Raymond Byrnes: Poetry: June 2021

Southern Legitimacy Statement: I have lived in Virginia for nearly 30 years, but that’s not my SLS. I grew up in south Minneapolis, playing hockey outdoors every winter day unless it snowed too hard, so that’s not my SLS. A long time ago, I married an Alabama girl. At least once a week, she still makes cornbread in an iron skillet, just like Grandmama taught her, and when it’s fresh and tender, she fries up okra to a popcorn crunch. As they say farther south, “Lord, have mercy.” That’s my SLS.

Fireflies in Starlight

I rise and grope my way
toward the bathroom door.

Pausing in silence, eyelids
heavy as garage doors, I see,

between window slats, black
trees arrayed in glinting fireflies.

Raising a blind reveals signal lights
winking all along the forest edge.

Tree-top branch tips flare beneath white
stars like candle wicks touched by fire.

I turn away, too sleepy to observe insects
pulse in code ten thousand summers old.