Vox Populi

A Public Sphere for Poetry, Politics, and Nature

Elena Karina Byrne: At age 6 Marina Abramović began living with her parents

and I, wanting a live white mouse, not a false rabbit fur one hung by its tail 

from the pet store, to be dragged by our cat’s claws in a double death ritual 

across our carpet, began wearing boy clothes, digging yard dirt with a severed  

doll head, cut my clothes on wire and rust nails, fear-climbed between backyard 

teeth of broken fences, crashed my bicycle on purpose for brother’s friends, 

shoved my fist full laughing into my mouth. You can enjoy replay and you can

 push your body to do things, creating one bellow-blown burst of light in the brain: 

biting lip blue to feel the heart pulse down to its left wrist, pulling back black scab 

from the knee to watch it bleed again. Pain is relative to its need, until a performance 

ends. Then you push as much air into your lungs as you can when someone else hurts 

another in front of you: watch it unfold, extricated: Right there, there they are, people 

being hurt by other people, long before we betray our memory, body in final exhale, 

a kerf-overlap of sounds, their human weapons filling our animal hours without limit


Copyright 2019 Elena Karina Byrne

Elena Karina Byrne, the author of three books of poetry, including Squander (Omnidawn 2016), is a freelance professor, editor, the Poetry Consultant / Moderator for The Los Angeles Times Festival of Books, Literary Programs Director for The Ruskin Art Club and one of the recent 2015-2018 final judges for the Kate & Kingsley Tufts Awards in Poetry. 

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