Today's poem is by Diann Blakely

Bad Blood

A woman stares, wild-eyed from the terror known only when death,
            That black-winged angel,
Appears without warning, without any time for prayers, rescue,
            Or bargains; appears
As a sinking car, as a plane arrowing a thousand feet
            Per second; appears
As a murderer's knife, unsheathed and glittering. Her wet blond hair,

Grayish in the black-and-white film, drips at the sides of her face
            And emphasizes
Those eyes, that darkly lipsticked mouth shaped in a scream's darker o.
            Blood spatters the tile
Then the cracked drain, its perforations flooding with stained water.
            Flashbacks to Psycho:
What middle-ager doesn't succumb, at least in motel showers,

Recalling these shots, or Bates straitjacketed while a fly roams
            His twitching fingers?
A man too gentle to hurt a fly, the voice-over repeats.
            With brute surrender,
The actor embodied our worst fears: like dying in the bath—
            Or flames, or black winds—
Trusting water like a lover to soothe, to cleanse off the grit

And smudge of ill-spent pasts, to give us a new starts. No new start
            For a man offered
Only crazed killer roles in his short life, who quoted a film
            In his dying days.
An easier story: everyone knew Germans were the bad guys,
            That Ingrid Bergman's
Suffering was noble, though her career was nearly sunk by—

Living in sin? out-of-wedlock kids? One era's moral rage
            Turns ash as quickly
As the next shapes its fears. Keep me safe, keep me safe—we repeat
            Craven litanies now,
In time of plagues, want to feel singled out and cherished by God,
            Who'll surely spare us,
Our friends, our families. Almost sensual, these open-mouthed pleas

For blessing, as when we let water sluice its warm passage down
            Our flesh at the end
Of a day that's pummeled us into exhaustion and blankness,
            When we drop our hands
To unbutton a shirt, pull on the harsh teeth of a zipper,
            Look in someone's eyes
And pray love me, treasure my body, don't ever let me die.


Copyright © 2008 Diann Blakely All rights reserved
from Cities of Flesh and the Dead
Elixir Press
Reprinted by Verse Daily® with permission

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