You live in the free state
of not quite. Not black, not bright—
your hex triplet number—four 0s, one eight,
then another 0—
your label first manifested two
centuries ago, the requisite dye, indigo,
uniform though other shades
proximal—Regimental, Space Cadet.
In the military (U.S. and Canada) black fades
to navy—you are the hue
after a wash or thousand and fabric settles
into the in-between of deep, dark blue.
What color flatters better?
Where found in the phenomenal? Perhaps
near ocean floor, where water is wetter
though light finds no door
and in its dearth, onyx or pitch or jet.
Aristotle said Horror
Vacui—it all gets filled, and named,
one color veers into another, presence to absence,
morning to mourning, claimed.
Molly Picon Moment
Our rabbi emeritus commented on Bach and Steely Dan,
and I said, wanting him to know I had been listening
all those high holiday sermons, I thought you were more
of a Goat’s Head Soup guy, which I also could have said
to my former teacher, for whom I feel similar reverence
and was pleased I had the gumption (chutzpah, yes)
to say anything to him at all. Anything. He was pleased.
Well, yes, that’s true. Score one for the congregant.
My teacher and his wife took me to their favorite fish
restaurant in Los Alamitos, and we had a lovely time.
Relationships change, though I cannot imagine greater
intimacy with the rebbe than that moment when I said,
I remember something about you that you said to all
of us, and used it to make a connection between myself
and you. I know we should not revere people—a strange
word, from Latin for fear, to stand in awe of, so perhaps
it is not quite right, here, (fear and awe already have
a marker on them) but I would not mind others wanting
from me a certain quality of respect, and my students
probably get a little scared when I rant on about words.
I have listened to “Goat’s Head Soup,” which some critics
loved and some hated, recorded in Jamaica because
Keith Richards had been kicked out of nine countries
and was bored with Switzerland. Indulgent and moody,
dark, just the sort of music a rabbi and poet might like
and I have said more than once, Mick Jagger is probably
the sexiest man in the world, which distances him from
the men discussed here, but I imagine the three of them
could have a solid conversation, and for various reasons
I would be silent but pleased, having made such a shiddach.
I have descended into burial cities
and stepped in a furtive fashion
to avoid skull water, fallen for
taleteller, upstream, crewcut
(always the compound fellows),
marveled at the minute knots
tied between each pearl (tested
against my thinning front tooth),
purchased a Turban Squash,
an Oca, a head of Romanesco
with its Fibonacci pattern, sliced
and diced a Salsify and Samphire,
chewed on many a grooved ferrule,
pinched my purlicue to rid myself
of the tenanted ache in my temples,
asked for what I desire, pretended
I do not desire, turned “desire”
into a jamais vu with a bad case
of semantic satiation, collected
box tents and agraffes—enough
liquid stars and pies for a lifetime.
What have you done? What have
you done? (Inquiry? Accusation?
This, then that?) I have 99 problems.
For and on the record (think LP)
(I told you this would be over soon),
you, spontaneous and calendared,
in short-term and long-run, you
my bracket, parsing my space
into deserving parts of speech,
my gem, my toothsome parsley
stem, are not even one of them.
Patty Seyburn has published four books of poems: Perfecta (What Books Press, 2014), Hilarity (New Issues Press, 2009), Mechanical Cluster (Ohio State University Press, 2002) and Diasporadic (Helicon Nine Editions, 1998). She is an Associate Professor at California State University, Long Beach and co-editor of POOL: A Journal of Poetry (www.poolpoetry.com). Currently, her favorite words are “cruller” and “compote.”