What is turtle blood?

Turtle blood is memory. Memory that would perhaps remain forgotten and undisturbed beneath the dusty layers a that buried it over the years. The name of this site, “What Turtle Blood Tastes Like” is taken from a poem I’ve been working at for years that began at the Katchemak Bay Writer’s Conference in a workshop taught by Stan Rubin. The workshop focused on the workings of time in poetry…Stan said,”you write poetry in one time and then it is taken by the reader and interpreted in another time, a later time, or with a different pacing, measure, a musical time” and “Time as a medium in which poetry exists…floating in time”. We read examples of poems in which time was juxtaposed and toyed with. One that sticks with me is William Carlos Williams‘ “This is just to say”:

I have eaten
the plums
that were in
the icebox

and which
you were probably
for breakfast.

Forgive me
they were delicious
so sweet
and so cold.

And from this time bounding, confessional poem came rushing memories like turtle blood and the following images which I jotted down, willow swamp, turtle blood, shell drum, lifting the stone and dropping it, the sick wet crack of mossy shell. I had heard Sherwin Bitsui read a poem the day before in which there was a line that asked, “what does turtle blood taste like”, which haunted me into the following day and helped coax my own memories from the deep recesses. So here it is, a few revisions later…

What Turtle Blood Tastes Like

We believed no one could see us
beneath the willow temple
beside algae bloom swamp

can’t swim in there
without shoes on
snappers’ll get yer toes

I was the first to lift rock
high above my head
letting gravity, god and geology
rain down
on mossy diamond shell

sound like green wood
purple blood
and sickly tears

when its beaked mouth
stopped snapping
we threw it into the swamp
because it kept
looking into our eyes


Who’s behind this turtle blood stuff anyway?

Turtle photo used in previous versions of this site’s header by New Orleans Lady used under Creative Commons license.

6 thoughts on “What is turtle blood?

    1. Thanks for following the sometimes powerful mystic heart of the wordpress machine. Took a brief look at cries and the sister blog, very intriguing, twins blogging and am going to hunt down Bloom’s book in order to get a better understanding of my own belief systems in order to smother them.

  1. that would be the temple. i have fond memories of that canvass cave, do you remember when i ran away there? the canvass cave, the fiat beneath the canvas cover. what year was that rust bucket anyway?

  2. would that be the willow temple by lake in the woods? do you remember the canvass cave with shiny polished wood in the garage?

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