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.
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.