Saturday, April 21, 2018

Melissa Fite Johnson on the Tattooed Poets Project

Our next tattooed poet is Melissa Fite Johnson.

She sent us the following photo collage:


Melissa explains:
"I had plenty of reasons to regret the tattoo I got at nineteen before the term tramp stamp entered our collective vocabulary. It was poorly done, it didn’t have any special meaning, and I’d gone with my not-very-nice then-boyfriend to get it. Actually, the reason I got it was because I was tired of being considered such a good girl, reliable and trustworthy and not wild at all, and somehow I thought a tattoo would prove otherwise. Of course, once I grew into a confident person, once I decided reliability and trustworthiness were excellent characteristics to possess, I especially hated my tattoo. It was a constant reminder that I didn’t used to like myself.
As much as I regretted my tattoo for other reasons, my embarrassment became palpable when lower-back tattoos started being referred to as tramp stamps. I wish I could say I’d been a stronger woman and not let that sexist term get to me, but it totally did. It was just so prevalent. So many people used it, even many other women with lower-back tattoos. It was a running joke on How I Met Your Mother, one of my favorite shows. Any time I went to a doctor who lifted my shirt to put a stethoscope to my back, or to a massage therapist who asked me to lie face-down on the table, I flushed with shame. I bought only one-piece bathing suits. I squatted rather than bent over to pick up anything I dropped. My tattoo felt like a dirty secret. I dreaded anyone seeing it and proclaiming, 'You have a tramp stamp?' which, despite my efforts, still happened.
It took more than a decade, but I finally stopped letting the term tramp stamp haunt me. Words like 'tramp' and 'slut' shouldn’t be used to describe any woman, no matter how many partners she’s had, no matter how she’s dressed, no matter where her tattoos are. No matter what. A major problem in our society is that so many people consider terms like tramp stamp (and the more recent skank flank) to be harmless, inoffensive. That’s simply not true. These terms have the power to humiliate women, as I can attest, and they contribute to rape culture. To reduce women to sexual objects, to dismiss their worth as human beings because of a tattoo, is a first step down a dangerous slippery slope. 
My story has a happy ending. A few years ago, my husband and I visited friends in Columbus, Ohio. Our first night there, we got to talking about tattoos, and I mentioned how much I hated mine. One of our friends offered to contact a tattoo artist he knew, and suddenly our night’s plans changed. The artist, Joey Knuckles (@joeyknucklestattoo) at High Street Tattoo (@highstreettattoo), had a gorgeous portfolio and a reputation for exquisite cover-up work. I’d long ago decided what tattoo I should’ve gotten instead of a star-with-no-meaning, so (with an incredibly nervous belly), I asked for leaves of grass, in honor of my favorite book of poetry. I’m thrilled with the result. Now I have a beautiful tattoo with meaning, one I got surrounded by people I love and who love me."
Melissa also sent us the following poem, which first appeared in Whale Road Review (2016):

Donating My Eggs
In the fertility clinic waiting room
I’m the youngest by ten years,
except for a toddler
everyone smiles at wistfully.
He wears cowboy boots
and has a matching hat his mother
won’t let him put on indoors. He says
he’s not a real cowboy without it.
Before my ultrasound,
the boy’s mother says,
All it takes is one good egg.
My cousin, forty-one and beautiful,
so skinny I can’t imagine her
with a curved silhouette by Christmas,
doesn’t answer. Later,
on the car ride home, she says,
If he were my son,
he could wear that hat to funerals.
~ ~ ~

Melissa Fite Johnson received her Master’s in English literature from Pittsburg State University in Kansas. Individual poems have appeared in RattleValparaiso Poetry ReviewBroadsided Pressand elsewhere. Her first collection, While the Kettle’s On (Little Balkans Press, 2015), and her second, Ghost Sign (Spartan Press, 2016), which she co-authored, were both named Kansas Notable Books. She is also the author of A Crooked Door Cut into the Sky, winner of the 2017 Vella Chapbook Award (Paper Nautilus Press, 2018). Melissa and her husband live with their dog and chickens in Kansas, where she teaches English.



Thanks to Melissa for contributing to the Tattooed Poets Project on Tattoosday!

To see our entire list of poets over the last ten years, please visit www.tattooedpets.com.



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

If you are reading this on another website other than Tattoosday, without attribution, please note that it has been copied without the author's permission and is in violation of copyright laws. Please feel free to visit http://tattoosday.net and read our original content. Please let me know if you saw this elsewhere so I contact the webmaster of the offending site and advise them of this violation in their Terms of Use Agreement.

Friday, April 20, 2018

Keith S. Wilson on The Tattooed Poets Project

Our next tattooed poet is Keith S. Wilson, who shares this interesting tattoo:


We'll let Keith explain the origins of these markings:
" I got a crop circle because it's awesome. But I also chose this tattoo because it represents a peculiar modern mythology that I've identified with in some capacity for most my life. Crop circles are associated with 'Greys' (the large-headed, big-eyed aliens you see in everything from Spencer’s Gift posters to the X-Files. Curiously, they are just as often portrayed as green-skinned as grey), and other images and ideas exist as well, all of which I love: UFOs, crop circles, cattle abduction, vivisection, tractor beams, ray guns, etc. The idea that aliens walk among us, communicating loudly but still never being seen is a feeling I’ve had since at least high school. It is based, I’m sure, on feeling literally alienated as a racially ambiguous, but not white, resident of Kentucky, in primarily white environments. We’re out there. Believe.

Sci-fi is a genre that, for me, vacillates wildly between three different modes: 1) writing openly about race/gender/sexual orientation/identity/etc., 2) writing accidentally about them, and 3) trying to write about them but failing. I love when it does it right, but I also love how it marries the future (science, advancement, hope) with the past and present (mythology, humanism). I write about all these things, to varying degrees.

Specifically, I chose the design because most crop circles occur in England and this one happened in America (which also may contribute to its unique figure, which is not 'circular' per se). If it means anything, it might portray a planet and satellite, but who, of course, can know with an image that appears suddenly in the night."
Keith also kindly offered up the following poem, which originally appeared in The Adroit Journal:

I Investigate Terraforming in My 30s

Soon enough I find an Earth-like
planet, but how Earth-like is only like, is like

how a kiss may be alike
but isn't quite,

or how every photo from Kentucky—
how you used to sigh—is only

now a likeness. Or how this bandaged light
upends the bruise that became

the sky: I liked you, I like liked
you. And we held each other

as we made our child-
hoods hush; we strained

to merge like trees into a custom. We held
to each other’s hands

even when our notes
were misaligned. We would,

without half-trying, alight one upon the other.
What is gravity to our horns? We reached

and tore each other plain as walls
or erstwhile countries,

and the dream became a sun,
beneath me, the land, the fade

of wing,  my every instrument
a lyre’s vital music, my every simile, a flame.

~ ~ ~  

Keith S. Wilson is an Affrilachian Poet, Cave Canem fellow, and graduate of the Callaloo Creative Writing Workshop. He has received three scholarships from Bread Loaf as well as scholarships from MacDowell, UCross, Millay Colony, and the Vermont Studio Center, among others. Keith serves as Assistant Poetry Editor at Four Way Review and Digital Media Editor at Obsidian Journal. Keith's first book, Fieldnotes on Ordinary Love, will be published by Copper Canyon in 2019.

Thanks to Keith for sharing his tattoo and poem with us here on Tattoosday, on the Tattooed Poets Project.


To see our entire list of poets over the last ten years, please visit www.tattooedpoets.com.


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

If you are reading this on another website other than Tattoosday, without attribution, please note that it has been copied without the author's permission and is in violation of copyright laws. Please feel free to visit http://tattoosday.net and read our original content. Please let me know if you saw this elsewhere so I contact the webmaster of the offending site and advise them of this violation in their Terms of Use Agreement.


Thursday, April 19, 2018

Susannah Nevisson and Her Murmuration of Birds (The Tattooed Poets Project)

Today's tattooed poet is Susannah Nevisson, who shared this pretty cool-looking tattoo:


Susannah told us:
"I got this tattoo after finishing my PhD coursework in 2014, and about six months
after placing my first book, Teratology, for publication. The book deals in large part
with the aftermath of extensive leg and ankle surgery I had in 2012. You can see the
scars from three pin sites along my knee in this picture—I have a matching set of
scars higher up my leg, below my hip. Since people often stare at my scars and ask
about them, I decided I would try to make something beautiful out of them, a kind
of testament to surviving both writing my book and the intense period of recovery
the surgery entailed. The murmuration of birds runs the length of my thigh, curving
around the pin sites at either end. It’s not my only tattoo, but it’s the only one I got
while living and writing in Salt Lake City. It was done by Eddy del Rio at Anchor Tattoo (@anchorinktattoo)."
Eddy is now at Tooth & Nail Tattoo, also in Salt Lake City.

In addition to the cool tattoo, Susannah sent us the following poem:


Morphine, The Recurring Dream of Birds


That birds have bones

in their tongues—that they press

your hair in their beaks—that they carry


you home in pieces—your body

boneless as hair—that birds press

your bones in their beaks—that bodiless


hair lines a nest—that birds truss

their nest with your bones—that every

beak widens a wound—that birds


dive in, dive deep—that every wound

swallows a bird—that birds

dive straight to the bone—


that tendons are slender

as hair—that birds

tear muscle, tap bone—


that your bones ring hollow

as beaks—that birds carry

you home in pieces—

~ ~ ~

Susannah Nevison is the author of two collections of poetry, Lethal Theater (forthcoming from Ohio State University Press, 2019), winner of the 2017 The Journal/Charles B. Wheeler Poetry Prize, and Teratology (Persea Books, 2015), winner of the 2014 Lexi Rudnitsky First Book in Poetry Prize. New work has appeared in or is forthcoming from Tin House, Blackbird, Pleiades, Crazyhorse, and The New York Times. Beginning fall 2018, she will be an Assistant Professor of English and Creative Writing at Sweet Briar College.

Thanks to Susannah for sharing her work with us here on the Tattooed Poets Project on Tattoosday!


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

If you are reading this on another website other than Tattoosday, without attribution, please note that it has been copied without the author's permission and is in violation of copyright laws. Please feel free to visit http://tattoosday.net and read our original content. Please let me know if you saw this elsewhere so I contact the webmaster of the offending site and advise them of this violation in their Terms of Use Agreement.

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 www.tattooedpoets.com.

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


If you are reading this on another website other than Tattoosday, without attribution, please note that it has been copied without the author's permission and is in violation of copyright laws. Please feel free to visit http://tattoosday.net and read our original content. Please let me know if you saw this elsewhere so I contact the webmaster of the offending site and advise them of this violation in their Terms of Use Agreement.

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Geffrey Davis on The Tattooed Poets Project

Today's tattooed poet is Geffrey Davis:

Photo by Adam Haley

Phot by Chris Abani
Geffrey explains:
"Five and counting, and all similarly designed, I got my first three tattoos at
Laughing Buddha in Seattle, WA, the city in which I was born; I got the second
two at King Cobra in State College, PA, the city in which my son was born.
Because I watched my own father’s drug addiction compromise his way with
care, I spent too much of my childhood and adulthood believing I needed to
spare others and myself the burden of my reliance. Of course, that was just this
son’s early flailing against the reality of being failed by one major source of light.
And so, this ongoing tattoo series reflects my commitment (as well as my
struggle) to recognize, honor, and sometimes rename the numinous sources of
light—healthy or otherwise—that allow us to see, understand, and move
ourselves through this life."
Geffrey also shared the following poem:
~ ~ ~
The Radiance


how often will your dearness fly
down the open throat of life

and restart the work of wringing myths
from my mouth    even the promised body

blunders like this    nights I slip
outside as the city sleeps

to spark a sickly flame against the burst
of stars or June fireflies dispersed

in the yard    and then the radiance
of something else awake in the dark

floods the scene     as if to interrupt as if
your rogue tenderness itself    either way

my head’s calamity ignites with conjuring
and banishing—which means I am

a warm diaspora of blues    which means
my hands will fail to carry any one

formula for light    which is to say no
equal signs flare inside this heart


[First published by At Length.]
~ ~ ~

Geffrey Davis is the author of Revising the Storm ​(BOA Editions 2014), winner of the A. Poulin Jr. Poetry Prize and a Hurston/Wright Legacy Award Finalist, and of Night Angler (BOA Editions 2019). A recipient of the Anne Halley Poetry Prize, the Wabash Prize for Poetry, and fellowships from the Cave Canem Foundation and the Vermont Studio Center, his work is forthcoming or has been published by The Academy of American Poets, ​The Massachusetts Review, New England Review, ​The New York Times Magazine, The New Yorker, and Ploughshares. Davis teaches at the University of Arkansas and in The Rainier Writing Workshop low-res MFA program, and he serves as poetry editor of Iron Horse Literary Review.

Thanks to Geffrey for celebrating the Tattooed Poets Project on Tattoosday in honor of National Poetry Month by contributing his tattoos and poem!



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

If you are reading this on another website other than Tattoosday, without attribution, please note that it has been copied without the author's permission and is in violation of copyright laws. Please feel free to visit http://tattoosday.net and read our original content. Please let me know if you saw this elsewhere so I contact the webmaster of the offending site and advise them of this violation in their Terms of Use Agreement.

Monday, April 16, 2018

Richard Georges' Two Goddesses (The Tattooed Poets Project)

Today's tattooed poet is Richard Georges, who is our first contributor ever from the British Virgin Islands. He is sharing some amazing tattoos with us:


Richard tells us:
"I have Saraswati - Hindu goddess of knowledge, music, art, wisdom, and learning inside my left forearm, and Lakshmi - Hindu goddess of wealth, fortune, and prosperity on my right. They were both done (as well as their corresponding sleeves) by Federico Ferroni (@federicoferroni) of Love/Hate Tattoo (@miamiinklovehate) in Miami. I haven't had anything done recently, but I'd definitely go back to him if I decide to get any more work."
Richard also gave us the poem "Exorcism/Freeport," which appeared previously in Cordite Poetry Review in May 2017:

Exorcism / Freeport

when I was eight, a priest came and flicked holy water
into the four corners of this wooden house
that kept my parents, two sons, a daughter, and a darkening forest in its mouth.
The priest muttered in Latin, crossed us all with odorous oils, his thumb pausing on
on the bottom of each cross, on the small space of our foreheads where Christ was hung from.
but the spirits came every night until my father opened the fowl’s throat like a bible,
the glint of metal washed away in blood, a beating of black, white and red feather
his hands, the knife, performed their own recital to feed with one hand, with the other, kill.

~ ~ ~

Richard Georges is the author of the poetry collections Make Us All Islands (Shearsman Books) and GIANT (Platypus Press). He is the recipient of the 2016 Marvin E. Williams Literary Prize from The Caribbean Writer, and has been shortlisted for The Wasafiri New Writing Prize, The Small Axe Literary Prize, The Hollick Arvon Prize for Caribbean Literature, and the Forward Prize for Best First Collection. You can find him at www.richardgeorges.com.

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


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

If you are reading this on another website other than Tattoosday, without attribution, please note that it has been copied without the author's permission and is in violation of copyright laws. Please feel free to visit http://tattoosday.net and read our original content. Please let me know if you saw this elsewhere so I contact the webmaster of the offending site and advise them of this violation in their Terms of Use Agreement.

Sunday, April 15, 2018

Jenna Lynch on The Tattooed Poets Project

Today's tattooed poet is Jenna Lynch, who shared these incredible tattoos:


Jenna explained her duck tattoo:
"I got this tattoo as a memorial piece for my very dear friend, Adam Boley, who passed away in a car accident last year. I met Adam at the Vermont Studio Center where I had the privilege of also being introduced to his photography. This tattoo is actually based on one of my favorite of his pieces, which is part of a larger collection that revolves around the weight of his family tradition of duck hunting. The artist who did my tattoo (and possibly the only artist I would trust with such an important and meaningful piece) is the incredibly talented Henric Nielsen (@hbnielsentattoo) (who has also done majority of the work on my half-sleeve). I was lucky enough to catch him in his private studio in the Lower East Side before he moved back to Sweden, where he is originally from, to work at All Gold Tattoo (@allgoldtattoo)."
Jenna also wanted to point out the rose, which was inked by Mina Aoki (@minaaoki), when she was apprenticing at Daredevil Tattoo (@daredeviltattoo) in NYC. Mina now works out of Mercy Tattoo (@mercyslc) in Salt Lake City, UT.

Jenna also offered up the following poem, which is an elegy she is "(still) attempting to write for Adam."  She noted, "I don’t know if it will ever be finished. In a way, I don’t want it to be."

ELEGY

That August
you taught me the weight
of tradition—

the unbroken shoulder blade of a bird
forever missed,
the gun still resting on your own shoulder,
the shutter of a camera too slow—

the way an eye can blink shut and forget
a face, capture only the shadowy after-image
of a person leaving, walking away.

What happens if I forget you?

Saying goodbye to you in the driveway of my studio
in Johnson, you rested your hand on my shoulder,
caught me in an attempt at sneaking away unnoticed.

If only I was better.
Sometimes I miss.

Now, you are the waiting
between the shot—the stretch of sky
between lens and wing.

Meanwhile, the ducks skim the surface
of water, unaware.
Northern pintails:
slim-necked and distinctive in their
silhouette, their sharp tails piercing the top of the water.

And I imagine you there

as a boy, toting your gun
on your shoulder (not yet
a camera) with your father to hunt.

If only I was better.

In the distance, someone is throwing out
the decoys, settling in for early light,
the inaudible gaps of men waiting for dawn.

What happens if I forget you?

By the time the ducks drop
you will be gone.

When I find you again,
you will have wings.

~ ~ ~


Jenna Lynch lives in Astoria, New York and teaches at Fairleigh Dickinson University. Her work has been published in Forklift, Ohio, Construction Magazine, The Westchester Review, and others. Her chapbook, The Mouth of Which You Are, is forthcoming this summer by Finishing Line Press.

Thanks to Jenna for sharing her tattoos and poetry with us here on the Tattooed Poets Project on Tattoosday!


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


If you are reading this on another website other than Tattoosday, without attribution, please note that it has been copied without the author's permission and is in violation of copyright laws. Please feel free to visit http://tattoosday.net and read our original content. Please let me know if you saw this elsewhere so I contact the webmaster of the offending site and advise them of this violation in their Terms of Use Agreement.