August 3, 2016
LGBTQ Poets Respond to the Pulse Nightclub Shooting
She said she'd never done this on an adult before
and I could already feel my spirit rising from my
body. They say "draw" blood like it's Rachel
drawing water from the well. But her needle
was the Beverly Hillbillies striking oil. My blood spilled
over the rich valley of my arm and the world faded
into a field of electric white fireflies. I awoke,
tongue steely, to a bevy of cartoon scrubbed
angels pressing cool things against me and
drawing deeply from the well of my blue eyes.
Needless to say, I'm no good with needles.
I donated my blood anyway.
Back then, questions like "Have you ever used needles
to take drugs, steroids, or anything not prescribed
by your doctor?" and "In the past 12 months have
you had a tattoo applied, ear or skin
piercing, acupuncture, accidental needlestick,
or come into contact with someone else's
blood?" and "Male donors: Have you ever
had sex with another male, even once,
since 1977?" seemed equally impossible and
irrelevant in my very chaste and very
closeted young life. If there was a "Heavens! No"
box I would have checked it. Then later,
donating with a friend, I affixed the sticker,
a secret scarlet A, that told the nurses
not to use my blood, then filled up two red bags
I knew would be discarded in a clearly marked
biohazard bin: Though screened every three months,
any MSM activity disqualified my blood. Years went by
without seeing the inside of a Bloodmobile.
No free cookies. No juice. No bags. No fainting.
They don’t want my queer blood. That's fine.
Except they do want my blood:
They would take my blood by nail bomb.
They would take my blood and tie me to a fence.
They would take my blood by stabbing.
They would take my blood by fists.
They would take my blood by boots.
They would take my blood with a pink triangle.
They would take my blood on batons.
They would take my blood in City Hall
They would take my blood by my own hand.
They would take my blood on the sidewalk.
They would let my blood drain on the club floor.
In June, I read a plea urging me to donate my blood.
Siblings, I would bleed myself dry for you.
But they don't like our sissy blood.
Mat Wenzel is a queer poet, Ph.D. student at Florida State University, and a former high school English teacher. His work, exploring the space between communities of faith and LGBTQ identity, has appeared in Puerto del Sol, Guide to Kulchur Creative Journal, Glitterwolf Magazine, Penumbra, Right Hand Pointing, Off the Rocks Anthology, and Emerge: a Lambda Literary Fellows Anthology.
Glass: A Journal of Poetry is published weekly by Glass Poetry Press.
All contents © the author.