Annals of the Blue Period

“Pensar del muerto de Casagemas me hace pintar en azul.” –Pablo Picasso

When he thinks of Carlos in Barcelona, July’s blood
rushing through his open veins and his laughter
thudding against the sun-dried brick,
all things glowing beneath the sun
seem to him miraculous.
When he thinks of Carlos in Paris,
he tries to forget the sound of a bullet through his temple.

Because the blood was still so foreign to the air,
so suddenly and finally exposed, Carlos bled blue
on the pavement. Pablo’s lungs had heaved, saturated,
and colored canvases with his exhales.

He wanders the faithless streets.
Though societal conventions fail him, the woman with bangs
on the corner strikes something sulfurous
behind his heart that sparks but is extinguished
in a wave of remembering

cries and metal and a clean hole in burnt skin
and blue Carlos and blue blood
and blue blooming on the pavement.

The guitar still sounds in that Barcelona alley,
and he still hears it. Melody has a form
and a color, but coffins are thickly padded
and the earth is heavy with passion and critics
and the pursuit of a broken greatness,

and he knows that, beneath the weight, Carlos rots.

As Pablo warms again from the rising rose
summer, his cheeks purple with new blood,
lungs expelling the impossible blue
into a dissolving twilight.