Short on Days / Phillip Sterling


Product Description

Short on Days

poems by

Phillip Sterling

ISBN: 978-1-59948-794-6 50 pages, $13 (+ shipping)

Release Date: June 3, 2020


About The Author

Phillip Sterling’s books include the poetry collections And Then Snow and Mutual Shores, two collections of fiction, In Which Brief Stories Are Told and Amateur Husbandry, and, as editor, Isle Royale from the AIR: Poems, Stories and Songs from 25 Years of Artists-in-Residence. An associate poetry editor for Third Wednesday magazine, he lists among his awards a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship, two Fulbright Lectureships (Belgium and Poland), and selection as artist-in-residence for both Isle Royale National Park and Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. Short on Days is his fifth series of poems published in chapbook form.


Phillip Sterling has filled his February to overflowing with forty twenty-eight word poems not only of time but of place (fences, sap buckets, horses, wind off lakes) in which, against our expectations, stasis is nowhere. That these are also love poems—to place, to time, to loved ones human and otherwise—adds much to their impact. Salted discreetly with chime and allusion, they burst out of the limits of their form. ~Eric Torgeren


“February means / to serve out its sentence” begins the 34th poem of Short on Days, a series of forty poems, all on the month of February. (Note please the puns on “means” and “sentence.”) But February also means to provide the reader with a splendid collection of poems, short on length but long on depth. Each word tells, and each poem, too—tells just how much the year’s shortest month means ice, snow, wind, thaw, rain, wood, woodstove, fire, death, love. ~JR Solonche


Phillip Sterling’s stunning collection of forty short poems has been skillfully crafted from what the poet calls “February’s lexicography—a white diction we faint-hearted don’t understand”. Carefully noting the day-to-day changes in the dark month that most of us love to hate, Sterling finds undeniable beauty—even optimism—in the “dreggy beds” that shape it. This book should be savored slowly, preferably over the course of winter’s bleakest evening. ~Marilyn L. Taylor, Wisconsin Poet Laureate Emerita and author of Step on a Crack (Kelsay Books, 2016)



Left up to snow
sun would be considered

on the first of February

its bold pornography
of white oak and pine

palpable and light-hearted:
my death





Not much amounts
to much

in reluctance or hesitancy
like a kiss

on the brow
of a unfurrowed love

the one no one

ever had meant
to give




Not how often
the beast speaks

but how often we listen:

the woodstove
huffing and chuffing

at my leash and dog
in rebuke

for having to stay




A county truck grades
the crushed limestone

someone laid
and labeled Court Drive

contrary to the DOT sign

a “natural beauty road”:

the ditch calls itself

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