I’m sitting with Carly at a tattoo piercing parlor
And it’s Saturday night
And there are rainbows outside doing gymnastics with streetlights
Because it’s the weekend of Pride
And everybody’s differences are lighting up the world like the way it should be

There’s a cow with a studded tongue spray painted on the wall
And for a second I imagine that tongue is a bridge
And I’m walking across it
And into the mouth
And down the throat
Where at the bottom there’s this swimming pool full of milk
And that Kendrick Lamar song is playing on an endless loop
Where I’m a kid again
Where I’m building treehouses out of healthy bones
Where I dream about ice ages and sabretooth tigers

Suddenly they call Carly in
We’re here to get an earring removed
We’re here to start the process of closing a hole
Because maybe with holes it’s something else entirely
That we think there’s this emptiness that needs to be filled
But really there’s no emptiness at all
Because we’re full of life
Because all up and down the street there are rainbow flags blowing in the wind
Because maybe there were never any holes in us to begin with

Suddenly there’s a news update on my iPhone about knives in London
Knives in stolen vans driving under the influence
Knives on bridges
Knives on walkways
Knives in towers
And there’s blood
So much blood
All that red
It’s as if somebody cruel
Ripped out all the red in rainbows
And went on a painting spree

Carly gets the earring removed
Peroxide for the hole
They give her a t-shirt that says, “Everybody's a Little Gay”
Because the parade is tomorrow
And we’ll all be floating
And singing
And that’ll be nice
And maybe there are holes out there
But maybe we can also build huge houses on red foundations
Houses made of discarded earrings that still glitter
Where we’ll skinny dip in pools of milk
Where we’ll always be praying to the gods of holes
For our bones to be stronger
So we can hold up this shaky world



Sunday morning and the Pride Parade is about to begin
I’m in the dressing room of Alleyway Theatre
And Carly’s putting on her makeup
The whole cast of Cleopatra is putting on their wigs
All that eyeliner…I want to paint the world’s blindness
So we all can see again
It’ll be raining eyelashes and mimosas today
And everyone will be drunk on what it means to be alive again

Later on, the parade’s in full swing
And I’m following the procession like a loyal lapdog
Everybody’s dressed like Egyptian pharaohs
Everybody’s extracting champagne from the sun
A bunch of gold mummies smoking on street corners
Everybody’s holding deflated balloons and praying for helium
Suddenly when the parade goes by the balloons burst into life
And start floating like colorful clouds over the gray skyline
Everything’s technicolor
Everything’s tectonic
Somewhere in America Trump’s shaking in his boots
So many colors

I’m a shirtless Frankenstein when we reach Summer St.
I’ve picked up every piece of confetti
Every rainbow flag
Every jello shot
And have pinned them to my body
I know I look beautiful
But these days, the prettiest ones are sometimes called monsters
And I’m okay with being called a monster
As long as I’m protecting the ones that I love
Looking around the parade, there’s so many celebrating the triumph of life

I want to love without motive
To shrink-wrap the best parts of all my friends
So they don’t wither like sacred American topsoil
When the wind goes weak and gives up
When there’s a drought of skin because the mannequins
Have taken over and hope doesn’t spread

When the hand you’re holding late at night isn’t butchered enough
To make it worth your while so you don’t kiss like you should
We’re trying to build a better world
Maybe a world where men are midwives
And the sky’s full of stars that look like babies’ eyes

A world where maybe we don’t have to perform open heart surgery on ourselves
Just to make it through the day,
Because it takes a hard heart to break through all the armadillo dirt
That’s gardening in our beds
We have to love harder with newer hearts
Because whatever cardiac curse we were born with doesn’t cut it anymore
It throws sucker punches at everyone weak in the knees
Which is a crying shame
Like hell on earth sometimes
Because the most beautiful thing about life
Are the mountains that grow
From the scars on the bottom of our boots
All those years we’ve spent running away…
We’ve had enough

Suddenly all around me there are caged birds flying like fists
In the twisted technicolor air
I try kissing their lips
I miss everyone I’ve ever met



Shakespeare in Delaware Park, end of June
And everybody in the audience is brushing their teeth
With box wine and twigs 

While up on the stage
Cross-dressing actresses are mainlining masculinities
With mustachioed syringes 

And playing dodgeball with gross watery pumpkins
Behind me little kids are experiencing vertigo on swing sets
And screaming like seagulls 

Soon they'll be going to bed
Where they'll be dreaming of Moana and great big sea birds
The sun is setting the table for night 

And there'll be buckets of baboon soliloquies for us to eat
So we can all go crazy in the feral spotlight
So we can all do headstands on dance floors where lava flows

Because we all want to light our hair on fire
And run through city streets demanding new words for "heat" 
And "scorched" and "burning"

Because it's Thursday
And Thursday is basically Friday
And there's always steam to let out 

There's always a lot of the past to munch on
There's always a bulimia of gray ruins you have to swallow and choke on
Before you step into the future with songs on your lips

To pass the time until then
We'll all be chain smoking in the grass
While a dead bard is building beehives in our ears

Tonight we have some salt of our youth in us
And the night is still young

JUSTIN KARCHER is the author of Tailgating at the Gates of Hell from Ghost City Press, the chapbook When Severed Ears Sing You Songs from CWP Collective Press, and the micro-chapbook Just Because You've Been Hospitalized for Depression Doesn't Mean You're Kanye West from Ghost City Press as part of their 2017 summer micro-chapbook series. His recent work has appeared in Foundlings, Cease, Cows, Thought Catalog, varsity goth, and more. He is the Editor-in-Chief of Ghost City Review. His one act play When Blizzard Babies Turn to Stone premiered in February at Alleyway Theatre in Buffalo, NY. He tweets @Justin_Karcher.