Trigger Warning: Self Harm*
The stencil is made, a bold, yet simple
mark with two meanings. For writers,
the mark is used to continue a sentence;
for others, the mark is used to continue a life.
The Golden Dragon Tattoo Parlor smells faintly of bleach.
Pictures of art and family cover the walls, a shelf full of trophies
shining under the fluorescent lights. Drawers with individually
wrapped needles and ink pots line the back wall.
The buzzing of tattoo guns overpowers grunge music,
voices of other customers overpowering the buzzing.
It only hurts a little bit, my artist tries reassuring me,
but his stories of drugs and arrests only worry me more.
Holding my breath I climb up on the black leather chair.
My shaking nerves show through my splotchy, tear stained face.
I clench my fists, embedding my nails into my palms.
The cluster of needles are hovering over my arm,
preparing to mark a permanent goodbye to the past;
Goodbye to the 10 PM moments, shooting up from bed
sweating, crying, my hand on my chest, feeling my heart
beating ba dump ba dump ba dump ba dump.
Sliding down to the floor to let the linoleum cool me.
Goodbye to the 12 AM moments, curled up on cold tiles.
Razor in my hand marking a tally for every flaw,
every mistake every bad thought I point out.
Short, fat, clingy, shy.
Goodbye to the 2 AM moments, plastering my thigh and
wrist with bandaids, later choosing to trade T-shirts
and shorts with long sleeves and jeans.
80 degrees won't stop me from covering everything.
The tears are there, not from pain
but from the familiar rush of adrenaline.
The sensation of feeling something other
than worthlessness and self-doubt.
A semicolon has two meanings;
continuing a sentence,
or continuing a life.
This poem has been submitted to Telluride Institute's Fischer Prize poetry contest.