November Weather Spell / Robert Fillman


November Weather Spell

poems by

Robert Fillman

ISBN: 978-1-59948-754-0, ~40 pages, $12 (+ shipping)

Release Date:  September 12, 2019


Robert Fillman is a Senior Teaching Fellow in the English Department at Lehigh University, in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. He has been a Mountaintop Creative Writing Fellow and a finalist for the Gerald Cable Book Award. His poems have appeared in The Hollins Critic, Poet Lore, Poetry East, Salamander, Tar River Poetry, among others. He currently lives in Macungie, Pennsylvania with his wife and their two children.

I’ve read these poems with acute pleasure, hearing the voice of a real poet. Robb Fillman has the intensity of vision that makes for good poetry, as description yields again and again to revelation. There is a pitch to his voice that is at once original and yet fully attuned to the past. Here is a poet who has read wide and thought deeply, and November Weather Spell, with its seasons of the spirit, introduces an important new poet to the world. ~Jay Parini, author of New and Collected Poems, 1975-2015


Robert Fillman’s November Weather Spell is a poetic landscape of gritty survival. In his world, a little boy packs rocks into snowballs for revenge, an eccentric neighbor asks the devil to dispense of troublesome children, and a young man hears the song of a dead childhood friend. In this superb debut collection, Fillman intertwines memory and current narratives, all while reminding us of the emotional power of place. ~Karen J. Weyant


Whether a raccoon run over by a car, “twitching like a defective // record, needle tripping // a groove,” a mischief of schoolkids sporting rattails, a crazy neighbor, a dead cat, Elsie—alluding to WCW’s housekeeper and the famous poem—or a hairdresser, Robert Fillman’s vehicles for his poems in November Weather Spell provoke us to see greater truths about the importance and dangers of influence and how we manage and mismanage our identities. ~Adam Vines, author of Out of Speech and editor of Birmingham Poetry Review



November cold
and only a week in.

Driving out of town
past dingy strip-malls

to the winding tree-lined roads
of Vera Cruz, I see

a raccoon in the path of my car,
body black and gray,

rings all spoiled,
twitching like a defective

record, needle tripping
a groove, stubborn life,

a balled lump of fur,
neck spasming, then

visible between
every rolling breeze

from speeding undercarriage—
no merciful God.





All the neighborhood boys had them.
Ricky Conrad was first, and then
Devon Feldman and Jayden Wartz.

Bobby Smiegel got his too late
in the year, always untucking
his blond wisps from those turtlenecks

his mother dressed him in for school.
Dev sported his like the mud flaps
drooping from his dad’s battered Dodge.

Jayden’s seemed to drift on the wind,
soft curls trailing him like rings of
cigarette smoke. Ricky lost his

before us all. We found him crouched
barefoot beneath his uncle’s porch,
blood dried on his lip, two black eyes

forming a single drainage ditch.
He held out a hand, the last strands
of his childhood trapped in his palm.





In the old house on Pine Street
I had the planks memorized.

I’d sneak out of my child’s room
after rocking her to sleep,

tiptoeing down the hallway
as if I were a soldier

scouting tripwires: every step
an alarm, every exhaled

breath a panic or a prayer.
Some days there were explosions

of sobbing, afternoon chores
sacked like a fallen city,

the laundry spread out around
my feet like rubble. And I’d

sort the lights and darks in my
mind while I hummed lullabies,

my little girl in my arms,
sure that even the slightest

sound could be sensed, so I moved
with ease, swaying every now

and then like clothes on the line.


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