Sunday, May 02, 2010

The Tattooed Poets Project: Jeanann Verlee

Here on the final day of the 2010 Tattooed Poets Project, we are featuring two tattooed poets (in two separate posts).

First up is Jeanann Verlee, who holds the distinction of being the one poet this year who met with me in person to discuss their tattoo. The poem below is dedicated to fellow bard Eboni Hogan, whose own contribution, not coincidentally dedicated to Jeanann, follows this post here.



for Eboni Hogan

She is the prettiest thing New York City

has seen since Christmas.

It is 2:38 AM. We have matching boots,

swirl cheap red wine between half-glossed lips,

jab bent forks into hard falafels.

The night is ready to end its shift.

A plump waitress wears the city’s tightest

electric-pink sweater, (a Valentine for her beloved).

Two Marines wink from February’s side of the glass,

a king cockroach lies wait in the ladies room sink,

the swordfish on the butcher block is looking for his gullet.

It is raining Merlot.

Our construction paper hearts, soaked

all the way through.

It’s 2:38 AM and I am stuffing her with confession.

She sucks the fat, licks her fingers.

I am gutted and we are ravenous, eating with our hands:

slurp, chew, gnash. Gluttons.

Soon, the bar and the second bottle are empty.

I watch her take the dull blade of a table knife

to her chest, (my jaw hanging loose like a broken

screen door swinging in a summer monsoon).

She slices straight through her breast,

breaks off two ribs, sets them on her plate—

blood rivering through the hummus.

She takes my hand, jabs my curious fingers

into the wound. I dig in hard,

all the way up to my elbow.

She doesn’t even wince.

The cooks across the room scorch

something that once was alive.

The pink waitress brings us each a free glass

of whatever wine is left and extra napkins

to mop up the pooling red spill

from our lips.


This poem appears in her just-released first book Racing Hummingbirds (Write Bloody Press, 2010).

One of her tattoos, intertwined with her new book, can be seen here at Tattoosday.

Thanks to Jeanann for taking the time to meet with me, sharing her tattoos and poetry, and rounding up an exciting 2010 Tattooed Poets Project!


JEANANN VERLEE is a former punk rocker who collects tattoos and winks at boys. She is author of Racing Hummingbirds (Write Bloody Press, 2010) and her work has appeared in a number of journals and anthologies, including The New York Quarterly, PANK, FRiGG, Danse Macabre, and Not A Muse, among others. An acclaimed performance poet who co-curates the weekly reading series Urbana Poetry Slam at the Bowery Poetry Club, Verlee has performed and facilitated workshops across North America. She was co-author and performing member of national touring company The Vortex: Conflict, Power, and Choice!, charter member of the annual Spoken Word Almanac Project, and is an ardent animal rights and humanitarian activist. She lives in New York City with her best pal (a rescue pup named Callisto) and a pair of origami lovebirds. She believes in you. Learn more at

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