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Saturday, July 12, 2014


Sincerely, the Sky                           David Hernandez

Yes, I see you down there
looking up into my vastness.

What are you hoping
to find on my vacant face,

there between the crisscross
of telephone wires?

You should know I am only
bright blue now because of physics:

molecules break and scatter
my light from the sun

more than any other color.
You know my variations—

azure at noon, navy by midnight.
How often I find you

then on your patio, pajamaed
and distressed, head thrown

back so your eyes can pick apart
not the darker version of myself

but the carousel of stars.
To you I am merely background.

You barely hear my voice.
Remember I am most vibrant

when air breaks my light.
Do something with your brokenness.

Color Theory             Eric Leigh
"I envy your yard," an old woman once said,
leaning over the fence we shared, pointing out
a cardinal and a jay. "They seldom coexist,"

she told me in the quiet voice of the lonely.
"If you have cardinals, you can get robins.
Just nail a half an orange to the side of a tree."

And though I was young enough to want everything
I did not have, I never sliced that orange,
never nailed it to a tree. They stay with me still,

the things I did not do, the birds I did not call
with that proud color which refuses rhyme.
I've held sorrow closer than I had back then,

joy too. I know now how rare it is to see
those colors come to rest side-by-side—
the red breast, the blue.

Self-Portrait as a Child’s Stick Figure Drawing on a Refrigerator  Tom C. Hunley

“You are not what you think you are. You are something to be imagined.” Clayton Eshleman

Often I’m a musical instrument
that’s afraid of the sounds inside.
My days consist of arrayed efforts
not to hear or hum.
I’m like a baby who screams
at first seeing his arms swinging,
unaware those whips flung
straight at his head are attached to his body.
Why are you doing this to me?
a man asks his body as it fights sleep
and the crucial appendage droops after a woman
says Okay, why not, after steak and lobster
and Hugh Grant’s latest formulaic schlock.
So spent, his body mocks him; he can’t
fathom how he ever lifted the long-stemmed rose
he gave her, now drooping a little, too.
In my son’s latest drawing labeled “Daddy,”
my hairs are stray spaghetti strands,
my head an oversized triangle crushing my stick-thin frame,
and a briefcase weights my three-fingered hand.
Often I feel sketchy like that, as if all the wrong color
spill over my faint lines and anyone could cross me out
just like that. I haven’t always felt like a stick figure.
I haven’t always been an instrument
left forgotten in its case. I remember a time
in junior high when Doug Dickerson passed me
a pornographic flip book, the male stick figure’s stick penis
getting bigger and bigger and the female stick figure’s
stick legs getting farther and farther apart
until the stick figure bed broke and something hidden
deep inside me broke through, broke my body wide open,
a strange inchoate music that wanted to come out. 


I Provide for You, Boy Child, Like God,                    Beth Ann Fennelly

and like God, I will cast you out.

Your eyes blue as a drowned thing.

The harshest lesson:
you are no part of me.

Learning that
will cost you ages in which
your eyes will take on the human color: grief.

Coming to words won’t even help you
name your suffering.

You will embrace
false idols.

Yet those women can let you
back in that primal crawl space
no more than I can.

Approaching Thunder                Amaud Jamaul Johnson
Let's assume about the body
that after applying enough pressure
it could, same as the cottonwood,
or the limbs of that damn box elder,
the one our neighbors kept calling
a weed; how that night, the worst
of the summer storms spread its fingers
across the little piece of earth and air
we thought we owned, how it took
each tree by the throat and turned.
Yes, I remember the first night
I guilted you into making love,
how the color of the stone changed
in your eye each time I touched;
how silence rose from your skin,
began to accumulate above our heads.
And for hours we laid still, listening
to the wind opening and closing
its purple fists. And come morning,
we took an inventory of all we'd lost. 


The Red Coat                         Idris Anderson

It's sleeting when we walk from the white church,
the ground frozen, the brown grass brittle.
I am somewhat back in the long black line of mourners,

behind my sisters, their husbands and children. I see it
all as it's happening as though it's not happening.
The roses on the polished oak of my father's coffin

are sheeting with ice and I know the red coat
is too thin to keep my mother warm. She's not shivering.
She walks across the breaking grass behind the coffin

slowly and with great dignity—without her oxygen tank,
her mouth open, a rose filled with snow.
She's walking toward something silver and mechanical,

like a fence around the grave. There's a canopy imprinted
with the logo of the funeral home, Herndon and Sons,
and four rows of white plastic chairs and the artificial grass.

A blue tarp covers a red clay pile of earth. We aren't supposed
to notice these things. Bits of color in wool hats and scarves
and the red coat. My mother was determined to wear the red coat

which I'd bought for myself but gave to her because she loved it,
because it is the color that he loved on her,
because I could not bear her not having anything she loved. 


drew said...

Wow! That David Hernandez poem is stunning. Thanks so much, Jessica, for opening my eyes to his work.

Jessica Goodfellow said...

It's really great, isn't it, Drew? Glad you enjoy it also.