Darrell Bourque



Self-Portrait, With David Egan


We could not have known

what we were saying then.

If someone had come in

& begun to hammer us back

from distances we traveled,

if someone had come in

& led us back from homelands

we could barely breathe in

in our normal lives, the tapes

would seem all static & clatter.

But here we were in some place

we’d never been before

& might never return to.

Happy as cows chewing cuds,

we’d become something other

than whatever we passed for

in ordinary time. On the inside

we were growing new stomachs,

new hearts, new ways of moving

inside caves we’d just become

& everything we heard

was softened bass & barely

heard percussives trembling

on the edge of melody.




Rothko, OPEN WINDOW AT COLLIOURE, & Bonnard’s Interiors



He sees no place for gods in Bonnard’s rooms, or Matisse’s.

These men are modern Frenchmen, hedonism breathes

in these men’s bones, their gods in the sea, somewhere

outside the window. Old division between outside

and inside is where they live, these men. Their windows

are filled with trees or the blue of skies they live under

every day. These painters know the novenas of cerulean,

the litanies of line. Praises they sing, they sing touching

whatever they see with light. These men pray in languages

out of reach until you find yourself talking back at them

in a tongue you seldom ever speak. Drops of sweat on oil,

a smudge of pigment made just right with a fingernail, rag

lifted from the mess on a nearby bench or table or sill

put to use, near mindlessness brings them to their knees.

What they set out to do begins with building openings

you can walk through. What you find on the other side

is your business. These men have no time to argue.








                        after Will Turley painting,



The big divisions matter less

than we think they do. The dead

breathe in tandem with the living,

deserts with mountains, plankton

& whale, copperheads, mosquito

hawks & purple martins, & slugs.

We chew on shadowed distances

we are traveling to. Hammered

sound is Beethoven & Bach too

if we have the right ears to hear

the measures in them breathing,

or Shostakovich or Janacek.

Ravel breathes Couperin’s tomb.

His Pavane pour une infant défunt

is 7 minutes of slow, adoring breath,

in Spanish. Mussorsky breathes

remembrance of Hartmann inside

10 movements and a promenade.

Love is division we did not expect

to happen. Hate is too, & the vast

textured in-between. Definitive

line between murky darkness &

hope of light is you inside yourself.






Darrell & Goldman Thibodeaux


Darrell Bourque is a former Poet Laureate of Louisiana. He is the author of In Ordinary Light, New and Selected Poems, Megan’s Guitar and Other Poems from Acadie (both ULL Press), and “if you abandon me, comment je vas faire: An Amédé Ardoin Songbook (Yellow Flag Press). He is the co-director of The Amédé Ardoin Project.