Poetry from Dominique Russell

Photo: Joshua K. Jackson


Red is the color at the end of the visible spectrum of light.

It puts you on edge. It is the edge.
Scandals, streetcars and roses. The flush of fatigue and desire.
Red is the aphrodisiac of power. Tasteful in small doses, mad in head to toe.
Red can be drawn on skin; there are implements for that.
In the invisible spectrum of light below it, we see just what is behind
our eyes, the dance of heat under hands.
Red is the taste of longing                in the blind grope towards rayleigh scattering—

oh, let’s follow the ochre of our bodies past the galleries of the brain
towards the era of the first cochineal, or some monkey’s ass reading ripe
the discovery of fire, oh—just—


………………….Red as dawn,
…………Red as sunset.

The number for crimson is repeat.


Poem from a line by John Donne

I lied all winter, in my buttoned up coat and red scarf.
I was hiding crows.

I lied when I said hello, that neutral tone and proffered glove.
I should have torn it off.

I lied all winter. Season-wise, I frosted my heart.
Under my hat my brain boiled. My flesh red and raw.

I lied as I turned, cold and heat clashing
my brain heart cymbals. I lied. Each time I lied.

So good to see you, yes, yes, what spectacle the storms,
the vicissitude of future slush, how strangely blue this winter light.

I lied. We should have tried, at least,
to leave the print of our angels in the snow.


Dominique Russell is a Toronto writer, activist and teacher. She is the author of Instructions for Dreamers (Swimmers Group, 2018) and Kensington, I Remember (Russell Creek Press, 2013; 2016).

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