He pedaled his bike from the rented house
to the tattoo shop.
He was 35 years old.
He rode past the shop, went up a couple blocks.
Rode back, but out of sight of the big window.
Took a deep breath. Went in.
He showed the tattoo artist what he wanted.
A bicycle chain wheel with a peace sign
inside it: the Peace Cog.
“No problem,” said the artist.
Tommy, his name was.
Tommy went into the back.
The 35-year-old with his bare arms
waited on a vinyl chair,
back to the big window
and the traffic on the street outside.
After a few minutes Tommy returned,
the design drawn on a tissue-thin paper.
“Come on back,” Tommy said.
Later, at the union hall, a young coworker
spotted the ink on his forearm.
“Dude, did you get a tattoo?”
He felt … was it cool? Was he cool?
“Yeah,” he said.
/ / /
31 August 2023
This is poem 41 in a series called 50 Days Till 50 Years. I’m writing a poem a day for the 50 days leading up to my 50th birthday. I’m going to try to focus on memories of my past, and the people who inhabited it.Leave a Comment