in partnership
Byers drew this image to accompany his poem. (Image: James Matthew Byers)

Read the winning poem in our Chris Cornell tribute essay contest

A couple weeks ago, we partnered with Prose - an online collection of poetry and the written word - to put a call out to all those who were feeling emotional after a loss of Soundgarden/Audioslave's lead vocalist Chris Cornell. We asked them to submit their essays, poems and tributes to the late and great legend - and boy did they come! Over 80 folks wrote in, but Prose could only pick one winner...and that was James Matthew Byers' poem called "Black Sun, Black Days".

Black Sun, Black Days

Born of grunge and metal's mirth
Beneath the pouring rain,
Swarmed Seattle; legend's birth
Incorporating pain.

Troubled childhood, feeling down
Within depression's clutch,
Chris Cornell, against a frown,
Ensnared a hopeful touch.

Sparking much debate in school,
Religion took a fall,
Hence removed from off the spool
As Chris had questioned all.

Drugs escaped into his mind
And solo seemed the path
He would walk as albeit blind,
Until musician's math

Forged a bond as guitars strummed
And drums in pounding beat
Measured in the way he hummed-
A symphony complete.

Gardens made of sound arrived;
The friendship formed a band.
Intercession, songs survived
And guided Chris's hand.

Rusty cages seemed outshined
And more so, I suppose.
Moving melodies defined
A Jesus Christ like pose.

Spoonman sung in deepest rays-
A black hole sun's delight.
Fell on darkened, blackest days
The way he lived in night.

Pretty noose foreshadowed doom;
A burden in the palm.
Blowing up the outside gloom,
The rhinosaur brought balm.

Black rain fell in drops of thought
As phantoms telephoned.
Been away too long and bought
The crooked steps he zoned.

Slave to audio conformed
As in between the the time
Garden of the sound reformed
To sink in the sublime,

Chris Cornell enjoyed a stay
As new friends jammed in tune.
Like a stone, they learned to play
The highway and the rune.

Be yourself- a mantra's gift
And time had come to pass.
Doesn't call reminder's lift
As out of exile's class

Fire, original in flame,
In revelation's scheme
Burned the solo album's game
As if some sort of dream.

No such thing, a scream long gone,
And many singles sung-
Finally the heart of stone
Forgotten settled, hung.

Temple of the dog avowed
Unsettled pasts revived.
Chris did all he was allowed
And for a while he thrived.

Never known, the reason why
Detroit became the place
Seeds were sewn as his reply;
A sadness filled his face.

Songs performed were not the same,
Conditioned on the ride.
Chris Cornell, a hallowed name,
Committed suicide.

This is for his wife and kids;
The Fans he left behind.
Sadness beckons as it skids
Across the bump and grind-

Friends will not forget the man
Enlisting lyrics writ.
Concerts from the deepest span
Ensure he will not quit.

Lost forever to the earth,
Inside us Chris will give.
Born of grunge and metal's mirth,
His death calls us to live.

Byers lives in Wellington, Alabama with his wife, kids, two tortoises and a dog named after an elf. He has been published in poetry journals, and his epic poem, Beowulf: The Midgard Epic, is out now from Stitched Smile Publications, LLC where he also works as an in-house illustrator. Byers has also won four Prose Challenges and has won or placed in three of fifteen contests at the Alabama State Poetry Society. He continues to write prolifically, supporting anyone who wishes to place their hammering fingers to the keyboard anvil, becoming a polished wordsmith in the process.