three poems


hallowed art thou

sitting in the chair opposite the tattoo artist
it’s been a while since my last confession

I remove my hoodie, revealing ink and scars
a cursory look, he sees more than he wants
to see, feels more than he wants to feel.

he leans towards me and takes my body into
his hands, applies the sting of the needle, calm,
calm, steady, I am resting against his side,

pressed against him, talking about choices and
paths, never giving up, never giving in. And he,
nodding, eager to believe, knowing how many

walk through his door, broken, beaten, needing
to cross thresholds of pain, to grow, to evolve,
to feel, we need the scar, the visible wound

we need to remember, not only what is lost,
but what is found; the absolute gift of being here.

I walk outside blinking in the bright sun,
temporarily blinded by the moment of it all,
the staggering weight of the lightest contact

between us: a white cloth, a crumpled dollar bill.
he is a professional; he touches my face with his
eyes, he says, good luck, I really mean that.

He is not here to give absolution. He is here
for art, for his own redemption, he lives in a world
where the used come to heal; he crosses himself

twice reaching for the mask and gloves, and again,
reaching for the needle, he needs a steady hand,
a steady hand, oh god a steady hand.


Still. Here.

Mariko sits with her legs crossed
back straight, chest lifted, eyes
closed. She reminds us to return
always to breath, inhale, exhale

She turns up her hands, placing
one on each knee, and tells us the
folk wisdom that palms upturned
are receptive to gifts from the gods

Following her movement, I try
but my hands resist, they are used
to grasping, to clutching, to holding
on so tightly, afraid to let go

Slowly, each palm unfolds like an
early spring flower, outstretched
vulnerable and wanting, the whole
of my heart beats wildly yes

until I am no longer I. Each breath
is shared by the universe, cosmic
energy, all are one in the fabric of
time and space and energy

opening my eyes again, I return
to my body, my legs and arms and
hands. My mind blinks in the soft
light, and I am (still, here)



we sat together closely, hands
touching, arms and legs bare,

while fireflies lit the night
with their shy and brief flame,

looking for a match, for another
soul awake and alive, to share

the soft breeze, to feel summer
swiftly moving across the sky

I laid my head on his shoulder
and he kissed me, as the world

shone with possibilities, sweet
intoxications, love. All of our

blessings, our dreams and gifts,
are touched by angel’s wings;

our souls rush to the surface, in
recognition, in greeting, and the

whole universe shines within,
enchanting our eyes with stars.




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