Too Much Information

By Damian Robin

While walking through the narrow town, I passed this guy
in sleeveless shirt and tattooed arms to fingertips
(not unlike the patterns of organic dye

that certain Asian women paint across each hand
at festivals (though his were more like comic strips
but mashed so close they were too hard to understand.))

He show-cased beasts and humans lined in violent colour:
thorns, lumped blood drops, daggered heartbreaks, hatchets, whips,
white, cracked skulls—carved in grim, exacting squalor.

On riddled thighs (from tiny shorts) a scaley nose
hard-snorted smog and green-based, dragon poison drips
and squeezed its gyring body parts around rapt rows

of snarled, gyrating devils massing to attack
some missing target near his covered, ambling hips
(maybe me, or some poor soul behind my back).

His face was clear of ink, and looked most scrupulous,
though up his neck and ears there wept a bunch of tulips
choked by fists—he’d have to be an octopus

to take on all the images he’d like to use,
for, God forbid, he’d let the drill gnaw to his lips,
or use one skilled on lids to make his eyes not bruise.

When I told a friend, a frank, religious guy,
of what I’d seen, he wasn’t fazed and made some quips
about such creatures never reaching God up high;

that if your body’s scarified up to the eyes,
you’re just a human snake and so must come to grips
with shedding skin—for your soul to grow or rise.

He likened tattoo drilling points to iceberg tips
that freeze on skins their massive, cold-heart, karmic curse.
(While I agree, my moral compass needle slips
to rubberneck this graphic crash in septic verse.)

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