Posted by: Mark Nielsen | February 13, 2012

February Keeps You Honest (Anti-Valentine poem by M. Nielsen)

The Weeping Cherry Mourns the Innocents Slaughtered, 2011 photo by Mark Nielsen

February keeps you honest.
Even as the pace and pretense of the rest of the year
breaks down in the express lane,
still you get up and go to work each day,
going through the motions,

– – –

Up north here—

far from the silliness of la la land,

the hollow-cheeked, vacant beauty of South Beach

and the edgy distraction of Apples and Beans,

when Super Sunday is in the rearview mirror

and the madness of March has yet to arrive,

when the sun plays hide and seek

five or six days a week,

and you spend the other day

digging out from whatever that sky

and the other eleven longer months

have dumped in your driveway

or on your desk–

February is just something you get through.

– – –

Especially if you’re north of forty,

Single or married,

Valentine’s Day is a storm of faded ideals

and unwanted, under-rug-swept emotions.

Meanwhile maybe your kid needs twenty three

cartoony  cards that automate affection,

just so Disney or Marvel employees

can send their kids to private school.

– – –

The dance recitals and graduations,

Triathlons and al fresco dinners,

concerts, vacations and fun of all kinds

are now resting up,

getting ready for the busyness of May,

the maybe-ness of June,

and no holds barred in the bars of summer.

– – –

The other day a pal of mine,

(you can call him Al,

but don’t call me Betty)

asked me in that friendly, teasing, old man way

if I was staying out of trouble.

Hardened by February,

I answered that I was just waiting

for trouble to come to me,

which it would, soon enough.

And I meant it–

I’ll lay odds, too.

Al probably didn’t know what to do with me.

– – –

There’s a reason February is the shortest month:

Not many people can stomach

that much cold, hard honesty or

muster that much patience for

more than twenty eight days (or

twenty nine, if you’re lucky).

– – –



  1. Well said, Mark. And how we ended up with 29 days in every fourth Feb. instead of the far more sensible 32 days every fourth July is beyond me.

  2. […] February Keeps You Honest (markingtime) […]

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