Poetry | December 2021 | Poetry | Hudson Valley | Chronogram Magazine

Arts & Culture » Poetry

Poetry | December 2021

Edited By

comment
What Is Your Number?

Jeremy Richman: neuroscientist, martial artist, haiku poet.
Posted poems Fridays on Facebook: “What is your number?
When will your heart be broken? Mine is 12/14.”
That day, daughter Avielle died at Sandy Hook Elementary.

Posted poems Fridays on Facebook: What is your number?
20 children, 6 educators, massacred on December 14, 2012.
That day, daughter Avielle died at Sandy Hook Elementary.
He created with his wife Jennifer, the Avielle Foundation.

20 children, 6 educators, massacred on December 14, 2012.
Such a shock, “like the world is spinning and you are not.”
He established with wife Jennifer, the Avielle Foundation.
Purpose: to study brain health, how it relates to violent acts.

Such a shock, “like the world is spinning and you are not.”
People say they can’t imagine such horrors, but they must.
Purpose: to study brain health, how it relates to violent acts.
If you imagine, Jeremy said, “You’ll be motivated to take action.”



People say they can’t imagine such horrors, but they must.
A radio host called it a hoax; a plot to take away guns.
If you imagine, Jeremy said, “You’ll be motivated to take action.”
Every mass shooting they cried, grief engraved in their faces.

A radio host called it a hoax; a plot to take away guns.
Claims that Avielle was alive and living in town.
Every mass shooting they cried, grief engraved in their faces.
“Jen and I just sit and bawl, it would hit us so hard.”

Claims that Avielle was alive and living in town.
Charleston, San Bernadino, Orlando, Las Vegas, Parkland.
“Jen and I just sit and bawl, it would hit us so hard.”
Pittsburg, Thousand Oaks. “I feel like we’re letting it happen.”

Charleston, San Bernadino, Orlando, Las Vegas, Parkland.
“Newtown should have changed everything,” he said.
Pittsburg, Thousand Oaks. “I feel like we’re letting it happen.”
March 2019: Three suicides in a week; two Parkland teens.

“Newtown should have changed everything,” he said.
To get through each day, he looked for something beautiful.
March 2019: Three suicides in a week; two Parkland teens.
Then Jeremy succumbed to grief, 3/25. Hearts broken.

To get through each day, he looked for something beautiful.
“When will your heart be broken? Mine is 12/14.”
Then Jeremy succumbed to grief, 3/25. Hearts broken.
Jeremy Richman: neuroscientist, martial artist, haiku poet.



—Carol Shank

Memories of My Mother

Morning light
Filtering through
Blue blinds
As the sparrow awakens
And the pink flower blooms.

—Danielle Adams


The Wallkill

Rivers are not always postcard adornments.
The Wallkill is a muscled water-slab, mud brown,
Sluicing its opaque, dirty fist northward through
Onion fields, cornfields, pastures, oak stands and towns;
Past the block and brick skeletons of defunct industrial grounds;
Past the flat clay graveyards of villages, farms, and churches.
Always going north, it seems to overcome gravity, this dogged stream.
It does not stop to hiss and strike at the sewer plants and their stinkwater.
It plaits its sinews over rock bottoms in Gardiner;
Across clay, sand, and sludge, through New Paltz;
then north to Rifton, where the Wallkill and the Rondout
Embraid and roil on to Kingston, first capitol of New York State.

Colored like cheap coffee with skim milk,
Who’d guess how much lives in her brawny coils?
I have seen this sullen mud-walker
moving its slow, implacable hand across broad flats,
Pocked with emergent caddis and dobson flies,
Slashed by the saltation of minnows.
It is dark, haunted, sinister and old in
Turbid pools shaded by giant swamp willows.

In flood times the river goes from docile and pastoral
to monstrous, brute, and calamitous over night
Her banks surrender to towering water and the engorged flow
steals Black Dirt onions from thirty miles south to plant them
In New Paltz as puzzles for walkers in low water times:
“What plants thee here, Onion, in this muddy wet wood?”

In June, afloat in my boat in dreamy summer afternoons,
Giant flying carp have crashed like plank-walking buccaneers
Right at my side! To smash my trolling oarsman’s reverie,
To fill my nose with the smell of live water.
I’ve hauled up brawny, fierce smallmouth in gold, green, and brown suits
where flooding, side creeks pay the Wallkill their tributes.
Big-headed white catfish I’ve caught by the dozen -
They start to bite soon as the river’s unfrozen.

Past Eddyville’s falls where the Rondout goes tidal
Here, striped bass glut on herring—a hunt since times primal.
Blue heron, taking flight, do their shitaquart thing:
It helps them to unload just as they take wing. Here are
Water snakes, snapping turtles, beavers and weasels,
Black-crowned night herons, more stealthy than regal.
Meadows of loostrife, here and there teasel,
Border this dark flood, brighten its easel.



Too much funk of human taints the Wallkill and Rondout,
But these valiant rivers do their stubborn best
To keep the carp in and to strain the crap out.
The two creeks bring spring floods of soil to the flats
Where corn reaches seven feet and pumpkins grow fat.
Yeah, the Wallkill’s no silver-bright, sparkling trout stream
But she’s got in guts what she lacks in gleam.

—Frank Malley

Getting to Woodstock 1969 and Back
It wasn’t difficult if you knew
to steer clear of main roads
where traffic was backed up for
miles, had the sense to find
the least traveled ways on a
detailed map, pile in the car
on Saturday morning when all the
radio announcers were saying to
stay away, and follow the map
down one back road after another
until on the last one that led to Yasgur’s Farm
cars started to appear parked off the road
in increasing numbers. We parked and
got out, and when we asked the first couple
walking toward us how far to the concert,
they pointed and laughed and we learned
we were less than a mile away—no traffic jams,
no hassles at all.
Late that night when we
drove to the T intersection near the site to
turn around and go back the way we had come,
a cop stopped us, told us we
couldn’t go back that way because it was a
“one-way street.” He must have thought we were
city kids who’d believe such crap in the country.
When his back was turned, we turned
and left, no traffic jams, no hassles at all after that.

—Matthew J. Spireng


Mother Has Alzheimer’s (Dec. 25, 2019)

My mother lived in Rowley, Iowa
until they moved to Wyoming* in 8th grade.
They had two mules and a pony named Daisy.
The pony had a white nose and a white tail,
but was otherwise a reddish color.

They were ten kids in her class.
Some talked too much and had to stand in the corner.
Her dad was John R. Wilson.
He pitched hay with a fork
while she steered the mules.

The town had two grocery stores,
as well as a blacksmith shop.
A creek went through their property.
There were sometimes fish in it.
When they moved to Wyoming, Iowa,

they had to leave the pony behind.
Her aunt with polio visited them once,
with the strange dark uncle from the foundry.
Now she watches Home Alone
and roots for the little blonde boy.

* Wyoming, Iowa is a village in eastern Iowa with less than 500 inhabitants today. In 1940, it had about 750.

—Kirby Olson


Planting Garlic

These days the roads are strewn
with animal carcasses
and I meet many young girls
who say they are acupuncturists.

The leaves are drifting
from their array of greens to burnt umber
waiting for that swift wind
to decry their nakedness.

Soon the willow
that bestrides the creek
will have taken the turn
to golden yellow glow.

That sense of quiet haunting
and cool air
precedes the masked hours
of late October.

—Phyllis Segura

Pareidolia

Running on the beach
Otherworldly
In the mist

I see a man fishing
No, he is my father, reading
It is the angle of his arm that fools me

I am taken by this illusion
Bound by a spell
I never heard uttered

We always find faces
My son later clarifies
Where there are none

—Cyrus Mulready

Stone Cold

Let us like
take you
standing
in the glare
and—oh
only visible in pointed glare
depends on where there
settles crisscrossing
the path
planted with ice…
long and short of it
in black night
something innocent/defenseless
stops to stare
at the certainty
barreling its way.

—C. P. Masciola

Lame Huntress

I read an article about shame.
It asked if I had secrets.
The only secret I have is pretending someone normal lives here.
I took one bite off each strawberry.

But honestly, I can eat all I like.
They are mine, and they just keep driving more up from Mexico.

I asked my companion,
“How often do you think of ending things?”
He looked at me as though I were a fish in a tank, all wobbly and wide eyed.

Craft companionship and lifetime cocktails.

My old wire-haired cat stares at me and taps at my cheek.
His bowl is full, what else?
What else for the world?
My path? My time? My death?

Night blooms, early now.
Is there still a need to ask you how you’re doing?
The opposite of distraction.
Such a tight downward arc to your mouth.
So close to the wall.
The only sound is a blade on the paper.

I’ve gotten so tired.
Only the cyclic nature of my thoughts.
Only the cyclic nature of my thoughts.

—Mia Frisch


Telling

From the cliffs I dive
into a Gulliver version of me

swim down my gullet,
mine my own blood for gold.

Will I know the truth
when I taste it?

There’s always the itch
of tiny embellishments.

A dress I never wore,
skin I never lived in.

This time I want you to know
everything I know.

The wall behind you
has its patterns.

I fix my eyes there
until it opens

into forest and a
pathway leading back to me.

All I have to tell you
is exactly what I see.

—Mary Paulson

Add a comment

Latest in Arts & Culture