Saturday, April 6, 2013

The Tattooed Poets Project: Jennifer H. Fortin

Today's tattooed poet is Jennifer H. Fortin, who shared this dragonfly tattoo on her back:

Jennifer tells us how this tattoo came to life:
Tina at Inkers (since renamed to the unfortunate 'Inkers Dream Wizard Tattooing'), a tiny shop on back roads in suburban Maryland, did the deed. I drew the design myself & brought it to her to use the summer I was 18, one day after my internship at the local City Hall. I paid cash & tipped well. A friend was supposed to come & sit with me while Tina worked, but she flaked, so I was there alone, which I ended up liking better anyway. I chose the dragonfly because when I was a kid, my mom used to tell me that if you’re talking & a dragonfly is nearby, it will sew up your lips. I kind of knew this wasn't true, but I also kind of knew it was true, somewhere or somehow else, even if only in our warm minds. I wanted to preserve & represent that feeling of simultaneous, balanced belief & disbelief. 

The tattoo is getting a little fuzzy now, as it approaches 14 years old, & I keep meaning to get it touched up, but I also like to see it change. My best friend got married in a Catholic ceremony when we were 26, & I asked her & her fiancé whether they’d like me to wear a sweater in the church (our bridesmaid dresses were strapless). They said it was thoughtful of me to ask, but that there was no need. Karen later said that guests kept coming up to her & saying what nice posture I had. Part of the reason I got the tattoo was because I wasn't the type people would guess to have one. That I have one still surprises some people when it comes up, which I find amusing. Someone recently, at a rehearsal dinner for a different wedding, guessed correctly that I took French in high school, not Spanish, apparently from the way I comported myself. 'You can just tell,' she said."
Jennifer sent us this poem, which was first published in Forklift, Ohio:

Meditations on Distance in the Presence of Proximity

What I watch for in front of any painting is
whether or not & who will come between
us. I turn the applied over with my mind,
find glass & a bed in the place where glass
& a bed shouldn’t be. I invite anthropological
sensitivity. Maybe the painting is of two gravity
wells attached to a small, challenging body who began
reaching for you always ago. People: patience
with lovers. We know things heroes
& rulers don’t. We know that lowly powering
through the china shop & sticking our noses right in
the flowers, these are noticeable & worth touching
on. We react to ourselves as healthy organs,
on a reckless tour of each other’s normal

flora & fauna, each other’s bacterial.
When someone sees the transparent leaves
pattern on your wall, when someone volunteers
not to mind the drive, he is in fact protecting
the spectacular. I wrote it down the night
the first sibling died so as the next morning not
to forget—you told me that was indeed a way.
Surely others end up wishing us beds,
wishing us the coveted side-by-side, shaded,
surely there is intuition of the huge energy
required, the harm it would do to magnetics,
for us to climb out of this one, to interrupt
us as we face the same thing together,
standing particularly close. Lustrous
& factual as obituary.

~ ~ ~

Jennifer H. Fortin’s first book of poems is Mined Muzzle Velocity (Lowbrow Press, 2011). She lives in Upstate, New York. You can find her online at

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

This entry is ©2013 Tattoosday. The poem and tattoos are reprinted with the poet's permission.

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