Poetry | February 2022 | Poetry | Hudson Valley | Chronogram Magazine

If you put the front lights of cars together

you would get the sun


—Joshua Fisher (4 years)



Beginning


You served me my first cup of coffee

in a quilted Ball jar

two stories above Main Street

on a gray Thursday morning

before a storm in December

after finals were over

and from above it sounded like

we were the only people left in town.

I can’t remember how

that first cup tasted

or if I even liked it

but I do remember

the creak of your kitchen floor

as you carried it across the room,

sleeves falling down to your fingertips.

I remember how the clouds

formed behind the glass

and feeling warm when they were gone,

although I think that was you.


—David Lukas



Flight with the Billions Waiting


As the shadowlands seize the heart,

as hemlock, as antimony, as blade

swift, clean and silent.


To gather back harbingers

dark as bird-cloud,

all directions scattered.


The jostling of sounds,

escapes into strange

forests, moon like a gash,

a gash of pearl hung there.


Cancer-root among oak trees.

The living and dying, dancing.


—Steve Clark



Catskills


Rise and fall

together.


Lie flat as

sand dunes.


Justify age

in teeth, bias,

clove.


Haven

without gates

or fences.


Burned by snow

and sun

and footfall.


Waterfalls

flatten into seas.


Forest froth retreats

in autumn runoff.


Passive active breath.


Sky disappears

in cliffs.


—Ryan Tracy



A New Year


If only this dawn of

A New Year

Might mean the dawn of

A New Beginning:


Might mean a melting

Of frozen hearts—

A New Compassion;

Might mean a broadening

Of narrow minds—

A New Enlightenment;

Might mean an embrace

Of different ways—

A New Tolerance;

Might mean a loosening

Of old strictures,

Old scriptures—

A New Faith.


Someone once pled

“Father, forgive them,”

And was crucified;

Someone once said

“I Have a Dream,”

And was crucified;

Someone once begged

“Imagine,”

And was crucified.


Haven’t we done enough harm?


We’ve no time left to crucify.

It is time, at long last, to sanctify:

To sing a psalm in unison,

In an all-encompassing embrace,

In this holy chapel of Earth—

In consecration not of the One,

But of all: our full congregation;

To gather close in welcome

Of our glorious differences,

Knowing that differences

Serve only to deepen us,

Merely to diversify us,

To weave of us all

A coat of many colors,

Stitched together as one:

Myriad beautiful tones,

All harmonizing, all blending,

All dazzling, all holy.


And all of one lining.


—Tom Cherwin



I Stand, Quietly


I stand, quietly, witness

you crossing the footbridge

in the old park where almost no one

dares walk alone anymore.


Life on the outskirts is dark,

we fear walking on our own—

defenseless, unsure of purpose.

To love, lust, or just to be?


I stand, softly, whisper words

only swaying trees share,

birds pass over—squirrels trample

my simple outlook now.


In this moment, standing quietly,

detecting how the world’s breath

labors to return to full blown,

I pray I can keep my balance.


I no longer question if I’ve found my focus.

I just choose not to follow you further.

A different world—the park seems smaller now.

I stand quietly, and quietly, I stand out.


—Perry Nicholas



Finding My Way


Now I’m older,

entering a room,

forgetting my purpose,

I ask myself,

What am I doing here

which is what

I should have been asking

right along.


—Clifford Henderson



A Poem for Sale


I had a poem for sale,

I asked a store owner

to place it in the window

He insisted on commission

I agreed

We put a price tag on it

It stayed on display for a month

The store owner said

"No one is interested

you'll have to take it back"

I asked if there were any potential customers

"No", he said,

"But people stopped by to read it"

That encouraged me and I asked

if I could replace it with another one

For the same price.


—Ze'ev Willy Neumann



Socially Distanced Cocktails


The night is warm, her flowers in bloom

A chance to dispatch our covid’d gloom;

Old friends together, our drinks well known

A social gathering instead of alone.


Each chair is placed at the distance proscribed

And each wears a mask as our hostess advised,

Here, the covid has no chance to spread,

Though no one can hear a word that is said.


—Chas Weeden



How it used to be tomorrow

Running the guy what he's unwilling to walk

Chasing death with the water of life


—J Sweet



Burnt Hand


My burnt hand

Is scorched permanently black

From four separate

Hot steel guns...untraceable each

My ears suffer tinnitus

From shots fired at a close distance

in barren

Much less fortunate neighborhoods

In East and West Baltimore

On suffocating nights tightening around me

Choking

The sounds whirled into my ear canals

Swirling like dishwater down the drain

Of the kitchen sink

Only much faster

Only I was much quicker

My eyes bleed in anger

Seeing bodies drop

On the grimy sidewalks

Littered beyond imagination

Some more trash for the pile

Call me a litterbug

I dare you

I use my burnt hand to eat

To shake your hand

To caress my woman's body

To write

To wipe my ass

To paint

To shoot up

To wave at a passing car

To hold my baby son and daughter

To hammer a nail

To hold up to my eyes as I stare wildly at the sun

I look at my burnt hand

Carbon Black

And say

"Oh baybee...you're a killer alright."


—Theo Steve



A Few Things


That's all


A decent window

With something

Beyond it


Another poem to fill

This room with silent

Music


Her hope to last all

Morning


No menu,

just a coffee


A few things


That's all


—Ryan Brennan



Talkative Neighbor


came here from Sweden

at age seven

seventy years ago


strolling the sidewalk

to the corner and back

dozens of times every day

often stopping to chat

in by-the-book English


but today

an ambulance parked

in front of her home

she struggles with the medics

as they try to stretcher her

howling her fears

in desperate Swedish


—Tony Howarth



My Love Is Like a Rose Bud


My love is like a fresh rose bud

She is warmed by the sun

Watered by gentle rain

Nourished by healthy soil and

Glories in the fresh air


And opens to me

When she is ready


—Mel Sadownick



OMG


My god I lost

My dog


My dog I lost

My god


My god

My dog is dead


My dog

My god is gone


My head is in a poignant fog


My god I lost

My dog

My god


—David Capellaro


Phillip X Levine

Phillip X Levine has been poetry editor for Chronogram magazine since June 2003. He is also the president of the Woodstock Poetry Society. "All the people I was going to be when I grew up - they're still here"
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