Wednesday, April 6, 2011

The Tattooed Poets Project: Noemi Soto

Today's tattooed poet is Noemi Soto, who sent us this lovely, colorful photo of her tattoo:

Photo Courtesy of Noemi Soto
Noemi explains:

"I designed the tattoo for myself during a pretty rough period after a major breakup about 6 years ago. I wanted it to represent the heartbreak that I was feeling at the time but still hold hope for the future. The artist who tattooed me was Danielle Distefano while she was working out of Dare DevilTattoo on Ludlow Street in Manhattan."
Danielle is currently tattooing out of Only You Tattoo in Atlanta, Georgia.

Noemi offers up this poem:

The Beginning is the End is the Beginning

Back when I was younger
My mother tried to protect my heart
Always telling me to never bare my insides for a man
to never let him in fully so that he may devour what I hold dear
to not let a man do to me what had been done to her

Her backbone used to show signs of strength but now lacks the stamina to withstand the battle
She was once a woman so strong in her will
but with every man in her life taking pieces of her for themselves
she has now become a mere shell of herself
The stink of her childhood still lingering in her hair

I was witness to the tug of war my father and her used to play
saw the push and pull of their hearts
there was nothing unconditional about their love
not even when it came to me
there is nothing sentimental and heartfelt in the throwing of pots, pans and fists
“I love you” cannot be said through the gnashing of one’s teeth

So when it came time for my will to be tested
I acted on what I saw and not what I was told
What I was shown was that to be a woman meant having to bend your spine so far back to please your man that you broke yourself in two
To stretch those parts of yourself out so that you may give him the smoothest of surfaces in which he may stomp your hopes and dreams into
To ignore his faults and accept them as your own
How dare you even think otherwise?

I was taught that… to be a woman meant having to pick up the pieces that were left behind from his war path
making sure only your feet bled in the process to save his
Being a woman always meant never asking any questions
to let him roam and if he comes back … well… what more do you want?

I followed all of these lessons very carefully
made sure I folded the laundry just right
had dinner ready when he came home
and always made sure to give him his space
only to find myself face down on the floor, arms pinned behind me, with all of his weight pressing his right knee into my back
I waited until he left the room to get up

I stayed in silence
still willing to be the woman behind the man
Still willing to be the glass which he slammed his fist against
shattering any sense of self worth I had just for him

I began to wonder if this really was what it meant to be a woman or just the kind of woman who was so lost in herself that she was willing to let a man tell her what she should be
and if it did …. Then I had to learn to become my own woman
and I couldn’t do that by being underneath his thumb

So I bent back each one of his fingers till they snapped at the joints to show him how serious I was
It was the only way to break free
and while he screamed in pain and cursed me for having been born

I cleared a way for myself through the broken home which I was sure would last forever
letting him know that he no longer had a hold on me


Noemi Soto is a Brooklyn, New York native who was born and raised in Coney Island and is a recent transplant to Queens. Her poetry has been featured in a variety of publications such as The Acentos Review, The Literary Burlesque, LitUp Magazine & South Jersey Underground. She is a Pushcart Prize nominee and is currently working on her first book. You can read more of her work  at her website here.

Thanks to Noemi for her contribution to the Tattooed Poets Project!

This entry is ©2011 Tattoosday. The poem is reprinted here with the permission of the author.

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