This is where we come together,
not before but after:
The blood already drained, we refill it;
we never lack for blood to give.
It is hot and volunteers bring water,
or cold and they bring coats.
Amnesiacs improvise memorials,
and even arid soils sprout flowers
held in vases of denuded blood—
we are generous in our way.
Where else but here and in the armed forces
does nothing matter—
not race, not gender, not religion—
save one’s ability to proffer blood?
Like a hundred-million others, I wait,
sleeves rolled up bearing veins
plump like unpicked fruit:
How does so much bounty go to rot
time after time after time?
The dead and the dying do not care.
Their blood indicts me,
they demand repentance or conviction
as they slip six feet under an endless land
whose rulers have never spared
even 40 acres and a mule…
I go to bed woozy, haunted again by corpses
and by that old abolitionist saying:
“Peace if possible,
Justice at any cost.”