I received an MFA in Poetry from The University of Montana in 1999, so naturally I now sell insurance. My poems have appeared in some journals and anthologies, most notably The Best American Poetry 2007. My chapbook Silent Partner won the 2013 Sow’s Ear Chapbook Competition, and is due out this June.
Winter Pales Her
Winter pales her but brown eyes colossal
melt the crooked fingers
of its bloodless hands. What brings her
to me is the awkward way her docile
hair tosses when hat’s removed, the jostle
of her mood from cold that lingers
in feet too small for circulating the fester
of freeze. She’s an apostle
for warm seasons, spreads salt on sidewalks
she’s shoveled for reasons of reluctant
faith: the sun squeezes through rifts of gray cloud
while a magpie perched on a bare branch balks
at migration. Even now, though distant,
her olive tint endures winter’s white shroud.
Ode to She Alone
She is alabaster incarnate,
Breakable and beautiful.
Makes men spoken-for wish
The speaker had laryngitis.
She will not settle, default,
Nor relinquish her identity.
She would rather be alone
Than lonely while together.
A startling swan, buoyant
on life’s inclement surface,
readying to meet her equal.
I Should Take More Pictures
No matter how long I gaze
at my sleeping children’s faces,
I won’t remember how wispily
their hair shores their foreheads.
I won’t retain their hint of teeth
through barely parted lips.
I am half these visions kept
however my mind sees fit.
I am half the cheeks I tiptoe
toward to touch, half the arching
backs, fluttering eyes, arms
stretching above their heads.
Time to go before I wake them
from the dreams I will ask
them about at breakfast, dreams
they’ll remember no more than I
my own, blurred by the act of trying.
We see wind by what it stirs.
We see how we feel
through vaporous words.
Wind enters our home,
the wheezing of a deity
subject to the whimsy of its creations.
Despite all I’ve learned
and thought I stood for,
I refute you without listening.
A Day Hike
I want to tell you the clouds' tyranny
will inspire revolt, but it won't.
It will expand, and continue to rain.
The waterline carved into mountain rock
reminds that everything must flee,
settle awhile in exile.
A crow drops like a discarded crucifix,
its sheen slickened by carrion, insects.
On a moss-beaded boulder it alights.
©2014 Matthew Byrne