Sunday, April 19, 2015

The Tattooed Poets Project: Tessara Dudley

Our next tattooed poet is Tessara Dudley. She sent us these photos:

Tessara tell us:
"I got 'Radical Self Begins With Radical Self-Love' after my partner got it, and I wanted the reminder on my skin as well. Under that is the anti-possession symbol from Supernatural, which my partner and I got together because we're both fans of the show. 
On my forearm is 'The Struggle Continues', and a Black power fist, which I got as a very visible badge of my politics, and as a reminder to myself that there's still so much work to do in the world, not just on racial justice, but on LGBTQ+ equity, disability justice, socioeconomic stratification, and more."
Tessara credited her work to "the talented Levi Greenacres at Skeleton Key Tattoo in Portland, OR."

She also sent us this poem:

Blood Lines

213 years back I can trace my mother
not so far my father
the horror of plantation space
laid over mass graves unacknowledged
to obscure atrocities
but I see in 600/400 vision
haunted by subjugation

when I hear spirituals
I shiver
knowing that my ancestors sang these words from
bodies too tightly bound for anything but voice
to escape                     craved-for impossibility
but to remain               vindictive probability

I cry for
bodies holding together through too much want
the water taste of porridge
gagging on the ashes in their mouths
my ancestors turned from fires
of their own kindlingflesh
pointed north in whispers of freedomfutures
dreaming days of light and joy

I come
from survivors
pulling back on the reins of storychants
and shouting
I am here and
I shall not be moved and
we shall overcome and
we are family
my family is struggle made flesh
where ancestors inhabit our bodies and share space
with our souls
do not forget
I labour to remember what I never knew
Herculean task made possible by bloodsong

the past informs my path to moonsteps

and the future is everyday written on my bones

~ ~ ~

A writer, educator, and activist living in Portland, OR, Tessara Dudley writes poetry and personal essay from the intersection of working class Black queer disabled life, and hopes her art will help to build a better world. She can be found at and the small press she founded is at

Thanks to Tessara for her contribution to the Tattooed Poets Project on Tattoosday!

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

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