|Lorna Dee Cervantes|
Her PINTURA: PALABRA poem that I reproduce here is entitled "Night Magic (Blue Jester)." It carries the epigram "After Federico García Lorca," but it was not until I started to read it that I recalled the great Spanish poet Federico García Lorca's (1898-1936) poem "Romance Sonámbulo," with its opening gambit of repetition, "Verde que te quiero verde. / Verde viento. Verdes ramas," or in English, "Green, how I want you green. / Green wind. Green branches," and the subsequent dreamscape threaded through with dark and disturbing elements. If this is the García Lorca poem she had in mind, Cervantes begins by riffing on the Spanish poem's repetition and its citation of color, García Lorca's green becoming her blue, a direct response to the dominant color in the late Chicano artist Carlos Almaraz's (1941-1989) painting, from which the poem draws its title.
All these "blues" produce a kind of blues, embedding them in a dreamscape that is akin to but distinct from García Lorca's and Almazar's, yet also in conversation with both, especially the latter, an urban night scene in which the Blue Jester's magical, looming presence sparks and channels the positive and negative associations and events Cervantes details in her poem. The poem's syntax and pacing allow no stasis; the prevailing mood is one of anxiety, coupled with awe. The incantatory cadences feel especially appropriate to the dream-space that the painting and poem present, and also have echoes, particularly in the rhymes and swift shifts in imagery, of popular songs, spoken word poetry and hiphop. The effect is a poem that feels both very contemporary and out(side) of time, that is substantial and yet as evanescent as dreams or nightmares; as the poem reminds us at the end, after our journey through this world, the night, the dream, the poem itself "blew."
NIGHT MAGIC (BLUE JESTER) By Lorna Dee Cervantes After Federico García Lorca Blue that I love you Blue that I hate you Fat blue in the face Disgraced blue that I erase You lone blue Blue of an alien race Strong blue eternally graced Blue that I know you Blue that I choose you Crust blue Chunky blue Moon blue glows that despise You — idolize you Blue and the band disappears Blue of the single left dog Blue of the eminent red fog Blue that I glue you to me You again and again blue Blue blue of the helium Bubble of loveloss Blue of the whirlwind The blue being again Blue of the endless rain Blue that I paint you Blue that I knew you Blue of the blinking lights Blue of the landing at full tilt Blue of the wilt Flower of nightfall Blue of the shadow In yellowed windows Blue of the blown And broken glass Blue of the Blue Line Underlines in blue Blue of the ascending nude Blue before the blackness Of new blue of our winsome Bedlam Blue of the blue Bed alone: blue of the one Who looks on blue of what Remains of cement fall Blue of the vague crescent Ship sailing blue of the rainbow Of wait blue that I whore You — blue that I adore you Blue of the bluest door Blue my painted city In blue (it blew.)
You can read the rest of the PINTURA : PALABRA portfolio in the March 2016 issue of Poetry. All images in this portfolio are courtesy of and with permission from the Smithsonian American Art Museum. Night Magic (Blue Jester) by Carlos Almaraz, gift of Gloria Werner © 1988, Carlos Almaraz Estate. Source: Poetry (March 2016)
|Night Magic (Blue Jester), 1988, by Carlos Almaraz|