women are tired of the ways men bleed
every generation has its war.
every war comes home
One son came back from the army
to his new marriage.
“Something is wrong, this isn’t
working,” he said to his Mom,
“I can’t control her, she won’t
obey me.” “Why must you control
her?” asked the Mom.
“Because—I am like the sergeant,
she is like the recruit, right? This is how
they treated me, and if I
could submit so can she…”
“Marriage is not the Army,” said the Mom.
“Marriage is roots and leaves
who hold each other equally.”
That son listened but no one talked
to the boy who returned from the army
and put a grenade into his bride’s mouth
after forcing her to kneel, as they learned
the lesson together:
some wounds are of the heart
some teaching is wounding
some wounds never heal.
women are tired of the ways men bleed
imagine it’s ok if war were understood
as periodic national bleeding
necessary to bring about change
part of the cyclic nature of our humanity
why does this period have to be accomplished
with devastated countrysides, irredeemable murders,
wrecked cities and families enraged with other
families for generations?
All to feed the need
archaic to our beings
of our throbbing vampire heart.
what if I told you every major national u.s. bloodshed
arrives in a twenty-eight-year period pattern
just exactly like a gigantic menstruation
only made of shattered limbs, mashed children, heartbleeding
parents, a 10-1 ratio of civilians to soldiers killed,
and what if this made you mad because
you imagine menstruation
is a subject so lacking in honor
(compared to war)
but being honest and honorable,
you follow my advice
subtracting 28 from the date beginning Sept 11
two thousand and one, to 1973, and 1945 and so on
until you too see the pattern. When we again look at each other
do you think we will see anything the least little bit
—sensible, justifiable, rational, honorable—
about war that isn’t far more true about menstruation?
imagine if we knew our vampire hearts
would drink any blood offered, even the blood of peace?
Imagine if we undertook the bleeding consciously
offering the earth’s many peaceful bloods
with intent to omit violence, celebrating
blood of life, and caring, and connection,
bitter blood of vengeance converted into sweet blood
of it’s ok to love
the cosmos and its patterns
as we pretend not to notice how eagerly
the fiery vampire tongue slips out of us
to drink and drink the red elixir
cedar vinegar cinnamon honeypot saffron
until how soon we have lost interest in war and woundedness
imagine unfamiliar satisfactions setting in
filling our breasts with maple syrup swellings
constructing rituals that account for violent emotions
discharging them appropriately, artfully,
dominating ourselves but not each other,
leaving children and trees in peace
instead of pieces
filling our hearts with luscious feelings,
and no vengeance to exact
on anyone, not even the Mother, not even God.
Judy Grahn is internationally known as a poet, writer, and cultural theorist. Her writings helped fuel, globally, second wave feminist, gay, and lesbian activism, as well as women’s and queer spirituality. She has received two American Book Awards, two Lambda literature awards, a Foremothers of Women’s Spirituality Award, and a Lifetime Achievement Award from Triangle Publishers, who also established the Judy Grahn Nonfiction Award in 1996. In 2014 she was Lifetime Achievement Grand Marshal of the San Francisco Gay Pride Parade.
Grahn has published thirteen books with several more in process; publications include two book length poems, several poetry collections, a reader, an ecotopian novel, and five non-fiction books. Among them are Another Mother Tongue: Gay Words, Gay Worlds; Blood, Bread, and Roses: How Menstruation Created the World; and her memoir, A Simple Revolution: the Making of an Activist Poet.
She lives in California with her wife.