The Burn
by Donovan Hufnagle Donovan Hufnagle

Donovan Hufnagle writes during fragile glints of time between school, work, and his wife and three children. He is pursuing a Ph.D. in Humanities and Aesthetic studies at the University of Texas at Dallas, and instructs full-time at Tarrant County College in Fort Worth, Texas. His recent writing has appeared in Borderlands, Tattoo Highway, Sojourn, The Northridge Review, The New York Quarterly, Rougarou, and others.

The tattoo shop vacated 26th street
and moved south to precinct line.
It abandoned the pool table and TV.
When asked why, it replied simply
with "TV gives you nothing
but a burnt tongue." Instead, the shop
plays a Sugarhill-like-hip-hop
like poured milk on jalapeños;
like A/C in a Texas summer;
like belated Daisies,
Stovers, and Hallmark;
the only thing that burned, now,
was my skin. I was getting a cross
on my bicep. A banner swung below,
waving my mother's name
to the world, at least, when I wear
sleeveless shirts she waves. Rita
may not have allowed tattoos in life,
but in death, she approves, I think.
I picture her leaning on her memories
inked in the clouds. Like a cliff
she leans over to look down on me
and smirk. I remember when I told her
that my girlfriend was pregnant. I thought
she would kill me. Yell at me.
Do something more than just say,
"pulling the cart before the horse,
aren't you?" And smirk. A four-
hour session is all I really can take.
I've heard of some of the shop's
clients sitting for eight hours
or more for one tattoo. I sit until
the burn is too much, the punctured
skin kills me. Yells at me. Does something

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