Tuesday, April 24, 2012

The Tattooed Poets Project: Natasha Dennerstein

As we enter into the last week of this, our fourth annual Tattooed Poets Project, things are picking up speed and readers should check back later in the day, after 3:00 PM EDT, as we have days of "double postings," to accommodate demand and greater interest among the participating poets.

Although, I'm not sure how that works with the first of today's contributors, Natasha Dennerstein. Natasha hails from New Zealand (a Tattoosday first!), where it is a different day, already, I believe, but so it goes.

Natasha sent us this snapshot of a portion of her tattoo sleeve:

Here is what Natasha has to say about this colorful body art:
My sleeve started as a bracelet of flowers and birds done by a girl called Megs in Sydney, Australia. It just kept growing to encompass a giant snake wrapped around the whole arm and then grew to encompass a Garden of Eden theme. I included birds, underwater creatures, clouds and things marvellous in the natural world. Eventually it covered the entire arm from wrist to shoulder and took three years to complete in fortnightly settings. I have left my other arm completely bare for the contrast. The artist is called Kyle and he works from his own studio in Wellington, New Zealand.
Natasha's poem, is called Emergency! and, she says, "is a good example of my style of poetry and some of the themes that interest me." It was originally published in November 2009 in the literary journal Landfall # 218 in New Zealand:


She goes to work every afternoon in the Emergency Department
and she boards a superceded vessel on a treacherous sea
and the captain is a colossal squid
and the crew are diagnosed with drug-induced psychosis.
The patients are squawking fledglings abandoned in the nest
and their wounds are gaping mouths. She feeds
them Diazepam, Oxazepam, Lorazepam and other pams
but they're still hungry for blood and intravenous fluids
and they still want changing. She is
the Indian Godess Kali with many arms and a blue face
and she smokes secretly, privately, in the fire escape
and the smoke is saffron. The accident
victims have pizza faces and butcher-shop limbs
and their cries are winter waves smashing on graphite rocks
and their car-wrecks are a pasta of metal and flesh.
She is a hungry dog and she wolfs down her tea
and her tea is a piece of putrid meat. The patients
can harm themselves and can not heal themselves
and they run in screaming : “it's an emergency – I'm in love!”,
and the intercourse is an addiction and the pregnancy is a trauma
and the child-birth is a piece of litigation waiting to happen.
And they all say “ help me, help me” and she can not help them
and their cries are stones in a bottomless well. She
gives them a drink of love – 125 mls in a styrofoam
cup - and they are healed. Their wounds are pink
zippers and their skin is a leather garment and
they are all done up and they are going home. She is
going home and she abandons the vessel on a paper life-raft and the
life-raft is made of medical journals and last years Womens
Weeklys and newspapers and the forecast is for rain.

~ ~ ~ 

Natasha Dennerstein was born in Melbourne into a Russian/Polish Australian family and now lives in Wellington. She has spent many years working as a psychiatric nurse. She completed writing poetry for her MA in Creative Writing at the International Institute of Modern Letters at Victoria University in 2011. HYou can check out her Facebook page here.

Thanks to Natasha for sharing her wonderful work with us here on Tattoosday!

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

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kaye freeman said...

Natasha is fabulous!

Anonymous said...


I like your body art and your poem in equal measure. Your poem was a three-reader for me. BTW, we cave a common friend in Mercedes. Keep writing. I love your no-holds-barred approach.

Rob Ganson