Thursday, April 26, 2018

Three for Thursday, Part 3: Molly Raynor on the Tattooed Poets Project

As mentioned in two earlier posts today (here and here), this Thursday we are celebrating three poets with three linked tattoos:

We already celebrated Lauuren Whitehead and Mariama Lockington's poems (and tattoos) in the previous posts, so last, but not least is Molly Raynor.

In case you missed them, the tattoos were inspired by Mariama's pose during sunset on Venice Beach in L.A.:

This image, burned in the sunset, was inked on these friends' wrists, exemplifying their connection and friendship.

That's Molly in the Middle

Molly's poem follows:

>>>>>> sisterchurch <<<<<<

for mari & lauren

in the temple of your cracking laugh i bend / praise the way poetry penned us kin freshman year /
when you borrowed my magenta pants & i wrote you a note after the slam / asking you to be my
friend / how bold we were / how unbroken / open as summer windows


in our dingy ann arbor apartment we watched sex and the city & played egyptian ratscrew / scratching
each other with acrylic nails / rhinestones glittering like nightsky / in our first apartment in oakland
we watched america’s next top model / fridge full of faded poems / chorizo & avocado / kitchen walls
stained red with mole from the day we smashed 16 peppers to paste with bittersweet chocolate &
lard from frida’s cookbook / proud / candles lit on spell-soaked altars / draped in gold & lavender /
we found faith / peeled off our skinny jeans & pulled on our fat pants / flung our bras across the
room under the wise eyes of billie, badu & gwendolyn / ghosts of madwomen insulating our walls
in winter / when the sun sunk we’d blast beyonce & dig through each other’s closets / line our eyes
with black kohl / because friday night in oakland was like the first time a boy kissed me with his
tongue / we’d head to lukas where we became other women / all ginger rum & slow wine & eyes
like baited fishhooks / trying to reclaim that which was taken from us / we, our own best dreams


in the gospel of your gossip / in the pews of your pep talks i kneel / praise the way i am seen by
you / so many secrets stitched into seams of our lips / hips thickening with each other’s
heartbreak / came home for holidays & parents wondered if we’d been eating or fucking too much
when it’s the weight of bearing witness women carry round our waists / you archivists of my
darkest days / how you lifted the garland of grief / slashed the sash of shame to scarlet scraps of
laughter & fuck him & mint-laced hookah smoke curling up to god / the darksugar of your love
lifting me / so many times you saved me from myself


lil’ wayne & alanis morissette echoing down the 1 / the sweat & shimmer of girlbodies unfurling like
jasmine buds in teapot / steam rising from our thirsty, sturdy hearts / we made pilgrimage to
ocean / greyed lip of froth & foam / made fort of sunbleached wood / carved our names into the
sand beneath the setting sun / took a picture of mari dancing / bird body silhouetted against burnt
persimmon sky / dusky croon of gulls flocking above us / then on a whim, went to the tattoo shop
in la & inked that frozen moment into our wrists / three of her spread into us: bracelet of chosen
blood / my madwomen, you gather me / my kindest mirrors / my sweetest marrow / you are the
salvaged shine of this heavy country / the glory cake in my tattered mouth / you unsorry my
tongue / ease the violence from my tired body


in the scripture of our group text i press palms together /
                        psalms of sisterchurch blooming from our fenty fuchsia lips /
                                                                                                       you are the holiest thing i know

~ ~ ~

Molly Pershin Raynor is a poet and educator. She has facilitated poetry workshops in prisons, halfway houses, high schools and teen centers, and traveled coast to coast performing spoken word. Molly co-founded RAW Talent (now the RYSE Performing Arts Program) in Richmond, California. Her work is highlighted in the documentary film on Netflix, "Romeo Is Bleeding," which follows her co-founder Donte Clark and their students as they fight to address gun violence through spoken word and theater. She won a Jefferson Award for Public Service and a Teachers 4 Social Justice Award. Molly just moved back to her hometown of Ann Arbor, Michigan, to serve as the Literary Arts Program Manager at the Neutral Zone Teen Center. Her poetry has been featured on NPR and published in several literary magazines including Vinyl, The Rumpus and Porkbelly Press.

Thanks to Molly (and Mariama and Lauren) for sharing their poems and tattoos with us here on The Tattooed Poets Project on Tattoosday!

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

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