No More Martyrs
a poem by Billy Agustin
i have this distinct image of a Lowe's garden store
sweet and soft greenery, buying mulch for a fleeting summer project
and stacks and stack upon stacks of fertilizer piled beyond my height
did you know?
dried blood, blood meal as it is known in the botanical community, is a fantastic nitrogen amendment.
in other words, it makes all greenery
sweeter and softer
it is a basis of flourishing
a catalyst for growth.
i remember, freshman year-
we pasted stickers on the backs of our ID cards
"in the event that i die from gun violence, please publicize the photo of my death"
America, we are watching you.
the fabled John Hughes high school movie was never brought to fruition, i don't ever expect it to
be; life and liberty are intertwined like revolution and youth, and there are always things that seem bigger than your fantasies, things that are more important.
i found solace in martyrs. they are the world-
they are even greater than the world itself.
there is blood laid upon the pavement.
blood across these ancient burial grounds,
there is blood in the hands of power and beneath our feet and woven into the bones of our great nation,
our martyrs are saints, i convince myself
meant to be venerated. honored.
for to bleed is to love. to bleed is to devote
fully, deeply, absolutely-
our martyrs are more than people. they are godsents.
their sacrifice is not in vain.
the tendrils of change are fed with fertile soil.
change is only enacted through the will of a soldier,
blood soil is only natural. it is only innate. it is all i know, all i come from.
but i am sitting here, before my television set, watching the world go by, and I wonder:
what happens when a martyr becomes a martyr?
do they cry out for their mother?
do they sob for all that is lost, all they could be?
do they pray?
or beg for mercy?
or go in their sleep?
for no reason but senselessness?
in the system meant to protect them?
a woman has died at the capitol building.
they say she is a martyr for white power,
the saint that they should venerate,
and i am sickened
but i am tired and she is a woman.
one in many, never the last
i am so tired of martyrs.
there is no choice in becoming one.
how will i know if i will be next?
America, we are your children. we are watching you.
"the blood of the covenant is thicker than the water of the womb."
if we are all of the covenant, all blood spilled is our own.
the soil for our graves reaped from our own flesh,
the willows weep for all we could have been, all that we are and are not
and gravestones, the weeds of this long-neglected garden
they are all us, twisted beyond recognition.
blood is acidic
it burns if you are not cautious.
and oh, how my heart bleeds.
i wonder if i will be loved for it.
still, i finally understand.
the nation that feeds itself off of martyrs-
bones bent into infrastructure,
blood spilled in star-crossed love
will eat itself whole.
Cover Photo Source: Human Parts- Medium