Alice Friman: "Blue"




Red is the color of joy

or bludgeon, the eye-

rimmed sign of a tangled

bed.  Orange, the color

for tiger lilies, sweet

fruits on trees.  Spring—

pinks and yellows, fall,

golds.  Warm, warm

the dyeings of this world.


But the color of truth  

is the color of vastness—

the morning light’s wash

or the night’s navy

skidding to black.  Bend

back your head, stare

until you stagger,

that down rush of blank

held in check by a few

thumbtacks of stars

is accuracy too naked—

a schematic of emptiness

writ cold.  


proclaimed man measure

of all things.  That must

have been before he tipped

back his head, hanging it

from his neck like a cut flower

under the sky’s geometry, 

then cringed.  A bulging

vacancy, threatening and

heavy as a sodden ceiling,

sneering between the stars

its blue-black opinion.


                  Orion knows,

skydiving above the tips

of my maples.  Bright belt

for a dim skeleton: sieve

for the void pouring through.



Alice Friman’s ninth collection of poetry is Vinculum, from LSU Press.  Previous books are The Book of the Rotten Daughter, Inverted Fire, and Zoo, which won the Ezra Pound Poetry Award from Truman State University and the Sheila Margaret Motton Prize from NEPC. She has received fellowships from the Indiana Arts Commission, the Arts Council of Indianapolis, and the Bernheim Foundation, and won the 2001 James Boatwright Prize from Shenandoah.  Her poems have appeared in Best American Poetry 2009, Poetry, The Georgia Review, and other publications.  Anthologized widely and published in thirteen  countries, Friman was Professor of English and creative writing at the University of Indianapolis from 1973 to 1993, and she is now Poet-in-Residence at Georgia College & State University.