Tattoo by Michael Clay
It was Rasputin
He had a tattoo
On his upper arm
He got in juvy
Of Rasputin
Imprinted with a pin
Wrapped with white thread
Soaked with India ink
Flared nostrils
Above a beard
That poured off the chin
Like smoke
Impaled upon adolescent skin

The mad monk
Scourge of the Romanovs
Now superimposed
On a gang-banger’s life
That was the statement
That was the thing
Poisoned, gun shot
Shoved under the ice to drown
And not die

That’s what a tattoo was
An epidermal chronicle
In your face, defiant
Fuck me
And I’ll fuck you twice
Then your mother
And your wife
While I make you watch

Not some designer pattern
To be sported
By young, pretentious ad men
Finance, spreadsheet
Drive their Harleys on the weekends
Misfit wannabees

If you got a tattoo
Back in my day
You had to be ready
To flop your Johnson out
On cold formica tabletops
To see how many nickels more
You were
Than others in the joint