Ryan Boyd Writes Poetry

Old Media.

Magnolias

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 . . .

Floodlights

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.

Ogling the Madonna

1.
I didn’t think you could see
this, me, yes ma’am,
the bagman famine,
a diet looking up and down,
up and down each street
I live on, posing everywhere
to spot the innocents,
no worse than a gardener
working his dirt,
seeing shoots where none poke yet,
a pornographic horticulture.
I’m wound like a color wheel tonight
and have to watch it,
turned back by the laws of window light . . .
Officers—Jesus—the cuffs are tight.

2.
In the walled yard there
we sunk my mother’s mother
six deep in a soil crate, a long square.
In a black blazer
Mom leaned
like a tree leans on air.

3.
We are all bad men here.
Mr. Right’s brain is a barnyard,
he has embarrassing friends,
even Keats slept abed above monsters
after writing to Fanny Brawne.
Love, pauper’s ticket and the king’s risk,
is subject to trends:
nobody’s healthy, our best comics call in sick.
Yet even then ironic men too smart
to flinch at love will slip and take a beating
in the heart, however smudged or fleeting
was the thought. Madonna, I’m sharp,
I leer at love, I toggle.
Madonna, can you be bothered
to come now and ogle
my rubber heart?

(2012, 2014)

Better Hope So

I want Death to find me planting my cabbages.    
Montaigne

Had I the druthers
that nobody does
I’d fall out working the garden,
struck amid new carbon
then maybe jailed a day or two
by modern powers,
charts and prickling tubes
all shock-hearted, code blue.

No way I want the time
to calibrate goodbyes
for that suggests a long decay
before departure day.
There’s worse than leaving those
projects you had going, and going
out in your normal clothes,
barely knowing.

(2012, 2014)