TATTOO

Posted by Admin on Saturday, 31st January 2009, 00:00

The anaconda caught my eye,
vein-blue and tricked Pompeian red –
its outlines blurred, like ink absorbed
in blotting-pads.
Scaled king-size, dwarfing those designs
of badges, birds, and bloody hearts,
all skewered and enscrolled,
that decorate so many limbs,
this nipple-nudging reptile coiled
athwart a paunch-preceded chest,
alert, malign, and lithe.
What ophiolatry, I thought,
these days produced such blemished flesh?
Or what Pythonic priest was thus
exhibiting his cult?
Then, on his arm I saw tattooed
a tankard captioned ‘Cheers’, beneath
a ‘stripper’, semi-nude, and guessed
the snake no esoteric sect, no tong
implied, but stood, the stigma of
an insecure man – totem to
self-doubting masculinity
extracting reassurance from
a vulgar public show.
I wonder if the artist knew?

T. C. Hudson

© T. C. Hudson.

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