Dermatographia by David Joez Villaverde

after Jon Davis

This is not a dirge because I am sick of mourning and we are not a thing to be mourned. Because apologies are just a commemoration of self-pity and we are pitiless. Because words cannot hold themselves. I wanted to tell a story. Say something about forms and formlessness. Where indelible is just a word, with the mortality of thought. Where words are just words, fingers tracing on skin. But this is not a story because you blocked me on snapchat. And I blocked you on instagram. And you blocked me on facebook. And no one really cares about this pettiness. But I do because I am petty, because I am angry, because I want this to be about my pain when it’s really about yours. Because this is about something I have forgotten. This is about when you drove me back to Michigan for Hilary’s funeral and I couldn’t stop sobbing into the open flame of night. Or this is about how your eyes held me atop the Pyramid of the Sun. Or how we became the art we made. But I was saying something about formlessness because this is not a dirge. Because I was saying something about how I bury my pain because skin is bad at articulating sorrow. Something about hiding my tears in self-parody. Because Hilary died at 25 and nothing I could have said or done would have changed that. Because the coroner saying she died peacefully in her sleep is not a consolation. Because I still love her. Do I sound angry? Do I grieve her more than others? It was almost 4 years ago and I can still remember my ribs cribbing the emptiness pouring out of Kate’s message. I still remember crying so hard that no tears came, just a deep inaudible yawning out, like my soul leaving my body, or my body leaving my soul, or her leaving me—flensing away my song. But why am I telling you all this? Because I want you to feel sorry for me? To feel the false comfort of agreement? To say that my suffering is inadequate? I don’t know. Maybe I want you to know that my limbs still feel like deadfall when I look at her pictures. That this isn’t a dull high because I’m not an empty space that wants to be filled. That there is a sad quiet that inhabits everything. Maybe I want my words to hold me. Or me to hold them. Or maybe I just want to say that I’m sorry, or that I miss you, things for which poetry seems so inadequate. But this is a poem not a story not a dirge not indelible just blood and skin and wheal, just words, fingers carving on skin.

David Joez Villaverde is a Peruvian American multidisciplinary artist with forthcoming or recently published work in Crab Fat Magazine, Occulum, Grimoire, Luna Luna, Wigleaf, Dream Pop, and The Jellyfish Review. He resides in Detroit and can be found at