Laurie Byro and Michael Byro: Five Poems and Five Paintings
I creep down to the Riverbanks, a long rustle
of waving stalks, ploughed and cropped under
an Archer. I lay sucking the icy tendrils of stars,
through the blackest hair of angels, knowing
I am utterly defeated, that the false housewife
Fortune has broken her wheel, that my thoughts
are prisons and these stones and funeral shells
can only witness my sharp fate, that the cinders
of my spirit will fan into a topaz evening.
I have consumed a fiery jewel more beautiful
than I. I am stricken by the sharp fangs of a clever
Master, left by this wild world with a name buried
inside my ribs. Throw my heart against flint.
I shall burst him into flame, oh Antony, Antony.
Deirdre Beatrice Craig
“I am here in a villa by the sea dying of despair.”
Mama, I held Patrick’s hand tight just as you taught me when crossing
the street because the water was cold and I was scared. The river
rushed over us like a blurry dream. The fish swimming past
were angels. Though I could not speak, I mouthed to Patrick
“Don’t be afraid.” I thought “we are going to a beautiful place where
mermaids will comb and braid my hair. We will never worry
and always play.“ When I looked up through the tangled water,
at the sky, I could see lilies and frogs. Damselflies and dragons became
bright cobwebbed light, just like their wings. Oh, that light. It lit up
the turquoise blue sky and I mouthed to Patrick “Don’t be afraid.”
Heaven was pulling us into its arms just like you did, Mama.
Mama, this place is so pretty, a world without end. Why,
the cobwebs in the angel’s wings seemed to disturb the light.
“That inescapable animal walks with me,
Has followed me since the black womb.”
You weren’t certain of the hour she screamed “mercy”
under a gibbous moon. A homely wrinkled piece
of sin—the hobo-light winked as you straightened a fist,
saying “It’s a boy.” Now you are gone to another
loitering angel. She is a sylph like the mist that rises
off a lake. I am lost in a field that crackles with frost.
Flickering flames of creatures join me while I search
constellations for a map of our old life. I give myself up
to their magic to make us disappear. I barter
with a white rabbit in a bucket of midnight,
a hunched opossum as he sifts through the neighborhood
trash. I enter their fiery eyes while you shudder.
Your pupils widen, you ogle the moon as it rises
over her head. When you come back and find me gone,
you will unclench your fist. You will slice windfall apples
and greet a new generation of thieves. Meanwhile, you dance
your tired dance, help her unhook a buttermilk
tinted blouse. Tonight, it lays over the back of a chair
like a sleek rabbit while a thousand miles away
I hang my pointed hat on the moon.
For Gordon Flowerdew and all the horses
Because he shined above me like a waterfall,
giving away my last gulp of diamonds, my last
swift scepter of chance, quenching me,
I was able to leave my broken soldier in his patriot’s
pants. Am I still here or was that thunder?
I have grown to believe in One greater than man,
who rolls mountain laurels back, fog and crows,
rusted machinery, heaven— not circumstance.
He who parts green mosses with his frothy arm.
Angel or Pegasus, whatever form he has driven
from the sky. I am a charred bone of remorse, gambled
by a calloused hand. We fled Moreuil to plant a forest
filled with flowers from the dew of our fallen
legs. The horse he rode flew off the bridge,
one arm stayed a swan’s wing. Which God has rescued
him for this, has changed him into a silvery fish?
We have rolled the stone back from the cave. Lightning
summons red, we are a flash of speed each burying
our thin bones of dislike. Our hooves make thunder. We lament
a life that once flushed foxes, ferried revelers, all kinds.
The Girl from the North Country Speaks
After Bob Dylan
The north country woods
where I come from are gone,
A highway passes from end to end
I am older now but I get along,
with no fires left to tend.
The storms that raged were deep and wild
The snows made my season a memory
Regret became a restless child
that ran in my blood and poisoned me.
I wonder if he remembers how
we prayed at night while the forest wept.
I wonder if he thinks of me now
and all his words that I have kept.
I’ve kept my hair both long and fine,
it misses his hands when I take it down.
For he once was a love of mine
For he still is, though not around.
And if you see him give him this,
with a lock of my hair still soft and warm
I think of him with every kiss.
I think of him through every storm.
Author’s Statement on Beauty:
My Mother’s Bones
When I crawled through my mother’s bones
I’d like to say, they were bent over me
like birches, that the tips of her pelvis-march
scraped against me in that narrow place.
But babies aren’t made this way. Beauty is messy;
the dark box I return to just before I wake
is a field with a thatched cupboard, every kind of leaf
as if she collected me among these pressed wax
paper plates. I’d seen tall, holy trees in Muir Forest
and me on my swaying stem, a Lady’s orchid,
her newest treasure, swaddled and given
up to her in a room with open windows. Crushed
yellow and scarlet autumn hands reached in
and settled on our laboring bed. Rust ripped the sheets,
they’d call me an autumn flower. Candles sputtered
and grew down, white and pure and healing.
Each relative and ghost was there. She cradles me.
She holds my soul over a flame. This life is messy,
Mother. I carry your bones in a paper sack
like a picnic lunch. When I release us
to the air we tumble like acrobats, blister
the hardened earth with our fall.
From the collection Luna
Laurie Byro has five collections of poetry published, most recently La Dogaressa and Other Poems (Cowboy Buddha Press) Four books of poetry were published prior to this, among them Gertrude Stein’s Salon and Other Legends (Blue Horse Press) and The Bloomsberies and Other Curiosities: both contain work that received a New Jersey Poetry Prize. Her poetry has received 55 Interboard Competition honors including 10 First Place awards as judged by such notables as Suzanne Lummis, Toi Derricotte and Mark Doty among others. Laurie lives in New Jersey with her husband where she has been facilitating Circle of Voices poetry discussion in New Jersey libraries the last 19 years.
Michael Byro has had gallery shows starting in 2016 at the Amity Gallery, Sugarloaf Performing Arts Center, The New Weis Center for Education, Arts & Recreation, the Suffern Library and the Albert Wisner Public Library in Warwick, NY. Prior to this, he won or placed in the Ringwood Manor Arts Association. His first impulse was recreating Neolithic cave art. These included the French cave art such as Lascaux, Chauvet and Altamira Spain. His work was featured in the magazine: The Underground Movement by the Central Connecticut Grotto. He quickly became fascinated with plywood and the beautiful natural grain in the wood and incorporated that. Then he noticed Mosaics and wanted to recreate some of the artwork from Pompeii, Greece and Israel. He quickly moved on to George Seurat and wanted his “faux-aic art” to delve into pointillism. His passion is faux-aic, pointillism and a combination of the two. He wanted recognizable work to be seen in a new way. He has now sold artwork all over the United States from California, Texas to Maine. He has been consigned to paint business signs and other work. His art is at the El Convento Hotel in Old San Juan. He drives a school bus for the children of West Milford. More at: Fine Art America.