Blanket of the Dead by Beth Bailey

by Leslie Anne Mcilroy


Shuffle Song:
“Boots of Chinese Plastic”
The Pretenders

(in memory of New York’s ACT-UP activists)

Signs surround us, creating moving shelter.
Hand-written with poster paint or professionally printed
like billboards, marker now ruined by the rain.
Our protest wrecked like so much mascara.

If only we knew how to do it right.
How to remove the paper bags and plastic masks
and march, march, march.

If only lying on the ground, drawing outlines of our bodies
meant something permanent. Chanting in front of the medical center,
dithering over just how civil one should be in their disobedience.
Already comrades are missing, funerals every weekend.

When the muddy grass slipped between your toes,
wrecking forever your boots of Chinese plastic, we halt
protest replaced by the gaps of missing bodies.

Quiet where voices used to chatter
spreads across the land
covered in the blanket of the dead.


Photo of Beth Bailey

Photo of Beth Bailey

This poem is one in a series called, "Shuffle" where random songs come up on my iTunes playlist and inspire...

Beth Bailey has been actively writing for a long time — poetry, novels, screenplays, musical theatre: you name it. She’s been published in ‘zines, books, and magazines of various levels of notoriety. Her career highlight to date has been appearing alphabetically in an anthology after Dorothy Allision.