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Two Sonnets

By July 1, 2013 No Comments

by Joseph Byrd


We ate waffles the night that we met; sweet,
grainy things. They told what would come: a life
that’s moved from state to state, that’s held no treat
but each other’s company, often rife
with practice-rooms and metronomes, with queens
of mind games and teaching—women full
in their need to control (but how our spleens
tickled at the learning, the music’s pull).
And though we’ve steamed ourselves a bit, and pressed
what once was fluid into squares, left stuck
some skin on these hot snags, who could have guessed
the sweetness of these injuries, the luck
of this, our meal: the syrup’s ours to pour.
The decadence of our love flows, grows more.


When you bite jicama with a fake chomp
as if it were an apple; when you rip
the soles off your tennis shoes and then stomp
through the house, squealing Slippers!; when you tip
the waitress far more than she’s worth; when you
turn down the sound of my Handel CD
and then blast the windows out with your new
ABBA album: these are the things that free
me—mute prisoner of my homemade rules,
a self-caged bird, clipped and songless, gasping
for tunes that used to mean something, for schools,
books, teachers—something besides this rasping,
this sound of nothing. But when I watch you,
a hope fills my throat, my wings spread anew.

Joseph Byrd serves as chaplain for the Order of Lutheran Franciscans and spends as much time in prison as he can, helping to facilitate Shakespeare Behind Bars/Michigan. While living in Berlin, Germany, he was a member of Open Forum, a traveling discussion group engaging former East Berlin high school students in socio-spiritual dialog and was an associate artist in poetry at the Atlantic Center for the Arts under master artist Joy Harjo.