Poem of the Week | May 30, 2016

This week we offer a new poem by Bino Realuyo. Realuyo is a community organizer and educator, and works in the field of adult literacy and workforce education for immigrants in New York City. He is the author of a poetry collection, The Gods We Worship Live Next Door, recipient of the Agha Shahid Ali Prize for Poetry in 2005. Its Philippine edition, published a few years later, received the Philippine National Book Award for Poetry in 2009. His poems have appeared in The Nation, The Kenyon Review, New Letters, Manoa: International Journal of Pacific Writing, and other publications. He is also the author of The Umbrella Country, a novel (Random House 1999, Booklist Top 10 First Novels of 1999, Barnes and Noble “Discover Great New Writers” Nominee 2000). He writes regularly for The Huffington Post about the Filipino-American experience.
Author’s note:

In early 2014, I decided to leave my full time management job and work part time so I could finish writing a novel. Before I transitioned into my “new life,” I re-organized my digital files from many years back and discovered a digital folder with over a hundred word documents containing sonnets that I wrote for a period of ten years. These sonnets had been missing for five years. When I merged them into one document, I realized I had enough content for a collection of poems. Instead of returning to novel writing, I focused my past year and a half editing, rewriting, and adding new poems to what eventually became a new poetry manuscript, The Rebel Sonnets. “Dear Blood” is one of the ninety-nine sonnets in my rebel manuscript. As a gay man who came into being in New York City during the height of the AIDS crisis in the 90s and was consequentially subscribed to safe-sex “latex generation,” I have been conditioned to be “body fluid” averse, and have become paranoid over possible exposure to blood during very intimate moments. Love and sex in the 90s for gay men was very much an act of rebellion toward normalcy and against heteronormative bias, with every partner as a potential kiss of death.


Dear Blood


Dear blood beading on my lip, how in darkness
he worships my body, wallowing as I wonder,
eyelids shut, what truths could be probed in the dark.


Dear blood breaking on my tongue, people die, men
like me die in the dark, sometimes we don’t know how
it happens and whose blood bears the last surprise.


Dear blood sliding down my throat, how he climbs up
to kiss my pursed lips, how he lifts his head but doesn’t
see the darkness dripping from his mouth, nor taste


my visions of death. Oh, dear blood in my body
that’s not mine. Who will tell him how I died?
Who will recall this night when I cross the


barracks, where stands a Rebel on the other
side and on whose hands rest a red, red rose?