They say the Devil owns all blues,
transcendental dream-shaded: indigo
heavier than cat-gut when the moon
is preening. Cobalt homespun in Zaire,
the country itself an outline of monopoly
lacking palate. Belly-color blue.
They say Picasso played the Devil’s
game because he couldn’t afford red
paint. My woman’s slept-in hair
can be blue. Mid-squawk vocal chord,
taffeta ghost in a devil’s chorus. Call blue
I don’t know why like the weight of water.
Monk’s forgotten triangles of color. Leftover stew meat
in the fold, shouldn’t have been seen red. Down the drain,
armatured memory. Brewed melanin red. My brother’s
5th grade handwriting, slide of needle punctuation. Need
the pop for cursive, like red-branched trees applauding wind
just because. Red is the color of nausea, serration of tongue
and lung intersection. Panhandling Eddie Hazel: eyes
like Romare Bearden’s color on a good day. Misnomer red,
an apostrophe of ash trying to separate tobacco from bone.
It’s in the rise of skirt
around thighs. Not seeing
makes the difference;
haves and nots falling apart,
molecules at a time.
and there is nothing
to be done, no paint to fill
predication: ring in belly,
garters reaching hips,
meniscus of silk between
arched middles. God’s
ignored love songs: O,
serenity of orange.
None of Goya’s witches.
Just porcelain curve
split by gravity’s symmetry,
the natural way of evening
out space stereophonically.
Dusty orange, running hips
like a drowned man
still scrimping sand.
Ecology leads to mulattoed color,
lulled by ambiguity’s generosity.
That husk of absorbed light,
those slim-spired Gaudí concoctions.
Check the cortex for totality in colors,
black. Or find flesh stripped for
Siqueiros’ brick underside: white.
Check the rinds for permutations.
Sienna, teal, or magenta—
improvisation in a modal spectrum.
Pigment is reprinted from The Devil’s Garden (Alice James Books, 2003).
Poem, copyright © 2003 by Adrian Matejka
Appearing on From the Fishouse with permission
Audio file, copyright © 2005, From the Fishouse