Ryan Boyd Writes Poetry

Old Media.

Big Data

(for Marcus Boyd)

“He never was a charmer or a grifter,
this stooped man, thin-timbered
and honest, at worse lifting
bass from the river’s pocket, limber
into his eighties and fine
in the mind till ninety,
my man, who never saw a flaw
he wouldn’t forgive right
away,” I’d recall, boring all
my friends at the bar on Friday night.
The city’s channels are running full
of thirsty boys and girls,
but I’ve never handled stories well,
I fumble them like stolen wealth,
like greased jewels. My friends,
these avenues of thought have subtle ends
I’ll stumble toward again,
sloshing like a pan of milk
and trying to solve a mallard self
in ocean sickness and in island health.


Drone Strike

Doctoral clarity, then
ripples of dirt
like a stirred horrible curtain;
blots darting
away from camera trouble;
the growth potential of rubble;
the numbers;
and somewhere someone at a screen,
perhaps humming.

Fortunate Son

The table was set for carnivores,
plush reds, and cynical, published bores—
darling, my subtle, every barb and bent
look was over what someone wrote or spent,
and I realized the city of my birth
was gone, remodeled, the old maps
scurrilous and crooked, their worth
reduced to decorative traps
baited with small-batch honey—
an American city in 2018,
nothing but someone else’s money,
no good place to loaf or lean
and watch, the rich having given us gifts
like airports, low taxes, VISA, and Lyfts.

Koreatown, La Iglesia Pentecostes

Olive-sour streets
Root-heaved and wrecked,
A kennel of cups
And bottles, years of engine leaks—
Gold weeks supposed to come
Flinging love down all the alleys,
Till then faith’s meat
And uncorrected galleys.

Better Hope So

I want Death to find me planting my cabbages.

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.

New Countries for Old Men

At twenty-five I wrote down both
my grandfathers’ deaths,
one real, one soon, the old man
looked that pale.
Now I’m thirty-four
and Dad’s dad hangs on, sanded down
by dementia, conversant but largely gone
into the mountains of his past,
no memory of the recent call
or breakfasts through a tube,
the pages working loose
from his mind’s spine,
all the text of ninety years,
raised in a cabin by a coal-seam creek
in Depression West Virginia,
fading with ISIS blasting tweets
and the whole family going,
Granddad, Granddad, it’s me, it’s me . . .