Saturday, April 19, 2014

The Tattooed Poets Project: Brian Fanelli

Our next tattooed poet is Brian Fanelli, who sent us these images of his ink:

Brian explains:
"Having grown up in the punk rock community, it was probably inevitable I would get ink at some point. Born in 1984, I caught the third wave of punk rock, bands that, for the most part, never had the success of punk pioneers like The Clash, Sex Pistols, or The Ramones. Though those bands mattered to me, especially The Clash, I grew up going to shows in Philly to catch The Lawrence Arms, Bouncing Souls, Against Me!, Hot Water Music, and countless others. The flame on my left arm is Hot Water Music’s iconic flame/water logo, a tattoo ubiquitous at any HWM show. 
The tattoo on my leg [second photo] is an image of Scott Sinclair’s artwork. Sinclair made a name for himself doing nearly all of Hot Water Music’s album covers. The other tattoo on my arm [below the Hot Water Music logo] is a replica of an early printing press stamp, my lone literary tattoo. All of my ink was done in Scranton, at the shops Slinging’ Ink and Mental Mayhem."
Brian sent us this tattoo-related poem to accompany his contribution:


I catch her at the café
                                    where she used to captivate me
                        with Mother Jones,
                                                            The Nation,
the only publications
   worth writing for, she said.

She’s back
                        from her train-hopping trip,
                                                Clash lyrics inked on her arm.

At 15, I was her foot soldier
                        in an activist army,
            proud with a practiced punk sneer,
                                                blue liberty spikes.

I cut my hair for college,
                                    aced entrance exams,
            returned to report the news.
I see you’re still writing
                        fabricated bullshit, she says,
kissing the inked
                        words on her arm.
While you've been going mainstream,
                        I've been hopping trains,
                                                fronting bands,
spreading truth through zines,
                        copied and stapled DIY style.

I can’t listen to her
                        rant about the latest
                                                political prisoner,
                                                            CIA-backed coup,
                                                                        coffee that’s not fair trade.
I am, in my suit and tie,
                                    the man we used to call
                                    the enemy,
                                                             regular 9-5 worker
                                                   because when I broke in
I thought reporters were brash,
                        each one a Woodward or Bernstein.
But who reads bylines buried on A16?

The news is old by tomorrow afternoon.
No words newspapers publish are picked
                                                for first tattoos.
We wash smudged newsprint from our hands.
                             Tattooed lyrics sink into our skin,

                                                last as long as we last.

~ ~ ~

Brian Fanelli’s poetry has been twice nominated for the Pushcart Prize and the Working Class Studies Association’s Tillie Olsen Creative Writing Award. His work has been published by The Los Angeles Times, World Literature Today, Blue Collar Review, North Chicago Review, Portland Review, Boston Literary Magazine, Spillway, Inkwell, and several other publications. He is the author of the chapbook Front Man (Big Table Publishing) and the full-length collection All That Remains (Unbound Content). Brian has an M.F.A. from Wilkes University and teaches English full-time at Lackawanna College in Scranton, PA, while completing his Ph.D. at SUNY Binghamton.

Thanks to Brian for sharing his tattoos and poem with us here on The Tattooed Poets Project!

This entry is ©2014 Tattoosday. The poem and tattoos are reprinted with the poet's permission.

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