Monday, September 1, 2014

Crayola Paradise Lost

We moved between cool cubes of crisp White after White, neatly aligned,
  topped by meticulous matrices of Indian Red,
    shielding us from the melting heat of suspended Lemon Yellow.

Fading memory conveniently omits the incessant Gray interlopers,
  puffs of wet that daily battle to deny Sky Blue its due dominance above.
    My mind relaxes in shaded memories of only richest Blue.

The tropics surprised me, too, with foliage of Sepia and Yellow Orange,
  even as the defining tapestry was a Forest Green so out-of-the-box lush,
    that the Box Itself later cried for redesign to express such riches:

Jungle Green,
  Tropical Rain Forest,
    even Mango Tango to match the gooey feel
                that danced between my sandaled toes.

A never-ending strip of White along the edge of the Universe,
  ten yards wide, glistening with myriad microscopic flecks of Silver,
    a barrier against the vast Blue Green.

Beyond that loomed a world
  comfortably out of childhood’s sight,
    and incompatible with crayon happiness.

Author's Note: If you got value from this post, please “Share” it.

Originally published September 1, 2014 at Open Salon, where I wrote under my own name, Kent Pitman.

Crayola® is a registered trademark of Crayola LLC.

Tags (from Open Salon): youth, memory, recollection, recall, memoir, remembrance, color, colorful, colour, colourful, vivid, impressions, crayola, crayons, crayola crayons, poem, poetry, panama, canal zone, panama canal zone, utopia, paradise, paradise lost, simple, simplicity, tropical, mango, jungle, ocean, beach, sand, sun, sky, rain forest

Background & Context: I took a MOOC online course called How Writers Write Poetry at the University of Iowa’s online arm, Writing University. It was a lot of fun. Most of the lectures and exercises were interesting and useful, as was the the discussion with fellow students and occasional site moderators. This is one of several poems I wrote as part of the class exercises.

They have a course coming up soon called How Writers Write Fiction. It starts Friday, September 26 and runs two months to Friday, November 21.

Memory is a fragile thing, and even those memories we intend to share are difficult to articulate. However, for better or worse, this poem above is my attempt to share some memories of my days in the Panama Canal Zone in the mid 1970’s. The photo below is cropped from a photo I got from a friend, which he represents as being, like my memories, quite old. In any case, he thought it has fallen into the public domain, though I can’t easily verify that. My memories of the simple, crisply drawn colors that characterized that lovely place and time inspired me to write the poem. The photo illustrates a little of that, and the poem hopefully gives you a sense of the full palette.

Speaking of palettes, the Crayola® collection of 64 colors from the time of my youth is something I tried to stick to in the poem. In this regard, I relied on some online lists like those in Wikipedia’s List of Crayola Crayon Colors and another that wasn't quite as complete but was easier to reference. Another offered the timeline in easy form, and still another was just visually compelling, not to mention contained useful RGB values.