A Marked Man
The animal kingdom is scrawled with graffiti,
a quite nominal array of stripes and striations,
splotches on flesh and fur splattered with spots.
From gradations of gray in a dalmatian dapple
to peacock eruptions on psychotropical fish,
each kind has its own naked natural badge,
its own jealous friend-or-foe pattern to show.
But the creatures that feed at the top of the chain
bear the simplest of stains in their colors of skin,
each wearing one singular shade, like a swatch.
Some have said they can spy just intentions
in the sapient plainness we expose to the world,
that tearful Eden stripped away all the garnish
from the children who fled the flaming sword.
Who can wager, but wildly, on such supposition?
Might it not also be that our bland pigmentation
is an unaddressed canvas made clean for a reason?
We are given our own hands, as free as our will,
to mark with the glyphs we design and desire,
all the found trophies of temporal, physical life.
Made into a maker, we can make our own marks.
Some will scrape with the edge of incision
while others might brand in the old fashioned way.
The slow buzz of ink leaves the mark I prefer,
an indelible sting that shades my tender dermis.
I inscribe on my parchment, with pointillist dots,
anything a caveman might paint on himself
and everything a free man needs to say
About the Poem
This poem takes note of the fact that humans, supposedly the pinnacle of animal evolution, has very simple body markings. Compared to other animals, we are pretty plain. But the birthright of being human means having the freedom to choose and make one's own marks.
This poem was completed June 18, 2003. It is previously unpublished in print.