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About this Poem 

"'No mode of excitement is absolutely colorless' is a rumination on color and its relationship to feeling and mood, ornament and structure, interiority and exteriority, and artifice and nature. Its title is taken from The Psychology of the Affections by Vance Randolph, originally published in the Little Book Series in 1925. I wrote the piece at the instigation of poet Jeremy Sigler, who invited a group of poets to contribute works dealing with color to a publication accompanying the exhibition Figuring Color at the ICA Boston. Félix González-Torres’s participatory work Untitled (USA Today) (1990)—a pile of candy wrapped in blue, red, and silver cellophane wedged against the corner of a room—was one of the works in the show. The research for the piece involved tasting a Gonzálex-Torres candy piece as well as reading Michael Taussig’s What Color Is the Sacred?" —Mónica de la Torre

No mode of excitement is absolutely colorless

Describe what color is not.

It’s missing a thingness.

To the point of becoming, color camouflages supporting structures.

A vague interior finds in an exterior specific correlation.

Even if shapeless, it materializes in splotches, bursts, or blobs.

How mood-like.

Like, I love that green.

Like, Benjamin Moore’s color designers or 20-inch Indian human hair extensions.

Color resists paraphrase without metaphor.

Ruddiness says ripe, a want to be had.

Emerald 17-5641 is Pantone’s 2013 Color of the Year.

Your forecast here: _______________________________

Color is readymade sensation, emotion, feeling.


A vague exterior finds in an interior specific correlation.

Or it can be articulated as narrative.

As in red, white, and blue.

And Untitled (USA Today.)

An endless supply of candy wrapped in red, silver, and blue cellophane.


Flavors: Cherry, pineapple, and Concord grape (the best tasting).

To the point of becoming, color structures camouflage, supporting it.

“It’s its own culture. White is one of my favorites. In the East it is associated with death.”

“How do we know how it’s read?”

Red nails once stood for status.

Now it’s Be a Dahlia Won’t You? The Thrill of Brazil, Yucatan If U Want, I’m Not Really a Waitress.

Or the mimicking of natural nails.

How simulacra.

Buy France Flags from just $1.60 each, all sizes in stock.

Advice from the celebrity/fitness guru has-been: make sure you get all colors in your food.

Your yellows, your purples, your reds, your greens.

Disregard if you’re a locavore.

When it comes down to it, some seasons come close to monotonous.

Think potatoes. And snow.

Copyright © 2013 by Mónica de la Torre. Used with permission of the author. This poem appeared in Poem-A-Day on September 25, 2013. Browse the Poem-A-Day archive.

Copyright © 2013 by Mónica de la Torre. Used with permission of the author. This poem appeared in Poem-A-Day on September 25, 2013. Browse the Poem-A-Day archive.

Mónica de la Torre

Mónica de la Torre

Born and raised in Mexico City, Mónica de la Torre is the author of the poetry collections Public Domain (Roof Books, 2008), Talk Shows (Switchback Books, 2007), and The Happy End/All Welcome, forthcoming from Ugly Duckling Presse in 2016. 

by this poet

I. Before Breakfast

When the sun turns gray and I become tired
of looking at your many-colored shoes

I will give you balloons for all the holes
we speak too much to fill. Who believes

in air, nowadays? Or do you prefer tea
with the dried fruit I will have to throw out

the window of your room? Because I
Not to search for meaning, but to reedify a gesture, an intent.

As a translator, one grows attached to originals. Seldom are choices 
   so purposeful.

At midday, the translator meets with the poet at a café at the intersection 
   where for decades whores and cross-dressers have lined up at 
   night for
Victor got a real sense of power
from making his own raisins. He’d buy
pounds and pounds of grapes
and leave them to dry 
on the kitchen table.

Theresa didn’t want to hear about 
her ex-husband’s cancer. Not on Father’s Day.
She took a train all night 
to have breakfast with her cousin. 
All Sunday she rode