Quickwords Vol. 4 – Tattoo


Welcome to Volume 4 of Quickwords, my poetry series. I’ve got some fresh ink for you here.

A close up of a tattoo needle piercing someone's skin.
A tattoo needle

| Choosing a tattoo |

The permanence of a tattoo is terrifying
How am I supposed to dedicate myself
to this symbol
for the rest of my life
when, for my entire life, it has felt as if
the only thing promised to last forever
is the promise that nothing lasts forever?

| Puzzle |

I was born covered in tattoos:

A plexus of ink, its embrace a net, hung on my form like a carapace
I was not unique.
Used canvases were the skin with which I shared the serenity of touch
Hugs and kisses and punches and high-fives
I’ve yet to set my gaze upon an unmarked hide

The journey of each tracing tracing is to solve the puzzle given to them
The puzzle that grows as they age, the puzzle that gains more pieces
Pieces that move in ways that defy logic;
I could organize one tattoo and three more could scramble themselves
I could examine one tattoo and a dozen others would crawl over my eyelids
I could arrange one tattoo and days later its components would join the mess of another

The pain of uniquity is the precision of its definition
2.73377890219 is unique compared to
2.73377890218
So to see the others around me struggling to solve their puzzles
is the commonplace
but to find someone with whom I share common pieces
Oh, the rarity.
For we may share the 2.0, the 0.7, the 0.03,
But oh, I doubt you have the 0.00000000008

The Apathetic’s strategy is to not solve the puzzle
to smudge the ink till their skin is shadow, till they are shadow
the dark person you forget rests in the corner of the room

The Feeler’s strategy is to continue to try
to move the pieces till they are worse or better than before
the capricious mess living with the balance of good and bad

I was born covered in tattoos
and it feels as if I have not solved any of them
The ink blurs my sight
I see not if I am the Apathetic or the Feeler
For an Apathetic is born when a Feeler has failed

I was born covered in tattoos
and it feels as if I have failed to solve any of them
Yet I think of a future
where my thoughts can run without thoughts to run behind them
my mess will be a masterpiece
and in the elegant, intricate order
I may look back on the pieces that compose me
and wish I could tell my younger self
to never be afraid of the puzzle.

| Afterimage |

Sprawl my body upon the frigid earth
Spread my limbs and strip me bare
Feel my warmth slip away, stolen by ghostly, frosted digits
Let my skin grow pallid
As white as the snow
So you may better see the colors upon my shell

May you gaze upon these drawings
These dedications I have made, cries against the void
Desperate, angered, feared, joyous attacks against a nothing
that will always win

May you see the fruits of my passion
The human zeal the dared manifest in the endless dark
The burning love that sparked in the shadow
A wildfire that spread to countless forests

May you see the commitments I made to one
The vows to fight against the torment of my mind
I’ll be happy for you
I’ll make you happy

May you see the things that have made this heart beat
The things that made this mind feel as if it were alive
The thing it knew but struggled to understand
And may have never understood

May you see the poems I wrote
To drown out the noise of the storm between my ears
Fighting so that it would one day subside
I fight so that it will one day subside

May you see my art
May you stare at it with the eyes of the world
So that when my body withers into the earth
You still see the afterimage of my life

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