“the thin blue flame
Lies on my low-burnt fire, and quivers not”
—Samuel Taylor Coleridge, from “Frost at Midnight”
I get confused about red. Is it
a door, pair of jeans, or a flashing
light I want to guide me
toward the darkest day? Again, the longest night will stretch
into that moment
of optimism when all shrinking
is done and I can almost imagine
the view from the sun.
comes before red
shrinks to a new orange
reflection in the faucet head
Most—but not all—of the stain
gets removed. A return to wrinkle free
breaths, the smell of snow melt
over concrete, rosewater spilled
on a quilt, the color red buffed
without a hint of orange. It’s not
just about ashes—to strive
for purity even now is worth the energy
it takes to dispute or hang
in willing suspension.
And sometimes we just bounce.
“The guitar’s a-started
Playing by itself.”
—Jack Kerouac, from the 50th Chorus to “San Francisco Blues” (Book of Blues)
Hot wind and time
at an intersection
I won’t remember
when light breaks open
that hill behind me.
The spillage will be automatic,
will startle longing
in shades of red.
how I know. These are the split
movements beyond control.