Wednesday, April 29, 2015

The Tattooed Poets Project: Michael Costello

I met Michael Costello back in February 2014 at Poet's House in New York City at the launch reading for The Incredible Sestina Anthology.

I spotted his tattoo in the lobby after the reading, we got to talking, and here we are, a year later, with the penultimate post for the 2015 Tattooed Poets Project.

Check it out:

This is a complete poem by e.e. cummings: "seeker of truth//follow no path/all paths lead where//truth is here."

Michael tells us:
"I spent years marred by ambivalence about what to get inked.

How does one ultimately decide?

As a child, 5 years old or so, all the way through to my college years, I remember my mother would recite various poetic fragments. Often it was something by e.e. cummings. These recitations became part of my internal dialogue, part of who I am. This one, above all, resonated with me. I had the tattoo done when I was 31 or so.

I worked with a tattoo artist in Saratoga Springs, NY. This was 6 or 7 years ago. I remember his name was Matt. Instead of using cummings' distinctive lower case typewriter font, I wanted to choose something that captured the essence of the poem. Serendipitously, Matt was working on an original font. And that's what this is."
Michael graciously sent us a trio of poems:

Thoughts of a Young Gizmo
It is such a beautiful dead center
just had to write you
a printed communication
from the town meeting
and to show
that I’m not marked
by extreme
or agitation
I only slipped
on a liquid containing
a substance suspended
in the giant feeling of loneliness
and drowned in the “Baton Rouge”
of human activity or interest
you were too good to demand
or require

Thoughts of a Young Gizmo
I gain passage despite obstacles
in the late afternoon
and the smoke detector still
occupies itself with amusement
about the burning of Li Po
as it has for hundreds of years
she always grasps with clarity
and certainty
how to be completely democratic
O my daybreak
my you
who is in possession
of my complete affections
daylong daughter of a monarch
may you not be
extending a period of time
on the course used in going
from one place
to another

Obituary Song

During hapless hours, she listens
to his rattling coffer.
He’s been a living inside
this coffin for years.
For far too many times
‘round the clock now
he’s sat with his sentiment
at the bar, like a portrait by old Rembrandt;
but oh, bottle-side, she’s got a smile
that's kept him hangin' on.
On ashen days she's made
his oxidized heart glisten
‘cause she's got a voice
could make a song out of the obituary section.
"Is it a better life, to be a tramp
or just get trampled on?"
"Is it a better truth or lie
that life only ends when you die?"
On coal-colored days she's made
his dull heart glisten
and in the ambulance now he hears her,
singin’ his name out, like a siren.

~ ~ ~

Michael Costello was born in Buffalo in 1976 and holds an MFA in Creative Writing from The New School. Since then he has published in numerous print and online journals, including The Del Sol Review, MiPo, eye-rhymeThe Columbia Poetry Review, La Petite Zine, Tarpaulin Sky, and Essays & Fictions; he was also included in The Best American Poetry 2004, and in The Incredible Sestina Anthology. Currently, Michael lives and works in Cambridge, MA.

Clicking the links in the bio above will magically transport you to more of Michael's poetry.

Thanks to Michael Costello for sharing his tattoo and poems with us here on Tattoosday's Tattooed Poets Project!

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

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