Bleed . by Rhiannon Ross

A safety pin punctures


her purple, silk blouse.

Code for

You’re safe with me.

But the children plead:

Prick your finger, pretty please.

Why should a diaper pin on your lapel

persuade us now?


Prick, prick your finger,

pretty, pretty, please.

March for the teen with hands up!

Who got shot dead in the street.

Hug the girls whose mama

overdosed on opiates and alcohol.


Drop coins in the kettle,

his cup,

the collection plate.

Go to bed hungry

so tomorrow we eat.


Prick, prick, prick

your fingers,

pretty please, pretty please!

Break your manicured nails

when you dig out the border wall.

Break bread with the lady

swaddled in a burka.

Break away from the comforts

of the status quo.

Cash in your white privilege.


Tell the powers that be what we

cannot safely speak.



Rhiannon Ross teaches youth poetry workshops for In Our Own Words, a Missouri Arts Council-funded program. She serves on the Riverfront Reading Series committee, the Jump Start Art KC board, and as a regional co-coordinator for Poetry Out Loud. She received a 2012 Rocket Grant for community project, Vox Narro.

Guest Editor Laura Lee Washburn is the Director of Creative Writing at Pittsburg State University in Kansas, and the author of This Good Warm Place: 10th Anniversary Expanded Edition (March Street) and Watching the Contortionists (Palanquin Chapbook Prize).  Her poetry has appeared in such journals as TheNewVerse.News, Cavalier Literary Couture, Carolina Quarterly, Ninth Letter, The Sun, Red Rock Review, and Valparaiso Review.  Born in Virginia Beach, Virginia, she has also lived and worked in Arizona and in Missouri.  She is married to the writer Roland Sodowsky and is one of the founders and the Co-President of the Board of SEK Women Helping Women.



7 thoughts on “Bleed . by Rhiannon Ross

  1. We are bringing Joaquin Zihuatanejo to the Kansas City Missouri Library in April. I think that the students who you work with would love to hear him. World Slam Poetry champion and inspiring. I met him in Austin. Rhiannon, congrats on your work.

  2. Thank you, Rhiannon, for this powerful poem that pricks our consciences and shows that solidarity requires more than slogans to make a difference.

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