Chronogram Poetry | February 2019 | Poetry | Hudson Valley | Chronogram Magazine

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Chronogram Poetry | February 2019


Last Updated: 03/18/2019 10:41 am
There is only you and me
There are no others


I'm 10 years old and I want answers.
Is there a Santa or not?

—Zachary Sumpter (10 years)

Swimming Backwards

I dive in and it’s already last week
April snow’s left the pool empty, just

my two arms reaching, arcing, melting into
water like the snow into ground, by

lap three, it's three Augusts ago
and I’ve spent almost all of it gliding

across that free pool on Maui, looking up
through my goggles: Plumerias streak falling

the great steady arms of a Banyan and Louie
the lifeguard sleeping in the roots of the tree, I turn

into fourteen again and I’m doing backstroke with Wendy
it’s the thick, green Pacific and summer’s above us, out to the pontoon and back

through the warm pool of my Mother, wriggly skeleton, flesh
and the gene that sent my Grandfather sailing

for that great belt of horizon, then his ancestor’s
ancestor—the first to bind sticks together, daring,

to finally, lose sight of land. And
I can keep swimming, backwards I’m crawling

across sand ground fresh from volcanoes,
into something more like soup than ocean,

leg’s become one sleek muscle,
no more need to surface for breathing

I dream the clear dreams of amebas, then single
cells, and then, once again, I’m one with the sea.

—Mary Angeles Armstrong

The Tests

My dear friend of nearly forty years tells me
on the phone about being part of an interview team,
to find the best candidate to run for an important
political office in her voting district. She likes
one woman in particular, a person who has
the fire in her belly, has the smarts, enough experience
to compete and win. "Oh, by the way," Marcy says,
"I have brain cancer. They are going to drill
a hole in my skull, insert a stent, use it as a delivery port.
I start chemo next week."
Then she tells me how
her car didn't start the week before,
turned out to be a bad battery,
a surprise, since the car was just two years old.
"I guess you never know about cars," Marcy tells me,
"when something might go wrong."
I agree, mumbling a one-word answer, other words
choking in my throat. Finally, I am able to say:
"How did you find out?"
"Oh," she says, "the mechanic at the garage told me.
He ran some tests."

—Thomas Bonville

This Poem Isn’t About Olives

i think
about the things in my life i’ve left behind.
pace around my kitchen,
holding my breath.
will myself to open the dusty cabinet doors and
maybe make myself something to eat.
the jars of pickles, soups, olives
i’ve never touched.
i don’t like olives, i think to myself,
why did i buy these?
pimento was my favorite word as a child,
“the seed of the olive,” i said once, while my mother laughed.
she ripped the pimentos out of the olives for me,
the only part i liked,
let me consume them,
it felt destructive.
i can’t get the damn lid off the olives.
i look out of the window
at the gray sky
mindlessly turning the top to the olives,
until, to my surprise, they open.
i pinch an olive between my fingers,
rip the pimento out,
taste childhood again,
and take a bite of the fleshy skin.
i still hate olives,
as i think about the things in my life i’ve let in,
you, olive(s).

—Tori Phillips

We loved with a love that was more than love.
—Edgar Allan Poe

This is my last chance to set it straight.
I shall not lie forevermore.
Mendacity seems to be my fate, as before
I shall summon my tell-tale heart.

I shall not lie forevermore.
A scribe earns his living by telling lies.
I shall summon my tell-tale heart as before.
Her loving came as no surprise.

A scribe earns his living by telling lies.
We were happiest by the sea.
Her loving came as no surprise.
I was beguiled by a trusting child.

We were happiest by the sea.
Her beauty was her darkness, I never told.
I was beguiled by a trusting child.
I was innocent and yet she made me old.

Her beauty was her darkness, I never told.
Mendacity seems to be my fate.
I was innocent and yet she made me old.
This is my last chance to set it straight.

—Laurie Byro


Simple. Naive.
Like that raised
ranch we lived in,
owned, but never
took possession of,
too little to grasp
hold on, not enough
of interest to decorate
yourself into, but game,
you know, full of protection,
lumpy comfort, good for dogs and cats,
people over seventy out of place in anything
near to contemporary, who gave in to nature alone,
didn't have to look for more, who said, yes, we stop here
and the world goes round and round without our pushing it,
we spin, not like tops, but like warm wool, yarned for the future.

—Leo Vanderpot

There is a poem that stalks and evades me.
I do not know its words, can't remember
Whether I read it a long time ago,
Or it is me who is trying to write it.

I am not sure what it is about.

I think a wolf might live in it somewhere;
I saw her tracks in the grainy snow.
I nearly glimpsed her face in the shadows
Peering at me from behind the birches.

I hear the burbling of running water
Crisscrossing the silence,
The sudden clatter
Of a woodpecker's exuberant drum roll.
I smell wet bark.
The sap must be rising.
Decay and growth are fermenting together.
It's early spring in a faraway forest.

Do not torment me like this, I beg you!
I am worn out by the chase and the longing
For that spring in that watchful forest,
For that moment when words surrender.

—Yana Kane

Whatever You Do Don’t Stop

I like to look at you when you’re driving,
not to make sure you’re paying attention
but to see the way
the wind blows
your hair back,
like the way it
probably looked
when you’d hum into the fan
when you were seven,
hoping to make your voice sound different,
to see the way the night sky adds
stars to kind eyes,
to see your hands beat to a rhythm
you’d play on the drumset your parents
probably bought you for Christmas,
I turn away only to listen to you sing along
to songs on the radio,
turning down the music to make sure
your voice doesn’t stay wrapped
underneath the song,
like the only gift
I have ever wanted to

—Sara Cerabino


Ella sings of losing
a little yellow basket.
I bet she wanted a Creole daughter who
would cross the river barefoot
to search for her basket.

I would've woven a basket and shown
I can scat and swing with her.
My mother the chanteuse wouldn't have
left me behind on the creole island.

We'd sit by the river holding hands
the basket full of
sugarcane, passionfruit, ripened mangoes
would be between us.

—Jerrice J. Baptiste


Off the rushing

Your mind is such
A flutter, fluttering,

Come back
Come back

To the pure water
And go, upstream.

—Thom Cooney Crawford

Scent of dried
sage burning,

breeze blown
wind chimes;

a remembrance of
friends now gone.

           for Tom N

—Alan Catlin

City Life II

I was listening to
          the bells,
And looking at the
          naked baby,
While pulling along my
          hand truck,
When you came by with
          your roller skates.

—Bob Grawi

How to walk on water

Take a day in January
mix in a bit of upstate New York
and shake well.

Men who stare
at holes in ice
tell you
all you need to know—
they're biting—
they're not biting.

Those who wish
they were retired
and had a place in
you never meet any
nice girls on a windy lake
in winter,
even if you can walk on water.

—John Blandly

A Different Order of Gravity

The air is alive. Pushed
back into the near future,
it is pressure, a faint
hazy patch of light
penetrating the dust. It lifts
chunks of spine. It is alive like
a bison's shoulder hump.

Everything is alive.
Sitting in the church's graveyard,
a priest nods at the tombstones.

Everything is alive in a vast, burnt-out place.

The Earth is alive.
It is a rotting floor of a gym.
Stripped away for salvage,
it is the shadow of Chernobyl,
a radioactive wonderland,
a blue white glow of virtual vodka
frantically beeping like a blade
of rusting earth, the galactic center
of interstellar dust.

Meandering rivers long like neural spines.
The color of chaparral and pine so crisp green.
Roughly chopped, fresh as watercress and lemon rind.

Just circular velocity in crystalline spheres.
The whole fabric. The vicissitudes of life.
Our daily study in the constellations shared
over the embers of tradition.

Vital breaking, moving like a primeval wheel.

—George Payne

As Though My Heart Would Burst

How long ago was it I felt this first—
Sometimes I feel as though my heart would burst

—Christopher Porpora

Grammar Lesson: To, Two, Too

Stay with her
because she wants you to
because she's only two
because you too may be afraid someday
when she is in another room
and seems so far away.

—Sydna Altschuler Byrne

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