The Tourist

Bryan Byrdlong

My red, gingham-print and khaki slacks do not fool immigration, which names the dark tidal pool
of my hair and must now see proof for the conference at the local college—I purchase adapter,
adapt to the city’s reversed intersections, the car’s swerving almost. A tourist lost in a maze

of Georgian homes, Maman Brigit on the General Post Office, the silent triumph of Easter
Sunday’s Uprising, that liberated republic with wealth for granite wreaths. In the hostel, a Black man
from the Netherlands gushes European dream, as if no one had told him of this hostile we live in.

At the conference, a confluence of recessions, ghost houses in the countryside, why to this day
an anti-humanist communion, a collective crimson sings “Zombie” like The Cranberries—
In Dublin 1, before the dissolution, a conference of Limerick fans in super blue.

I black-eye stick out, make a molt of money, cop a cream shirt dotted with small, black ships. We
set our armada for Temple Bar, my sole Black friend in the city in tow as “Mr. Brightside” turns saints
into seas. River gods carved into the wall imbibe in this light, and we drink until it is Sunday again.

I pay a visit to the James Joyce Museum where they act as if he has risen, then St. Stephens Green, the black bust of a friend who died in war. My new friend would have said, he, dead, dead,
noted the black bust wanted to be junior partner, or sure they “friends,” alluded to the link

between men in Thailand bathhouses—Speaking for himself the Black bust says, poet, says,
And for the secret Scripture of the poor. More softly, he sighs, At some point your friends can’t…
At some point, no one is going to hold your hand…I live sometimes in that moment on the plane

during takeoff, when, from above, the country looks like it could be the past or future
of any country, all that green stretching endless. This time I wear a different kind of camouflage,
a different type of fatigue—When I return home, all the cars are going the wrong way.

Bryan Byrdlong is a Black writer from Chicago, Illinois. He has been published in Kenyon Review and Poetry Magazine. He is currently a Ph.D. student in Literature and Creative Writing at University of Southern California in Los Angeles.
Originally published:
September 14, 2022


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