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Photos by Erin Davis

Pastels: A Poetry Collection on Color and Loss

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Cosmic Order

Iridescent nails
Fingers with glittering rings
On rich brown hands
Mixing the astral bath water
Distorting the reflection of Jupiter
In the place where all our emotions are

The ancestral horn
Deep resonance, the calling
Strumming of chords you’d only imagined
Words and pictures, ancient creations
That belong to you


You created this for us
The breasts of the earth that rise till the greens turn yellow
The grounds that turn black, to oil
And your proposal of the richness of my skin to power

You painted the sky from the colors on your body
And gave me a swear with one answer
You painted my bliss, let out to dry
Giving me a beautiful life
I should’ve noticed the signs of a dying God

We kissed on the Ferris wheel
Wearing the color wheel
And painted the town in splatters
We live in wet paint;
Our memories dry to art
And our lives, rich in pastels


Spangled plasma stains in satin sheets
Scrubbed with blue soap let out to dry
The pink flamingos on the front lawn don’t know their eyes are dead
The wispy night glitters, the strobe lights
nothing to them
Still they stand,
The queer flamingos on the lush lawn,
Eyes grinning out,
Admiring a beauty they can’t understand

It’s faded for me
I can’t paint daturas anymore
Just listen to the sounds out there
Chromesthesia can’t cure it
Those light blues
There’s more
Humming, like a choir out there
It’s not just a hum, It’s getting closer
I can’t hear it
They’re all singing more than you can hear

You left a note in an old place:

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“Undress by the moon
In the pool at 6 am
Bathe in the sun,
Blue alone won’t heal the scar tissue

Don’t fear
The purple was vibrant then,
When I slit into the pool

I won’t be out there,
In the morning,
You will heal”

You were still precious where I found you
The holy mess decimated me



I could never relieve your agitations
But I did scratch them
Because I promised I would
Until your surface turned scabbed
And blistered in a crimson rust

Colored skin and nails made from your pastels
The nails won’t dry
Time won’t dry these nails gnawing in my mouth
And my memories smear to smut

The devil took red from the earth
And he walked me out the door
Waiting to make sure I left safety
I can’t remember what it looks like:

Living sacrifice
damnation to hell
the coal in the holiday
the gunpowder, the fire
blindness from smoke
his blood and blistering
pretending and false power
my indebted crown
What color is it!?
The world is mute

Neon Dream

Shuffle credit cards like playing cards
The squares gone in a circle
The neons stick to the grease on my skin
While strippers undress my teeth down to lines and lipstick stains

The triangles and parallel lines pause and play
Never rewind that sh*t
Only slow it down

Diamonds cut with tribal ties
It glitters differently if there’s blood
My mouth lined in it

When the shakes came they wouldn’t go
The gas puts me down
And the needle numbs the pain
The surgery went wrong
Lick the blood the needle left
Like you always do
a needle: just a pine, just a pipe
This is Not a Pipe
In sticky, shiny, vaseline
Black is mean?
White is shallow
In the Nike’s music video
I saw glitters
And rain

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Cleansing down
Balled up in a corner
Your body runneth over with tensions
and the cradled son, mute

Your hair graces the floor in silence
the restraints lift but the body still clenches
Shivering up in a corner
The grime’s swept there with you
Until you spill into a deep purge

I hid from you in wet paint
And watched you chip away

Trickle lavender bleach in the bathtub
Fully clothed in false power
It’ll help me fall asleep

Samson cut his virgin hair
I saw grey locks in the bath water
In your painting
my virgin hair belongs to you
And God stripped me


I’m my father’s son
as you are also just a construct
A body floating through fog above the ocean luster
The body I see as a ghost, then gone
The body I grope for in the dark, whose light as air
The body that I reach for every time

I’ll mix the dust in with the clay
And try to recreate your body
I’ll burn sage for your spirit
Pour you in rose water
And churn until you cease to separate
I’ll activate my crystals
Invite earthy cleansing for your soul
Which is just as light as your body once was

The dust will fall in no order
There will be no answers
Or map to it
But the way it falls will be
And it must be swept
And thrown away

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The note didn’t warn about the silence
The glass won’t click alone
Each creak is the start of a new conversation
with the floor

Sobbing wets my bed and I drown;
Deeper until I hit the seafloor alone
Tangents occupy my mind
Not even the crabs will talk to me
I’ll toast to the fireworks too far away to see me

This place is like frozen wool
And no longer serving me purpose;
I’ll say goodbye to my friends,
the phlegm and paste still left in the sink
after I’ve spit them out

Color Therapy

Inpatient rain I hear your voice
The incense is brightest right when the ashes fall
and you’re there to see it in the depths of my solitude every time
Resculpting my identity, wetting the clay with meditation
Making small ceramics for my bedroom
I cheered up a nice space
But where is the fullness?

Naked in summer rain at 6 am
I faced everything
Floating in the pool
Eyes closed
Welcoming a dawn of glowing catharsis

I woke up in that place
The blue burst into visceral cosmic accord
Twilight and the imploding sun in my body
Coming out in my skin, dying me purple like nightshade
In this plane, saturated and oozing in surreal fruits with deep juices,
I plunge in the cosmic waters
And I’m reborn

I bowed to the sun as deep as I could
Those loud coral bells
You were right
Nirvana mix the sound to watercolors
In the enriched red-blue divine light,
Delilah’s influence is cleansed
I hear it
The purple choir

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