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Chronogram Poetry | January 2020

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Ekphrastic Poem

Andy Warhol Exhibit at the Whitney
January 17th, 1998

Shall we say that it's great?
Let's say it's great.
It's great!
—p


Blackberry



As a blackberry falls
Off the edge of a cliff
At the end of a long road
By the city in a cloud
You may hear a soft whir
That you think not of twice
But if you desire to listen to it
Instead it’s a voice, strong and clear
A mother wrapping her newborn
In sheets of fine linen
The needle and thread sewing
The dress of bright red
And the unfathomable excitement
Of the white gown strolling down
Down the red carpet
The happiness and sorrow
The love and the joy
From the first lick of air
To the last peaceful breath
Is the magnificent journey
To the city in the clouds
Where we will all go
To watch the blackberries grow

—Spencer Watson Seupel (1990-2012)
Spencer wrote this poem when he was 14.


Conjuring

Consider the heat off our bodies—
that which comes from the body
but is no longer the body itself.

A conjuring, an illusion
Made manifest.



My touch, not to be held.
The last, my fingertips
On the crest of your shoulders.
Lightly, lightly.
Now away.

—Ken Holland


Physics

Here, in the hour before trees
abandon camouflage and begin
to reassemble lines and edges
to reflect a slumming sun,
it is true
that bodies at rest
tend
to stay at rest
until acted
upon by an outside
force.

Here, above a young hawk's flight
where atmosphere begins to tear
along the line between fur speck
and the gliding, hungry eye
it is true
that bodies in motion
tend
to stay in motion
until acted
upon by an outside
force.



Here, under faltering light
where the only sound leaks from glass
forced to bear the image
of our tedious approach and retreat
it is true
that motions in bodies
tend
to stay at rest
until acted
out upon an outside
force.

—Lee Russ


After You
for Pauline Uchmanowicz

The lap pool glistens aqua
Red and white race pennants,
Floats. It's summer in America.
Chlorine, lotion, shouts of Marco

Polo, splash and sink.
Bored teen lifeguard, spandexed mothers,
Sun-shrunk crones, that one
Strutting stud (there's always one).

Life, life, and so much life!
And you have left it. Water chokes.
I flip my body, dead man's float.
An underwater heartbeat thrums my ears.

I can't imagine you not running
Past. Cape Cod, salt water,
Words and worlds flow through me,
Yours. A chair, abandoned.

—Nina Shengold


Crossing Over

we were crossing the muddy delta
between Argentina and Uruguay
when you left your body

the girls perched in one of
the ferry's window wells
scanning the choppy horizon

people gather around the dying
the way we encircle newborns

with wonder and love and trembling

the layers of daily life
falling away
offered up like smoke

leaving something
softly blazing

we find ourselves upside down
in a new and strange land

i am on the phone with your
daughter and granddaughter
looking up at alien constellations

recalling your twinkle and
the personal finger wiggle wave
that made us all feel special

a star streaks across the sky
as if moved by an unseen finger

the next morning, we watch a troop of
hundreds of yellow butterflies
drift across the grass
towards the beach
like snow

in the afternoon, your
great granddaughters
play in the sand
the sun sliding
under the water

i feel you in their hearts

in all of our hearts

always the source and the center
even as you reach that
distant shore

—Jay Erickson


There Are Always Poems

Even on difficult days when
a close friend dies Things Happen
the way they do because life is when
Things Happen snow and
a strange woman falls then she gets up
we help get up she walks away
I go to the library to get
More Books always More Books
reading small miracle of life
reading has always saved me because
No Matter What life is stories. Even poems.

—Esther Cohen


Remembering Something from Childhood

Out of the past, whatever
was remembered earlier,
now forgotten, little thing
briefly recalled, but,

seemingly so significant,
certain to be remembered
later, old memory
gone again.

—Matthew J. Spireng


Across the Street From Where I Live

Near the water; there. It's the river.
Earth's liquid veins. Bloodlines spring and sponge
Through fabled rills, whose source seems blessed far
Away, God, as these streaming thoughts
Build me bold as banks, bayous, bodies
Of water, whose equations are known
To equal one, just one; all for one.

Shadows river green. Shining rocks clack.
This river is not for touching. Things
It cannot do: it cannot sustain life.
We know now. We're knowing memories.
G.E. flushes through me; forgiving.
I am not poison. I pray. The river sings
As ever, and ever brings me here.

We wonder in color. Polished stones
Make waves. Sometimes, it is ducks aligned.
Look, generations! Right? Call delight
Here, on the way to understanding.
Whatever this is dances about
Bird's swoop and our river's distance.
Relations plait; physics plays in kind.

Birdsong tinsels our burbling current.
This tree, young as she is, sees a fish
On hind legs; studies roots exposed.
Leaves natter. A trim of trees garden.
Earth gives a lawn's eye look at pavement.
Everything appears breathing; still
Held, touched. Hey. On my way. Home soon.

—Jeffrey van de Visse


The Slick Slope

My husband signs us up for Ski Patrol
(without telling me)
and I find myself
learning CPR and to backboard head injuries.

I study snow conditions:
black ice, powder, Sierra cement, the danger
of tree wells.

Our children join us on their diminutive skis.
My husband is too fast for us
and we can never keep up. I stay with the kids
and he shushes off
to the black diamond run.

There goes their father zig-zagging
down the fault line,
not a care in creation it seems.

I’m only on Ski Patrol in name. I mostly rescue
the family. I help behind the scenes.
I’m not out there in front risking.
I never know when
I could take a spill.

—Cathryn Shea


The Empty Glass

I’ll pour myself a drink tonight,
while out of sight—a champagne clink
to think of you and everywhere you’ve gone.

The droplets on my water glass
will make up the moments passed,
and glue together every smashed open bottle of wine.

I seem forever doomed to spill,
on the rocks at midnight talks and still
I find it hard to walk and your soul hard to fill.

—Kira Hall


the hummingbirds left
all the faded dead flowers
and winter for me

—John Kiersten


grape seed oil
reminds me of my mom
she would always tell me
to rub it on something

but i can't remember if it was a burn or a cut
or maybe a blister or dry skin

i miss her

—Wayne Memmer


Second Warning to a Young Poet

When you read the words of others that are better than your words,
and that you know in your mind of minds, are better,
you will know jealousy, envy and spite.
They will churn in the pit of your stomach,
and you will want to bring up jealousy, envy and spite
like phlegm and spit jealousy, envy and spite
into the faces of everyone you meet.
You will want to stop your own words from coming.
You will want to bury yourself in the earth.
You will want to crawl on your belly on the ground
and crawl into a dark fissure deep in the earth.
You will want to jump into the sea, from the stern of a ship, in the fog.
You will want to shave your head down to skin.
You will want to rend your favorite blue shirt.
You will want to cut off your right thumb.
You will want to drink cheap red wine until it gurgles back up into your throat.
You will want to curse the moon when it is full and when it is gone.
You will write the first of many poems about writing your last poem.
You will want to be martyred, shot through and through with pens.
You will want to take up golf.

—J.R. Solonche


Final Phoenix

He sits with the heat on and the windows open.
He smokes the pluming black wind of depression.
He drinks the poisoned oceans of regret.

She carries the stale fragments of hope.
She dances with hells of unintentional grief-stricken compassion.
She bears the weight of cosmic creation.

They follow the figurine ideals of freedom.
They anguish through the leap.
They love throughout within the onslaught of fear.

We choose.

—D. Burnstone

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