Poetry | September 2023 | Poetry | Hudson Valley | Chronogram Magazine

​​Abandoned Island Fort

This morning you complained
I wouldn’t buy you flowers. Just one
more day until we leave—why bother?
You climb the ramparts overlooking
hollowed cliffs. Last fall you visited
our college town: a new fence,
fresh pine, divided our houses.
You were my neighbor when we met—
you went abroad a few months later;
in the side yard dandelions yellowed
and burst. This morning I wouldn’t
buy you flowers. Sunset splits the strait.
On the mainland at the edge of sight,
scattered homes pinprick the dark—I pluck
a handful of forget-me-nots between the stones.

—Wilson R. M. Taylor

Festering Macaroon

Knocking at the banjo, kicking
at the door. Oh, it’s the Honeypots
darling, better start dredging the well.
They see a field of test tube babies,
they see a parking lot of cows.
I’ll tell them it can’t be possible. No
amount of pancakes, baby, can
fit into the Woolworth Building
because ice cream has no bones.
Marjorie’s sitting on the banjo now,
blowing out some notes. Frederick’s
in the outhouse, dearie, making lots
of pasta. He’s vacuuming up the profits
and writing notes to Liberace. Along
the way ain’t no use in hangin’ ‘round
when bacon’s absconded with egg
on its dirty face.
Grand-dad’s pacemaker blew a fuse
and now his legs are gone. Do you know
of any upholsterer? No one here
is thin. I’d like more ice cream with my
mushrooms, but the Honeypots have
put the kibosh on any further celebrations.
A festering macaroon has been found.

—Patrick Hammer, Jr.

Lay Your Home to Rest

some times, even the most
worn-out places will surprise you;
a pigeon will crowd your
space and call out
your secret name as it flies; a
city grate opens itself up under your
feet, a reminder
that this city is hollow,
that it has veins that seethe blood just like you.
it has been said
that if a city ages right
it may create its own paths and flow of magic;
that if a city
is well-enough worn by the magic of our feet
that tunnels
and pathways swell and squall
with the lungs
of a thousand years.
it’s been said
that in a real
well-worn city,
you can kick up some dust
and it might
whisper its name back.
it’s been said that in a real well-worn city,
you can take a walk hidden in the
dark of midnight and find yourself
following the footpath to a portal
that may let you in
just to taste your name and
spit you back out.

it’s been said
that the door to a dear friend’s apartment
may one day be just the swirl of
such a portal closing as you stand,
about to knock.
and you may realize
your friend was
always on the inner veins of this ancient city
that you are just a small,
a very small,
specter trying to
call home. this city is too old
to fold you into it, so you stay
on the smooth edges
it may have lovingly laid
its weathered face under.
a well-worn city may hide itself
under train tracks that cackle
as they scream a trillion passengers
towards a trillion tiny homes, like a thousand pores, each with
a new name that traces
a new line of magic into the curves
of a city laid to rest.

—Nechama Anolik

As I See You Lying There

Your aged and graceful face
Turns so smooth and so radiant,
Like you were,
As you are to me.
Your ever sleeping eyes
Turn to wide open vestibules of love,
As you were,
As you are to me.
Your strong but silent voice
Keeps a sweet and heavenly sound around,
As you were,
As you are to me,
As you always will be.

—David Capellaro


I’m sorry I didn’t knock
on the bathroom door
to let you know
I was back from my run
but you were singing Brandi Carlile
with abandon,
the steam pouring out
was so warm on my face,
raw from a February headwind
that blew both ways
along the river
where no step
felt closer to spring,
and your voice made me forget
that I ever left at all.

—David Lukas

Succulents Sustained

Unwilling to verify whether or not
the experiment’s been performed
since science has been bastardized
and the internet’s been hijacked
I’d wager what’s left
of a poorly squandered soul
that if most indoor houseplants
were only watered when it rains
the majority would survive.
The laws of mortality
transcend manmade labels
of flora and fauna:
We get what we need
on a schedule outside
our control.

—Mike Vahsen

Daisy petals are picked
He loves me, he loves me not
The “Truth” is revealed.

—Frances Greenhut

Abecedarian: I Haven’t Thought of You

All about you, isn’t it? You treated me beastly.
Because I swooned, you came to
Count on such adoration. Charming, with a mission.
Dear Fred: You broke up with me in the car.
Even as I invited you to a weekend timeshare
For sex, walks up Melville’s Mountain.
Geared for autumnal cuddling, you puffed on a joint.
Held in smoke, one hand on the wheel, ending it.
I heard Billie Holiday wail about losing her man, low-down blues
Just another blip on the gone-man meter.
Kinda creepy, grandiose and fake.
Let me acknowledge moving on walloped me.
Many others too, long gone major attractions.
Needful, alone in the dumps with a soundtrack.
Open to the ones who burn through gals, closed to those
Pulsing admirers, with only a faint spark.
Quiet ones cannot express themselves.
Righteously they do not utter “I want you.” What to do, or
Say without brutal honesty?
Think back. Those slick seductions.
Using mud for sand. Sink into the moment’s
Viciousness. Failed loves become behemoths.
Watersheds of wasted time.
Xeroxed from electronically charged plates
You, and You, and You, never ready for that particular
Zenith. Fixated on the glass, brief. Fantabulous.

—Cheryl J. Fish

Green Fancy

Over coarse stone,
I followed him
‘Twixt rummaged leaves unsewn,
Against the fenceposts faltering
Until the meadow’s lull.
There the Broadleaf’s springing green
Lay like the silk adorning me,
And as by gustful breeze it rippled in its limb,
So like my shift when pressed to him.

—Karen Savino


When I ask a woman
on a date, my first
question is always
their dating history.
Were you married?
Is he dead?

—Esther Cohen


I tell my therapist this recurring dream
So embarrassed to repeat it because it sounds so cliched
In it I tried to scream and no sound escaped.
They immediately start writing
Now I make a game of trying to predict when they’ll jot something down
Sometimes I get too eager and am only met with their receptive listening face.
I thought for sure that would land harder.
Back to that scream
It caught in my throat some thirty-odd years ago
And has made itself a home.
Maybe it’ll find the temerity to move someday

—Greg Baffuto

A love letter to my old man friend

Why is it that no one talks about
fairy godfathers?
You flit into my life, at first a sparkle
transforming into a glow
that illuminates me.
Beginning with slimy seaweed
and onto social theory,
soon you taught me about the four promises of love,
starting with, “I will be a dependable person for you…”
About heart-space, and heart-voice,
and a guide to creating the perfect height for hugs.
Your waters ice over
while I melt in the southern heat.
You tell me about black apples
and I tell you about tango embraces.
I made you eyebright tincture
for your shining blue eyes.
You sent me dark, gnarly nori
for my thirsty back discs.
Do something concrete everyday, you said
to me, your little Heron.
In the ebbs and flows of life,
who knew that true love was inside
of such a simple phrase as,
“We are friends.”

—Anna Keville Joyce

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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    @ Bethany Hall at the Old Dutch Church

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