blood & ink on paper / Chase Berggrun

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Image of blood & ink on paper / Chase Berggrun Image of blood & ink on paper / Chase Berggrun Image of blood & ink on paper / Chase Berggrun Image of blood & ink on paper / Chase Berggrun
This project is part of Container's Multitudes series, which invites writers and artists to transform the same object into works of visual and literary art. In this series, participants were invited to interpret a 500-card Rolodex.


People are viscerally afraid of blood: just the sight of it can cause some to literally lose consciousness. While part of this makes sense to me (we generally prefer to keep the insides of our bodies, well, inside our bodies), seeing blood has always filled me with both wonder & gratitude. My blood is proof that I am alive, proof that I am still able to be wounded, proof of my beautiful & sacred fragility.

When writing, I often feel as if the poem is a physical part of me: a small piece of my self that I am extracting & sending into the world. I decided to take the metaphor one step further & enact it on the cards of the Rolodex, smearing small amounts of my own blood, gleaned by the pricking of my thumbs, onto each one.

This poem, a series of ruminations on depression, self-harm, & gender dysphoria, is my sideways approach to an Ode to Blood. A few lines are appropriated from Shakespeare’s "Macbeth", the bloodiest of his tragedies (the word “blood” appears 40 times in the text). Lady Macbeth is perhaps my favorite of all of Shakespeare’s characters, & her relationship with blood has always fascinated me. Her unabashed femininity & her determination to acquire the agency denied her I find compelling & admirable. The poem also contains a quote from "Buffy the Vampire Slayer," but I won’t tell you which.


Ink, human blood


Chase Berggrun is a trans poet. They are the author of R E D, a booklength erasure of Bram Stoker's Dracula, forthcoming from Birds, LLC in 2017, and the chapbook Discontent and Its Civilizations: Poems of Erasure, published by jubilat in 2012. Their work has appeared or is forthcoming in the PEN Poetry Series, Pinwheel, Sixth Finch, Diagram, The Offing, Prelude, Apogee, Beloit Poetry Journal, and elsewhere. They received their MFA from New York University.