Bio Note: I live off a dirt road in the backwoods of NJ. My husband, Mr Byro, is a soothsayer. He spends most of the night playing the banjo to the cat. This gives me space to create my breathless wordscapes. I see them as feral creatures which have escaped from the cage of my imagination and established a free life in the shared world. I am available for tupperware parties and stag nights.
Author's Note: In Mexico the people believe that when you die you only see the colour yellow, the colour of marigolds. Consequently, the Mexican people plant marigolds on the graves of their loved ones in order to lure them back to earth.
Marigolds dry on the windowsill— I wait. When you find me, we will hold each other. Sway to summer's music. Mosquito, frogs, peepers, and rainfall. I'm in no hurry— I have waited slow months. Emptied my vases, then filled them. Scattered the floor with yellow. Money cannot bring you back, but these gold-peso petals will buy us a moment. I sit on the porch, and watch for you. In the company of sweet marigold murmurings. When you appear I hold out my hand. Then we dance.(Voyager Gold originally appeared in Critical Mass)
Row Your Boat
for Elizabeth Catherine Lampe
I start out thinking it is an expression, isn’t it, whatever floats your boat, and that instantly alerts me to the fact, that as a poet I am not as clever as Billy Collins nor as deep. He could turn the steam off a cup into something to notice. A celebration of life, steam off the mouth of a cup would become a spirit rising, perhaps my dead mother, if you see what I mean. Today, I realize, is my mother’s birthday had she lived to be 82. I am writing this as a bird, not an owl, calls to me through the glass. I apologize to the empty chair, knowing Gary Snyder would say with certainty if it were a lark or a wren, but I am pretty confident that I and the absent Mr. Collins do not know. Nor do I know for certain, where the song “Row Your Boat” comes from exactly. I wonder if either of them does, although it’s a silly message that I feel certain none of us believes: gently, would hardly be used in rowboat instruction. Ask anyone who has ever struggled with oars, would this procedure be done merrily? Li Po may have been merry as he paddled, as one of Yeat’s relatives may have called it. Li who supposedly drowned while drunk and trying to embrace the moon. In reality, this I did research, during one of my annoying 12-step moments, Li Po died of cirrhosis of the liver. Which reminds me of poets somehow, and me with my own thinking problem. Mr. Collins would have known how to salvage this doomed and rapidly sinking poem. Buckets of water, lifting it higher than it deserves, certainly a reference to Virginia Woolf and the River Ouse where she did herself in. She must have paddled romantically, skimming stones like dragonflies spiraling off lily pads. Is that enough, Billy, I ask the chair informally? As for this poem, I have these poor strophes going down for the last time. Sure I have done a bit of name dropping, thrust out my literary oar like a sword, but mostly (other than a nod to Mom) I have wasted a good deal of paper, sheets and sheets and sheets. A drunken rowboat stuck forever in the currents, and this blotty pen that keeps sticking, repeating despite itself: merrily, merrily, merrily merrily with our lives connected so permanently to dreams.(Row Your Boat originally appeared in the Mas Tequila Review)
©2020 Laurie Byro
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