Sunday, April 4, 2010

Day Four, Poem #4 - Joseph Cornell's Paintbox

Joseph Cornell’s Paintbox
NaPoWriMo #4– inside out

Somewhere there is a gramophone recording
gone brittle in attic air and summer birdsong.
And this recording holds words that slip from the page,
that droop sloppily from the vine like bees off honeysuckle.
And these words tell the fable of a man who walked
backwards in the moonlight so as to never retrace his steps
his pant cuffs leaving a glittering trail of dew in his wake.

This man could touch the blades of grass and leave them luminescent
glowing white in the night air and causing crickets to quit chirruping
if only for a second or two
like children counting the space between lightning and thunder
in a far-off summer heat storm.

The leaf green, the grass green, the moss green, the apple green,
collected in the man’s fingers, became brighter and more real
than real could ever really be, the stuff of dreams.

And when he had touched all the colors under the stars and the moon
and everything glowed clear and bright and cold like the winter’s own,
he touched his hands to a small tin box
creaking the lid open in a singsong way
and the colors slithered inside like insects on multifarious feet.

Yes, somewhere there is a recording
and somewhere there was this man.
And if could only but tell you where or when or even how
then I would be as rich as anyone on earth.

From the poem prompt to illustrate your idea of what is inside-out.


  1. Hi, Terri. I'm enjoying your blog. And thanks for the opportunity to google Joseph Cornell! My latest 'Griefsong' is on the NaPoWriMo 2010 page at =)

  2. I was worried about reading this, since I'm an impatient reader. But the moment I started, I was drawn into your world of backwards images, and shifting realities.

    Thank you.