Chronogram Poetry | January 2019 | Poetry | Hudson Valley | Hudson Valley; Chronogram

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Chronogram Poetry | January 2019

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New Year's Eve

It's hard to have resolutions
When my life is so unresolved

—p

Dear A Formerly Dying Butterfly,

you were always the Fragile One.
When I was six
I named the Waterfall after your eventual death:
the falls of mortality.
Your wings would pulse a drumbeat
in steady rhythm
a Harmony with your breath,
skin folding like paper.
When you lay, wings broken,
I never knew how really
hurt
you were until you were mostly Whole again.
and now I can’t help but to clutch you
as close to my heart as I can,
my Butterfly.

—Lily Raper (13 years)

At Kummenlanke

At Kummenlanke the waters have unfrozen
after a week of prolonged sun.
I ladle my cupped hands. I drink
a long time. It tastes
like earth, stone, fire. It permeates my body
waking my bones and blood. I heed
their moaning question
oh—what is that marvelous thing
which just happened?

—Eliza Bishop Steinbacher

Hands

awoke to the warmth
of flesh,
pink and freckled
sunken into yesterday’s cup
cold and sweet

patiently waiting
for your hands
and my fair skin
to tumultuously meet

and here I am
pressed against a door
waiting for a cab,
maybe something more

but the sky is dark
as it should be—
and my eyes are dark
as they are

your hands
so pink and freckled,
cold and sweet and far

—Madison Brower

Take My Pride

I pay rent to this land, just like your great-grandfather did.
I crease my papers over again pacing outside the courtroom while
my children weep in a cage at some border town, south of
those purple mountains majesty we never reached.
Mountains that frame the path just beyond that desert
filled with the melodic drone of crickets
that, burrowing in the soft sand,
never let us forget, even for a night,
that our footsteps, that our very existence
is rogue.
That given half a chance, your government can and will,
eviscerate our dreams.
Those dreams we thought had half a chance to soar.
But now those
dreams
implode in this foreign town
where I’m still pacing, still wringing my papers and
staring outside at a pigeon,
willing it to carry my story, like a kernel of truth,
to your television sets,
and make you realize,
I pay rent just like you.
I’m just a little short this month.

—Stephanie Carter

Suddenly

Suddenly, spring doesn’t come.
Suddenly, the day lacks poise.
The sweet connection falls apart,
And what was song is noise.

This life is truly but a shadow.
Friends and love appear and fade.
Around us what seemed firm
Is frailty, and what shone bright is pale.

We lift our heads to meet the day
And what in dreams is dread
Awake is foggy, cold, and gray,
A warp of tangled thread.

I miss you now my heart’s sweet dream.
I miss you now forever.
But there is nothing to be done.
Alas, not now, or ever.

—James Lichtenberg

Calendar

In calendar rows a day is mapped with one
box, proceeding rightward, white, and straight.
Days lie, side by side in sevens, trapped. So, done:
the brunch, the job, the plans, in numbered date.

But ladies, men, those Quaker-gathered guests
are gems, who form a sacred quiet gift
who make a necklace of gentle, reverent breasts
linking bead, with bead, where spirits lift

to learn our days are jars, not square, not white,
preserving vivid scenes in a priceless sphere
holding nested gems in bowls, refracting light,
where colors from a fragile vase appear

Rectangled paper row? Bejeweled china bowl?
Know a death will come, may pulverize the whole

—Imogene Putnam

Evening Walk
Thank you. It ended
too soon but you made
a warm night warmer,
the sidewalk seem
softer, the streetlights
brighter, though not
so bright as your eyes
when I stole a glance
or two at them, and
you touched my arm
as you said goodnight
and sparked a small
shiver.

—Gregory Luce

A Pendulum for Amanda

When we die
I want our bones in a swinging casket
Loose and intermingling
rubbing up against one another
so that we are no longer distinguishable
or apart.
our edges rounded from the friction
like river rock smoothed over eternity
no corners or jagged edges
just each other without traits.
as unremarkable
as a handful of gravel
in the slender grasp of your graceful palm.
A shapeless resting place
For a love that replaced our need to be distinct.

—John Sullivan

Here's where we diverge
You to the liquor store
Me to the hotel lobby
A metal grate between my face and a bored hotel clerk
When she swiped my card her wrist flicked like the cool girls in high school.
Where are they now?
They are all working the midday shift at The Country Inn on Route 9.

Welcome to Fishkill, they say as they flick their wrists again and charge your card by the hour. Do you remember T?, they ask.
Do you remember how we danced at prom?
No and no.
The bells above the door jingle and you walk into the lobby,
A bottle under each arm, no bag in either hand.
A hotel hook-up.
Planned sometime between play dates and vaccinations.
Do you remember me? Do you remember how we fell in love?

—Melissa Akar

Breath & Brevity

Remember, you watched that leaf fall off the oak tree
in the yard outside the kitchen window in the house
that made you cry when you walked into it for the first time
because you knew you had dreamed it the night before?
You watched the leaf completely detach itself from the tree
then flutter, then fall to the ground.

There is a hard-won wisdom in witnessing.

You knew your life was half over,
you knew you were smarter for seeing it
but the damned leaf broke your heart because
you never imagined how long it would take
to stand inside that moment,
to watch the leaf make contact with the earth.
All these things you never noticed before
your half life was lived.

There is hard-won wisdom in witnessing.

The vertical space above your head seems to help
when you are on this second side of living.
High ceilings in the rooms you live in make the days more breathable.
No one thinks much of vertical space these days
but you know it helps to be able to hold your head
up high in the rooms that hold your life.

There is hard-won wisdom in witnessing.

—Lori Corry

The Emerald Isle Dance Hall

From the bridge in South Cairo
you can see it
the old Emerald Isle Dance Hall,
abandoned,
sagging over Catskill Creek.
It was quite the place, they said,
with the waltzes
the romance
the beer
the floorboards jumping in time to the music.

If you turn left onto 23B
and park on the shoulder,
you can cross the road
and find the building
partially hidden by massive trees.

The word SHAMROCK is barely visible on the wall
and an old neon sign DANCE hangs askew near the roof.
Where a wall has collapsed you can see the stage
backed by windows overlooking the creek.
Walk around to the porch where columns remain
and you can picture the gaiety
when bands like the Galway Blazers
made the air sing
on South Cairo’s summer nights.

—Sandra Dutton

Enough
If I were the waves
And you were the sand,
I would tease your massive arrangement
Forming and reforming
Provoking and persuading,
Pulverized to purify by constancy.
I would lie heavily over you
Pulverized to purify by constancy.

I would lie heavily over you
Dark and dense at night.

Still and silent.
Suffocating you with fluid swells,
Demanding and owning.
Only to release you through a third—the day’s sun,
To have you lucid and crystal by day,
Clear to your deepest depth,
Your needs and worry set free,
As I crash against you day and night to remind you,

I am here all around you
Quenching you,
Disturbing you
Loving you

—Peggy Bruen

The Gift

I said that I was happy.
They told me what to say.
The truth is I feel crappy.
Wear that? No friggin’ way!

—Rick Oestrike

After

After I die
And after a pause
You'll go back to do
Just what you did
Before I died.

—Ze'ev Willy Neumann

Mourning

Ellie sends me an article
about a Neo-Nazi who lived
on our street
and the fear gets closer again.

Reading the words
My stomach turns
And in one of the photos at an Alt Right rally,
I see a kid wearing a Mets hat.

The world is on fire.
Every small
noise I wonder if I'm next.
A sacrifice to the insanity.

A bouncer who saves
everyone gets
shot and killed
But the terrorist gets a neat typed up
report in which the responding

FBI officer states his credentials.

God is tired.
And the hands they used
to rock our crib have succumb to a
slumped over figure in the corner of the room.

We are losing.
We are losing.
Please wake up
Before anyone else has to die
Please now, we need you to wake up
And help us.

I flicker the lights and bang on the door
But there is no movement
Just 130 characters in which someone explains
why they hate a group of human beings
Just several images in which they depict
their deaths and the blood is pixilated and edgy.

Our own neighbor.
Our own little version of a reason
to flee in the middle of the night
And never return again.

—Henry M. McCarty

Grinch

I deleted you
The pictures, last Christmas too
Best holiday, you

—Meghan Sullivan

What about the Moon?

Full moon, block your eyes bright.
A crescent, a sliver…to small to be significant.
A half, a mathematical prediction of more.
Always pulling at the shore.
Tugging at waves of emotion running through the blood.
Circling back to nothing, then something, then nothing…

Strength in the subtlety of being close.
Open and shining but cozy with the darkness … hidden in day.
Seeking, seeking but with no destination required.
Tied imperceptibly and wrapped or rapt in the universe.
Revolving around each stronger force without judgment.
Hooked to others without fear.
Speaking volumes.  Whispering a blank page.

Instructions from every moon since…since before there was a since.
Telling us to be.  Just to be.
Always able to get there in dim light.
Finding ourselves without directions.
Reflecting my face in yours on this moon lit night.

—Sharon Breslau

The Backward Easel

In the fall I am your ladder
In the step of my father I am my son

He can see us blind
Truth shelves defiance

—J Sweet

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