Poetry | June 2021 | Poetry | Hudson Valley | Chronogram Magazine

In our March poetry pages, we published the poem G*psyGap. In hindsight, this was a mistake. The term G*psy is considered a racial slur by a large percentage of Roma people and neither I nor Chronogram want, in any way, to perpetuate any racial stereotype. My sincere apology for being ignorant and insensitive on this issue.

—Phillip X Levine


Money. Some say useless

Some say useful. I say OK.

But it can be both. Why do we

Pay with it? Can’t we just

Use paper? It’s the same thing.

Well, don’t ask me. I’m just

The one writing this poem.

It works sometimes, but not

Always. So, think before you

Use it. Be wise. Now, before

I’m done writing, a question:

If money rained from the sky,

Would you take as much as

You can? I don’t know. That’s

All. Now, do you say useless?

Or useful? Answer, but remember,

I’m just writing this poem.

—Uma Manon Bardfield (9 years old)

Now That It Is Safe to Go Outside

The contractors both my neighbors hired

may try to talk at me and what to do

then? Play normal? I have spent these solitary

days cataloguing the cotton candy no one

knows inside me. I try to get the gunk out

but it is sticky! Gigantic pink globules!

Therapy says all is okay in moderation–

or is that a nutritional idiom? Look,

loneliness drives toxicity to confession.

I polluted air around me for years and now

you want me to open my door to the world?

—James Croal Jackson

Tornado, High Falls

From the sound, it might have been a train

coming if a train came there riding the sky

like rails trains follow. While a canal

once went through the center of the hamlet,

no trains did, and this sound was coming straight

for them in a sky dark as smoke black with

burning oil. They thought it odd until they

remembered stories of the sound tornadoes

make, when they rushed to the basement to wait.

The storm passed. The sky cleared. The next day

they saw online the video someone posted

of the funnel cloud forming, no sound.

—Matthew J. Spireng

Almost Six Is a Good Age

With growing gusto

The budding thespian

Enters stage emulating

A magical nanny or frozen princess.

Polished poses and perfect pitch

Convey confidence and expert mimicry

To her adoring audience

Followed by bows and applause.

Then she dashes off to design

Lego legacies, blanket forts or farms,

Gourmet cafes, or illustrated books—

All with mastery and mirth.

Once observer, now reborn

As swimmer, biker, hiker,

And jungle gym enthusiast

With new goals each day.

She knows who she is

And proves it proudly

By reading or signing

Her name in script.

—Jane Harries

Fork misplaced.

In the shanty hut of memory

I put down my things. Prepare tea,

a bowl of grain. Arrange my space

into same order. Kitchen. Bedroom.

Bathroom. Den. A small room for secrets.

My desk skewing east. Bed aligned.

Shoes missing. Fork misplaced.

—Mike Jurkovic

A Jog in Georgia

On that day, he went for a jog

Around a neighborhood in Brunswick

He was an athlete, played football

Makes sense to see him running

Ahmaud made his way through

What looked to be a nice area

Shaded by a tunnel of

Bright green leaves that

Embraced the bend of the road

But then followed a couple of white men

Pulled in front of him in their

Big white pickup

With the old man in the bed

And his kid behind the wheel

The son steps out

To aim his shotgun at the young man

In what they called a “citizen’s arrest”

Of a young black man jogging

And Ahmaud fought

He ran towards the son


He fought with and pushed the son


He reached to push his gun away


Then he stumbled

And fell where he took his

Last breath.

And the blood remains on the hands

Of not only those two men

But of this white america

And all who refuse to relieve

Black Americans

Of this society who rejects them,

Of these chains that bind them,

And of these men that kill them.

—Jackson Fedro

Derek Chauvin’s American Knee

is the bullet that killed Trayvon Martin

is the chokehold that killed Eric Garner

is the bullet that killed Fred Hampton

is the bullet that killed Medgar Evers

is the slaughter at Attica

is the bomb dropped on the Move building

is the bomb in the Birmingham church

is the Tulsa Massacre

is the Tuskeegee study

is the lynching noose

is the slave catcher’s manacles

is the slave master’s whip

—Ingrid Blaufarb Hughes


I swallowed one of

your hairs


It's still stuck

In my throat

Along with my shame

Come close

While I tie the red bandana

Around your beautiful neck

—Riggs Aloha

Economics 101

I suppose I've always looked like

someone who would buy a bridge.

All my life, I've bought the bridge,

and I still don't own one.

—Cliff Henderson

Wet Painting

A hook on the back

You need a ring on the wall

Then hang it to dry

—Ze'ev Willy Neumann


The story of a sensitive soul

Chapter 1


The end

—Jana Mondello

Local News

I have nothing to talk about except the birds,

the usual crew that visits the feeder every day—

so today’s 7 am news—

The thieving squirrel, aggressive starlings,

sparrows and juncos, house finches and goldfinches

are here again for the seeds, the suet.

But oh my, will you look at that—

a large woodpecker, bright red head,

beak long and elegant.

—Joanne Grumet

Newburgh, 1782

The autumn air breeze

paves the path

that winters whispers

will soon freeze.

—Michael Montali


Tight like a hanging noose,

it constricts, narrows, binds me;

restrictive rivers flow to eyelets,

quickly threaded as blood letting—

holding me firm:

suffocating slowly,

by infinitesimal degrees—

catching breath, barely noticing.

Etiquette is laced

through ivory loopholes,

stitching decorum into veins—

channeling expectation

in blanched hands

where servants pull with force

as I cling to bed pillars,

trying not to topple

like a splintered spinning top.

Each whale bone etches nooks

forming cavities of me—

I’m hollowing like a bird’s bones:

light, but tethered, grounded

as a falconer’s eagle.

I prance on glued fingertips.

I fly only on circuited routes,

promenade stifling ballrooms;

Victorian parks—

tiring of monochrome scenery:

my future spins past, hazy-slow,

blinkered like a cuckold.

Courtiers knock, deliver flowers—

await my corseted tread;

the corset tightens as it thrusts

my innards closer—

creating a desired hourglass figure.

I’m a living ornament

with porcelain heels,

click-clacking to performed timing.

Or am I a mermaid in a jar?

Barely buoyant.

My iridescent colors bleed

down prison walls,

streaking transparency

with a held flag of surrender—

slightly tainted, like me,

adding a multi-hued rebellion

like trickling blood…

from Parisian guillotines.

Marriage knocks loudly,

while my corset weeps

satiating the held bones

that crush, crunch my ribs.

This time it’s tighter,

sucking me in like a vacuum

creating cavernous holes –

like an unseeded fruit.

I stand, coerced to say “I do”

while whale bones knit

a smaller waist,

holding me together

like shapeless pottery.

I’m a shattered mosaic

with rogue symmetries—

dissonant, kinked patterns.

He looks into my eyes

as my corset sighs,

exhaling sorrow

in plentiful gasps.

I hear transitory whispers

as the bones web,

concealing a locked

(corseted) heart.

—Emma Wells

A Nightingale Doesn’t Belong in the Hudson Valley

I am afraid I will never again hear you sing.

A nightingale doesn’t belong in the Hudson Valley

and I have seen other birds with clipped wings.

Your whistling aria reminds me of Being

Alive. We are what happens when two galaxies

collide. I am grateful for hearing you sing.

I know the grief that letting-go brings,

but a nightingale will die in captivity

rather than live with broken wings.

If I fall and break my arm, I’ll wear a sling.

Some things are unavoidable, like gravity,

but for now I just want to hear you sing.

I feel time’s grip around us tightening.

The Phantom whispers under the melody,

freely given, I say this with mended wing

I love you, so I know this will sting—

But nightingales don’t belong in the Hudson Valley.

Though I may never again hear you sing,

I’ll never have to see you with clipped wings.

—Addison Jeffries


The great grooves of a life long-lived burrow deeper when she smiles.

She smiles at childhood memories chasing

the mountains of West Virginia.

West Virginia where she first learned to make

her famous white gravy and biscuits.

White gravy—a family favorite—

would gather her children and their children.

Their children the joyful beasts that kept

the glint in her eye.

The glint in her eye first placed there by

her loving husband, the carpenter.

Her carpenter, their children and their children,

all of her memories the foundation of the great grooves.

The great grooves of a life long-lived that burrow deeper no more

—Amberae Miller

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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