Buried far back in time
Fossilized in his silent heart
Daddy and those pounding fists disappeared.
Packed away in his spleen fester the words he learned
While waiting for the pummeling to wane.
There stands his spine:
Rigid, upright, furious now if one asks him to bend.
Under his skin writhe wounds still open though veiled with scars.
A cut for each day of hunger
A scratch for each hate word slung
A little pinchaso each time Mama barked back
A stab each trick his sister turned
Deep punctures for each of Mama’s vicious boyfriends
And a serious slice for the kind one who remembered his birthday and
On the sidewalk
Under the elm
Just getting a jacket he left in the car.
Tats scroll his collar and hands to
Remind Mama he has been long gone for years, and
Emulate his friends, who advise a few tattoos create a look of
Experience and a nibble of safety when
Inevitably entering prison.
Each expensive stitch
Expresses the bank he makes
Selling dank at the junior high and the
Bullshit future world of respect all those teachers
Lie about if only he’d fulfill his
He sets his face in neutral,
Mind tasting the freedoms of night.
Far, far away, almost on a different planet,
His hand rests on a desk holding a pencil that,
uncaptained, dawdles around the blank page.