Thursday, April 26, 2018

Three for Thursday, Part 2 - Lauren Whitehead on the Tattooed Poets Project

As mentioned in an earlier post today (here), today we are celebrating three poets with three linked tattoos:


We already celebrated Mariama Lockington's poem (and tattoo) in the previous post, and Molly Raymor's will appear later today.

In case you missed the previous post, the tattoo was inspired by this photo of Mariama on Vencie Beach in L.A.:


The three poets are inextricably linked by their friendship and shared tattoo.


This post features the poem from Lauren Whitehead (pictured on the right, above):

we three bitches

three cheers for my bad bitches, spread out wide
at the public library table with books & pens & bold
patterned pencil skirts split up the back, spines

stretched long, fully reading for the gods. holy
& holy & holy, amen for my bottom bitches, writing
it all down right now, stacking shelf after shelf

with palm sized notebooks, thick with pretty wisdoms
& perfect elegies for the women we should have been.
three battle stars for these sergeants, crafting in chaos,

reciting her saints, pulling through like prayer beads
after hauling all her baggage back & forth across
landmass, skirting whirlpools & mantraps, unlearning

over & again all the petty wishes of a dying class.
three survivals in a winter place for each one
of my madwomen, making mistakes & keeping

receipts. cussing out when cussed at. throwing hands
at whoever hands need be thrown at, a thoroughbred
stance in grey patent leather slingbacks. clap it back

for my bridesmaids. my believe me bitches. my loyalists
& keepsake queens with their pressed petals & wind
chimes & precious stones grabbed up at low tide, hung

like armor around their wrists & necks. rare jewels
for all my heavies. just jewels upon jewels upon glitter
upon gleam, draped over each titty in every color

of her flag, shine for these bitches, fluent in multiple
Englishes, translating tarot cards & star charts & every
brand of fuck shit some fool might think to speak

into her yard. three charms for these hungry witches,
my seal a spell with a salt bath bitties, old poem
on a postcard hoes, old open palm in the dark ass tricks,

sipping tea & reading leaves & sitting back sometimes,
just not saying shit. keep it quiet for my humble woes,
slinking through a dance floor like snakes in high grass,

untouchable bitches, thrifty chicks making earrings
out of everything, every bad lover, every bad look,
every unforgivable intention. a wash, a wash, a wash

on all your houses. three rings for all your fingers. three
orisha in the morning singing sweet songs outside
your window. oh wonders, oh royals, you imperfect

gods, three burnings for your birthdays. three alters
facing west. three mantras of your names in every river
when i arrive. three Frida’s holding hands. three gardenia

for each ear. three wishes for you sisterfriends: all your
worries ribbon tied to the foot of a black bird flown
away, away, away. every unworthy out through

one well earned door. & these two hands. these only
two hands i have to offer. two hands & two wrists
at your back, by your side, skin to skin, for always.

~ ~ ~

Lauren Whitehead is a writer, performer, and MFA recipient in dramaturgy (Columbia University). She writes in several forms including poetry, nonfiction, and drama. Her work has been published in Apogee, Winter Tangerine, HEArt Online, and in selected anthologies. She has performed in venues around the country, notably: The Apollo Theater and The Kennedy Center. She is a Sundance Theater Lab Fellow and she teaches advanced playwriting and dramaturgy at The New School. More info: laurenawhitehead.com

Thanks to Lauren (and Molly and Mariama) for sharing their poems and tattoos with us here on The Tattooed Poets Project on Tattoosday!

This entry is ©2018 Tattoosday. The poems and tattoos are reprinted with the poet's permission.


If you are reading this on another website other than Tattoosday, without attribution, please note that it has been copied without the author's permission and is in violation of copyright laws. Please feel free to visit http://tattoosday.net and read our original content. Please let me know if you saw this elsewhere so I contact the webmaster of the offending site and advise them of this violation in their Terms of Use Agreement.

Three for Thursday, Part 1- Mariama Lockington on the Tattooed Poets Project

I reached out to our next tattooed poet, Mariama Lockington, back in February and she responded with an intriguing story and photo:


As one can see, those are three tattoos on three wrists. And, yes, one is Mariama's, and the other two belong to poets, as well! The three tattoos are inspired by the following photo of Mariama dancing on Venice Beach during sunset:


She explained, "it's the image we decided best represents our friendship," and, to her personally, "it symbolizes freedom, friendship, and curiosity."

So, today, we will be celebrating three tattooed poets, all with linked tattoos. The other poets, Lauren Whitehead and Molly Raynor, will have posts appearing later today.

(left to right) Mariama Lockington, Lauren Whitehead and Molly Raynor

Here's Mariama's poetic contribution:

so we never
for molly and lauren

here is a prayer for the bottoms of our feet
worn tough from neon colored sandals bought for
9.99 at the superstore on e. 14th  that also sold
leggings in every sexy girl pattern you could imagine
fake eyelashes and nail jewels & don’t forget
the banana hoop earrings as big a circus rings
we hung from our ears like ornaments, even though
our mamas warned of stretched lobes & infections

here is a prayer for how thick we were in those first months
our thighs rubbing together, making church songs
as we walked the lake eating breakfast sandwiches
stuffed with bacon & avocado
ignoring the thirty-something year olds
sweat-faced & out of breath passing us on either side

here is a prayer for short skirts & thai iced tea
the shady corner of an empty baseball field
where we stacked books of poetry next to half filled journals
smoked blunts or snuck sips of warm mimosas
while we scribbled urgent love letters to ourselves
along with the rhythm of shirtless men
playing basketball on the courts behind us

here is a prayer for our twenty-three year old bodies
for our self-assured yet searching hips
for the hands that attempted to guide our movement
into sticky corners of sound at kittys, lukas, or baobabs
for our dances that could not be contained or predicted
for standing on speakers & whispering into the ear of a DJ
for the wild-yell in our throats when our song came on
for the fake numbers & secret kisses & quick fucks
we owned because we were curious, because we wanted

here is a prayer for how we flung ourselves into lonely
our new womanhood all wrapped up in the mouth of the bay
for the dinosaurs stretching their necks out to us in greeting
as we emerged from the West Oakland tunnel at 1am
our heads slammed full of dizzy visions while our arms
swayed at our sides with the kick & kink of the train

here is a prayer for driving in a minivan along the 1
the coast moving next to us like a great whale
for the cliffs we dangled our legs from
the beaches we carved our names into
for the jade & driftwood & crab shells we gathered
all our evidence of being lost & broken & still free
   
here is a prayer for us, my hearts  
so we never forget how to return
~ ~ ~

Mariama J. Lockington is the author of the poetry chapbook The Lucky Daughter (Damaged Goods Press, 2017), and her novel-in-verse Questions I Have For Black Girls Like Me is forthcoming from Farrar, Straus, and Giroux— Books for Young Readers in 2019. Mariama calls many places home, but currently lives in Lexington, KY. You can find more of her work at www.mariamajlockington.com.

Thanks to Mariama (and Molly and and Lauren, in advance) for sharing their poems and tattoos with us here on The Tattooed Poets Project on Tattoosday! Be sure to come back later today to see Molly and Lauren's poems!



This entry is ©2018 Tattoosday. The poems and tattoos are reprinted with the poet's permission.


If you are reading this on another website other than Tattoosday, without attribution, please note that it has been copied without the author's permission and is in violation of copyright laws. Please feel free to visit http://tattoosday.net and read our original content. Please let me know if you saw this elsewhere so I contact the webmaster of the offending site and advise them of this violation in their Terms of Use Agreement.

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Cindy Goncalves and Her Cantarinha de Segredo (The Tattooed Poets Project)

Today's tattooed poet is Cindy Goncalves, who shared this lovely tattoo:


Cindy explained the background and significance of this piece:
"The Cantarinha de Segredo ('Small Pitcher of Secrets') is the staple of my family’s hometown Molelos, Portugal and its traditional barro preto, a style of clay-based pottery known for its deep black color and metallic finish. I wanted to keep the piece as realistic as possible to emphasize the simple, traditional beauty of the Cantarinha - and the craft in general - and my artist, Phil Da Silva (@phil_da_silva_) from 7 Tattoo Gallery (@7tattoogallery) in Newark, NJ had the patience, passion, and expertise that helped do exactly that."
Cindy also shared the following poem:

Os Segredos da Cantarinha



Um

All black everything
like the soul and clothes
of older women
   
sitting on shabby benches
trading recipes for gossip
tussling aventais in their hands
cleaning off the dirt
of morning’s work.


Dois

Assim como era
no princípio.

her husband’s heavy hand
on his bottle;
on her cheek

takes the body of Christ
every Sunday

Agora e sempre.
Amen.


Três

Fields only clear food,
not the conscience.

Still, the priest’s robes
are worth more
than the fields
of the poor.


Quatro

O terço,
the mother’s noose
around her child’s fears.

She doesn’t have all the answers,
but her caldo verde
makes you forget
there were ever questions.


Cinco

At the jogo da freguesia,

inhaling deep the way avô did

young lovers run out of cigarettes
to keep their mouths busy
after making out behind the bleachers.


Seis

the sound
of liberation
is loudest
from a staticky radio.


Sete

Seven
is sacred.

It is the number of kings
in cleats.


Oito

compassion fills rooms
with hay beds for
strangers keeping promises

on the soles
of bleeding feet.


Nove

black boats carry
more heartache
than fishermen

and no one understands
saudade
like their wives


Dez

the current of an open ocean
does not compare
to the country’s lifelines:

O Douro.
O Mondego.
O Tejo.
O Sado.
O Guadiana.


Onze

Forest fires
have left some
with nothing but the ash
on their forehead,
Wednesday
from hell.


Doze

everything
we never say

~ ~ ~

Born and raised in Elizabeth, NJ, Cindy Goncalves is a Luso-American twenty-something currently pursuing a master’s in Counseling from Kean University. She was a featured Newark Voices poet in the 2016 Dodge Poetry Festival in Newark, and continues to work with Dodge as a visiting poet in the Poetry in Schools program.  Follow her on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter at @cindayumm.

Thanks to Cindy for sharing her tattoo and poem with us here on Tattoosday and the Tattooed Poets Project!


This entry is ©2018 Tattoosday. The poem and tattoo are reprinted with the poet's permission.
If you are reading this on another website other than Tattoosday, without attribution, please note that it has been copied without the author's permission and is in violation of copyright laws. Please feel free to visit http://tattoosday.net and read our original content. Please let me know if you saw this elsewhere so I contact the webmaster of the offending site and advise them of this violation in their Terms of Use Agreement.

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Jeff Mann: Wiccan, Pagan, Tattooed Poet

Today's tattooed poet is Jeff Mann, who shared this cool tattoo:


Jeff tells us:
I’ve been a Wiccan and pagan since I was a teenager. Because my bloodlines are Irish, Scots, English, and German, I’ve taken more and more of an interest in the Celtic and Norse gods and goddesses as I’ve aged. In 2003 I sat in on a graduate class at Virginia Tech, a course that focused on Celtic and Norse literature, and I got to read The Elder Edda, The Prose Edda, and a bunch of Icelandic sagas. These readings became the inspiration for my third book of poetry, Ash: Poems from Norse Mythology.
The hammer-wielding thunder god Thor is my favorite Norse deity. I admire his warrior manliness, his earthiness, his strength, and his determination to protect those he cares for. I showed several Thor’s-hammer images to my tattoo artist, Shaun Carroll (@shaun.hotrodtat2) at Hot Rod Tattoo in Blacksburg, Virginia, and he came up with the design, complete with Celtic knots and Wiccan pentagram.
Jeff shared the following poem, as well, which originally appeared in Chelsea Station and in his collection A Romantic Mann:

HOMOMONUMENT, AMSTERDAM

Commemorates all women and men
    ever oppressed and persecuted
        because of their homosexuality.

Pink triangles of granite.
    Three of them, interlocked,
        jutting out into the busy waters

of Keizersgracht.  A smooth
    stone shelf we step onto
        gingerly, as if it were an edge

of rosy ice that might break loose
    and floe us off to sea.  About our feet,
        white wreaths of lilies, peony-

scatter, wilting commemorations
    like those rose bouquets tenderly
        laid about the statue of Anne Frank

just around the corner.  Here, flowers
    share the space with cigarette ends,
        bottle caps, candle butts, the pearly swirls

of wax long cooled.  (Semen’s
    molten moonstone sealing together
        the bellies of lucky lovers, tears freezing
   
a widower’s beard.)   In a safety
    born of sheer coincidence, on this pink
        promontory flanked by the canal’s

wake and flux, we touch history’s
    spilled tallow, calla lily memories
        not our own: the lesbian stoned to death

in the public square, the faggot-
        pyre heaped about the sodomite,
            ashes shoveled from the cooling

furnaces of Buchenwald.  
    Those deaths become our whetstone.
        Upon this pink granite prow sword-sharp
   
and sheer as honed will,
    we sit together, knee to knee,
        in the Dutch sun’s imprimatur,

dipping frites into mayonnaise,
    feeding each another.
        Perfect photo opportunity for those

in tour boats who float by.  They listen to
    the story of the Homomonument, point us out—
        living examples!—aim their cameras, smile.

 ~ ~ ~

Jeff Mann grew up in Covington, Virginia, and Hinton, West Virginia, receiving degrees in English and forestry from West Virginia University. His poetry, fiction, and essays have appeared in many publications, including Arts and Letters, Prairie Schooner, Shenandoah, Willow Springs, The Gay and Lesbian Review Worldwide, Crab Orchard Review, and Appalachian Heritage. He has published three award-winning poetry chapbooks, Bliss, Mountain Fireflies, and Flint Shards from Sussex; five full-length books of poetry, Bones Washed with Wine, On the Tongue, Ash: Poems from Norse Mythology, A Romantic Mann, and Rebels; two collections of personal essays, Edge: Travels of an Appalachian Leather Bear and Binding the God: Ursine Essays from the Mountain South; three novellas, Devoured, included in Masters of Midnight: Erotic Tales of the Vampire, Camp Allegheny, included in History’s Passion: Stories of Sex Before Stonewall, and The Saga of Einar and Gisli, included in On the Run: Tales of Gay Pursuit and Passion; six novels, Cub, Country, InsatiableFog: A Novel of Desire and Reprisal (which won the Pauline Réage Novel Award), Purgatory: A Novel of the Civil War (which won a Rainbow Award), and Salvation: A Novel of the Civil War (which won both the Pauline Réage Novel Award and a Lambda Literary Award); a book of poetry and memoir, Loving Mountains, Loving Men; and three volumes of short fiction, Desire and Devour: Stories of Blood and Sweat, Consent: Bondage Tales, and A History of Barbed Wire (which won a Lambda Literary Award). In 2013, he was inducted into the Saints and Sinners Literary Festival Hall of Fame. He teaches creative writing at Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, Virginia.

Thanks to Jeff for sharing his tattoo and poem with us here on Tattoosday's Tattooed Poets Project!



This entry is ©2018 Tattoosday. The poem and tattoo are reprinted with the poet's permission.


If you are reading this on another website other than Tattoosday, without attribution, please note that it has been copied without the author's permission and is in violation of copyright laws. Please feel free to visit http://tattoosday.net and read our original content. Please let me know if you saw this elsewhere so I contact the webmaster of the offending site and advise them of this violation in their Terms of Use Agreement.

Monday, April 23, 2018

J.P. Grasser on the Tattooed Poets Project

Today's tattooed poet is J.P. Grasser


J.P. elaborates on the tattoo, which reads "Our almost-instinct almost true:/What will survive of us is love":
Recently, I read a beautiful little scrap from Rebecca Solnit: 'The self is also a creation, the principal work of your life, the crafting of which makes everyone an artist. This unfinished work of becoming ends only when you do, if then, and the consequences live on' (italics, mine; from The Faraway Nearby). This is wildly out of context, but it holds up just the same, to my ear. The most important phrase in there: 'if then.'
There's the old thinking on tattoosthe permanence, the body-as-canvas, the self-expression. 
There's the old thinking on tattoosthe symbology, the beautiful reversion to atavistic modes of communication: pictographs, etc., where image, meaning, & sound are inexorably bound, are undivorceable from one another. 
There's the old thinking on tattoossomething visible, something totemic, something to reflect the inner-self. (All reflection: distortion.)
The old thinking is good enough. But put in context, wildly so, vis-à-vis Solnit's case, it doesn't hold up as well to my ear. Or, at least, it's not the whole picture. Every/one: an artistagreed. Every/body's magnum opus: the selfagreed. So the act of tattooing, to my mind, is the act of self-forging (self-forgoing?). They don't conflate, they don't co-exist, they collapse, together. Both. The skin is both canvas and paint, or so the metaphor goes. 
Go listen to Kelly McFarling's "Both." It will help you understand me. 
What I'm trying to get at, however obliquely, is this: neither a tattoo nor a poem is expression. They're experience. They're temporal & atemporal, all at once—they happen in time, but don't live in time. Sounds a bit like Memory, eh? Like Love, almost?
Which is all to say: the tattoo I have now is not the one I got Spring of 2015. It's neither the same to me, nor the same in appearance. When I got it, I remember Jesse saying, with that flair of wily gratitude, Come back any time, he said, touch ups for free. Any time, touch, free. 
But I want the ink-object, the poem-object, like the self, to be of-&-for entropy, to be its own recreation, daily. Let the edges fray; let it bleed. 
The homespun-piece referenced in the poem, that's long gone, just a few little scars now, layered under the one pictured. 
The lines themselves come from Larkin's 'An Arundel Tomb.' The most important phrase in there isn't 'love.' It isn't 'what will survive of us.' It isn't 'true.' There is no finitude to the selfto its gulfs, slash-piles, glaciers, xeric crags, tectonic fissures. We are human-animals. We are reason-beasts. We are hybridity incarnate & as such, if/then, the only phrase that can really matter is: 'almost-instinct almost.' & Thatthat is the experience of Negative Capability. Isn't Love always a consequence, always? 
J.P. mentions Jesse above, referring to his artist Jesse Kuzniarski (@jessek_tattoos) at Brightside Tattoo Shop (@brightsidetattooshop) in Baltimore. 

He also shared the following poem:


THIRD DATE 
  
for Maggie
  
Remember how we lay, naked, the usual silt
of hardwood floors clinging to our elbows,
our hips? You dipped the needle, dragged
St. Augustine’s symbol for non-linear time

(your idea) into my arm. Didn’t I try to be stoic

for you?—I feel no pain; I feel nothing. I admit,
I was sure once that love meant being jealous
of oneself. I admit it. I wanted to clutch
that instinct for recklessness, to own it & forever,
& I wanted you to hold me the way skin holds
an iron splinter. Remember the perfect sphere
of my blood, balanced on the needle’s tip?

How you licked it clean, returned it to pure
gleaming, without so much as a second thought?
I keep coming back, you said, back to this shape.

~ ~ ~


A current Wallace Stegner Fellow, J.P. Grasser is a PhD candidate in Literature & Creative Writing at the University of Utah, where he serves as Editor-in-Chief for Quarterly West.

Thanks to J.P. for sharing his tattoo and poem with us here on the Tattooed Poets Project on Tattoosday!

This entry is ©2018 Tattoosday. The poem and tattoo are reprinted with the poet's permission.

If you are reading this on another website other than Tattoosday, without attribution, please note that it has been copied without the author's permission and is in violation of copyright laws. Please feel free to visit http://tattoosday.net and read our original content. Please let me know if you saw this elsewhere so I contact the webmaster of the offending site and advise them of this violation in their Terms of Use Agreement.