First, it begins like knives,
Serrated and sharp, cutting in
The folds of flesh - (jagged teeth incise
The tattooed beat, the drumbeat of sin) -

On hearts too worn of life, weary of time,
Energies spent on trifling passion.
Such madcap folly - surgical? divine? -
All the flavours of quixotic imagination

Distilled into little words,
Skillful letters, the caprice
Of sentence sequestered in verse -
Meter by meter, piece by piece -

Etch into our colors, make us bleed
With every heartbeat - till, skins rosy,
Our breasts choke and heave
Tears, flushed with aching memory.

Who are we to be poets?
Who are we to rhyme?
We, carousers around sonnets,
Who are we to impose on time?

All tattoos fade. All ink dries.
In the aftermath of all defeats,
The flags of hope fail to fly.
But here, a blotched scar speaks

"I was here. We were real."
And one remembers life
As one remembers film reels
Of a long-gone, beloved night

Spent quietly with loved ones
Reading by the fireplace.

This is the price we pay
For bruises worth so much.

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