Eight Poems from The Blueness
Señor wrote [lived] as if he wanted to be blessed and to have this blessing be
received with humility for its grandeur or with grandeur for its humility, the later,
as everything he soliloquized about was beautiful [birds] and wise and made keen
by the looking, look, he’s charming as he speaks in verse and loved not just for his looks
but for something on either side of his illuminated line. Love him love his looking.
You can’t counterfeit your voice like that and toss in your blankets and call
yourself Señor. The voice only goes so far [so far]. The echoes die –
giant to dwarf to buzz because of the fuzzy gray areas of us: our skin, our dust,
the dander we accumulate from accumulation. I had forty, no fifty dollars once
I spent on things that diminished. I was rich. Now I touch you at this distance.
Then Señor found his counterpart, his amorous absence, in the suffragette: Emily Wilding
Davison, who fell before the King’s horse [Anmer] as it rounded Tattenham Corner,
Derby Day, 1913, a ticket for the dance in her pocket. Before what would Señor fall?
With whom would he dance? What art would he ruin for the cause and in prison
refuse as love is refusal as it is force-fed. Señor let her place a device in his head.
Tara loves the work of angiosperms, how they have inserted themselves in our black-
market, country-music ardors. How we have inserted ourselves in their elaborate
colonial poking, their good-cop, bad-cop interrogations of our apocalyptic ideologies,
she’s not so crazy about. Her provisional resistance is one, unrelenting plow woman
bent over squash blossoms [weeping for the Sioux] fighting the potato bug, Monsanto.
I know your everlasting shadow. Shadow of the wings and fuselage strafes
the field of lupine on the fly by like a boy’s toy. How can you be in an airport
and not want to be held, your torch confiscated, your face scanned for hostile
intent? You are not where you want to be, with Nancy Reagan, in the sun.
How can you be in the sun? Where do you go to get what you cannot be?
Not only is the World the place where you have to show your face [scan, pout]
and where they want to draw your blood and run the tests. The World’s a mosquito
[with a tourniquet] and a swarm of vexing others where Tara is shattered
into colorless glass despite her compassion and humming thinking dynamo, here
comes the train into the station with its squeal and sparks like a mind.
Keats with his face and nose pressed against a sweet shop window, Yeats said.
That shop a butcher shop, the lamb from the abattoir gutted, skinned,
hung by its hind quarters, specks of arterial blood on the carcass. He saw
his was and his specter-thin end in Rome, denied the apple and the bough
by doctors who would starve a soul. It was the skull he saw and the toll.7
I paint. I make figures, Veronese told the Tribunal. My paint is my faith,
your Most Illustrious Lordships. I paint a drape. I place many figures in space
as ornaments of my own invention. Yes, picking his teeth at supper. Yes, a buffoon
with a parrot on his wrist. Yes, men in German dress and hounds as would
be found in a rich man’s house and not the Magdalene. My poetry, your heresy.
Bruce Smith’s most recent book, Devotions, a finalist for the NBA and NBCC and LA Times Book Award, won the William Carlos Williams Award from the Poetry Society of America.