Elena Karina Byrne


dark god you are all you are all I have
swear only swear I am yours I am yours
-Agha Shahid Ali

Tell me
where I should plant the weed
of my next
right word, bloom upside-down, when
I should bite my lip
white and smile, gear-up to be brave.

Let a dead man in uniform
rest his head on your shoulders, then

Tell me
the inland riddle only men know
now that I am
fail-safe for loving stopped on a shiny dime
the only downfall of snow
reserved for oblivion's backbone.

Let loose spices soak for six hours
while you smell the sea untangle here, then

Tell me
the mind's makeshift
pact, vowels’ sexual, pleasing
climaxing over six days a week,
and the waive-our-right to rage
a little, leave no stone unturned,
gray pebbles of pill bugs murmured in the dirt.

Let the blood islands come to you,
dragging their blue drift and seamless vacancy, then

Tell me
the ink we inherit turns the scroll
a page or two, Rorschach monster
where history runs
out of name tags, relics
its pathological worship mid-sentence, mid-air.

Let a vivid anesthetist nurse
winter us back to spring, its bright needles and tulip oxygen, then

Tell me
in the dirty work mix,
the sentiment-direction, where
to find my spade and glint
water angel, my piece-together-compass
on the mark, lucky horseshoe
crab shape.

Let me not be there when they slip,
from my pants, the shiny pocket watch of your life, then

Tell me
again, in tirades, who will
bear the rest of the world
what you know
about the burned-in remedy
the belt of new light
pulled out across my back to teach me a lesson.

Elena Karina Byrne is a teacher, fine artist and full time Regional Director of the Poetry Society of America. She currently runs the poetry reading series at the J. Paul Getty Center where she recently worked as a Poetry Consultant to the Getty Research Institute. Elena is also the Poetry Moderator and Consultant for the Los Angeles Times Book Festival. Nominated six times for a Pushcart Prize, Elena's poems are forthcoming in ten magazines including, The Paris Review, American Poetry Review, The Colorado Review, Prairie Schooner, Painted Bride Quarterly, Solo and Volt. Other recent publications include Poetry, Ploughshares, Denver Quarterly, Nimrod, Antioch Review, Mid American Review, The Virginia Quarterly, and The Anthology of Magazine Verse & Yearbook of American Poetry, among many others. Elena's first book of poems The Flammable Bird is forthcoming from Zoo Press, and she is working on another, Masque, and book of essays entitled Poetry and Insignificance.


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