Elena Karina Byrne








Made a left-handed oath


when your sister died, hoaxed

the lighthouse-keeper, the house,

unlocking the attic latch, apiary-coaxing bees


to enter. Reverso: Lumina, Lux.


Light from light from

light’s inverse, filling the whole belly, waves wrung-out…


The very famine-gleam (you knew was coming):


Light: wild applause broke out in the wet azaleas and

stars were so densely packed, their center could not be resolved… here


Your name arrives—divine whitewash—in italics, or becomes

that universe-wheel tipping, biological clock to be unwound at

its bright volition.


Picture anchovy schools, all-in-one leap from the torn skirts

of sea channels


with giant bleached sea-snails, your lit skull

rolling over at the bottom, workhouse-empty and in purposeful angst,


an ordinary effigy dreaming ablaze…



Squander, Omnidawn 2016







I am whatever I am, as you listen,


your full-face set at the head of the table. What name, what consciousness

gave me this faculty to verse trifles,

the most paltry inanities,


to show the skin behind my ear until


purpose welled up from sea-bottom to sky-ceiling, raised in sleep’s F,

the blue, broken-down house, in order that I speak––


not for vainglory, but for the Earth (prepositional like myself)


its body language letting go, one


spring-burst seed pod, one branch at a time (look how they split the tongue)—


and This is the school where men are made masters of words   down vocabulary’s


burnt course, until the last syllable followed all the rest


and I too, formless as a verb. Convince me

permission  is punishment itself!  Confound me. This custom of persuasion finds


one bell-tower religion, the very Latin look in the eye,

our Roman Empire still falling,


its banished universe!



Squander, Omnidawn 2016






Oh! How foul a thing, that we should see the tongue of one animal in the guts of another.             

-Leonardo da Vinci, The Notebooks, 1295


Oh! More than me, twice, I am.

Twofold, of two minds.

What will you see?

I am inside the mask made of blue corn husks.

Where else

can I begin in such significance, my own worn element?


Bend the need to demand; rust the hours.

Acquiesce our duplicate pleasure,–corruptible

as incorrigible but this is only


the appearance of confinement, insolent and lacquered.

What we have wanted from each other

all along: an inseparable, same face.

Our vanity is irrational.


Wake me. Tell me what to do with myself in the dark.

Our life is made of words. The world obeys

no apology. Here


I demand your full attention

and a tied locket of your hair.


Your being,      my nothing.



Agenda magazine/journal (UK)

Masque, Tupelo Press, 2008











Elena Karina Byrne, author of Squander (Omnidawn 2016), MASQUE (Tupelo Press, 2008), and The Flammable Bird, (Zoo Press 2002), former 12 year Regional Director of the Poetry Society of America is a multi-media artist, editor, Poetry Consultant / Moderator for The Los Angeles Times Festival of Books, Literary Programs Director for The Ruskin Art Club, and one of the final judges for the Kate/Kingsley Tufts Prizes in poetry. 


Her book reviews and poetry publications, among others, include the Pushcart Prize XXXIII, Best American Poetry, Poetry, Paris Review, American Poetry Review, TriQuarterly, The Kenyon Review, Denver Quarterly, Colorado Review, Slate, Volt, Diode, Poetry International, Ploughshares, Drunken Boat, OmniVerse, Verse, Academy of American Poets Poem-A-Day, Black Renaissance Noire, and forthcoming in BOMB. Elena just completed a collection of essays entitled, Voyeur Hour: Meditations on Poetry, Art & Desire.



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