Blood means little. The squaw in me
could sing for not trailing tears
along the miles, only to be ancestors’
embarrassment when she burrowed into
a grandfather’s heart and my subsequent veins.

Blood sings too, but not loudly.

I could kill a deer if I had to, or
farm industriously in Tennessee
until I take my own land away.
I’d eradicate the scourge of myself,
ready the land for another me,
and leech out the wrong pint.

Oblivious, it bleeds and sings.

I could claim ownership of crimes I have
and haven’t committed, my skin seeming never
to root for the underdog, my tongue molding only
around contours left by conquerors.

My blood, like Switzerland, doesn’t take sides.

It votes with both its fists
completely open.  It stuffs the ballot box
with cotton candy.  Way before dawn
it’s humming this crazy tune
with one note and
a million


(Recording of “Blood Lines” by the author, for the audio installation at the Transitions writer’s event at Pen and Brush, 29 East 22nd Street, New York NY, on June 3, 2010.)


“Blood Lines” was the Second Place Pen poetry prize winner, 2007, and it may be forthcoming in the Pen and Brush Award Winners’ Anthology, P&B Books, New York, New York (publication TBD). It also appeared in For a Better World 2011: Poems and Drawings on Peace and Justice by Greater Cincinnati Artists, Ghosn Publishing, 2011.

 “An original awareness of unity.”

— Peggy Garrison (poetry prize judge, Pen and Brush, 2007)