PoetryIssue 05 | June 2009


by Laurie Byro

This port is hard on sailors,
hard on beggars who don’t speak
French. When my sleeping bag
begins to crawl, we land at a clinic—
imitating sidewinders, snakes that lie
to women in deserts, cheap
souvenirs from a forgotten life.

I am ashamed and crying.
He is patient, long and slow
as the river murmuring outside.

His eyes are sherry brown, almost liquid.
We are almost liquid as we sit cross-legged,
his eyes warming me through
second hand tights.

He hands me a cup with a broken handle,
filled with tea from an island of spice.
He reads my fortune, peers into the mug.
He thinks I am crazy, he thinks

his love will save me. The tea leaves
don’t listen to his confidences.

He makes me drain a second, this time
with a clean mug. He takes my hands
instead, won’t reveal a better future.

I collect shells and feathers, cast-offs,
treasures. We talk about words
before we know the meaning of the song.

The part about Jesus always confuses—
drowning people, the blind men and sailors,
leaving these ports lonelier still.

I will leave him behind. I will come back
different. With gifts, exotic offerings.
Nesting dolls, a smuggled turtle, bergamot and oils.
He will wait for me, turn me into this.

Snow in his eyelashes when he kisses me goodbye.
We will warm each other through.
We will tell each other stories, make our fortunes with these lies.

I will peer into porcelain and directly in his eyes.

About the author

Laurie Byro’s short stories and poetry draw on myth, fairytale and her experiences of foreign places in the years she worked as a travel agent. Published widely in literary journals such as Autumn Sky Poetry, Loch Raven Review, and Stirring, her work has been featured on The Guardian’s online workshop and has placed favorably in the Interboard Poetry Competitions. Laurie is head of circulation at a library in New Jersey where she facilitates a poetry circle.


Read our current issue:


Two poems by Anne Babson
Vignette, Townhouse, 9 a.m. by Troy Cunio
Night Becomes Day Over the West by Megan Foley
Yukon River Aurora by D. B. Goman
Two Poems by David Havird
Cretan Love Letter by Emily Linstrom
Holland by Rick Mullin
Fear in Kenya by Kristina Pfleegor
The Lounge Lizard by Ed Shacklee
Two Poems by Sarah J. Sloat
Night Flight by Vicki Stannard
Koinonia Farms by Alina Stefanescu
Thessaloniki, Four a.m. by Anastasia Vassos
Imaginary Oceans by Jason Warren
Two Poems by F. J. Williams

Postcard prose

It’s Salty by Kelly Hill

Travel notes

Anchorage in the Great Land by Karen Benning
The Value of Small Money by Megan Hallinan
Screensaver by Sandra Larson
Thirty Cents by Tommy McAree
Gokarna by Kate McCahill
Going Places by Rachel Miller-Howard
Susanville CA: Notes From The Road by Susan Volchok