He said his wife gave birth to their inner child.
He said the world’s water flows through a single tap.
He said Mercutio was a hothead in a quadrangle.
He said only fisherman sing the river’s soliloquy.
He said he lives and dies by The Nether Lodge.
He said moonlight is the most imitated form of nature.
He said even the clouds are known for putting it on.
He said: who do you think you are, one of the three Brexiteers?
He said Mexico City, en la Cueva del Craneo, 1973.
He said rain bones clattered in his father’s voice.
He said his mother was from a rare breed of three-headed sabres.
He said the grandest lunacy is yet to come.
He said professionalism is the rife of doom.
He said Cyclops calls the sheep in from the fell.
He said Dryope speaks to him on the heath in mirror code.
He said Mountbatten believed in angel-aviaries.
He said the wheat fields are cotted with blood.
He said he spoke loudest in bed.
He said the car waiting outside is the coffin.
He said: take a shovel under the southern palace.
He said the worst kind of talk is blowpipe.
He said the best kind of nightmares are calligraphic.
He said blue is the most echoic colour.
He said television is the longest-running cartoon.
He said Trident is sharpening for Poseidon.
He said Galileo never took their word for it.
He said he always reads the parentheses first.
He said translation lives outside the mind’s cave.
He said the Vatican got drunk on Maron’s wine.
He said they believe in the official version of difference.
He said every wasp stores its last sting in the villages.
He said the conversation made him feel like a pigeon statue in an empty square.
He said all power is malarial.
He said foliage is really submarine.
He said to watch out for the curtain’s shadow.
He said he was Neminis, nobody among men.
THE TRIUMPH OF FIRE
I unfold my handkerchief it is a flag.
Blood dries on the national rag.
Shadow gauze cuts your search
engine. Intel wipes you from the
register of international births.
You say goodbye before going,
mark west on the map of referenda.
Desiring of the locked door, hikes
against centurial progress, the triumph
of fire. Strangeness of skin think,
your shit is unfertilised roses, your
v-finger on the channel hand.
Warm greeting in the freezer aisle,
we used to grunt at each other,
soon I will bump into you wearing
VR headgear. Utopic when occupied
by light, nervous in forest darkness,
you play is-was, clan-clash, check
the tyre mud in your driveway.
Coil tracks, snake prints, arched
screaming of a country choir.
The prayer inside your temple
spells DANGER in white ink.
Your speech sounds drowsy, as if
it were night, as if death meant
to smother a simple ending.
James Byrne’s most recent poetry collections are The Caprices, a response to Fransisco Goya’s “Los Caprichos” (Arc, 2019), Everything Broken Up Dances (Tupelo, US, 2015) and White Coins (Arc Publications, UK, 2015). He was the editor of The Wolf, an influential, internationally-minded literary magazine between 2002 and 2017. In 2012 he co-translated and co-edited Bones Will Crow, the first anthology of contemporary Burmese poetry to be published in English (Arc, 2012, Northern Illinois University Press, 2013) and he co-edited I am a Rohingya, the first book of Rohingya refugee poems in English. He is the co-editor of Atlantic Drift: An Anthology of Poetry and Poetics (Edge Hill University Press/Arc, 2017) and Voice Recognition: 21 Poets for the 21st Century, published by Bloodaxe in 2009. Byrne received an MFA in Poetry from New York University, where he was given a Stein Fellowship (“Extraordinary International Scholar”). He was the Poet in Residence at Clare Hall, University of Cambridge and is Senior Lecturer in poetry and poetics at Edge Hill University. Byrne has given readings in Libya and Syria and his Selected Poems / Poemas Escogidos are published by Buenos Aires Poetry. He is the International Editor for Arc Publications and his poems have been translated into several languages including Arabic, Burmese and Chinese. Forrest Gander writes that reading Everything Broken Up Dances is “like gulping firewater shots of the world” and John Kinsella declares Byrne “a complete original.”
© 2019–23 The Lincoln Review