Bryan Byrdlong


Bryan Byrdlong is a Black poet from Chicago, Illinois. He received his MFA in Creative Writing from the Helen Zell Writers Program. He has been published in Guernica Magazine, The Kenyon Review, and Poetry Magazine, among others. Bryan received a 2021 Ruth Lilly and Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Poetry Fellowship from the Poetry Foundation. He is currently a PhD student in Creative Writing at USC in Los Angeles. Source

Ode to Black Air Forces

Praise to the obsidian sole, which kisses the glass-

coated asphalt before becoming airborne. Praise 

to the black tongue, camouflaged, yet still 

flashing a warning of give no [     ]. Praise to the 

magic of ones turned two-piece, left and right 

feet a pair of wingmen to all that is fair in love. 

Original uniform of the fighter, multi-mission, 

robbin’ hoodies from designer shops to redistribute 

wealth. Praise to the weave of your vamp poised 

to catch flight into ribs at night, at noon, 

whenever. Praise to the aight whatever, 

aight bet, spoken wordlessly via emblem, 

prophecy of manual dexterity, long rumored

tale of ten toes down come true. Praise to 

your run through rap charts, Nelly who sang

of your stomp and survival, to 1982

the year of your birth, your absorption of

pressure waves from apartheid bombings,

Tough, by Kurtis Blow rerouted into

the democratization of dark energy. Ode to 

your essence making up 73% of the cosmos,

the power of 310 Angola aircraft in a single heel, 

to each uptown caressing a possible president,

to a force beyond force = mass x acceleration.

Fast lil ma working behind the cash register. 

On the way home she passes home. 

Ode to what you gave her, what you give her, 

wherever she’s going.





Literary Movements:


Anthology Years:



Intersectionality & Culture

Joy & Praise

Poetic Form

Pop Culture

Literary Devices:


an expression designed to call something to mind without mentioning it explicitly; an indirect or passing reference


a figure of speech in which words repeat at the beginning of successive clauses, phrases, or sentences


the absence of a conjunction (for, and, nor, but, or, yet, so…) between phrases and within a sentence


conversation between two or more people as a feature of a book, play, or movie


a lyric poem in the form of an address to a particular subject, often elevated in style or manner and written in varied or irregular meter


the attribution of human qualities to a non-human thing