New England Lyric by Chloe Honum


In group, when the counselor sets a big pad
of paper on an easel at the front of the room
and asks each of us to write

an inspiring quote or lyric,
I go with All you need is love,
which I think of as

a question, a true or false.
Don’t worry, be happy,
writes the smiley young teacher

whose meds are dangerously off.
And the Vietnam vet offers
Take this job and shove it,

which he swears is one of the best
sentences he’s ever said.
O steep, gray hills of New England.

O teenager balling up his apron
mid shift on a Friday night, so he could go
dancing at The Showboat.

O early spring—the stiff mud
that makes a fleshy sound
as I run through it at dusk,

afraid of my voice, its new
slipperiness with words, echoes, windows.
O cold, dicey blooms.



Chloe Honum grew up in Auckland, Aotearoa New Zealand. Her first book, The Tulip-Flame (2014), was selected by Tracy K. Smith for the Cleveland State University Poetry Center First Book Prize, named a finalist for the PEN Center USA Literary Award, and won Foreword Reviews Poetry Book of the Year Award, the Eric Hoffer Award, and a Texas Institute of Letters Award. She is also the author of a chapbook, Then Winter (Bull City Press, 2017). Chloe has been a guest poetry editor for the Pushcart Prize anthology, and her poems have appeared in such journals as The Paris Review, Poetry, Orion, and The Southern Review.