Florida haunts Gregory Byrd’s poems

in ‘The Name for the God Who Speaks,’ the St. Petersburg College professor often writes about the state.
Author Gregory Byrd
Author Gregory Byrd [ Christine Anger ]
Published Nov. 2, 2019

Poet Gregory Byrd, who is a professor at St. Petersburg College, grew up in the Florida Keys. The state serves as muse for many of the poems in his most recent collection, The Name for the God Who Speaks. Here is one of those poems.

Dark Lesson

I have had to relearn darkness.

As a kid, the dark was Skunk Ape

or capture the flag

on a night campground.

In high school, dark was girls

and drinking and up late

divining all the old mysteries.

Light was pyrrophyta

off a sailboat’s stern,

the whitish dusting of the Milky Way

from our dock. But in the city

there is no darkness

because everyone is afraid.

The sky is a peachy dome

covering stars,

a night watcher

for everyone afraid of trees.

Some time back, God said

let there be light

and we’ve been afraid

ever since.

The Name for the God Who Speaks

By Gregory Byrd

Texas Review Press, 27 pages, $15.95

Times Festival of Reading

Gregory Byrd will be a featured author at the Tampa Bay Times Festival of Reading on Nov. 9 at the University of South Florida St. Petersburg. He will appear on a panel with poet Gianna Russo (One House Down) at 12:15 p.m. in Davis Hall Room 130. Free.