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ink & needles

from by diane cluck

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someone's ink and needles
have written skin riddles
on his body, bare before me
except for these sketches
signal and semaphore
for things he won't talk about
quiet and shut about
his padlocks and latches
my fingers trace his pictures
and at each his breath catches
he says why are you bare
bare as the day
day you were born
born from your mother
i say so you can tattoo me
with the marks of a lover
the red trails of his fingernails
the bumping palette of his boney hip
sharp tooth beneath his softest lip
the kiss obscures the bite
he sketched his designs on me
all through the night
he finished and was sleeping
so i jumped the early flight
now a thousand miles away
with the passing of the days
your colors fall from my skin
like the moon smooths out the waves
so quietly they left that i didn't see them fade
i don't need ink and needles
to write me my excuse
the body does tattoo itself
with old age and abuse
with lines pooled / pulled from the inside
drawn from pain and reverie
my body will tattoo itself
with what you mean to me


from diane cluck, released December 1, 2000


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