“it speak(s),” a poem by Bryan Byrdlong

Bryan Byrdlong

it speak(s)


my fellow Americans              we all float here, in this milleu in
this atmosphere.      In DIS             gravity be a wishing
well a penny for your thoughts                      and desires to
come true,

the American dream, but lately                       I’ve heard talk of an American fear. And
so, we are gathered here today     because of the murders in Chicago because of
the terrorists that would have us afraid

we are huddled                        hares / because of a frayed noose
swinging outside a Charlottesville home and
a black suit burned in effigy

we are heaped                                     a jumbled mass at mass, on bended knee
our tongues praying like Ruth                         our teeth, a preying Roof–


The first time I saw him, he made me laugh & the second time & the
third. Now, I am cowed / & certain that a fraud is impersonating  what
I once loved & will consume
me when I am not looking, but the longer I look

the more terrified I become—
& It is not just Charlottesville or North Korea or
climate change or Russia.  & It is not the one thing
but the tide coming in, foaming around my ankles

& dragging me out to sea.       & It is realizing that the seashells along the
beach are actually skeletons stuck in the sand & It is all the adults with
their heads stuck in the sand while you are drowning. & as you are
drowning           the boat is right there.

It did not die in part 2 | because the executives wanted a trilogy | because they knew another

movie would turn a profit | It all centers around the profit motive doesn’t It? | According to a
leaked script, the next movie stars It in the hood (think the fifth Leprechaun film) | they tryin’ to
reach an urban audience so instead of shooting in Maine they decided to shoot on Madison | It’s
the same premise | Seven kids vs. The Monster | Although this time they’re all different shades
of brown, It is still anything It wants to be | only now, It takes the form of whatever kids from
the hood are scared of | like op from around the way                headphones that transform
into a hooded cobra | a (crooked) cop                         the wild boar | their addict cousin      a
zombie | their dead beat father       a talking leech | teachers that say they won’t ever be
anything          bed bugs that bite like bullets | a homophobic reverend                     a spider with
the face of a rat | their mayor         a loose pitbull | their alderman             a rabid rac(coon) | me  you
themselves | shit           nothing | America                   that red flag     that blue flag | their
president                          a clown.

Bryan Byrdlong is an Haitian/African-American poet and marketing specialist originally from the South Side of Chicago. He obtained his B.A. in English at Vanderbilt University and is based in Nashville. His work has appeared in the Vanderbilt Review. His poetry submission “SB-129” awarded him the opportunity to attend the 2015 Depauw Ethics Symposium. Upon graduating, he received the Merrill Moore Award for Poetry. “Writing is an essential part of creative expression and an enduring part of any creative community. I believe poetry is unique in its potential for ekphrastic resonance, allowing it to inspire reflection which culminates with the creation of additional bodies of work. The same characteristics of poetry that allow disparate groups to use it in order to deconstruct society and language, ultimately allow it to transform both. I seek to create bodies of work in line with this theory, that critique society and create an ideal conception through the language of the poem.”

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