Friday, April 1, 2016

The Eighth Annual Tattooed Poets Project Celebration Begins with Lee Sharkey!

We're kicking off the 8th annual installment of the Tattooed Poets Project with this tattoo from Lee Sharkey:

Lee tells us:
"The late, great sax player and tattoo artist Richie Slamm inscribed this band of roses and poppies around my left wrist in 1981. Since I lived with him for fourteen years, it’s a mark of great restraint that I have only two other tattoos."
Lee sent us the following poem:



The nib of the pen in his mind writes a poem each night he is imprisoned

Each night he recites all the poems he has written

On the thousandth night he writes no poem but recites 999

In exile, he draws down the shade and begins transcribing

Remembering, he lets up the shade to a land of strangers

I will never forget the press of his hands on my ribcage


He carries the sear in his chest to the ocean bottom

So he can bear the weight of the death of the future

Fish eat his once-ravenous eyes

He abandons himself to their kisses

Only then, only then when he is nothing can it begin

Speaking through bones, his tears washing our cheeks


All he says is

In the atomic ruins

one tree

came into bud

Nine times slowly he repeats this

His is the kindest voice


At night I imagine the long wait of the prisoner, pride of his father, the scholarly boy

Memory’s black-backed mirror reflects the heat of his longing

His father stares down darkness, letters not received

Before the prisoner, words are nothing

The hours ride by on the backs of the abducted

Slip through with me to what might have been

~ ~ ~

Lee Sharkey is the author of nine poetry chapbooks and full-length collections, most recently Calendars of Fire. Tupelo will publish her new manuscript, Walking Backwards, in September, 2016.

Thanks to Lee Sharkey for helping us launch our eighth consecutive celebration of National Poetry Month, here on Tattoosday!

This entry is ©2016 Tattoosday. The poem and tattoo are reprinted with the poet's permission.

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