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Cathedral Trail

A pine sign

nailed to a

Doug fir

hand routed with

vermilion letters reading

V-tree

pointed toward a

surprise until my

eyes saw how there are

places one can’t

reach without

the aid of an

obscenity.

I found no such

tree on that trail

but did find a

couple who

sought that sign’s

promises—

he, lupine and

leaning away; she

clinging to the

dirty nadir of their

path—asking me

“Is this the way to the

V-tree?”

This is why

mendicants go mad

climbing to kiss what

cannot be found

why nothing stays in place

no matter what the

signs may say

no matter what’s been

nailed along the way

I said to them.



Joseph Byrd’s work has appeared in Fatal Flaw, South Florida Poetry Journal, DIAGRAM, and forthcoming work in WAXING & WANING. He’s a 2022 Pushcart Award 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.


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