Challenge in TV Yellow
Pulsars look like prisms through the binoculars
you aim at the gaps in power lines. So what.
Your guitar isn’t a 1954 Gibson. And the moon’s dissolved
edge does not look like mink fur. What matters is the lens:
white glowing like radiation on screen,
mid century, through cuts of static. Your imitation is rubbed down
to wood where the body of it swells
because of the forearms that sweat there, owning
and trading it in, while the instrument waited for the tubes to warm
in the amp and hum a little like a math tutor
reading questions quietly to himself in a cafe.
I’m supposed to say the Beatles played this color
for what it’s worth–popping everything black and white.
That a sulfuric undertow reverberated through the frame
as ghosts smoothed their faces against the glass,
but I’d rather imitate Hendrix orchestrating a convocation, licking
his palms before beating the egg-shell sheen
of his fender, nacreous as broken oyster shells
illuminating a path to the sea. I’d rather have the reptilian
swagger of a busted Stratocaster peeled
from Slash’s burn-out arms. You can’t counterfeit
the gag-reflex of surrender, or the measurement of the belly
with a fistful of peppermint leaves lined up in a chain
where only the wind can startle them. Do not say, I am
the brain–that is my triumph. Feather-headed with swallows,
I have been letting the sun in to settle inside me
like buttercup petals you see in the field only in springtime. TV Yellow,
you put a guitar in a T-Shirt and say, The past is always better.
Here comes the thief to rob the grave of its warrior: no more
pears enameled gold, no more lyre the singer lent death.
Give me paint, give me a neck that hands haven’t touched,
give me vinyl needled into static stutters in time. So the twentieth century
slipped the nine-volt battery from the smoke detector.
Plug it all in. The house will burn down eight times faster.
Kendra DeColo is the author of two poetry collections: My Dinner with Ron Jeremy (Third Man Books, 2016) and Thieves in the Afterlife (Saturnalia, 2014), selected by Yusef Komunyakaa for the 2013 Saturnalia Books Poetry Prize. Her poems and essays have appeared or are forthcoming in Gulf Coast, Ninth Letter, Indiana Review, Copper Nickel, Verse Daily, VIDA, Bitch Media, and elsewhere.
Tyler Mills is the author of Tongue Lyre, winner of the 2011 Crab Orchard Series in Poetry First Book Award (SIU Press 2013). Her poems have appeared in The New Yorker, Boston Review, Poetry, Kenyon Review, and New England Review, and her creative nonfiction won the Copper Nickel Editor’s Prize in Prose and appeared or is forthcoming in AGNI, The Collagist, and The Rumpus. She is editor-in-chief of The Account and currently teaches at New Mexico Highlands University.