Wednesday, April 3, 2013

The Tattooed Poets Project: Margaret Bashaar

Today's tattooed poet is Margaret Bashaar, who sent us this stunning photo:

Margaret explains what's on her back:
"The tattoo of a peyote cactus on my upper back was done by Octeel at The Drawing Room in Pittsburgh, PA. Over the past few years I've taken part in a number of medicine ceremonies with a Lakota road woman, and it will probably sound really corny, but they completely changed my life. I'd been battling with severe anxiety and depression for a few years when I attended my first ceremony, and that ceremony was the turning point for me. Since then I've made huge strides with my emotional and spiritual self and credit ceremony for turning the trend I'd been on around. Octeel is a part of the group of people I'd met through ceremony, and it seemed only fitting to ask him to create this tattoo."
About the piece on her lower back, Margaret filled us in:
"The tattoo on my lower back was done almost 11 years ago at a studio in Pittsburgh called Z Spot, which has changed locations and owners since and is now called Alter Ego. I'm about 95% certain the woman who did the tattoo (which I designed) no longer works there. It was more of a 'yay, I'm 18 and can get a tattoo now!' sort of tattoo, but I still love it and am very glad I decided to get that first tattoo." 
Margaret also shared this photo of her thigh:

and she explains:
"This particular tattoo is ... by Terence Kauffman at Kink'd Ink Studio in Windber, PA. It started as a tribute to my poetry press, Hyacinth Girl Press, with the hyacinth at the bottom of the tattoo, and has grown into a whole garden, which will eventually extend up my ribcage. There are two lines of text hidden in the tattoo - in the stem of the hyacinth is the line 'Let us love, since our heart is made for nothing else' which was written by Saint Thérèse of Lisieux, and on one of the leaves are the lines 'yes the pun's/the devil's work, but God made language/let him in' by the poet Niina Pollari. The lines are from a poem in her chapbook, Book Four, which I published in 2011. The flowers in the tattoo (daffodil, hyacinth, tulip, cornflower, lily of the valley, and poppy) are all flowers that my mother grew in her garden when I was growing up, and all the flowers I plan to add are in the same theme."
I am grateful for Margaret sending these photos and, accompanying them is this poem she sent, as well:

These are the small moments when you know you love

When the legs that tremble are not mine,
when I have not spoken in days,
when the last taste on my tongue
is the sour of coffee

the mountain opens its mouth and I step in.

See, these are the tunnels
you must hold your breath through,
these the traffic signals that will always
make you lift your hands from the wheel,
tell you to make another wish.

You are where I go when I think I know myself,
to remind me I never can,
that there is always a new scar
to discover at the back of my thigh,
always a new lust to draw
like a needle down my back.

I am full of torn up stamens,
petals chewed to pulp.

I watch your hands grey as the days pass,
I see your hands in the fire.
They snatch the hummingbird from it.\

I've rolled this sun,
these broken branch tips
into a ball to slip
beneath your mattress.
I will keep you awake at night,
coax out your royalty.

I know you want to be suspended in the air,
full of spells or something like them,
that you see a warm blanket as the first step
toward seduction, and a badly timed joke
as the second.

Maybe we all do the same things to each other -
cut our teeth on one another's scapula,
scrape at each other's signatures with a straight razor.

Swing your legs over the edge with me and you will feel the planet
as it tries to shrug you off,
the whiplash of elliptical orbit.

~ ~ ~
That lovely poem first appeared in Menacing Hedge (click through to hear Margaret reading the above poem, along with two others).

Margaret Bashaar's second chapbook, Letters from Room 27 of the Grand Midway Hotel, was published by Blood Pudding Press in 2011. Her poetry has also appeared in or is forthcoming from journals such as Caketrain, New South, Copper Nickel, Menacing Hedge, and RHINO, among others. She lives in Pittsburgh, PA where she edits Hyacinth Girl Press and collects antique typewriters, which may be haunted by ghosts or demons.

Thanks to Margaret for her contribution to this year's Tattooed Poets Project on Tattoosday!

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

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