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Throwback Thursday with "The Lunar Year" from issue 295.2

Joan Colby

Joan Colby's poem "The Lunar Year" was a finalist in the 2010 James Hearst Poetry Prize. The poem appears in issue 295.2 of the North American Review.


A note from the author: "The Lunar Year" was inspired by reading a list of names for the moon in the various months. I chose the names that I found most intriguing and spun off from there. Many of the moon names were of Native American origin. To this day, some farmers schedule tasks according to the moon’s phase and I know of horse breeders who wean or castrate according to the “Sign” (a particular moon or phase of the moon).

The Lunar Year

Hunger Moon

That’s when the food ran out. The stock
Depleted, even the saved potatoes gone
Rotten at the eyes. Our savings cleft
By half, all love foreclosed, the doors
Of home padlocked, the windows boarded.
What else can happen? Weather broods
Over the bleak horizon. This moon is also known
As the snow moon.

Crow Moon

The raven invented the world, now the crow rules
Its lesser partitions. It encompasses
The slyness of politicians, the ruthlessness of love.
It waits for things to die or else it torments
Songbirds, those who can tongue
A harmony every crow despises.

raquel crow

Egg Moon

The lost wax process creates an egg
Of gorgeous dimensions, Byzantine
Geometrics suggesting a rage of contained
Passion. But another egg is pure.
Cool in the palm and distant
As that place where everything begins.

Milk Moon

It is this specialization that defines us.
How we link to every creature
That nurses its young. That
Baptismal drink the Orient refuses
After a certain age. What sort of wisdom
Clinks bottles on a stoop at dawn
Like earliest, beloved memories.

raquel deer

Strawberry Moon

You find them knitting the pasture
With rubies, the wild sort
Whose sweetness is so compact, so perfect
That cultivation seems a sort of sin
Original as the path that led us out
Of infancy to the bloody-hearted world
Wearing its seeds like a cloak.

Thunder Moon

Everything here depends on nitrogen
Of which thunder is merely the voice
As a slap is the sound of forked anger,
The sound angels made as they fell
Into the firmament, the first denial.

raquel denial

Sturgeon Moon

Producers of caviar and isinglass
One richly edible, the other a bonding agent
Like the lust that glues two lovers.
Flesh of temperate waters. The miracle
That feeds a jubilation
Of disbelievers. Cast your net. Have patience.

Barley Moon

All grains were once wild
Uncultivated, there for the reaping
There for the first lively spirits
Fermenting like every wish into
Something achievable, the malt
Of high ambition.


Harvest Moon

Every goddess walks
Under that parasol, her arms
A cornucopia of fulfillment.
No wonder we worship this
Unblemished guise. No wonder
We think no matter how many banks
Fail, how many ships break into pieces
In the coming gales, we’ll still
Have this: how we were blessed
Just as the good times ended.

Hunters’ Moon

That’s what we do when everything
We counted on has collapsed
And all coffers are empty, all drawers
Divested of silk, all trigger fingers
Reinvested with darkness. Walk
Silently in the tracks of the dispossessed
Ensuring it will not be you.

raquel hunters' moon

Cold Moon

Hunker down. Survival is now the key
To our heart, the tone-deaf song.
If you make a fire it is certain
To go out while you’re asleep
You’ll wake with your feet frozen
In a crossroad of bad choices.
Shaking is the way your body
Fights cold like this. Huddle together.
Wolf Moon

They have come back, those predators
Of the prairie, the steppe, the open range.
Protected as a parliament
Of oligarchs. Their guard hairs rising
As they sight you, out there
In your unarmed villages.

raquel deer

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Joan Colby has published widely in journals such as Poetry, Atlanta Review, South Dakota Review, The Spoon River Poetry Review, New York Quarterly, the new renaissance, Grand Street, Epoch, and Prairie Schooner. Awards include two Illinois Arts Council Literary Awards, Rhino Poetry Award, the new renaissance Award for Poetry, and an Illinois Arts Council Fellowship in Literature. She was a finalist in the GSU Poetry Contest (2007), Nimrod International Pablo Neruda Prize (2009, 2012), and received honorable mentions in the North American Review's James Hearst Poetry Contest (2008, 2010).One of her poems is a winner of the 2014 Atlanta Review International Poetry Contest. She is the editor of Illinois Racing News and lives on a small horse farm in Northern Illinois. She has published 14 books, including Properties of Matter, Aldrich Press (Kelsay Books); Bittersweet (Main Street Rag Press);The Wingback Chair, FutureCycle Press; and Selected Poems, FutureCycle Press. Selected Poems received the 2013 FutureCycle Prize. Colby is also an associate editor of Kentucky Review and FutureCycle Press.

Top Illustration by Justin Perkins: Justin graduated from College for Creative Studies. A freelance illustrator and designer, he teaches art in Detriot. Justin’s first illustration for the North American Review appeared in issue 298.4.

Raquel Aparicio

All other illustrations by Raquel Aparicio: I feel grateful this is going to be my ninth year dedicated to what I love, drawing. I live in Valencia, a sunny city in the coast of Spain. I taught a collage illustration workshop at the Circulo de Bellas Artes in Madrid; I also taught in diverse countries like Serbia or Paraguay. I work in a variety of media exploring different styles, producing illustrations, animations and comics. Mostly I work for magazines and illustrate children’s books, but I’v been also designing graphics for garments, advertising, and newspapers.

My illustrations were published in The New York Times, The New York Times Magazine, Boston Globe, New York Observer, The Scientist, Nylon, Dazed and Confused (Corea), Runner’s World, Prevention, Rolling Stone (Spain), Mia, Elle, Quo, Angel’s on Earth, Ragazza, Stella (UK), Psychologies, LDS Living, Ling, Yo Dona, Calle 20, H, Chow, Lados, Viajar, Looc, Europa, Forma (Paraguay), Simon & Schuster (US). Raquel is represented by Purple Rain Illustrations, Ella Lupo, T: 609-497-7330 C: 732-690-2515