Sometimes I peel my skin to see which parts hurt. Pull up scabs and ruin their healing; because you always thought I’d look better in scars and now, I hate to admit, so do I.
You’d balm your skin while passing torch that burned you, left hand betraying the right; crackling of its molten anger only drowned out by the volume of the lessons between your words.
You taught me to measure my masculinity in empty liquor bottles and full perscriptions; your lesson that real men only dull their pain when they pretend it’s for fun.
That service was inseperable from suffering, that goodness exists only to spite the dents in the same vessel and that as such it must be dented.
You taught of obedience through fear, holding your doctrine to be as genuine as it is just; building paper walls for us to keep the world from the wood.
Your claim of course not to be mistaken, that you love me and that I am doomed. Yet fear was never a virtue, and your tradition cannot be my truth.
You taught that only love was set in stone; as if proof of rock’s mortality was not sewn across the beaches or blown in the wind.
Perhaps I kicked drugs to become addicted to tattoos when they let me feel pain, and build to something that might be permanent, or because they make my scars look like something I could love.
You think I hate you, I wish I did. Pictures are so much more complicated than paintings, and conversations so much harder than poems. Burning your flag kept it off my shoulders, yet the memory of its embers brings more remorse than thrill.
And as such, I think of you when I smell smoke in my clothes. Nose filled with the rustic guilt of what I’ve done to keep myself warm. The loud blank memories that could fall anywhere between bonfires and funeral pyres.