Nothing is yellow here. I am surrounded
by brownstone giants poking square holes
in a gray cloud ceiling. I haven’t seen
a cyclone in years, only twin smoke pillars of grief
pouring from dying concrete towers.
Grief always calls you home.
It sleeps in your ribcage with your red time bomb,
blocks an intersection inside your throat.
But Louboutin heels aren’t ruby slippers,
and no spinning wind steals you away
from horizons bruised by airplane-burnt brick.
Last night, I dreamed of cement
becoming brick. Yellow brick.
I followed it right out of Manhattan,
past every sky-studded cement fable.
Gray gave way to green; car, to colored horse;
my high heels, crusted in red gemstones.
I curled up inside that dream, but it broke
apart: I resurfaced, floating in my bed ocean,
stinging dream dripping from my eyes.
The Lion, Scarecrow, and Tin Man
left me long ago, aboard a midnight train
to…what? Heaven, Hell, oblivion, Bardo? I don’t know.
I just know that I may never see it.
Hell, I’m older than you, older
than the worn printed paper in your hands, older
than the young woman that pretended to be me
across celluloid frame faces.
I’ve wanted to go back to Oz for years.
But the cyclone never comes.
© 2014 Nicole Nicholson. All rights reserved.
This is a revision of “Brick”, a poem I had originally written four years ago for a We Write Poem prompt.
This revision was the result of suggestions made to me yesterday in the first of ten summer residency morning poetry workshops, which I’ll be attending over the next two weeks at Ashland University as part of my MFA studies.
I had worked with our workshop leader before as part of their weekend poetry workshops, which my fiancé and I attended last November. Our workshop leader had called me a “poet of excess” after seeing my work last fall. Of course, one’s strength (as we discussed as a group in both the November workshops and in these summer residency workshops) can become one’s weakness — in my case, it’s packing my poems with image and detail, putting in everything but the proverbial kitchen sink. So the focus here, and the majority of suggestions I received from the others, were to cut back in terms of images and soft, passive language in the poem.
So, here’s the new version. Compare, contrast, and let me know what y’all think.