P&W Prompt: Crayon Colors

If you’re thinking this is going to be a sweet little poem about childhood and crayons, you’ve forgotten about just how powerful word association can be.  Here’s the Poets & Writers’ prompt for last week:

Last month, Crayola announced the retirement of one of their yellow crayon colors, Dandelion, which will soon be replaced by a blue crayon. Since Binney & Smith first began producing Crayola crayons in 1903, many colors have been cycled in and out. Some colors have remained the same shade but changed names over the years, such as Peach, which was previously named Flesh Tint, Flesh, and Pink Beige. Read more about the history of Crayola crayon colors, and write a poem inspired by some of the names you find most evocative, perhaps finding thematic potential in how the types of names have evolved over the years.

The article is really fun, and I highly recommend giving it a read if you’re the kind of person who gets interested in just about anything (including the history of crayon names!), like I am.  During my reading, I came upon an old crayon color called “flesh” and read all about its utter failure at imagining the many varieties of flesh tones that exist in this beautiful world.  You’d think that might have led to a poem about race, huh?  Nope.  (Warning: this is not a PG rated poem).

FLESH

(can i ever love again?)

These are the places you took me: sex shops,

strip clubs, and once: a brothel.

I wake

in the middle of the night, alone,

your pillow cool, and speak

your name into the still night air          (Johnny).

Like a cat, I move toward you, light

from the screen casts your face in shadow:

a woman moans, a man slaps against her, I stand

stock still in the doorway.

These are the places you took me:

a conference table, an elevator, the hood of a car.

One time, you even made love to me

on a fur-lined bed, sunlight reflecting your clear eyes

trained on me, only me.

It was already over, but still you came into my room

to take me one last time. My arms locked

around you, a guttural moan escaping my lips–

it’s the sound of a dying animal, like the time

my mother leaned on the body of her dead husband,

that unearthly groan welling up and out of her tiny frame.

I had to physically rip her from his casket:

the sound of a single soul shattering.

The bible says we become one: flesh

of my flesh, heart of my heart, soul.  It doesn’t say

what happens when you leave.

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