dispersing & reflecting light through poetry

Posts tagged ‘orange’


I think death–physical, spiritual, emotional–colors the first half of my next chapbook, ORANGE.

Terra Cotta Soldiers
“Let the dead bury the dead.” –Jesus of Nazareth

dried clay
brittle broken
cracked and fallen
astonishing detail of
upright individuals in
grand ancient army formation
layered soil and sand of the centuries
standing guard over a dead emperor’s tomb
all ready for war
yet they’re not moving
they’ve already lost

Image & Text Copyright © 2016 Scott Daniel Massey



That girl’s for me!
Hair so fine;
eyes sublime;
keep my eyes
down that body—
oh my goddy—
she’s a hotty!

Feels so good,
     you want your first crush
to last…

Gotta walk up to her;
gotta talk up to her.
Dude, don’t slumber—
get her number.
Get my feet to
move in,
groove in.
I ain’t shady,
be my lady—
come on, baby.

I’ve got my spine,
     I’ve got my

Yeah, you’re mine;
mine, all mine.
This will last forever,
we will be together
in my place you’ll
move in,
groove in.
Give to me your body;
you will be my lady;
I’m lovin’ you baby.

…you want your first crush
     to last,
don’t let it go
    so fast…

Why you sippin’ soda
with another dude?
Can’t you feel
my heartbeat
heart     beat
to a pulp.
Bruised fruit
not my fault

Follow me,
     don’t follow me.

…don’t let it go
    so fast…

I set out to write “Crush” about infatuation, about fantasy love gone wrong. Refrains referencing early 1970’s advertisements for Orange Crush™ soda give the poem a feeling of innocence; whereas, inserting references to the REM song “Orange Crush”, a song about the American involvement in the Vietnam conflict, insured that the fantasy went bad quick.

So bad that the speaker ends the final stanza with the “B” word.

The obvious question here is, should a Christian poet/writer use profanity in their writing? Scripture is clear that we should be careful of the words that come out of our mouth, but a lot of that refers to the heart intent of those words. People can say very hurtful things using nice, family friendly words.

It is rare that I employ what are referred to in polite circles as “cuss” words, vulgar language, profanity. In this case, I felt the word in the context of the earlier innocence of the narrative hits the reader in the face. It shows that abuse, relational violence can come out of nowhere. My friend, Elizabeth, a Lutheran pastor and poet told me, “the word ‘bitch’ just kinda came out of the blue for me.”

And I think that may be how it is in abusive relationships. I don’t believe any woman starts a relationship to be abused. (And though men can be abused by women, it’s predominantly the other way.)

So the use of the “B” word in this instance is not to be vulgar or gratuitous, but to slightly shock the reader into a sympathetic understanding of abuse.

Copyright © 2016 Scott Daniel Massey

ORANGE: The Discotheque

The globs of a lava lamp don’t really get anywhere, now do they.

Lava Lamps

The lava lamp continues
its up and down journey
as the disco ball fractures and scatters
the light about the room,
all the while the dancers dance their dances
with no need for contact,
no need to hold on to anyone else,
gyrating to the disturbance
of the regular flow of rhythm,
electronic synthesizing
of analog counterparts;
reverberating vocals reverberating
the inner core of the medulla oblongata,
erasing the white lines
from the mirror image of powder blues
and ruffled hues all paler than
last year’s model–
thin is in,
less is more or less the money shot,
and the hits keep getting hotter,
virgin vinyl melting under diamond needles:
disco didn’t die–it was just buried alive,
pushed to the underground of the heartland.

Copyright © 2015 Scott Daniel Massey

Smelling ORANGE

One of the first poems completed for ORANGE is another list poem. This list is a bit different in a couple ways. First, each line describes a distinctive scent of fall, at least from my western Michigan youth. So as you read through take your time with each line. If you’re familiar with the odor, try to recall it. They say that memories are strongly connected to our sense of smell.

Secondly, the list actually has story. There is some progression. It’s not a true story from my life, but it does convey truth.

The Scent of Autumn

the air first thing in the morning
wet leaves in the gutter
seats on the school bus
dry corn stalks
fresh cow manure
chalk dust and pencil shavings
cafeteria food
sweat suits and running shoes
          left in the locker room
paraffin and charred pumpkin
candy corn
a blend of Gatorade®, heat rub,
          and muddy, torn-up turf
burning leaves
instant coffee
Thanksgiving dinner
wool letterman jackets
Miller High Life® in aluminum cans
a freshly opened condom
dirt roads after the rain
rotted apples under the trees
leaking coolant, oil, and gas
moist earth from an open grave

Copyright © 2015 Scott Daniel Massey

ORANGE Playlist

I don’t want to get too far along on ORANGE, I only have 5 poems completed for it. I honestly don’t know where I’m going with it. I have connected the titles to ideas and topics: fear, death, apostacy, community, the resurrection, and more. Culturally, orange is associated with autumn, harvest, fruitfulness. Orange is warm and happy. As a secondary color it’s transitional. Orange is a sensational color–slightly more intense than yellow, yet less aggressive than red–that stimulates activity and appetite, and encourages socialization. Orange elicits a stronger “love it” or “hate it” response than other colors.1

The Lord once told me concerning my poetry to make the connections and He would give the meaning. That isn’t to say that I don’t have an intended meaning to what I write. I’ve never quite understood writers that just write words on a page, only to say that they didn’t have meaning, expressed or implied; that the reader gives the interpretation. There had to be something on their mind or in their heart to put the words to page. With my poems I’m trying to make a connection, to have meaning; but God will give my poetry true meaning if my mind is stayed on Him (no matter how imperfect I may be–and I am extremely imperfect), and if I write to please HIm and to encourage, uplift, and enlighten others.

With that in mind, here is the current proposed playlist for ORANGE:

Jack O’Lantern
Terra Cotta Soldiers
The Scent of Autumn
Orange Crush
Lava Lamps
The Golden Gate Bridge
Black Box
Ghazal: La Naranja de Dios
Thursday in Thailand
Bell Edison Telephone Building, circa WWI
The Life of Oompa Loompas
Coals on the Altar
The Drink of Astronauts
Operation Ranchhand
Flight of Monarchs
Amber Alert
Orange Remix

Copyright © 2015 Scott Daniel Massey

ORANGE You Glad I Didn’t Say RED

Since the colors of the spectrum have no distinct delineation (at least to the naked human eye), I thought I’d throw in a poem from the next series, ORANGE, to allow the thoughts to bleed into each other.

It’s a list poem. I plan to start each series this way. I think it’s a good way to get focused in on the specific color. What I’ve been doing is jotting down things of the color, varying shades of the color, things that elicit the color; looking for the common and the unusual, the obvious and the odd. I then select the items that strike me, that stand out, that I see some possibility of spiritual and/or poetic connection, orthodox or obscure.

The final stanza is put together from interesting facts about the color or related to cultural or thematic aspects of the color; and those may lead to an overall theme.

At least that’s how I’ve done it so far.


autumn leaves and pumpkins
egg yolks
the flesh of cantaloupe and mangoes
     converts to vitamin A in the liver
Viceroy and Monarch butterflies
Baltimore oriole
Honduran milk snake
Okeetee corn snake
Panthera tigris tigris
terra cotta soldiers
construction signs
safety cones
the Golden Gate Bridge,
     it blends well with its natural setting
children’s aspirin
Amber alert
penal jumpsuits
flight data and cockpit recorders
Oompa Loompas
Irish Protestants
US Army Signal Corps
Thursday in Thailand
herbicides in Vietnam

The CMYK composition of a version of orange:
     0% cyan, 69% magenta, 100% yellow, 6% black.
The composition of pumpkin pie filling, from scratch:
     1 c. cooked pumpkin, ½ c. sugar, 1 t. cinnamon, ¼ t. ginger, ¼ t. nutmeg, ¼ t. cloves,
     1 t. vanilla, 1 c. milk, 2 egg yolks, beat until stiff 2 egg whites.
The composition of Orange, VA in 2011:
     70.7% white, 22.8% black, 3.5% Hispanic, 2.3% mixed, 0.3% American Indian,
     0.3% Asian, 0.04% Hawaiian, 0.02% other, 0.04% unknown;
     that’s a total of 2 Hawaiians.

Copyright © 2015 Scott Daniel Massey

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