Blood on Draft Files, Baltimore, 1967

by Christopher T. George
FreeWright's Peer Review
Highly Commended, May 2010
Judged by Fiona Sampson


For Dave Eberhardt

The so-red-blood did its job: soldier-blood,
student-blood, verily, the blood of Jesus.

In reality, you poured duck-blood on the files
in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost

(enough for the powers to take notice and act).

An event from another era, a generation ago,
a crime for which you served 2 years in jail;

Phil Berrigan, a Josephite priest doing God’s work,
received six years in jail for his misdemeanor

(the powers had seen, and they had reacted).

I recall how in a poem you roasted quail on a jail
radiator; now, you work with inmates downtown.

Would I have had the courage to get blood on my hands?
At Christmas, we get together with you and Cathy, enjoy

salmon, a bloodless fish. You are aged sixty-nine.
(In the year of your crime, 9,353 GI’s died).


This fierce and fiercely-good poem is very nearly a winner. It limits itself, strangely, by being so very much a “this really happened” poem. Even if it didn’t… though I fear it did. --Fiona Sampson

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