Poem for a Monday Morning: Bleeding

Good morning!

I will give you fair warning – this is not the happiest of poems. But it is beautiful. Also disturbing, but only because it is so full of truth.

The poet, May Swenson, is a lady-gay who just so happens to have died in the year I was born, and also to have spent the end of her life in a town five minutes away from where I grew up. I feel a strong connection to her, and I love this poem in spite of its dark theme.


Stop bleeding    said the knife
I would if I    could said the cut.
Stop bleeding    you make me messy with the blood.
I’m sorry    said the cut.
Stop or    I will sink in farther said the knife.
Don’t    said the cut.
The    knife did not say it couldn’t help it but
it    sank in farther.
If    only you didn’t bleed said the knife I wouldn’t
have    to do this.
I know    said the cut I bleed too easily I hate
that I    can’t help it I wish I were a knife like
you and    didn’t have to bleed.
Well    meanwhile stop bleeding will you said the knife.
Yes you    are a mess and sinking in deeper said the cut I
will have    to stop.
Have you    stopped by now said the knife.
I’ve almost    stopped I think.
Why must you    bleed in the first place said the knife.
For the same    reason maybe that you must do what you
must do said    the cut.
I can’t stand    bleeding said the knife and sank in farther.
I hate it too said    the cut I know it isn’t you it’s
me you’re lucky to be    a knife you ought to be glad about that.
Too many cuts around    said the knife they’re
messy I don’t know how    they stand themselves.
They don’t said the cut.
You’re bleeding again.
No I’ve stopped said the cut    see you are coming out now the
blood is drying it will rub    off you’ll be shiny again and clean.
If only cuts wouldn’t bleed    so much said the knife coming
out a little.
But then knives might become    dull said the cut.
Aren’t you still bleeding a    little said the knife.
I hope not said the cut.
I feel you are just a little.
Maybe just a little but I can    stop now.
I feel a little wetness still    said the knife sinking in a
little but then coming out a    little.
Just a little maybe just enough    said the cut.
That’s enough now stop now do    you    feel better now said the knife.
I feel I have to bleed to   feel I   think said the cut.
I don’t I don’t have to    feel said    the knife drying now
becoming shiny.
I love this poem because it tells the story of an unhealthy relationship in such a tangible way. Emotional pain can be felt in the body; a blade entering skin is not far from the pulling in one’s chest during a break-up or some other loss. The poem presents the wounded and the wounder in a delicate dance, neither one understanding why she must do what it is she does. The knife must cut, but it doesn’t mean to cause pain, while the cut must “bleed to feel.” Neither of these are healthy ways of living, yet so often when in pain, people become either the knife or the cut.


I am a sucker for form, and I love how the spaces within the lines not only serve to create dramatic pauses in the conversation, but also create a trickle that weaves its way down the poem, simultaneously mimicking both a jagged cut and a drop of blood.


So what do you think? Just a little pathos to start your week.


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2 Comments on “Poem for a Monday Morning: Bleeding”

  1. August 1, 2011 at 9:06 am #

    I like it a lot, but that might be because I recently got out of an unhealthy relationship.. and am making changes in my life to stay out of unhealthy relationships. Thanks for sharing; poem Mondays are a great way to start the week!

  2. andryfemme
    August 3, 2011 at 12:23 pm #

    I love May Swenson! Her poem “The Centaur” is my favorite–it’s gender non-conforming and has a horse connection. All good things.

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