Read Blood lyrics Online

Authors: Katie Ford

Blood lyrics

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with their sure wrappings and that little red pull, candies and juices

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Books by Katie Ford




Blood Lyrics


 Graywolf Press

Copyright © 2014 by Katie Ford

This publication is made possible, in part, by the voters of Minnesota through a Minnesota State Arts Board Operating Support grant, thanks to a legislative appropriation from the arts and cultural heritage fund, and through grants from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Wells Fargo Foundation Minnesota. Significant support has also been provided by Target, the McKnight Foundation,, and other generous contributions from foundations, corporations, and individuals. To these organizations and individuals we offer our heartfelt thanks.

Published by Graywolf Press

250 Third Avenue North, Suite 600

Minneapolis, Minnesota 55401

All rights reserved.

Published in the United States of America

ISBN 978-1-55597-692-7

Ebook ISBN 978-1-55597-349-0

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First Graywolf Printing, 2014

Library of Congress Control Number: 2014935705

Cover design: Jeenee Lee Design

Cover photo:After Hasegowa Tōhaku(left panels of five panel image), archival pigment print, 18 × 60 inches (total), by Scott Wright © 2010,

for my daughter


I run to the gates

I. Bloodline

A Spell

Of a Child Early Born


Children’s Hospital

[O where has our meadow gone?]

Sleep and Her Ache


Little Torch

Song of the Thimble

Upon Waking

The Soul

Snow at Night

The Fire

[Tell me it’s April]

That It Is Even Possible to Stay Alive


Song after Sadness

Blood Lyric

II. Our Long War

To Read of Slaughter

The Throats of Guantánamo

[We’re here because we’re here]

Song of the Damned

Our Long War

Still Life

Immigrant Hospital

Makeshift Hospital

Theory of War

The Lord Is a Man of War

[Here is the board, here the water]

Far Desert Region

Remedies for Sorrow

November Philosophers

[Does the war want]

Beasts of the Field

[Savage, Sinner, Scapegoat, Peacekeeper]


Little Belief

Shooting Gallery


Little Goat

The Day-Shift Sleeps,

Foreign Song

[Tuesday wind brings a letter]


[How can God bear it]

The Four Burns of the Soul

Choose an Instrument


From the Nursery


I run to the gates and rattle them —

just tell me what will happen—

a few sad beasts come forward,

but as for the oracle, the oracle

will not come forward.


Take my lights, take my most and only opal,

take the thin call of bells I hear,

just. Take that thin lead,

wring out my water and drink

the wrung remains, take all that is nimble

and sun-up of day,

break my window to steal my eyes,

take their cotton, reap their fields;

as for my industry, it is yours.

I know in wishing not to bluff

so lay me on a threshing floor

and bleed me in the old, slow ways,

but do not take my child.

Of a Child Early Born

For the child is born an unbreathing scripture

and her broken authors wait

on one gurney together.

And what is prayer from a gurney

but lantern-glow for God or demon

to fly toward the lonely in this deathly hour,

and since I cannot bear to wish on one

but receive the other,

I lie still, play dead, am delivered decree:

our daughter weighs seven hundred dimes,

paperclips, teaspoons of sugar,

this child of grams

for which the good nurse

laid out her studies

as a coin purse

into which our tiny wealth clinked,

our daughter spilling almost

to the floor.

You cannot serve God and wealth

but I’ll serve my wealth and live,

yes, and be struck dead

if lightning staggers down the hall of mothers —

and it does,

     so walk low, mothers,

fresh from your labors.


Trivial the land, trivial the blue.

And the sea, too:

trivial the fight with the trivial.

The garden plot wasted at the gate

worked by scratch and spade, trivial —

seed of spiked grass and leek,

the finch roiled inside

so trivial to me.

Era, caves, cliff-side, creed,

planked corners of the broken mind,

trivial now where I am beside

my only fact:

the one I love is sick.

There is no break

but the one break.

Children’s Hospital

Our sorrow had neither place nor carrier-away,

and dared not hover over the child

whose breath opened as transom

of a frail house.

Nor could we put sorrow in the dictionary,

forghastlinessalready shot out its own defining

in rags of fired light.

Pigeons would not sleek it

over their dirty feathers, nor fly

sorrow against the coop’s sharp fence.

Each day bridgeless, each night birdless,

all the nocturnals huddled against

the hidden weight of snow.

But wake at the moon,

we could, mumbling,are we

in a horror show?— inside of sleep

our shock-white minds caught on reels

where a child’s body breaks the heart

and the mother can’t know

if she counts as a mother. I don’t know

if the child heard

what wept at the bedside,

orderlies snapping smelling salts

from chalky bullets against

all the mothers falling,

all the fathers under

what each branch let down.

The earth, so shaken,


[O where has our meadow gone?

that which swept us here?

the orange cosmos and aster?

the hollycock and pollen-fire?

So I sing of hell

and the brutal body.]

Sleep and Her Ache

Both flew brightly

to my bed

I nightmared

far from her

my body

her empty tomb

all the while

the earth laid down

its brutal head

it would not lament

it might be prudent

if it could not detect me

with the sound of sighs

I slept lightly then


Lead versus feathers, feathers

versus months of thunderous metal,

wherefore she hums,

no measure of her ready

but this measure, a humming, a tone

as winter drags its torpored era here,

steady as iron is unbending and bronzed,

hindered badly she unhindered hums,

so unworried her sounds

through dangers hundreds and believable

with feathers neither swift enough

nor bird enough nor feather through

and through. While winter

rakes and stones,

softly unbelievable she hums.

Little Torch

There should have been delight, delight

and windchimes, delight.

But she was clawing the beach

after so much battering,

a torch lit past the slim pine pitch

and draw of resin she was dipped in

at the beginning of the earth.

They said life might flee —

then tended the creature as if a torch,

bundling reeds tightly as day torched

toward them,

soaking rags in lime and sulfur

around barely lit bone.

Such are the wonders I saw.

Song of the Thimble

Here is the whiskey taken down from my cupboard.

It tastes of caramel and heat and miners and sea.

Maybe a mother with love long on the brink

will knock at my door to talk of tubes, taps, fusions,

to say yes-mine-lived-yours-might-too.

But there’s no such knock tonight.

I pour just a thimble

(clean milk is due the nurse by dawn)

and drink what will not grow thin.

Again in my mind

I pour it, I pour it, I drink.

Upon Waking

When I woke up sighing, perceiving myself in the freeze, perceiving my body in the terrifying orchard, sighing and contending, contending and appearing, disappearing into sighing, sighing of ornament and cargo, pulling down what was broken from twilight and broken from dawn, perceiving what in sleep only strengthened its contention, though I mistook night as healer, sleep as erasure, vespers as lumbering dissolution toward matins, matins a leaf made violet since it hangs askance grapes in sun, since I mistook the leaf for myself, correlating and equating, the determined danger given water and meat, when the mistake pulled down and I woke not arisen but sighing, sighing so the ornaments knew I was nothing to hang upon, no shuttle to loom by, when I could not make a word and the given words of each book failed me into sighing, it was then, to live, I had to sayyes.

The Soul

It disappeared.

It reappeared

as chimney smoke

burning through carcasses

of swallows stilled,

and that it portrayed no will

was why I followed that smoke

with this pair of eyes.

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