A tourniquet, tied tightly
around my arm once again
as I squeeze my fist
to find the perfect vein-
tap it, watch it rise
to the surface of my skin like a wire;
clean the spot with alcohol,
look away and prepare
for the thousandth little pinch
of the familiar and stoic needle...
Blood pulls away from me
into the doctor's long glass tubes-
their syringe fills up with vibrant,
vermillion liquid, sloshing up fast.
I feel it pushing out of me,
red soda sucked through a straw
between two thirsty lips;
after so many decades,
the flow is recognizably rhythmic
and draws the sanguine fluid out
on beat; a little heart force,
a pulsating sensation
in the soft side of my right elbow-
a little bit of draining, all up my arm;
a piece of life being tugged away
from me, later be used to create me.
Switch out another cylinder,
until I watch them fill up three-
cover the spot with a cotton pad,
with the needle still inside,
then taken quickly out
just as easily as it came in.
There is an art to drawing blood,
and every three months
I am required to collaborate
to create my own clean
for under microscopes
and through test tubes,
you can measure every chemical
and mutation inside, monitor
the uncontrolled cells that make up
your own personal madness.
From now on, the needle is my pen,
turning chronic illness into creativity,
another long and deep well
to draw from.
My dried life force lies
in between pages and poems,
betwixt the tiles of childhood bathrooms,
stained on old long sleeves.
Emotions linger like dust
in the silent spaces
between language and thought.
I am not gone. I have been in
and out of test tubes for decades,
in biohazard bins all across the coast,
seen only by a privileged few
who were smart enough to handle me.
My artwork is the real blood work,
the pen can suck me through it
like a tiny medical needle
and I spill my truths all over the canvas.
You need blood to create art,
so for the rest of my life,
as I give myself continuously to tubes,
and machines and medications
and disorders- a lifelong battle,
I've accepted my fate;
the art is the only channel
I have ever had for all that blood.
A pen is a needle, gliding across
white paper like skin,
pushing words in with sharp tips
that protrude from the page like veins.
For my sanity, it's all the same to me.