Lost and Found

By Maxine Chernoff b. 1952 Maxine Chernoff
I am looking for the photo that would make all the difference in my life. It’s very small and subject to fits of amnesia, turning up in poker hands, grocery carts, under the unturned stone. The photo shows me at the lost and found looking for an earlier photo, the one that would have made all the difference then. My past evades me like a politician. Wielding a fly-swatter, it destroys my collection of cereal boxes, my childhood lived close to the breakfast table. Only that photo can help me locate my fourteen lost children, who look just like me. When I call the Bureau of Missing Persons, they say, “Try the Bureau of Missing Photos.” They have a fine collection. Here’s one of Calvin Coolidge’s seventh wedding. Here’s one of a man going over a cliff on a dogsled. Here’s my Uncle Arthur the night he bought the prize peacock. O photo! End your tour of the world in a hot air balloon. Resign your job at the mirror-testing laboratory. Come home to me, you little fool, before I find I can live without you.

Used with permission of the author.

Source: Leap Year Day (Another Chicago Press, 1990)

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Poet Maxine Chernoff b. 1952

POET’S REGION U.S., Midwestern

Subjects Social Commentaries, Popular Culture

Poetic Terms Prose Poem

 Maxine  Chernoff


Born and raised in Chicago, Maxine Chernoff earned a BA and an MA from the University of Illinois. Winner of the PIP Gertrude Stein Award for Innovative Poetry in 2006, Chernoff, in an innovative, post-modern approach, often utilizes prose forms. Her collections of poetry include A Vegetable Emergency (1977); Utopia TV Store: prose poems (1979); New Faces of 1952 (1985), winner of the Carl Sandburg Award; Leap Year Day: New and . . .

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Poems by Maxine Chernoff

Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Social Commentaries, Popular Culture

POET’S REGION U.S., Midwestern

Poetic Terms Prose Poem

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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