Thursday, April 30, 2015

Amy Glynn's Wreath Wraps Up National Poetry Month (The Tattooed Poets Project)

I am proud and honored to end National Poetry Month 2015 with the amazing work of Amy Glynn.

When we first started discussing tattoos several years ago, Amy was un-inked, and gave me the impression that tattoos were not for her. Not only did she change her opinion, she went big and startlingly beautiful.

For a while, it was doubtful that Amy would contribute, because of the location of her tattoo, and the desire to showcase it only if it was photographed artistically. Finally, this year, the stars aligned, and Amy sent me some wonderful shots of her tattoo in all its glory. Enjoy:

Photo by Vincent Louis Carrella
And a different, closer perspective:
Photo by Vincent Louis Carrella
What makes Amy's ink even more remarkable is how it ties in with her work as a poet. I'll let Amy explain:
"The botanical images in the tattoo reference poems in [my] book 'A Modern Herbal' (Measure Press, 2013). The white-throated swifts reference a poem published in Poetry Northwest in 2009 which will appear in a subsequent publication.
The wreath of interwoven fruits and flowers echo the primary preoccupations of the book – morning glory and salvia divinorum are powerful entheogens; brugmansia is a hallucinogen with a tendency to induce the belief that you can fly. The wine grapes represent alchemy and nod to a lifelong fascination with Sufi imagery. Ginkgo biloba represents tenacity; opium poppies are of course common tropes for oblivion. The pomegranate represents mortality and fertility; the apple, cultivation and waywardness. Sunflowers are an expression of the Golden Mean and represent order and design. Walnuts stand for memory. The white-throated swift is believed to be the fastest animal on earth with air speeds of up to 200mph."

Karen Roze of Sacred Rose Tattoo in Berkeley, California is responsible for the botanical images. Her work appeared yesterday here on another poet. Danny Chong of Black and Blue in San Francisco did the birds.

Amy sent me several poems from the collection and asked me to choose. I selected two that I thought most wonderful:

Opium Poppy

Papaver somniferum

You would’ve loved this moonrise: creepy
orange-on-purple, swollen, cloud-
occluded. It’s October’s last
gasp, litanies of rattling stuff
and the dry rain of bloodied leaves
and air a grassfire’s ghost has haunted
all day. And all of it

echoes so, darling. Quit
hanging around. Yes, I said I wanted
you always with me. But love’s
cruelly shortsighted. No, enough:
bring on the narcolepsy: vast
figureless rivers, a cold, loud,
sedating rush. I’m just so sleepy.

Last season’s stands of double poppies
still stand here, though by now the lavish
silk petals are mere memory. Not
so fragile as they looked, I guess,
and somehow more themselves like this,
as if the blossoms always were
a smokescreen for

a darker, truer, more
essential form, the cynosure,
the censer, the ripe cicatrice 
sleep wells from, black and bottomless.
Go. I’ll be all right when the thought
of you no longer wants to ravish

me with its endless, morphing copies.

~ ~ ~


Malus domestica

Where do desire and fulfilment meet?
It’s here. The place where one bite makes you need
the next. Sweet. Sweet: desire’s prototype;
sweet meaning perfect, meaning ideal. It’s
a feedback loop, look: lick the sugar from
my lip, see for yourself if it’s satiety
or lust for more. Or both, a branching, each
leaf-tip light-bathed and glaucous, reaching, and
at last at last we taste it, or at least
are so lost in the dream of it we never
detect the molecule of cyanide
at the center of the thing. This is forever.
Bitter unkillable seed. Eternal return
with a twist.

~ ~ ~

Amy Glynn’s poems and essays appear widely in journals and anthologies including The Best American Poetry. She has been a James Merrill House Fellow, a six time alum of the Sewanee Writers’ Conference, and the inaugural recipient of Poetry Northwest’s Carolyn Kizer Award. Most recently her essay “Apples” (northeast quadrant of the tattoo) won Literal Latte’s 2014 Essay Award.

I always thank the poets who have contributed here but, in Amy's case, to do so in a single line doesn't sit well with me.

It has been a journey working with Amy on this submission and, even though I have never met her face-to-face, I feel that I have. We've had many conversations over the years and I am eternally grateful not only for the beauty of her submission (the tattoo and the poems), but for the whole process.

I offer up my profound gratitude to Amy Glynn for her amazing contribution and for her entrusting me with sharing her tattoo and words with all of my readers.

This entry is ©2015 Tattoosday. The poems and tattoo photos are reprinted with the poet's permission.

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