Period Poetry: There Is Blood Everywhere

Excerpt from a speech our founder gave at Menstrual Hygiene Day in NYC, 2017.

In western Nepal, the practice of Chhaupadi sends menstruating people to live in mud huts. While there, they miss work and school, often enduring frostbite, starvation, isolation, and even attacks from animals and men alike. Although the practice was made illegal in Nepal in 2005, it still persists with little legal consequence.

And it’s not just in Nepal. In the Ethiopian highlands a Jewish community sends their women and girls to huts called margam gojos when they become niddah—impure during menstruation. In many Indian states, the practice of banishing people on their periods is common, with the most prevalence among the Gonds. And in some parts of rural Kenya, it is thought that if a menstruating person touches crops or livestock, it can become poisonous and die.

In the western world, we may not banish women and girls to isolation. But we still uphold shame and cultural taboos with regards to people who have periods.

Menstruation is the very normal and healthy process that means someone is capable of creating life; without it, the human race would cease to exist.

Right here in America, we have endured a luxury tax on period products across most of the nation. In New York state, there is no tax on condoms or Viagra, yet menstrual products have been deemed a luxury and not a basic health necessity. This tax exacerbates period poverty and negatively impacts the quality of life of menstruating people by decreasing accessibility to products.

That’s why I am so proud of the work this coalition has done to end the tampon tax in New York. I would like to extend a huge heartfelt thank you to Assemblymember, Linda Rosenthal, who is here with us today, for embarking on this mission with us and leading the charge.

Our next efforts in New York City will be put toward ensuring that people in jails, schools, and homeless shelters have access to free menstruation products. All of these changes have been long overdue.

After all, there is blood everywhere.

Blood of brothers
Blood of the moon
Blood in the streets
And emergency rooms.

The blood of kinship
The genealogy of blood lines
Blood from wars and bullets
And stepping on landmines.

There’s bloodshed for money
And bloodshed for power
Blood is glorified
Every day, every hour.

Blood of the fighters,
Blood from the battle.
Blood from pigs
And blood from the cattle.

Blood on our plates
In the prized meat for dinner
Blood of Christ
Offered to every sinner.

Blood of the lamb
Blood sprayed from guns
Blood of sacrifice
Blood from our sons

Blood of revenge
Is all fine and well
But blood from a woman
What a wicked spell

We celebrate blood
With pride and glory
Unless it’s life-giving
Then it’s shameful and gory

The blood of our daughters
Seen as impure and unclean
Yet none of us would be here
Without it having been

The blood from our mothers
The placenta where we grew
The blood that enabled
Every life anew

How intellectually foolish
And deft we’ve become
When culture demands
Women’s bodies be shunned

So who has the courage
To embrace what’s divine?
Will you teach your sons
To be compassionate and kind?

Will you teach your daughters
To embrace their life-giving power?
Or will we continue this cycle
Of misinformation and cower?

Words by Mal Harrison

2024 Update:
To see where your state stands on the tampon tax, visit The Alliance for Period Supplies.


Read the speech our Executive Director & Founder gave at TOA Berlin, 2018 on sextech & the future of human relationships.