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MacQueen’s Quinterly: Knock-your-socks-off Art and Literature
Issue 4: July 2020
Poem: 209 words
By Rina Terry

Playing My Blue Guitar

If to serenade almost to man is to miss, by that, things as they are,
say that it is the serenade of a man that plays a blue guitar.

—Wallace Stevens

I am playing my blue guitar 
pale as sky can be, terror-
filled bottomless ocean, it must be 
played, played out 
gently wicked      full of deceit, 
put down     picked up 
fingers flamenco urged: 
strings, heartbeats, flurrying feet 

I play my aimless blue guitar, 
strolling through spring gardens, 
anticipation’s heaven, but this 
blue guitar is seldom satisfied. 
Beyond peak or gravity, earthly 
attachments a widening expanse 
of pluck, strum, slap and pop. 
My blue guitar could save your life 
when poised for a leap, 
eternal sleep...

Pace e Bene lose control when 
they hear my blue guitar. What frets 
are weaving a shroud in your mind 
when your window opens to the universe, 
every cloud shaped like a blue guitar? 
Ephemeral/eternal couple in daylight, 
oil and water breed a new blue chord. 

There are whole libraries written 
about what rescues us. Will you 
invent endless stories of creation, 
each one cancelling out the other? 
Are you the savior of civilization, 
composing measures of time? 
Oh, blue guitar, tricking thought 
into action, will this serenade end?  


Publisher’s Note:

Epigraph is from the 33-canto poem by Wallace Stevens, The Man With the Blue Guitar, from his book The Man With the Blue Guitar & Other Poems (Alfred A. Knopf, 1937).

Rina Terry
Issue 4, July 2020

After leaving a position as Assistant to the Dean of General Studies at a New Jersey state college, Rina Terry attended seminary and became an ordained United Methodist Minister. She has served as pastor of several New Jersey churches and spent many years as Supervisor of Religious Services at a state prison. She holds an MA in English: Creative Writing from Temple University and a Master of Divinity from Princeton Theological Seminary.

Rina has published poetry, short fiction, book reviews, and academic articles, and frequently writes columns on jazz and literature. She contributed three poems to Poems for the Writing: Prompts for Poets (Texture Press, 2013), and the “Spirit of Names” prompt in that book was influenced by her work.

To accompany the release of Cardboard Piano in 2014 by Texture Press, Rina wrote How Layered Experience Becomes Art, in which she discusses her poetics and some influences on the writing of her book, a work of fiction told through poetry.

For more info, including links to reviews, further writings, and a reading from Cardboard Piano, see author’s bio at Texture Press.

More on the Web: By, About, and Beyond

An Evening With Billie Holiday by Rina Terry, at Texture Press

Learning to Weld in Palette Poetry (23 July 2018)

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