Ink, thick in the air

wafts a seductive tale

of permanence.


The room is abuzz

with anticipation

and cat-scratch pain.


The prick, the squeal

of newly minted adults

brings us superior smiles.


We share nods with

the men who will cut

our skin into art.


We are the ones

who aren't afraid

to bear the pain

and wear the truth.


As kids we peeled

Spider-Man tattoos

from valentines

and pretended to be heroes.


Now we bear crosses,

the names of the fallen,

and words that keep us believing

we were never pretending.


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