Two Poems

Bryan Byrdlong


White Zombie

after the 1933 film White Zombie starring Bela Lugosi

you do not stop at tree limbs
creeping into cinereal, palm roots
in the path of darkness.

you drive into the midst
of Black people burying their loved one
in the middle of the road,

this path taking you past the parish
to the plantation to be married,
king, queen, to be marred not in the cards.

you drink the poison, yet can taste only sweetness.
you, the most dangerous type of zombie there is.
you say nothing, play Liszt on the piano,

you cannot hear your lover saying,
rather you be dead than in the hands of natives,
only them calling you in the middle of

the nightmare you stir from.
& you think have been cured,
what your master means when he toasts,

to the future—a dream you outlive.
you keep on keeping on,
a hard figure beneath a white sheet

waiting for a hand.
you do not know you are a zombie yet.
right now, you are in love.


Still Life: ˈblæknəs

after “Abstract Painting” by Ad Reinhardt


Space outside of time                   shaded line of ant husks            pelican eels in the aphotic zone

or dusk in a deciduous forest     that raccoon city a mask for the eyes     a horizon of crow feathers

preceding home            That’s so Raven               Telephone            like, what is a new moon if not

a black hellebore in bloom?        The queen of clubs            a book             Till        the curve of spades

till                        the renege          grrrr in a dog’s throat                ore        spots on my grandfather’s liver

afro textured hair on the barber’s floor                                  helix shapes snaking out of the head

The contents  of Louis Armstrong’s horn           sheet music for Beyonce’s Halo        angels with dreads

Ebony                 where the roots meet Mississippi soil                    coal as Audre Lorde’s bewitching

balled into a gloved fist at the 68’ olympics        Pupils expanding after the fireafter      A starless night

how Martin Luther looked        beneath its umbra          his theses spreading like light      Redacted lines

regarding U.S. troop presence in sub-saharan Africa    Oil spilling after the accident        Data leaking

into the dark net                         Becoming                         the color of the dreams we can’t remember

dreams in which we could have done, been anything:   laughter, a cry, a moan                   an infectious

tone.     the color of silhouettes consuming reds, whites.       Blues         If they capture youyou