“Red” is a list poem. Now to the casual observer that would be obvious. So is a list poem simply a random listing of items, things to do or that are done? A good list poem should be more than that; it should contain things that are somehow related and/or tell a story or create an image. Once at a poetry reading, a university English professor told me she really enjoyed the list poem I had read that evening (I believe it was “Red“) because it wasn’t merely a list, it built up anticipation. I enjoy writing list poems. There’s a simplicity to the form and yet putting items in an order that gives the poem complexity and depth can be a challenge.
I don’t believe I set out to tell any kind of story with “Red“. I created a list of red objects or things that elicit a red image, some immediately recognizable, others that were out of the ordinary, hoping to give you a sense of the color inside and outside of normal experience. Not every line has significant symbolic meaning other than to give a bold display of color.
I also researched various cultures in my search for meanings of red. For instance, in India a common color for brides is not white, but red; it also indicates being highly favored. To the Cherokee it is sacred. To the Christian as well, symbolizing the blood of Christ.
The ending stanza sums up the overwhelming theme within most cultural views of the color red–it is a remarkably passionate color. This is seen in two intertwining extremes often symbolized by red, love and war. Love can be war; war fought for love. Both extremes are boldly proclaimed at the cross of Christ; but those central poems of the RED series will be discussed later.
Copyright © 2015 Scott Daniel Massey