ink

Degenerates.

Mine is a generation of taboo.

We are tribal tattoos and cheap motel room honeymoons.

We are slander,

and slang,

and brittle teeth.

We are born-agains and suicides.

We are podium preachers and cracked-pavement prayers.

We are melted plastic and oxidized metal-

sometimes we gleam with the Liberty Green of corroded copper,

sometimes we crumble with rust and stain calloused hands.

We are the last stand of Art.

We are the manifestations of forbidden bloodlines

and insanity.

We are just as much our mothers

as we are our fathers,

and we are everything that they are not.

 

We are stigmata.

We are red paint on white canvas.

We are fast food coffee.

 

We were born to the sweet smell of formaldehyde

in rooms dressed in florescent white

that share plumbing with the morgues

beneath the linoleum floors.

We are the mix of vodka and innocence that lingers

in the kiss of a dimly lit basement.

We show and we tell but always only for the right price,

the wrong reasons,

or the promise of an exchange equaling to the feeling that

this is a mistake.

We are rosary beads counted between gnarled knuckles

and dragged across smooth palms that long

to sweep tear salt from flushed cheeks.

 

We are Heaven's lonely singles.

 

We are skin stretched out too thin over skeletons.

We are the complexities that machines can't calculate

much less imitate.

We are the futile cries that once tried to keep towers from falling

when the sky came crashing down.

We are the pardoned and the withered.

We are the hardened faces of those that have

worked too long

and been loved too little.

We have been told that the safest place for your soul

is in the hole of your chest,

but only if it's reinforced by

four inches of concrete and steel,

and strapped tight with a Kevlar vest,

because they said people,

at best,

are manslaughter.

 

But we have never been great listeners either;

when we were growing up

we pressed our hands to hot stoves

even though our mothers said not to,

because we couldn't just be told what it was to burn

we had to feel it for ourselves.

So every now and then we will crack open

our rib cages in the hopes that someone will come,

light a fire,

and decide to stay.

 

We hopelessly spray paint things like wings

On decrepit brick buildings

So that, at the very least, we can feed each

Hollow-eyed passerby the belief

That these streets still have guardians,

Even when we, ourselves,

Abandoned such ideologies in

backstreet dumpsters

brimming with our deities’ infidelities.

 

We are the period at the end of the sentence.

(Or maybe we are the ellipses...)

We have redefined the American family

and proven that even Christianity knows how to hate.

We were raised by sixty-percent divorce rates,

yet we still believe that we are soul mates.

We are the jokers of the deck:

either smiling fools or wild cards.

We are cocked heads with smoke billowing from throats

coated with blisters and cough syrup.

We are back alley scavengers crawling on all fours.

We are the era of the Auto-Tuned voice,

proof that with a pretty enough face anyone can sing.

We are foggy mirrors with smiles drawn on them

by printless fingertips.

We slip up the thighs of our lovers

and swirl down the drains of sinks with chipped paint.

 

We are the hearts in your hands.

Crush us into powder and brush us across your face like Indian war paint,

Give us up to the sky so that we can be revived by lightning,

Dance to the rhythm that we beat,

Squeeze us and watch as we seep through the cracks of your fist,

Conceal us in your pocket and only ever speak to us in a whisper,

Or,

with all your natural voice,

sing to us

songs about thunderstorms

to wet the dusty desert dirt around our rooted toes

in the hopes that we will blossom in the most vivid colors.

 

Just do something with us.

 

Don't sacrifice us to the tops of lost bookshelves

to collect dust

or rust in the rain with everything you once loved

but grew too old for.