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Poem-a-Day is the original and only daily digital poetry series featuring over 200 new, previously unpublished poems by today's talented poets each year. On weekdays, poems are accompanied by exclusive commentary by the poets. The series highlights classic poems on weekends. Launched in 2006, Poem-a-Day is now distributed via email, web, and social media to 350,000+ readers free of charge and is available for syndication. For more information, contact poem-a-day@poets.org.


Recorded for Poem-a-Day, March 1, 2017.
About this Poem 

“During an artist residency in Vermont, I observed the precautions that painters and sculptors took before handling their materials, including switching out of street clothes into studio ensembles. I wrote this about a month before my wedding. Romance was in the air, as were toxic fumes—same thing, no?”
—Erika Jo Brown


Not many passions take your pants off—
painting with oils, reading in the afternoon,
other people’s bodies. I want to really
say something here. I want to be clear.

But just as no two people see the same
colors, what you hear is not what I’m
saying. Not conversations as much as
serial misunderstandings, proximate
in space. One considers the dictionary
definition of “man.” One considers
the definition of “woman.” One considers
arm hair, soft spaces on a hot body.

The obsessive heat-seeking quality of
attraction. The paint on my pinkie is for
you—a little poison, a little turpentine.
The snaggletooth I want to stick my
tongue into. This is pigment from a rock,
this is pigment from a bug, this is pigment
from a bleeding heart, and this is jeopardy. 

Passion brought me here, but passion
cannot save me. To mix linseed and
varnish, to create something is to vanish
what was there before. Chroma for fastness,
chemistry tricks. Such bold strokes in
erasing and framing delicate beginnings.

Copyright © 2017 by Erika Jo Brown. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on March 1, 2017, by the Academy of American Poets.

Copyright © 2017 by Erika Jo Brown. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on March 1, 2017, by the Academy of American Poets.

previous poems

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February 08, 2017 If They Are a Silueta Melissa Buzzeo
February 07, 2017 Possums Sheila Black
February 06, 2017 Apology from a Muslim Orphan Tarfia Faizullah
February 05, 2017 Débris Lola Ridge
February 04, 2017 A Deep-Sworn Vow W. B. Yeats
February 03, 2017 Mushrooming Jeffrey Harrison
February 02, 2017 Anthropocene Blues Anne Waldman
January 31, 2017 C.R.E.A.M. Danez Smith
January 31, 2017 Spaces Jenny Johnson
January 30, 2017 Beginners Michael Klein