Inked (From the collection INK)


he had a tattoo tear

it didn’t mean now

what it meant then

it weighed less

or more

 it was a piece of fire now

it burned beneath his eye

announcing he had been Abel

to be Cain

the set

emblazoned on his chest

was more target than vest

it didn’t mean now

what it meant then

it weighed more

or less

then or now


it was hard for him

to remember to remember

his body was a map

he wrote the tale before he lived it

ink told it now after he had carried it

could not put it back where he found it

became it


that’s how it works

they know you before you speak

if they don’t know the code

they translate with their broken tongues

he forgets to care

it used to weigh less

or more

he can’t remember

his body is

a piece of art

telling the story

carrying it

it used to weigh more

but sometimes he could care less

how they weigh and measure

teaspoons or pounds

its all the same

the tipped scale on his back

held by a blond wearing a blindfold

smoking a blunt

necklace inked on his collarbone


“God grant me the serenity

to hustle on”

R.I.P.’s form both his sleeves

he ain’t held his daughter yet

but her name is on his chest

right  under

married to the game for life

it all used to weigh less

or more

he can’t remember which

but he knows they see him

think they know him

he is not invisible

he has a map

 a story he told on his skin

do you see me now

if you do not know the code

your broken tongue thinks it knows

it weighs more or less what it used to

 he remembers not to care here

like no one cared

before he wrote the story

lived the carrying of it

its his story

it weighs as much

as you choose to understand

he carried the weight of his life

in all his pockets

in his belly

it pushed up into his throat

 bled in tattoo tears from his eyes

that weigh more than they used to

he has dressed himself

in tribal scars

his song of being

 inked on his body

the book of him

not invisible

ace of spades


a spray of bullets

the number 2 800


a closed eye on a pyramid

only God can judge me

run your broken tongue

across the scars

become him before

the story on his back

could you carry it

all the dreams

backed up in your bowels

no stage to shine

the joy running out

reality rushing in

the crooked deck

 being born with a dead man’s hand

a ticket to the merry go round in your pocket

even Mama’s hand can’t

soothe the pain

that pushes out your pores

the road is uphill

covered in broken glass

the destination itself

the cruelest cut

most suspect for a boy

whose mother dreamed

 a mighty man from the womb

now he the usual suspect

can’t do what they want him to do

trapped in a rebel suit

what else can a thinking man do

Mama didn’t raise no fool

& this weighs more than it used to

could you carry it

if it was invisible

but it still bent your forehead to the ground

hurt in your back like old age

from the moment you were born

if it weighed more than you

would you carry it

or fall apart into ragged pieces

that smell of

ill conceived dreams

water colors in a storm

& the wrong conversations

he inked it to his skin

so it would not wash him away

he had to carry it

the book of him

not invisible

can you see him now

with the pockets bulging with

needs and promise

do you see him

always a day late

holding up yesterday’s coupon

reading Dred Scott & Ralph Ellison

seeing himself


how he would make it be

if he could

he has a map

of the road he took

the one that was open

 toll free

can you translate

what that cost

do you see him

in the crosshairs

looking for an exit

can you see him

bleeding in the margins

he has written

the book of him

it used to weigh less

it couldn’t have cost more