Advice for Using Blood in a Poem

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?

No cheating

Copyright © 2021 by Albert Abonado. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on March 10, 2021, by the Academy of American Poets.