Joseph Byrd

Joseph Byrd’s work has appeared in Fatal Flaw, South Florida Poetry Journal, DIAGRAM, and forthcoming work in WAXING & WANING. He’s a 2023 Pushcart Prize nominee, and was in the 2021 StoryBoard Chicago cohort with Kaveh Akbar. An Associate Artist in Poetry under Joy Harjo at the Atlantic Center for the Arts, he is on the Reading Board for The Plentitudes.


When the next-door neighbor
Molotov cocktailed our house
just after a midnight in June,
all four of us were asleep, we
who’d moved back home to the
Pacific Northwest after two
decades of lake effect snow,
thanks to those bodies of water
known as the greats. Their
delivery, similar to his, dropped
a cold so quick we’d often wake
like we did when the firemen
lumbered through our house
that hot night. Sometimes, the
Michigan snow kept closed
all that could open. Sometimes,
our next-door neighbor stood
out in the rain, his neck craning
at the possibility of drones above.
Snow can fool you, if you look
at it long enough. Everywhere
starts to look like it’s down.
If you don’t have an opening,
thoughts can take you there,
too. At the trial, our next-door
neighbor confessed to thinking
we were the bad neighbors from
years ago. I opened a door in the
place where I live. I asked him to
come inside.

NOVUS Literary and
Arts Journal
Lebanon, TN