Craig Arnold, whose poem was 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.
Thursday, April 30, 2009
Craig Arnold, whose poem was featured just last Friday here, has gone missing on an isolated island in Japan.
Today's poem is from Joy Harjo:
|by Joy Harjo|
I must keep from breaking into the story by force for if I do I will find myself with a war club in my hand and the smoke of grief staggering toward the sun, your nation dead beside you. I keep walking away though it has been an eternity and from each drop of blood springs up sons and daughters, trees, a mountain of sorrows, of songs. I tell you this from the dusk of a small city in the north not far from the birthplace of cars and industry. Geese are returning to mate and crocuses have broken through the frozen earth. Soon they will come for me and I will make my stand before the jury of destiny. Yes, I will answer in the clatter of the new world, I have broken my addiction to war and desire. Yes, I will reply, I have buried the dead and made songs of the blood, the marrow.
Thanks to Joy for participating in the Tattooed Poets Series! Check out one of her tattoos here.
"Alas, I've done the uninkable"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.
-Paul Muldoon, February 3, 2009
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.
And now, the final tattooed poet for the month! Enjoy.....
Wednesday, April 29, 2009
Today's poem is from Eileen Myles:
I was looking
at the chandelier
I was driving
was a girl
She had a
with a really
but I gave
am are U
I don't count
Eileen Myles is among the ranks of the officially restless, a poet (Sorry, Tree) who writes fiction (Chelsea Girls, Cool for You) and an essayist whose The Importance of Being Iceland, for which she received a Warhol/Creative Capital grant will come out in July, 09 from Semiotext(e)/MIT. She lives in New York.
Please head over to Tattoosday to see one of her tattoos here.
A gracious thank you to Eileen for sharing her work with us here on BillyBlog.
Tuesday, April 28, 2009
As I explained over on Tattoosday, we had a surplus of poems from tattooed poets, so I've doubled up and made it a "Two-for -Tattoosday". Today's second poem is from Meredith S.:
Edelweiss (to my mother)
You sit in grandmother'sOak rocking chair:Crumpled hands resting inwell worn wooden grooves-The sway of your light blue,Sweat stained nightgownLapping at the sagging skinCovering your calves.
The room, a cave of linoleum andDamp musky air is dim,The only light that gently radiatesIs from a collection of dirty worn potholdersThat I thumb betweenmy long fingers and rough palms.
I breathe the thick air,Taste the sickness sour on my tongueAnd look back at the waves gentlyLapping against your bones.You turn, smile slightly sweetly,A look that signals a burst of lucidity-I whimper a shouting whisper:"I love you, but I cannot be your friend."You nod, register and the air grows thick again.
I cup your sharp jawbone,Clench a hand that once swaddled me,Whisper into an ear once tuned to my cries:"I forgive you"
The cave has become stagnant-The air unbearable asI stand behind you likeA guardian of all things unsaid:Your mouth parts, I reach down andSuddenly your mouth is gaping wider and wider:Jaw unhinging and your skull openingLike the cherished music boxesyou bought me as a child;The stench of rotten meat fills the thick air:I am awake.
Meredith S. was raised in a small town in north Louisiana. It wasn't until she moved to New Orleans when she was 18 that she found a city to call home. After her mother disappeared due to a drug addiction, Meredith moved to New York four years ago in search of a new home. She now resides in Brooklyn with her pug, Piggy.
See a tattoo inspired by her mother over on Tattoosday here.
Thanks to Meredith for contributing to this project!
Today's poem, "Phosphorous," comes to us from Ruth Kohtz, in the form of a video:
Ruth is a writer who performs regularly in Twin Cities' poetry slams, readings, and open mics. She studied writing at the Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics in 2006. Her work has appeared in college literary magazines, random blogs, and in the bathroom of the Uptowner on Grand Avenue in St. Paul MN.
Thanks to Ruth for her contribution! Head over to Tattoosday to see one of her tattoos.
Monday, April 27, 2009
I'm going to be a greedy little blogger today and share one of my own poems (and one of my tattoos). The following poem takes the form of a sestina (clink link to see what makes a sestina). A hearty thank you to Doriane Laux for the advice and encouragement in publishing this here.
This is my maiden sestina, an initial attempt
At the celebrated form. Instead of pencil or ink,
I compose on a glowing screen. Two curious angels
Watch over me as I write, guiding my trembling hands
As they type. I pray for the steadiness of a tattoo
Artist, filling the flesh with a myriad of color.
Of course, my words are shaded black and white, not color,
And like any awkward apprentice’s nervous attempt
At needling a sketchy, rudimentary tattoo,
I try to keep it simple, hardly complicated ink.
My fingers blur as they strike the keyboard. I use my hands
To breathe my song, channeling the voices of the Angels.
Not that I claim to be a spokesman for the Angels.
My ego does not allow such nonsense. The bright color
Of my embarrassment flushes my face, tinges my hands
As I continue to sing my sestina, as I tempt
the words to form lines, the lines to form stanzas, the black ink
Jumping off of the page, “popping,” they say, like a tattoo
Glimmering on the flesh, hovering over skin. That, too,
Is the work of buzzing artists and guardian angels.
It takes a steady hand and an exquisite eye to ink
The skin, to fill a fleshy canvas with vibrant color.
I panic seeing my sweaty palms making an attempt
At art, transcendent. I could never trust my bumbling hands
To alter the landscape of another man. When one hands
The body over to an artist as they prepare to tattoo,
It is an intimacy, a leap of faith, as they tempt
the tingling nerves, touching skin, mating curves with angles,
no easy task when each canvas is a different color,
each shade an alternate universe absorbing the ink.
I marvel at the multitudes of passers-by with ink
Decorating arms and legs, necks and backs, breasts, feet and hands
Of the painted – residents, tourists, all races, colors.
I cannot draw a fig. I only write about tattoos-
Whether they be snakes, skulls, dragons, butterflies, or angels.
The very least that I can do is offer this attempt.
I tempt Fate with this, my maiden sestina, from thought to cursor to ink.
I may not possess the gift of the angels, or an artist’s steady hands,
But in every tattoo, I see poetry. In every poem, color.
William Dickenson Cohen, known more commonly as Bill Cohen, is a Hawaii-raised, L.A.-educated, Brooklyn-acclimated blogger and poet who feels awkward writing his own bio for his own blog.
He was most prolific poetically in the 1990's, when he had several dozen poems published in numerous small press magazines, including Atom Mind, Pudding, Lilliput Review, The Rockford Review and paperplates. One of his poems was included in the anthology Essential Love.
Please check out one of his tattoos here.
Sunday, April 26, 2009
Today's poem comes to us from Scotland and the poet Claire Askew:
and I wondered just exactly
what he'd accept. If I offered up
my thumb-print's small maze,
or the mark left years ago
I could shirk off a sleeve to reveal
the slim lines of my lion tattoo, or leave
a bite-mark, uniquely mine,
in the cold, hard bank of the bar.
Surely he'd know by the backs
or the cool, low chime of my speech?
or at home) in a half-second;
hew my most loved book's synopsis
out my blood-type, my birthplace?
The ten-digit code to my building's front door?
Turned away from his door,
I walked home through the closes –
the meaningless walls
and the mauve smoke of dusk.
I was hem-swish and footsteps,
a mind’s quiet song – more heart
than any photo-card could hold.
Thanks to Claire for sharing her poem with us here on BillyBlog. Head over to Tattoosday to see her lovely first tattoo here.
Saturday, April 25, 2009
Today's poem is from Rachel McKibbens:
instead of a note, a tiny black box
I dreamt you became an airplane; miniature windows
lined the left and right side of your torsowith small heads peeking out of them.Some of the people waved. One man blew me a kiss.
Halfway through the dream, it became our wedding.
The arms of your tuxedo removed to make roomfor your wingspan. I fed you cake through your propellors.
When I woke up, I half-wished you were going to surprise me
with tickets to Costa Rica. Or news that you were being transferred
to the main offices in Decatur. I didn't expect to findyour side of the bed engulfed in flames, a herd of fire enginescircling the hole in the mattress.I could not have imagined the tiny islandthat surfaced near the headboard later that night,the bodies of all your ex-loversfloating off in the distance.
Friday, April 24, 2009
Today's poem comes to us from Craig Arnold:
Happily Ever After
After the hot wax in the dark
dripped on the shoulder after the trials
the seeds sorted the river emptied
the Queen of the Dead’s black box opened
after the swoon the deathlike sleep
after he kisses her back to life
and they soar in perfect ecstasy
up to being gods together
now it is all and ever shall be
perfect but given an eternity
together might they not discover
that what they wanted was less each other
than want itself yearning and struggle
pursuit and failure and falling at last
into each other triumphantly
If love lasted forever
if we lost the taste of loss
what would we do for sweet or bitter
how would we give infinity a flavor
how would we spend our endless number
of second chances would we feel free
to ply our casual cruelties
They call or they don’t call
They make dates they never plan to keep
They drink they gossip they sleep their way
through a circle of friends that grows each year
smaller soon they begin to find each other
embarrassing like old school friends
or cellmates feeling awkwardly
that they have shared too much
until at last after an epic
encounter in Tangier the all-night quarrel
the tears and the accusations and the spilled
peppermint tea they give themselves
permission to lose touch
He starts a band records hit
acoustic-techno numbers that ache
with longing unspeakable and infinite
He moves in with a girl whose fridge is filled
with Dr. Pepper her apartment
papered with Dr. Pepper posters
and old tin Dr. Pepper signs
She gets into therapy at first
a full-time patient then with her own
practice she dates one of her clients
a boy who shaves his crotch and armpits
not to become a man she keeps
the keys to every place she’s ever lived
in a box she can no longer lift
It happens now and again
they are drawn at the same time
to the same place the ruined temple
the sidewalk café beside the Spanish Steps
that made the most exquisite mushroom crêpes
the park bench under the cherry trees
even the small Southwestern airport
They miss each other by a day
an hour a minute even
And as they sit and sip
glasses of water in which the ice
has long since melted as they wait
half-aware that they might be missing
something important as they signal
their servers to bring their separate checks
a cold thought passes over them
the shadow of a cloud across a lake
Perhaps this is not paradise
but the perfect punishment dreamed up
by love and death to cheat them out of both
no end no consummation but to play
over and over the feel of falling
toward each other endlessly
Craig Arnold's new book of poems, Made Flesh, is now available from Copper Canyon. He is spending this spring and summer wandering through Japan on a US-Japan Creative Artists Residency, working on a book about volcanoes. He teaches at the University of Wyoming. Follow his near-death (and near-life) experiences at http://volcanopilgrim.wordpress.com
You can read more of Craig's poems here.
Please head over to Tattoosday to see Craig's tattoos here.
Thursday, April 23, 2009
Today's poem is from Guy LeCharles Gonzalez:
BreathlessGuy LeCharles Gonzalez works in publishing by day, world domination by night. Over the years he’s lived in Staten Island and South Beach Miami; served in the Jehovah’s Witnesses, US Army, and Dennis Kucinich’s ‘04 Presidential Campaign; won poetry slams, founded a reading series, co-authored a book of poetry and launched the coolest online literary journal ever; prefers Pumpkin and India Pale Ales, Jim Beam, and Dona Paula Shiraz Malbec. He’s a devout Mets fan from the Bronx now living in New Jersey, and has a beautiful wife and two amazing kids.
When I was young
I believed that if I held my breath while crossing bridges
I’d survive the day the ground gave way
plunging me into the dark waters below.
My mother would look back at me and smile,
How long can you hold it?
My silence was her answer
as eyes teared
and pulse quickened…
When I was young
I believed that Batman
and the rest of the Superfriends
really were on the other end of the phone
telling me it was past my bedtime
and that if I was good
and did my homework
and respected my mother
that one day I too
could be a superhero!
I never questioned Wonder Woman’s deep voice
or Superman’s gruff smoker’s growl.
When I was young
I believed the skeleton in my closet
was the monster under my bed
so I confronted him
called him poetry
and set him free.
When I was young
I believed I would one day change the world
through sheer force of will.
Manhood introduced me to bridges
long and winding
where the ability to hold my breath
paled in comparison to the need
to hold my ground.
Bridges collapse everyday from neglect
and acts of war
or acts of God
a foolish game of semantics
no pen and ink hero could ever win.
I learned in time
to cherish my mother’s wisdom
and the true meaning of her words.
I still believe I can change the world
no matter what bridges I have to cross.
How long can you hold it? she asks.
…as long as it takes.
You can get more of him over at http://loudpoet.com/.
Head over to Tattoosday and see a couple of Guy's tattoos here.
Wednesday, April 22, 2009
Today we have two poems from Cody Todd.
The first is called "Boba Fett" and it might be worth checking out, if you haven't already been there, Cody's post over on Tattoosday, where one of his tattoos is a Star Wars-themed back piece that features, among other things, the character of Boba Fett.
Cody also sent in the following poem, as well:
Bad-Ass is as Bad-Ass does. I tilled earth
before the war and knew nothing of greed
or vanity. There once was a woman’s face
I looked forward to after my labor. Her shadow
burns in my helmet, chaffed and singed
as a dead clown’s skull. Pigs are cleaner
than humans, but all deserve to be
on the spit. Any woman can be a wife
for a night. I’ve got more weapons
than my life’s got chances. Money talks,
and the thief and priest abides.
Fire is as humble as a man’s pride
minutes before he begs: sweet hell,
sweet lion’s mouth, headfirst. Mute law
enforcement. Mute victims shot
in the back. Mute tombs kicked in half.
I’d barter light for a necklace of dried eyeballs.
Hell, I’ll trade in that hot-spurred devil himself.
Watercolor paintings on the refrigerator.
Watercolor painting of dinner on my plate.
The eyes were flashlights and black holes.
The political party with fire-eaters and acrobats
won the prize.
Mainly, laughter was swept gravel in the street drain.
You could see it the way you see it
eat its cheese: the moon
destroying two heads of glass.
My watch never stopped: spiraling
a miniature tornado atop my wrist.
The beautiful angel adorned with tattoos
from head to toe—plumes of smoke,
the neighborhoods became tears,
in and out of my windshield,
it is a currency between thought and motion.
Cody Todd is the author of To Frankenstein, My Father (2007, Proem Press). His poems have appeared in Hunger Mountain, Faultline, Bat City Review, Salt Hill, The Pedestal and are forthcoming in the Konundrum Engine Literary Review the Columbia Review and the Georgetown Review. He was born and raised in Denver and received an MFA from Western Michigan University. He currently lives in Los Angeles and is a Virginia Middleton Fellow in the PhD program in English-Literature/Creative Writing at the University of Southern California.
Thanks to Cody for sharing his work with us here on BillyBlog!
Tuesday, April 21, 2009
Today's poem is contributed by Dese'Rae Stage:
The Ball"The Ball" was originally published in The Mockingbird.I translated her into pain.
We met at the ball, a masquerade
in a messy apartment prone to noise complaints.
White Christmas lights, two months early,
hung from crooked nails in the walls.
Zorro was there, and Robin Hood too.
Prince Charming had prior engagements.
She held her drink, Jack and Coke,
like she wanted it to hold her;
a strong arm to hang on to.
She danced alone, despite her suitors.
I found her later on the tennis court
staring into the nightlight halo cast
upon her, into the eyes of some god.
She was missing one shoe and
swaying, as if with a breeze.
With your ear to the ground, you can feel a
train from a mile away, palms down in anticipation.
We waited, but he never came. Two bodies
parallel and then intersecting, I felt only
her lips and tears against my neck.
We lay there until the clock struck midnight.
She and I, Cinderella missing her prince
and Snow White, his understudy.
Dese'Rae Stage is a poet, photographer, and troublemaker extraordinaire. Sun-bred in Miami, she now makes her home in New York City. Her poems have appeared in The Mockingbird, Poems-for-All, and Voices. She currently spends most of her time with a camera, chasing rock stars to get the shot. Her photo work regularly appears on BrooklynVegan, PopWreckoning, Prefix, and Stereogum. You can find her portfolio at http://ifeelinfinite.net.
Dese'Rae has some incredible tattoos, one of which can be seen over on Tattoosday here.
Thanks to Dese'Rae for her participation in the Tattooed Poets Series!
Monday, April 20, 2009
Today's poem comes to us from Moira Egan, the "European Correspondent" on the Best American Poetry blog. A hearty thank you to Stacey Harwood at the BAP blog, who helped me with the formatting of the poem!
This poem comes from a series called Strange Botany that I wrote last year. The poems are written in syllabics (somewhat after Marinane Moore, one of my poetry heroes) and each poem takes as its title the Latin botanical name of the plant that acts as its central metaphor.
* * *
In this country
it’s a tradition
to make a wish upon
the first bite
of the season’s fruit,
the first peach, cherry, nectarine,
cachi, so as I peel this
first fig, slowly pull its skin away
like a mammalian membrane,
I make the wish
that each of our
days might have some of
that taste of reunion
absence, the salty-
sweet homecoming kiss, the airport
embarrassment of laughing
and crying both into each other’s
shirts. And it seems to me the fig
is the perfect
of all the above,
the fruit of yin and yang,
in shape, yet deeply
feminine in its opening;
how, on the one hand, it was
a tree like this under which Buddha
sat and found enlightenment, while
on the other,
these were the leaves
that Adam reached for
to clothe their humanness
when they saw
that they were naked
and learned of shame. How many fruits
acquire their musky sweetness
from the strange symbiosis of wasp
and worm? I don’t know, but I think
of the first figs
of that summer
when we met, how he
carefully peeled the fruit,
the sweet and strangely
tentacular flesh, almost too
ripe but not quite, and he kissed me
and church bells clamored out the Angelus
and he kissed me again and (yes)
I made a wish.
(The English version first appeared in The Hampden-Sydney Poetry Review, Winter 2008)
* * *
In questo paese
esprimere un desiderio
al primo assaggio
di un frutto di stagione,
la prima pesca, ciliegia, albicocca,
il primo caco, così sbuccio
il primo fico, ne stacco adagio la pelle
come membrana di mammifero,
esprimo il desiderio
che ognuno dei nostri
giorni possa avere un po’
del sapore di ri-unione
assenza, il dolce-salato
bacio del ritorno a casa, l’imbarazzo
all’aeroporto di ridere
e piangere entrambi sulla camicia
dell’altro. E a me il fico pare
di quelle manifestazioni,
il frutto di yin e yang,
nella forma, ma profondamente
femminile nel suo aprirsi;
e poi, da un lato, è stato
sotto un albero del genere che Buddha
si è seduto e ha ricevuto l’Illuminazione,
le sue sono le foglie
cui Adamo tese la mano per
nascondere la natura umana
che erano nudi
e conobbero vergogna. Quanti frutti
acquisiscono la loro dolcezza muscosa
dalla simbiosi arcana di vespa
e verme? Io non lo so, ma penso
ai primi fichi
che ci incontrammo, alla
premura con cui sbucciò il frutto,
me ne offerse
la carne, dolce e inusitatamente
tentacolare, quasi troppo
matura, ma non proprio, e mentre
mi baciava le campane esplosero nell’Angelus
e ancora mi baciava e (sì)
espressi un desiderio.
Translated by Damiano Abeni
(The Italian version is forthcoming in an anthology entitled Poesie per anime gemelle, Newton Compton Editori, Rome, 2009)
Moira Egan lives in Rome with her husband, Damiano Abeni, who is a translator of American poetry into Italian. Their most recent collaboration is La Seta della Cravatta/The Silk of the Tie, a bi-lingual collection of Moira’s poems with Italian versions by Damiano. It is so hot off the press that it’s not even up on the publisher’s website (though keep trying; it will be there any day now!) www.edizionilobliquo.it If you’re interested in getting a copy, feel free to email Moira at firstname.lastname@example.org and/or check it out on her website www.moiraegan.com.
Previously, Moira and Damiano also collaborated on Un mondo che non può essere migliore: Poesie scelte 1956-2007, a substantial selection of the poems of John Ashbery (Sossella Editore, 2008) which can be found here: http://www.lucasossellaeditore.it/arte_poetica/un_mondo.html
When she is not translating or writing poems, Moira teaches poetry workshops here, there, and online. She is also thrilled to check in occasionally as the “European Correspondent” on the Best American Poetry Blog.
Please check out Moira's tattoo over on Tattoosday here.
Sunday, April 19, 2009
Natural Wonder1972 MGB drops chunksof rusty floorat a parking spot abovethe Grand Canyon.Local girl brings mea blood orange and a roseshe’s fashioned from tin foil.There should be a dance with her,a margaritafor thousands of years of majesticerosion we witness,a cataclysm honored,glorious perpetual weather,unhelped or stopped.
Adam Deutsch is originally from New York, and has an MA from Hofstra and an MFA from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in No Tell Motel, Coconut, Juked, Rain Taxi, and Anti- among other places. Formerly of the Ninth Letter editorial staff, he is currently the Critical Prose Editor of Barn Owl Review and is the founder/editor of Cooper Dillon Books. He lives in San Diego, CA.
Please check out a couple of his many tattoos over on Tattoosday here.
Saturday, April 18, 2009
Today's poem is from Rachel Mallino:
An Open Poem To god
Dear god, there has always been this:
marrow inside of bone. Those retarded
cells that drive nonage to adultery.
cancerous swollen lips. I foolishly forgot
the wild dog story only to imagine
a new one: confused bees pollinating
in early spring as she watered
the waxing azaleas; a Queen’s
It all boils down to sex: mother’s
boney knees beneath
motel sheets as I stared off
into the bends
of brush strokes, art pinned
to tacky walls. The anonymity
of those painters, like my mother’s lovers,
became famous to me. There is forgetting
or the inability to do so. Dear god, if I believe
in anything it is this: bones
and that which runs through them.
- this poem is included in Ms. Mallino's forthcoming chapbook, Inside Bone There’s Always Marrow
Rachel Mallino lives in
Friday, April 17, 2009
Today's poem comes from Raffaella Ciavatta:
Poem 2 (still untitled)
It is devouring me.
My eyes shyly find themselves
drawn to look up and
allow my heart rate to
skip half a beat and
so I nearly die for that
half a second, die of a
somatized heart attack
with wide open eyes,
staring at its immensity,
at its bestiality.
It is devouring me.
Instead of dying it always
makes me stronger as its
cold and refreshing
breath invade my nostrils
and fills me up with
It is devouring me:
The devil in me.
She makes me want to go
through every dirty downtown
and every fancy uptown
makes me so famished
for more and more while
she carves her skyscraper-teeth
into my jugular.
She is devouring me
as I head east
her gracefulness and curves
turn to straight avenues
and solid blocks.
The devil in me as his
concrete creeps into my veins
and makes me unbeatable.
It is a never ending antropophagy,
my best friend, my mother and
father, my spirit and lover, my
New York City
More of her work can be seen/heard here.
Please be sure to check out a few of her amazing tattoos here on Tattoosday!
Thursday, April 16, 2009
Today's poem is from Nathan Logan:
Today is National Velociraptor
Awareness Day. Are you stocked
up on repellent? I have a couple
cans and a net gun. The bowling alley
had all the laser-activated vests,
so dyed snowballs were used during
the zombie crawl. We did not breakout
in spontaneous Michael Jackson
dance. That's a sure sign of bird flu.
I petitioned the university to declare
a phlebotomist appreciation day, but
it fell on deaf ears. If I had to list
my top three fears, it would be: being
eaten by a dinosaur, turning into a
member of the undead, and dancing
uncontrollably to a Michael Jackson
song. I know there's a small chance
of any of these things happening, but
it doesn't hurt to be prepared. Having
a phlebotomist day would at least
provide a deep breath, which is always
good while breathing underwater.
Nathan Logan is a MFA candidate at Minnesota State University Moorhead. He has four tattoos and a lip ring. He is the author of the chapbook Holly from Muncie (Spooky Girlfriend Press, 2008). His work has appeared in/is forthcoming from: No Tell Motel, pax americana, The Scrambler, SIR!, and Taiga.
Please be sure to head over to Tattoosday to see Nathan's literary tattoo here.
Wednesday, April 15, 2009
Today's poem is from Todd Heldt:
for Barry Cunnane
your friend was killed on Saturday night
while you were sneaking a box of chocolates
to your nephew, who's four, whom you're meeting
for the first time, hundreds of miles away.
I watched him nibble each one around
the edges--then devour or set aside:
This is my favorite, so I'm saving it for last.
Two men walk up to someone and empty
the back of his head with one shot,
leave him to spread on the sidewalk
like a broken bottle of wine.
I drive old country roads with the kid,
who's too smart to ignore. When we pass
the old church he says, There's a graveyard
in every town. Everyone dies except us.
We're conspiring more chocolates,
and I hope that his wisdom can keep us forever,
like the cemetery stones where we sit
while I try to explain why he should be
less like my family, and more like me.
But I don't realize the migraine the sugar
will churn in his head, the hornet's nest
I will frenzy by the end of the day
when I face the god-like wrath of my sister,
whose love is a straight-back chair,
but also a country-charm duck.
as long as she did: My friends
hug trees with their cars, shoot fire
in their veins, are gunned down
by strangers--and for Godsake,
I might as well have fed my nephew
a chocolate-covered razor blade.
Don't you know anything? I don't.
So I stand stupid in the airport,
a hangnail in the fist of travelers,
apprehending the absurd. I come home to
a dead plant in my window, a dead fish
in my tank, and who knows what other friends
I should call just to check on. Death
is a cement mixer lurching beside me.
Walking up South Halsted's stretch of wide spaces,
vacant lots, and rotted-shingle storefronts,
it isn't sorrow, but an opening of myself
to the world and its parking-lot truth
that to love is to be swallowed
by something bigger than myself.
And don't I long for the exchange
of pigeons waiting for breadcrumbs,
or table scraps finding a mouth?
Young mother pushing the baby carriage;
shopkeeper angling his ladder above;
the woman who sells me candy
whose tattooed tear swears that the world
will always be what it was;
teenagers on the corner, cradling
orange sodas and cigarettes, who for all I know
might put bullets in me just for walking by;
my family and dead friends, like burs
stuck in my skin or chocolates lodged
in my throat. The car swerves and misses.
I hadn't realized I'd stepped into the street.
The horn trails off, and I'm lucky, I guess,
for all that does not happen. When I get home
I want to call my sister and say, I'm okay,
given the given. I want to tell my nephew
the truth his chocolates conceal:
we all die eventually, and no one knows when,
but we have to hope we're God's favorites,
that maybe he'll save us for last.
This poem appeared originally in Stirring, and was nominated for a Pushcart Prize in 2008.
Todd tells us:
Coming soon (barring worldwide financial collapse): In September of 2009, Ghost Road Press will publish my full-length collection of poetry, Card Tricks for the Starving. They have a great catalog, so you should go practice buying books from them now.
If you missed Before You Were a Prophet when it was serialized in Hiss Quarterly, you can buy a print copy through their Lulu store. It's a humorous tale about death, guilt, god, rednecks, kleptomania, and William Carlos Williams scholars: http://www.lulu.com/content/
Please be sure to head over to Tattoosday and check out his amazing tattoo here.
Tuesday, April 14, 2009
Today's poem is from Cheryl Maddalena, a performance poet from Boise, Idaho.
She admits, this poem isn't her most flawless work, but it certainly matches the tattoo she has posted here over on Tattoosday.
Why I got the word “beautiful” tattooed on my arm in 200 point lowercase Times New Roman.
did I get it because I think I’m so beautiful? NO.
because “unexpected gorgeous moments
suckerpunch my sternum every day” seemed too wordy
to remember life is holy
because ALL CAPS WOULD BE LIKE YELLING
because my career is going to take off
now that I have to wear a blazer every day
because black goes with everything
to give them something to look at
as they pull me from the car wreck
because my parents said I could do anything
and I wouldn’t want to make them liars
because when my parents die it will taunt me less
than “faith” or “love”
incessant captions for life’s scenes:
doing these dishes? beautiful.
opening the mailbox? beautiful.
other fonts make me nervous
so my children will be able to spell what they are
because it will look better the older I get
so I could photoshop it into my baby photos
and tell people it was a beauty mark
because my actions have consequences
and I too often forget it
I got talked down from the skull and crossbones
with a snake for the tongue
to give the nurses at the old folks home
something to see besides bedsores and bones
because you can’t get a tattoo
of the mossy forest floor
did I get it because I think I’m so beautiful? YES.
my husband wanted to get me something
for our anniversary and I don’t like jewelry
my arm wasn’t big enough
to get a dancing hula girl on my bicep
what are you going to say, “ugh, I hate beauty”
because it freaked me out
because I could
I was going to get “Daddy’s Little Girl”
in purple sparkles
but they were all out
because my people are the ones
who toil for beauty
in every mediocre moment
because being dulled
to life’s astounding details is unacceptable
because the past year was a tractor rolling over my heart
for the thousand thousand times
I’ve acquiesced to a will not my own
because my font is Times New Roman
because it seemed redundant
I got it just to show you
I’ve seen how hard you try
to be good, to be better, to love, to forgive
you taught me this
what else could I get?
Here's a clip of Cheryl (pre-"Beautiful")performing "Housewife" at Poetry Slam deLux (Boise Poetry Slam) on February 18, 2008:
Thanks to Cheryl for sharing her work with us here on BillyBlog and Tattoosday!
Monday, April 13, 2009
Today's poem comes to us from Mike Sikkema:
Say Me Into This Then
To ring this bastard containment
They used to undress each other
Now he wakes up and checks
in his mouth for “yes sir, the fish said,
I’m just going to shove
a little aquarium
up onto land there,
got everything I need in it.”
Mike Sikkema's poems have appeared in New American Writing, Bombay Gin, Zafusy, the tiny, Parthenon West Review, Fourteen Hills, Word for Word, Shampoo, Cannibal, Coconut, Xantippe, BlazeVOX, and other journals. His chapbook Code Over Code appeared in 2005 and his new book Futuring is available at Amazon.
Read more of Mike's work here and here.
And, of course, head over to Tattoosday to see his cool tattoo here.
Sunday, April 12, 2009
Today's poem is from Rebecca Loudon.
Rebecca lives and writes in Seattle. She is the author of 4 books of poetry, the latest being Cadaver Dogs from No Tell Books, several lyrics for songs for chamber orchestra and choir, and the libretto of a full length opera, Red Queen. She is a professional violinist and teaches violin to children. She has more than 6 and less than 10 tattoos. She practices writing at
The following poem is from the aforementioned Cadaver Dogs:
I was tending the garden when a bee flew
up my blouse stung my left nipple
I was claimed then
I wanted to be a better woman
reaching back with a corked finger
I carry ice
My body is split
& wet in spite of alcohol
with the goaty head man
nails curling down
I'm not alarmed
I like the pillow
I fold the clothes of my dead
into plastic bags dresses shirts
socks slippers the whole shebang
my dead smell like lemons
their teeth are marshmallow white
my sister is perfect
she has a perfect body
her hair is a gold wasp's nest
I fold her Snow White pajamas
into a square
I see the reptile man on television
& realize it is my husband
holding a two headed turtle to the camera
all three of them smile
Thanks to Rebecca for sharing this poem with us here on BillyBlog. Head over to Tattoosday to see one of her tattoos.
Saturday, April 11, 2009
Today's poem is from Malaika King Albrecht:
We Can't Step into the Same River Twice
My daughter’s worried that the Live Oaks in City Park
can’t breathe underwater,
and the ducks that bit her small hands full of bread,
“Who will feed them?”
She imagines the Aquarium fish swimming away
quick as the silver flashes
of our pond’s minnows, only freer. The elephants, large as memory,
will wade out
like ships from the zoo, rescuing smaller animals.
But a poem’s
not a life line, and the poet, not a boat.
These places burning,
flooding at the same time; these buildings where I’ve said
to my daughter,
“This is where you were born, and your father and his father.
Your great grandparents
were married at St. Louis Cathedral.
used to say the gardenias in New Orleans bloomed so sweetly
the bees flew
drunkenly into her kitchen windows all afternoon.
here’s where your father and I met. Because this is there,
we are here.”
But we aren’t here anymore. Nobody predicts when it will stop,
and no one
when anything will begin again. My friend’s daughter
kneels, thanks God
for her house that has a tree on it.
kindergarten elsewhere in borrowed plaid uniforms.
On TV the city’s
sounds are hundreds of dogs calling for someone across this filthy
slow moving water.
A man and a pregnant woman paddle an air mattress with brooms
to anyplace else. “The city
is a bowl.” An anchor says again, “The city is a bowl” until I too
am too full.
Malaika had originally submitted this poem (click link to read), but I had some trouble with the formatting, so "We Can't Step into the Same River Twice" was a nice replacement.
Malaika is the co-editor of Redheaded Stepchild, an online magazine that only accepts poems that have been rejected elsewhere. For submissions guidelines, please visit here.
Thanks to Malaika for participating in The Tattooed Poets Porject. Please visit Tattoosday to see one of her tattoos!