The Chase Byron Poetry Project

Chase Byron

This project is about the work of Chase Byron, a Sarasota poet who died about ten years ago at the age of 30, one of the most talented souls I have ever had the privilege to know. A Pine View grad as well as a graduate of the Bread Loaf school of English at Middlebury College, he left behind a wealth of work. A large portion of it was found in a cardboard box of old notebooks containing reams and reams of poetry, the earliest dating back to when he was about 14 years old.

The notebooks contain well over 600 hundred poems written consistently through a ten year period. As a set they are like a journal in poetry, and to read them in chronological order is to be like a passenger in the deep inner world of a talented and keen observer coming into being. And though many of the poems concern common everyday things, the sort of thoughts and emotional struggles you would expect of a deeply passionate, thoughtful, and intellectual young man, none of them are written in a common way.

on love:



When I hear the clouds open quickly and douse my stairs

or the horizon is ominous, dark and brooding all afternoon,

I think of your graceful solid eyes, your hair

wet from a few tears, your floating form crossing the room.


I am the eager, tireless

I am retreating like the beaten wave

You, the shore beneath me, answering me, advancing.



 on cats:



the life of

a cat so


but not


the life

of a cat

so simple

yet complex

the life of

a cat

never missing

a kiss or


the life

of a cat

so envious

am I



 on heartache:



My expression had some of the sparkle of shattered glass

when she touched me. A catastrophe not quite cleared away.

If love were as simple as colors, things would be different.

I could see what she was by the light she kept.


There are songs which bring out the color in people.

Ella returns “Miss Otis” like a mirror.

There are prayers we cling to without knowing why.

She offered to hold me in this way, but I reflected.


I chose the blues that night. I chose not to sing.

I preferred the past to anything the spectrum showed.

There is darkness behind the mirror and between the light.

Blue is a color I can lap up to sustain the self and the source.



on longing:



There is a subtle pull

that we strain against

after dinner, when we are full

or after drinking when we are lost.


There is a subtle pull that

we strain against

when we wake in the midst of dreams.


It is slower than the river;

more narrow than the sea.


It takes years to notice

and seconds to forget

it builds and dissolves

like clouds in the sky

and we strain against it

like time on our skin.



on a relationship:


You make me want to return to the pocket of my body
You make me want to fold and fold and finally crumple
I am not necessarily safe there, but I know the terrain




These poems were transcribed from the notebooks one by one over the course of six or seven years. It was slow going. Chase’s handwriting isn’t the easiest to read, and some were written with such a fury that the words seemed to melt from one to the next. But the process was like brushing sand from gold coins.

These poems stand on their own. They speak for themselves. But aside from the occasional coffee house reading, there are few opportunities and forums like a stage or a gallery for poems to be gathered around and discussed. And these poems need to be out there in the world.

The project is a simple one. The aim is to have as many illustrators and artists who are willing, both here in Sarasota and abroad, to take custody of one or two of these poems and filter it through their own vision and talent, to draw, paint, sculpt, film, or dance it.

We plan to have a gallery exhibition and reading sometime in the early spring (2013,) towards the end of next season. The poems are full of imagery and depth- they resonate- there is a lot there to work with.

As more of the details are hammered out, I will be updating this page. For now I have included about fifty poems in the window below. They are a sampling from across the whole set, and a good starting place. Some of these are from when he was as young as 14, including the one I illustrated above, and others are some of his final works. If you are like me and have trouble reading poetry online, I do have a number of printed copies of this sampling in the form of little chap books and can make more. Just send me an e-mail ( and we’ll figure out how to get one to you. Likewise there is the entire set which I can lend out for those who want to dig deeper.

Please email me either way if you are interested in participating. I think it’s fine if more than one or two or five people tackle any one poem, but I’d like to keep track just to be sure it doesn’t get out of hand. Perhaps I’ll put up a list of the poems that people are working with and how many.

I am also open to suggestions if you have ideas about facilitating this project. I see this as a community effort, celebrating the talents of one of our own who has moved on, through the great wealth of talent that remains.


50 poems:




In the penumbra of the Lord

The shade becomes an Angel

Coming down & Touching down

And slowing to orbit the dew


In the whistling way the of the wind

The grey night comes alive:

comes around, to move in the darkness

And blot out the moon


In the echo of a shadow

Lucifer, the angel, was born

And in the return of a shout

He was borne back again


In the solstice of the night

there was an animal of regal fuchsia:

A gilded tiger to stroke the forest floor

A fallen owl, to tattoo the tree’s mulch





I find it difficult to say

I like the sun- the plain light

that flays things and lays them bare

for the eye to decipher alone.

Let me alone to breathe.

“To dance in the moonlight full of puzzles

would be best” she quipped.

I am suddenly reminded of my dreams

of flying: I flap my arms trying

to take off but I am too tired-

nothing bleeds like the head.

“Tell me something that means something

else, and intend them both.”

My words hold fears.

But there is nothing between us

like the white of sheets

in the sun- nothing to see.

Nothing to say-

Your fingers seem the only nest for my tears.


3. The Fog Maker


I wake at dawn and brush aside

the clinging clouds, rise and shape

the fog. Turning each waft and jibe

into a wraith or shape of fleeting

human form. I reach into the still

dark and draw souls to inhabit these

forms. They leap and fall like the

essence of heartbeats. They all

but breath, and I am left breathless.

These wraiths are seen trailing

their dew along the stardust of morning’s

new trace.




I saw the beginning of time

reflected in the grey, blank eyes

of a baby boy, wondrous and sublime

And I thought- “how quickly that curious fancy flies.”

He watched the stars and dreamed

that the flowers in the field and drops

of dew could be more than they seemed-

that they could bring the world to a stop.

To have opened up in the blue cavernous

wonder; to have taken in, unquestioning,

the marvels on the lens’ surface,

I’d have seen it all again




When I hear the clouds open quickly and douse my stairs

or the horizon is ominous, dark and brooding all afternoon,

I think of your graceful solid eyes, your hair

wet from a few tears, your floating form crossing the room.


I am the eager, tireless

I am retreating like the beaten wave

You, the shore beneath me, answering me advancing.


6. Tolstoy


The king’s cape is tattered and torn

his crown, reshapen to form a plow

his visage is haggard and worn

he rides his mighty steed, a pregnant cow

and from the lake’s mist rises his blade

a glistening pen – he attacks the world without

tear or bloodshed – the life he had made

is simple and true – with a gilded pen and no fear

he strikes – stories of love, immortalization

of war – stories of glistening prose-

see a peasant in an empty train station

and now the world knows

that the king is not glorious

and war is not proud




Its eyes were blue

as I fumbled and drew it from the

water. Not bright blue- like the sea- just gone

blue-black, like the encroaching dawn’s sun’s glow

like the light would enter, hide and peek out from below.


It was living,

so much striving to stay alive,

to stay free and to drive the shades

from the willow at dusk when Hades’ demons shift

and change and death’s prey is suddenly stiff.


It wanted to stay here

where life is fuzzy and dear and warm,

like flannel. Where it’s soft and worn and old;

like sand. Where it’s hard and cold and cruel;

like a blade. Calloused, wrinkled, dripping with drool.


Its eyes were grey

as I lifted it, pushed it away, and set it down

I noticed its eyes; agape, a frown, alone.

Its deep sparkle now unknown, and hazed.

It’s soul now gone- hadn’t gazed- at all.





She was an American beauty,

So easily foiled, fooled, and flustered

He- another victim of duty

Always drawn and shaved and trusted

They met in the night alleys where

the water drops into green crusted pools.

A solid and vacant, empty mirrored stare

meets another and neither moves.


She grew gaunt and lean,

empty, hollow, emaciated and slow

He- something undead, unseen

since demons appeared from below

a swig and a swallow

He’d jig and she’d follow

They’d dance on the moon until

it struck the sea and having drunk it’s fill,

collapsed in Elysian fields; where they’d

wait till moon rise and shine, bore them aloft

again. Having struck percussion stars and played

the sky’s organ, they fell, and slept, and soft.


They courted in the usual manner

a little booze, some flowers and some banter

He walked away once, she many times

finding comfort in the highways following lines





The soot caked thicker

on my skin as the darkness

of the night advanced.

Something slithered within

It wasn’t the liquor.

But it moved through the

hardened crust like a burrowing

missionary, emissary, wary

of the task of getting

beneath my skin.





the life of

a cat so


but not


the life

of a cat

so simple

yet complex

the life of

a cat

never missing

a kiss or


the life

of a cat

so envious

am I





The water parts

and the barren sand

below is reviled


the trees whisper

in the wind


the birds share their

eternal secrets


then it is over

all over

blown away

on solar wind




The night was clear until

the fog came-

flaxen and strungout-

stretching and reaching toward


patient in the knowledge

that it would cradle

and cleave to the globe


to its shape

plastic at dawn

and exiled until

the next darkness

bursting at its seams

came flatulent

and flabby

rolling into the world


I had come from hallways

accusing and tempting

me away

I had come from hallways

rank with doorways

which called

and cursed your name

I had come

into the night

bursting at my seems

and entered the fog

It tripped me





I was five when my grandfather

was dying in the hospital

he grabbed me by the shoulders

this pale frail man

weak, and almost as light as I was

grabbed me by the shoulders

as if he could by counterweights

or sheer force haul himself

back from old age:


Or maybe he meant for the opposite

reaction- to pull me from my childhood

to some safer middle ground for both of us




Who among us asked for breath?

That, at least makes us equal:

Close the gap between the ambitios

and the millions of oppressed


Who will give their children that choice;

who is able? We are not designed for free will

how can we answer the voiceless dark

of destination, when children, or delivery when still


Who asked to be laden with hands

and the burden of creation

there is a separate voice inhabiting my hand

It calls to me, echoing natural sounds:

Leaves hitting the ground say “mold with me ,”

A pigeon eating trash behind a building

looks at me and sings “craft like me,”

My own heart allies with my hand against me,

behind the pumping I can hear my hand booming

“who among us asked for breath?

you owe me. Now lets make the best of it.”



15. The Conception and Birth of Phoenix


In the wink of a twinkle

The stars began to bleed

death had come sooner, Than they’d seen

And they fell, like a downpour of diamonds

Yet somehow just a sprinkle of dust


There in the mist of the storm

was Callou, an imp awaiting the dew

squatting, till the refracted noon

sun spotted him and warmed him

and sped his chrysalises and broke his crust


Callou stood and spat and scratched his beard

He stretched, inspired and nipped a bit of drink

Reclined as he observed the house and began to think

of ways to enter the window he neared

without awakening the occupants again


He moved so slowly that by midnight he was upon it

He ducked the glances and suspicious glares.

Luckily escaped the “darling there’s something out there.”

And with a strained pull he arrived to sit

And stare: A voyeur’s leer of lust seated on the window pane.


Callou withdrew to grapple with and ponder

that which stretched before his eyes:

The nymph he came for in certain erotic lies

with a mortal. Jealous, he festered and wondered

and settled on a vengeance. He would give a blessing.


The blessing of a leering, club-foot imp;

A nightmare in life. He’d show that ingrate;

He’d bless her with child and curse it with fate.

The nymph slept, then men left, Callou on a sullen limp

The mortal- blissfully ignorant as he began dressing.


In the blaze of the morning,

the sun fell on the birth of Phoenix

Parturition! and that nymph child had come sooner than they’d see

And he came forth like a coagulate of starshine

yet somehow just another fate- fouled child.





When we slept side by side in Amsterdam

you, who fell asleep beside me, immediately

comfortably, reminded me of a messenger,

an avenger, on who brings light in small candles

to the world, your face was angelic in the glow

from the street and canal lights. You had made me

believe in the possibility of falling in love

that day. I had been an unbeliever for so long.

You, who proved the thesis of wonder,

to a wanderer all wondered-out, you slept

so peacefully, right next to me, those sparkling eyes

closed, in the assumption of safety with an imperfect stranger.

You bring me peace, as heavens messenger ought

I see in your beautiful smile, genesis, progression, and hope.




When joy is in the air, thick as flowers breath

and the sun is bright, shining through the palms,

sparkling on the waves, bringing gems up from the depths,

I think of your shiny bangles and dark arms.

When night blossoms fill the holes in the chilled air,

when I eat lightly fried fish on slightly breezy days,

I think of you laughing, all white teeth and black hair,

letting go of the world, unbinding your feet and dancing.

These old thoughts of you take hold when cicadas sing.

Now I know, though all that flushed also fades,

that if there were no laughter, no fish, no sun

to dance on joy, if all the flowers were gone,

if the flood ended and my rainbow came undone

I would still see your form in the promise of dawn.




I watched her cross the room

tripping, stumbling like an awkward fawn

and I knew how she felt

excited just to be there, wild, warm as the sun


When she walked across the sawdust floor

glued solid with beer and years of animal trodding

I saw a look like a wild animal.




I went to my old bedroom

the one where my parents keep the relics

of my youth. There were pictures of past

pets; dogs I’d wrestled with, and cried to,

and buried. There were things I created

years ago. There was a ceramic hand

with a thumb too small, but the back

of it was beautiful. It was dusty

and had cracked in the kiln.

The fingers had nearly fallen off,

the knuckles and the index had exploded.

But it was still there, a disabled

and immobilized creation of my youth.


I wish I was designed for this life.

I wish I could boil down the memories,

the distances, the people and the pets

to a life properly scaled.



There is a subtle pull

that we strain against

after dinner, when we are full

or after drinking when we are lost.


There is a subtle pull that

we strain against

when we wake in the midst of dreams.


It is slower than the river;

more narrow than the sea.


It takes years to notice

and seconds to forget

it builds and dissolves

like clouds in the sky

and we strain against it

like time on our skin.




My expression had some of the sparkle of shattered glass

when she touched me. A catastrophe not quite cleared away.

If love were as simple as colors, things would be different.

I could see what she was by the light she kept.


There are songs which bring out the color in people.

Ella returns “Miss Otis” like a mirror.

There are prayers we cling to without knowing why.

She offered to hold me in this way, but I reflected.


I chose the blues that night. I chose not to sing.

I preferred the past to anything the spectrum showed.

There is darkness behind the mirror and between the light.

Blue is a color I can lap up to sustain the self and the source.




When all your bad dreams became

possibilities for the best

of all possible things in this waking world,

it is best to will your whisking soul

back into your body

and wean from your memory the way

to move your toes, the way back

to habit. From this tired old body,

from this gloriously sullied flesh,

it is best to will bad dreams

back, back to where they exist

as nightmares of lightning horror.





When the swinging bough

brushed the ground and swept the

dust away, it mumbled a

whispered secret-

I was too deaf to hear it.

But, when the lone leaf

leapt, shook and rattled a song,

it sounded familiar.

And when the sea spoke

in organized, outlined,

logical riddles-

I was busy skipping the sand

where the scrape and crunch

sung their own terrifying song.

So where is the sunset,

trailing its blue-black cape

and departing like a rollicking dolphin

just down to leave a ripple and a splash?


Where are the stars and the dusk

and where has that damn dolphin gone?



24. Wet Paper Flowers


It gets dark so quickly these days-

The bush by the door was mutilated,

with all its wet paper flowers, while I was away.

The flowers; so soft, light, white and crenellated

blossomed and bloomed and swayed

so tender and white, creamy, they were lactated:

Dripped from the breast of Gaea, delayed

upon these branches, sweet, bright, and green

branches, making pseudo-solid shadows, that danced and played

on the sidewalk, barely touched, barely seen.

Then to be slayed.

Then to have been beaten, decimated,

and then to have fallen.

To have lost their beauty in so desperate a way,

to have been cut, decapitated:

sacrificed and deflowered.




25. N’awlins


She was the dark angel of mystics

She fed for centuries on the muddy life

of the giant river and the blood of ambling misfits

Daily she grew stronger with the blood spilled

in her cobbled veins. She drew power from strife

and dark, dangerous games. Her belly was filled

with the rotting dreams and souls of the mislead

She’d devour the strongest and weakest and would bare her teeth

to one and all. And each of the Ghosts on which she fed,

here gone, would coagulate and gather as fog,

creep and stretch, ankle deep across cobbles, beneath

street lamps, It was there I walked – there I trod-

Lifting and dropping my footfalls and leaving a shade

of a sound, disturbing her natives (her meals)

dripping my feet just long enough for them to invade,

inhabit, taint and exit me. They led me to the neutral ground.

And I listened, on my walk, for the click of my heels

But cut glass, marbles, magnolia and manicured lawns won’t resound

The clocks and strides borne by the tracks of the poor



26. Away Crawls the Salamander


The vermillion salamander leapt

from the precipice and blew

the wind from the north till we wept

the tears of ambivalence; though we knew

that slick runner ushered in

his counterpart: an ivory snake

of iridescent scale; who brings men

the pinpoints of scythes, and gems on lakes,

the darkness of ebony, and who seethes

with the boiling brew of crimson

and brings the movement of azure to the seas

the snake is he, the snake’s the one

who brought us light without the sun



27. Back to Eden


Doctor Adam Principus

Placed the final Bolt

In the singing bird

Paced and fumed

And felt his beard

He was short of breath


No herbs in his garden could aid

his search for inspiration

No smokes nor salves

Nor fast from decadence

would serve as fruit of life

He was simply short of breath


So he packed his bags

And headed home

caught in a nucleic undertow

And heading home

To some plot of fecundity

The repository of breath


He searched alleys and furrows

hoping for some wind-fall,

Some unfrosted fruit in the shade

of a girded and concrete

old growth forest of steel But

the city harbored no fruit of life or breath


Yet, the bird must sing

But he was short of breath

It couldn’t expire without

Life and no bird can sing

without expiration

He must find life and the magic of breath


And so he went home

in search of it





It’s easy to forget how cold it just was

when I wake in the suddenly sober morning

to find you naked beside me

and pleading with me to stay.

How cold it was when you turned

away mumbling, not staying aloud,

“Goodbye, for good.”

It’s easy to forget how cold it just was

when, while pleading, you say

“I love you”

But it’s harder to remember

the warmth

when all I can remember is how you lie

beneath me in a cold sweat of untruth.





How many nights have I lain like that

in some wretched sickness, sleeping it off

curled, humping my blanket with fever

the world magnified in my eyes

and waiting for the sweats to end

and morning to come


30. Paris


Paris is walking

through old cobbled streets,

miles in the rain where the subway

does not run.


Paris holds the solace of a woman

a beautiful whore

bought in the night

for the price of the world


Paris is dancing

on long thin planks of wood

like the deck of a ship

sailing for the sun

in the darkness of early morning


Paris is dying of shame

hiding in the corner of a spoiled fortress

empty bottles keeping pain

captive in the harbor.



31. Names


The bottles scattered on the floor

were just as futile to name and describe

as the gilded teak sculptured on the temple door


to describe beauty is to loose sight

of a favorite star on a cloudless night


Why must everything be named and labeled?

Men learn nothing – why write didactic fables

when you know the futility of teaching humanity


Beauty is a passing storm-

to be admired and feared

not to be cold catalogued

you can’t hold it – but it makes you warm




My feeling is shuffled between small rooms-

white inside and out- thru tight streets

airless by design, built for shade

in the days of strong sun.

The colorful doors neglected

cracked, peeling, faded from the blooms

and vines that have grown like kudzu

across my tepid veins and clogged the view

to the rooms of my heart. My feeling

is for you, but the last time I saw it

it was pocked and porous like a piece

of the moon, and as distant as a stone’s throw.

Yet it was fleshy, too, it moved

and was soft and flawed and warm with blood.

My custody of that palp was stifled

and stifling, it was a responsibility

heaved like a small continent. Feeling

alone, so close to misery, I have come

to you shaking, more humble than ever,

with the weight of a small continent on my still

smooth shoulders, my feeling is looking for

light, breath, new blood and air

I want to hide and heal

the pocks, close the distance.

I want to ask you to share

the weight and I want to give you something


I need your help.


You are the blue dome

and the foundation and building

that evenly distributes the weight


your body is my temple-

your life is my religion.





You look down at your hands,

your hands, so much like mine.

May they never shake with the effort

of holding the terrible burden of life,

may they never become calloused

and burned, as some do, by holding

the fire of free will gone awry.

May you touch the stars, but never

feel the desire to hold the sun

and let it slip through your fingers

like earth.




Can I just call you speed?

You’re my soul’s amphetamine

the more I know the more I need

to know and feel and see and dream





When we reach the tunnel can I hold your hand?

When we cross the stream

will you kiss my eyes?

When we find the dawn

will it be too late?

As the feeling finds my arms

will there be sand in my veins

or a brand new day?

Is this another brush

or will there be immortality

in the trees?


As if the primeval forest

were introduced,

or new to me.


Do beautiful phrases come

easily to you- or do you have to

reach and jump to touch the sky?




savage beauty

fluid grace

harmony in


deadly beauty



like a living


Its beauty

scared by reputation



37. Her Trip


without a sound she

leaves the


on butterfly’s


in a cyclone


her wings

snap and

down floats

the butterfly

slowly first

the world

spins as she

tries to fly

on only

one wing



and round

the broken




blue clouded

skies into

the barren


and waits

and waits

and waits


38. The Scream of the Butterfly


Beauty floods the hypnotic beast

before it dies

it will scream

it will scream the silent scream

it will wail so loud it can not be heard

it will soar above the highest trees

float upon the gentle breeze


listen very closely and you just might

hear its scream

the scream of the butterfly

39. Treasures of the Flesh



of the



on the







to see







a locket

to open


a key


me before

I hear

the wail

of the






I know no one who explores love like a cavern,

with the safety of ropes, lights and maps.

I know no calm beaches, with life teeming

in the gentle rocking shortly off shore.


The wind I know levels crops, trees and taverns.

The time I know takes smooth skin and beauty

in the short space of life, only leaving

calloused bones.





Your breasts are not pendulous,

my penis is not a bell rope,

we are short on standard sexy

we don’t match up with the magazines

but we fit together

like two doomed and separate species.




This goofball in his

too big suit

is walking over

my nerves like stepping stones

his condescension is like

tar dripping slowly off

of dirty, ugly trucks

which resemble Hephaestus.





words are like the ledge the insane hang from

the more you use, the more there are

language is a puzzle game where you can add

branches to a piece until you can’t see it anymore





Golden threads

floating unrestrained

in the



with free


olive eyes


color as

jade with

a tinge

of gold





in the












of a





45. In the dark


in a




the two



in the



in the



in the





in the






as through

a forest

alone I


I fall

over a

skull in

the underbrush




it is my


how can

this be


I am



I hold

my skull

in hand



47. Orphaeus


they lived apart…

they lived alone…

something missing…

something gone.


thunder clapped,

lightning stroke,

night was day,

and dawn itself spoke.


she introduced them

brought them rain

and brought them sun

it was too simple, too sane.


the wind blew


the clouds rolled in

night dropped its hem

like a curtain

in a small, town theater, at ten


the hours in verdant meadows?

away with the light, on the wind.

the speed and surprise, crystals in her eyes?

away with the light, on the wind.

they lived apart…

they lived alone…

she was missing…

she was gone…


taken from me

by the wind and the night

I cry; I, Orphaeus, weep

and pray for light


moon – turns fog

to silver

and the night

to ice


la luna-

fair unto itself

appears to me

speaks to me


as she lit the fog

so she illuminates

my confusion – I see:

my poor senses potentates


her scent pervades the storm


blown in on, us, dawn’s

prelude, blown in as bliss

the scent comes creeping

through ice, as I wished a kiss


I follow that scent

I follow that dawn

through rain and cold

and a passage dark and long


there I see the dark

embodied, and my sun

imprisoned the dawn

stopped following, it could come

no further


insistent, thieving cold

taking her from me… ‘till…

conditions, conditions

to have her back, yet I love her still


I sing, I play and on

and on, I walk to

the tunnel’s end, can’t turn

I take on faith, it’s you


I believe

I know it’s true.

I see the light

I feel the dew


am I leading a stranger?

am I leading a shade?

how do I know you’re

not still, in Hades?


I must see,

I must know.

As I pivot, as I

turn, I see…NO!

it was you,

it was






Ragtime riches ruling

men’s midnight drooling

porno-corner fooling

cold Coca-Cola cooling

sad soil’d singer crooning

moon up in the sky mooning

I’m way up high- what am I doing

Gunshot ringing out load

dead man-bloody drawing a crowd

first blood- Rambo- Invasion USA

It doesn’t matter – let’m die – he’s gay

Humanity, love, peace- so far away

I heard a man on TV say

america is #1 again

no- man

this is America





There is a need in me to return to my point of departure.

I am coal: take me to West Virginia.

I want to feel those soft hands in mine which led me

across the street.

I want my days cut into bites like the meat on my plate

when I was young.

I want to strike out on my own, start burning today-

I want the harbor of a cupped hand in the wind.

I want to die tomorrow: I want to see the dawn.

I want the woman I love to be happy with the man she loves;

I want that man to be me.

I need to see the grave I will lie in: I will spend my days digging it.


Bury me where I was born, tie the ends that I have torn;

splice my life into a complete seam,

dry my bones before you toss them

into the sea, make me, where I cannot make myself, a part

of the sun which has burned me, the earth which, under duress, bore

my weight, and the sea which I have loved though it betrayed me

over and over. Toss my bones through the wet coastal air

so that I might fly one time. But first dress my body in flowers

night blooming jasmine and diurnal irises, herbs

sage, saffron and cayenne; and outline it in rocks

with marble around my head, so that which is finally wise

will last, bitumen around my torso, that my heart and guts

will burn brightest as they never did; sprinkle talc

about my legs and feet that they might be light and fleet

as never before, and put powdered porcelain dust over my eyes

so that they may be translucent and pure in the end.

When I am this prepared, leave my soul in me, just

one glorious minute, it will crawl through the dust, it knows

the way, the walk, the upward and downward paths.


Forget me as I lived, that loop is of no consequence.

Forget me as I died, these coils kink on their own.

Just tie me up tight, draw the cinch around my bone bag,

and throw me out of sight, below the waves’ spectacular

borders of sky blue and cloud white.





When I fear, and when I tremble

I reach for a sheaf of phrases

and use it as a cane







Chase Byron