Summer 2011

Table of Contents - Vol. VII, No. 2

Poetry    Fiction    Translations     Reviews

Laurie Byro


Garden Snake
Beneath these plucky women who don’t move
except to turn their faces to the sun, among the cool
green ankles of stalk, I have been covert in my love
for you, forced as I am to declare myself despite
your protests, repelled as you are by me, whether
you have actually gotten to know me, or not. Notice
if you will, my quick-lightning beauty. You shiver,
but realize that I have kept these worshipers in line,
spines stiff and determined chins set, toothy heads littering
the earth with even more of their kind. None of us
is equal therefore I have watched you examine them
and choose the most regal for your plain kitchen table.
Each morning you and I sneak off to visit, while you loiter
to harvest words. What a waste of time. We are more alike
than you’d care to imagine. Me with my hidden valentines
of sun, and you, not forgiving me for what I am.


Katharine Hamlet of Avon Sings Herself to Sleep

She has no ambition to be their God.
They are imprinted with her kind
and this passes down through decades of nudge

and nibble. She lies in the river, vague
to any lingering passion. Flecks of silver
adorn an algae-green garland and it wraps

around her body like a visiting reveler.
Her grey eyes leak and float in the chipped
bowl of river. They lose their grip on the tender

eye sockets with their dark closets of skin. This frothy
place is haunted and despite their belief in a predictable
life, they sometimes think it’s fey. A turtle grazes

her cheek, enchanted with its porcelain shimmy.
He is a practical creature and thought she was a statue,
not quite human. So many years they wanted

her to bathe among them. Breath denied them
the holiness of death. For luck, she kept a snail shell
in her pocket. She liked to stroke its mysterious entrance

and exit. A new moon will lift her body
into its silver slipper after fish gorge on her. In time,
after they shed their scales, she will be covered in stars.


The Tiger Garden
Each morning I walk past the lilies, the small
tigers that bare their teeth and strain towards
my waist.  Here is a zoo almost in ruins,
you’d never know if it exists outside the bars
of the imagination except for the waft of piss
and moldering skins.  I never gave it a backward
glance nor you as you sit on a bench smoldering
inside the frets of your guitar. I suppose this is
a narrative, too late to change the outcome of pen
and page, although to pull this off I have to say
you are stealthy with your songs about the garden,
the Neruda notes you slip into my pockets.
I could end this at any moment, your hips straining
towards the carpel of my mouth, no one caring
whether this was risky or sweet, but me, I’m
the daughter of Neruda. I remain waiting for you
for years in the weeds of your feral garden,
the forest swaggers up to us, then startles to witness
blood red lilies blooming among reedy leaves.
You pounce with fangs of fire, and me not quite
transformed, the ground scrapes against my back.
I am not changed into raindrops in sky
or black-freckled petals. I am just another
ordinary fairytale unable to burst into flames.


© Laurie Byro

Poetry    Fiction    Translations     Reviews

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