Laurie Byro


Am I hard enough
Am I rough enough
Am I rich enough
I'm not too blind to see

There are ghosts who write poems
to one another. I no longer hold a mirror
to the river to see if water-smoothed stones
form a letter, place themselves in such a way
to ask if it is safe.  You appear to me through
a gray-blue screen. When I touch the glass,
I leave dirty prints that remind me of the wiggle
of fish in a biology slide show. It's not real
to me in the same way. A memory like photosynthesis,
a concept barely organized into emotion. I find you
in a drawer; finger you carefully like an exacto knife
lying next to a paper clip.

To kill time while I wait, I play a game
of snooker. Things are different here. You
place a coin onto the table, challenge a player, usually
a man.  I fill the jukebox with stones, the messages
from the river keep on getting jumbled. Shadows
on the faces in the open-air café, and sunlight
on the streets in the afternoon. I step outside
for the 2nd time, wonder if you will keep me waiting
while you fuck your most convenient lover.
It is your ghost that I can't believe in.
The sway of body in front of me as he bends over
a green lit table to shoot a ball into a woven fist.
I held you this way. The soft wrinkles of your scrotum,
the nest of hair, your secret eggs.
You shudder when you arrive, describe
the traffic, the breakdown lane, the light that changes
color-green to yellow, then sticks. I can smell
her on your lips when you bend to kiss me.
I wash my face in the women's room
after the waiter takes our order.

I stop knitting the day you call me spider-cunt.
I leave my web, I leave my needles and their lacy black
cotton. I walk three miles before I feel the gloom
of spruce and fir that follows me like a stray dog.
The river trudges along and spits out weeds and angry
fish. I find the row boat where we hide it,
decorate it with garland and lay myself bare,
hair dragging off the side to troll weeds. I'm sick
of this game of words. This rush of circumstance.
While I sleep, the hot moon drenches my lips with white.
When I pause my dream to waken, you fondle a hand
full of pebbles and I watch as you place one
on top of each mound of stones.

Laurie's short stories and poetry have appeared in The Literary Review, Single Parent, Aim, Chaminade Review, Grasslimb, Re:al Journal, The New Jersey Journal of Poets, The Red Rock Review, Potpourri, The Paterson Literary Review, Miller's Pond, The Writer's Hood, Stirring and Melic Review. Her work has been twice nominated for The Pushcart Prize. Her children’s poem "A Captain's Cat" has appeared in Cricket Magazine and a textbook "Measuring up to the Illinois Learning Standards" will be republished in a text for 3rd graders. In the October 2005 issue of the journal “American Libraries” Lee Memorial library (where Laurie is head of circulation) was cited as one of the top ten public libraries. Laurie lives in New Jersey where she facilitates a poetry circle.

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