Green is for growth, fatigue, Fort Wayne, Indiana
spring, the burgundy of a smoke tree
slosh against horse chestnut and oak.
The centipede’s blood, that green, incursion of lust.
The dark Aegean loneliness of Nikos Gatsos
green. Cricket scratch tugging anemic green
before the rain-stoked sky. Spark-stacked might,
the lightning green of an unbloomed lilac bush.
Lightening green of haloes of violet
at first bloom of the infant’s crown at birth.
Banaras green of sunset ox-carts, that lull
in a monk’s left foot mesmerizing Ganges River green.
The paleness of curds cut by lemon juice
from goat or water-buffalo milk. The sudden gash
of aged cheese, of sun-bit trees, of the hosta back home
bowing darkened with cloud-crowded May.
The Stilton green of dead English smells.
Colonized fruit stalls in Jammu
and Rangoon. Mung bean, yarrow green, bull-rush
and reed, the scent of her clarinet
breast through bamboo. The momentary green
of all the water in the world
and how everyone is everybody else
in a freshly shaved underarm
as she reaches for a dish or cup.
The Saturn turn of complete nothingness,
and your tongue stands scars
where might a star. Green of the circus tent
telling the juggler yes or no or maybe one day
so. Not just three or four pears in the air
green. Not the torn planet of sliced avocado
seed green. Nor Nikos or, even, Gatsos green
but Lorca green. Trench-lip green. Willow smoke
of motorcycle skid, husky green Granada.
The momentary Gobi retracted green
of every desert in the whirl, even the year
1936 back-hoed below sumac
shade of 1963 Indiana green, of all things
in reverse. The way Franco green
throws away the key, retreats
to repeat itself in black,
in blue. Green wanting green
wanting green (yes, Miguel Hernández green)
to fall its onion tentacle shade-shift
self all the way through the earth
as an echo of ferns reaching further
into most moist starlight. Fade back,
that is, to a great pulsing
galactic placenta green, before love
or color, touch or color, tongue or
color, a great ghost-got green
far away from dark sound light
sound tuberculous seed, from this and that,
yes and no, from, even,
maybe one day so.
(after Charles Wright’s “Yellow”)
—George Kalamaras (Allen County)
This poem first appeared in Boulevard and was reprinted in And Know This Place: Poetry of Indiana (Indiana Historical Society Press, 2011).
George Kalamaras, of Fort Wayne, served as Indiana’s Poet Laureate (2014-2016). He is the author of fifteen books of poetry, eight of which are full-length, including The Hermit’s Way of Being Human (2015) and Kingdom of Throat-Stuck Luck, winner of the Elixir Press Poetry Prize (2011). He is Professor of English at Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne, where he has taught since 1990.
Poetry Prompt: Explore a Color
Create a list poem that vividly describes different shades/emotions of a color. As you start your first draft, write quickly and freely, setting down whatever images come to mind, no matter how far flung in terms of geographical region or time period. Let your imagination range freely—yet push yourself to use specific details that paint a picture, appeal to the ear, and evoke emotion. Before you begin, you might also want to read Charles Wright’s fourteen-line “Yellow,” which is available online.
Indiana Humanities is celebrating National Poetry Month by sharing a poem and prompt every day in April. Indiana Poet Laureate Shari Wagner selected these poems and wrote the prompts.