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, IDESpublished in October 2015.

ides front cover 92915


24 thoughts on “Self-Portrait with Blue

      • Ao and the adjectival aoi were two of the first words I learnt in Japanese. On only the second day of living in Japan I wandered the neighborhood in search of a grocery store and discovered a sunakku bar within a 2 minute walk from my apartment. They served what would become my preferred libation: the ao-ringo chuhai (distilled sour apple drink), freezing cold, with some agedashi tofu… what a way to live! 日本はすごい!

        Sunakku are almost invariable hidden away where only grizzled old locals go, so I loved the jovial isolation of drinking with my beloved blue-collar, no-nonsense Osakan neighbours… far away from endless waves of dilettantes and socialites in the major club scenes.

        Liked by 1 person

          • It is funny that now I am seeing more and more young hanging out at my favorite sunakku in smaller areas like Sonoda, Katsura, Inano Minoh, etc. They seem to like the fact that these places are hidden in neighborhoods and alleys you’d be very hard pressed to find even on a sunny day with a GPS. These sunakku are the kind of places Gen X-ers like me love to go to write and chat and live the creative life, like the Cedar Tavern in NYC became the place for creatives to escape hipster culture.

            This is great to see…younger people getting to know sunakku, but I worry sunakku will became trendy and crowded and lose everything that made them quiet and secret and powerful and an existential relief.

            Sunakku were so great in the late 20th century when they were mostly empty and shabby and run by people in their 80s! The habitués were either half asleep, watching the Hanshin Tigers on an old TV lose yet another game!

            Liked by 1 person

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