Self-Portrait with Blue


Self-Portrait with Blue

Darker shades contain black or grey. I claim
the median and the shortened spectrum, near dawn’s terminus.

In many languages, one word describes both blue and green.

Homer had no word for it.

The color of moonlight and bruises, of melancholy and unmet
expectation, it cools and calms, and slows the heart.

Woad. Indigo. Azurite. Lapis lazuli. Dyes. Minerals. Words. Alchemy. 

On this clear day I stretch my body on the pond’s surface and submerge.

Not quite of earth, blue protects the dead against evil in the afterlife, 
and offers the living solace through flatted notes and blurred 7ths.

Blue eyes contain no blue pigment.

In China, it is associated with torment. In Turkey, with mourning.

Between despair and clarity, reflection and detachment,
admit the leaves and sky, the ocean, the earth.

Water captures the red, but reflects and scatters blue.

Look to me and absorb, and absorbing, perceive.

This originally appeared in the Silver Birch Press Self-Portrait Series, and is included in The Circumference of Other, my offering in the Silver Birch Press chapbook collection, IDES, scheduled to be published on October 15.

ides front cover 92915


47 thoughts on “Self-Portrait with Blue

  1. This is so clever. I also love the feeling it gives me. I sometimes spend time trying to take apart a poem and understand it deeply but since a I am not reading academically, I tell myself it is ok to read for what it does for me. (That also makes me feel better about myself when I just cannot understand!) This pinged my enjoyment meter. Plus I learned the word woad, which tickles me. Also a feeling thing. What in the world do you read, and how long does it take, to develop such a repository of words and references?! Impressed.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. It’s always a pleasure to sit with your work a while to appreciate the sound of it, the sense of it and the feelings it evokes. I should devote more time to poetry – time, that rare commodity! I want to say that I have enjoyed translating your work into Chinese and look forward to doing more in the future.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Lovely. Blue is my mother’s color — and suits her beautifully. For years, when I was a child, she dressed me in blue, as well; and I persisted in the habit into adulthood until I realized…blue is not my color…My colors are green and gold and earth. My colors are Autumn. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Dear Robert, Love this poem. Would love to review the book. Please contact for postal address, if you are interested. kindest regards Maggie

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Pingback: Hot Reads & Other Things | Zouxzoux

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