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I'll Give You Red
Tamara Madison

I’ll give you red,
the color the Russians loved
so much they used it to make
their word for beautiful:
I’ll give you scarlet
from the epaulets of blackbirds.
Or cardinal
from the spirits threading
through a steamy green
Midwestern afternoon.
I’ll give you crimson
from the feathers the parrot
hides in his tail
and only lets us see
when he is furious.
Here is your cerise
the sad, shameful stain of cherries.
And vermilion
the bright sash of yesterday
that lingers on the horizon.
I’ll give you ruby
the color of lies
that lovers tell themselves,
the flame at the prism’s
deepest heart.
But I will keep this red
the drunken sweet damp scent
of the breeze that sweeps
over strawberry fields
in June.
From Wild Domestic (Pearl).
This poem is on display at the Long Beach Transit Gallery in Long Beach, California. 
Used with the author’s permission.


Tamara Madison teaches English and French at a public high school in Los Angeles. Raised on a citrus farm in the California desert, Tamara's life has taken her many places, including Europe and the former Soviet Union, where she spent 15 months in the 1970s). A swimmer and dog lover, Tamara says, "All I ever wanted to do with my life was write, and I mostly write poetry because it suits my lifestyle; I like the way one can say so much in the economical space of a poem."


Post New Comment:
Well, of course I meant images, but you certainly imagine wonderfully, too!
Posted 06/03/2012 07:58 PM
I can see why this is on display at a gallery. Wonderful imagines!
Posted 06/03/2012 07:57 PM
Carol Halligan:
"the economical space of the poem" You certainly did it here with "Red". Exquisite tribute, Tamara.
Posted 06/03/2012 02:06 PM
So enjoy the haste here, the dramatic urgency in shades of red. Well said.
Posted 06/03/2012 11:34 AM
I too love the last image of the strawberry fields. Wonderful poem!
Posted 06/03/2012 08:18 AM
The flame in the prism is priceless. And I will also take a breeze of that strawberry June red. Yum! Simply beautiful, Tamara! ~Anjie
Posted 06/03/2012 08:14 AM
Posted 06/03/2012 08:14 AM
What a wonderful poem! I love the style, the flow, the beautiful way all these shades of red are presented. A great work of art. Thank you.
Posted 06/03/2012 07:41 AM

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