So this is where the last year of the Mayan calendar begins— 5,000 birds falling on Beebe, Arkansas, a state that could smooth out with the sway of the plains but instead sputters the silence of the first syllable like a pothole that hits before you're off the on ramp—say it— ar- -can-saw— ending with that blade of rusted teeth to chew through the last of what's left of those woods, a fast-driving diesel flatbed of felled trees and all of us in a tight spot between that chugging machine and the concrete barrier as we hope the straight back of our consonants will hold, even if they are quiescent monsters, reticent prayers, because we can't help it, we lean towards letters that do not bend, try our exhausted weight on the middle of that state, that silent K—the shape of a man trying to hold up the ceiling, trying not to think of its falling as the sky's.
Fanny Linguistics: Nickole
What people don’t know about my name
is that my grandmother gave me that “k”
—my very own unexpected
those two strong arms and two strong legs,
that broom-handle spine—
that letter about no one with a name
same as mine has.
the same botched phonetics of all her
misspelled but fancy
as chandeliers—Latonna Lee, Candies La Rayne, Lesi Annett
—names that know never to drink
lemon water from a silver fingerbowl
but names that can be bobbed with a “y”
Now, she called me Koey, so don’t expect me to respond
to the first nasal tone of my name
but the harsher cough
that follows, that typo tambourined
from the back of the throat. I’ll answer to cold & coal & coke,
even hear that sound as a scoop of coco, something dry
from the tin, but warmed with a little sugar and milk, a name
while it’s safe inside.