R. Nemo Hill

Blood On The Steps

The fallen drops were dry now. Wine-dark crumbs,
they marked a trail I was afraid to travel—
although it was the way that led me home

up four stained flights of stairs, worn marble drummed
with the signature of the imagined wound,
from knife, from nosebleed, fallen wine-dark crumbs,

their violence by recurrent footsteps numbed.
Still flush with the rush of living on my own,
I eyed this bloody way that led toward home.

Never before had I shared halls and walls
and though I had grown used to clomp and babble,
some stranger had now dropped these wine-dark crumbs

I was obliged to follow from tenement door,
step by step, to tenement fourth floor.
One night, when I was young, dread led me home

through a dark urban wood I’d called my own
to the double-lock, and the thrill of solitude.
Those drops tattooed my path. Each wine-dark crumb
scarred my tidy map, then led me home.

New York City—1974

R. Nemo Hill is the author of a novel, Pilgrim's Feather, and four books of poetry, The Strange Music of Erik Zann , When Men Bow Down, In No Man's Ear, and Magellan's Reveries. He is the editor and publisher of EXOT BOOKS. He lives in the Catskill Mountains of New York with his husband, where they make a subsistence living as indigo dyers.