V  P  R

Contemporary Poetry and Poetics





Can I help it that I keep writing 
the same poem over & over again?
No more than I can help being 
reborn into this world 
a million times every instant, 
a luxury so prolonged & painful
that I'm unable to adequately
prepare for it before, during, or after. 
Nevertheless, I apologize, 
not only to any reader
who's already suffered 
my previous poems on this color,
but also to Picasso's famous Blue Period,
Lawrence's "Bavarian Gentian,"
that "blue, forked torch of a flower,"
Dylan's "Tangled Up in Blue"—
it's impossible to list them all, 
so let this serve as a blanket apology 
to every one of the world's living & dead 
blue virtuosos—except the author of 
"Love is Blue," a scratched-up single 
I played a dozen times every night 
during the first few months of seventh grade
as I wept, ostensibly 
over the unshakeable indifference
of my lab partner Arthur Farrell,
though what I was actually beginning to suffer
was my own newly-discovered strangeness, 
still moist & raw, not yet grown into its wing span—
I'm still a little embarrassed 
to admit how I loved that song, 
despite the fact that I've long since realized
the entire purpose of seventh grade 
is to raise up a standard of shame, 
self-reproach, & psychospiritual devastation 
no other epoch could hope to equal.
But this blue I'm compelled to glorify— 
it's not robin's egg, navy, or indigo; 
it's a shade that should be named "devastation blue,"
the excruciating, lacerative blue of today's sky
whose incandescence suggests 
that its nearest blood kin is neither 
violet nor emerald, 
but gold—this blue must be
gold's daughter, 
the flame inside the flood, 
the flood inside the wind,
the wind inside the flame, 
the very reason we've all been tiptoeing around 
in a state of perpetual pre-emergency,
as if in hard hats, anticipating tremor 
& tremor's aftermath, 
the cataclysmic release from above 
of everything heaven would hold back no longer, 
though whether in grief or relief, no one could know.
But if only we'd bothered to glance around us,
if only we'd observed all those cumulonimbi heaping up
in even the shallowest of parking lot puddles,
if only we'd noticed the ever-expanding population
of the broken-winged, both avian & human,
maybe we would have deduced earlier 
that never has the sky not been falling
from every direction, from every dimension,
above, beneath, between, within, 
as if all along, even from the very beginning,
there's been some kind of unspeakable rending
at the heart of things, 
some tear, some irreversible 
breaking open, because look! 
Every living thirst is drinking!
Half-hidden between porch bricks, 
the striped gecko flicks its forked tongue
at the freshness, then drinks;
the wild birds with their hooked & 
curved & serrated beaks 
drink from leafcurl, from river, 
& from the air, in flight;
even the stones drink, 
taking in the sweetness 
through their slick & shiny 
or rough & grainy skins
as stones were born to do, 
though it's not enough for them—
their flinty molecules long for more,
so because the International Law of Stones
compels them to continue
until they're quenched, 
all of them, from the softest talc
to the most impenetrable diamond,
are breaking open with loud sighs 
that astonish no one more than themselves 
as they begin to drink 
from the inside out, guzzling 
supercharged, supersaturating blue 
straight from their split heartcores.
You know those kinds of sighs
that smolder with all the other exhalations
seeping bluely through the world's every
chink, crack, fracture, perforation, 
any place where the edges 
don't come together anymore,
the ripped meridian, the ruptured vein,
exactly the kind of landscape you'll need to visit
if you want to drink from the headwaters—
& not visit only; 
once you've located 
such a wound, you'll want to enter, 
no matter how swiftly 
it flickers in & out of sight.
Inside, you'll find
there's room to unfurl 
your baby or grown-up wings,
your fastidious or blundering wings,
your blushing, drowned, or glissando wings,
your blistered, bandaged, or lightly iced-over wings—
unfurl them as far as they'll go, or farther,
& fly around in enormous circles, figure 8's,
rhomboids, hexadexadrons, helioglobes, 
any shapes your particular wings might invent, 
fly until your lungs are drinking, 
your bones are drinking 
even the roots of your hair are drinking
from that unstaunchable 
hemmorhage of blue.

© by Claire Bateman


Contributor's note
Next page
Table of contents
VPR home page