the Emergency Almanac text / art double issue...winter 2003 / summer 2004

Molly McQuade, editor

Blink: An Archive of Sight

Blink: An Archive of Sight

A Preface: The Colors and Their Doldrums

Is it a fact to me that I see?
— Ludwig Wittgenstein

Is black visible?
— Alexander Theroux

"Like any color, white has a lot of hues." Though not exactly a commonplace observation, the statement seems to ring with calm, the calm of accustomed perception and possession. Some people, it is true, less savvy or less calmly self-possessed than our "white" observer, might dispute that white is even a color at all. But, peering, this author of the white insight can see clearly a complicated beam, without denying or betraying the complication.
Even so, we don't own the colors. We only perceive them, or believe we do. We borrow them, blink awhile. That fact may partly justify the vaunting act of taking stock of what's before the vagrant eye—the act of seeing and describing color, as if we could.

Of course, others have already taken stock of color before. Over time, the spectrum was bound to attract a literature of its own, and it has. Yet our colors seem to keep changing as our lashes flutter. The horizon of the spectrum will waver, also. The fated effort to describe the inexplicable will continue, paradoxical and blind-sided. As Roland Barthes "saw" it:

Whereby we may understand what description is: it strives to render what is
strictly mortal in the object by feigning (illusion by reversal) to suppose it,
to desire it living: "as if alive: means "apparently dead." The adjective is
the instrument of this illusion; whatever it says, by its descriptive quality
alone, the adjective is funereal.

My goal in compiling a modestly green anthology of color, an archive of sight, was to see through other desiring eyes. My eyes desire ritually what they will; I need alternatives.

In his "Remarks on Color," Wittgenstein demanded, "One must always be prepared to learn something totally new." Maybe I can't do it well enough by myself. As an ogler of the panorama and the tight corner, as well as of the small thing cornered, I feel my habit of visual hunt and capture as extreme, perhaps narrowing, possibly a vice: I look, crave, suppose, and seize (with the eye).

To search for something "totally new" requires of the soloist a state of peevish readiness that can be punishing. (Or else, more sociably, requires convening the eyes and words of willing accomplices.) For once you have discovered what is "new" to you, have gazed at it, accepted it, and refracted it, you may or may not be able to account for what you've just seen—may not be able to "keep" it. How exhausting for the soloist. How irritating.

The main irritation? If I glimpse a color previously unknown to my senses, name it, and then leave the scene, the color will not struggle to follow me into the future. Anything but. Can I even describe it, in retrospect?

Can I describe the color when I can no longer see it? Wittgenstein decided, "When we've asked 'What do the words "red," "blue," "black," "white" mean?' we can, of course, immediately point to things which have these colors,—but our ability to explain the meanings of these words goes no further!"

I accept his conclusion, and yet I also resist his conclusion, for if we gave up trying to explain or describe, our insentience would then come to describe us.

That isn't what I want. Instead, I want to see through those other desiring eyes. And so I have compiled an archive as "a token of the future," so-called by Derrida, that may alter a reader's eventual perception of color by pluralizing the array of hue possible and by itemizing alert eyes in a shifty sequence. I have arranged my archive's contents deliberately to avoid too much synchronizing of synonymous tints. I would rather induce blinking, usher in the "insensate cacophony" of a Borgesian library for any visitors, any readers.

I might ask the reader's eye to swivel a bit and the mind to reconsider. After all, the wavelengths thicken, wobble, reform—nonplussed, but not forever.

Molly McQuade

Green...Steven Levy Yellow...Alex Cruz
Primarily Green...Doug Moore Yellowed...Sean Beattie
Yellow...Quenida Andeliz Sallow...Molly McQuade
White...Eduardo Rodriguez Blue...Yuki Isokado
Red...Octavio Arios Black...Victoria Spagnola
Black...Jia-Jen Liang Green...Alex Curtas
Blue Midnight...Willett Thomas Black...Emily Joffee
Black...Nadine Carty Red...Lili Li
Red...Joseph Mattarelliano Seafoam Green...Shay Pratt
White...Sean Gunn Lime...Stephanie Mencimer
Purple...Moe Hirano Green...Dariel Smuckler
Pink...Joseph Mattarelliano White...Khinna Romanenko
Black...B.B. White...Michael Ciccullo
Yellow...Aaron Pachesa Blonde...Cori Patrick
Chartreuse...Jessica Lubniewski Red...Clifford F. Dantes
Pink...Suzanne Previl Mauve...Dana Mezzina
Gray...Elaine Togneri Gray...Gillette Hayman
  The New Blue...Donna Myers



Have you ever seen anything that isn't green? I certainly have not. Am I color-blind? I certainly am not. Even candy can be green. Take a look at a bag of M & M's. What is it about the green ones? For a short time people believed that the green ones had special powers. My response remains: no wonder.

Steven Levy


Primarily Green

This morning, upon our walk, a disturbing discovery:

"Green is not a primary color?"

"It is not, my friend."

"Who says?"

"I don't know; the color people. The same people who say that '1 + 1 equals 2' and that our alphabet goes 'A,B,C,D,E,F,G.' "

"What, then, are primary colors?"

"Yellow, blue, red—just like the balloons on the Wonder Bread package. Didn't you learn this in school?"

"I don't remember. They might have said something about it. Only three?"

"Only three."

"All permutations of those?"

"Yes . . . . We need to get you a color wheel. Didn't you ever have a color wheel?"

I span my arms over the riparian expanse upon which we live: Lopatong Creek. All very green—with chlorophyllic, fernlike density. Green may not be a primary color, but here, around us, it certainly is the primary color.

"Look. This allows us to breathe. How could a color be more primary?" I ask.

"Well, not mathematically or psychologically—maybe environmentally," my wife concedes.

As we walk, Ivy, our dog, walks with us, low to the ground. She, too, is named for something green, although she herself doesn't recognize green (or, for that matter, yellow, or red, or blue). (Another disturbing discovery made one night many years ago, while watching public television—a show on animal senses. I had always assumed . . . .)

My father also doesn't recognize green (or yellow, or red, or blue). Color-blind, he has a "system" for differentiation—a system that apparently works. He is proud of his accommodation, his skillful "passing." (He reports no accidents yet.) As a young man in military service, he was able to bluff his way into working as a mechanic on airplanes--despite the necessity of reading color-coded information. He may not see "green," but clearly he learned early on how to recognize it, and still knows well enough to call it so.

His house—the house I grew up in—is primarily forest green, though last year he had all of the "cedar shake" shingles removed, then sided over in a mild retirement-yellow. The contractor asked if he could keep the shingles he had removed. "Good for kindling," he said. The house, now margarine chiffon, nevertheless remains in my head as primarily green.

The house I currently live in, an historic house, that of a once-upon-a-time lockender upon the Morris Canal, is also forest green. The person who restored the cabinesque home a number of years ago reported that, after some thoughtful work in the interior, she found herself selecting the exterior paint with surprising trepidation. With that much square footage and road frontage, she realized, it was a big decision, aesthetically speaking—possibly a mistake, a mistake literally "as big as a house." But, in talking to her, one gets the sense that she wanted it to be not only aesthetically but spiritually "right," as well. Hence her anxiety.

Back upon our walk, my wife observes, "I think you think you have a claim on green."

Hours later, I will admit (to myself) that she's (as usual) right. I'm thinking: "Her ocean is blue; mine is green." Definition seems, by nature, a provincial, territorial act. I find myself wanting to own green, sublet it, rent it out to worthy applicants as I see fit.

My wife thinks of green as: a girl-scout uniform, salsa verde, eucalyptus, limes, jacaranda trees, avocadoes (and subsequent guacamole), unripe kumquat, guava, pistachio, cilantro, basil, mint and, in March, a welcome alternative to brown.

I think of green as: Mr. Greenjeans, unwanted chores in my grandmother's garden, my father's Aqua-Shave, his Mennen Speed Stick, algae brushing against my view of colorful fish inside my grandfather's aquariums, split-pea soup at church suppers, flourescent tennis balls bouncing wildly off the side of the house, Heffenreffer beer ("The Green Death"), coniferous and deciduous trees, a pilgrim's hat on the Massachusetts Turnpike—the normal, rightful state of the universe—from which we all depart and return.

Clara Claiborne Park, in Exiting Nirvana: A Daughter's Life with Autism, says that her daughter, Jessy, is systematic about categorizations of sound—and sometimes proclaims over certain sounds, "That is not sound!" Over and over, I find myself wanting to similarly claim: "That is not green!" I wish to proclaim this over shiny new cars as they pass-studied variations in metallic tint, each not right—a Kia in a Listermint green, as in a Nintendo setting. "That is not green!" I say.

Another car goes by; now I am more seduced—a more luxurious, coniferous green, an expensive Passat. What am I being seduced by, lost in? Can green be bought?

Clearly it can be sold.

I gaze at Rockwell's painting, "Springtime in Stockbridge," a place I—and he (he surely more so than I)—knew well, and I think (quietly, for I know he was trying): "That, too, is not green." "Too wispy," I think. "Too yellow."
I suppose I would trust Thoreau's rendition of green, find it authentic—though I cannot recall any passages of his that seem particularly green. If you ask me, it's all green, even in fall or winter. At least this is the effect, the force of his spirit, upon me. Some, I know, would say this is a pejorative green—suggesting youthful, romantic naivete. I don't genuinely know what Thoreau's favorite color was (though it may be known) but I certainly find him worthy of green—a robust, life-giving green.

Doug Moore



Perfumes of my preference smell yellow to me.

Quenida Andeliz




My car was a white color and my very first pet was a white dog too.

Eduardo Rodriguez




In all of my childhood cartoons my favorite characters all wore red.

Octavio Arios




I used to think that black poodles, fishes, horses, cats, birds, were painted by the night sky, that is where the animals got their shiny black furs from.

Jia-Jen Liang



Blue Midnight
As Seen From Miss Lydie's Front Stoop

We're sitting alone in near dark, just me and my half-brother. I am seven; he is nine.

We are to ourselves in a blue-midnight kind of dark, the sort we will only remember later as adults, what will come to linger as a vague velvet backdrop for a thousand summer vacations to come and go before our parents' separation and our daddy's decision to move on without us.

Our stoop of choice is Miss Lydie's. We are bored neighbor children from the city, content for the moment to listen in the night to the opening and closing of kitchen cabinets bringing forth the clank and clink of dishes—plastic—placed on Formica counters, green and yellow. Some with swirls, some with their pattern all but gone. Kitchen sounds followed not too distantly by the crunch of sea fossils from a million years gone as the family man's Buick pulls into the driveway. A bit of dirt run made by brothers' cars, uncles' cars, neighbors' cars, all the very same model the salesman Mr. Pete/Mr. Pete Jr. says was designed especially for "folks like us." With the sound it makes, the scrape of metal on metal when the driver's-side door opens then closes to announce the arrival of the man in the Panama hat. Maybe it's Mr. James home from the insurance office. Or perhaps, Mr. Tuttle, home early from his dry cleaning store.

"Hey, Mister James—Mister Tuttle."

"Hey, you there, yourself. What you know good?"

Ending with the slam of the Buick's back door or trunk, signaling that there are groceries to be unloaded, more likely than not, something needed for that night's supper. Not a nerve pill or two for your mama, found in the little white pharmacy bag in the glove compartment. No, this is produce, green and leafy, shooting out from the tops of brown paper sacks, or maybe bread rolls, wedged against the greens, or perhaps the meat itself, near the bottom, along with a goodie to be found later, deep inside the man's breast pocket. But that's only if your daddy is the sort to be found wearing a Panama hat. Like the tightly woven ones worn by our daddy, a big-city lawyer, working for the NAACP, changing folks' lives, an important colored man, making a better world for little colored children everywhere. No, more likely, your daddy is one of them always found wearing a baseball cap cocked to the side or a bandana pushed back off his head, one of those tired and sweaty men shuffling home from a long day on the wharf in the dark, shouting, cursing, calling for you in the distance, "Where you at, boy?," his deep-throated laugh at the sight of you barely heard over late-breaking waves . . . its roar even more eternal wrapped within blue-midnight, now that it is truly dark . . . and the man of the house is home again.

Willett Thomas




Black is the color that represents race, but there are different shades of black. This makes black a color that can be worked to anyone's advantage.

Nadine Carty




Red brings too much anger into people, it makes you afraid that you might lose your life over a stupid color.

Joseph Mattarelliano





White is a piece of paper anxiously awaiting words.

Sean Gunn





I'm scared of the color purple. Japanese gangsters like to wear passion-purple suits which have big shoulders and narrow edges of pants.

Moe Hirano





What if the grim reaper was wearing the color pink?

Joseph Mattarelliano




Defined by the World Book encyclopedia as "the opposite of white," black is most often used as a qualifier for other words. And not in a good way. See black fly, black lung, black magic, etc.

Essentially, black is the un-color. Devoid of light and lacking positive attributes, it besmirches everything it touches.

To be blacklisted is to be labeled a reprobate, usually for no good reason and often by a mob of paranoid people in positions of power. Applies to social ostracism, McCarthyism, or exiled political candidates. From the country club to the big screen and the ballot box.

Today, when a company announces that it's "in the black," it is a good sign that you should sell your stock. It is a lie employed by big-leaguers covering up huge losses of money by creating corporate black holes on their spreadsheets.

Black has the power to provoke hate and bias and negativity. Most famously, it is an antiquated misnomer for a race of people from the motherland. Truth be told, the skin of "black" people is actually brown, but bigots and hate-mongers don't trifle with semantics.

In the dictionary, the same black that is a synonym for African sits beside ugly words like dirty, soiled, swarthy.

Black is the color of the bad guy's hat. The wrong side in a cut-and-dried argument. A sullied reputation, a chimney sweep's cheeks. A stock market crash, a festering plague, profane sorcery.

The vainest attempts to make black a positive are half-assed words for peculiar things like black-eyed peas, Black-eyed Susans, and black comedy.

Black is slightly vindicated through its status as the building-block of the fashion industry. When worn by the chic and the style-chicken alike, black is the envy of all the other colors. Blue and brown long to be resurrected as "the new black" in the pages of a fashion bible or the new line of a design doyenne. The little black dress is an icon. Classic and classy, sexy and conservative. A jazz standard. Unflattering only when worn by albinos and depressed people.

But otherwise, black is color in a bad mood.






How will things ever be the same, how will you feel normal again, you won't, you will covet, you will sulk, you will know that you are yellow in every single way.

Aaron Pachesa





Chartreuse is fifteen-year-old boys without their seatbelts on.

Jessica Lubniewski






The startling effect of a neon stripe, my palm rubbing a whale's tongue.

Suzanne Previl





Suddenly she felt Jonsway's presence in front of her. "I anoint you."

The fragile shell tapped open on Mistra's lower teeth. A heavy gelatinous mass slid onto her tongue, bringing the gray taste of moldy soil. Footsteps pounded away, moving so fast a breeze rippled past her. She took a deep breath and swallowed, as instructed in the holy dream. The lump slid down her throat, coating it with slime. She fought a grimace. The feet from thousands of bana mites scurried over her tongue.

Elaine Togneri




Goldfish amnesiac.

Alex Cruz




Tempo indication:
Unsafe at any speed.

Parked too far from the curb, its interior stuffed beyond reason with yellowed newspapers, the compact station wagon's rusting underbelly nearly touches the street. Even before I draw near enough to carefully examine the curious vehicle, I feel uneasy. Even before I begin to comprehend the bizarre sight, my amazement turns to suspicion. Suspicion becomes shock.

Covering every surface, obscuring all but a small portion of the front window, the absurd cargo renders the car practically inoperable. Behind the steering wheel, amidst years of want ads and weather reports, a narrow cavity barely provides space for a driver. A factoid cocoon for our mysteriously motivated mummified motorist.

Wrinkled against the wagon's grease-streaked windows, headlines remind passersby of disasters past and prsent. AIDS Epidemic Spreads. Middle East Peace Accord Fails. Yankees Win World Series. Crumpled into dashboard covers, display ads implore us to Buy Now! Limited Time Only! A rolling archival billboard of urgent unrest.

If only I had time to observe, to await the driver's return, to conduct an interview, to see if the junk heap will actually move. Time and answers both in short supply, conjecture must suffice.

The physical state of the newspapers, faded by the sun, deteriorated with age, suggests a mature manic obsession. A recycling errand doomed by permanent procrastination? An amnesiac paperboy who has grown old trying in vain to remember his route? Perhaps the papers represent makeshift insulation, protection from external threats. A barricade of yesterday's facts and figures might offer safety from drunk drivers, the military industrial complex, and the dreaded snakehead fish. A madman's airbag.

The spectacle evokes an unexpected sadness, a sadness fueled by apparent evidence of lost reason and active paranoia. By suggestion of painful past events remembered too well. By the enigmatic implication that wherever we are, even in transit, our burden of historical precedent surrounds us. At times, this weight is simply unbearable.

Sean Beattie




Milady, vote yes on your ballot for the bold and ruined shade that is dubbed sallow. Be such as they who have already been branded with the burn of the skin of mind in our nation.

He went forthright to lead us into the high hills of boysenberry; and there we are still dithering. The cane of berry bludgeoned, for instance—and that was the lesser charge in our Eckenspittel town politics. Worse was his branding of us with the great color.

This sallow branding color is unevenly divided between tones of juicy and irksome, like a dullard sway in the national banner of a conundrum. The sway should shiver your patriot capillaries, cause the painful renegade erection of guilty sable premature wings. (Wings, you know, have sinful bones buried in them.)

Finicky feel that sway, the flush of imaginary longing. Almost imaginary.

Somehow like a freckle. You know Les-Les, who has got all the freckles? That's 'cause she duped the pilot and the cargo, took the catch, and wallowed in it one long afternoon. And sallow-color, mussed in the vessel's hold, churned till she bended down her cortege of jabbering decolletage to be so finely imprinted.

Immaculate writhe! Ambidextrous. How ambidextrous was she! grisly with handfuls of bootleg splash docked covertly. Running every whichway, like the inventor hoped it would while straddling a tousled migraine in the ravine that precedes our dusty village. He ever so spun that sallow do-re-mi.

How might the cooper nix the smithy? you well may ask. With a kabong on his quarry—and with Domsung our aggrieved sallow-spoilt boy to pinch-hit, or if not, then to report like a sailor on the gloomy naysay nitwit who was gandering globulous into the berried night.

(Night has also nicked the national color. Please don't take it personally.)

Her freckles both itch and bathe, milady. Aren't you jealous? Two cubic feet of brew for the splattered sheep who cannot wag their tails, since they don't have any, yet still must flock?

(Infinitesimal crouches amber in the slot, about to encroach on sallow, baby. Such would devastate our vague constituency.)

Wouldst thou vote for amber in a pinch, instead of for "us"? Would you do it for whose sake?

Twist the skewers.

Bust the oven. Convict the righteous.

Now what color is the seared body politic?

Molly McQuade




I need a holy blue like my cat's eyes to forgive myself.

Yuki Isokado




Black was the color of my father's stream of flowing hair and full bushy beard that enshrouded his kind face.

Victoria Spagnola





Green will never know. Yet I am the green of moonshine.

Alex Curtas





I look up at the black sky covered by black clouds and fumble around to feel for my paddle.

Emily Joffee





At this point, I do not wear red because I do not think it is time. Life is stressful and meaningless to me. I am looking for a real life, a life that can let me fly. One day, I will wear red again.

Lili Li



Seafoam Green

Chuck's guitar was seafoam green. He played the Rickenbacker with the solid teal body, painted in a vintage finish, which gave it an old-timey look even though the guitar was only a few years old. He played it because of Roger McGuinn, although his band played no Byrds songs. When Chuck performed he looked unnatural, playing an instrument the color of an after-dinner mint. Instead of refracting off the surface, the beam of the stagelight died in the pale green of his guitar.

We made Chuck defend his guitar. In Mississippi, to a teenager, seafoam green did not imply masculinity. In fact, we told him, your guitar is the color of an old lady's sweatshirt. At the time, do-it-yourself sweatshirt art had grown into a minor industry in Mississippi. Entrepreneurs dedicated their boutiques entirely to the sale of sweatshirts decorated with puffy paint, forming patterns that felt like the Rocky Mountains on a graphic relief map. The designs, made of silvers and yellows in various sun-star patterns, were most easily distinguished on a teal background. Great-aunts and grandmothers wore them to go antiquing and eat brunch.

Why not play a solid blue guitar, we asked, or a dark green? Chuck said seafoam green was the color of the Gulf Coast, but we found no logic in this. Sea green is the color of the ocean. Seafoam, that perimeter of froth at the junction of surf and sand, is technically not green at all, but colorless.

We kidded Chuck but he knew what we knew, and it is still true—the seafoam green guitar has a trivial place in music history. At Seattle's Experience Music Project, amid the tobacco sunburst, swamp ash, dakota red, and solar fire guitars, a vintage seafoam green rockabilly guitar stands withdrawn and insecure in the display case, anonymous, its exhibit label resting face down on the floor. The rounded body and aquatic tint echo rock and roll's earliest days, the genre still seeking acceptance, when musicians used the instrument to compose passive, uncomplicated melodies. At that time, in the 1950s, seafoam green, the color of a Miami hotel, proved as inoffensive and soft as the lyrics of "Love Me Do." Although Fender made a classic seafoam green Stratocaster in the early '60s, the best musicians still favored a bolder finish. Which is more historically relevant: Jeff Beck's seafoam Stratocaster or Eric Clapton's 7-Up-green Fender?

In their song "Seafoam Green," off the album Big Black River, the northern Mississippi band the Hilltops hang the fragility of a lovers' relationship on the importance of green mouthwash. That is, at least, my interpretation. The song is not successful, and only half-intelligible. The lyrics are drowned out by jangly, driving guitars. The only line sung with any clarity is the refrain; unfortunately, the refrain could not be more ambiguous:

Seafoam, seafoam green
It's not like any other thing

1992. The Hilltops had yet to break up, John Stirratt had yet to join Wilco, his sister Laurie and Cary Hudson had yet to form Blue Mountain. While each musician later crystallized their vision of country rock in separate bands, none of them revisited "Seafoam Green," as they did other songs from Big Black River, to give it a more incubated treatment. The song is abandoned, track number fifteen of fifteen on the Hilltops' first and only release, an afterthought to the songs that come before.

In 1992, I left Mississippi for college. Chuck moved to Texas, leaving his band behind. He sent me pictures once of a solo performance given somewhere in Deep Ellum. He's standing on a plywood stage, staring down at the strings, his fingers moving methodically across the neck of a Gibson painted with a gleaming wineburst finish.

Shay Pratt




Lime is the rebound rock-star boyfriend you flirt with to prove you're not the opposite of bold before settling permanently for the hunter green of aristocratic pool rooms and acceptable marriage.

Stephanie Mencimer





My father's worn-out green plaid pajamas with fringed edges, always inches off the ground, exposing his calloused feet.

Dariel Smuckler





Like any color, white has a lot of hues.

Khinna Romanenko




The color white means nothing to me because that is exactly what I see, nothing.

Michael Ciccullo




My cats are blonde and they make cute blonde babies. I am blonde and I made a cute blonde baby.

Cori Patrick





I saw red; not figuratively, of course. My mother pricked her finger and drank V8 as she was sewing my red curtains. I read "The Red Badge of Courage" while listening to "Flowers Are Red" by Harry Chapin. It was after she asked me:

"Are you sure that I shouldn't make them blue?" that I saw red.

My walls were bare; white and bare, like me. I couldn't take it anymore. My thoughts had nowhere to go. I couldn't write, I couldn't think. This was the life of the mind? This was my fortress of solitude? I looked at my red couch, but knew that if, God forbid, I would sit on it, it would be all over. It enveloped you. Once you sank onto this low-riding devil, it was like you were Peter Lorre, at the whim of some phantasmagorical Looney Tooney evil red monster which was technically your possession.

It was the opposite of being stoned and trying to get the red out of your eyes. It was a horrible limbo of color and mind.

And they say red is the color of love. I'm still giving "them" the benefit of the doubt. That's why when I moved in here I brought a big red heart with arms outstretched. It was a throw pillow . . . a big red throw pillow shaped like a heart with arms. So far, the only affection the throw pillow has gotten is that of the couch, when I violently slam it as far away from the bed as my little red studio can allow.

The only other stimulus I received was an Italian film poster with Marcello Mastroianni holding a gun to you through the big red O of "DivOrzio All'Italiana" ("Divorce Italian Style"). I suspect being held at gun-point while you're trying to write is certainly going to make you bleed best-sellers. It doesn't help that "DivOrzio All'Italiana" is the only thing blocking the outside world from looking through your first-floor window. At many points I had the thought of flipping the poster over onto its back, but then I divorced myself from this idea, Italian style.

"So you like these curtains?" my mother asked me.

"Yes, mother. They're very . . . red."

"Do you think you're going to need help putting them up?"

"No, Mamma, non ti preoccupare. Me and my friends will have no problems doing it. Are you sure they're going to keep the light out?"

"Yes, don't worry, they're very thick."

We filtered our conversations from any emotional attachment, now that we didn't live together anymore.

"They'll look very nice with your red stools."

I told her there was a red motif to my home, and that hopefully it wouldn't drive me insane.

And so I stood there holding these pennants in the sky, defying the bull of the world to run through my window. I was sweating. I'm a perfectionist, and I wanted the red curtains perfectly parallel with the city. They were heavy. I was sweating more now. I took my shirt off, my pants off. I stood there in my red underwear, in these six-foot windows, looking over First Avenue. I didn't care. It was my last bastion of nudity before this large red cape would shield me forever. I screwed the last screw in and collapsed on my bed, in anticipation of the first night without the golden yellow prying my eyes open at six in the morning.

I slept. I slept and slept. And when I awoke, I looked at my friend. He had just awakened. We looked at the curtains, then each other. We didn't say a word for a minute or so. We looked around the room. I hadn't formally thanked him for helping me the night before. But this was more than necessary.

"It's like a Kubrick set," he said.

I nodded my head. Originally, I thought it would eventually drive me mad. Then I closed my eyes and opened them again. A warm, fuzzy feeling massaged my shoulders. I knew I wouldn't go crazy. It was just beautiful. The curtains were red, all right. And I realized there was nothing wrong with a bit of light entering the room; especially when it was filtered in such a spectacular, picturesque, colorful, pen-liberating way.

Clifford F. Dantes





Here are some things that mauve is not: it is not the color of yodeling (maybe yellow?) or Coney Island (orange and blue and gray) or the crackle-pop of a record on an old turntable (olive green and gold). Mauve has a pasty texture in your mouth, tastes like nothing in particular—Rhetorical Wedding Reception Chicken—and has a subtle but regrettable aftertaste.

The insides of a living thing are never mauve. They're blood-curdling red and juicy pink and maybe a squirmy sort of yellow or pale blue-gray. Amusement parks are never painted mauve. I have never before seen a mauve crayon—and really, thank God for that.

Dana Mezzina





Gray is where I will go. I cannot wait to be it, to know my hair will always match my black stockings, to pick the gray of potato peel from my teeth. I cannot wait for gray, to give up solid foods for the opalescence of tapioca and the dust of applesauce.

Gillette Hayman




The New Blue

According to Crayola, America's top-ten favorite colors consist of seven shades of blue. In order of popularity: blue, cerulean, midnight blue, aquamarine, periwinkle, denim, and blizzard blue.

The oldest of these, as one might expect, is "blue," introduced as a Crayola crayon color in 1903. The newest, "denim," was introduced nine years ago. My prediction: with the introduction of some new-millennium colors, the blues could sweep the whole top ten next year. My suggestions:

Boo boo blue. A painful mottling of blue, purple, brown, and yellow, "boo boo blue" is sure to kick all the other colors' asses.

Boo hoo blue. "Staring into her blue eyes, I could not discern if she was crying tears of joy, sadness, or rage." Borrrrrrring. And wordy. The literary world needs something new—fresh. The struggling writer need only begin, "Staring into her boo hoo blue eyes . . . ." and get on with the story. See? A breakthrough for word economists and the melodramatic alike.

Older works could also benefit. Poor Shakespeare, regarded as a genius by some but simply as a sadist by others, may merely have been the unfortunate victim of the Pre-Crayola period, when acute visual descriptors were less commonplace. Had a wider spectrum of colors been available, perhaps his works would seem less confusing. Observe this improvement to King Richard's lines in Richard III:

O coward conscience, how dost thou afflict me!—
The lights burn boo hoo blue--it is now midnight.

On second thought, maybe it wouldn't be less confusing. But it does liven up the prose a bit, doesn't it?

Little boy blue. Little boys aren't really blue, but does it matter? Is the Caribbean really green? No, but introduced in 1996, "Caribbean green" is ranked as America's sixth-favorite color.

It's all in the name: Tickle me pink. Unmellow yellow. Purple pizzazz. Fuzzy wuzzy brown. They're all real Crayola colors. It's less about the visual and more about the feeling. When introduced in 1998, fuzzy wuzzy brown wasn't actually fuzzy, was he? He was a crayon--a brown crayon. Little boy blue, come join the crayon box.

Oh yes, the blues will win. They will beat cerise, a color I'm sure was only ranked number nine because of the predominance of Americans pretending to know what it was. They will force purple heart--currently number three—to retreat to velvet cases, to rest behind glass where it belongs. And if nature is any predictor, they will overpower Caribbean green. After all, I've never heard anybody say: "Hey—let's go to the Caribbean. The water's so green there."

Donna Myers