Our next tattooed poet is Halee Kirkwood, who sent us a quartet of tattoos to admire, including this one:
Halee credits this to Lana Bosak (@lanalikescats) at Tailorbird Tattoo (@tailorbirdtattoo), one of many amazing Minneapolis tattoo parlors. She notes:
"I was drawn to this raven on an antler as a poet who writes a lot about death, grief, and scavenging. Ravens are incredibly intelligent birds with the ability to adapt and problem-solve to an astounding capacity. Even when it seems that a thing has rotten, there might be nourishment to be found there. I try to embody the strength and cleverness of the raven every day."
They also sent this cool cat tattoo:
Halee tells us:
"This little kitty was a flash tattoo I snatched up in the summer of 2018. I was feeling frustrated with cars in the Twin Cities - I am an avid city biker and have had more than my fair share of cars driving dangerously and close to me when I'm in a bike lane, and felt a kinship with the feral attitude of the design. I was also amused by the fact that the tattoo had tattoos itself, and one of them was a dagger close in resemblance to the two swords I have on my bicep [below]. When I ride my bike on the busy downtown streets, I look at this kitty and think of braveness, the ferocity sometimes needed to survive, and then I get to where I'm going."They also sent along this floral piece:
This tattoo was also a flash - I am a very spontaneous person, both in tattoo habits and in my poetry practice. I like to grow into the meaning of a tattoo, and think about what a flash design means to me over time after that initial and immediate attraction. Something I feel a little shame about is that I don't know what kind of flowers these actually are - neither does the tattoo artist, as she designs a lot of her tattoos from vintage botany books, but I am beginning not to mind. I have found it fun to ask people who ask about the flowers what they think they are, and a conversation rolls from there! When I look at the flowers now, I think of the trio of myself, my little sister, and my little brother, and think of all the ways we have bloomed from the rocky soil we were given to grow out of.
Thank you to Andy Jacobs (@buffaloalicetattoo) and Minneapolis Tattoo (@mplstattoo) for the sweet floral!And last, but not least, is the aforementioned swords tattoo:
Halee tells us:
These swords were my first tattoo, and coincidentally the only tattoo I have that isn't a flash piece! This is an adaptation of the Two of Swords tarot card, which I drew at a critical juncture in my life. I was faced with two choices - continue to live and write in the small town of Ashland, WI, which I love and pine after often, or move to the Twin Cities and pursue an MFA in creative writing. Both options seemed to have an equal amount of pros and cons, and I had to make a decision quickly. The Two of Swords asks the querent to break the binds which hold them to their swords, go with their intuition, and make a hard break. Make that damn decision. So I decided to move from small town Wisconsin and into the big city, where I still am today and am on the cusp of finishing my graduate degree. My swords are a reminder that sometimes you just have to make a decision, no matter how equal some choices might seem.
Thank you to Skin Candy Tattoo in Racine, WI for the ink!
In addition to the tattoos, Halee also shared the following poem:
Caught between light rail crosshairs moon
Wearing earrings for the first time in ten years moon
Woolen skirt city moon
Split button moon
Cold ass on the concrete moon
Tobacco emporium moon
There’s no more snow in Minneapolis moon
for my favorite moon hard crust on the snow moon
Sore throat moon
Expensive dog with cheap sweater moon
Do people ignore me because they hear me
whisper to myself whisper to myself moon
Spit at my feet moon
Razor blade bridge walk over river moon
Indigo night steam lilting over carp moon
Give it all back moon
Follow you forever moon
~ ~ ~
Halee Kirkwood is a descendant of the Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Ojibwe and nearly has their MFA degree from Hamline University in Saint Paul, Minnesota. Their work has been published or is forthcoming in Up The Staircase Quarterly, Muzzle Magazine, ctrl+v, Pinwheel Journal, Cream City Review, and others. Kirkwood was the associate editor of Runestone Journal, is a writing mentor for the Minnesota Prison Writing Workshop, and was a teaching fellow for the 2019 Desert Nights, Rising Stars writing conference at Arizona State University. Their mini-chapbook, Exorcising The Catalogue, is available from Rinky Dink Press.
Thanks to Halee for sharing their tattoos and poetry with us here on the Tattooed Poets Project on Tattoosday!
This entry is ©2019 Tattoosday. The poem and tattoo are reprinted with the poet's permission.