The Swiked Dress

Barnett Newman, Who’s Afraid of Red, Yellow and Blue II, 1967 (source: WikiArt.org)

I feel like it’s a trick somehow. I’m confused and scared.
—Taylor Swift

I can only see red
and want to see black
but to burst from this box
will blast blue to sun-bright.
Shall I cower or break?

Who’s afraid the primaries
will beat doe eyes black
and blue over China white
with Chantilly gold but Gerard
and Josef who ran a blade
who couldn’t see clear
past that ragged rip from eye
to mind and back first one
then the other blink black
blank to blind white prime
duck to rabbit glued two to one
Josef, Gerard or any other killer
of tyrannies of color no tricks
sew them shut somehow

I can only see red
and want to see black
but to burst from this box
will blast blue to sun-bright.
Shall I cower or break?

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5 Responses to The Swiked Dress

  1. Susan Scheid says:

    The juxtaposition of Newman, Taylor Swift, Alice in Chains, all put together here with your poem, is priceless! Cower or break? I’d say what this combination does is break OUT!

  2. hedgewitch says:

    Rather a stew of different components here, Mark–being in a box so stackable and rackable–so typical of fame, shame or just what happens in the social sorting process–I assume this is about, at least on one level, ‘the’ dress, that was a nine-second wonder on social media because people could look for some way to distinguish themselves by whatever color they thought it was…anyway–won’t pretend I understand this poem or most of its references, but I do react to it, and especially find myself re-reading the middle, with its blinking back black blanks. I did google swike, but this doesn’t seem to be about asian frog legs.

    • Swiked–with a “D” is the name of the tumblr user who first posted the photo of the dress. It’ll be more than a 9 second wonder. That photo will be studied for years; it’s one for the textbooks. Anyway, if you go to the wikipedia page for Newman’s “Who’s Afraid of Red, Yellow and Blue” series, you’ll see that Gerard and Josef are the first names of the men who vandalized versions of that painting. It probably would’ve helped if I had attached links to those names.

      This is one of those ‘blogger poems’–a poem that is unique to internet media, since it relies heavily on image, video and references to be found on the web.

      Thanks for reading. I did try and make that middle section fun to read, references or no!

  3. ManicDdaily says:

    I am thinking of Albers and david somehow, gesso and Chinese white– I think that red does lead to black and certainly vice versa– interesting poem. K.

  4. Brendan says:

    Hi Mark, sorry I’ve missed being here … I had to look up “Swiked” and then got all the poem. Interesting epigram from Swift, a pure enough reaction to the thought expressed here. What did Eno say? — “energy fools the magician” — color here is that energy, and those who walk and work in it, it takes a poetry to throw it wide enough. We are fooled by what we see, by what our tonic thoughts tell us. And this is what flourishes in the confusion of “that ragged rip from eye to mind.” “Man in the Box,” great song to put pedal to the medal on the recumbent bike, taking no prisoners in the uphill-ish slog!

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