Blood, Rikki Santer

Dale Champlin, Venus Feet, Collage, 2021


for Ma’Khia, 4/20/21


A man ahead of me in the grocery checkout
can’t stop praising chainsaws—their visceral
growls drilling deep into his woods snarling
dominance. In his cart, a stack of cellophaned
flesh and muscle. Bloody steak is what I crave
he pronounces and I choose to lower my eyes

and not enlighten him that what he thinks is
blood oozing onto his dinner plate is just water
braided with myoglobin. I imagine he could be
hosting suckers and hooks in darkish start for
a Mobius strip of tapeworm, its solitary
confinement, his gut. Hitchcock’s shower scene
sent chocolate syrup down the drain. My friend, 
whose Halloween home could be a movie set,
showcases his recipe of corn syrup, red food
coloring, and cocoa mix.
So the blood is not the blood, except for all
the recent mass shootings and today when
a frenzied teenage girl in my hometown, shot
dead by police, is freeze-framed on a driveway
beneath a car door when the unfurled syntax
of her rainbow clogs and a steak knife delivers
the coiled underbelly of foster-care-broken,
her life seeping into pavement, while a jury
presents their guilty verdict for another
killing, this time at the knee of an officer
and I imagine these Twilight Zone episodes
we’re consuming almost daily are flatworms
deep within us, eggs hatching, infection
surging, our systems growing numb.

Rikki Santer

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