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Aug 2022
In the jungle,
on the islands.
In my bedroom,
on my dumb *.

I get a text.
I need a tattoo.

A real tattoo;
a Lola's wrinkled hands slapping my thigh,
laying me over banana leaf,
then hammering long needles in my chest-
maneuvering a horn, a bone, a citrus thorn,
tap, tap, tap, tap,
sketching wounds to fill with soot.

A muted barb,
a slight prickling of skin,
then sinking, stamping, slipping-
through blood,
through muscle,
through bone.
Staining, stripping, splitting-
scraping at my inside-sun.

That’s what my grace has been feeling like.
That’s what my shame has been reeling like.

I deleted the poems.
I deleted the messages,
I tried to delete the flutter.
I want to cry but nothing comes out
my tongue is so big,
I have too many teeth.

My lungs feels the way mercury looks
pouring into a petri-dish.
Kind of trippy. I didn't even trip.
My surface is all salt and peppery,
numb, infinite,
and so, so stringy.

A man told me secrets and I didn’t flinch.
Then he got mad,
Maybe because I didn’t flinch.
Maybe because he can’t not wreck things.
I didn't flinch, so he threw *
at the wall;
a bowl of puttanesca, cute frosted cakes,
oily tabouli, slippery tteokkbokki.

We watch it drip, drip down,
until scraps and broken plates tye-dye the baseboard.
I didn’t move to clean it up,
he didn’t move to explain.
We didn’t groove to call it art.
This is, of course, a metaphor;
we don't share a wall,
I haven’t made tabouli in years.

okay. okay. okay. okay.
It’s almost funny but not there yet.
Should we laugh about this or catalog it in our dark days?
but to catalog, you'd have to stay.

You said you weren’t scared.
I said I was glad.
I said you’re big and I’m small and we might fit perfectly.
You agreed. That was before you got mad.

Something inside you is reigning rabid-
We knew this.
I am rascally and rare.
We knew this too.
My feelings are so, so big.
Can you see them in shop-windows while you walk your city?
Can you hear them while you shower, or
smell them in your coffee grounds?

That feeling again-
That Old-World ink.
That heavy-heart sink.
The static slander of my skin,
the catty condensation of my brain.
Everything inside is lava lamp-holographic,
and everything outside is pin pin pin pin.
Lola, please keep hammering.
I still feel tacky but your needles
gather up the strings.

It's not decorative:
I'm hoping it's erosive.
I'll bow down deep;
elbows up, eyes down;
an apology for not flinching
when you thought I should have.
Eros bowed out, you're not staying.
I'll bow again- it's twice for the dead.

On this island,
it's just me, that Lola,
her long needles, and my big feelings.
She can hammer them back into me
And I won't flinch.
Kiernan Norman
Written by
Kiernan Norman  Connecticut
(Connecticut)   
713
 
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