When I was a bomb,
I destroyed though
I longed to build; instead
I gutted and burned and
When I was a bayonet,
I couldn’t imagine how
I had happened — how
I’d found myself
at barrel’s end, how
I stuck, how I was freed
with a blast right after.
When I was poison
I slept uneasily, like an empty coffin;
when I was a guillotine,
I felt a breeze sift that hair
as it tumbled down.
I used to pretend to be
oblivious to myself as damage
but truth be told: it has always been
my entire being and life to be
utterer of death
in order to preserve myself…
so I weep and gnash my teeth
and wash my hands of
generations of stains,
never moving from
Sunday morning Irish music
on the radio. Been this way
for many eons. I don’t do church anymore
but ritual matters to me — for instance,
a soothing shower and then a bowl
of thick white bean soup
during a snowstorm after shoveling.
So it is with De Dannan, Teada, Altan,
and so on. Something foreign enough
to feel strange, homey enough to feel
safe. I grew up with this around me.
I took it in with air and water.
This is Sunday for me. Once upon a time
I went to church on Sundays. I used to hate that.
I was forced into that ritual. I don’t hate this one
because I’m free to change the station,
though I don’t. I never do. It’s Irish music
every Sunday morning. It’s a bittersweet
religion as foreign to me as it is homey,
which is, I think, what religion ought to be:
a deep familiarity, a sacred oddity
embedded within you of your own free will.
you can have it.
I’ve seen my share.
It’s mostly been my own
but red’s red;
once you’ve seen
one scarlet gush
you’ve seen them all.
I know some can’t seem
to get enough and others
can differentiate among
various types to decide
which are sacred and which
profane, but I’ve never been
one of those. Its iron salt flavor
killed my appetite for it
for life. For life — what an odd
locution. To say I could
swear off blood
for life — as if I could
and remain alive. As if
blood I refused was trying
to kill me, and only by not bathing
in it could I stay alive in reverse of
Countess Bathory and Dracula and
all those other blood loving beings.
We all seem to be in love
with those red fountains
even when we can’t stand to see them.
How confusing we are. As for
excess blood: who needs it?
It’s just a sticky mess. It’s going
to make me miss breakfast. It’s
not worth my time. I have enough
of my own, thank you —
do not ask me
to shed a drop more.