This Tattoo

March 27, 2012 after Trayvon Martin

This tattoo is an email
Sent at 4 am to a couple friends who straddle each of the coasts
Told them in the coldest language I own
What they had always known
It is heartbreaking to love a killed thing

This tattoo is sobs on my couch
Throbbing eyes and broken heart
The beginning of loving an idea into existence
Had it carved into my wrist
These black boys are missed
Are remembered during morning meditation
When it’s just me and the most high
Nothing between me the purity of my love for them

They tend to be a song sung after the fact
A daffodils sway noticed once still
This tattoo tiny and insignificant to most
Is a vow spoken under my breath on the strangest of nights
When my heart sank after a realization felt since childhood
Never had language to describe
Just the instinct to protect and the gut feeling to stick to my own
Heard the back-handed compliments about how articulate we can be
Never heard that said to kids living in the lap of luxury
The complexity of race and how it relates to the kids I now teach
Sends mixed messages about who I can be
We got a black president but the system is still fucking me

No one explains the difference in your heart when disappointment takes up residence and nothing can make up for all you have seen

This tattoo is for basquiat and Trayvon
Javon and Shihan
For Ainsley and Tshaka
Maceo and the millions who will remain nameless
Brilliant black boys with crayons and poems under their tongues
Just boys art-ing themselves into men
Just scratch paper trying to be purified again
This tattoo is a vow to always be on their side
To see them beautiful when the world calls them everything but
This tattoo is respect and honor
A wild act of Love of self
And the knowing that there is no separation
No act strong enough to divide me from
These brilliant black boys.


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