fuckin’ with a broken bike chain.
you were sitting on the curb,
with the stern face of a surgeon
adjusting the metal link with precision.
i imagine you looked like that
when you used to do tattoos
in the town we used to live in further south,
where one girl had your name on her thigh.
nobody round here like him anymore, she’d sigh
before lifting her skirt even higher.
it’d been a decade at least
since we last spoke
but i’d heard about the snakes.
took a seat on the curb with the nerve to ask
you okay? since they almost took your life
some years before.
you laughed, said sure,
then showed me the scars
ridden up and down your leg.
with a grin on your face
you said they came like punches
before you flatlined twice
in the hospital bed you lay in for months,
however long it took to get the taste
of metal out of your mouth.
maybe that’s what venom tastes like?
it’s a shame that girl with your name
on her thigh wasn’t lurking around
while you were curled on the ground,
entering a state of paralysis.
she had a big mouth, i’m sure she would’ve
bent down to suck the poison right out
and now it’d be her kidneys on the fritz instead.
but what a waste of perfectly good venom
to serve a soul like oil on wheels--
you skipped town after you healed
yet she lives down there still,
dripping tears into her beer
and rippling her reflection
on how life isn’t fair, it just isn’t
i’ve seen your art on the cartoon network,
saw you on the front page of the ajc
with gloves on your tattooed hands, holding
jim henson’s original creation
with the same grin on your face
when you were showing me your scars
outside that bar in atlanta.