November 10-16, 2003: Nan Byrne and R. Paul Craig

week of November 10-16, 2003

Nan Byrne and R Paul Craig

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Nan Byrne

Bio (auto)

Nan Byrne is a recent graduate of Virginia Commonwealth University with an MFA in fiction She lives in Virginia Beach, Virginia Her work has appeared in the  New Orleans Review, Seattle Review, So To Speak: A Feminist Journal of Language and Art, and others A recipient of a fellowship from the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts she is currently at work on a screenplay.

The following work is Copyright © 2003, and owned by Nan Byrne and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.

American Landscape

Something is happening in the picture A boy stares
into the lens of the camera a third eye focused
on a Chevy IROC idling blue gray smoke
behind him Thin as a question mark
Repeats the story he carries in his bones
Pulls off his baseball cap
runs his fingers through the bristles Smiles
This picture was taken in Wheaton, Kansas
or Durban, North Carolina, Albuquerque The boy is a neighbor, a face from the high school
yearbook Your son or mine If you look closely
you can see the growth plate settling
somewhere between the skull
and the groin The boy’s name is Doe
or Davey, but you can call him Delmore
if you want to get him mad
Pale skinned like his mother Lion maned
Pineapple hands He fixes cars down at the Shell
But all you see is the cowlick, upturned jeans
This can only be the fifties, but Eisenhower
has been dead for forty years Boys grow slowly
in the country How the sun moves
through the trees in winter Hiding warmth
inside the spaces of the absent leaves
Like fireflies gathering in the dusky twilight
holding fast to a disappearing life There’s nothing
that this boy is missing No place he’d rather be

Ice Cream

In 1955
my grandmother’s brain
short&Mac246;circuited An embolism
pushed its way
into an artery Her future over
before we met
Like flat soda she sat
all day No fizz or bubble
A shadow in a sweater
Dark hair neatly stacked,
flowered housedress, black pegged shoes
A grandma outline
Every Sunday afternoon we arrived
Supper was at two
Meat and potatoes in a mixing bowl
My grandfather fussed in the kitchen
Everything was liver
Never leaving her chair
Where’s your coat? She’d say
Don’t you know there’s a war on?
This in the 60’s
long before the government
ran the lottery that no one wanted to win
On her lap a red vinyl pocketbook
A lifetime of secrets
matchbooks, balls of toilet paper,
bakery string Black and white flickers
were our only diversion
Sing Along with Mitch
Could things be worse?
At five ice cream would arrive
packed in pints from the neighborhood store
Monochrome flavors, vanilla or chocolate,
only strawberry, rich and complex
offered any hope
We swallowed mouthfuls down
savoring the soft cool taste
While she slowly sucked her spoon
This small delight introducing us.


I walked the spindled path back
to my childhood home
Beer can in hand
Mouth twisted into courage (or some
approximation of an unfamiliar thing)
Approached memories settled on ancient feet,
all the while feeling like a sailor who lives for years
far above the water line then finds himself
once again at sea         
.In a blade of grass to drown

Gone: the days where land and water meet
Gone: snowsuits and balloons Gone: gone
I drank the moon I drank the beer
Anounced my name to the night
Blessed myself, walked beside myself
Across the years
in God’s slurried soup

R Paul Craig


My name is R Paul Craig, and I live in Friendswood, Texas with my wife, two children and a cat I have published a few poems in small journals

The following work is Copyright © 2003, and owned by R Paul Craig and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.


For months
I couldn’t leave
her alone It was
dangerous She
wept, I listened;
she was inconsolable When she rose I stood
next to her, by the
window I put my
arms around her and
wouldn’t let go If she
jumped she would have
to take me along She
didn’t have the strength
to kill me along with
herself I felt her body
yield when the tension
waned and she turned
to me from the despair
of her decision
We both fell asleep,


The last book
my father gave
to me was about
Napoleon It was
written from an
American point
of view and Napoleon
seemed like an evil
tyrant, who wanted
control of everything,
of everywhere I was
reading this book when
my father died My
distaste for Napoleon
has been unshakable
ever since.

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