When I look hard at the light and shade of prismatic sunsets, I never catch the colors real poets detect. They describe puce, ecru, mauve, whereas I see red and black like a burn victim’s skin. You agree that I lack the color sense of the true artist in prose or doggerel, but then you always take my side in arguments. Unless you’re disagreeing, of course. You see different colors: green and deep blue, with a hint of fustian. But that isn’t a color: it’s a dark, heavy, bombastic cloth to drape over thick rude men. Expensive, ugly textiles I could never wear. I wish we resided in a Japanese print, something early nineteenth century by Hokusai or Hiroshige. Then the colors would be prepared for us, and we could receive them like a blessing. The real poets lavish their verse with tints I can admire only from a distance. Like the makeup on a sex worker strolling along the boulevard. You know which boulevard—the one of broken dreams. Whenever we drive past, you comment on how professional the professionals look. But it’s a hard life, like being a poet and writing for the New Yorker or Poetry. Hard, degrading work, but decently paid. I can’t spend that much flesh on a craft I’ve never understood. Yet you keep encouraging me. Or are you mocking me? I’ve never understood irony, but believe it’s yet another color, a drab fustian dimming the sky after the sun has finally disowned us.
William Doreski has published three critical studies and several collections of poetry. His work has appeared in many print and online journals. He has taught at Emerson College, Goddard College, Boston University, and Keene State College. His most recent books are Water Music and Train to Providence. williamdoreski.blogspot.com