Day 22 of 30

FATHER SON BONDING

praying hands handcuffed, engulfed in flames sewn, burned, etched
into my forearm either says that i needed to say something or
i was a dramatic fifteen year old. or i needed to cry out.
my father watched to make sure i didn’t cry. he was the king

of tattoos. arms covered since i was a kid. limbs like graveyards
for lost siblings and lost minds and lost times when black aint
ink at all, when ink aint show at all unless you wanted to starve
or fight or be called not black. you been hanging with crazy

white boys. you crazy if you think you can do what they do to
their bodies, if you think you can call it art, if you think you
can attach it to an africa you never knew. don’t you know what
the bible say about temples? so i got a cross the following

year. and a dove on my back because doves were in and im a peace
cliche at eighteen. and an ankh on my chest because i grew up seeing
my mother where one around her neck before music made us wear
brown and green and pretend to know things we didn’t, but feel like
we could be things we wanted. poetry. and pride. and a kora on my

leg and a typewriter and some circles, the horn of a continent my skin is
itching to be scratched by, sankofa on a sofa and on and on and on. my body
is a timeline. dots on a spectrum. stakes in a porous land. a gallery
building being ever built based on the blueprint inked into my father’s brown.

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