Blood on the Wheel

By Juan Felipe Herrera Juan Felipe Herrera

     Ezekiel saw the wheel,
     way up in the middle of the air.
               TRADITIONAL GOSPEL SONG

Blood on the night soil man en route to the country prison
Blood on the sullen chair, the one that holds you with its pleasure

Blood inside the quartz, the beauty watch, the eye of the guard
Blood on the slope of names & the tattoos hidden

Blood on the Virgin, behind the veils,
Behind—in the moon angel's gold oracle hair

                    What blood is this, is it the blood of the worker rat?
                    Is it the blood of the clone governor, the city maid?
                    Why does it course in s's & z's?

Blood on the couch, made for viewing automobiles & face cream
Blood on the pin, this one going through you without any pain

Blood on the screen, the green torso queen of slavering hearts
Blood on the grandmother's wish, her tawdry stick of Texas

Blood on the daughter's breast who sews roses
Blood on the father, does anyone remember him, bluish?

                    Blood from a kitchen fresco, in thick amber strokes
                    Blood from the baby's right ear, from his ochre nose
                    What blood is this?

Blood on the fender, in the sender's shoe, in his liquor sack
Blood on the street, call it Milagro Boulevard, Mercy Lanes #9
Blood on the alien, in the alligator jacket teen boy Juan

                    There is blood, there, he says
                    Blood here too, down here, she says
                    Only blood, the Blood Mother sings

Blood driving miniature American queens stamped into rage
Blood driving rappers in Mercedes blackened & whitened in news
Blood driving the snare-eyed professor searching for her panties
Blood driving the championship husband bent in Extreme Unction

                   Blood of the orphan weasel in heat, the Calvinist farmer in wheat
                   Blood of the lettuce rebellion on the rise, the cannery worker's prize

Blood of the painted donkey forced into prostitute zebra,
Blood of the Tijuana tourist finally awake & forced into pimp sleep again

It is blood time, Sir Terminator says,
It is blood time, Sir Simpson winks,
It is blood time, Sir McVeigh weighs.

                   Her nuclear blood watch soaked, will it dry?
                   His whitish blood ring smoked, will it foam?
                   My groin blood leather roped, will it marry?
                   My wife's peasant blood spoked, will it ride again?

Blood in the tin, in the coffee bean, in the maquila oración
Blood in the language, in the wise text of the market sausage
Blood in the border web, the penal colony shed, in the bilingual yard

                    Crow blood blues perched on nothingness again
                    fly over my field, yellow-green & opal
                    Dog blood crawl & swish through my sheets

Who will eat this speckled corn?
Who shall be born on this Wednesday war bed?

Blood in the acid theater, again, in the box office smash hit
Blood in the Corvette tank, in the crack talk crank below

Blood boat Navy blood glove Army ventricle Marines
in the cookie sex jar, camouflaged rape whalers
Roam & rumble, investigate my Mexican hoodlum blood

                    Tiny blood behind my Cuban ear, wine colored & hushed
                    Tiny blood in the death row tool, in the middle-aged corset
                    Tiny blood sampler, tiny blood, you hush up again, so tiny

Blood in the Groove Shopping Center,
In blue Appalachia river, in Detroit harness spleen

Blood in the Groove Virus machine,
In low ocean tide, in Iowa soy bean

Blood in the Groove Lynch mob orchestra,
South of Herzegovina, south, I said

Blood marching for the Immigration Patrol, prized & arrogant
Blood spawning in the dawn break of African Blood Tribes, grimacing
& multiple—multiple, I said

Blood on the Macho Hat, the one used for proper genuflections
Blood on the faithful knee, the one readied for erotic negation
Blood on the willing nerve terminal, the one open for suicide

Blood at the age of seventeen
Blood at the age of one, dumped in a Greyhound bus

Blood mute & autistic & cauterized & smuggled Mayan
& burned in border smelter tar

                    Could this be yours? Could this item belong to you?
                    Could this ticket be what you ordered, could it?

          Blood on the wheel, blood on the reel
          Bronze dead gold & diamond deep. Blood be fast.

Juan Felipe Herrera, "Blood on the Wheel" from Border-crosser with a Lamborghini Dream. Copyright © 1999 by Juan Felipe Herrera.  Reprinted by permission of University of Arizona Press.

Source: Border-crosser with a Lamborghini Dream (University of Arizona Press, 1999)

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Poet Juan Felipe Herrera

POET’S REGION U.S., Western

Subjects Social Commentaries, Cities & Urban Life, Class, History & Politics, Money & Economics, Popular Culture, Race & Ethnicity