Literature : Word Choice

These poems delve into sinister realms with the tricky whimsy of full-grown fairy tales. Tracing a renegade color theory along lines of lyric agony, Lasky’s verse delights in the juncture between sense and sentiment, what you see and what you get.

Adam Grossi, Site Implosion, 2007, acrylic and collage on wood panel, 12 × 12 inches. Courtesy of the artist.

The Green Secret

I was five when I learned the green secret

I was five but I was very precocious and I knew the green secret

Which I held to my chest

And went running through the fields in winter

Slightly glowing green snow on my face and brow

And on my horse would pour from the skies the mint ice cream

Which tasted so delicious when I licked his back

I was twenty when I gave away the green secret

To a friend who was not really a friend

But a person who needed to know

And when I whispered the secret

My friend’s eyes rolled back in his head

And when I saw only the whites of his eyes the whole room went green

And my horse who was long dead came to the window and gave me a wink

And instead of real colored eyes anymore

My friend’s eyes became the magic green forever

Two solid buttons of chrysophase eternally positioned

Somewhere in the vast forever between the mouth and the bound

Beyond the Blue Seas

Beyond the seas there is a blue fire

Much hotter than a red one

Beyond that a man named Blue

Much meaner than the red one

Beyond Blue there is nothingness, or so they say

I was cold cold cold

In my heart

I went to the fire

The Blue man was there

He asked for my hands

I gave them willingly

He asked for my legs—I did so

My feet in turn, attached to the legs

My eyes, my nose, my torso

When I was just a lock of hair and a valve of my heart

He gently held the two together until they were the most brilliant blue

And then he turned me into a stone

And gave me to a girl who had eyes that were simply white

And she wore and wore me upon her ring finger

So that I thought I was hers forever

But when I saw the ugly olive robes of Satan

I knew I was meant for another

Little tiny stone I was, full of blue fire

And the whole life before that one

I was always that stone

The Orange Face

Orange was just a face

Just a face was he

Was he was he

Orange was just a face was he

So he went to you one day

When the towns were empty

Sliding over everything

A deep and slimy hue

The underbelly of turtles

The bottomless marmalade

The pines at night

Underneath the trees, when Orange began to show his face

The eyes a bit off center

One as low as a nose

The mouth, bulbous and winged

Two fangs upon the ears

To run along the track of the coaster

And never come back

I don’t know

You come and go

You come and go

But Orange is always here

And if we pull back the curtains

Just even tonight

We will see Orange, a face

Set fit in the sky

Orange, a face on fire

A ghoulish smile

A wanting

Smoking with ache

An Orange face throbbing

Throbbing and throbbing with the color

With the color of the face

The burning inside of me

Dorothea Lasky is the author of Black Life and AWE, both out from Wave Books. She is also the author of several chapbooks, including Poetry Is Not a Project (Ugly Duckling Presse, 2010). She lives in New York City.

Adam Grossi hails from Reston, Virginia, one of the country’s first suburban environments to manifest from the utopian spirit of “new town” development. His work has been included in recent group exhibitions at such Chicago spaces as The Octagon Gallery, Hyde Park Art Center, and Heaven Gallery. Recent solo exhibitions of his work have been featured at Johalla Projects, also in Chicago, and the Pittsburgh Center for the Arts.