Permanence of a Rose: Poetry by PJ Carmichael

“Rose Tattoo”


Rose Tattoo


The old man has a tattoo of a rose
on his left cheek
(of a rose)

and his eyes have seen
the horrors of this world
(perhaps he cannot speak)

and he stands outside in silence,
smokes his endless cigarette,
watches the pavement
in its refusal
to move.

I don’t expect a smile
to ever break his solemn stare

as each early morning passes
into evening’s departure
(he remains rooted in cement and asphalt).

The public benches (I imagine)
can grow cold, the boundary
between home and the streets

no longer distinguishable.

The sidewalk claws at his vision,
demanding to be fed
the remnants of
smoke and

He disappears at rush hour,

into the shadows of the alleyway,
unseen by surveillance cameras
and hurried passers-

The city swallows all traces
of the vanished flower,

buses swimming upstream fast,
trains caught by hungry passengers,
crosswalks flooded with preoccupied footsteps.

For now, he is gone.

But every afternoon,
a rose blooms once again.

PJ Carmichael is a writer, artist, spiritualist, and Libra from Wakefield, Massachusetts. He enjoys the changing of seasons, chronicling each day’s most pressing trivialities, and playful inquiry into the nature of the divine. He spends a majority of his time maneuvering the path between vice and virtue.


Poems curated by FORTH poetry editors.

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