Blue, Black or Red

Posted: April 22, 2010 in Poetry
Tags: ,

A big few days. Monday night was the Fugitives at Umi Cafe. Great show, of course. Before the show, Brendan called Greg and told him that they had car difficulties and were going to be late, so he asked if we could put together an improptu opening act to entertain the crowd while they waited.

The same thing happened last year when Shane Koyczan and the Short Story Long had mixing board problems.

So I performed 1968 (which will likely be up on this site on Tuesday). There will also performances by Greg (Ritallin), Ruthanne Edward, Jessica Ruano, Free Will and Monica.

The newest Fugitive, Chris, was staying with us so we joined Chris, Brendan, Greg, Jessica and Monica at the Royal Oak where we stayed until last call.

Last night was the latest Ingredients workshop and it was really good, at least for me. I felt it really helped spark my creativity.

CONTEXT: May, 2009

This history of this poem actually goes all the way back to my first days as a poet. I had gone to Dusty Owl and wrote a poem for the Object of Desire competition – (Salt) I found the challenge fun to do, so I started looking forward to the next one. I wodnered what I coudl write about it, based on whatever odd object they would trot out.

I pictured a pair of cheap sunglasses.

The earliest concepts for this poem were born (right down to the blue, black and red imagery), but I never actually wrote it.

Flash forward to finals prep in 2009. I knew I needed another new piece to go with When I Feel Poetry, but I was having troubles coming up with something. The problem was that sicne I KNEW I was writing it to try and get my score up at the finals, every thing I tried felt dishonest.

It is a fine line in slam. You write, knowing you will be judged, but for the most part, I think you can tell when someone writes FOR the judges. It feels fake. (Though there are people who can do it and get away with it, unfortunately.)

So, I did what I always do when needing objective inspiration – I went to my notebook where I keep poem hooks that have popped into my head. This was the oldest one in there and it just fell together.

In the end I didn’t use this at the finals, but for reasons that really have nothing to do with the quality of this poem. I’ll explain in my next post.

This is the only poem I have ever had someone request that I censor. I ended up not performing it that night.

    Blue, Black or Red

He sees her like he does everyday
But today she is wearing those heavy
Wrap-around shades that obscure the face
Like a celebrity trying desperately
To be noticed trying not to be noticed.
Hiding behind black plastic tint,
She waves.
Blue, black or red
Eyes hiding from the light of day.

He remembers her eyes
A blue full of ice
But still warm.
Diving into deep pools of azure
And splays of tropical rays
And the fuzz of green leafy fronds.
A waterfall matched his fall
Off a cliff of diffidence and seperation.
She pushed him with a laugh and
A smile, and he fell willingly
To the water below.

Only for it to turn to jagged stone
When she mentioned her boyfriend.

He loved her since but that stayed
His secret – the kind shared with
The illusion of safety.
He knew she knew but they knew
Better than to say so.

Red, blue or black
Behind a barrier of silence
Were there tears?
Did she lie awake
Wondering where the man she loved
Spent his night?
And she loves him – this boyfriend
And she claims he loves her too.
So when his words are hurtful
What is she to do?
He works so hard and she knows
The pain and strain he is under,
So when he yelled
She pretended he didn’t mean it.
Besides, it was better than when
He left.
Slamming doors and gunning motor
Tearing off into the night.
She lay awake and feigned sleep
When he pulled in
And feigned pleasure
When he pushed in
And pretended not to smell the
Perfume that wasn’t hers.

Black, blue or red
Hard for protection
A shield form detection
Of her one last secret.
The kind shared with the illusion of safety.
She knew he knew but they knew
Better than to say so.

Sometimes she would speak up
Remembering the strong woman she
Had been, before the love that was
Not love
Turned her back into a child.
She demanded, then pleaded
As the man she was committed to
Looked at her like a discarded
Left from a Christmas long gone
After the excitment of tearing
The wrapping had faded to contemptuos
He struck her
As if his strength was answer to her.
It was not the sort of strength she needed
But he struck her
As if delivering a crushing
rebuttal to her complaints.
He struck her
Until she stopped asking
For what he was no longer willing to give.

Blue, black or red
Hides behind the gulf of detachment
And appropriate conversation between

He asks how she is.
She lies and says fine.
He lies and believes her.

We all build our own prisons
Collecting bricks and bars
From everyone around us.

We all build our own prisons
While carrying the key
To our own condemnation or salvation.

We all build our own prisons
But sometimes we need help
Turning the lock.


Next is th epoem I did instead… and the most personal and painful poem I have ever done.

  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Rusty Priske. Rusty Priske said: #rustythepoet Blue, Black or Red […]

  2. […] Comments (RSS) « Blue, Black or Red […]

  3. […] round I was against Ian Keteku. I was pretty sure I was done at that point so instead of performing Blue, Black or Red, as I had planned, I did ’1968′ (which should go up tomorrow), that I had just written […]

  4. […] still drew early. #3. I dropped Blue, Black or Red and it felt good. I scored fairly well, getting a 27.8 for the top score thus […]

  5. […] but after only one performance, followed by Stroll on and then a tie between The Stranger and Blue, Black or Red. Why Art? had always been at the top, but my disappointing showing at the semi-finals this year […]

  6. […] I decided I was going to rememorize Drawing Lines and Blue, Black or Red. […]

  7. […] Hey! I Won Again! |… on Blue, Black or Red […]

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