Friday, April 28, 2017

Athena's Owl on Jennifer Martelli (The Tattooed Poets Project)

Our next tattooed poet is Jennifer Martelli, who shared this photo with us:


She tells us:
"I got this tattoo down in Hyannis, Massachusetts, at a great shop called Spilt Milk. A wonderful tattoo artist named Pablo did my very first tattoo there while I was on vacation, so when I returned a few years later, that’s where I went. I chose this design for a few reasons: first, I love owls (and cats—that beauty is Maria); second, this is Athena’s owl, and I love the fact that Athena was birthed from her father’s head; I love that she was a war goddess, that she wore a girdle made of snakes, and that she remained a virgin—all things that frighten me! My owl is consistent with two of my other tattoos, which are drawn with one single line in black ink. The only color tattoo I have is my purple Alzheimer’s ribbon on my wrist, in memory of my mother (that’s a whole different story)."
The poem Jennifer chose to accompany this tattoo is called, “Inversals,” and it was published in [PANK] last fall:

Inversals


I.

A woman, made famous after fellating a powerful man, dreams of Francis Ford Coppola’s oranges tearing a hole through her brown sack, bouncing past the crow perched on the curb cawing: Pa! Pa! Pa! Pa! Dreams of an orange slice covering the teeth of an old man with one bad eye under the black grape vineyard.  Of the rind pared off with a sharp knife into a perfect coil. Of the sections pulled apart like small bloody lungs, each an aspirated sigh. The oranges portend death by deals and death by bullets and death by garrote and lightning bolts. Dreams she excretes a senator a president a judge a river a volcano in Sicily.  She thinks, if only a mandolin played in the background of my life, it would be far less nuanced.  She’d eat black olives and fresh cheese; rice; sip espresso in bone demitasse. There would be windows in badly painted rooms, thick with white leaded paint. People would fall from the windows and she’d call them suicides or hopeful for some believed they could fly.  If a mandolin played, the fall would be profound. She’d look up from her lunch she’d spread on the lawn by the black grape vineyard:  the thick mozzarella, the squid ink vermicelli, the plums.


II.

While at a poetry reading, she ponders how some women are born from their father’s heads and ask to remain virgins forever. Bunny Putnam, great-great-great-grandson of witch hunters and witch accusers, a man secure enough to be called Bunny, has a plaque on the wall at the Athenaeum, across from the bookshelves where the taxidermied owls sit, dusty. Women born from their fathers’ heads take on the worst aspects of their fathers: they brood like owls, awake all night and they hunt so silently any maps or photos taped to the wall fall off.  Or, fuses blow and a darkness drops so sudden you wonder, Did I die? or Am I truly not here? which is what the case is: truly, you are not here. Or truly, you did die because the sirens are wailing outside the Athenaeum. No one likes sitting in a pitch black room. No one likes crouching inside a hollow skull. Athena grew inside Zeus’s head and poked the bone plates with her spear until his pain caused lightning storms all over the North Shore. He swore never to swallow a woman again, even if he was caught philandering. She’d assumed Bunny was a woman, especially when trying to decide if she was here, or there, or with the owls. How strong he must have been to earn that moniker, Bunny: the gentlest, horniest beast of all that God made, the easiest prey.

~ ~ ~

Jennifer Martelli’s debut poetry collection, The Uncanny Valley, was published in 2016 by Big Table Publishing Company. She is also the author of the chapbook, Apostrophe and the chapbook, After Bird, forthcoming from Grey Book Press. Her work has appeared in Thrush, [Pank], Glass Poetry Journal, The Heavy Feather Review, and Tinderbox Poetry Journal. Jennifer Martelli has been nominated for Pushcart and Best of the Net Prizes and is the recipient of the Massachusetts Cultural Council Grant in Poetry. She is a book reviewer for Up the Staircase Quarterly, as well as a co-curator for The Mom Egg VOX Blog Folio.


Thanks to Jennifer for her contribution to the Tattooed Poets Project on Tattoosday!

This entry is ©2017 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.blogspot.com 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 26, 2017

Stephen Shimmans and His Owl on the Tattooed Poets Project

Today's tattooed poet is Stephen Shimmans, who shared this wonderful tattoo:


Stephen told us "I chose this tattoo design as I consider myself solitary, and possess many qualities associated with the owl ... Wisdom, sharp eyes, graceful and determined."

He shared the following poem, "Battle Grounds," as well: 


Temples have been razed to the ground
Idols have perished in the vapid heat of orange flames.
Tongues severed, men crucified in the arid desert.
Waning clemency a virtuous humanisation.
It casts a pall like a pale veil that enshrouds.
Gifting both intriguing mystery and smokeless ignorance.
Clicking triggers
Triggers clicking.
Blanc
Blank
Mars    Zeus    Odin
Under the glimmering belt of Orion
Ursus roar
Savage animal is man
Behest of any redemption or realisation
Dishonour and faux camaraderie
Watch the setting sun sink below
Twilight
Swinging and swooning on the star strings.

The arrows fly yet bite
The sword gleams but kills
Renders flesh
Cleaving limbs
Crushing bones.
Called to King
To die for country.

The reaping reavr reaps that which he shall sow
Seeds of wheat and buck
The ale inebriates, dulls life pain
Dull mendacity sour despair and disbelief.
Father-less child
Retreat in defeat.

Blood soaked emblems flap defiantly against a cold breeze.
Brothers who fell in battle shall love nevermore.
The reaper calls with scythe in hand,
To collect the bounty,

To collect the wood from our crosses we bear.


~ ~ ~

Stephen Shimmans tells us he is a 29- year old father of three boys and "married to the most wonderful woman on earth." He likes to spend time wrestling with the children and exploring local country parks. He completed a degree in English and Creative Writing at Salford University in greater Manchester, UK. He has had a pamphlet of poetry, entitled Roots,  published with Erbacce Press.

Thanks to Stephen for sharing his tattoo and poem with us here on the Tattooed Poets Project!

This entry is ©2017 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.blogspot.com 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.


Kathleen Szoke's Blue Jay on the Tattooed Poets Project

Our next tattooed poet is Kathleen Szoke, a Canadian poet with a stunning tattoo:


Kathleen tells us about her lovely blue jay tattoo:
"[It]  is in memory of an experience I had several years ago.  At a weekend retreat, we were asked to write a journal entry about owning our truth, and speaking out about what we wanted.  I wrote a piece about being a poet, owning that, and saying, 'I'm a poet.'  I had been ambivalent in the past about stating that, instead of just, 'Oh, I write poems sometimes, it's a hobby.'  We were taking turns reading our pieces, and the reaction I got was extremely enthusiastic, more than I expected.  The others explained that what I didn't know was that just after I started to speak, a blue jay appeared on a tree outside the window behind me.  It stayed until I finished speaking, and then flew away.  I never saw it myself, as it was behind me, over my left shoulder, which is where my blue jay sits now forever.  Unfortunately, the written piece was one of many things lost in a fire, so all I have left of that experience is the tattoo."
Kathleen credited the artist Carol at Sinkin Ink (@sinkin_ink) in Hamilton, Ontario, with this lovely blue jay.

Kathleen sent us the following poem to accompany her tattoo:

Witness

The blue jay called to me today
raucous and shrill
from the still barren lilacs
rising above the fence
outside the kitchen window.
He appears there sometimes
or on the old birch tree
perched at the very top
caws his discordant song.

He sat behind my shoulder once
beyond my sight
in the branches of another tree
outside another window
listened as I spoke truths
I only half believed.
When I finished
he flew away.

He stops by
on occasion
to remind me.

~ ~ ~

Kathleen Szoke is a poet writing in Burlington, Ontario.  She has been published in Canadian literary journals, such as The Antigonish ReviewThe Dalhousie Review, and the American/Canadian journal The Great Lakes ReviewShe has read her poetry at the Eden Mills Writer's Festival, the Kingston Artfest, and other local venues.  She sits on the executive of the Hamilton Poetry Centre, and is an Associate Member of the League of Canadian Poets.  She published a chapbook, Heavenly Blue, in 2011.

Thanks to Kathleen for sharing her tattoo and poem with us here on The Tattooed Poets Project!

This entry is ©2017 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.blogspot.com 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 25, 2017

Paul Hlava and a Ring on the Tattooed Poets Project

Today's tattooed poet is Paul Hlava, who sent us this photo:


This is a simple tattoo, with a simple explanation.

"I had just gotten married, and my partner and I wanted something to mark the occasion, Paul explained. He went to Graceland Tattoo in Brooklyn, noting "We both liked the simplicity of a geometric shape and all the metaphors and implications of a circle, or ring."

Paul shared the following poem, as well:

Pendulum, Balance Wheel, Escape


Because I live in a clocktower
time moves in reverse.
When I eat I am hungry,
when I wake, the golden weight
dances at the end of its chain.
Gears twist like reptilian
claws of ospreys
planting fish in the sea.
The bells ring twice, once
in the distance and once inside.
The moon is rising just so.
I’m the steady center
of a spinning world.
Every triumph I will achieve is memory.
My daughters walked out on me
before they were born.
Undeveloped photos hang on the wall.
The apples have been moved
to another room. 
~ ~ ~

Paul Hlava's poetry has appeared in Narrative Magazinethe PEN Poetry Series, Acentos Review, and Best New Poets, among others, and has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize. He has an MFA from New York University and was a Poets House Fellow. He now lives in Seattle. Visit him at www.paulhlava.com.

Thanks to Paul for sharing his poem and tattoo with us here on the Tattooed Poets Project!

This entry is ©2017 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.blogspot.com 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 24, 2017

Matthew Guenette on the Tattooed Poets Project

Our next tattooed poet is Matthew Guenette:


Matthew sent me a few photos and I selected this one because, he explained:
"...THAT tattoo was given to me by the incredible poet (and tattoo artist) Ruth Awad. I was in Carbondale at the time, for a reading, and Ruth gave me and the poet Traci Brimhall free tattoos to commemorate our time there. Ruth did the tattoos in her apartment, in her kitchen if I remember correctly. My tattoo is a '33', with the second '3' reversed, thus creating a kind of '8' that one might also read as an infinity symbol. 33 is how old I was when I got married; a few months later, still 33, my mother died. That the tattoo also makes something of an '8' is for August, the name of my son. I love this tattoo...That it evokes an infinity symbol allows me to pour into the tattoo any number of meanings..."
Ruth Awad appeared on the Tattooed Poets Project last year, here, and the tattoo she gave Traci Brimhall appeared back in 2012 here.

Matthew sent us the following poem, as well:

I Will Not Mention Him

I will not mention his small-handed excuses.
His covetous old-man-ness.
His blundering baboon-blood.
I will not mention his locker-room banter.
His ugly, ill-fitting suits.
I won’t mention his paid thugs, his goons who hit below the belt.
I won’t mention what he said about your mother.
How he wants to sue her.
How he called her a drunk.
I will not mention what he claimed in Pensacola; Toledo; Kinston, NC; Gettysburg; Delaware, OH; Portsmouth, NH; West Palm Beach; Greensboro; and I especially won’t mention what he claimed in Jackson, MS; in Birmingham; or in South Carolina and Iowa.
I will not mention all that stinks about him like a flooded creek.
I will not mention what he said about women and where he likes to grab them.
I will not mention what he said about Muslims.
I will not mention what he said about Syrians.
I will not mention what he said about Mexicans and walls.
What he said about Asians and deals.
What he said about black lives.
I won’t mention every racist little bone in his body.
His heartless heart.
His bat-shit tweets at 3 a.m. for his hooting rabblement and their chapped hands.
I won’t mention the drought in his brain or the cricket in the basement of his brain chirping somewhere behind an empty box.
I won’t mention his 30,000 fears and corruptions.
I won’t mention his recurring dream where, in flames, he rides his tongue like a deranged horse into the valley.
It’s so beautiful outside. Isn’t it lovely?


~ ~ ~

Matthew Guenette is the author of three full length poetry collections: Vasectomania (U. of Akron Press, 2017), American Busboy (U. of Akron Press, 2011), and Sudden Anthem (Dream Horse Press, 2008). He is also the author of the chapbook Civil Disobedience (Rabbit Catastrophe Press, 2017). A Pushcart Prize nominee, his poems have appeared in numerous journals and reviews. He has had residencies at the Vermont Studio Center and the Hessen-Wisconsin Fellowship. A graduate of the MFA program at Southern Illinois University, Matt currently teaches composition and creative writing at Madison College in Madison, WI, where he lives with his wife, two kids, and a 20 lb cat named Butternut. 


Thanks to Matt for sharing his tattoo and poem with us here on the Tattooed Poets Project!

This entry is ©2017 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.blogspot.com 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 23, 2017

Risa Denenberg, Two Fish, and a Yellow Star (The Tattooed Poets Project)

Today's tattooed poet is Risa Deneberg, who shared this astrological tattoo:


Risa tells us:
"My single permanent tattoo is on my right inner arm and is a Pisces (two fish). The story of that tattoo goes back to the 90's in the East Village, when the cops finally managed to evict a drug dealer from the store beneath my apartment. The new tenant was a tat artist. I wanted to welcome him to the neighborhood, so I was his first customer. I love tattoos, but am reluctant to get more on my now aging skin."
Risa also shared the following photo of a temporary tattoo that she uses as her profile picture and also hands out at book fairs:

I saved Risa's post for today because the poem she submitted is appropriate for the observance of Yom HaShoah, or Holocaust Remembrance Day, which starts at sundwon. The poem was originally published in Lavender Review in 2011:

Yellow Star

In my case, the yellow star
will be made of two perfect pink triangles
cut from cheap dry goods at the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory
where the women
sew stars on at the ready
hunched over their Singers
and, not wasting time on stairs,
work right up to closing time, then jump.

They didn’t want to die so young
and neither did the gay boys who died in droves
at the close of the last century. I would be one
who would beg you to shoot me
who would know that borders lie
that I could not endure the march through the woods
in the snow to the trains at the end.

We who say never forget
also know that it could happen again
to us
and we do not know more now
than we did then
how to make it stop.

The stitching never ends. For practice,
I have sutured my arm to my sleeve
with triangles made from pages torn
from the Book of Job.

~ ~ ~

Risa Denenberg lives on the Olympic peninsula in Washington state where she works as a nurse practitioner. She is an editor at Headmistress Press, an independent publisher of poetry by lesbians. She has published three chapbooks, and two full length books, most recently, Whirlwind @ Lesbos (Headmistress Press, 2016). Her collection “A Slight Faith” is forthcoming in 2018 from MoonPath Press. She blogs at http://risadenenberg.weebly.com.

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


This entry is ©2017 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.blogspot.com 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.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Keri Smith on the Tattooed Poets Project

Today's tattooed poet today is Keri Smith, who sent in the photo:


Check out the hand emerging from the rose. Keri explains:
"This tattoo on my leg, of the hand holding the pen, was given to me by Mike Taylor in his loft in Bushwick last August. Mike has been making a great zine called Late Era Clash forever, and has been one of my favorite artists for a long time. Mike recently told me he was working on getting all of his screen printed zines into a cheap art book because if his work wasn't accessible to people with less money or less access to the art world then it wasn't really art.
The zine Mike used to do in Gainesville was called Scenery and in one of the issues (it's
a graphic zine) there's a story about some radical punks burning down a condominium going up in a low income neighborhood. Along with some academic language about gentrification, the zine had a big impact on me a young teenager. I asked Mike what he thought about gentrification while he tattooed me, since we were artists sitting in a loft in Bushwick. He said as an artist and as an art teacher he tried to do what he could and make good choices. He referenced a bar around the corner that had been owned by an older Hispanic man for decades, who had been trying to get his liquor license forever. He was denied, but the white tenants who took over the space got it and were able to open a bar. He said he would never go there, and that's where the line about arbitrary battles shows up. I think about it a lot, and luckily, still get to see Mike often too."
Keri shared the following poem which references Mike and her tattoo:

Late Era Clash

While tattooing me you said
everyone's free to wage their arbitrary battles
while we talked about gentrification
you didn't mean the whole of Bushwick
or burning down condominiums
just that you wouldn't go to that new spot
on the corner
ever
I wanted a beer and went with my leg
all wrapped up and dripping it was August
and inside saw all the white punks drinking
imported beer and I paid my tab went home
alone and kind of got what you mean.

~ ~ ~

Originally from Gainesville, Florida, Keri Smith is finishing her MFA in Poetry at The New School
in New York City. She bartends at night at a few bars in Brooklyn and during the day works for
Hanging Loose Press. She has recently been published in The Inquisitive Eater online and in
Hanging Loose #108 in print. She intends to stay in New York after she graduates because the
used bookstores here make her swoon.

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

This entry is ©2017 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.blogspot.com 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 21, 2017

BJ Love and Prince on the Tattooed Poets Project

On the first anniversary of Prince's death, we chose to share the following tattoo from our next tattooed poet, BJ Love:


BJ tells us:
"This is the first tattoo I got. It was just a few months after I started college. From the very first moment I considered getting a tattoo, I knew what I wanted. A few years prior to this, Prince had changed his name to an unpronounceable symbol. From what I understand, he felt that Warner Bros. owned Prince; his songs, his name, his likeness, and his creative process. He wanted to be free from all that, so he adopted what had been calling the love symbol as his moniker. I loved the mystery of it, his odd enforcement in only referring to him as that symbol, and most of all, I was really into the music he was making in the early-to-mid 90's. So, in the fall of 1997 I walked into Eternal Ink in Waterloo, Iowa, with my copy of Prince's Emancipation record and just handed it to the artist when he asked what I wanted. I don't recall his name, but he had been a teacher and left his job after a few years of apprenticing to start tattooing full time. I really admired the fact that he found a passion, and the sacrifices he made to pursue it. 
Though I now have many tattoos, I've spent the last 20 years answering questions about this Prince tattoo. In most cases, I try to give it just a hint of the same mystery Prince had at that time, but if pressed, I'll tell you that I loved Prince, and that he preferred, for a time anyway, to be known as a symbol that meant 'love.' Having grown up with the last name Love, I thought that was pretty fucking rad, so, tattoo.
In the year leading up to his death, Prince was the soundtrack to a book of poems I was writing about faith and belief. Here is a poem from that collection that borrows the ending from 'My Computer,' on Emancipation."
The God our Yahweh has Left us (Homily)

The story still rings like an echo, still rings.
I want to lay down before this sunset, to slice open
each of my fingertips and drag them through
the sand just to see if I can make this last. To see
if I can capture the strange math that combines
these two into gold. The alchemy necessary
to make this light something I can hold.
Something I can keep. Yahweh, my Yahweh
I want this. I want what I’m sure is a part of you.

This, none of it, is law-abiding, is my abiding
your law. But it is beautiful and now I can have jars
of it, jars made of it. Sand plus a binding agent
(my blood) and voila! We created a pottery
that is something to behold, something to be held
something to do the bulk of our own holding.

Yahweh may have made me, but I made the pottery
and in this valley, and during this time, and on a day
when the sky bled on me first, what is more useful?

Are these not your laws? No. No. No, this is
but commentary. But commentary makes it
nonetheless important. Yahweh, I don’t know what
it is to be surrounded by the world, to be in it
so deeply you feel for nothing else, but I do know
what it is to look on it, to look on it and love the world
so much you hope to keep it all, you hope you can
keep it all, you hope it’s possible to bottle the world
as it is right now so you can take it home and show
everyone that there is a better life. A better life.
A better life. A better life. A better life. A better life.
A better life. A better life. A better life. Now, goodbye.

~ ~ ~

BJ Love is a 6th grade English teacher. Poems of his can be found in The North American Review, Hobart, Pinwheel Magazine, Sink Review, and Bodega Magazine, among others. A graduate of the Iowa Writers' Workshop, he lives in Houston, TX, with his wife, the poet Erika Jo Brown, and their dog, Franklin.

Thanks to BJ for sharing his tattoo and poem with us on The Tattooed Poets Project!

This entry is ©2017 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.blogspot.com 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.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Michael VanCalbergh's Incredible Tattoo on the Tattooed Poets Project

Today's tattooed poet is Michael Van Calbergh, who shared this "incredible" tattoo:


Michael explained:
"I don’t recall which shop I got the tattoo at or the name of the artist, but I do remember wanting this tattoo for a long time before getting it.
Since I was a kid, I’ve been obsessed with the Hulk. He was always misunderstood and, often, attacked for his difference, and I saw myself in him. I was a large kid, extremely socially awkward (once removing a smudge on a classmate’s face without asking), read comics, played D&D (and told people about it), was picked on, and had a hard time making friends because of this. The Hulk was the perfect outcast to see myself in.

Later, and closer to the time I actually got the tattoo, I realized that the Hulk was a challenge to specific types of (hyper)masculinity that I also tried to challenge. Because of my weight, there were a lot of assumptions of the type of man I should be, but I always felt like my exterior Hulk hid my real, interior Bruce Banner. I liked reading and writing and didn’t want to participate in typical rites of passage to manhood, but I pretended to because that was expected. The Hulk/Bruce Banner served as a reminder, though, that what you looked like on the outside didn’t define you.
At the same time I found poetry as another outlet, I also decided I would finally get the tattoo. I figured if I made my obsession permanently printed on my back, I would have to live as myself no matter how green, angry, or misunderstood I became. Plus, I think it looks pretty cool."

Michael sent us two poems, and we are sharing both, entitled “The Mud God” and “A Story of Men”. He explained that "The Mud God," previously published in Apex Magazine in April 2016, "plays with my obsession which comics, work, and masculinity, and I think is most obviously connected to the tattoo I have."  The other poem, which is appearing here for the first time, "deals with a lot of the issues and ideas that [Michael is] obsessed with regarding the Incredible Hulk."

The Mud God

Every morning I wake up heavier,
my throat filled with dirt. What I can’t hack up
I wash down with coffee and cough syrup.
I try to rinse the smell of wet cigarettes
from my body as I pick out
the stones and animals that get caught inside
my chest. When I leave, the world is the same:
            The Others walk by, skirts lighting the way,
            barely pausing to look beyond the inside
            of their eyes. I recognize some, like Grease and Ash,
            who ignore me, as I ignore them.
            It’s easier to look away than stare
            at faces worn like mine. Then I work,
                        replace the ground dried by the sun with large
                        pieces of my cheek and the new jobs always
                        with my back. I yell, as my wounds grow new,
                        to no-one, constantly. It goes slowly.
                        Most nights, I drink and bury my head long
                        enough to want to go home. Every day
I’m less surprised by this life
and consider, for a moment, the tub.
How long would it take to dig through
my stomach, drag as much intestine
as my hands can hold and cram them down my throat
until I found purpose?



A Story of Men

This is a story of men.
Strong men. Tough men. Men who hunted.
Men who had sons who turned into men
who had more sons. These men built things,
got their hands filthy with grease and old age. Men
who were proud to be called men by those they called
men. This is a story

of men. Men who wept when their sons wept.
Men who lost
then tried and lost
and tried again to prove
their genetic disposition toward loss.
They were men with the doors closed,
lights off, eyes fixed on the carpet peaking
between their toes.

These men rose, put on clothes
they hoped made them smell like men
to men who smelled the same.
This is a story of men hoping
to understand what that means.

~ ~ ~

Michael VanCalbergh is a part-time lecturer at Rutgers-Newark, where he also received his MFA in poetry. When not writing, he can be found dancing in various retail outlets at his daughter’s command. His work has appeared in Apex Magazine, The Collagist, Naugatuck River Reviewand others. He is also one half of Words for Dinner, a comedy etymology podcast that can be found on iTunes, Stitcher, and Google Play.

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

This entry is ©2017 Tattoosday. The poems 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.blogspot.com 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 19, 2017

Christina Quintana on the Tattooed Poets Project

Our next tattooed poet is Christina Quintana:


This is a cool photo, in which you can see two of Christina's tattoos. Let's let Christina explain while we take a closer look:
"My first tattoo was all about being in the present. 
I'm a terribly nostalgic person, so I'm constantly trying to be here now. I'm also obsessed with mail (see: The Perpetual Postcard Project). I wanted to make my tattoo a mail stamp that appeared to have been sent, like you see on postcards past and present. The date reflects the date I got the tattoo and where I was: New York, NY. When I first got the tattoo, my therapist joked (since I'm a gender non-confirming person), you're officially 'mail'!

I chose the buffalo grazing on the notepad because the bison is my spirit animal. It may sound silly, but my whole life I have revered these creatures. As a small, high energy person, there is something about the bison's formidable size and peacefulness that has always awed me. When thinking about the tattoo, I loved the juxtaposition of this animal I adore alongside my passion/career-- a reminder to keep steady along this wild life journey.

Sue (@sweetsuetattoo) from East River Tattoo (@eastrivertattoo), a fantastic shop out in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, is the artist of both of my tattoos. I'm dreaming on a third and will likely go back to her. I can't recommend her enough if you're looking for an original black and white. She was so jazzed about getting the draft right for my bison--it was wonderful. We named him Mortimer right there in the shop!"
I can't agree with Christina more. I actually met Sue Jeiven in Penn Station back in 2011 and featured one of her tattoos here and some of her work in 2013 here.

Christina also shared the following poem:

Other Off
Wouldn’t you love to unzip
your other off,
like a whisp of smoke,
when no one was looking?

You wonder,
Which parts can you peel off,
Like a mask,
And which parts are permanent.

What is
Passing?
What is
Choice?

I’d like to be done with
the ideas you
have about me
and what you
say is my “lifestyle”
but is really my life.

I’d like to believe
you weren’t looking
pale when
my partner
and I kissed
across the table
from you
and your fiancé.

I’d like to know
that we are equals,

and really believe it.

~ ~ ~

Christina Quintana is a New York-based writer with Cuban and Louisiana roots. She is the author of the poetry chapbook, The Heart Wants (Finishing Line Press 2016). Her poetry and prose has appeared in Front Porch Journal, Saw Palm, Foglifter, and Nimrod International Journal, among others. For more, visit cquintana.com.

Thanks to Christina for contributing to the Tattooed Poets Project on Tattoosday!


This entry is ©2017 Tattoosday. The poem and tattoo are reprinted with the poet's permission.

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