Blackstone Valley Triptych by Susanna Baird

Blackstone Valley Triptych
Acrylic on steel, 1974

Left Panel
Blue on the back of a beer truck,
metallic mountains rise from the bumper.
A guy rolls the foothills
into the sky.

Right Panel
Sky at night. Bronze stars
form rusted constellations.
The Working Man’s Belt.
The Pot-holed Roadway,
like the highway
leading out of the cement city
past small towns, dead grass,
breed-less dogs,
flakes of paint.

Center Panel
Paint in the middle
muddled bright, like you’re looking
through a smudge in a window
to a room lit by low-watt bulbs;
as if the painter dipped his brush
into beer before sweeping
the canvas, knocking sweaty cans
out of patrons’ hands, swiping
their quarters off the sticky bartop
onto the floor, covered with peanut shells
and soil stomped out of rubber trenches
between boot bottom treads.
Fresh off machinery days,
the patrons grab thirsty
as cans fall.

Their dive makes you ache,
turn away from the bar to a truck
finally emptied of beer,
a mouser hunting dinner
in a scraggly lot,
a pond named after a meadow,
flat and common and blue.

by Susanna Baird

Editor’s Note: This poem uses imagery to create the suggestion of art from ordinary life—Americana’s forgotten places highlighted with blue skies and paint.