Thursday, April 6, 2017

Where Gabe Johnson Comes From (The Tattooed Poets Project)

Our next tattooed poet is Gabe Johnson, who sent us this photo of a very interesting tattoo:

Gabe explains:
"This tattoo represents how where I come from influences my being and writing, as well as my relationship with writing. The ink flowing into my veins is a metaphor I’ve often thought about as a young writer – feeling like my poems were something coming out of me that had laid dormant inside. Within the ink are two symbols of where I come from. The Viking ship represents my Icelandic heritage, which seems to me like my poetic lineage. The Icelandic people value poetry incredibly highly, and most of my direct relatives along that part of my family are or were involved in poetry in some fashion, whether as writers, publishers or teachers. The oak tree represents Northern California in general, where I grew up and where I have spent all of my life. The landscape, flora, and fauna of oak grasslands especially feel like home to me, and influence my writing greatly. I chose the specific design because I wanted a very simple look of a pen and ink drawing, which a friend of mine drew, and the tattoo artist (Sam McWilliams @sammcwilliams of Mermaids Tattoo @mermaidstattoo in SF) reproduced beautifully."
Gabe also sent us this short poem:


Begin again with all your breath. Trace the coast’s soft shoulders, the fogless cove and columbine. Your knee will follow, kiss the sand—shards like nettles on new skin. The highway lined by tiger-lily, oak like moss on slumping hills becomes sequoia, thimbleberry trails. You know each river rock was named, saw scaled bodies leap against the flow. You’ll set your newest scar against lost particles.

~ ~ ~

Gabe Johnson lives in Oakland, teaching English and US History to 8th graders. He is a graduate of the MFA program at Saint Mary’s College of California and his work can be found in Switchback, Philadelphia Stories, White Stag, and Poecology.

Thanks to Gabe for sharing his tattoo and poem with us here on Tattoosday's Tattooed Poets Project!

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

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