Penelope Weiss

(please read out loud)

Wrapped in their skins
words burn in ashes
of world fire
in the struggle to be seen
to be heard
to see
to hear
to be sung
to sing
to be alive
to live
to die
to be dead
to be here
in the void
in the voice
of procession
a percussion of night.


The tattooed lady on Times Square looks bored.
She flexes her biceps, and snakes open their eyes and dance.

We embrace, while we think to ourselves, she’s so weird.
Someone takes our picture. No one knows we’re cousins.
We go our separate ways on the sinewy streets of NYC.

She’s wearing her backpack with colored chalks and spray cans.
She doesn’t know the glory days of graffiti art are over.

The tattooed lady herself isn’t well, but she won’t admit it.
I’ve seen her stagger as she crosses 42nd Street,

but she won’t let me help her.
Strength is her watchword, and strength is her undoing.

Penelope Weiss grew up in New York City and now lives in Shrewsbury, Vermont. Storiana, her collection of stories, was published by Casa de Snapdragon Publishing and is available on Amazon.
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