The Nomenclature of Color

Richard Jones

Absinthe green: Laura’s eyes.
Bishop’s purple: Evening skies.
Cornflower blue: Dreams of the wise.
Dragon’s-blood red: My mother’s dark sighs.
Elephant’s breath: Imagination.
Forget-me-not blue: The dust of cremation.
Guinea green: Ruination.
Hessian brown: The dust of creation.
Iron gray: The paradox of clouds.
Jade green: The bride’s necklace.
Kingfisher blue: Justice and grace.
Lavender gray: A widow’s shroud.
Medici blue: The heart that is jealous.
Nile blue: The color of water.
Onionskin pink: A poem for my daughter.
Pearl gray: The wedding gift.
Quaker drab: The virtue of thrift.
Raw sienna: Dirt we sift.
Seafoam green: The rowboat adrift.
Tyrian rose: Love’s ardor.
Ultramarine blue: Heaven’s color.
Venetian pink: Hell below.
Wedgewood blue: The little we know.
Xanthine orange: The taste of life.
Yvette violet: The lips of my wife.
Zinc orange, zinc blue, zinc white: The colors of houses in paradise.

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Richard Jones is the author of a number of books of poetry, including Country of Air, The Blessing: New and Selected Poems, Apropos of Nothing, and The King of Hearts. He is also the award-winning editor of Poetry East and over the last four decades has curated its many anthologies, such as The Last Believer in Words, Bliss, Wider than the Sky, and Paris. He lives in Illinois with his family.

“Richard Jones’s prodigious volume travels the wide arc of a lifetime in Proustian detail. He remembers a peripatetic upbringing, travels to London and Paris, separation from and reunion with his wife in the Italian countryside, morning tea with his daughter and trail runs with his sons, flights with a pioneering aviator father and conversations with a deaf mother. ‘Impossible task, staying alive,’ Jones writes, and yet a perspicacious examination of the life we have lived yields clarity and enrichment. Finding poetry in what went before, Stranger on Earth opens the door to what Proust calls ‘those dwelling-places deep within us that we would not have known how to enter.’”

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