A Tattoo of Lenin, Brooklyn – by John Maerhofer


People who kill revolutions are sometimes those who value poetry and read it in dim-lit cafés.
Here, they sip lattés outside abridged bagel shops
Late Tuesday mornings. 
Engaged in eloquent conversations with their phones,
Dribbles of milk and absorbed conversations frost their beards.
I don’t speak to them, but instead think of a tattoo of Lenin I saw once 
On the forearm of a young man.
Chuckling, I catch the eye of the coffee shop worker who shaped the milk-foam of my cappuccino
Into a dripping, pale heart.
She probably knows I’m there to spy on them, holding nothing to obscure my expression.
We both find comfort in being disconnected, if only to find loathing
In short gestures of levity and pretext.
Meanwhile, Lenin stares at me from the corner of his painted eye,
Resting on a cold wood table
Made from a rotted tree trunk 
And glazed with dark maple paint.
We secretly condemn forms of imperialist extraction
And what there IS to be done,
Beyond the confines of this Brooklyn café.
I get no answer, just the haughty voice of a post-hipster selling houses in the gig economy.
When I re-enter the sunned cold,
I desire to unfasten the hinges of subway doors and their owners.



John Maerhofer is a writer and activist living in Brooklyn with 3 cats.