Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Eric Machan Howd's Musical Hands (The Tattooed Poets Project)

Today's tattooed poet is Eric Machan Howd, who shared these cool tattoos:

Eric explained
"The tattoos above are some of my most recent work. I’ve since gotten one new tattoo on the back of my neck. Music and poetry are two of the most important aspects of my life.; I cannot live without either.
I have been a professional pianist/organist for over 35 years and have played on instruments from New Jersey to the Czech Republic. I saw this design as a laptop sticker and loved how the G (Treble) and F (Bass) clefs were designed to make a heart. So, I walked to my local tattoo shop, where I have gotten almost all of my work done, and shared the design with my artist (Cesar) at Medusa Tattoo. Cesar Enciso (@cesarenciso) owns and operates this parlour with his glorious spouse, Carol Oddy (@carolthealien). Both are amazing artists; my newest tattoo was done by Carol, so that I could say both spouses worked on me.
Eric correctly noted that "hands sometime reject ink," and that he has "had to go back for a few touch-ups so that the clefs are fully inked."

Eric was also kind enough to share the following tattoo-related poem, a version of which first appeared  in Nostalgia PressHeart (No. 12, 2017) where it received an honorable mention, and publication, in their national contest:

Edison’s Electric Pen Vibrating

The feel of the itch for ink,
the need to be stretched canvas,
illustrated, illuminated, annotated
to have life marked,
stamped, and stained on skin.

Thomas Edison’s electric pen
repurposed into coil machine
sings about the young woman's
design: an angel cradling
a grayscale baby-boy,
centered on her back;
her brother's ashes swirled
with black ink; needles
that bury and sew siblings together.

Nations become seamless in
the full-body skins of the Yakuza,
koi and dragons constricting muscles,
the dusty green anchors that weigh
on the forearms of retired sailors,
the black skulls cupped by curvy
Betties undulating on biker biceps.

The tattooed know what’s behind
Maori masks and understand the secrets on
the inked lips of single Ainu women,
the meaning of lines carved into Borneo face.
They understand the TongSamoansPolynesians
CeltsScythians, all those who memorialize
life in flesh, who suffer to remember
loved ones, who brand themselves freak
and make themselves a living book, opened
to the world, wanting to be read, wanting
to be inked over and over.

~ ~ ~

Eric Machan Howd (Ithaca, NY) is an Assistant Professor of Professional and Technical Writing (Department of Writing) at Ithaca College. He is also a professional organist, pianist, and choir director in the Ithaca area. Eric’s poetry has appeared in River City, Nimrod, Yankee Magazine, and The Healing Muse (selected). He is currently pursuing his MFA in Creative Writing (Poetry) with the Vermont College of Fine Arts. His lives, loves, and writes with his glorious spouse and poet, Katharyn Howd Machan, and their two cats, Footnote and Byron.

Thanks to Eric for sharing his tattoos and poem with us here on the Tattooed Poets Project on Tattoosday!

To see our entire list of poets over the last ten years, please visit

This entry is ©2018 Tattoosday. The poem and tattoo are reprinted with the poet's permission.

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