Monday’s Verse 2-11-08

Greetings, earthlings.

Diane Wakoski. Who is she? All I know is that, like my dad, she was born in 1937. And like my dad, has had a terrific impact on my life. But unlike my dad, solely through my experience with a singe poem of hers, a poem we’ve been running to celebrate Valentine’s Day in this forum since at least 2001, a poem I’ve called among the best I’ve ever read. It’s a Monday morning and this shit is heavy, so sit back, finish your sudoku, get that 2nd cup of coffee and a handful of Kleenex, and let’s go to town. In years past I’ve said a thing or two about how/why this poem works on me (and recommended reading it aloud), but for now I think I’ll demur and let the tyros have their hearts broken alla prima, and perhaps let the veterans say their piece. Peace? Happy Valentine’s Day. ~mjl


Blue and the heaps of beads poured into her breasts
and clacking together in her elbows;
blue of the silk
that covers lily-town at night;
blue of her teeth
that bite cold toast
and shatter on the streets;
blue of the dyed flower petals with gold stamens
hanging like tongues
over the fence of her dress
at the opera/opals clasped under her lips
and the moon breaking over her head a
gush of blood-red lizards.

Blue Monday. Monday at 3:00 and
Monday at 5. Monday at 7:30 and
Monday at 10:00. Monday passed under the rippling
California fountain. Monday alone
a shark in the cold blue waters.

                You are dead: wound round like a paisley shawl.
                I cannot shake you out of the sheets. Your name
                is still wedged in every corner of the sofa.

                Monday is the first of the week,
                and I think of you all week.
                I beg Monday not to come
                so that I will not think of you
                all week.

You paint my body blue. On the balcony
in the soft muddy night, you paint me
with bat wings and the crystal
the crystal
the crystal
the crystal in your arm cuts away
the night, folds back ebony whale skin
and my face, the blue of new rifles,
and my neck, the blue of Egypt,
and my breasts, the blue of sand,
and my arms, bass-blue,
and my stomach, arsenic;

there is electricity dripping from me like cream;
there is love dripping from me I cannot use--like acacia or
jacaranda--fallen blue and gold flowers, crushed into the street.

                Love passed me in a business suit
                and fedora.
                His glass cane, hollow and filled with
                sharks and whales. . .
                He wore black
                patent leather shoes
                and had a mustache. His hair was so black
                it was almost blue.

                "Love," I said.
                "I beg your pardon," he said.
                "Mr. Love," I said.
                "I beg your pardon," he said.

                So I saw there was no use bothering him on the street.

                Love passed me on the street in a blue
                business suit. He was a banker
                I could tell.

So blue trains rush by in my sleep.
Blue herons fly overhead.
Blue paints cracks in my
arteries and sends titanium
floating into my bones.
Blue liquid pours down
my poisoned throat and blue veins
rip open my breast. Blue daggers tip
and are juggled on my palms.
Blue death lives in my fingernails.

If I could sing one last song
with water bubbling through my lips
I would sing with my throat torn open,
the blue jugular spouting that black shadow pulse,
and on my lips
I would balance volcanic rock
emptied out of my veins. At last
my children strained out
of my body. At last my blood
solidified and tumbling into the ocean.
It is blue.
It is blue.
It is blue.


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