A Bloodletting

by Ed Doerr

  1. You know how pain
  2. bleeds through time
  3. like ink on paper?
  4. A promise scrapes
  5. the scabs coffin-lidding
  6. the night so you might
  7. infect your wound
  8. with a great big
  9. gulp of sky.
  1. In the pantheon
  2. of stubborn stains,
  3. blood ranks right up there
  4. with red wine. That is:
  5. even falling to your knees
  6. to scrub it out,
  7. cheeks flushing
  8. with a pre-orgasmic heat,
  9. you don’t forget.
  10. The crime echoes
  11. like the shotgun blast
  12. of a front door slamming,
  13. the shriek of car tires
  14. self-immolating on asphalt:
  15. every time you look down
  16. your heart will still
  17. at the sight of nothing.
  18. The heart knows what physics
  19. refuses to explain: that nothing
  20. takes up more space
  21. than we have room to store it.
  22. A young man,
  23. you looked to rent.
  24. A twink tosses a glance
  25. through a swirling eddy
  26. of coffeehouse steam,
  27. a waitress compares you
  28. to the summer air
  29. the night she lost
  30. her virginity under the stars.
  31. To imbue shape into nothing,
  32. you have to feel the fear
  1. secreting out of you
  2. through these pin-pricks
  3. dotting your skin:
  4. a cave expelling
  5. its long-held breath.
  6. You hide from yourself
  7. like you grieve the dead.
  8. Why did no one mention
  9. that time looks almost
  10. exactly like a split lip?
  11. But when you reach out
  12. to touch the swell
  13. of its broken mouth,
  14. the only proof you have
  15. is a smudge of shadow coagulating
  16. on the tips of your fingers.


A self-professed Twitter obsessive (@AuthorEdDoerr), Ed is a teacher and the author of the poetry chapbook ‘Sauteing Spinach With My Aunt’ (Desert Willow Press, 2018) and the microchap “Eulogy For a Former Life” (Rinky Dink Press, 2018) . Other recent poems, essays, and fiction can be found most recently in publications like Water/Stone Review, Hippocampus Magazine, The American Journal of Poetry, West Texas Literary Review, Sky Island Journal, One Teen Story, Little Somethings Press, Eunoia Review, and several more. For more, follow him on Facebook, read his TV blog (overstuffeddvr.com), and visit his website (eddoerr.com).