You are a living,

fleshly painting of

tattoos and

delicate shades of blue,

layered with

the texture of

rings of metal

and eyes forlorn,

pleading but determined

with splendid grace.


I watch you forensically

holding the hands

of a child

who tugs and pulls away

in innocence and knowledge,

and you rein him in

just like the fear

that flows like drugs

in your veins,

fear as persistent

as the spurt

of red, red blood.


Hurt is smeared

on your static face

like paint on

a madman’s canvas,

and your tight, tight jeans

are well worn,

but not fashionably so,

and reveal your desire

to be something

you can never be.


And your blouse

of faded flowers

cannot hide the

artwork that lives

beneath and reveals

itself at the edges

in all its

macabre glory

and revelation.


Your face suggests better days,

with its grey wrinkled tinge

and patches and spots;

then you see my gaze

of curiosity

and the gentle half smile,

given freely for just a moment,

almost with regret or disbelief,

opens your soul,

opens the yearning

that lives ungeminated

beneath the surface,

under the bruises

and the pain,

and the routines

of violence

that frame your day.


I watch this

living art,

with a cigarette

hanging from

a tender mouth,

see this soft soul

that no one sees,

and I wonder

to where

you will go

in your eternity,

in the silence

that lays beyond

the shouting

and the flash

and sound

of hand on flesh.