Friday, April 17, 2015

The Tattooed Poets Project: Susan Sweetland Garay

 Our second tattooed poet today is Susan Sweetland Garay:

Here's a closer look:

Susan elaborates:
"The tattoo I would like to share is one I got recently. It has a Celtic knot modified to symbolize a mother and child. It also has California poppies, a fern, a red clover, a dandelion (the wisher part) and a thistle.
It is all to symbolize motherhood and how becoming a mother has really changed the say I see myself and who I am. The flowers all have meaning too, my mother is from California, and those orange poppies are all over where I live (rural Oregon), the fern is also just a representation of where I am from and where my daughter will grow up. The clover is because the red clover only bloom for a couple of weeks in the spring, and they were in bloom when she was born, I remember focusing on them during the drive to the hospital.  The dandelion is because wishes for me will be different now, since I want things more for her then for myself. The thistle is also a representation of where we live. The spiral is also sort of about the perfection of nature, and how amazing it is what nature (and a woman's body) can do." 
She credits artist Cassidy at Black Rose Tattoo at Solstice Body Arts in Dundee, Oregon, with this crisp and colorful work.
Susan sent us the following poem, which was first published in The Zoomoozophone Review Issue 3 in October 2014.

night breeze

I feel the breeze through
the bedroom window
on a summer night
as I sit with my baby
at my breast,

it’s the end of summer
and finally the coyotes
have returned.

their song comes through
the open window and in the
odd hours of the early morning
they keep me company
in the quiet and the dark.

The cool comes on quickly and
autumn makes herself known
as the warmth of the day
arrives later and later.

Daylight makes lessons learned
in the dark harder to remember.

There is a feeling of relief
and then dismay
when I realize that
I am still myself,
despite the drastic
changes to my

Stretch marks,
like any other scar,
are a reminder
of where I’ve been
a record on my body
of each destination
and crash.
A mind may forget
but the body remembers.

It is written on my bones
and this body will find a way.

In a time of crisis
I strain to remember
what coyote taught me
about the lighthearted
nature of the universe-
I say it over and over again
in my head, hoping repetition
will make it stick.

Her mouth curves into a wide grin
around my nipple and
again I am in love.

~ ~ ~

Born and raised in Portland Oregon, Susan Sweetland Garay first played among the moss and pines, then the majestic Rocky Mountains, the rolling hills of the Ohio Appalachians and now the lovely vineyards of the Willamette Valley with her husband and daughter. She enjoys writing, growing plants and making art. She has had poetry and photography published in a variety of journals, on line and in print. She was also nominated for a Pushcart Prize in 2014.  Her first full length poetry collection, ApproximateTuesday, was published in 2013.  She is a founding editor of The Blue Hour Literary Magazine and Press.  More of her work can be found at

Thanks to Susan for sharing her work with us here on the Tattooed Poets Project on Tattoosday!

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