Ryan Boyd Writes Poetry

Old Media.

Sidewalks in Philadelphia

In January’s tank
Winter lettuce opens
Its grotesque electric purple,
Flukes and frills
Like baby auroras
Touching the sleet to beads,
Scentless, nobody’s food.
Against the quartz
Of wind it spins tighter,
All itself alone
By a neighbor’s doorstep.

Watching CNN at LAX

A man with a hairpiece like a pat of butter
laughs in spikes—ha!—ha!—
interrupting women on the other side
of a stripe,
and the commercials show people
who don’t ride the bus.
Someone’s steak-faced governor convenes an argument,
again dairy boy cackles.
A slim pair of glasses retorts
that his smile is freshest, a deep cellar
of white boxes full of other boxes.
Another, easily the best man at any wedding,
Explains graphics: someone’s falling.
Within the hour we’ve settled vast questions
of human government,
established that the main things
involve anger or loose pants,
and are best left to experts.


Sleek high powder

on ambitious branch,

fat bullet first or

a pulled tulip, then

a sprawl of spoons

and clamshell plates

hoisting a pineapple that awaits

the sky’s suitors,

bees and vagrant moths come

to loot white mansions.

All the while and from

below, certain

lookers might just twitch

inside a bit,

struck by life laid open

thus, every visible trace—

loose-lipped carbon

unlicensed in many a human place.

High Wind

It’s like the world blow-dries its hair
in a strange mood,
giving you dust-winces and grit in your drink,
like the air’s pitching a fit—

days even the big hedges shiver,
leaves curdle in the stairwells,
the lawn at the airport ripples.

Sundowners and live planes both do this
trick of conjuring turbulence,
a violent quick that shouldn’t be our model,

but men and women traveling together
sometimes do impressions of a manic wind,
meeting noise with noise—

often I do, feeling sharp and old
as a lizard, and just as green,
then I walk home repeating,
weather is better alone, down here down low.

But sometimes I do another thing,
hearing in high winds
a world that isn’t mine
or all fury,
which visits my neighbors’ variant lives
in the same hurry
and, having found them, fits their designs.

Virginia Primer

Shoots gulp through clay
And kudzu clogs the hollows.

Obsessed, I talk like I made it myself,
The James flowing backwards past the battlefields,
Dead rail-hubs in a swamp,
Thickenings where the heart is, oh Shenandoah.
Virginia is brush country, big in the summer,
Tobacco, apple, pine pulp, silver queen,

I’ll intone, boring my better-traveled friends,
For homeplace talk is deadly dull, but still
I’ll pull that world behind me, on and on,
Ugly often, mine, not mine.
In this one, now, the air was rotting velvet,
We listened at slave bones . . .


The place you’re from may be a slump
most naked in its rural parts
where there is less to rival, say,

the lone halogen blister
in the Family Dollar lot,

that greasy bulb over the payphone
at shuttered baitshops
throwing its cone of yellow cold,

chemical ruminations
as men refill their trucks
at Valley Texaco,

any blue hood of photons
in a lumber yard,
all the lamps securing churches,
fire halls and driveways,

houses salted in the mountain pinch,
cold burn and buzz
of filaments, this hum

on a widow planet,
our floodlit spaces
in the nighttime of the year,
though you may always be from here.