A native of France where she was trained as a dancer, Brigitte Byrd is the author of Song of a Living Room (Ahsahta, 2009), The Dazzling Land (Black Zinnias, 2008), and Fence above the Sea (Ahsahta, 2005). About Song of a Living Room, the Huffington Post’s contemporary poetry reviews say “very, very highly recommended.” Byrd currently lives in Atlanta and is an Associate Professor of English teaching Creative Writing at Clayton State University. She is also an editorial reviewer for Confluence: The Journal of Graduate Liberal Studies.
(a way of excusing himself)
To maximize the effect of the narrative I ride in the empty man’s car with a scripted dialogue. There is staged irony in this exercise when I say I’m the Sheik of Araby and he thinks Django Reinhardt and Stephane Grapelli and I think a guitar red against purple butterflies and he says You’re the cream in my coffee (1) and I don’t say Ne fais pas de mal inutilement. (2) We wrap ourselves in the now and drive past memories past dreams past desires past drinking past his past. Outside a winter sun radiates through a white sky and we reach for our eyes. There is momentum in this gesture until he says This is where you live. On my way to the door I fool with a wooden ring on my middle finger. It is difficult to end with his words when time brushes through the plot. The intent is to narrow the gap between construction and recollection. Most men tell love tales / And each phrase dovetails. (3)
(1) The Sheik of Araby,” written in 1921 by Ted Snyder, and “You’re the Cream in My Coffee,” written by Lew Brown, were songs performed by Stephane Grapelli and Django Reinhardt, among many other artists.
(2) “Do not hurt pointlessly.” From Chéri (Colette)
(3) Lyrics from “You’re the Cream in My Coffee.”
(on the other hand we think)
Back on the wall there is persistent disturbance in the visible. Whose unblinking vision proceeds through permanent wounds. Whose strident father runs in front of a moving truck. Whose spasmodic emergency invades the shuffled sound outside. Whose delinquent melancholy trembles with brutal insomnia. Whose exquisite fragility crumbles with lethargic cruelty. Mais qu’est-ce que tu as aujourd’hui? (1) Is it life slipping away in the midst of a wintry spring. Is it theatrical clarity striking with outlandish perspicacity. Is it pious insipidity despite the evidence of emblematic torment. Is it flying despair caught in smothering light. Whatever the reason whatever the history whatever the erasure whatever
the future. J’ai que les hommes me dégoûtent.
(1) 1 I believe that “ Mais qu’est-ce que tu as aujourd’hui? J’ai que les hommes me dégoûtent.” is a quote/sampling from the movie La Belle et la Bête (dir. Jean Cocteau) in Beirut’s song “Nantes” (from the album The Flying Club Cup, 2007), which means “What’s gotten into you today? Men disgust me, that’s what.”
(something I shall leave)
It is as simple as waking up disgusted with an empty man’s uncovered cowardice and letting his cracked shell perish under a confused murmur letting his reflection vanish under a blue hunger. There was something pathetic in his going on deceiving himself to be somebody. Something dismal like a monstrous vermin. Like hearing you just have to try to get rid of the idea that it’s Gregor. (1) It is as simple as threading a silver needle between my thinned fingers and pulling the first stitch tight to secure a miracle. As simple as dismissing a desire to escape among pictures and finding melancholy under my eyes. As simple as living in a dream and letting my heart fall splintered on my lap without her hand on my back. These short summer nights are an excellent start.
(1) From Franz Kafka’s The Metamorphosis
(what a curious attitude)
It is difficult to escape the living shell of an empty man without turning on the dramatic metaphors. What I mean is that there is no sidewalk to lead me across the sound of his voice. Purple butterflies flew in my ears; I can’t hear you. The sound of a red guitar does not facilitate detachment when there is less static in the wings. Shall I memorize disaster when words glide above me like shapeless puffs. Can you still breathe, God? The vanishing of a breath always signals the end of a mind. I’d like to find a fracture of light a splinter of salvation a fragment of faith. I put my eyes on a diet; my tears are gaining too much weight. (1) There is no digression beyond buzzing rumbles. There is no inserted dialogue beyond the clinking of glasses. There is no garden blooming beyond the surface of the plot.
(1) From “Heavy Water Blues” in Bob Kaufman’s Golden Sardine