Poetry | September 2021 | Poetry | Hudson Valley | Chronogram Magazine
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Poetry | September 2021 

Chromosome

We heard no sound

as they jumped

from a hundred and more

flights up

Just a simple

toss

of body into air

And from our vantage point

below the smoldering towers

through the lens

to somber houses

across thousands of miles

as they fell

they all looked the same—

no clothes

no faces

no fear

Just a black outline

two arms and two legs

joined in the center

like the wiggling X

of a chromosome

a single, unseen, unnamed

living piece in the code

of who we are

lost forever


—Darcie Whelan-Kortan


Edie

i remember most

edie sedgwick

wrapping wrapped

drugs

she stuffed

snug and sound

in her purse

in saved wrappings

she’d ironed out

with her face made up

til dawn

listening to music

as she drew

detailed horses

the size

of ants

on each flat

clean

bright

sheet

that one day

would become

a small envelope

containing sad news


—Pal Shazar


We Were Stupid

We didn’t expect the levees to break

We thought the people would leave

We didn’t expect the branches to snap

We thought the storm would pass

We didn’t expect the gun to fire

We thought the safety was on

We didn’t expect him to go in the school

We thought the door was locked

We didn’t expect her to fall down the stairs

We thought someone would hold her hand

We didn’t expect the plane to disappear

We didn’t expect the market to crash

We didn’t expect the baby to die

We didn’t expect the cancer to spread

We didn’t expect

We lived with our eyes facing in

We didn’t want to know


—Amy Caponetto Galloway


Half

Please bury my bones

at the far end of Lake Awosting,

close to the shoreline

where water laps against rock

in stride with late August winds.

I’d like to finish what I started—

it’s what I was after all along,

asking with each step

for Earth’s acceptance,

chasing the unfinished loop,

lost in the shadow of Castle Point,

finally too far to climb,

forever out of reach

and free from worry

but always in view

below a shielding hand

and bare wrist,

absent the watch

buried deeper in the dirt,

drowned out

by rhythmic calls of autumn.


—David Lukas


To Garden

When I suppose you smiling back,

soft, into my sunny gaze,

silent and imagining

the sturdy order of our days,

a seeded herb pressed in a book of verse

awaiting an incant,

a heart-shaped stone washed smooth of sand

and hidden in a potted plant.

Love then, untold, in rocky fold.


—Tina Dybvik


My Father’s Hands

When I see fireflies,

I feel my father’s hands

Cupped ‘round mine.

Moving the jar here, now there.

Night hums

dark and near;

Tiny flashlights everywhere.


—Michele Alexander


Home

What Is That If That Is Missing

Feeling Is The Fourth Dimension

Dying Is The Fifth

You Know I Got It Out For You

Bang Your Head - It’s A Head Banger

Left In The Space In Your Teeth

It’s Doomed

No Space For Me

Give Me Something Scary And Send It My Way

Now Soothe Me

I Spit On Your Flowers

You Run Away Because You Have

A Short Attention Span And You’re A Coward

Yet I Feel Your Embrace

You Light My Way

Down To My Soul

From My Head To My Heart

But It Doesn’t Last

Things Change

They Move And Shift And Stab And Penetrate

I Don’t Care Anymore

Strike Me

Or Just Pat Me Back To Life

Things Change

Things Do Change

Fire Burns And Water Streams

God Isn’t Interested

Just A Little Piece

Tear It Off And Let It Live

But Keep It Near, Within Your Grip

Or Was There No Dying

No Being Born

Or Was It Romantic?

A Complex Story

A Feast

Fear Of The Unknown?

Now You’re Talking

Life Is Enchanted

The Portal Must Close

I Want To Peer Inside

Life Before Death

Death Before Life

I Want To Go Inside

But Only Part Of Me Can Make It

Home


—Caleb Beecher


Speeding pick-up truck

Stars and Stripes all a-flutter

Perilous journey


—Steve Mulvey


Chokepoint

That ugly fucker’s head exploded

before the day’s opening rays

hit the night-cooled sand.

We’re trained since basic

to aim for center of mass:

torso, chest, vitals

but Terry tends to give the first one

a whirl like he’s back home

twenty years ago in the hills of Tennessee

squirrel hunting, trying not

to damage much meat.

When you’re that good

you’ve got to entertain yourself

regardless of what the manuals

or screaming drill sergeants say

half a globe away.

“Contact,” I said lowly

as I confirmed the hit

through the scope above my 7.62

a half-second after he cycled the bolt

and chambered the next round

in the .300 he’d been issued this deployment.

All hell broke loose in the desert

as AKs fired blindly into the dim dawn.

“Contact, contact,” I reiterated in the same tone

as Terry pushed the second and third ones

back two meters to the ground.

The party began to scatter.

We’d seen movement at their knees

prior to engaging

and assumed they were goats

but livestock don’t have arms to flail

when picked up as human shields

by cowardly targets.

We’d been warned in our briefing about this group’s

ruthless tactics and ordered not

to compromise the mission at all costs.

That’s Uncle Sam’s way of saying

“Leave your conscience at home, boys.”

The kids—humans, not goats—were

too far off for us to hear their screaming.

Terry and I were grateful for that.

When his next shot kicked up dust

we were equally thankful for that.

I’d never seen Terry miss until then.

I have a few times since.

His wife had recently gone through stillbirth

as he was on a bird back to the sandbox.

I knew it was on his mind.

He dropped his mag and inserted one

full of heavier-grain ammo

as if the mild crosswind had caused

the last lighter bullet to drift.

Before he could acquire his next target

I painted the middle of the hot spot

with the laser designator

affixed to the front of my rifle

and called in an airstrike

on the radio clipped to my vest.

It was easier to push one button

than to pull a trigger a dozen times

with each shot hoping to hit a narrow margin

or miss.

We’re a team, right or wrong

no matter which god’s eyes are judging.

The missiles cruised down as we covered

ourselves as best we could for impact

feeling the ground shake beneath our prone bodies.

A charred crater kissed by the scornful sun

was the only evidence that our objective had been met.

The trek back to base was silent

aside from the crunching of sand

older than our continent.

He never thanked me outright

but the next time it was my turn

to empty the latrine he volunteered instead.

That’s as close as it gets with guys like Terry.

He and his wife could try for another child

whenever he’d go stateside again.

We were told a few days later

by westernized adolescents

selling candy bars in the nearest town

that the sunset in their province

is beautiful as well.


–Mike Vahsen


Flirtation

You offer tart compliments,

topped with a dollop of cream:

I eat them up and lick my lips.


—Elizabeth Young


Unbinding


What I used to hold

as myself,

turned out to be a chrysalis.

Now it split open.

An old woman is emerging,

unbinding herself

with unhurrying care.

She will unfurl her crumpled rags,

harden them into wings.


—Yana Kane


The Dawn of Civilization


I appear, then you.

That this has turned

from me to we,

the sharing is implicit.


—Cliff Henderson


The New Wave


Well,

if we’re gonna

Put up with gonna

Perhaps there’s hope

For

Irregardless


—Anthony G. Herles


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