Sunday, April 17, 2016

The Tattooed Poets Project - Emily Stern

Our next tattooed poet is Emily Stern:

She credited this work to her "shiny genius" of an artist Crow B. Rising at Talis Fortuna in Santa Fe, New Mexico. And this piece, as well:

Photo Courtesy of Crow B. Rising at Talis Fortuna
Emily also sent us the following poem, appropriate for today:

April 17th, 2016, Would Have Been My Mom’s 74th Birthday

I was at Del Charro, with Jaime, waiting.

The second date.

Not mine.

I was his platonic darling,
and the sober driver,
the soft detective,
the unreliable interrogator,
waiting to meet him,
and his friends,
for the first time.

Juan, a teacher who, I’d learned, preferred to express his breathlessness in his first language, and who was very hungry for nachos, and social justice;
Luiz, who may have a broken heart, and agreed that Eldorado is a suburb;
Solange, who is stunning, and who knows exactly how many obstacles she has hurdled;
and, a dapper fellow, whose name I couldn’t hear the first time,
had finally arrived.

Jaime mentioned the lilies in the kitchen
“She even has a tattoo.”
I removed the repurposed child’s ski sock, and presented my forearm.
“They’re my favorite flower.”
Juan said, “My sister just got this really big piece on her chest.”
Jaime and I smiled.

In my bathroom.
Before we left.
I searched.

Through every cigar box of jilted, spinster earrings
And flowery barrettes—
a secret stash
reserved for insomniac-in-the-mirror reflection—
I couldn’t find my eyeliner.

In the mirror, Jaime’s eyes threw me an anchor.
“You could write about that one, right?”
Jaime’s heart is made of warm, creamy goat’s milk, sticky tamarind, fine brown sugar, tenderness, and habanero pepper.
Last night, he actually purred in his sleep.

I counted each bird in the mirror.
“I could.”

I lowered the pilled collar of my black sweater.
“What do the grapes mean?”
I wondered if Solange knew she was very beautiful.
“My grandmother grew up on a small produce farm, in Sicily.”

“And the birds?”

Great Grandma Dina
Great Grandma Manno
Great Grandma Sadie
Grandma Anne
Grandma Harriet
Aunt CiCi
Me, one day.
One day, my daughter.

“They’re the women who came before.”
My lineage.

The matriarch.

~ ~ ~

Emily Stern is the author of When Doves Cry, a memoir about her childhood and her mother’s death in 1993 from complications of HIV/AIDS. She has been writing, performing, and teaching for over twenty years. Credits include The Portland Review, The Santa Fe Literary Review, Entropy Magazine, Connotation Press, Literary Orphans, and Make/Shift Magazine. She performed in and co-created The Transfused, a full-length Rock Opera written up in Time, Bust, and Bitch magazines, has performed spoken word at Ladyfest Olympia and Los Angeles, Homo-A-Gogo, and The Sex Worker’s Art Show national tour with Michelle Tea and Penny Arcade. She’s taught all over the country, including Portland’s The Rock and Roll Camp for Girls and Tucson’s Casa Libre.

Thanks to Emily Stern for sharing her tattoos and poem with us here on Tattoosday's Tattooed Poets Project!

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

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