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C.N.P Poetry 

  • Writer's pictureCathexis Northwest Press

Illumination; For a While

By: Raymond Byrnes


Yesterday, the sycamore’s twisted grey

branches soaked in stale dishwater sky.

Today, in deep blue glacial air, chalk-smooth

bark along the trunk glows snow-blind white.

A birdbath, its frozen rim pecked by passing

chickadees, refracts the wind-chilled sky.

All night this brittle lens will hold in focus the

light-emitting diodes of passing constellations.

The coldest sunrise comes in clearest.

From a polar angle, frigid lasers strike

hillside clumps of stiff brown weeds,

igniting tattered filaments of goldenrod.

For a While

Roy Orbison sings

“Crying” on YouTube

in grainy black and white.

Behind dark glasses, his

face remains impassive.

“I was all right, for a while”

Press mute and he looks

so stiff. The right hand strums

but the lips are nearly still.

Press volume, close your

eyes, and the last loon wail

falls far out on the lake.

“But I saw you last night”

Ice shards ping on stones 

in a clear mountain stream.

“I thought that I was over

you” Glass chimes stir

in lightly falling snow.

“I love you even more than I

did before” You will hear

yourself repeating it for days.

“Now you’re gone and from

this moment on I’ll be crying,

crying” Your hair turns grey;

your heart stays seventeen.


Raymond Byrnes taught college English in the Midwest before leaving a tenured position to join the U.S. Geological Survey/NASA Landsat satellite program, where he managed communications for many years. Now retired in Virginia, his recent poems have appeared in Shot Glass Journal, All Roads Will Lead You Home, Panoply, Typishly, Better Than Starbucks, Eclectica, Sky Island Journal, and Split Rock Review.

“For me, it's nearly all about the imagery.”


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