Poetry | August 2021 | Poetry | Hudson Valley | Chronogram Magazine
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Poetry | August 2021 

On Reading an Essay Entitled “The Poem and Its Meaning”

When the poem takes its meaning out for its morning walk, there are several ways in which to do so. Some poems use a short leash. Some poems use a long leash. Some poems use a harness in addition to a leash. Some poems use a muzzle as well as both a harness and a leash. Although this technique keeps its meaning pretty well under control, you can still hear it growl at you. This can be very frightening no matter how much the poem may reassure you. After all, you ask, why put the muzzle on the meaning in the first place if it isn’t dangerous? Last, some poems use no leash at all. This is the poem that has total confidence and trust in its meaning. Usually the meaning of this type of poem is very friendly. The meaning will want to play with you. It might be overly friendly and slobber on you, so be a good sport. On the other hand, the type of poem that does not leash its meaning might secretly wish its meaning to run away. Chances are you will not encounter this kind of poem on a morning walk with its unwanted meaning. This kind of poem will go about its business in the dead of night.


—J. R. Solonche



Fifty Years On: Notes to a teenage me


My class picture

Seventh grade in Sweden

Was posted online

Me, with long hair,

Glasses and good grades

Insecure, but too tall for anybody to notice


You will survive

(At least long enough to write this)

There will be good times

There will be bad times

As told over and over and over

And, yes it will be worth it


That haircut should have been avoided though

I know, I know, the belt was mother’s idea

I/you/we hated it

But you will miss her

A lot

When she is gone


No, you will never kiss that girl

But others

Some will even like you

For a while

Others not at all

Occasionally you will even like yourself


I remember their names (most of the names)

I remember stories (most about myself)

To the left, in obligatory flared out jeans, me

To the right, blond and smiling, my best friend

He wanted to be a farmer

I an engineer


But his family had no land

And you only liked the drafting

Not the math

So you became a graphic designer

With a diploma

He a bus driver


You speak with him occasionally over the years

His little sister will choke to death on a slice of potato

His mother will die of cancer

On the bus he shepherded to France

His father will die of a heart attack

His child stillborn


You will move to New York City (No really!)

Working with clients of stage and fame

Names most others would recognize

But none of them will remember yours

Just as well, those things

Mean very little after a while


Amazingly, you will have two daughters

Both stirring something inside

That you never

Ever imagined

You could hold

Unconditional Love


Your parents will die of old age

Your mother at home, your father at hospice

Your brother is alive

You will have had cancer

You will retain some lifelong friends

Your oldest daughter will marry this summer


From this point forwards

You will have to experience

It all first hand (just like me)

Fifty years removed of that photo

Be kind

And don’t drink too much.


—Bo G. Eriksson



I Am the Earth, Holding the Galaxy Together


The ceiling is suspended

from the shelves,

and where are we may I ask?


I am waiting for this to happen

on the sky,

suspended from the floor.


And you,

where are you may I ask,

on a boat

holding down the water?


—Duane Anderson


Five Girls on a Hillside


One summer evening, they ran, full speed, up a hill and down, sometimes over a staircase and sometimes through the tall grass. No longer toddlers but not yet young women, maybe 4 to 6 years old.


One girl, in red rugby shorts and a jersey, exuded physical confidence. She took the long steps in single strides, hurling herself ahead of the others.


Close behind, in a black velvet dress, another fluttered step to step in double time, beguiling even gravity, which seemed to soften its pull just for her.


A third, in a nondescript t-shirt and shorts, gravitated to the middle, quietly grounding the group with no need to cry out, “Look at me! Look at me!”


A fourth, in crisp shorts and shirt, made her own path off to the side and, again and again, crossed a gravel landing the others avoided. As her bare feet hit the tiny rocks, her brow furrowed deeper as she met the challenge and held her pace.


The fifth, with cascading curls and a flowing sundress, beamed joy. The smallest and most delicate, she struggled to keep up, and in trying, sometimes outran her feet. Down a few seconds, she’d pop back up and dash ahead. All smiles, no tears.


World, be gentle with these young souls, mothers to the women and to you.


—Sue Books



Verdict for George Floyd


Truth be told,

the ultimate arbitrator 

“lead us not into temptation

but deliver us

from evil”

that conspires…

you only live once

and it may be

or/unless

incarnating at unknown levels

doppelgangers, emotional & fibrous,

repeat and

this is not – or is

a type of condemnation

cycling

until we’re right & substantive

enough to assume a higher plain

in geography of reason

dictating topography 

a landscape laid out

verdant/rolling

peppered with

mountains, meadows, trees, crops…

or maybe

the decision is that

put before/after

is all along

where we stand.


-C.P. Masciola



Our Species


The domesticated cat: Nature’s perfect predator…

 but the miniature version.

And like any other cat, prowling

your domain, you are shocked

to be picked up by a creature

you consider your inferior, held

back by the scruff. I don’t want you

to be surprised when they close

the front door—your domain

was never really yours,

and the panicked epiphany—

you’re trapped, small, and lonely.


-Addison Jeffries



On Seeing the Dead Bird


I pause catch my breath:

fascinated by death

its beauty

its folded wing

by its fatality

its resemblance to life

its denial of life

by its finality


opaque covering over

its eye its one eye

its unmoving presence 

in the green of spring


to hold onto beauty 

even as it fades 

wonder at the course

hope for the eternal


denial its silence

its reminder other mortalities

all those deaths

the other face of reality

reeling through our lives

expecting courage


what to do with so much suspended vitality


stillness instead of flight

blindness instead of sight

rigor instead of life


a reproach in this little circle death

outside it something else

a kind of now


—Cordelia M. Hanemann



This is The Way We Dance


All elbows and knee-knocked.

We blunder through it blindly.

A hip right and a foot left.

Jerk. Twist. Fall.


Others have murmurations, soft movements—

grace that implies comfort, coordination, communication.


We watch wistfully.

We try once more.

We lose our footing

but come together again -

ugly steps that lead us to our own rhythm.


—Penny Rifenburgh



What I Did on My Covid Vacation


I am sitting

straight up

in the middle

of Dal Lake

not because

of salt

but because

of luck


Blue Mountaintop

sits alongside me

in the valley

not because

I climbed it

but because

it is comfortable

here


adventure has

transported itself

into every meal

not because

of challenge

but because

I cook


sleep has taken on force

not because I tire

but because

I invested in it


seasons are not a problem

not because I go away

but because I stay


sense has become sheer

not because it wasn’t before

but because I noticed

again


fear has become expendable

not because it is gone

but because it is there


Love has outlasted burden

not because of passion

but because of

itself


—Peter Coco



The Future


I wonder,

in screen


full of faces,

can you know 


I’m looking

only at


your eyes

as they


scan text

we are


all trying

to read? 


—Alan Semerdjian



Keeping it Folded


Your finger slides across an edge,

Barely making a crease.

Keeping just for yourself

A silence on which to feast.


—Christopher Porpora


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