Thursday, April 30, 2020

This Too... (Joolz Denby on the Tattooed Poets Project)

Our last post for the 2020 Tattooed Poets Project (in National Poetry Month, at least), comes to us from a returning contributor, Joolz Denby.

Joolz appeared in the Tattooed Poets Project in 2012 here.

Joolz sent us the following tattoo from her leg, noting she "thought it was appropriate."


Indeed, very appropraite.

The artist is Ben Stone (@benstonetattoo) in Derby, UK.

Jools also sent along the following poem:

Boy, You Need the Road      

Boy, you need the Road,
the lazy white stitch of heaven’s path leading through the
sun’s bright benediction criss-cross and mazy to some
wild-thyme scented hillside lying silvery sweet and
blood warm under high cirrus clouds embroidering
the lapis-lazuli of the southern sky like prayer flags,
far, far away from the bricks and mortar menagerie
of your home town’s crash-and-burn Saturday night circus.

Boy, you need the Road,
nights of fast-forward spirit-driven dazzling highs;
luminous surf pulse of breathing icy turquoise oceans,
you sprawled on a black beach wrapped in a ragged blanket,
a salt-green witch fire flickering cold and lighting up no earthly place
but burning in your flesh like those lost and long-gone kisses you
miss so much and crave with a junkie’s jack-up fever
in your aching and unmended heart.

Boy, you need the Road,
playing your old guitar through dawn’s blue incense
that rises over canyons of crystal sheathed skyscrapers
in a hotel room so  bleach-clean and anonymous it hurts,
the songs you pick so idly the diary of your flight,
staring into the lying whore of a mirror that shows a face you
would not have known to be your own - a face that shows everything
but tells nothing to the world you travel like a cruel angel.

Boy, you need the Road,
it will be your sweet and savage consolation, Star,
it will be your demon lover and your loving mother both,
wrapping you in webs of contradiction and razor-bright illusion,
as sinning saint and sanctified sinner you eat magic, breathe voodoo,
try everything as you search through souks and shanties, plazas
and favellas - dirt and diamond-crusted alike - for a way
into the shadow-land to find your true name and your dead love.

Boy, you need the Road,
if you don’t go, go, go - fast as those great opal wings can bear you
out of the stink and ceremony of your expected life -
if you don’t go - and this is no word of a lie, my sweetheart,
real life will get you, and a nice girl and her babies
will get you and bang-up straight-time work will get you
and you’ll choke on it all in the neat little chain-store bedroom
where you cry when you think no one hears your terrible pain.

Boy, you need the Road,
better run, baby, better run right now and don’t look back
because you mustn’t regret and you mustn’t hear the siren song
sung by the ones who stayed and lost and drank and drugged
their way to their own safe and stinking seat at the bar in Hell Town:
so run fast on those long legs and shake the clinging dust
of home from your boot heels as an offering to Holy Mother Mary,
a sacrifice for your last chance free and clear rock n’ roll great escape.

Well, that’s my prayer for you, anyhow, that’s my last blessing.
So, boy, you need the Road;
you need the Road,
you need the Road,
Boy listen, listen, listen - before it’s all too late.
You need the Road.

~ ~ ~

Joolz Denby is an artist/tattooist/writer /poet from England and can be found on Facebook here, Twitter (here), Instagram (here), YouTube (here), Amazon (here), and at https://www.joolzdenby.co.uk/.

Thanks to Joolz for contributing again to the Tattooed Poets Project on Tattoosday!

This entry is ©2020 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.

Wednesday, April 29, 2020

Sea Sharp and Their Cicada (The Tattooed Poets Project)

Our penultimate tattooed poet for April 2020 is Sea Sharp, who sent us this absolutely stunning tattoo:


Sea Sharp tells us:
"All of my tattoos relate to nature and include designs of bees, wildflowers, a snail, a bird, a butterfly, a fawn, a caterpillar and a whole lot of wheat. This chest tattoo portrays a cicada emerging from wheat.

This piece was done at the Gilded Cage (@gildedcagetattoostudio) in Brighton, UK by Paco (@pacocasero). I chose this design with the plan to add watercolor and ink splatter details later to better unite with my other tattoos, but I liked this version so much, I’ve just kept it as is.

In my second book of poetry, I often refer to my mother as a cicada bug, loud and brown and magical. The wheat represents Kansas, the place where she was born and resides to this day.

When I see this tattoo, I think of my mama."
Sea Sharp contributed this accomopanying poem, as well, which was first published in Black Cotton (Waterloo Press, 2019):

Mama Bug 
You see, when she was our age, mama was a cicada bug sing-sing-singin’ 
all sorts of mess and to this day nobody knows why she hang her brown 
skin on doorknobs the way she did actin’ like she could just leave behind 
a reasonable apology for lookin’ like that.

~ ~ ~

Sea Sharp is an award-winning poet and author of Black Cotton (Waterloo Press, 2019) and The Swagger of Dorothy Gale & Other Filthy Ways to Strut (Ice Cube Press, 2017). In the Arts Council England-funded theatrical show, Brother Insect, Sea Sharp was both playwright and performer.

On the stage or on the page, their work is known to be “emotively confrontational and politically charged”, unflinching with uncompromising critiques on how we continuously mistreat each other, ourselves and our planet.

To this day, Sea Sharp is still black and queer (but sometimes invisible).

Thanks to Sea Sharp for sharing their poem and tattoo with us here on Tattoosday's Tattooed Poets Project!



This entry is ©2020 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 28, 2020

Ma'at's Feather (Naomi Foyle on the Tattooed Poets Project)

Our next tattooed poet is Naomi Foyle, who shared this feather tattoo:


Naomi recounted the history of this feather:
"I acquired my tattoo in Brighton UK, back in the early nineties. I was working in a bookshop and living in a rented room at the top of a tall house above an aquarium shop owned by a Welshman with flowing white hair who let me give him Tarot card readings every month in payment for the gas bill. The room was furnished, and I liked the feather design on the bed quilt so much I decided I wanted it as my first tattoo. As a writer, I was attracted to the feather, of course, as a symbol of the pen. And as a Tarot reader, using and studying the Aleister Crowley/Frieda Harris Tarot deck, my decision was also influenced by Egyptian mythology. The Ancient Egyptians believed that when we die we meet Ma’at, the Goddess of Harmony, Truth and Justice, in the Hall of Two Truths. There she lays our hearts on a scale opposite the ‘Feather of Truth’– an ostrich plume. If the heart is lighter than or equal to the feather, the soul may continue to paradise, the Field of Reeds; but if the heart is heavier, then the terrible Ammit, with her lion’s mane, crocodile jaws and hippopotamus body, leaps up from her seat at the foot of the scales and devours it. I thought it couldn’t hurt to give my heart a constant reminder of this test ahead, and so I decided to have the feather tattooed on my left breast.
Through the local music scene I’d met tattooist and DJ Sean Cypher, well-known for
his own occult leanings, with whom I shared a mutual love of Einstűrzende Neubauten and the Crowley/Harris deck. I carefully copied out the design from the quilt and took my drawing to his home-studio. ‘I don’t do badges,’ Sean remarked, and proceeded to draw a larger version on tracing paper. I was a little nervous about this executive decision, but I also knew he was an artist, and when he applied the tracing for my approval, it was obvious he was right: there was an elegant and harmonious relationship between the curve of the tattoo and my breast. As Sean told me, his hand was steady; he therefore didn’t need to anchor the needle deeply in my flesh, and over time the ink did not spread too far into my capillaries. Nearly thirty years later, it’s just a little blurry, not a hot grey blotchy mess.
Sean is still in Brighton, and he and I are still talking about adding white ink to the
crest, to bring out the resemblance to a Japanese wave. Right now though, I’m just happy to have it just the way it is: when I had cancer three years ago I feared I would lose the whole breast. In the end I only had a lumpectomy, but if I’d had to have a mastectomy as originally planned, regardless of whether my feather survived intact and unwarped, I would have had more tattoo work done as part of the psychological healing process. As it is, Ma’at’s feather seems to have done its job: surviving the cancer that killed my mother has, so far, cured a chronic depression that has dogged me since I was a child. I’ve also become deeply involved with social justice issues over the last ten years, including protesting on the streets of Cairo against the siege of Gaza. So it’s clear to me that the ink from Ma’at’s feather quill has travelled into my bloodstream and lightened my heart.
Naomi sent us this poem, as well:

After the Biopsy

An iron pea
in a skinned pillow,

mushrooming marble
in a sack of aspic,

trespasser acorn
    sprouting in flesh –

yet, strangely, it doesn’t feel
strange to be hosting

this small numb planet,
possible death star,

this bullet caught
in a clutch of blubber

suspended
a shade from my heart.

What my fingers have found
         is the nub
of my days here on Earth ―

a dark maternal pearl
    secreted

by my oyster breast.


from Adamantine (Red Hen/Pighog Press, 2019)

~ ~ ~

Naomi Foyle is a British-Canadian poet, SF novelist and essayist. Her many poetry
publications include The Night Pavilion (Waterloo Press), an Autumn 2008 PBS
Recommendation, and Adamantine (Red Hen/Pighog Press, US/UK, 2019). Also an SF
novelist, and the author of cyberchiller Seoul Survivors, and eco-SF quartet The Gaia
Chronicles, she lives in Brighton UK, and has read her work widely in the UK, North
America, Europe, South Korea and Iraq. Find her on Facebook and at www.naomifoyle.com.

Thanks to Naomi for sharing her poem, her tattoo, and its story with us here on the Tattooed Poets Project on Tattoosday!



This entry is ©2020 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.

Sunday, April 26, 2020

Nicholas Gulig on the Tattooed Poets Project

Today's tattooed poet is Nicholas Gulig, who shared these tattoos:


Nicholas described these pieces:
"I got my first tattoo in Khon Kaen, Thailand when I first met wife. I was finishing my dissertation by day and working as a bartender by night. Fon, my wife, was a server there, and so we worked together every day from about 3pm to 3am. The bar was often empty, so I’d bring books—poems mostly—to pass the time. One of the books I brought to with me was Richard Siken’s Crush. Wanting to improve her English, my wife would borrow these books from me and read them at the bar. She kept coming back to the last poem in the book, 'Snow and Dirty Rain,' asking me what lines meant and how to pronounce certain words. One night, late, we decided to walk across the street to a small tattoo parlor on the corner to get tattoos together. I chose a line from the poem she loved and had it translated into Thai. In English the line reads: 'a love that transcends hunger.' And in Thai: 'A love that is north of hunger.' My second tattoo, the coordinates, point to the shore of a lake in Canada where I spread my father’s ashes."
Nicholas sent us the following, as well:

from BOOK OF LAKE

For months I wanted to take you to the wrecking place. The light goes shaking there and enters. In unison, down below the fury and the beauty. Take me up and I will take you back to anywhere that you remember fondly, a field of rock encrypted in your neck, the place the wind goes killing in, an actual locality. It doesn’t matter. Then, when the letters of our names are stitched together, almost singular, it does. In this the spell the weather casts can cull at will the temple left to rot atop the mountain. There where the water doesn’t touch. Can cast us thus ashore 

Recently the waves have started to go out. I put my foot in the sand and the sand is made of light, so I put my face away. It’s not supposed to be like this. I put my wrist against my other wrist and nothing happens. The waves push further out, more black, as if the land was not itself, not even terrible or able to be spelled. Spilling back and forth, the mind across the hard horizon, changes, your voice becoming colder, more irregular, the antithesis of sun, dark glass we strung with copper wire from the trees, small jewels in which the light had space enough to twitch

In the space around the joy the darkest thought is bettered by your asking of the dark to carve a path behind you, a doorway in a forest painted blue. Lift the branches up. Clash and grind and scatter. Above us, nothing less is still enough to spin a wish into the sky. Here, where even stones are eyes to set within our heads if we arrange the symbols underwater. Constructing answers out of clamor, out of scratch. So much as we have known, your throat within the house like however many ghosts, an absolute in which the faces of the dead are windows. Facing upward, one of them is open   

As for this, the actual subtracting of the attic from the stone foundation, enter blindly and in love a middle place. Keep your faith in wreck. Even gods grow smaller here, less quiet. Kill the quiet when you speak and then pretend it’s not the magic but the math which makes you miss it. My enemy, my empty. Forgive me if I shake, here where the water edges past us and draws back, I want to cage a bird beneath your dress and listen. Mostly it is echo. Mostly drone the music makes of us and so we make again in unison, the dark and not dark stitched together, a circle woven into other circles 

                                                    opened into // wound

~ ~ ~

Nicholas Gulig is a Thai-American poet from Wisconsin. The author of North of Order, Book of Lake, and Orient, ​he currently teaches at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater and lives in Fort Atkinson, WI with his wife and daughters.

Thanks to Nicholas for sharing his tattoos and poem with us here on the Tattooed Poets Project on Tattoosday!



This entry is ©2020 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.

Friday, April 24, 2020

Amie Whittemore and Her Kankakee Mallow (The Tattooed Poets Project)

Today's tattooed poet, Amie Whittemore, is also a prior contributor. She appeared here before, in 2018. She sent us this photo:


Amie tells us:
"This tattoo is special to me on several levels. First, it is of a Kankakee mallow, the only extant wildflower native only to Illinois; it was considered extinct before a pocket of it was discovered on Langham Island in the Kankakee River a few years ago. Kankakee is my home county and my parents live on the river so it felt like the perfect tattoo to get to capture my love of home. Obviously, I also wrote a poem about this magnificent flower.
I also got the tattoo in a former home. A house where I lived in Portland, Oregon in 2003-2005 became a tattoo studio (Oddball Studios @oddballtattooery) after my roommates and I moved out. While I was in Portland for AWP 2019, my old roommate and I visited the house-turned-studio and Sarah Crosley (@sarahecrosley) worked her magic. It was surreal seeing how the house had transformed; and now that past life, even the idea of getting a tattoo, feels even more distant, on the other side of the chasm of the pandemic."
Amie also sent the following poem, which originally appeared in The Heartland Review:

Slogan promoting the Kankakee mallow, the only surviving wildflower native to Illinois, found in Kankakee County and considered endangered, as its state flower (Habitat 2030).

Bright blister, bold break
in the brush of alien
honeysuckle, rarest
perfume in a disaster
of farmland, groping
for sunlight, recluse
requiring fire
to suss your seeds
dormant for decades
on Langham Island,
chewed bubblegum,
pink cap, drowsy
trumpet, your fan club
guards, films, and undresses
your flanks of scrub
so you’ll sidle up the sky.
These weekend naturalists
arrive by canoe to strip
weeds, count your seeds,
then eat bologna at noon—
faux meat the same color
as you. Hinge in the thicket,
foxed cream, leaves
the champagne of green things,
like any secret, your needs
outpace your means—
as you know. You’re no
fool. You shimmy
as if your near extinction
was a dream. The crew
goes to bed smelling the hem
of your pink skirt, lips
buttered with your velvet.
Nice work, you lucky flirt.

~ ~ ~


Amie Whittemore is the author of the poetry collection Glass Harvest (Autumn House Press) and the 2020 Poet Laureate of Murfreesboro, Tennessee. Her poems have won multiple awards, including a Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Prize, and her poems and prose have appeared in The Gettysburg Review, Nashville Review, Smartish Pace, Pleiades, and elsewhere. She is the Reviews Editor for Southern Indiana Review and teaches English at Middle Tennessee State University.

Thanks to Amie for coming back to us and contributing more work to the Tattooed Poets Project on Tattoosday!



This entry is ©2020 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.

Wednesday, April 22, 2020

Darren Demaree and Emily (The Tattooed Poets Project)

Our next tattooed poet is Darren C. Demaree, who first appeared on Tattoosday in April 2013 (here) and, again, in April 2014 (here). Darren heeded my call for returning contributors and sent the following photo:


His tattoo, which reads, "Emily says I'm a good man," crosses his ribcage. He tells us that he got the inscription "at a shop on High Street in Columbus that has since changed their name a couple of times."

Darren sent us the following poem from his Emily series:

EMILY AS A SMILE WOULD HAVE RUINED THE PICTURE

There was one look, one picture
of Emily in a bathtub right before
we got married, she was travelling

with her family, she was in Madrid
or Paris or Istanbul, she had been gone
for a couple of weeks, so I had been

drunk for a couple of weeks
& she knew that I had been drunk
for a couple of weeks, so she sent me

a picture of her in the bathtub, one
breast covered, hair in a way I’d never
seen before, looking directly at the faucet

& so surely the tatters of my world 
collected into a whole woman
so beautiful that when I got the picture

I accidently deleted the picture.
I remember it clearly though, her face,
elegant, angry that she didn’t have

her hands wrapped around the back
of my head to pull me off of the bottle.
She wanted to bury me in her beauty

& that almost worked too well.
I am sober.  I don’t have that picture.
I have Emily.  She looks at me now.

~ ~ ~

Darren C. Demaree is the author of thirteen poetry collections, most recently So Clearly Beautiful, (November 2019, Adelaide Books). He is the recipient of a 2018 Ohio Arts Council Individual Excellence Award, the Louis Bogan Award from Trio House Press, and the Nancy Dew Taylor Award from Emrys Journal. He is the Managing Editor of the Best of the Net Anthology and Ovenbird Poetry. He is currently living in Columbus, Ohio with his wife and children. @d_c_demaree (www.darrencdemaree.com)

Anyone interested in the collection of “Emily as” poems can get it from Harpoon Books here.

Thanks to Darren for returning to Tattoosday to contribute to the Tattooed Poets Project!



This entry is ©2020 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 20, 2020

The Light Shines in the Darkness (Courtney Thrash on the Tattooed Poets Project)

Our next tattooed poet is Courtney Thrash, who sent us this photo:


Courtney recounted how she got thi tattoo:
"Several years ago, I endured a very difficult period in my life. After the dust settled, I looked over my journals and poems from that period and found dozens of instances where I had written about the concepts of darkness and light and their interactions--with no conscious realization of the theme. Once it was part of my awareness, I could trace the thread of light (hope) shining in and bringing me out of many varieties of darkness throughout my life. The light, for me, has a very specific and religious meaning, which is why I chose this phrase from the gospel of John for my tattoo. In its entirety, the phrase reads: 'The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.' My tattoo serves as both memorial and prescript, totem and prescience, proclamation of truth and victory and desperate prayer for times of doubt and defeat. The tattoo was done by Betty Rose (@bettyrosetattoos) of Rose & Crown Tattoos (@roseandcrowntattoos) in Austin, TX."
Courtney sent us the following poem, as well:

Mama, I Don’t Believe  
After C.D. Wright’s More Blues and the Abstract Truth  
  
The first freckles appear on his nose.  
Nerf gun bullets whistle like real ones;  
He shares a birthday   
with his great grandfather.  
And I say, No, he didn’t come  
to the party. He was already dead.  
  
In early April, we thumbed seeds into the dark;  
At the end of June he asks after  
the watermelon vine absent from the sill.  
I bury the tiny planter in the trash  
and say, I’m still learning  
how to grow things.  
  
Then there are the jokes he tells, doesn’t get,  
the legos in my purse, the toes  
rubbing holes through his shoes, moving  
notches up the door frame.  
He tells me his love in numbers.  
And I say, love is infinite  
or nothing.  
  
Well, mama, he says.  
What about apologies. What about waterfalls  
that never end. And superheroes who stop  
bad guys. Lock them up in vaults  
like your papers and Mamaw’s brooch,  
day. after. day. And will Papaw Richard  
come back to life with Jesus?  
He cries when a cartoon robot longs for love.  
And I say, a hornworm will strip a tomato plant  
Faster Than You Can Say Famine.

~ ~ ~

Courtney Thrash is a poet, writer, editor, mom, and wife in Austin, TX. You can find her work on the American Scholar’s poetry column “Next Line, Please,” in Rascal, and on Instagram @courtneythrashwriter, but mostly in notebooks and word documents.

Thanks to Courtney for sharing her tattoo with us on Tattoosday's Tattooed Poets Project!

This entry is ©2020 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.