Featured Poem: “Self-portrait of the artist as a Zombie” by Bryan Byrdlong

Self-portrait of the artist as a Zombie

But then again, there’s the painting, the graffiti of a zombie in black acrylic

On an abandoned building by the old home along with the phrase, Still Alive—

I used to jog by its form mirroring function, its derelict branded on derelict,

Its meta slowly renovated, transformed from an empty shell into a nest for bees,

A brewery with honey, nectar, the tagged zombie painted over with white. But still

Within, the folks leering as I ran toward home; my mother not knowing if

I would return alive in that city, that country, that time, another kind of ruin,

Threatening to consume me if I stop—In one draft, I do and the abandoned

Building turns me into an abandoned building filled with insects—And yet,

In the final frame, a boy who looks like me is standing in the doorway, while

A woman who resembles my mother jerks her hand away from his face

As it returns to her—Still alive, but cold.

4/11/19 Hopwood headshots

Bryan Byrdlong is a Black writer from Chicago, Illinois. In high school, Bryan was a part of Chicago’s Louder than a Bomb poetry slam competition. He graduated from Vanderbilt University where he received an undergraduate English/Creative Writing degree and was the co-recipient of the Merrill Moore Award for Poetry upon graduation. Most recently, he is a 2020 Gregory Djanikian Scholar of The Adroit Journal. He is a graduate of the Helen Zell Writer’s Program at the University of Michigan.  

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