Poetry | January 2022 | Poetry | Hudson Valley | Chronogram Magazine

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Poetry | January 2022

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Last Updated: 01/03/2022 10:49 am
The Secrets of the Universe

Poets don’t make good outfielders.
In little league I would hold the
Borderlands of the game like
A dandelion weed that the groundskeepers missed,
Ready to blow away with any errant gust of wind.
One time, Charlie and I wandered away completely,
Pursuing some ineffable archaeology in the next park over
Before my father corralled us back like
Loose hens in the barnyard.
Poets are often lost because they see
Many worlds latticed together in quantum superposition
Like Hart Crane, with his lone jeweled eye,
A “glowing orb of praise,”
Fixated on some obscure heaven
He struggled to recollect to his hell on earth.
Or PK Dick, who saw a double exposure of
70 AD Rome over 1974 Santa Ana
Because the Empire never ended.
Poets are the schizoid private investigators
Out to expose the many nefarious crimes
Of the Demiurge.
Filling overstuffed filing cabinets with documents and evidence
Going all the way back to when the Archons first created History
And dressed it up as Time.
How do you find the secrets of the universe?
Go down to the River and listen
To the 10-dimensional symphony playing
On unimaginably tiny loops of string
That a consciousness like ours emerges from
As so many varied leitmotifs.
The sound of riverwater called forth by gravity,
Like quiet thunder,
Is the growl of a faraway god
And lost words,
Aching to be heard.

—Quentin Mahoney

Egg Sandwich

He handed me a sandwich,
small and loosely wrapped
like a truffle,
twisted top and silver foil glinting.
I like perfect toast—soft and crispy,
with a few chosen edges charred.
Weakened by butter, inspired by pepper,
and comforted by the fluff and fold of egg.
Was it the savory confection that nourished me really?
Or was it the unguarded tear in the eye
of this stranger not so strange,
a crumb of connection leavened by human love.

—Anna Keville Joyce

Fish Guys

I stole a glass at Fremont Brewery
but it’s patroned by Jeff Bezos
so I didn’t feel that bad.
In the car I treegazed, glass-eyed.
My friends said let’s buy salmon,
from somewhere Not Pike Place.
And in the corner of Not Pike Place,
a shop that barely fit its line,
a man impersonated Elvis.
We had decisions to make—
which fish and how much fish—
while Elvis sang Sweet Caroline
too loud for us to hear each other.
We sang along when he pointed to us,
interrupting our deliberation,
so we could emulate the horn section,
a little miffed when we remembered
that Elvis never sang that song.
We grilled the fish on cedar planks
because that’s authentic.

—Tim Knapp

With Mountains Like These

and not a breath in sight,
I am never really alone.
I pulled over and turned the ignition,
leaving the car stranded on the shoulder.
With crisp leaves, breathing
in the breeze, I am not alone.
I have the company I wish to keep.
No more, no less. The road behind
me disappearing, the trail ahead
widening, no longer such a steep
climb. I feel my least lonely
when I am most alone.
Taylor Steinberg

But Essence

But essence often rises to the lips—
And this I find impossible to miss

Christopher Porpora

Surviving Auschwitz

First, take away all of the grass.
Eat every blade as they did.
Spit out only mud.
Pull up all the poplars, pines and birches
By their bloodied roots.
If a tree is old enough
Strip its branches,
Of anything like life.
No sound as wind
Passes through it.
A skeleton against the sky.
Return the throngs of students
Who enter jostling and teasing,
Their faces mirroring their phones,
Their hearts numb with noise,
To the uneasy wombs
From which they sprung.
Take the reeds from the ash pond
And all the tossed flowers
And that goose pimpled water too.
An ash pit is what it is,
The earlier souls caked and crusty,
The latest dusting away
Towards the wire.
No pictures allowed.
Pull them down from the walls
In that lonely building
Where the lucky ones
Come to lose their names
And gain the tattoos
That will remind them
Of who they really are.
Rebuild the nearby barracks that
Hold all the keepsakes—
Not the most valuable ones
Already stolen by
The skilled and the greedy—
But the many useful things,
Shawls and pots, fur and leather,
That can be repurposed
By the strong hands of German women
In this terrible time of scarcity.
Banish the emptiness and the quiet,
And the red deer leaping over
Burnt bricks
And the birds
Nesting above the ditches.
Make it all noise
All dogs and men
Snarling and barking.
Fill the empty towers
With the bewildered
And the cruel
Who clutch their whips and guns
And pretend not to see.
Do nothing to the crematoriums.
Leave them
Caved in ruins
Breathe in the stench
Of panic, of bodies drenched in the sweat
Vomit and fear
That will never go away.
And then, at last,
If you decide to survive Auschwitz
Put it all back
To the way it is now.
Sit alone on the selection platform
And chant their names and ages
Slowly, day after day,
Their names are being carried
By these winds
To all the realms.

Kemp Battle

Postcolonial Bed-Stuy

This is the place: a stretch of rubberized flat roofs among which the occasional broken geranium pot familiarly surfaces. Between the asphalt-shingle temples, the hipster-shabby art galleries and the dignified projects runs the road, guarded by the reliable China-berry trees and wild Lilacs [the only native plants left are overgrown Redbuds]. In the opposite direction, the immutable Crown Heights plain stretching down to the whiteness of the south sea. On the west, the tortuous London Plane trees of the Hill of Clinton try to surround the brownstones, then suddenly stop short, refuse such a role and, turning back to the east, run past the sinister Myrtle Avenue—so despised by Henry Miller—and get lost in the River.... And yet the London Planes are beautiful enough when they come rushing down from the Bushwick highlands in the east.

—Diego Antoni

A Woman of Three Ways

Her body looms tall thin college age glass
Character in a body of left frames
Inside body the line a see-through hint
Napkins get wet body sweat and sand
He speed bumped hard over her
A broad body of water and marriage
Small branched blond hair body arms and one leg
Her thin railing body gave way to divorce
Body pedestal bed other language
Later she will bend down in ballet soft foam

—Vanessa Smith

Sonnet of the Blackbird

The eye of the blackbird
in which there are three blackbirds.
In the autumn winds, whirled the blackbird.
One? A man and a woman and a blackbird.
The just-after blackbird? Or the whistling blackbird?
The shadow of an indecipherable blackbird.
Haddam’s thin men are not blackbirds.
You’ve got rhythm, lucid, inescapable blackbird.
One of many circles was the blackbird.
Cry out sharply, you bawds of blackbirds!
Connecticut’s glass is equipped with barbaric blackbirds.
The flying river moves like a blackbird.
In the cedar-limbs sat the snowy blackbird.
Baked into a pie sang four and twenty blackbirds.

—J. R. Solonche

Basic Problem

Water freezes at 32 degrees Fahrenheit.
The studs are always 16’’ inches apart.
At least one person who’s friended you
will get a DWI sometime pretty soon.
The clavicle is the most commonly broken
bone in the body. Blood is quite slippery.
Golden bower birds build very large shelters.
Postal rates will keep going up, forever.
Hydrogen is the simplest element.
The most irritating knucklehead you know
will keep annoying you mightily
until one of you dies or leaves town.
These are facts, pure and simple.
You’d think we’d learn to base opinions
on clear, solid, irrefutable truths like these.
But no; we don’t. See title of poem.

George J. Searles

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