Poetry | November 2022 | Poetry | Hudson Valley

if it’s lightning
and it’s thunder
how far am I?

The still spot

There’s a still place in my brain that’s growing
Like a puddle or a pupil, and I wonder
What undulating mists disappear there?
Lately I stare, blurring my eyes on purpose,

And try to undo the name of everything
of its existence.
So I don’t have to worry.
I don’t need to know that I care

If that’s my face in the mirror.
My room is a square;
It is a form; it’s four lines; it has been erased.
There is only time.

When the slow sun finally rolls over the ledge
The motionless stain darkens,
Provocative like the wind through a candle flame.
There’s nothing like morning flattening.

My arms have become such numb patches of skin.
Two strings of dough
putting themselves in parentheses,
Pushing into my pillow,

Frame my head.
Ah, to be born again!
There’s a still place in my brain that’s growing.
This paper is getting thinner

—Jennifer Wise

Shorter days and colder nights

At 12, I behaved strangely, skating uphill in winter
or roll summer swimmers in the pool.
I was a kid with a village to do, a tree

enjoy. Through a mirror I searched
for the lips – the good life needed a theme song,
conjured up in a carriage shed. It was my duty

to always play with it, to make it run in petting zoos.
From childhood I learned to place the light
between the gray medals and how to check the trees

for Asian beetles. My mother taught me to sew,
and it saved my sanity. Mama opened up for me
Like a gift ’cause I grew up too worried

to burn himself to feel deep remorse.
Instead, I felt like a reluctant but loud crusader
for the shorter days and colder nights of fall.

Just when I went walking into the fall,
for now the silver looked like gold. I walked
on a blue horizon, where paradise was formed

apples as enchanting as stones of hope.
Against all odds, I caught a magical daydream
without hands: I just fell on it!

—Cliff Saunders

A little love

A little love hides in the bushes
Leaps when you least expect it
Or stuff you silently in the night
Tickle your nose with his cold, wet nose.

Some love buzzes in the background
Pleasant white noise until you turn it up
Your favorite song.

Some like you to ask straight
“Would you like to be friends?”

A little love must be toasted in a cast iron
Cooked at 375
Until the heat oxidizes the caramel
Crystals that stick in your molars long after you swallow.

A love speaks a secret language
One word unlocks another encrypted me
Completely realized after months or years of sleep.

A little love fortifies you in an armor of steel
Feeds you the melodies of Appalachia
While the world rages outside
But time and rain rust the hinges
Trapping you until you summon the force
To explode: naked, alone, new.

A love picks you a bouquet of wildflowers
your favorite
You keep them on your desk until they dry
Scatter pollen everywhere
Then you throw them on a brush pile
Knowing they will come back.

—Isabelle Kosmacher

They grew from seeds pressed in thimble pots
twenty-five years ago,
abreast of the windowsill views of swirling snow and vibrant leaves,
splashing children,
birds in flight.

Nine cacti, arrows and knots,
tolerate clumsy hands and watering nozzles.
Cobwebs and cat fur sweaters adorn them,
create delicate auras
punctuated with eight-pointed stars.

They endure,
getting thicker in the middle
dry down.
Discover new panoramas and neighbors, a majestic river
and fiery sunsets that sizzle as they slip behind the palisades.

Their needles intertwine, a kind of safety net
for their silent community
of shared existence and vigilant observation
amidst the constant progression of time.

—Lisa Kosa


It’s not really clear
what is my intention,
although you can discuss
it is intended to be so,

but frankly it’s not
the case. i could start
not knowing where i am
go, but it becomes

gradually clear.
I intend to
become clear – to me,
yours. Here, however,

if it was really
clear from the start
that I intended to define
vague endlessly,

so maybe, instead,
it should be called
disengagebut really now
is not it

a completely different

—Matthew J. Spireng

The rain came late and other cynical thoughts

Suppose it thundered last night and you woke up scared like you were a child. It took you a while to remember where you were, alone in a bed, like you were a child. There had been a drought, the rain came late, or not at all. A wildfire swept across the ridge and was ignited silently by storm lightning. And you slept, and others slept. What did you do yesterday to participate in this calamity, or to put an end to it?

Let me take that into account for you. It’s beyond civic duty so I don’t blame. I’m going to ship it. Maybe it’s a mandate, maybe it’s a vocation, a vocation as a writer. And you are somewhere else, in the garden composting or harvesting sunflowers.

The storm has passed and we continue to live. As long as we do not welcome our participation in the end of the calamity. What we have done is not enough.

—Carol Bergman

Poetry has been purged

Haven’t been here in a while it might be
I just misremember where the poetry section
is located. I thought it was an alley behind
science fiction, yet I went back and forth
across the store three times.
My conclusion: poetry has been purged.

I should walk to this attractive
honey haired salesman and asks
talk to a manager. But my supernatural
tendency to avoid confrontation
probably only make me wise and boring.

Let’s say I go all the way, though, and find
face to face with a manager.
Am I ready to accept the possibility
people don’t read poetry anymore?
Would he learn that it was an albatross around
head office neck cut
in profits appease me?

Man, I could use a little poetry right now.

—Ted Millar

No excuses

I have a wheelbarrow.
It’s not red.
Few things depend on it.
I don’t have any chickens.
My neighbor has chickens.
They make a mess of my mulch.
They shit like crazy on my walk.
I would like it to rain.

—JR Solonche


It goes both ways
This brine and rolling trash
A habitat,
Swollen by heat and time
We walk on tiptoe
every day
try not to touch too much
and drown
And maybe,
feet up,
advance the estuary somewhere
a little

—Cole Sletten

What about him? (Saint John alone)

Lately I’ve been out
The pockets of my memory;
Y’all are museum faces now,
Dark washes of hazy yellow oil,
Plaster identities collapsed beneath
Imitations of beloved artists.
(Well, at least they or they are also stolen.)
Lately, I have breathed;
At night, that’s all I do.
Dreams, swollen maudlin,
Waltz with that little tongue of fire-
Drunken hope and pathetic glory,
Hand in hand with a lung for each.
Lately I’ve been taking nights off
work, prayer,
(If there is still a difference.)
In my free time, I write postcards.
Sometimes I send them home
With one year for the address,
And when they come back undelivered
I just burn them and pretend.
Grace has become a bet,
Faith, a stale wine movie,
But lately I’ve been repeating your names,
So I still have reasons to stay.

—Emily Murnane

When I’m lost

Sometimes when I’m lost and tired,
and the wind has left my sails;
The night comes in robes of sadness,
bringing with it storms and gales.
So gently I launch my lifeboat,
striving to head towards the earth,
hoping that the One will see;
and take me in his loving hand.

—Donny Kass

Good intentions

I knew my friend would be
embarrassed too.
She scolded herself in the car on her way home.

And we were each working through our
own useless shame—
born of good intentions.
She goes with
and me,
the side of the bowl,
put back in the bag.

—Lea S. Brickley

I know a domain

I know a field where the sun always shines
Golden when the world is gray
golden in the morning
Before the sun hits the pines
Golden again at the end of the day.

When the mountain darkens
And the towering trees no longer shine
My meadow is still, but turns
Rays that turn straw into gold.

—B. Moore Colombo

About Christopher Rodgers

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