Laurie Byro has been facilitating “Circle of Voices” poetry discussion in New Jersey libraries for 17 years. She is published widely in University presses in the United States and the United Kingdom and is in several anthologies including: St. Peter's B List. Laurie has garnered more IBPC awards (InterBoard Poetry Community) than any other poet, currently 51. Her third volume of poetry was published in 2016 "Wonder" by Little Lantern Press (out of Wales). In 2016 and 2017 she received a New Jersey Poet's Prize, the 2nd for poetry in "The Bloomsberries and Other Curiosities" by Kelsay Books. Laurie is currently Poet in Residence at the West Milford Township Library where "Circle of Voices" continues to meet.
Eating Crow After Reading Ted Hughes
A Devon autumn chases ghosts down alleys, Shura
should have been our lost baby, the one flowering
from the toilet the day you crumpled your face, pasty-
white like the old hive, resurrected with blue-heart eyes.
I was Prospero. I was Caliban. I was the filthy-nailed
stand in for Daddy. Already, my tongue bled lies, my ****--
thick with honey, my vows of wild-escape. It was I who
bought you your Taroc pack. I, who taught you the plays
of Shakespeare, you only knew three before we met. That holy
number, that trinity of failed marriage—three meant
a witch has entered the sky. You invited her in, you dreamt
her real and she appeared, asleep like a princess-hag
in a pike’s drunken eye. The wild earth wanted you back,
with all its cunning fox-holes, its voices lulling you to sleep
under the deep sighs of the house. A weasel-gypsy caught
you with her icicle fingers, calling you out of our sweet honey
moon sleep. She declared you dead: borrowed entirely by me,
not quite blue. Sycorax lured you to her brothy-bridal
cauldron. Still you finished each poem, each postcard.
You filled each terracotta pot with earth and all your favorite
flowers. But it is Shura who makes her silent howl
while the moon fills, plump with its leaking mother’s milk.
It is Shura who grasps her rag-button dolls, clutching
them to her chest like a crone-woman suckling a dead baby.
When I flew to you, when I left
my country of marsh and ice, this joy
was inconvenient. I wanted to steal
the turquoise from your eyes,
to always have that sky to lose myself in.
You dwell in a chapel of thieves;
but I am craftier than you. I pilfer
precious things: a jack, a scrap
of tin. I will hide you in my pocket
like the garter snake found sunning
himself with glittering eyes. I want to turn
you to a leafy face, carry you in my beak
across the river. Don’t be afraid--
I am lonely, too. When my work is done,
when I scrape a match along the bark
of an ash and ferry you with the amber
in my mouth, I shall devour your fingers.
Your skin is crystal white when I drape
you across my back. You breathe me
into flight and I preen my scarlet wings.
You bury me in the oak
until my heart mends.
Job Returns as a Puffin
This is the island of dreams. From here the tempest
will deliver us into the sea of death. Later
we will be washed up on the mainland shore
without eyes, without dreams, with our little orange
feet curling up like the poppies I tore from the earth
to lay on my wife’s table. Each bud burst into
a bead of blood that spilled from my master’s eyes.
We are all thieves. We are all whores.
If only I could return to the earth and not this sea
of turmoil. My eyes would blaze with his fire
and not be extinguished by his charred fingers.
I would follow him into the dark like I did an insect
that illuminated the night to the days when I was a blossom
needing the sun and he was the garden around me.
Demeter Dresses for Dinner
(while staying at the Absecon Hyatt)
Of course, she ate those love-apples, I heard she slurped
seeds and all straight down, the ungrateful twit. The devil
trailed her, followed her along the telephone wires, urged
her to defy her mother. That damned black-dog hounded
her from Absecon Island to Barnegat Bay. No way, could I
guilt her into minding her dear protector. She was between
the devil and the deep blue Wildwood Sea. They summoned her into
those pine barrens. That bastard-wolf brayed while the stars fell,
throwing us completely off her scent. It was no coincidence
they picked a trifecta weekend to ruin her. Powerballs be damned
how unlucky was the timing of this? Those grubby-nailed pineys,
how dare they abduct her, hide her under their phlox? And me
trying to explain all those bad parking tickets to the nice Officer?
No wonder, I lost my good figure, while that ingrate chatters on
about becoming a vegetarian? If I’m to one day be a grandmother,
it will be to some hideous crooked-tailed beast. The little darling
will surely have a hood or bat wings, no good can come
from her hanging with those people. Have you seen the condition
of their teeth? I didn’t raise her to be a pine-worshiper, what is that
a druid or something? Look at me, I used to be svelte, a sylph,
a knock-out they said. I could get any man alive and even some
dead, I had my share of Gods believe me. Now the mirrors reveal
the wreck of me. I have this matronly butt, it’s fallen straight
through the floor into some fresh new hell. And my legs, I could
have subbed for Tina in Atlantic City. Now? I’m a mess of varicose
veins. From chasing down (dare I say it), runaways? Or at least one.
I shall revenge myself of this place. All the tomatoes, the cranberry
bogs are next on my hit list. When I am through growing blacktop
instead of hibiscus, this place will be one crooked highway. Young lady,
you will have no trouble working your way back to me, Babe,
with or without do-wop accompaniment. All roads will lead to Mother.
Crops, you are doomed to bumper to bumper Sciroccos. Each pear
and peach tree blighted, this Garden State will become an asphalt anthill.