Online Exclusive

Three Poems
In Ancient October

Ochre’s small plank

                         of moon-lit 

resemblance        ghost  fire warming 

            knuckles and bones 

then a brief loss,

 waffled       shadow releases

              thistles by moonlight

/refinery wall

                this year’s vestments

under stars’


sparks fall’s recluse omens

               how the world

is a stranger

         its rags even torn  

                 under stone’s notice  

 tindered wet notion

             in tinctures  of color 

          edged by wind

               we save
                             what we can: foster
                        the leave’s  cold  history



 To sit with you
 among the starlings,
 yellow-eyed,  their
  paths hieroglyphic, and
 throw some crumbs our way.

 Delayed heartbeat
 in the pistil
 waiting under snow,
 this small economy of need.

How the earth loves
 fullness and resolve; here,
 where jasmine’s pungent
 sweetness fills the room,
 from here we’re missing

 like a pair of lamps,
 lighting  her tousled
 hair reaching his pillow;
 his hand reaching toward
 her fragrance once again.

 A rough diamond underground,
 a sheen beneath
 our longing, questions, vows.
 Simple how lives
 double, paths narrow
 to a declivity of hours.



“Still, the beginnings were promising.”
—Eva Hoffman

Trees’ transit
in season,
obdurate longing
ties a string
from one stone’s
heart to location,
sea-green luster of insistence.

Heart of leaves,
heat of clouds,
filled with canker and ruin.
You rush past disasters,
asking yourself
what to save.

Nothing innocent or free
of the stain of removal/
worlds trapped
between decree. Let it not happen here.

Let light have its purpose,
intention its motive:
What fount flows
at our feet?
What crime stands down?
Bone-white reckoning,
quills of air enshrouded.

The world is
kindled and burning,
respite breathed
By candles’ slow shining.

Maxine Chernoff is a professor of Creative Writing at San Francisco State University and a 2013 NEA Fellow in poetry. She is the author of six books of fiction and sixteen books of poetry. Her latest book, Under the Music, is a collection of prose poems from MadHat Press. In fall of 2016 she was a Visiting Writer at the American Academy in Rome.