archives fall 2008



Kiss Fable

awash to know,
coss, cuss, bury your word-German, that
                                 kisses bring again, bring again

full lilacs replied into the body, bring
cloud-in-billow, overture of single notes, flute’s deep inhale
and unleashed confetti to the whole body’s temperament.

And kiss to tell,
you must differ yourself in the taste, ask light from breath-light.

This restoration of the O to the kingdom heart, Escher on his stairs,

afresh and fierce: have it of life, mouth-to-mouth novella
swelled in singing, — now
open the wax seal of gate-paper dream
                      for the drop was let fall beside

                      the seal, red as dominion-crown
                      atop a woman’s sex — this


double kiss, capable known, making it better, taking slow poison
from wound, came as purse & liberty           

                      to make you oath again,
                      to make you vowel . . .


Umbrella Fable

                      Draw straws.

                      Once, breath held over our heads . . .

                      (Water-Fowl bones are buried under the house. Hear them breaking?)

To thine self, cast second stone while to song upon

us, set red & grey in the everyday past tense, while below last blue:

its shape opens, dead drunk mouth of a woman
      in grief, bow of light

upside-down. Yes: The black pirate ship ribs of angels are show for it, that
                               shelves-down around you, your parachute, will to believe,
fallen body. God of God

                        poppies the sky, free-divides, ghost or offense in roof-chatter.
                        Paraffin still burns mind-backwards,
                        a doubt of two, shadow and shade, lost syllable, giant squid-dome,

deity on its own, bat-minded in Babylon. A Time. Here, the universe

there, opens a celestial sound of water rushing into your

sleep room, lifting bed to ceiling, wood ladder’s top wrung of air,

                        the unfold-hour . . . Fuck you.

                        It will never stop raining.


Somnambulist Fable

Dear Kellianne:

Oarsmen, I mean, “with painted eye,” “ blue jay’s spade-tail”
toward undertow in dream, “bringer of that joy,”
she had paramour of polar ice, first fresh ghost currency,
clock rack yet anguish clinch

of language. Ye,
marry to smudge-smudge, “bloody blameful blade.”
                        Chance, roll out the carcass carpet cliffward, please . . .

of the fable place. Who’s forgotten who?

The almanac finds out its moonshine distance-cinch &
alliteration in the sleep, comes to doom
                                                every time, so you can’t ever
finish your damn sentence. So, so:

Skepticism’s Descartes slaves darkness,
and for nothing, flat-bodied bed bugs beneath the earth.
Little spider curtain catch.
Queen’s bench.

                        The walkabout began here, a history ago. Grabbing
                        at the air, your older brother ran down the stairs
                        to open the front door (would he see himself on the other side?)
                        in the oxide night, his eyes crushing the darkness, eyes
                        crushing blackberries as far back as childhood,
                        looking & looking past you into his own etymology . . .

. . . Ice, oxygen.
How heroine overtones this story later, faltering face,
where she loses him. I mean sleigh-outcry, final guttural
all the sleepers in the house, even you,
                                                (just a hair’s breath between )

would wake to.


Voyeur Hour: 10pm

                 Think too how one can imitate a man’s face without seeing one’s own in a mirror.                                                                                     —Wittgenstein

. . . this verb-intimate job of the tongue telling the mouth.


                        Language mimics, one name at a time. Looks
like someone you knew, wanted to know,
                                                     but couldn’t.


. . . where a view of others

will feel like . . . to throw the furniture down the stairs, cozy-up to parenthesis
                                              like . . . a deaf woman’s pause.

To keep your penny drop in the bucket-blue,
                                                     mirror shards under
your pillow so you can see your own escape, yes. Their escape.  For you are already

translation in another’s mouth.


Let them say you remember the rib cage was partially open,
twin birds like split wedding gowns falling sky-up.

Our desire, forever ringing the little bell attached to the tiny mirror
so it can catch a glimpse of its one wild eye,—


too familiar to be strangers
we want to meet from the goodbye paragraph of sleep, too much
                                the ruling flesh caught in the act of itself, in motion, she
moved from behind the curtain,
                                prepositional, nearly perfect.


Voyeur Hour: 6pm

Today I followed a young couple in the street.
                                                I wanted them familiar, but not for long.

Gestures passed between us. Out of frame:
                                                their hands, their mouths, my loose hair.

There’s a soft vein at the ankle, one wrinkle above the lip like a Spanish accent over its vowel.

2: a prying observer who is usually seeking the sordid or the scandalous

                        As if you already knew what I was doing.
Sight taken. Image given.
                        Story points to context, you know.

Just chance encounters
                                  I insist, because nothing happens otherwise.

In case I decide to become a smoker,

and the everlasting lack of sleep stares back like a new bruise . . .


Now she can be anything unrecognizable, a stopping place for feeling lost.


                        Dangerous to herself all summer.

Something that has already passed (password for fate) between them.  


Elena Karina Byrne is a teacher, editor, poetry consultant and moderator for The Los Angeles Times Festival of Books, and former twelve-year regional director of the Poetry Society of America. She is now Literary Programs Director for The Ruskin Art Club and MOCA. She is also Pushcart Prize winner. Her publications include, Yale Review, Paris Review, APR, Denver Quarterly, Ploughshares, Verse, TriQuarterly, Agenda, Poetry Daily Anthology, and Best American Poetry 2005. Books include The Flammable Bird (Zoo Press/Tupelo Press), MASQUE (Tupelo Press, 2008), and the forthcoming The Fable Language. Work in progress includes Voyeur Hour and a collection of essays entitled Beautiful Insignificance.