Poetry | March 2021 | Poetry | Hudson Valley | Chronogram Magazine
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Poetry | March 2021 

Last Updated: 03/05/2021 2:02 pm

Wildlife

I made the mistake of telling a nine-year-old about a lost dog I'd been seeing in the shoulder of the interstate every morning before dawn for two weeks. Calls to canine catchers and the highway patrol led nowhere. The men were tired of hearing it on coffee break. I tossed a flashlight on my passenger seat and promised myself to stop the next time that I saw it. I did, and it ran; first across the darkened lanes, then into a ditch. My hazard lights blinked desperately while I hid my face from high-beams and returned to my truck.

Days went by without a sighting. It had been moving east. Maybe it was finally farther than my exit. A reprieve from the guilt of failure to save a stray would be god sent. None of this was to be, however. Shortly before six I saw remnants of an explosion of fur and flesh next to the white line where I'd last seen it alive. I lit a cigarette and drifted onto the rumble strip, drifted into work.

For days it decomposed until only dry bones, then dust, remained. Now it's bare asphalt. The boy's inquired twice since then if I've seen that dog again. I've answered in the negative. What I saw was not a dog. He's got plenty of time to fall in love with those who don't want to be rescued. There are years before he's got to weep for road kill. I won't hasten its arrival.

I buttered a drawer that was squeaking and it worked. I sent a handwritten letter with no carbon copy or electronic trail to a cousin I've never met. I swallowed a few warm mouthfuls in the shower. A rabbit suffers in silence and when it dies they're all surprised. The Russian alphabet lacks the letter N. Every time it gets easier, but I wish he'd stop asking.


—Mike Vahsen


The Cohort

Alcoholism and pandemics don’t mix,
So 1918 was not a particularly good year for Grandfather either.
Hoping for some comfort
He had settled into an evening ritual
Raising the clunky double hung window
The cast iron counterweights
Rumbling like distant thunder

The late March air causing the flesh
On his hairless scalp to twitch
As he leaned out into the dark abyss
Listening for a signal in the sunken meadow.

Easy to miss when it did arrive:
One short percussive call.
Then utter stillness.
There is no melody in the first sound of the spring peeper.

A group of Pseudacris Crucifer is called an army
Whose ranks muster slowly
Each one awakening in lonely terror
From crypts within the leaf mold of the frozen forest
An ice pellet lodged in the stomach

A march of tortured hops through a tangled maze of dead grass.
Then, half submerged, the mating begins
A cry of desperation
From organs knifed by winter crystals.
Blind instinct can only account for part of it.
Something heroic must drive
This begetting of new generations.

More peepers take their places, stoically,
Cold nights intensifying the loneliness
With long silence separating the shrill notes.

The migration of peepers becomes an exodus
The bog grasses alive with one inch dwarfs
Fidgeting in anticipation of warmer nights
Which finally arrive in a single breath
Bathing the dark meadow in an expectation of better times.

The space narrows between the plaintive calls
Until they touch one another with slight variations in pitch.
And though it might seem a mere illusion
Spring peepers announce yet again, the ageless miracle:
Working together
Beings can create harmony where there is no music.

Grandfather outlived the pandemic
And surrounded by six grandchildren
Stashed his whiskey in a closet forever.

—Peter Comstock


Dusk Emitting

Blue is the color of the trees
As the light presses against
Dusk-lit window pane

Dust covered bridges collect
In the attic
Above your room

Please excuse me
As I watch
You undress

Down to your
Pale
Pink
Skin
And slip into
The green bath water
That fogs my glasses

You are the blue in the color
Of the pines
The thin dust in the attic
That fogs my glasses

Please excuse me.

—Riggs Alosa


Xindian River

Under the bark of a tree,
clenching to pine needles,
I can feel it on your skin.

Sunlight conjures steam,
like an alchemist,
after the rain.

A cluster of letters burns your eyes.

Vapor rises from a teacup
and weeps.

A mime removes his face
and a woman screams
from behind a soundproof wall,
to awaken the boy in her dream
next door.

You shed a tear,
it slowly makes its way
to the Xindian River.

—Eddie Sobenes


Syllable Birds

Do not search for sense or for meaning.
These syllables are for singing.
These lines are wires for words—
Whistling, trilling and chirping birds.
Do not ask what they have to say.
Now they make noise. Now they fly away.

—Yana Kane


GypsyGap

There was a Gap gift card
in that wallet
the Gypsy kid
stole in Firenze

the gift card is good at
Gap, GapKids, BabyGap

and I picture the ragged GypsyKid
transformed into a GapKid
and on his/her back
a Gap knapsack
to carry stolen loot
and Gap sandals
on the bare brown feet

and I wish I'd had
a gift card
from Dean & Deluca or Fauchon
or whatever's chic in Firenze

so the GypsyGap kid
could shop for
something to eat.

—Iris Litt


Romance

Cupid is the little god
with arrow
point
of no return to sender
that’s how love is
misconscrewed
“the heart wants what it wants”
but
actually will beat regardless
nor
is love seated in loins
which actually
will throb regardless
so
really
cupid aims his dart
at the head which
captures every misconception,
yearning to shape
some sense of it
and form a coalescence…
hard fact & messy longing
that sets fire
to the
inexplicable.

—C. P. Masciola


The Despot

In mulling over my plot for world power
And domination, I ponder:
Which nation will be the first to fall?
I'll start with something small and defenseless.
An easy victory like....
The piles of laundry on my chair in the corner
That I haven't been able to sit on for months.
I can count on the French not becoming involved
With my bold move,
And while other issues are debated at the UN,
I'll drive on to plunder
The top of my dresser which is covered
With all of the treasures I've emptied from
My pockets over the last year.
Who will dare stop me now?

It is sometimes a good thing
To live in a small world.

—Randy Sutter


There was a White House resident
Whose character was without precedent.
He lied and he cheated,
But in the end was defeated,
And now Biden is president!

—John Kuhn


At 85

I do those things I only want to do.
I learn those things I only want to learn.
I see those friends I like who now are few.

I leave the phone alone. I hate the news
That’s filled with puff—not my concern.
I do those things I only want to do.

I bless my aged hearing. I do not yearn
To listen every day to a nonsense zoo.
I do those things I only want to do.

I choose to look behind me without much rue
And see ahead the unencumbered days I’ve earned
To be with friends who now are few.

I golf, I read, I nap in this late life anew.
I write to be remembered before my turn.
I do those things I only want to do.
I see those friends who count me with the few.

—Anthony G. Herles


Refill

In the morning
you made me coffee
as I was getting ready to leave.
It was terrible,
one of the worst cups I’ve ever had,
but you looked proud of yourself,
sitting across the table
to watch me drink it,
so I pretended to like it,
even though it washed away
the taste of you,
still on my tongue,
that I was saving for the train ride home.
When it was empty
I untied my shoes
and stayed two more nights
to get the taste of your terrible coffee
out of my mouth.

—David Lukas


Fitted Shoes

We began as a pair of
rubber flip flops tossing up
sand
held on by toes
at ankles were strands
of periwinkles
Salty mud pies below our skinny knees
beach umbrellas tripping to an ocean breeze

We became cloth sneakers
quick and hot and unable to stop
Colorful low sockses jumpin on boxes
Flashing out rhythm. We pop
till we drop

Casual brown leather shoes reading the news
Paying our dues walking in conformation aware of our station
taking our seat to our street in order to eat toasted wheat

Worn vinyl slippers shuffling on
vinyl flooring
Not always boring but not always

Until now
bare feet

Heels
down
toes
up

shoeboxed

recalling no splashes

—J Marshall Weiss


Dear Children,
I Will LOVINGLY Stand
In
Front of You
Next to You
Behind You
To
Protect You
Guide You
Support You
Love Always, Mom

—Tracy Misch

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