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Small Blue Thing -- Suzanne Vega

Guest poem submitted by Aseem Kaul:
(Poem #1660) Small Blue Thing
 Today I am
      a small blue thing
 Like a marble
      or an eye

 With my knees against my mouth
 I am perfectly round
 I am watching you

 I am cold against your skin
 You are perfectly reflected
 I am lost inside your pocket
 I am lost against
      your fingers

 I am falling down the stairs
 I am skipping on the sidewalk
 I am thrown against the sky
 I am raining down in pieces
 I am scattered like light
 Scattering like light
 Scattering like light

 Today I am
 A small blue thing
 Made of china
      made of glass

 I am cool and smooth and curious
 I never blink
 I am turning in your hand
 Turning in your hand

 small blue thing
-- Suzanne Vega
Somewhere on the fringes of music, there's a country with a language and a
sound all its own - a thin strip of a land, trapped between the borders of
folk and punk and mainstream rock, a land through which the sound of the
acoustic guitar flows like a river, and where poetry sings like a migratory
bird, on its way to warmer climes.

And of all the wonderful voices that sing to us from this land, there are
few finer than that of Suzanne Vega. Vega exists in that nowhere land
between poetry and song-writing: her work is rarely good enough to be
considered poetry by itself (though listening to her sing her songs you are
easily betrayed into thinking it is) but also rarely banal enough to be
dismissed as just another rock song. Because somewhere, even in the simplest
of her songs, there is that one lurking line that is the authentic poetic
image. In 'Left of Centre' Vega sings "If you want me, you can find me /
Left of center, off of the strip / In the outskirts and in the fringes / In
the corner out of the grip". I can't think of a better description.

Today's poem is a fine example of just how incredible a poet Vega can be -
it's a tiny gem of a poem, literally 'a small blue thing' it's lines
multi-faceted and sparkling, constantly revealing new perspectives. At its
best, it is a poem that seems to echo Plath (try reading "I am cool and
smooth and curious" and not thinking of "I am silver and exact") but it's
also a poem with incredible drive - the first four stanzas building into a
crescendo that dies away in the last two - a poem that is thrown against the
sky and then comes raining down in pieces. Most of all though, it's a poem
that truly captures the sense of something small and insignificant and
fragile that can both be played with and wondered at.

I must admit I'm not overly fond of the music this song is set to (it's from
her self-titled 1985 album) but the words are so incredibly, intensely
beautiful that they more than make up for it.


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