The Burden of Skin

Taite Smith, Through the Looking Glass. Oil on Canvas, 2023


By Jude Wood


The moon, that great blind watching eye, 

Quietly spying from within the sky, 

With cataracts creeping across the whites.  

There’s only one thing to do on such nights. 


In this run-down town of sulfurous sound 

Your skin feels tight, your soul homeward-bound. 

You can feel the need to be set free. 

Starving for an outlet, an escape, a release. 


Slip down from your windows, beneath boards, through the cracks. 

Grab your hoods and your gloves and the weights on your backs. 

Burn all the books, turn over the cross, 

Scream at the world, tear your garments off. 


Enter the Black Mass and begin the awakening 

Bow down before your perfect pagan king. 

To please him we must disappear from our kin 

And to truly open yourself, we will peel back our skin. 


To be able to simply remove your constriction 

To be equal to all others beneath any jurisdiction. 

The Great Ones go first to prove their trust 

And into their flesh, the dark knife is thrust 


We bow, impatient for our own metamorphosis, 

We must discard the dirty, go with the glorious. 

To be free of our skin, allow our muscles to breathe 

Is a feeling that is nearly impossible to conceive. 


“Take hold of the arms of your brothers and sisters, 

Disregard the callouses, scars, burns, and blisters. 

Those imperfections are why we’ve met this eve, 

These broken bodies we shall shed and leave.” 


As they speak, the muscles in their necks contort 

Their veins, muscles, and tendons tense and distort 

They wear the red armor of our king up above, 

Our forms finally prepared to receive his love.