Thursday, April 9, 2015

The Tattooed Poets Project: Abby E. Murray's Hippocampus

I often find tattooed poets from other non-tattooed poets. When I asked Jessy Randall if she had tattoos, she said she only had the temporary kind, but she did send me to Abby E. Murray, who was happy to share some of her work.

"I have a full sleeve on my left arm that comes over my shoulder, and a 1/4 sleeve on the right," Abby told me, adding, "Plus a small, blurry Star Wars tattoo in the center of shoulder blades that I got when I was eighteen."

Take a look:

Abby explains:
"The hippocampus (Poseidon's horse) featured is by Tracy Zumwalt from Anchor Tattoo in Seattle (2006). He's awesome - very particular and honest, true to his art. He also did the peacock feathers (Hera's signature bird) you can only sort of see under my sweater sleeve (2007). The owls near my elbow and purple dress of Athena below are by Joe Vegas at 13 Roses in Atlanta (2009). Joe, too, is a great guy. I used to work as a vet tech down the street from 13 Roses and I once helped his dog get through an eye infection. Joe has a coyote head on his wall that I once sent a pipe as a gift. Said pipe is still mounted to said coyote's mouth. 
My first tattoo was actually a Star Wars symbol (Rebel Alliance, to be specific) on my back. I was young and well-convinced I was tough. My sleeves are mostly based on Greek mythology, which I find, simply put, pretty. Greek mythology is brimming with powerful gods and animals. I wouldn't necessarily say that my tattoos mean anything other than I like cool drawings though, which usually disappoints people who want to know some deeper reason for my getting them."
Incidentally, Tracy Zumwalt is also responsible for this and this tattoo on poet Rebecca Loudon.

Abby sent us this poem:

About Tattoos

When we eat chicken patties in the dining room
we keep our forearms on the table like good Germans,
hands where we can see them. I move my fingertips
on your bare arm from wrist to elbow and say,
look at all this space. You move away from me
as if I proposed cold coffee or yard work,
as if to remind me of that time I met the general’s wife
and I shook her hand with my Pegasus arm,
my Athena elbow, Poseidon’s chariot on my shoulder.
Long white gloves do little for me in the receiving line,
my lotus flowers and storm clouds and blue
and purple stars, the barn owls and cherry blossoms,
the rebel insignia of youth essentially flipping
a ballroom full of army wives the bird.
I’m still angry about the time we went to Hawaii
the week before Iraq, and a coupon for a tattoo parlor
wrapped around bread crusts rolled across your beach towel.
I’ve seen you change your mind as often
as I’ve watched turtles extend cherimoya legs
from the dark windows of their bellies,
which is to say I’ve seen turtles do this once,
at a carnival, and it made me glad I was smooth.
We took the bus across Honolulu and let a retired monk
shave your arm, drill an enormous sparrow into it,
let him slap your back and say good luck over there
like the difference between blood drawn on vacation
and blood drawn in the desert is little more

than a matter of timing, of words between men.

~ ~ ~

Abby E. Murray is the director of the Binghamton Poetry Project and poetry editor for Harpur Palate. She's a big fan of tattoos done by Tracy Zumwalt in Seattle and Joe Vegas in Atlanta.

Thanks to Abby for sharing her awesome tattoo with us here on Tattoosday's Tattooed Poets Project!

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

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