Thursday, April 30, 2009

Craig Arnold Needs Our Help

Craig Arnold, whose tattoos were featured just last Friday here, has gone missing on an isolated island in Japan.

He needs our help. The Japanese authorities are close to calling off the search, and we need to do what we can by contacting our elected officials in Washington to put pressure on the Japanese government to not give up on finding Craig.

There's more info here.

Craig Arnold Needs Our Help

Craig Arnold, whose tattoos were featured just last Friday here, has gone missing on an isolated island in Japan.

He needs our help. The Japanese authorities are close to calling off the search, and we need to do what we can by contacting our elected officials in Washington to put pressure on the Japanese government to not give up on finding Craig.

There's more info here.

The Tattooed Poets Project: Wrapping Up National Poetry Month

"Alas, I've done the uninkable"
-Paul Muldoon, February 3, 2009
That was Mr. Muldoon's response to my inquiry, in January, if he was tattooed. I've been wanting to include that somewhere this month, and finally found the spot. Thank you, Mr. Muldoon.

As I wrap up National Poetry Month here on Tattoosday and BillyBlog, it all seems a bit unreal. I spent a good quarter of the year, since mid-January, assembling the host of inked poets that have blessed us with their tattoos over the last month.

And there is more to come. There's a dozen or so poets who expressed interest, but never came through with photos. I continue to receive submissions from poets who have wanted to share, acknowledging that the deadline has passed.

I invite all of you who may have just been checking in on the poets' tattoos to return and visit often. Tattoosday is dedicated to presenting the most interesting tattoos it can find on the streets of New York. Note that I say "interesting," rather than "best". For, sometimes, a simple tattoo is anything but- the story beneath the layer of skin that the ink permeates is often more fascinating than the design itself. I want to thank everyone who helped contribute to the success of the Tattooed Poets Project.

First and foremost, Stacey Harwood at the Best American Poetry blog. Stacey was enthusiastic about the concept from the get-go, and her call for submissions on the BAP blog was a sign of legitimacy that I'm sure convinced many poets that the project was worthwhile and above-board. Her inclusion of Tattoosday on the BAP blog was a blessing, and the bit of html code that Stacey taught me will continue to be helpful in the future. I thank Stacey from the bottom of my heart.

Extended from that, I also thank other poets affiliated with the BAP blog: David Lehman, who has been series editor of The Best American Poetry since it's inception in 1988, BAP correspondents Moira Egan and Jill Alexander Essbaum for their support and participation, and Dorianne Laux who, although uninked, set me on a meandering path, introducing me to tattooed
poets who, in turn, introduced me to more tattooed poets, and so forth, and so on.

And of course, I thank all of you, the readers. In the blogosphere, no one can hear you scream and the worst fear of a blogger is that his or her voice goes unheard. Your comments, e-mails, submissions, and even your votes were truly appreciated.

April was our best month ever, in terms of traffic. As of this writing, we are on pace to eclipse the 25,000 hit mark for the month. I offer my thanks to everyone who has been kind enough to stop by.

Sincerely,


Bill Cohen

And now, the final tattooed poet for the month! Enjoy.....

The Tattooed Poets Project: Wrapping Up National Poetry Month

"Alas, I've done the uninkable"
-Paul Muldoon, February 3, 2009
That was Mr. Muldoon's response to my inquiry, in January, if he was tattooed. I've been wanting to include that somewhere this month, and finally found the spot. Thank you, Mr. Muldoon.

As I wrap up National Poetry Month here on Tattoosday and BillyBlog, it all seems a bit unreal. I spent a good quarter of the year, since mid-January, assembling the host of inked poets that have blessed us with their tattoos over the last month.

And there is more to come. There's a dozen or so poets who expressed interest, but never came through with photos. I continue to receive submissions from poets who have wanted to share, acknowledging that the deadline has passed.

I invite all of you who may have just been checking in on the poets' tattoos to return and visit often. Tattoosday is dedicated to presenting the most interesting tattoos it can find on the streets of New York. Note that I say "interesting," rather than "best". For, sometimes, a simple tattoo is anything but- the story beneath the layer of skin that the ink permeates is often more fascinating than the design itself. I want to thank everyone who helped contribute to the success of the Tattooed Poets Project.

First and foremost, Stacey Harwood at the Best American Poetry blog. Stacey was enthusiastic about the concept from the get-go, and her call for submissions on the BAP blog was a sign of legitimacy that I'm sure convinced many poets that the project was worthwhile and above-board. Her inclusion of Tattoosday on the BAP blog was a blessing, and the bit of html code that Stacey taught me will continue to be helpful in the future. I thank Stacey from the bottom of my heart.

Extended from that, I also thank other poets affiliated with the BAP blog: David Lehman, who has been series editor of The Best American Poetry since it's inception in 1988, BAP correspondents Moira Egan and Jill Alexander Essbaum for their support and participation, and Dorianne Laux who, although uninked, set me on a meandering path, introducing me to tattooed
poets who, in turn, introduced me to more tattooed poets, and so forth, and so on.

And of course, I thank all of you, the readers. In the blogosphere, no one can hear you scream and the worst fear of a blogger is that his or her voice goes unheard. Your comments, e-mails, submissions, and even your votes were truly appreciated.

April was our best month ever, in terms of traffic. As of this writing, we are on pace to eclipse the 25,000 hit mark for the month. I offer my thanks to everyone who has been kind enough to stop by.

Sincerely,


Bill Cohen

And now, the final tattooed poet for the month! Enjoy.....

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

The Tattooed Poets Project: A Hand for Joy Harjo


Our last tattoo for National Poetry Month comes to us from the wonderful poet Joy Harjo.

I was surprised, to be honest, when Joy agreed to participate, because she seemed so busy. Despite the exchange of messages from her, aside from her permission to be a part of the project, I didn't get a lot of detail about the piece she offered. Fortunately for me and, by extension, Tattoosday readers, she has a website and an explanation about the tattoo there. I am reprinting it here:

The tattoo on my hand is a tattoo. It’s not henna. The style is from the Marquesas Islands. The Marquesas are north of Tahiti.
Roonui, a Tahitian artist, did the tattoo freehand in Moorea, Tahiti. He is now living in Canada. It took two-and-a-half hours. (And yes, it hurt.)
I’d seen the tattoo there on my hand for sometime. The tattoo represents assistance for my work. I use my hands for music, writing, and everything else I do. The tattoo reminds me of the levels of assistance. I am also carrying a beautiful piece of art with me wherever I go.
Roonui says: "Polynesian tattooing is not a simple exercise in aesthetics. Polynesian carve into their body the symbols of their actions (past present or future), their promises, their games."
The part inside my wrist, close to my heart, resembles ancestral designs of my tribal people.
I encourage readers to explore Joy's website (linked above) and to head over to BillyBlog to read one of her poems here.

The Tattooed Poets Project: A Hand for Joy Harjo


Our last tattoo for National Poetry Month comes to us from the wonderful poet Joy Harjo.

I was surprised, to be honest, when Joy agreed to participate, because she seemed so busy. Despite the exchange of messages from her, aside from her permission to be a part of the project, I didn't get a lot of detail about the piece she offered. Fortunately for me and, by extension, Tattoosday readers, she has a website and an explanation about the tattoo there. I am reprinting it here:

The tattoo on my hand is a tattoo. It’s not henna. The style is from the Marquesas Islands. The Marquesas are north of Tahiti.
Roonui, a Tahitian artist, did the tattoo freehand in Moorea, Tahiti. He is now living in Canada. It took two-and-a-half hours. (And yes, it hurt.)
I’d seen the tattoo there on my hand for sometime. The tattoo represents assistance for my work. I use my hands for music, writing, and everything else I do. The tattoo reminds me of the levels of assistance. I am also carrying a beautiful piece of art with me wherever I go.
Roonui says: "Polynesian tattooing is not a simple exercise in aesthetics. Polynesian carve into their body the symbols of their actions (past present or future), their promises, their games."
The part inside my wrist, close to my heart, resembles ancestral designs of my tribal people.
I encourage readers to explore Joy's website (linked above) and to head over to BillyBlog to read one of her poems here.

The Tattooed Poets Project: Eileen Myles - "Poet, Take My Measure"

For this, our penultimate post in the April Tattooed Poets Series, we present a tattoo from Eileen Myles.

Last week Thursday, I met Eileen on my lunch break at a Starbucks in Union Square. For a blog based on meeting people with tattoos, it was refreshing to sit and chat with a poet in person. It was only the second face-to-face meeting with tattooed poets. All others have been based on e-mail submissions.

Eileen is a fixture in the New York poetry scene, and has been a resident here since the early 1970's. She's also the first poet featured who I've actually heard read, so I felt like I was re-meeting with an old acquaintance.

Eileen has three tattoos, and I opted to talk to her about the one on the inside of her left bicep:


Eileen explained that she got this tattoo back in 2001 (before 9/11 - which led to a whole other conversation). The phrase is a quote from Dante's Inferno (translated by Robert Pinsky), the first part of The Divine Comedy.

In the Italian, the lines are:

"Io cominciai: "Poeta che mi guidi,
guarda la mia virtù s'ell' è possente,

prima ch'a l'
alto passo tu mi fidi."

Dante Alighieri, Inferno, II. 10-12


Or, as translated by Mr. Pinsky:

"I commenced: "Poet, take my measure now:

Appraise my powers before you trust me to venture

Through that deep passage where you would be my guide."

Robert Pinsky, The Inferno of Dante, II. 9-11


Eileen got this line of poetry tattooed as a signpost for her embarking on a novel called The Inferno: A Poet's Novel.


The lines from the original work by Dante are spoken by Dante to the poet Virgil, checking to see if he can handle the journey on which he is about to embark.

Writing as a woman, she draws a parallel to the inferno of Hell with the life of a female poet.

This tattoo was inked by Stephanie Tamez at Porcupine Tattoo on the Lower East Side. Both Stephanie and Porcupine have moved, Stephanie to New York Adorned, and Porcupine from the Lower East Side to Greenpoint, Brooklyn.

Thanks to Eileen for sharing this tattoo with us here at Tattoosday!

Please head over to BillyBlog to see one of her poems here.

The Tattooed Poets Project: Eileen Myles - "Poet, Take My Measure"

For this, our penultimate post in the April Tattooed Poets Series, we present a tattoo from Eileen Myles.

Last week Thursday, I met Eileen on my lunch break at a Starbucks in Union Square. For a blog based on meeting people with tattoos, it was refreshing to sit and chat with a poet in person. It was only the second face-to-face meeting with tattooed poets. All others have been based on e-mail submissions.

Eileen is a fixture in the New York poetry scene, and has been a resident here since the early 1970's. She's also the first poet featured who I've actually heard read, so I felt like I was re-meeting with an old acquaintance.

Eileen has three tattoos, and I opted to talk to her about the one on the inside of her left bicep:


Eileen explained that she got this tattoo back in 2001 (before 9/11 - which led to a whole other conversation). The phrase is a quote from Dante's Inferno (translated by Robert Pinsky), the first part of The Divine Comedy.

In the Italian, the lines are:

"Io cominciai: "Poeta che mi guidi,
guarda la mia virtù s'ell' è possente,

prima ch'a l'
alto passo tu mi fidi."

Dante Alighieri, Inferno, II. 10-12


Or, as translated by Mr. Pinsky:

"I commenced: "Poet, take my measure now:

Appraise my powers before you trust me to venture

Through that deep passage where you would be my guide."

Robert Pinsky, The Inferno of Dante, II. 9-11


Eileen got this line of poetry tattooed as a signpost for her embarking on a novel called The Inferno: A Poet's Novel.


The lines from the original work by Dante are spoken by Dante to the poet Virgil, checking to see if he can handle the journey on which he is about to embark.

Writing as a woman, she draws a parallel to the inferno of Hell with the life of a female poet.

This tattoo was inked by Stephanie Tamez at Porcupine Tattoo on the Lower East Side. Both Stephanie and Porcupine have moved, Stephanie to New York Adorned, and Porcupine from the Lower East Side to Greenpoint, Brooklyn.

Thanks to Eileen for sharing this tattoo with us here at Tattoosday!

Please head over to BillyBlog to see one of her poems here.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

The Tattooed Poets Project: Meredith S's Interpretation of a Russian Prison Tattoo

As the end of National Poetry Month approaches, I find myself in an enviable position: too many poets' tattoos, too few days. So, I've decided to "double up" and make today a "Two for Tattoosday". I have also realized that this Tattooed Poets Series will have to continue, in one form or another, above and beyond National Poetry Month. Stay tuned for more details.

In the mean time, Meredith S., a poet from Brooklyn, sent in the following photo:


I know, I know, you can't see the whole piece in that shot, but it's pretty cool, and you can get some detail on the sparrow. Here's a more traditional shot:


Meredith explains:
"I happen to love tattoos as a intimately personal expression of ourselves...

[This] ... is an interpretation of a Russian prison tattoo that families and lovers got when they were separated by prisons and Stalin's concentration camps. The tattoo is a traditional pair of swallows holding a three-piece banner with the Russian acronyms: tomsk (a city in Russia); vino (wine); omyt (whirlpool). The acronyms stand for: you alone have my heart; come back and stay forever; it is hard to leave me.

Alex McWatt at Three Kings Tattoo did an amazing job at putting all the elements together. I decided to get this tattoo after losing most of my family members, but mainly after my mother, who is a drug addict, disappeared from my life 5 years ago."
Meredith also submitted a poem about her mother that she composed after seeing a prison mugshot of her a couple of years ago. That poem is posted here on BillyBlog.

Alex McWatt has had work appearing before on Tattoosday, here.

The Tattooed Poets Project: Meredith S's Interpretation of a Russian Prison Tattoo

As the end of National Poetry Month approaches, I find myself in an enviable position: too many poets' tattoos, too few days. So, I've decided to "double up" and make today a "Two for Tattoosday". I have also realized that this Tattooed Poets Series will have to continue, in one form or another, above and beyond National Poetry Month. Stay tuned for more details.

In the mean time, Meredith S., a poet from Brooklyn, sent in the following photo:


I know, I know, you can't see the whole piece in that shot, but it's pretty cool, and you can get some detail on the sparrow. Here's a more traditional shot:


Meredith explains:
"I happen to love tattoos as a intimately personal expression of ourselves...

[This] ... is an interpretation of a Russian prison tattoo that families and lovers got when they were separated by prisons and Stalin's concentration camps. The tattoo is a traditional pair of swallows holding a three-piece banner with the Russian acronyms: tomsk (a city in Russia); vino (wine); omyt (whirlpool). The acronyms stand for: you alone have my heart; come back and stay forever; it is hard to leave me.

Alex McWatt at Three Kings Tattoo did an amazing job at putting all the elements together. I decided to get this tattoo after losing most of my family members, but mainly after my mother, who is a drug addict, disappeared from my life 5 years ago."
Meredith also submitted a poem about her mother that she composed after seeing a prison mugshot of her a couple of years ago. That poem is posted here on BillyBlog.

Alex McWatt has had work appearing before on Tattoosday, here.

Monday, April 27, 2009

The Tattooed Poets Project: Ruth Kohtz Shares a Poema

Today's tattoo comes from Ruth Kohtz:


Ruth explains:

I got the "poema" tattoo on my birthday, November 9, in 2007, by Nik Lensing at Fluid Ink in St. Paul, Minnesota. I made the appointment about 2 hours before I got it, and I had the design all printed out already.

I had been out of college for about six months and was struggling with lots of existential "what am I doing?" kind of stuff. I have spoken Spanish and written poetry for several years, and the word "poema" ("poem") expresses that I am writing my own life into existence - there's no one way a life has to be. It's a poem.

And I got it on the back of my neck so I wouldn't have to work a job where I couldn't have a tattoo on the back of my neck. Someday I'm going to get "Ruth-less" across my knuckles...

I also have a small blue star on the inside of my right arm because it is said that poet Dorothy Parker (of the Algonquin Round Table in the 1930s) had a similar tattoo back when it was not quite so popular...
Thanks to Ruth for sharing her tattoo with us here on Tattoosday!

Please head over to BillyBlog here to see her performing one of her poems.

The Tattooed Poets Project: Ruth Kohtz Shares a Poema

Today's tattoo comes from Ruth Kohtz:


Ruth explains:

I got the "poema" tattoo on my birthday, November 9, in 2007, by Nik Lensing at Fluid Ink in St. Paul, Minnesota. I made the appointment about 2 hours before I got it, and I had the design all printed out already.

I had been out of college for about six months and was struggling with lots of existential "what am I doing?" kind of stuff. I have spoken Spanish and written poetry for several years, and the word "poema" ("poem") expresses that I am writing my own life into existence - there's no one way a life has to be. It's a poem.

And I got it on the back of my neck so I wouldn't have to work a job where I couldn't have a tattoo on the back of my neck. Someday I'm going to get "Ruth-less" across my knuckles...

I also have a small blue star on the inside of my right arm because it is said that poet Dorothy Parker (of the Algonquin Round Table in the 1930s) had a similar tattoo back when it was not quite so popular...
Thanks to Ruth for sharing her tattoo with us here on Tattoosday!

Please head over to BillyBlog here to see her performing one of her poems.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

The Tattooed Poets Project: My First Tattoo

I'm going to be a greedy little poet/blogger today and share one of my tattoos (and a tattoo-themed sestina on BillyBlog). We're in our final week of National Poetry Month, and I thought it would be a good time to hop on the bandwagon.

I was hoping to post a tattoo that I've recently had done, but the artist has respectfully requested that I wait to post it until after it has been fully completed.

So we'll head back to 2003 and my first tattoo, on my right bicep:


Back then, I was not so involved in tattooing, and I didn't really understand the process. I thought you just went to a shop, picked some flash, and had it inked. Had I known then what I know now, I may have approached the experience a little differently.

The first tattoo is a representation of my oldest daughter, Jolee. She has a Hawaiian middle name, "Lineka," which one English-Hawaiian, Hawaiian-English dictionary told me means "lynx". Not that there are any lynx roaming around Honolulu, but she certainly has the personality and beauty of a lynx, and it just seemed right.

A tattoo artist named "Sickie," who was working out of Body Arts Studio in Bay Ridge, took the flash, modified it by removing all the extraneous bamboo and other background art, and created this version of the wildcat.

He was very proud of himself over the way the eyes came out. I tend to agree. They're pretty cool. Lest you think my younger daughter feel left out, she is also represented on me in the form of a tattoo, previously posted here.

Thanks for indulging me. Now head on over to BillyBlog and read my sestina.

The Tattooed Poets Project: My First Tattoo

I'm going to be a greedy little poet/blogger today and share one of my tattoos (and a tattoo-themed sestina on BillyBlog). We're in our final week of National Poetry Month, and I thought it would be a good time to hop on the bandwagon.

I was hoping to post a tattoo that I've recently had done, but the artist has respectfully requested that I wait to post it until after it has been fully completed.

So we'll head back to 2003 and my first tattoo, on my right bicep:


Back then, I was not so involved in tattooing, and I didn't really understand the process. I thought you just went to a shop, picked some flash, and had it inked. Had I known then what I know now, I may have approached the experience a little differently.

The first tattoo is a representation of my oldest daughter, Jolee. She has a Hawaiian middle name, "Lineka," which one English-Hawaiian, Hawaiian-English dictionary told me means "lynx". Not that there are any lynx roaming around Honolulu, but she certainly has the personality and beauty of a lynx, and it just seemed right.

A tattoo artist named "Sickie," who was working out of Body Arts Studio in Bay Ridge, took the flash, modified it by removing all the extraneous bamboo and other background art, and created this version of the wildcat.

He was very proud of himself over the way the eyes came out. I tend to agree. They're pretty cool. Lest you think my younger daughter feel left out, she is also represented on me in the form of a tattoo, previously posted here.

Thanks for indulging me. Now head on over to BillyBlog and read my sestina.

The Tattooed Poets Project: Claire Askew's Two Naomis

Today's tattoos come from Claire Askew, a poet and editor who lives in Edinburgh, Scotland:


Claire explains:

My tattoo was inked by Roberto Seifert, who works out of Herzblut Tattoo in Leipzig, Germany. However, he tattooed me while doing a guest-stint at the fantastic Tattoo Zoo (run by Gerry Kramer) in Victoria, Canada. It was summer 2008 and I originally went into the parlour with my boyfriend, who was getting his second piece of Tattoo Zoo ink. Seeing the place and talking with the artists, I decided I also wanted to be tattooed there, and took the plunge -- this was my first tattoo.

The design is based on part of a painting by Alan Aldridge, most famous for his Beatles sleeve art and illustrations. I like the sleeping faces because they're innocent, but because they're inside flowers there's also something slightly sinister about them, like Venus Fly Traps. Roberto worked on them a fair bit before inking them, and the two are ever so slightly different from one another -- one looks very pure and sweet


while the other looks more menacing, like she's plotting something.

I have a bit of a Jekyll and Hyde character so this really seems to fit.

I am planning to expand this into a full chest piece in time, although currently I am enjoying their delicacy and sparseness. I've nicknamed them the Naomis -- when I had them done, I had just finished an academic dissertation on the poet Allen Ginsberg, and had become fascinated by his mother Naomi, an amazing woman, but a sufferer of paranoid schizophrenia. Perhaps fittingly, they got her name.
Thanks to Claire for sharing her tattoos with us here on Tattoosday.

Please head over to BillyBlog to read one of her poems here.

The Tattooed Poets Project: Claire Askew's Two Naomis

Today's tattoos come from Claire Askew, a poet and editor who lives in Edinburgh, Scotland:


Claire explains:

My tattoo was inked by Roberto Seifert, who works out of Herzblut Tattoo in Leipzig, Germany. However, he tattooed me while doing a guest-stint at the fantastic Tattoo Zoo (run by Gerry Kramer) in Victoria, Canada. It was summer 2008 and I originally went into the parlour with my boyfriend, who was getting his second piece of Tattoo Zoo ink. Seeing the place and talking with the artists, I decided I also wanted to be tattooed there, and took the plunge -- this was my first tattoo.

The design is based on part of a painting by Alan Aldridge, most famous for his Beatles sleeve art and illustrations. I like the sleeping faces because they're innocent, but because they're inside flowers there's also something slightly sinister about them, like Venus Fly Traps. Roberto worked on them a fair bit before inking them, and the two are ever so slightly different from one another -- one looks very pure and sweet


while the other looks more menacing, like she's plotting something.

I have a bit of a Jekyll and Hyde character so this really seems to fit.

I am planning to expand this into a full chest piece in time, although currently I am enjoying their delicacy and sparseness. I've nicknamed them the Naomis -- when I had them done, I had just finished an academic dissertation on the poet Allen Ginsberg, and had become fascinated by his mother Naomi, an amazing woman, but a sufferer of paranoid schizophrenia. Perhaps fittingly, they got her name.
Thanks to Claire for sharing her tattoos with us here on Tattoosday.

Please head over to BillyBlog to read one of her poems here.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Celebrity pictures for women - Megan Fox


Hard at work on her latest film, Megan Fox was spotted visiting the make-up trailer on the set of “Jonah Hex” in New Orleans, Louisiana on Friday (April 24).

Playing a character named Leila, the movie is about “a scarred bounty hunter who tracks a voodoo practitioner bent on liberating the South by raising an army of the undead.”

Meanwhile, it sounds as if Miss Fox has worked out her issues with on again/off again boyfriend Brian Austin Green.

“They went through couples counseling together and it seems to have done them the world of good,” a friend for the pair told press. “They are making a lot of plans for the future. They’re buying a house together first and marriage is definitely on the cards.”

The insider adds, “Megan is even hinting at a big wedding some time next year. She’s very excited.”

Friday, April 24, 2009

The Tattooed Poets Project: Rachel McKibbens' Bookish Knuckle Tattoos

Today's tattoos were submitted by Rachel McKibbens, who knows, among others, Cheryl, whose beautiful tattoo, appeared here previously. These are, in fact, the first knuckle tattoos appearing on the Tattooed Poets Project:


Rachel, who is almost fully-sleeved, writes:

I got this tattoo on April 30th, 2006, at the True Blue Tattoo studio while visiting Austin, TX. [Work from True Blue has appeared on Tattoosday twice before, click here to see]. The artist was Jon Reed. Next to my "ditches" [the inner elbows] this was the most painful tattoo I've gotten to date. I was running out of space on my arms and decided to finally go balls out and get my knuckles done. I was initially going to get " a s d f j k l ; " to represent the home keys of a typewriter, but I realized, since it would have to be upside down and backwards, it wouldn't match up with the actual fingers that rested on them.

At the time, I was teaching poetry at Bellevue Hospital, and I was always encouraging my kids to read. I would give them the books off my shelves, go to The Strand and buy in bulk, etc. I needed them to feel like they weren't confined to the hospital or their group home. One of the writing exercises was to have them come up with my knuckle tatts - two four-letter words that weren't dirty. They came up with some doozies, but nothing that really fit.

I finally came upon "book worm" after my friend Leah's boyfriend suggested it. It was such a logical choice, but the two words never came to me in the months I was searching. It is one of my favorite tattoos. And it's the first thing people see (besides the teardrop below my eye) and, since knuckle tatts have come to have this "tough guy" persona, people always laugh when they see it.
If you like knuckle tattoos, I encourage people to visit Knuckletattoos.com, where I occasionally contribute a piece I've spotted in New York. I would have sent Rachel there, but they posted a Book Worm tattoo knuckle piece here.

Thanks to Rachel for submitting these here.

Please head over to BillyBlog to read one of her poems here.

The Tattooed Poets Project: Rachel McKibbens' Bookish Knuckle Tattoos

Today's tattoos were submitted by Rachel McKibbens, who knows, among others, Cheryl, whose beautiful tattoo, appeared here previously. These are, in fact, the first knuckle tattoos appearing on the Tattooed Poets Project:


Rachel, who is almost fully-sleeved, writes:

I got this tattoo on April 30th, 2006, at the True Blue Tattoo studio while visiting Austin, TX. [Work from True Blue has appeared on Tattoosday twice before, click here to see]. The artist was Jon Reed. Next to my "ditches" [the inner elbows] this was the most painful tattoo I've gotten to date. I was running out of space on my arms and decided to finally go balls out and get my knuckles done. I was initially going to get " a s d f j k l ; " to represent the home keys of a typewriter, but I realized, since it would have to be upside down and backwards, it wouldn't match up with the actual fingers that rested on them.

At the time, I was teaching poetry at Bellevue Hospital, and I was always encouraging my kids to read. I would give them the books off my shelves, go to The Strand and buy in bulk, etc. I needed them to feel like they weren't confined to the hospital or their group home. One of the writing exercises was to have them come up with my knuckle tatts - two four-letter words that weren't dirty. They came up with some doozies, but nothing that really fit.

I finally came upon "book worm" after my friend Leah's boyfriend suggested it. It was such a logical choice, but the two words never came to me in the months I was searching. It is one of my favorite tattoos. And it's the first thing people see (besides the teardrop below my eye) and, since knuckle tatts have come to have this "tough guy" persona, people always laugh when they see it.
If you like knuckle tattoos, I encourage people to visit Knuckletattoos.com, where I occasionally contribute a piece I've spotted in New York. I would have sent Rachel there, but they posted a Book Worm tattoo knuckle piece here.

Thanks to Rachel for submitting these here.

Please head over to BillyBlog to read one of her poems here.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

The Tattooed Poets Project: Craig Arnold - Ἔρως and ψυχή

Today's tattoos come to us from Craig Arnold, who I found by way of J.D. McClatchy (who is un-inked, but suggested I contact Craig).

He sent these to me from Yakushima in Japan, which, according to Craig, "has lots of Princess Mononoke landscapes but very little internet/phone service".

Craig has two Greek words inscribed on his arms:


Craig explains:

"Both are Greek words: the right arm (Ἔρως) is eros, the left arm (ψυχή) is psyche. They were acquired almost exactly a year apart from each other, right arm in August 2003, left in 2004, both at Lost Art Tattoo in Salt Lake City, Utah. I believe the artist was Dean ... He designed the lettering.

In retrospect there's maybe not much of a story here, but I'll tell what there is of it.

That summer, my then-partner and I were in the early stages of splitting up, after many years together. It used to be -- maybe it still is, in some quarters -- that people got tattoos together at the start of a relationship, to express the beginning of a shared enterprise. But we were never much for going about things in the right order. So, we got tattoos together as the end approached, to remind us of our "irreconcilable differences." On my right arm I got eros -- desire, especially sexual, libido, profane love, but also creation; I think of Whitman's 'urge and urge and urge, / Always the procreant urge of the world.' And on her left, she has agape -- I suppose you could call it divine love, Christian or selfless love, unconditional love,

After a while, though, Eros got lonely and acquired a Psyche. In Greek, psyche can mean many things -- breath or life, spirit, soul, mind and self (thus, psychology). In some parts of Greece it's still used to mean butterfly. But Psyche is also the human girl who falls in love with the god Eros, in the fairy-tale that Apuleius tells in The Golden Ass, one of the earliest versions of Beauty & the Beast. The story is about what comes between them and how they finally succeed in getting back together; I think of it as one of the foundational myths, an allegory for the ways in which Desire and Will depend on and fulfill each other."
Thanks to Craig for sharing his tattoos with us here on Tattoosday. To read one of Craig's poems, please hop on over to BillyBlog here.


The Tattooed Poets Project: Craig Arnold - Ἔρως and ψυχή

Today's tattoos come to us from Craig Arnold, who I found by way of J.D. McClatchy (who is un-inked, but suggested I contact Craig).

He sent these to me from Yakushima in Japan, which, according to Craig, "has lots of Princess Mononoke landscapes but very little internet/phone service".

Craig has two Greek words inscribed on his arms:


Craig explains:

"Both are Greek words: the right arm (Ἔρως) is eros, the left arm (ψυχή) is psyche. They were acquired almost exactly a year apart from each other, right arm in August 2003, left in 2004, both at Lost Art Tattoo in Salt Lake City, Utah. I believe the artist was Dean ... He designed the lettering.

In retrospect there's maybe not much of a story here, but I'll tell what there is of it.

That summer, my then-partner and I were in the early stages of splitting up, after many years together. It used to be -- maybe it still is, in some quarters -- that people got tattoos together at the start of a relationship, to express the beginning of a shared enterprise. But we were never much for going about things in the right order. So, we got tattoos together as the end approached, to remind us of our "irreconcilable differences." On my right arm I got eros -- desire, especially sexual, libido, profane love, but also creation; I think of Whitman's 'urge and urge and urge, / Always the procreant urge of the world.' And on her left, she has agape -- I suppose you could call it divine love, Christian or selfless love, unconditional love,

After a while, though, Eros got lonely and acquired a Psyche. In Greek, psyche can mean many things -- breath or life, spirit, soul, mind and self (thus, psychology). In some parts of Greece it's still used to mean butterfly. But Psyche is also the human girl who falls in love with the god Eros, in the fairy-tale that Apuleius tells in The Golden Ass, one of the earliest versions of Beauty & the Beast. The story is about what comes between them and how they finally succeed in getting back together; I think of it as one of the foundational myths, an allegory for the ways in which Desire and Will depend on and fulfill each other."
Thanks to Craig for sharing his tattoos with us here on Tattoosday. To read one of Craig's poems, please hop on over to BillyBlog here.


Wednesday, April 22, 2009

The Tattooed Poets Project: Guy LeCharles Gonzalez Presents A Bat from Jersey and a Honeymoon Memento

Today's tattoos are presented by the poet Guy LeCharles Gonzalez.

The first one is a bat:


Guy explains:

"I got the first tattoo, a stylized bat, back in 1995 somewhere in New Jersey; Toms River, maybe? I'd resisted the urge to get one while I was on active duty in the Army, not wanting something stereotypical that I'd hate or regret a few years later, but a friend of mine had finally psyched herself up, and convinced me and another friend to head down to the Jersey Shore and do the deed as a group. Before we got to the Shore, which seemed much further away than we thought it was, we passed a small tattoo parlor on the side of the road and decided to go there instead. Batman has always been my favorite superhero, appealing on a number of levels, but I figured the logo would be too cheesy for a tattoo, and picked out a bat from the artist's sketchbook, tweaked it a little bit, and voila! I still love it to this day."

The second tattoo Guy sent was this:


Guy continues:

"I got the second tattoo, a pseudo-tribal band with my wife's name in the middle, on the second-to-last day of our honeymoon in Cancun in July 1998. There was a tattoo parlor in one of the flea market/shopping districts up near the elbow of the strip that seemed pretty clean -- despite the handful of teenagers getting tattoos they would certainly regret a few years later -- and against our better judgment, we both decided to get our second tattoos, each incorporating the other's name. We'll celebrate our 11th anniversary this summer, and before then we both intend to have those tattoos tweaked; I'd like mine to be bigger and have more of a Mayan flavor to
it as I've always felt a connection to that culture, even before our trips to the Yucatan."
Thanks to Guy for sharing these tattoos with us here on Tattoosday!

Please head over to BillyBlog and check out one of his poems here.

The Tattooed Poets Project: Guy LeCharles Gonzalez Presents A Bat from Jersey and a Honeymoon Memento

Today's tattoos are presented by the poet Guy LeCharles Gonzalez.

The first one is a bat:


Guy explains:

"I got the first tattoo, a stylized bat, back in 1995 somewhere in New Jersey; Toms River, maybe? I'd resisted the urge to get one while I was on active duty in the Army, not wanting something stereotypical that I'd hate or regret a few years later, but a friend of mine had finally psyched herself up, and convinced me and another friend to head down to the Jersey Shore and do the deed as a group. Before we got to the Shore, which seemed much further away than we thought it was, we passed a small tattoo parlor on the side of the road and decided to go there instead. Batman has always been my favorite superhero, appealing on a number of levels, but I figured the logo would be too cheesy for a tattoo, and picked out a bat from the artist's sketchbook, tweaked it a little bit, and voila! I still love it to this day."

The second tattoo Guy sent was this:


Guy continues:

"I got the second tattoo, a pseudo-tribal band with my wife's name in the middle, on the second-to-last day of our honeymoon in Cancun in July 1998. There was a tattoo parlor in one of the flea market/shopping districts up near the elbow of the strip that seemed pretty clean -- despite the handful of teenagers getting tattoos they would certainly regret a few years later -- and against our better judgment, we both decided to get our second tattoos, each incorporating the other's name. We'll celebrate our 11th anniversary this summer, and before then we both intend to have those tattoos tweaked; I'd like mine to be bigger and have more of a Mayan flavor to
it as I've always felt a connection to that culture, even before our trips to the Yucatan."
Thanks to Guy for sharing these tattoos with us here on Tattoosday!

Please head over to BillyBlog and check out one of his poems here.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

The Tattooed Poets Project: Cody Todd's Murals - Star Wars and an Interpretive Tribal

Today's tattoos come from Cody Todd, who was referred to me by Carol Muske-Dukes:

The first one is a back piece, still in progress:


Cody explains this as "a Star Wars mural--the Millenium Falcon in front of a meteor pursued by a TIE Fighter, from The Empire Strikes Back with the specter of Boba Fett looming above the chase." He credits an artist named Skip (since retired) at Old World Tattoo in Arvada, Colorado (North Denver). This was primarily done in 1996.

Cody expands on the piece:

...the one on my back is still in progress--I foresee at least 5-6 more sessions and touch-ups before I can say it is certainly complete. I like visual collages and pastiche, just as I like the poetic collage of Eliot's Prufrock and The Waste Land, Marianne Moore's Poetry, or Frank Stanford's "The Battlefield where the Moon Says I Love You" and Joshua Clover's The Totality for Kids, are other examples. Poetry that synthesizes subject matter, speaking voices, speaking subjects, and stitch together otherwise independent and unlike things--unified by the mode of collage.

Why a Star Wars tattoo? Well, I guess I buy the argument lent forth in Joseph Campbell's The Hero with A Thousand Faces, that the mythical embodiments of the epic, the quest, and the hero are not just culturally shared, but I think each generation has their own embodiment as well. Hokey, cheesy, and melodramatic --yes, but I still watch Empire... with great nostalgia, and I don't think enough credit goes to [George] Lucas and his literary homage paid to Aquinas, Emerson, Plato, and Homer, to name a few. However, the revisions of Star Wars Episodes 1-3 are so bad I cannot watch them without getting sick. Maybe I am old now, but I just don't get them at all. Nevertheless, my parents still joke about the fact that I was conceived in the backseat of a Ford Pinto while they were "watching" Star Wars at a south Denver drive-in in the summer of 77."

The second piece is a "tribal-esque mural," of sorts, and was tattooed by a friend of Cody's named Bryan in 1997, at Your Flesh Grappling (now known as Your Flesh Tattoo) in Durango, Colorado. This piece was drawn by Cody and wraps around his left thigh:

Cody added:

"The leg tattoo was a personalized redefinition of the "Tribal" tattoos that were the craze when tattoos were no longer isolated to deviancy. Loosely quoting Mike Ness of Social Distortion, in the 1990's, kids could go to a mall and get their little "parts" pierced or walk out of there with a barbed wire tribal band around their biceps. I took a one-page graffiti collage from a notebook that I penciled of hooks, circles, ovoids, anemone-shaped and flame-shaped patterns with tentacles--my first name is actually on the upper left, and a small skyline of Denver with that wacky cash-register shaped building [The Wells Fargo Center] is just 1:00 o'clock from the family of bubbles or spheres centered in the band. I am going to amend this tat with another piece of similar solid black-ink graffiti to wrap a 4-inch band around my knee. That is the thing about tattoos--they are addictive; they beg to grow new limbs, and in that sense they are like little monsters."
I've been posting the tattooed poets' work over on BillyBlog and you can check out not one, but two of Cody's poems here. One is called "Boba Fett". But, as an added treat, I'm including one here, as well, because it just seemed appropriate:

Tattooed on the Backs of Eight Fireflies:

Under a dark loam of night,

pure barbed wire.

*

Apparitions dancing

dancing and dancing.

*

Some of us just might bite

the apple those cursed birds already did.

*

Old story: cat bats us away

to reanimate or destroy.

*

Words are the ruse, flight

is the guise, and we are the fakers.

*

Return the favor: grace for

sex or salvation for dust.

*

Time is the knife. Gods the size

of thumbs. Men with bloody hands.

    *

We captured our god, the sun,

and feasted on him by torchlight.


Thanks to Cody for not only sharing his tattoos with us here on Tattoosday, but for expounding on them at such length. It's always fascinating to hear people go beyond the literal meanings of the tattoos themselves, and explore the deeper significance of the art form as it pertains to themselves and society.

The Tattooed Poets Project: Cody Todd's Murals - Star Wars and an Interpretive Tribal

Today's tattoos come from Cody Todd, who was referred to me by Carol Muske-Dukes:

The first one is a back piece, still in progress:


Cody explains this as "a Star Wars mural--the Millenium Falcon in front of a meteor pursued by a TIE Fighter, from The Empire Strikes Back with the specter of Boba Fett looming above the chase." He credits an artist named Skip (since retired) at Old World Tattoo in Arvada, Colorado (North Denver). This was primarily done in 1996.

Cody expands on the piece:

...the one on my back is still in progress--I foresee at least 5-6 more sessions and touch-ups before I can say it is certainly complete. I like visual collages and pastiche, just as I like the poetic collage of Eliot's Prufrock and The Waste Land, Marianne Moore's Poetry, or Frank Stanford's "The Battlefield where the Moon Says I Love You" and Joshua Clover's The Totality for Kids, are other examples. Poetry that synthesizes subject matter, speaking voices, speaking subjects, and stitch together otherwise independent and unlike things--unified by the mode of collage.

Why a Star Wars tattoo? Well, I guess I buy the argument lent forth in Joseph Campbell's The Hero with A Thousand Faces, that the mythical embodiments of the epic, the quest, and the hero are not just culturally shared, but I think each generation has their own embodiment as well. Hokey, cheesy, and melodramatic --yes, but I still watch Empire... with great nostalgia, and I don't think enough credit goes to [George] Lucas and his literary homage paid to Aquinas, Emerson, Plato, and Homer, to name a few. However, the revisions of Star Wars Episodes 1-3 are so bad I cannot watch them without getting sick. Maybe I am old now, but I just don't get them at all. Nevertheless, my parents still joke about the fact that I was conceived in the backseat of a Ford Pinto while they were "watching" Star Wars at a south Denver drive-in in the summer of 77."

The second piece is a "tribal-esque mural," of sorts, and was tattooed by a friend of Cody's named Bryan in 1997, at Your Flesh Grappling (now known as Your Flesh Tattoo) in Durango, Colorado. This piece was drawn by Cody and wraps around his left thigh:

Cody added:

"The leg tattoo was a personalized redefinition of the "Tribal" tattoos that were the craze when tattoos were no longer isolated to deviancy. Loosely quoting Mike Ness of Social Distortion, in the 1990's, kids could go to a mall and get their little "parts" pierced or walk out of there with a barbed wire tribal band around their biceps. I took a one-page graffiti collage from a notebook that I penciled of hooks, circles, ovoids, anemone-shaped and flame-shaped patterns with tentacles--my first name is actually on the upper left, and a small skyline of Denver with that wacky cash-register shaped building [The Wells Fargo Center] is just 1:00 o'clock from the family of bubbles or spheres centered in the band. I am going to amend this tat with another piece of similar solid black-ink graffiti to wrap a 4-inch band around my knee. That is the thing about tattoos--they are addictive; they beg to grow new limbs, and in that sense they are like little monsters."
I've been posting the tattooed poets' work over on BillyBlog and you can check out not one, but two of Cody's poems here. One is called "Boba Fett". But, as an added treat, I'm including one here, as well, because it just seemed appropriate:

Tattooed on the Backs of Eight Fireflies:

Under a dark loam of night,

pure barbed wire.

*

Apparitions dancing

dancing and dancing.

*

Some of us just might bite

the apple those cursed birds already did.

*

Old story: cat bats us away

to reanimate or destroy.

*

Words are the ruse, flight

is the guise, and we are the fakers.

*

Return the favor: grace for

sex or salvation for dust.

*

Time is the knife. Gods the size

of thumbs. Men with bloody hands.

    *

We captured our god, the sun,

and feasted on him by torchlight.


Thanks to Cody for not only sharing his tattoos with us here on Tattoosday, but for expounding on them at such length. It's always fascinating to hear people go beyond the literal meanings of the tattoos themselves, and explore the deeper significance of the art form as it pertains to themselves and society.

Monday, April 20, 2009

The Tattooed Poets Project: Dese'Rae Stage and Some Poetic Tulips

Last Wednesday (April 15), I was trying to distract myself from having my back tattooed, when my BlackBerry chirped and I found a wonderful e-mail in my inbox. A poet and photographer named Dese'Rae Stage had graced me with some photos of a few of her fifteen tattoos. What follows is my favorite of those pieces:

The first piece is based on Sylvia Plath's poem "Tulips":


The poem is below, with the lines extracted for the tattoo highlighted:

TULIPS
The tulips are too excitable, it is winter here.
Look how white everything is, how quiet, how snowed-in
I am learning peacefulness, lying by myself quietly
As the light lies on these white walls, this bed, these hands.
I am nobody; I have nothing to do with explosions.
I have given my name and my day-clothes up to the nurses
And my history to the anaesthetist and my body to surgeons.

They have propped my head between the pillow and the sheet-cuff
Like an eye between two white lids that will not shut.
Stupid pupil, it has to take everything in.
The nurses pass and pass, they are no trouble,
They pass the way gulls pass inland in their white caps,
Doing things with their hands, one just the same as another,
So it is impossible to tell how many there are.

My body is a pebble to them, they tend it as water
Tends to the pebbles it must run over, smoothing them gently.
They bring me numbness in their bright needles, they bring me sleep.
Now I have lost myself I am sick of baggage ----
My patent leather overnight case like a black pillbox,
My husband and child smiling out of the family photo;
Their smiles catch onto my skin, little smiling hooks.

I have let things slip, a thirty-year-old cargo boat
Stubbornly hanging on to my name and address.
They have swabbed me clear of my loving associations.
Scared and bare on the green plastic-pillowed trolley
I watched my teaset, my bureaus of linen, my books
Sink out of sight, and the water went over my head.
I am a nun now, I have never been so pure.

I didn't want any flowers, I only wanted
To lie with my hands turned up and be utterly empty.
How free it is, you have no idea how free ----
The peacefulness is so big it dazes you,
And it asks nothing, a name tag, a few trinkets.
It is what the dead close on, finally; I imagine them
Shutting their mouths on it, like a Communion tablet.

The tulips are too red in the first place, they hurt me.
Even through the gift paper I could hear them breathe
Lightly, through their white swaddlings, like an awful baby.
Their redness talks to my wound, it corresponds.
They are subtle: they seem to float, though they weigh me down,
Upsetting me with their sudden tongues and their colour,
A dozen red lead sinkers round my neck.

Nobody watched me before, now I am watched.
The tulips turn to me, and the window behind me
Where once a day the light slowly widens and slowly thins,
And I see myself, flat, ridiculous, a cut-paper shadow
Between the eye of the sun and the eyes of the tulips,
And I have no face, I have wanted to efface myself.
The vivid tulips eat my oxygen.

Before they came the air was calm enough,
Coming and going, breath by breath, without any fuss.
Then the tulips filled it up like a loud noise.
Now the air snags and eddies round them the way a river
Snags and eddies round a sunken rust-red engine.
They concentrate my attention, that was happy
Playing and resting without committing itself.

The walls, also, seem to be warming themselves.
The tulips should be behind bars like dangerous animals;
They are opening like the mouth of some great African cat,
And I am aware of my heart: it opens and closes
Its bowl of red blooms out of sheer love of me.
The water I taste is warm and salt, like the sea,
And comes from a country far away as health.

Dese'Rae explains the background of this tattoo:

"The interpretation is literal enough: it's a poem about suicide and I'd recently tried to commit suicide (I got the piece done back in November 2006 and the summer prior was particularly difficult). One of my oldest friends, Ryan Falcon, just happens to be a talented artist, so I took him a tiny line drawing of some tulips and a copy of the poem with the selected lines highlighted and told him to go to it. The only stencil he used was for the words. He drew a rough outline of the bulbs, but everyth ing else was free-handed. This piece is on my inner left calf."

For the sake of brevity, I am only posting this one tattoo, of the five Dese'Rae sent me. It is, in my opinion, the best of the tattoos she sent me. However, I may post more in the future, with her permission.

It should be noted that the artist behind this tattoo, the aforementioned Ryan Falcon, is based in Miami, Florida and works at Almost Famous Tattoo. Truly spectacular, and worth a second look:


Thanks to Dese'Rae for sharing her amazing tattoo with us here on Tattoosday, as well as sharing the deeply personal story that accompanies it.

Head over to BillyBlog to read one of her poems here.

The Tattooed Poets Project: Dese'Rae Stage and Some Poetic Tulips

Last Wednesday (April 15), I was trying to distract myself from having my back tattooed, when my BlackBerry chirped and I found a wonderful e-mail in my inbox. A poet and photographer named Dese'Rae Stage had graced me with some photos of a few of her fifteen tattoos. What follows is my favorite of those pieces:

The first piece is based on Sylvia Plath's poem "Tulips":


The poem is below, with the lines extracted for the tattoo highlighted:

TULIPS
The tulips are too excitable, it is winter here.
Look how white everything is, how quiet, how snowed-in
I am learning peacefulness, lying by myself quietly
As the light lies on these white walls, this bed, these hands.
I am nobody; I have nothing to do with explosions.
I have given my name and my day-clothes up to the nurses
And my history to the anaesthetist and my body to surgeons.

They have propped my head between the pillow and the sheet-cuff
Like an eye between two white lids that will not shut.
Stupid pupil, it has to take everything in.
The nurses pass and pass, they are no trouble,
They pass the way gulls pass inland in their white caps,
Doing things with their hands, one just the same as another,
So it is impossible to tell how many there are.

My body is a pebble to them, they tend it as water
Tends to the pebbles it must run over, smoothing them gently.
They bring me numbness in their bright needles, they bring me sleep.
Now I have lost myself I am sick of baggage ----
My patent leather overnight case like a black pillbox,
My husband and child smiling out of the family photo;
Their smiles catch onto my skin, little smiling hooks.

I have let things slip, a thirty-year-old cargo boat
Stubbornly hanging on to my name and address.
They have swabbed me clear of my loving associations.
Scared and bare on the green plastic-pillowed trolley
I watched my teaset, my bureaus of linen, my books
Sink out of sight, and the water went over my head.
I am a nun now, I have never been so pure.

I didn't want any flowers, I only wanted
To lie with my hands turned up and be utterly empty.
How free it is, you have no idea how free ----
The peacefulness is so big it dazes you,
And it asks nothing, a name tag, a few trinkets.
It is what the dead close on, finally; I imagine them
Shutting their mouths on it, like a Communion tablet.

The tulips are too red in the first place, they hurt me.
Even through the gift paper I could hear them breathe
Lightly, through their white swaddlings, like an awful baby.
Their redness talks to my wound, it corresponds.
They are subtle: they seem to float, though they weigh me down,
Upsetting me with their sudden tongues and their colour,
A dozen red lead sinkers round my neck.

Nobody watched me before, now I am watched.
The tulips turn to me, and the window behind me
Where once a day the light slowly widens and slowly thins,
And I see myself, flat, ridiculous, a cut-paper shadow
Between the eye of the sun and the eyes of the tulips,
And I have no face, I have wanted to efface myself.
The vivid tulips eat my oxygen.

Before they came the air was calm enough,
Coming and going, breath by breath, without any fuss.
Then the tulips filled it up like a loud noise.
Now the air snags and eddies round them the way a river
Snags and eddies round a sunken rust-red engine.
They concentrate my attention, that was happy
Playing and resting without committing itself.

The walls, also, seem to be warming themselves.
The tulips should be behind bars like dangerous animals;
They are opening like the mouth of some great African cat,
And I am aware of my heart: it opens and closes
Its bowl of red blooms out of sheer love of me.
The water I taste is warm and salt, like the sea,
And comes from a country far away as health.

Dese'Rae explains the background of this tattoo:

"The interpretation is literal enough: it's a poem about suicide and I'd recently tried to commit suicide (I got the piece done back in November 2006 and the summer prior was particularly difficult). One of my oldest friends, Ryan Falcon, just happens to be a talented artist, so I took him a tiny line drawing of some tulips and a copy of the poem with the selected lines highlighted and told him to go to it. The only stencil he used was for the words. He drew a rough outline of the bulbs, but everyth ing else was free-handed. This piece is on my inner left calf."

For the sake of brevity, I am only posting this one tattoo, of the five Dese'Rae sent me. It is, in my opinion, the best of the tattoos she sent me. However, I may post more in the future, with her permission.

It should be noted that the artist behind this tattoo, the aforementioned Ryan Falcon, is based in Miami, Florida and works at Almost Famous Tattoo. Truly spectacular, and worth a second look:


Thanks to Dese'Rae for sharing her amazing tattoo with us here on Tattoosday, as well as sharing the deeply personal story that accompanies it.

Head over to BillyBlog to read one of her poems here.