Bryan Byrdlong is the body's politics; is both sides of the catechism; is a fish ensnared by a locked jaw; is a door that leads to several rooms; is a silent prayer that breathes and bleeds; is bread and water; is fruit and earth; is midnight where the L ends; is a mother's resilience; is a worn palm; is a fever breaking in an ice bath; is the raft out of the storm with room for everyone who wants to live.
-Eric Benick (Read Eric on Fog Machine Here)
a Mistic speaks to me outside the JJ Fish on Halsted
& says | there’s gotta be a substitute for bone | like bark or cob
like instead of heads | kernels could spill syrupy sweetness & sob
until all that’s left is the cylindrical part of the ear
hard and dry on the streets of Roseland.
Safe to say | I keep my own ear close to the earth.
Nah, but for real | a mystic will say (pour libations on the ground)
gristle | gizzard | beef | a Red 40 waterfall for those no longer with us
and by that they’ll mean (get down)
will tell my bad self to
spit catfish bones in a napkin so they can predict my future:
(The hint of mild sauce suggests an easy passage home)
(The slight acid burns: gentrification)
The truth can be hard to swallow.
So why not water it down with something cool and refreshing?
a sum to make you feel spiritual outside a storefront
I take communion in the shadow of Mt. Eagle,
the strawberry kiwi and high fructose is his blood
pouring from bone or in this case glass | the white bread
dry as bark | so dry that I start to choke –
the mystic says there is no body | empties their self into me
I am saved.
Being is more or less how
one’s title sits in proximity to the body
disassociated from code & coda. It/s <meta>
& odd for sure / Like, what space even separates
the soul from the conglomerate?
A daydream? A timespan of 15 minutes
in which a smoke break evolves into cloud watching –
i / don’t know / much about being sure
except to be confident in your training.
Know that when you are selling soles
to keep your audience in mind / Make it personal.
Don’t Break rather burden the mold.
Birth the draft / an oak limb to tap
on windows / and then conjure
65 characters to whisper names in/to ossicle
to sit on shoulder blade with halo & horn.
Schedule a seance / a conference call with those beyond the veil.
Serve customer / client like a bar serves spirits. Be Happy Hour.
quality time / Hold their hand like the railing of a bus
lest a win slip from your grasp. Sell winning. When they tire of winning
Sell tiredness / pre-owned automobiles in different chroma. Differentiate neurons
into profitable patterns. Utilize KPI to increase ROI –
Build a bullion of acronyms / to remember.
Remember to breathe / how to / in any atmosphere
respire. In a pond of any size / be like the koi
fish. As the body swells, their titles change:
the intern is a small fry,
post-smoult, & then an executive this big
Note to self: When I die
Bury me in a suit / pad my resume with fig. after fig.
for that case interview in the cloud(s).
As a cicada takes flight, I freeze –
its back redshifts as it goes,
glowing scarlet as a running light.
When my friends ask me why,
instead of saying I don’t know, I grunt
becoming, like my father
no longer a boy / able to ignore
how the sparrow flits or the dog barks
when I walk by, and what that means
about my own hu/man soul,
domesticated yet dissident like the roach
that ripped off its feet to escape the sticky trap in the home on Ashwood.
My ankles feel like that when I finally take off my shoes
after a long day as if the fight is over
and I think highly of myself
like a landlord might not knowing
that if a bee landed on my lawn
I would fawn.
What Would J Do
When he entered the market / that holy place
and began flipping tables and smashing birds
like a plate glass window at Starbucks / was he setting a good example?
It seems that in separating church and state
we have merely ended up with two temples
without seams / without a curtain between them—
When the comments section says
(Those savages are destroying their home again)
do they mean like Jesus?
it’s a rhetorical question ain’t no one asking
but everyone knows it's an indictment
The fires & smoke are signals
First come the sirens then the wailing
Days pass but the future does not catch up to us
More sirens and then a cry goes out in the city—
When night falls and folk begin gathering on the street
chanting about a den of thieves or (No Justice. No Peace)
are they protesting?
As they the silent the silenced throw recycling bins through windows
flip Prii chase down violators with/in a whip
aren’t they protesting
like the son of god? The same man that the chief / priests and
teachers of / the law tried to kill when they heard about his one man riot
What he had did. What he would do
when the comment section asks (Why are those animals
destroying their own communities?)
AnonymousMark responding: (To drive out the people selling animals to be sacrificed)
and NLT1115 saying: (Because fuck it) isn’t addressing the problem inherent in the question.
We’re human / not animals. People / not doves
Our bodies are temples that are being destroyed
out of ignorance / out of the fear of false prophets
Bryan Byrdlong is a writer from Chicago, Illinois. He graduated from Vanderbilt University where he received an undergraduate English/Creative Writing degree. In high school he was fortunate enough to be apart of Chicago’s Louder than a Bomb poetry slam competition. While at Vanderbilt, he received the Merrill Moore Award for Poetry.