couldn’t blue, et al

couldn’t blue

I draw a picture of
tomorrow morning:

a man in a silver box sells
75 cent coffee and bad bagels.

his shirt is the kind of blue no one ever
tried to name a crayon after.
dust-plastic blue,
tried to love you

and the morning is that same color,
the color of canned lightning-bugs and
unfiltered cigarettes and desire,
because that is all you
draw with couldn’t blue.

I pay him 1.25 in change and purse-lint
so that a fourth-world factory can make more
silver boxes to sell more things
more stale blueberry muffins.

and he will keep gathering change
in 75 cent purse-lint increments
in the small sinking townships of
and he will keep gathering the

all the couldn’t blue mornings.
ugly colors of
another side of desire
and he will wear those colors
on a shirt
those colors no one
liked enough
to name.


she hands me an hourglass
and an old rain-boot full
of music.
listen to these, she says,
you will become colossal.

but the dealers along
first avenue don’t
agree, and the dogs
and the overweight cop
who waits in his car with
a black radio for something
to go wrong, he doesn’t

she shows me a piece
of lined paper and a photograph
of an old man in front of a building,
says look at this, no really
look, press your face to the
you will become dust.

but the teachers and
doctors they send me to don’t
agree, and the proctors
and politicians and
newscasters who
read about things like
they don’t

she reads me a poem
from a small black notebook
in her pocket, says
listen to

and in the lilt of her voice
the didactic is gone.
as I cascade with her words
up hills through
tunnels in and out of
time I am not
colossal and I am not dust but
I am somewhere in between,
an earthworm blinking its
tissued eyes into the morning,
marveling at its own

open book

in the mornings, I must remind myself
who it is that I should be:
evasive, ephemeral.
also, a cast of beaded clouds over all the
statues of virgins. and not so blatant.

when I was very young
my mother told me I kept my heart on
my sleeve.

I wore tank tops through autumn,
bought a series of itchy dresses.
I would have no sleeves upon
which to fasten my heart.

but that october for my birthday
my mother bought me
a shirt with a velvet heart
sewn onto the purple wrist. I kept it folded
underneath other clothes.

I only wore it on laundry days
when it was very cold.
this is not my heart,
I wanted to tell everyone.

I wanted to tell them
that my heart was not made of black
velvet, that it was not
tucked away in a dresser drawer
covered with outgrown bras and
mascara gone dry with age.

but I never told them
any of that, because they
would have asked me where it was
that I did keep my heart,
and even when I was young
I knew I couldn’t find it
anyplace but my wrist,
but that I would still go on looking.

milky way

we’re buying ink and re-
tracing our footsteps on
the icy roads that might

teach us how to come
home (when we are

we’ll search for the right
colors to stain our hands with
because the milky way was
never stronger than our

glass fingernails, and we
could make shapes in the
fabric of darkness better
than constellations ever
did, and something occurs

to me when we
are staring at the
galaxy of our fingers inter-
twining, we are bigger than
solar systems and broken

space shuttles, more
vast even than the slow
vibratos of
light fixtures and
bits of justice.

Nora Miller
Age 17, Grade 12
Urban Academy Laboratory High School
Gold Key

One Comment

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