Bio Note: Laurie Byro lives off a dirt road in the backwoods of NJ. Her husband, Mr Byro, is a soothsayer. He spends most of the night playing the banjo to the cat. This gives Laurie space to create her breathless wordscapes. She sees them as feral creatures which have escaped from the cage of her imagination and established a free life in the shared world. She likes it best when her poems run away from her, refuse food, bite the hand that feeds them. Mr Byro plinks out Oh Susanna. The cat cries, chases the poems into the woods. Sometimes after midnight she comes back with bloody paws. Laurie is available for tupperware parties and stag nights. She makes fondue and molds marzipan. She was born under the sign of wanton desire. Her Mars and Neptune are perfectly aligned.
Daphne Was Fickle
(We too, loved the maid)
All Goddesses loved Daphne. We chased her through the alleys and the trees. We offered her figs and oysters, tried to seduce her. But she was slippery and wary of our advances. Like a chorus of sirens, let us praise her, call to her through the green stalks, the bursting sunflowers. Crinaeae: I have cornered her by every fountain in Venice where old men bring their hounds to drink. I have tried to lap her and bring her down. The bells, the tinkling music of her swishing silks, just before me, always just ahead. Her hair tumbling, the white tresses that melt upon the arch of the spray. She is a waterfall that always shivers me away. Limnatide: How can we thwart her? She is our mistress, she is our daughter. I tried to transform myself into a pitcher, a vessel, how hard would that be? Given my powers, I would do this task reverently. What stopped me each and every breath? The stillness of her eyes. How do you drink her to the last and not lose her completely, inside the spiral of the spout? She evades, I find a shell on the bottom that she slid off, a ladder to obscurity. She is too clever a maiden for me. Pegaeae: We shared a scallop, like a dollop of mint and horse radish. We once held each other sweetly, my sisters say this is our third try. But what if she became something we cannot fathom? If she should be a tree, as they portend, then I shall become a yellow finch born off her branches. Ever- green, a half forgotten wish, that turns yellow leaves into birds and not into fish. Potomaides: I shiver in her river. Ellen-Oh-May: Even the otters want to break the shell of her on their bellies. How can they? They are mere whips, striking out on a wet body. It is the thought of her escape that make them curse her, she is a slippery fish, despite having arms and legs. The alleys lead to a garden, where they tumble sparks of sun, stalks all akimbo. They are jumbled in the mix, the chase of daunsinge, the rush of dance. Unable to contain themselves, they rake her droppings. They carve their souls upon her wooden heart. The Echo they hear is the last maid, wringing tattered handkerchiefs of rain.
Living In the Body of a Woolly Bear
Slinking down the road, I wonder how I managed to avoid being fondled at the party, too much beer at that barbecue and now, I am heady with escape. Rumor has it, I can sting but there is lots of gossip about me. Old wife, or not, I would never sting somebody’s husband, although they tell me there is a book about this: Farmer’s Almanac or something. I hate birds especially wood peckers, how many of those feathered fiends have destroyed generations of us? Luckily, I have gotten even with my bristly fur duds. These silly men think I am a soothsayer. I am neither psychic nor weatherman. What I am is a dreamer. Long winter nights cuddled in my leaf blanket, I sleep not confident of even that book’s predictions. When I awaken in Spring it is a celebration. My fancy coat is a symbol of the previous winter’s past.
The Name of the Air
After WS Merwin
For Felipe Gomez Alonzo And it came to pass that the old cats, the injured, the indigent, the kittens without papers, the toms with torn ears stared from their cages at the people. The borders they had crossed, largely invisible, had gotten them captured here. Not knowing the word, the name of the air, they stood there, unaware, until due to absence and circumstance, they came to ask if anything could be done. They peer through the cages, eyes questioning their captors, their temporary Gods, and finding it harder and harder to breathe, but coming again to ask and then they kneel there without asking.
©2020 Laurie Byro
Editor's Note: If this poem(s) moves you please consider writing to the author (email address above) to tell him or her. You might say what it is about the poem that moves you. Writing to the author is the beginning of community at Verse Virtual. It is very important. -JL