Aug. 21, 2012: THE BLUE TERRANCE (Terrance Hayes)

I woke up yesterday sick and tired and angry and blue, so much so that even when I went searching for poems to share, I came up empty. But then sometimes the US Postal Service just plops the answer right down in your lap, doesn’t it? A Boston friend sent me a book of Pittsburgh mystery stories, and among the contributors was MV regular Terrance Hayes. Mr. Hayes teaches at CMU, and maybe he just tried his hand at short stories for fun, because he’s known as a poet. A reader recently commented that he just likes poems that rhyme, so this should satisfy anyone with a similar taste. Note that the tercets here have inter-locking rhyme as well. Is there a word for that? Isn’t this similar to the pattern Dante used in the Divine Comedy? Little help? Lotta repetition here, too. The swinging, personable rhythm throughout really lets him free up that cliche at the end, and use it to full effect. -ed.

THE BLUE TERRANCE

If you subtract the minor losses,
you can return to your childhood too:
the blackboard chalked with crosses,the math teacher’s toe ring. You
can be the black boy not even the buck-
toothed girls took a liking to:

the match box, these bones in their funk
machine, this thumb worn smooth
as the belly of a shovel. Thump. Thump.

Thump. Everything I hold takes root.
I remember what the world was like before
I heard the tide humping the shore smooth,

and the lyrics asking: How long has your door
been closed?
I remember a garter belt wrung
like a snake around a thigh in the shadows

of a wedding gown before it was flung
out into the bluest part of the night.
Suppose you were nothing but a song

in a busted speaker? Suppose you had to wipe
sweat from the brow of a righteous woman,
but all you owned was a dirty rag? That’s why

the blues will never go out of fashion:
their half rotten aroma, their bloodshot octaves of
consequence; that’s why when they call, Boy, you’re in

trouble. Especially if you love as I love
falling to the earth. Especially if you’re a little bit
high strung and a little bit gutted balloon. I love

watching the sky regret nothing but its
self, though only my lover knows it to be so,
and only after watching me sit

and stare off past Heaven. I love the word No
for its prudence, but I love the romantic
who submits finally to sex in a burning row-

house more. That’s why nothing’s more romantic
than working your teeth through
the muscle. Nothing’s more romantic

than the way good love can take leave of you.
That’s why I’m so doggone lonesome, Baby,
yes, I’m lonesome and I’m blue.

-2006

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