Sunday, April 23, 2017

Risa Denenberg, Two Fish, and a Yellow Star (The Tattooed Poets Project)

Today's tattooed poet is Risa Deneberg, who shared this astrological tattoo:

Risa tells us:
"My single permanent tattoo is on my right inner arm and is a Pisces (two fish). The story of that tattoo goes back to the 90's in the East Village, when the cops finally managed to evict a drug dealer from the store beneath my apartment. The new tenant was a tat artist. I wanted to welcome him to the neighborhood, so I was his first customer. I love tattoos, but am reluctant to get more on my now aging skin."
Risa also shared the following photo of a temporary tattoo that she uses as her profile picture and also hands out at book fairs:

I saved Risa's post for today because the poem she submitted is appropriate for the observance of Yom HaShoah, or Holocaust Remembrance Day, which starts at sundwon. The poem was originally published in Lavender Review in 2011:

Yellow Star

In my case, the yellow star
will be made of two perfect pink triangles
cut from cheap dry goods at the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory
where the women
sew stars on at the ready
hunched over their Singers
and, not wasting time on stairs,
work right up to closing time, then jump.

They didn’t want to die so young
and neither did the gay boys who died in droves
at the close of the last century. I would be one
who would beg you to shoot me
who would know that borders lie
that I could not endure the march through the woods
in the snow to the trains at the end.

We who say never forget
also know that it could happen again
to us
and we do not know more now
than we did then
how to make it stop.

The stitching never ends. For practice,
I have sutured my arm to my sleeve
with triangles made from pages torn
from the Book of Job.

~ ~ ~

Risa Denenberg lives on the Olympic peninsula in Washington state where she works as a nurse practitioner. She is an editor at Headmistress Press, an independent publisher of poetry by lesbians. She has published three chapbooks, and two full length books, most recently, Whirlwind @ Lesbos (Headmistress Press, 2016). Her collection “A Slight Faith” is forthcoming in 2018 from MoonPath Press. She blogs at

Thanks to Risa for sharing her tattoo and poem with us here on the Tattooed Poets Project on Tattoosday!

This entry is ©2017 Tattoosday. The poem and tattoo are reprinted with the poet's permission.

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