Blood Drive
by Daniel Groves

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I.  THE HOUSE
Blood is thicker than—well, than I thought.
Watery-eyed, thin-skinned, “the whiner” begs
(fresh from his latest round amid the dregs
of humanity), where all-is-relatives,
to be alone.  That isn’t how they brought
their heir up.  Lest he drains himself, he gives,

and thus re-circulates among his own
(faint at the sight) old rumors, screening old
humors that either boil or run cold
(such Type A bluebloods).  Is this sterile party’s
needling in vain?  Blushing, one is shown
to have a heart, if not quite where the heart is.

A prick of—what? Though hardly felt, the scale
of childhood is drawn:  the bronzed, colossal
sun gods, the pint-sized godson (their apostle);
permanent waves who sip port, drag on smokes,
mix branch waters for bankers (Fleet) who “sail;”
and, pumping Coronas, recycling lifeguard jokes,

St. George’s upperclassmen (“Wait…red tide”)—
a period piece, the Land’s End catalog
revived.  Deep breath.  Step-brother aerobics jog
recollection, damp spirits congeal—
walks down the aisle, namesakes born and died—
Quick, oxygen.  “Sweetheart, the bloodmobile…”

 

II.  THE ROAD
The bloodmobile:  St. Pete’s, right after Mass.
The word of Mother being absolute,
I drive this non-circuitous, sole route:
clogged artery, a braking surge of traffic.
The heat waves rise (Stop.  Go.  No By-Pass).
The noon sun beats, cardiographic.

“Go back to Mass”—the responsorial
against the pilgrimage, through Providence,
of (dark, mirror shades) the city people hence.
On Roman Holiday, reborne here, Guido
(in lay terms) violates, Memorial
to Labor Day (that Latin blood)—our credo,

the continent, possessed, reserved.  But then,
since Verrazzano’s time, entitlement
has been their legacy, who claim descent
from tourists.  Our colonial boatloads
settled a shore on which Renaissance men
had visited, after the Isle of Rhodes,

the name before me on the road today
(poetic license—“Rhode” is singular,
of course).  Though, sources leak, this may refer
to some corruption of the Indians’—
or Natives’—word for bluffs of ruddy clay.
Whitewash?  Alas, uncertain origins…

 

III.  THE MISSION
Can forced conversion, past miscegenation
still flow from us—one-liners memorized
in strains of dialect unrecognized
because familiar?  State Reps, in agreeing
to pedigree, adopted legislation
anent that foothold in the far Aegean

(whence St. Paul traveled to the Holy See,
and where a feudal crown’s crusaders planned
campaigns to rectify the Holy Land),
seconding, in prime locution, public support
of its parentage.  A fine point.  Tapestry
and rose-stained glass, the Mission waits—abort?

No way.  Endless procession; surfing, static
radio deny a pleasure cruise.
Station to station—Traffic-Weather-News
to New Wave, Punk, B101 (the all-
oldies countdown), Pop Charts, White Noise, Dramatic
Readings, Evangelists, to Classical,

Latin, Gospel, Country, Folk, to Soul
and Rock—is drowned out by the buoyant pulse
of bells:  St. Pete’s.  As, idling, I convulse
in time to the hum of engines, the bluesy lurch
and roll of ocean, taking up their toll,
an ancient organ pipes throughout the church.

 

IV.  THE POINT
Pure harmony, a swelling to crescendo…
then rush through the motions, bail after communion
down corridors we rode to ruin in
(at Boy Scouts, Sunday School—Platonic crushes,
ghoulish rites), to end in innuendo;
where lessons (daily) bred in us, first flushes

of fleshliness commingled.  Love thy Neighbor
(the palled, white-robed donee, nameless donnee
of Brotherhood St. Pete’s is robbed to pay,
in blood)—Nurse pokes in, “Next.”  I bite my tongue,
fill out a copy of the form.  To labor
the point, she volunteers I’m “healthy,” “young.”

The throbbing vein, the alcoholic rub;
I drop my eyes—encyclicals; brochures
(paternity, diseases with no cures,
the marriage license, blood test FAQs);
the calendar the Mariners’ Booster Club
(Go Red and White) sells, still; cookies; grape juice.

It sinks in, finally, and leaves me numb
(“big baby”); moon-eyed, in some waking dream
I sigh and watch the wine-dark life-force stream
away.  “Thank you,” drawls Nurse (maternal breast,
Red Cross shield).  From here, our goodbyes come,
in wave on wave, to a familial crest.

 

V.  THE COAST
Given, in its heartsick swoon, to gush,
the body executes hemopoietic
(more Greek roots) processes.  Home, I, poetic,
pour out my—wait.  The coloring returns
to my cheek, the brooding, anti-body blush;
breeding; contempt; forbearance.  Lord, it burns

(“the whiner,” to the mannerism born;
person of choler)—Air (Recirc).  I merge
into a trickle, following the purge
of foreign convertibles, and see myself
beyond the Pier (that Jet-Ski set forsworn,
those dust-ups on the Continental Shelf),

past Galilee (the oppressive reek of fish
that local vessels drag from George’s Bank)—
fuel light.  The needle points out that the tank
has just enough to compass back around
to where, revamped, this evening’s childish-
but-fluid speech will soon transfuse the sound

(mosquito buzz, rhythmic cicadian cry)
of nightfall.  No man is an island, nor
is the Ocean State.  Along this coast before
me now, exposed to sun and moon (red face
and pale), toward darkness neither wholly sky
nor wholly sea, the heart proceeds to race.