This is the Name for the God who Speaks

By Gregory Byrd


 

This is the Name for the God who Speaks
Father, you would know these primal prayers,
light flashing in the west behind live oaks,
a sky-slashed language dead after Conquest.
From that living world, we share only lightning,
an old god speaking light out of darkness,
a chant of rain as alphabet where water flowing
is a word.

I found picture of us twenty-five years ago,
after your divorce. We stood in front of the old
Florida Keys house where I grew up.
You poured concrete there
to appease those Calusa gods,
then steered your small boat into their vast ocean
where you taught me words
that cannot be spoken for greenrayed depths,
the language of whale sharks surfacing,
fishblood across decks and on hands.
Loneliness of the Gulf Stream moves,
over the horizon lightning chants,

dark, by the time you hear its name.

 


About this poet

Gregory Byrd’s poems have appeared widely in journals such as the Tampa Review, Apalachee Review, Cortland Review, Milosao (Albania, in translation), Poeteka (Albania, in translation), and many others.  Among his poetry books are Salt and Iron (Snake Nation, 2014), At Penuel (Split Oak, 2011) and Florida Straits (Yellowjacket Press, 2005), which won the first Yellow Jacket Press Chapbook Contest for Florida Poets.  He has received a Creative Pinellas Rapid Returns Fellowship (2016), Fulbright Fellowship to Albania (2011), an SPC Distinguished Teaching Award (2015) and a Pushcart Prize Nomination (1988).  Greg has a B.A. from Eckerd College, M.A. in Creative Writing from Florida State University and Ph.D. in American Literature from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.
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