Spring 2001


Elena Byrne

The dogma of the Ghost in the machine.
-Gilbert Ryle

You have put it on for no one.

The long night is about to get longer.
There's a baritone color to the upstairs rooms,
the papered smell of birds flying.

Under the floorboards
someone is preparing for eternity, an incomplete
occupation at best.

This is as grateful as you get:
numberless music from the furnace, wardrobe's closed
boundary, the South's cottonfield beds rising above you
in a confusion of goose-down and eyelet.

The cupboards are suddenly crowded
with shattered green glass.
A vine winds the iron staircase, despairing.

You kneel upon an opened book, feel this misunderstood, beside
yourself, bedside-mannered
and cautioned to look into a mirror. Nothing
disappears faster than the face. Right now

you are as close as the cold, filling the bathtub
with your falling-out white hair. Hear
yourself breathe.

Madness is immaterial
but it can borrow you a door to the next world
leaving no witnesses. For: Keepsake.

Departure's sympathy. Carphology's language.
Keep it in the family, keep it to yourself.

You are your own grave company at last.

Elena Karina Byrne is a teacher, fine artist and full time Regional Director of the Poetry Society of America. A five time Pushcart Prize nominee, Elenas poems have appeared or are forthcoming in The Paris Review, American Poetry Review, Poetry, Ploughshares, The Colorado Review, Nimrod, Antioch Review, Prairie Schooner, Parnassus and The Anthology of Magazine Verse & Yearbook of American Poetry, among many others. Elena has just completed her first book of poems, Flammable Bird, and is working on another, Masque and a collection of essays entitled Poetry and Insignificance. She was recently nominated for a Sundance Writing Fellowship.




top of page

send comments to info@poetrybay.com

first electronic copyright 2001 poetrybay. 
all rights revert to authors

website comments to dpb@islandguide.com