white falls roared and whispered our names, as we played our lovers game.
Enough of words, Enough! I cry, truly i will find a flight this very day, or die.
Ma petite fleur écossaise, anounce to everyone this summers day.
Tell my mum and my dad, my sisters, even tell poo the cat.
The lost boy has been gone far too long, at last to his own he's returning home.

Jeffrey J Ward


My neighbors keep to themselves;
Most of what I know of them
Is based on the statues in their yard:
How she attends the half-sized Virgin
Huddling in the diminutive grotto near our street;
How she weekly brushes the dust from the sky-blue robe draping its spread arms;
How in our feeble June
She removes the winter debris from the ancient bleeding hearts at its feet,
And then, as they die back,

How she weeds the white peonies and mums that replace them.

The little I understand of her husband
Comes from the life-sized statue of Marilyn Monroe
That stands behind their modest bi-level,
At the spot where his lawn meets the brooding hemlocks;
It’s the cast of her smoothing the pleats of her breeze-furled dress
As they spread fan- like around her
Like an enormous seashell,
Reminiscent of Botticelli’s Venus.
Each early June, just as the danger of frost is past,
He plants geraniums as red as lipstick before her.

Other than to nod hello,
We never speak,
Not since that spring day years ago
While we were raking our lawns,
I joked that both had the same sad eyes.

Ron Yazinski


I met you in June,
when the sun was high
and the sky was full of light.
You streamed like sunlight
into the Kiev, a café long since
departed, on bustling Second Avenue.
The Kiev was packed full,
so you set down your enormous
tote at my table and
asked if I minded.
Your hair was askew,
your clothes a whirl of color
and fragrance.
That October we returned
to the scene of the crime.
All was right with the world,
with our borscht and kasha,
with our classes at NYU,
and with us.
This June I sit in a Starbucks,
where no light streams through
the smoked glass windows.
The Village has changed so much
in thirty years; there’s no Caffe
Borgia, no Bleecker Street Cinema,
and especially no Kiev.
We don’t go to classes at NYU
anymore. And there is no more us.
Yes, I met you one June.

R. Bremner


June has leafy crowned trees
That burst from lightning bolts.
And meadows of black eyed susans
And blue corn flowers
Among the straggly phlox
But there are other familiar scenes.

Of course as a young boys
We resented a mother's treading sand
To see we would not drown in the sea.
Behind her, on a city's crowded beach
Were thousands of workers at rest
Only playing attention to pleasure.

Once a rip tide had come
Necessitating the life guards quick rescue
They dashed Into the yellow
Shallow foam of flat waves
And all was right..

Otherwise the water was sunny calm
There was a Russian gal
Who lived in Odessa by Coney Island
Who talked of protection, baggies.
One needs protection against the sun
Against the sea, against semen in June.
In a cross current of a rip tide
There lurks not only sharks but death.

We must learn to fight
By swimming in an ordinary style
Parallel to the crowded beach
Accepting our share of the June's sun's burn.

Edward N. Halperin