Wednesday, April 25, 2012

The Tattooed Poets Project: Alex Dryden

Today's tattooed poet, Alex Dryden, shared his body art with us, displaying what to many poets, and fans of poetry, is a universal image:

That is, of course, a red wheelbarrow, a common item made famous by William Carlos Williams' iconic poem:

The Red Wheelbarrow

so much depends 

a red wheel 

glazed with rain 

beside the white 

~ ~ ~
Alex elaborates:
"When we were kids, my mother made my brother and me memorize and recite poems. Though we didn't talk about it until we were adults, we were both stricken by the authority and presence of 'The Red Wheelbarrow.' 
For years we had thought about getting tattoos that worked together as a set but had never found a suitable subject. In 2010, he went back to school as English major while I was entering the first year of my MFA in creative writing. While visiting over the winter break and planning our mother's 60th birthday party, talk came around to the poems we memorized a kids and renewed our efforts to find a good set of tattoos. 'The Red Wheelbarrow,' with two perfect, ready made images, solved our dilemma. That night we drew up a pair of white chickens for him and a red wheelbarrow for me and the next day had them done. 
Because Williams made use of the rhythm and diction of the American vernacular, we choose a local tattoo parlor that seemed analogous. The website for Hell Bomb Tattoo, in Wichita, KS, displayed an index of, what we imagined to be, classic Mid-Western tattoo art." 
I asked Alex if he could send along his brother’s tattoo, as well, and he happily obliged:

And a shot of them together:

As for verse, Alex shared this poem:


—she was the kind of girl
you suspected

had something really sweet
written in

the braille of her
bikini line.

Something about flowers or
the uselessness

of melancholy and how good
things happen

to those who wait politely and say please. So,
I checked.

“Thanks,” it said. It was damp and difficult
to read.

 “I haven’t been fucked like that since I was an
alter boy.

Thanks.”  It was the second “thanks” that really
threw me.

When she woke, she smiled politely
I made

coffee politely and made my face look
sensible and clean.

I haven’t checked since. I don’t even read her e-
mail anymore.

Once, I held the door open for her mother, she said
thank you

and I stammered “sorry” pretty loud. It was really the second “thanks”
that threw me.

~ ~ ~

Alex Dryden is a MFA candidate in Poetry at The New School. His work was most recently published on The Best American Poetry blog.

Thanks to Alex for this contribution to the Tattooed Poets Project on Tattoosday!

This entry is ©2012 Tattoosday. The poem and tattoo are reprinted with the poet's permission. 

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