the stigma had been stitched to him
since he was six and skinned his knees
ascending quick the crooked tree
to nest and see and sense

the neighbor kid
who flicker-lit from kindled wick
eked eden from a cherished book

he arched his neck to nick a look
until he slipped and skidded

then the sidewalk kissed him
and he cried out loud
and slowly drew a crowd

they always called him wicked and
as nicknames went this sucked
and stuck

as week and decade sunk and died
he staked out sin as his, like ink
soaked deep inside his skin, in sinew

wickedness defined his psyche
itched and tickled at his sides
until he dined on wine and liquor
wed himself to growing sicker

embraced his pain and bitterness
like weeds wound round his neck and breast
he knit himself a thick and sticky shroud of styx
and sewed his bones inside

sixteen septembers after
the kid from that old luckless scene
shows up and snickers at the trick
and all the broken moments since

and offers him a warm and wayward hand
beneath a dewy eye
and wide and wicked grin

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