Elena Karina Byrne

Montage & painting artist freelance teacher, private chef, reviewer, a Contributing Editor for the Los Angeles Review of Books, Literary Programs Director for The Ruskin Art Club, and Executive Director of AVK ARTS, Elena Karina Byrne is author of The Flammable Bird and Masque (Tupelo Press), the just completed Out of Frame (poetry,) and Voyeur Hour: Poetry, Art and Desire (essays,). Pushcart Prize Winner & Best American Poetry recipient, Elena's work can be found in APR, Volt, Ploughshares, The Paris Review, The Kenyon Review, The Yale Review, Denver Quarterly, Poetry, Tri Quarterly, Diode, and Drunken Boat, among others.


To submit this material to the alchemical process means to apply
conscious effort and attention to the task of refining and separating
the composite mixture to the end that the Self or archetypal psyche
will be freed from its contamination with the ego.
          -Edmund F. Edinger

Your own.

                      Benediction joy joy.

“Egyptian art” searching universal solvent (forerunner chemistry)
for life’s lasting, secret first-rate elixir
                                            the color of bees bodies,
                                            like several times self-assumed graffiti-ale
(even Herodotus drank the barley bree),
virgin church-ale, popular but weaker than bath water, than will-hops.

Now the leaving silver, the returned lover,
                                 rain-water out o’door, now mix with

spotted, dapple donkey Quixote, feather
fetish dust-pinch, childhood fever, orchid wig, your waking flesh…

           Take the oceans’ peach jellyfish petticoat silks
           to dream by, heal, contract covenant, water-pray.

                                                        Snuff leave-taking of bedside air.
                                                        Is an echo a contamination of the original?

Hi….Hi, Hi, Hi, Eye, I, I, I, I, I…

She stood on a hill with seven brown eggs in her dress’s
pulled-out hammock, and she saw, exactly like, above
the slain sun, her mind moving away from her body,
its tarnished basket of coin.


Footfretted in it,

cast your salt’s earthcast, buried on the north side, hand-
print, foot-print, beheaded opal ill luck,
love-brought, bringing in shirty, money,
to shoe it in, depart the groom, Shall I, Shall I?

           That’s the old camp, to strike lucky at the mouth
           of the sea speaking back in heavy breaths.
           Always harping on one string till an answer stitches out:

Hull, Hell and Halifax

further to make your point less of
an ache to happenstance’s criminal mystery or cry.
From: First to last, love

the brethren house… in your third age
of who you are, seeing itself as the only window with its light on,
as the fall-out time still reaching you,
like dirt up to your ears until you can’t hear anymore.

He will she, she will he…

                         Hear Ye, Hear Ye, this court will come to an order.

from Voyeur Hour, 8PM


“there will I be, waiting for myself”
from the painted porch of that house you are not building for me, that could be
mine. It was my body that survived your Amazon obsolete course, flight of green stairs
down the waterfall, survived the carjacking turn of events caught on tape, my blood-trail.
I can hardly see until you open my eyes with your one eye, sugar on the mark. I hate you
because you gave me permission. I’m all leather in the saddle. You’re in the horse.
Through the window, I hop in the passenger seat next to you driving down the street, your Elvis
sideburns on fire. Fear has everything to do with it, but I don’t have to be afraid for long, do I?
The weight of water holds my new voice upstream. It moves like an epitaph to
the future. Whoever swallowed that drink, gave me thirst. Whoever gave me music, knew
silence. Swine eat pearls. Clouds fall down and drown themselves in the soil, in another
state. I am reading other women like myself in a Venetian metaphor, subsequent
orientation on the verbal page. Billboard images bully each weakness until your ribs
hurt like metal crowbars. Rabbits breed like the violence in the mind. Humpty Dumpty
falls down inside of me for a few hundred thousand dollars. I can see myself there,
bearing the mark of the real world where they are making up what comes next, in me.


The level horizon keeps on leveling out.

Stars are just tiny stick pins in the voodoo doll of the universe.

You’ve been in a glass-bottomed boat with no air

                                           all year.


–– fathom the wall for it’s paper-guilt lily, press your bare breast against it.

from Voyeur Hour, 6PM

Today I followed a young couple in the street,
                                           wanted them familiar,

his pant leg, her fallen shawl, what truth should look like.

Gestures passed between us. Out of frame:
                                           their hands, their mouths, my loose hair.

There’s a soft vein at the ankle, one wrinkle above the lip like a Spanish accent
over its vowel.

1: one obtaining sexual gratification from observing unsuspecting individuals who are
partly undressed, naked, or engaged in sexual acts; broadly : one who habitually seeks
sexual stimulation by visual means



                     As if you already knew what I was doing. Self-touching.

Sight taken. Image given.

A bicycle in the bathroom, its metal bell. Body of books in bed.

                     Story points to context, you know.

Just chance encounters
                                  I insist, because nothing happens otherwise.

In case you decide to become a smoker,

and the everlasting lack of sleep stares back like a new bruise…

Richard Tuttle Behind Artist Richard Tuttle

Beauty…is unavoidable, though art is not.
          -Richard Tuttle

Look    fifty four inches from the floor    at the height, light switch,

the objects, even the part you don’t like

hung in this annex-dark room, there

where your hands might reach:    drawing in space,    a postscript
everyone wants to read.

But people become after the fact as they walk away or toward—
(I’m not leading. I’m following)
    Take a couple for example:
Two With Any To    the place where something happens as the salt is passed,

crushed between them, where

in the middle something happens,    maybe    20 pearls

swallowed before sleep,
the sea a blanket pushed to the body’s margins,
maybe a Borneo Draco lizard leaps like a blue and yellow umbrella
spotted red from your bedroom gallery tree outside

as the wind frames the tree by its own movement, in that same moment
you tell yourself

perhaps I can free myself from myself    here
on the side of what cannot be seen,


I’ll open all the    Verbal Windows    and hear the past, its dead fish head
heavy-breathing down my neck, hear

a child’s hiccups held far-off like water dripping    because

the moment where we feel least understanding    is the moment when

          something happens,

unstrung from thinking, in a room full of people looking at art,
when a body wants to fall in love elsewhere…all the beauty it can bear,

          it can self-drown.

It is hard to get free of all the beauty in the world,
paint, language and salt soaking up the oyster-chattering darkness.

It is easy to get obsessive.

Back-off. Walk sundown-backwards pass the lawn sprinklers, back
          inside. Press your back

fifty four inches from the floor

next to the light switch — let
          someone less miserable than you

turn it on.