Judy Halebsky
Catalog of Endangered Languages / ɛnˈdeɪnʤərd ˈ læŋɡwəʤəz /
Jojo’s shiny helium balloon floats up and over the playground. she wants us to get it back. I tell her the story my mother told me: the balloon will come down miles from here on a farm where there’s a kid who doesn’t have any toys and that kid will play with the balloon. how young is the youngest native speaker? who do they have to speak to? my grandmother’s words will not float up and land elsewhere. they will not repopulate or be reclaimed. there’s a fence around the playground but for a balloon, it’s about the wind (see: listing, delisting, and who changed their name and when)
Judy Halebsky
Season Markers—Fall

standing heat

night chill

rustling leaves (wind in dry leaves) the sound of

an intensely blue sky (autumn sky)

moon (a sign of fall) (only) (if you want to have a moon in any

other season, you must specify it by saying summer moon or

winter half-moon)

long night


lightning (again, only for fall)



harvest, straw, haystacks in Davis, in Woodland, and here/now

she’s at school. her pleading eyes as I wave goodbye and turn

the corner/


migrating birds

rice sparrows (getting the dregs of rice left after the harvest) (I

try to live a little off-grid—this is how I fell in love with a

farmer, all that tying up branches, laying down straw, pressing

roots into dirt)



geese (for leaving) (in spring they will be marked as geese


it’s fall because the leaves are brown and the cafés are full of

undergrads (having the same conversations that they have every

fall) (but still the sun is so bright/and the dahlia)



the sounds of insects (the sounds) (the insects themselves are a

sign of summer)

bell cricket

pine cricket





maple leaves red (fall) maple leaves green (spring)

banana plant (source of Basho’s pen name) (does not make edible

fruit) (marker of fall because of the sound of its leaves in the wind)

(as fragile and torn)

Judy Halebsky
List of Season Markers—Winter

first frost

first snow

sleet (remember, it’s poetry so there’s counting, accounting for, noticing) (attachment is a counterforce in a poem) (as in / there’s another stronger force it runs counter to)







withered reeds

withered burweed

withered pampas grass

withered field (season marker of Basho’s departure from Tokyo through Ueno, a sign of mortality) (Jojo wants to know when she’ll be the same age as me. I tell her every year we each get a year older. there’s no way to catch up. except of course what I don’t mention. that I’m only getting a year older for each year I’m alive. and if things go as planned, I’ll leave this world and she’ll live on to be as old as I once was)


spearflower (with red berries)

winter camellia

narcissus (late winter)

searching for plum blossoms (the first sign of winter passing)