And red wine is cunnilingus and cobblestone,
titanium white is public massages,
black coffee is chain smoking in Big Sur,
blue rags are knives at the bus stop.
Valium is eight dollars with a prescription,
like thirty-two gumballs or a movie ticket,
anything to drag me out of this house
where the walls peel like sunburn
and the floors bend underfoot. I have blood
on my shirt from the fight I broke up last night
in the middle of a party, all of us feeling like flies
stuck in the fridge. Green is my father’s canoe
on the North Fork of the Shenandoah,
brown are my brother’s eyes, the same
as my mother’s, or those of the first girl
to break my teeth with her tongue.
Sometimes I find myself in a stranger’s bed
wondering what language I’m speaking, how
I ended up wearing this skin
and learned to believe in a mean God—
one who lets the rain fall like piss on anthills.
Gray is my childhood home, or the diagnosis,
or the cure. White is a pile of unwashed sheets
and the girl still buried in them. I know
it’s unattractive to break chairs and dance
when no one wants to move, but something cold
keeps pulling me towards the fray.
The palette is freezing. The technique is sound.