My mother told me no more tattoos.
She said I was wrecking God's work by piercing my already black skin
with even blacker ink
and that it looks disgusting.
It's not natural.
I found that the marks that I made strange men
cut into my body for money
are more natural
than trying to hide how important moments mean to me
when I don't have the words to explain them.
I can find beauty in everything but there are just some things
that words can't do justice.
Like how your smile
beamed brighter than Allegany bar lights
and how your sense of adventure
exploded at the seams.
I witnessed beauty
in your fear of the unknown,
boarding airplanes through timezones through
clouded judgement and cloudy skies
to the peaks of God's Gardens,
hungover on the taste of excitement that dripped down into our veins
and Red Bull for breakfast
I close my eyes and I can see us dancing
bachata with the drunken Hispanic couple
under blood-red lights on an empty dance floor.
Vodka held in one hand, trying to keep balance
before the next bar we would grace
knocked you off your feet.
I open my mouth and I want to
try to attempt to make them understand
that you were as close as I've gotten to a long lost brother.
I realized that a little too late,
but I fear that people get tired of hearing of your spirit.
How can one get tired of hearing of happiness?
I go to grab my book bag
and believe it or not I still find sand
from backpacking from New Jersey to Brooklyn to the beach
just to see you.
The sea breeze smacks me in the face.
It smells like summer time, and you buying me Bud Lights
and dancing in the booths above the drunken sailors of the midnight hour.
The salty water crashes from the ocean
down my cheeks.
The tide has been higher than usual lately.
I feel like I'm drowning sometimes.
My mother asks me why I don't talk about my friend that died.
I told her I just don't want to.
It would take me forever and a day to explain
why it was worth immediately uprooting
and potentially ruining
my first quarter at school
to see you one last time.
It wouldn't be worth her time.
She said I cried way too much.
It was just the beginning of my drowning
and her lack of understanding,
and fishing for the right words
were not enough to pull me to shore.
So I'm going to pay another stranger
to rip the ideas from my mind
and cut them into my skin.
You've already engraved the story of a lifetime
onto the surface of my heart that got excited when you would text me.
And on my hands,
that tried to sneak you back into the bar
to say goodbye to our favorite bartender.
And on these knees,
that still have marks from when I tried to follow you to the other side
and didn't land as gracefully as you did.
Who the hell lines the bottom of a pool
with rough concrete anyways?
Thank you for another memory to add to my list
of uninvited body modifications
Back in the city
where I saw you one last time
Is where my skin and their needle will collide
to make you visible on my body
in the tone of voice that I hope to hear when I pass through to you,
in the words that I would do anything to hear again,
I'm not as afraid of death anymore
because I know you'll be there to take my hand
as my soul takes it's first step into the after life.