If someone suggests you use words besides
blood in your poems, make it part of a recipe
Try dinuguan, for example
Make your blood impossible to avoid
Another name for this dish is chocolate
meat, the name your aunts used to hide
from you the fact you were eating
pork blood with your rice
Other ingredients may include garlic, onions,
liver, pork belly, dried bay leaf,
vinegar, chicken stock, etc.
Say you know the difference between blood and sweetness
Say you hate the taste of liver
Think of the blood in your poem as a lie
Say this is also your blood: the Spanish
explorer Miguel Lopez de Legazpi and the Datu
Sikatuna, who poured blood from their left
arms into the same cup, mixed it
with wine before drinking
Make a sculpture for the promises you have made
with blood that belonged to someone else
Put it on an island you have never visited
and encourage others to see it
Dream about a volcano and an earthquake,
about the gunfire the day they carried
your grandfather to the cemetery after
he cracked his skull on the bathroom floor,
about the hair of your parents sticky
with blood, the glass beneath their skin,
the scabs on their lips
When you came to retrieve
their luggage, their sandy fishing gear
from the wreckage of their car, you found
the bloodstains on the exposed air bags,
the dashboard, the jacket wet
with rainwater wedged between the seats
Consider the insects that gathered around
all the blood you would not touch
Count the number of times
this blood appears
When you close your eyes, what is
the color of your blood?
Copyright © 2021 by Albert Abonado. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on March 10, 2021, by the Academy of American Poets.
When Lynne saw the lizard floating
in her mother-in-law’s swimming pool,
she jumped in. And when it wasn’t
breathing, its body limp as a baby
drunk on milk, she laid it on her palm
and pressed one fingertip to its silky breast
with just about the force you need
to test the ripeness of a peach, only quicker,
a brisk little push with a bit of spring in it.
Then she knelt, dripping wet in her Doc Martens
and camo T-shirt with the neck ripped out,
and bent her face to the lizard’s face,
her big plush lips to the small stiff jaw
that she’d pried apart with her opposable thumb,
and she blew a tiny puff into the lizard’s lungs.
The sun glared against the turquoise water.
What did it matter if she saved one lizard?
One lizard more or less in the world?
But she bestowed the kiss of life,
again and again, until
the lizard’s wrinkled lids peeled back,
its muscles roused its own first breath
and she set it on the hot cement
where it rested a moment
before darting off.
Copyright © Ellen Bass. This poem originally appeared in Indigo
(Copper Canyon Press, 2020). Used with permission of the author.