Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Jeevika Verma - dark, darker (The Tattooed Poets Project)

Our next tattooed poet is Jeevika Verma (@_jeevika), who generously shared several tattoos with us. 

Photo via Instagram
 Jeevika tells us:
"I wrote a poem titled 'dark, darker' in Rome. It was the summer of 2016, and I was part of an intensive one-month creative writing program organized by the University of Washington. I’d spent the month thinking deeply about what it meant to delve deeper into the unknown, and how the truth often exists in what cannot be seen. Plus, I was one of the only POC in my program, and I was constantly aware of how my brownness played into my relationship with my classmates, and my relationship with Europe. I got this tattoo to commemorate my last day in Rome."
She also shared this shot from Instagram above her knee, "alluding to the bray of Sylvia Plath’s heart 'I am, I am, I am' ”:

Photo via Instagram

Jeevika also sent us this photo of her arm, which has several tattoos:

Jeevika elaborates about the four tattoos seen on her left arm above:
" 'this,' is the first tattoo I got. I got it at a shop in Mumbai when I was 18, and just about to start college. I designed it to make it look like it’s part of a larger sentence, like there’s something more to be said before and after the word. 'this,' reminds me to stay in the present. Plus, I love playing with the word 'this'. When people ask me what my favorite tattoo is, I point to it, and say 'this.'
Surrounded by 'this,' are all the the things that help me remember who I am. A full moon rules my zodiac sign, in Cancer. A prickly pear is my soul-plant. Two hands open like wings, together, but each a separate entity."
She credited Randi Ftizpatrick (@probmchild) at Osprey Tattoo (@ospreytattoo) in Seattle with the hands, MKNZ (@ruffenough) from Valentine's Tattoo (@valentinestattoo) in Seattle with the cactus, and Gia (@giactattoo) at Fatty's Tattoos (@fattystattoosandpiercings) in Washington, DC, with the moon tattoo.

Jeevika shared the following poem, "dark, darker," alluded to in the first tattoo above. It was first published in Cleaver Magazine on March 22, 2017:

dark, darker

when I frown
into this mirror
a depth takes
my forehead

inside there is a little white man

sitting straight
working hard
flipping through
pages used unused

these are records
of me fighting gravity
like that one time
I did not kneel before

should I find a floor that will not reflect
how my teeth have shattered against it for centuries
like that one time

should I lay a drape over my upright head
the white in my eye has grown very yellow anyway

but the shadow of the obelisk is bent this way

I could grab that neck
twist it so
all the white drips
into my lap
and collects
like the sweat
on my bare brown back

away from the mirror

there is no white here

I know
~ ~ ~

Jeevika says we "can also find poet Nikesh Murali's beautiful reading of [the] poem here."

Jeevika Verma is a poet from India with a passion for radical honesty. She graduated from the University of Washington in December 2016 with a B.A. in Creative Writing. Before college, she lived in Cameroon (Yaoundé), which is where she founded her own creative-literary journal Creative Chaos. Her work has been featured in NPR, Kajal Magazine, Sentinel Literary Quarterly, Cleaver Magazine, Susie Magazine, and more. She also curated and edited the “Loving” Anthology, as well as five short zines, titled Turns, Cuts, Grate, Long Distance Newsletters, and Scale(s). Find Jeevika’s complete portfolio at

Thanks to Jeevika Verma for her contribution to the Tattooed Poets Project on Tattoosday!

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

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