Fall 2016, Volume 21

Poetry by Elena Karina Byrne

Safe Room

                                    For Amy Newlove Schroeder

The opening is a flashpoint smell of mold
and steep steel trap. We can stay here forever,
my friend says, pointing to the secret
room, body shoot behind a dog-sized hidden door aside
the twin white, white bathroom cupboard.
The house belonged to Nazis or Mafia, belonged to those kind
of days. This is like the dream of deep space, the screen of black
that goes everywhere, nowhere fast. I cannot admit my body
is full of pollinating bees, skin singing to sail down, Apoidea dark
sound of the future slamming that door behind me. I remember
what I do not know. The enemy
                        looks like my friend’s father who I have not met.
It is the mailman hour, the homeland minuteman, hybrid breed
of wake and sleep and wake from sleep, the boogeyman standing over
me, holding a brown bible and severed head of a deer. Like all
good, well-bred blondes, my friend screams into the hole to hear
if she herself will answer back.

Mother in the Middle of the Night

A child sleeps and sleeps away from the day’s lock
                 and counter business of dirt, blood,
cut grass, and bicycle wheel stopped into the curb’s sudden turn.
But I did not sleep that night, did not dive wild with the black gulls into
                the horizon, its black water lapping at my ears. Father’s
rectangular office chest drawers were being pulled open, each one
a small coffin, child’s coffin when emptied out, their slow wood drag
sound from the 4 AM night, soft as his snoring.



BIO: Elena Karina Byrne, author of Squander (Omnidawn 2016), MASQUE (Tupelo Press, 2008), and The Flammable Bird, (Zoo Press 2002), former 12 year Regional Director of the Poetry Society of America is a multi-media artist, editor, Poetry Consultant / Moderator for The Los Angeles Times Festival of Books, Literary Programs Director for The Ruskin Art Club, and one of the final judges for the Kate/Kingsley Tufts Prizes in poetry. Her book reviews and poetry publications, among others, include the Pushcart Prize XXXIII, Best American Poetry, Poetry, Paris Review, American Poetry Review, TriQuarterly, The Kenyon Review, Denver Quarterly, Colorado Review, Slate, Poetry International, Drunken Boat, OmniVerse, Verse, and forthcoming in BOMB. Elena just completed a collection of essays entitled, Voyeur Hour: Meditations on Poetry, Art and Desire.