Elena Karina Byrne

Elena Karina Byrne

Former 12 year Regional Director of the Poetry Society of America, Elena Karina Byrne, is a freelance teacher, editor, collage artist, Poetry Consultant / Moderator for The Los Angeles Times Festival of Books, a reviewer for ForeWord’s Reviews and Literary Programs Director for The Ruskin Art Club.

Forthcoming in Now Culture, Blackbird, Chaparral, Drunken Boat, The Journal and Kenyon Review, her publications include, 2009 Pushcart Prize XXXIII Best of the Small Presses, Best American Poetry 2005, The Yale Review, The Paris Review, APR, Barrow Street, Colorado Review, Ploughshares, Agni, TriQuarterly, Denver Quarterly, Verse and Volt. Books include: The Flammable Bird, (Zoo Press /Tupelo Press 2002), MASQUE (Tupelo Press, 2008) and the forthcoming Burnt Violin (poetry, 2012); works in progress include Voyeur Hour (poetry chapbook) and Beautiful Insignificance (essays).


Her mind’s sinker and hook-baited cant

in the middle of the earth,
Ionian breath held there, what
keeps the body up all night, raised from memory

like a fluorescent anemone’s vowel for its green –
you can’t smell the salt from her skin, ocean’s cull
and pale scow, nor feel the tide–

the Mediterranean jellyfish in its heavy petticoat garments

bringing in the numbers, on shore…off shore…

over and over again. Who will answer the ocean’s blue phone?


after Bill Wadsworth

and the heel of the sea hard down

where we can’t reach, islands of underwater shores heat-shorn
and abloom with coral, hallucinatory bodies

of wedded fish just for us, drowned for the secret
cache of sentences not yet made in our mouths.

Landlocked, nearly, an aria of shell-shock shore course of beauty
always in danger,
limitless. In this:

We lose a little bit of our lives every day.

Poetry in this post: © Elena Karina Byrne
Published with the permission of Elena Karina Byrne