Friday, December 10, 2010

Train of Thought: Ralph Waldo Emerson

First spotted on the R train, November 2010:

"Life is a train of moods like a string of beads;
and as we pass through them they prove to be
many-colored lenses which paint the world their own
hue, and each shows only what lies in its own focus."

Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1892), "Experience"

Sunday, July 25, 2010

BillyBlog's Got a Talent for 52-Card Pick-Up

I found this on the bike path along the Belt Parkway between Dyker Beach Park and Caesar's Bay:

The following cards have been found previously:

The Ace of Hearts (March 27, 2010)

The Five of Clubs (February 20, 2010)

The Two of Spades (August 17, 2009)

The Ten of Diamonds (July 2, 2009 - found June 1, 2009)

The Five of Spades (June 18, 2009)

The Eight of Spades (January 6, 2009)

The Eight of Diamonds (December 5, 2008)

The Two of Hearts and the Queen of Spades (November 1, 2008)

The King of Spades (October 26, 2008)

The Ace of Spades (September 22, 2008)

The Jack of Diamonds (September 18, 2008)

The Six of Hearts, Queen of Hearts, and Eight of Clubs (August 10, 2008)

The Six of Clubs (July 21, 2008)

The Seven of Hearts and The King of Diamonds (April 24, 2008)

The Three of Clubs (March 29, 2008)

The King of Hearts
and the Three of Spades
(February 28 and March 25, 2008)

The Ace of Diamonds (July 7, 2008)

The Jack of Hearts and Five of Hearts (July 19, 2008)

View the whole set here.

And here's the scorecard with the latest addition:

Hearts: 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, Jack, Queen, King, Ace
Diamonds: 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, Jack, Queen, King, Ace
Clubs: 2, 3, 4, 5, 6,7, 8, 9, 10, Jack, Queen, King, Ace,
Spades: 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, Jack, Queen, King, Ace

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Summer Train of Thought

"The gaunt trestle-work of the els brings twilight to miles of streets, the tunnels of the subways honeycomb rocks and rivers and skyscrapers. Their trains are the first things a good many New Yorkers observe in the morning and the last things a good many more remember at night."

From The WPA Guide to New York City (1939)

Click the tag below to see other Trains of Thought.

I spotted this one on the R train.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Some New Bookpeeping (May 2010 Edition)

Spotted on the F train between 23rd Street and West 4th in Manhattan:

Spotted on the D train between West 4th in Manhattan and 36th Street in Brooklyn:

Spotted on the R train between 36th Street and 95th Street in Brooklyn:


Sunday, May 09, 2010

Train of Thought: My heart burns...

Spotted on the R Train this month:

My heart burns in flames of sorrow
Sparks and smoke rise turning to the sky

Within me, the heart has taken fire like candle
My body, whirling, is a lighthouse illuminated by your image

 --Mihri Khatun ( 15th-century female Turkish Poet) from Poetry's Voice, Society's Song: Ottoman Lyric Poetry by Walter G. Andrews, Copyright 1985. Reprinted by permission of Univeristy of Washington, Seattle.

Sunday, May 02, 2010

The Tattooed Poets Project 2010: A Wrap-Up

April, they say, is the cruelest month. It also seemed, for personal and professional reasons, to be the longest month. And, as many may have noticed, we ran a little over and into May.

This concludes the second annual installment of the Tattooed Poets Project. The endeavor seems to have attracted more fans this year, and I am thankful for that.

But I do need to extend thanks to all thirty-three poets who participated this year, and tolerated my incessant badgering for photos, poems, and details.

And to the dozens (and I do mean dozens) of poets across the country and overseas to whom I sent emails asking for either tattoos or news of poets the knew with tattoos, I thank you for humoring me and the project.

The person who receives what I call the Muldoon Award is G.C. Waldrep. Last year, the Pulitzer Prize winning poet Paul Muldoon declined to participate saying "Alas, I've done the uninkable." The best response this year from an uninked poet was Mr. Waldrep's:

"What an interesting idea. But no, I remain untattooed. Except by the ravages of love and pain."

Thanks especially to Stacey Harwood at the Best American Poetry Blog who, from the outset, has been a champion and promoter of the Tattooed Poets Project. Theresa Edwards, of Holly Rose Review, not only contributed, but sent several people my way. Dorianne Laux also spreads the word like no one else and this year and Adam Deutsch not only was a return participant, he helped quite a few readers and participants discover our little inked poetry endeavor.

And I would be remiss if I didn't thank my lovely wife Melanie, who supports me and all things Tattoosday, even though it doesn't pay the bills. She recognizes how much I love to write about tattoos, and without her by my side, I wouldn't have had the strength and wherewithal to have made Tattoosday the blog it is today.

Those of you who have come to Tattoosday to see inked poets, I invite you to still visit, there's a dozen posts in the works documenting Tattoosday in Hawai'i, and then a long summer after that.

Before you know it, the Tattooed Poets Project 2011 will be upon us!

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

The Tattooed Poets Project: Eboni Hogan

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

Eboni Hogan's poem below is dedicated to her friend and fellow poet Jeanann Verlee, whose own contribution, not coincidentally dedicated to Eboni, is above here.

Tabasco for Jeanann Verlee

We eat everything so smothered in Tabasco, it leaves our fingers ringing. When we share a plate, we do not have to accommodate the daintier palate by quartering off a sauce-free section with first-rate ventilation systems and plexi-glass. We brandish the little bottle furiously, haphazard and without warning. The poor falafel treads the screaming red lagoon on a makeshift raft of lettuce. I imagine that the red-head learned how to pronounce the items on the menu from her Greek ex-husband, who would be horror-struck by this sacrilege of tzatziki. From her tales, I’ve concluded that a man like him deserves nothing less than a good goring with a hummus smeared fork. Tonight we count the names of those like him. Display each one on the table top as evidence that our greatest mistakes were charmers with crooked teeth and bad handwriting.

It is Valentine’s Day. In the forty minutes it took me to ride the train to the West Village, I witnessed three separate occasions of women sobbing, yelling, or a frightening combination of both. I watched a girl, no more than 16, curdling on the uptown platform. She juggled an overstuffed teddy bear, a bouquet of plastic roses flickering like Christmas lights. Unexpectedly, she turned to the sheepish boy standing beside her, still obediently clutching her knock-off Vuitton in his thick fist,
and struck him once in the gut with the blinking bouquet with so much force, the lights in half of them ceased to twinkle.

The European family dining at the table beside ours finds our conversation far more compelling than their own. They must wonder at the strange notion of two women wearing black dresses and clunky silver rings dining together on a holiday meant for meant for lovers. Because we know that they are listening in, we don’t spare them the gore, layering in words like “detached,” and “hemorrhage,” and “depressive”. If they must know, we will give them full coverage, unabridged. They will learn how to stage a coup d’état in a cab that refuses the ride to Queens or Brooklyn or just up the block, study the way a sidewalk rampage can never be figured into travel time, commit to memory the occasions when tears came unexpected while grocery shopping or watching a particularly sappy commercial about rescue shelters or tsunamis or fabric softener. Catalog the moments when we’d wished we weren’t so good with words.

As I tell the story about the time I cried so hard on a flight from London to New York City, that the flight attendant secretly handed me a napkin cradling a sleeping pill, the European mother turns to look into my face as though she may have remembered being on that very plane with some weepy American girl fraying her eyes into black sores— but, no.

She is met with the narrowed glare of the red-head who speaks louder now, peppering their meal with terms like “fume” and “razor.”

It was in this very restaurant that I was dumped,
not once…
but twice…

by the same man.

One might think that after the second rupture I might reconsider meeting the man for “dinner” and “conversation,” at least not without considerable re-enforcements.
A sock full of quarters,
A getaway car.

Our mouths are churchyards. There are no bells adorning the graves of the sleeping. Every coffin lid is raked in anguish, pink polish embedded in the grooves. The ghosts have been known to fly from between our teeth and take to the streets, only wishing to be held into flesh again. Tonight they stay put, ignoring the Navy boys roaming 6th Avenue, the lesbian couple monopolizing the only working stall, the employee bussing the plates before the last olive pit had been cleared of its meat. Tonight they will cause no spills, lose no friends. They will patiently wait an hour for the train watching the night’s lovers quarrel and kiss across the Manhattan bridge.

Thanks to Eboni for her contribution and for sending us four tattoos to be seen on Tattoosday here.

24 year-old poet, actress and Bronx native, Eboni Hogan, has performed in over 30 U.S. cities and facilitated workshops from refugee camps to prestigious universities. She studied theater at New York University's Tisch School of the Arts. She is the winner of the 2010 Women of the World Slam Poetry Slam, the 2008 Urbana Grand Slam Champion and a two time representative of the Nuyorican Slam Team. She is published in the anthologies His Rib and Double Lives and recently released her first collection of poetry entitled Grits through Penmanship Books.

Saturday, May 01, 2010

The Tattooed Poets Project: Cody Todd

Yes, it's May, but we have two more days of the Tattooed Poets Project before we're done for the year.

When asked to submit a poem, Cody Todd said, referring to the tattoo he submitted (on Tattoosday, here):

"Sadly, I don't have any noir poems. I'd love one to explore a relationship between noir and poetry, even though I doubt it is possible. The early work of Larry Levis is noir-ish (e.g. "L.A. Loiterings" or "Fish") but I don't think it was his conceit to explore that relationship, even if it exists. The work of Bukowski, voluminous as it may be, comes from a kind of noir persona that the poet created for himself, but again, not really an attempt to explore the poetics, if any exist, of noir. I do have a weird poem here that I wrote in a woman's persona, and she came to me one night as a rather desperate and dark soul."


Portrait of child swinging on an old tire, tied to a tree. Portrait

of man hammering a stake into the earth. Portrait of wedding:

the space-eyes of everyone, happy as hell. Welcome to hell. Oh

portraits ringing in our memories like unanswerable telephones

in abandoned offices. Hello portrait, it’s me. I’m alone and still

thinking about you, portrait. Getting drunk alone. Lipstick has

to be refreshed after each glass. Don’t leave me alone, portrait.

I am almost dead, almost smoking another night away, almost

admiring the stars, wanting to eat the their own cold smiles.


Cody Todd is the author of the chapbook, To Frankenstein, My Father (2007, Proem Press). His poems have appeared in Hunger Mountain, Salt Hill and are forthcoming in Lake Effect, The Pinch, Specs Journal and Denver Quarterly. He received an MFA from Western Michigan University and is currently a Virginia Middleton Fellow in the PhD program in English-Literature/Creative Writing at the University of Southern California. He is the Managing Editor and co-creator of the poetry journal, The Offending Adam (

Thanks to Cody Todd for particpating in another edition of The Tattooed Poets Project!

Friday, April 30, 2010

The Tattooed Poets Project: Jozi Tatham

As we reach the final days of the Tattooed Poets Project 2010, let's read this poem from Jozi Tatham:

Huntsville, Alabama

-William Eggleston, 1978

An old man sits on the end

of a hospital made bed, and he watches

to the left with hospital made hands

in his lap. The room collapses

behind him, folding in on itself in

neatly creased corners, a white tiled

ceiling only slightly illuminated by

the unseen light that hangs by a chain,

and a murder red shag carpet vacuumed into

cornstalk rows, with walls the color of

sunflowers in late fall, sopping

in decay under a dirty south sun. Everything

is static. A plastic, sticky vinyl

that squeaks with the old

man’s presence, and it doesn’t

really matter where you go, as long as

you check out from this room, so the

shine can be buffed and the corners can be

cut. The geometry of breathing. He woke

this morning, ironed his white

shirt so that the subtle crease down

the middle back hugged his spine,

wet his comb in the alcove

bathroom before running it through

the hair that rings the crown that was

misplaced long ago, shined the same

black wing-tipped shoes he bought for

a job interview at the post office that he

walked out of with half a torn stamp stuck

to his sole and nothing more, and all he

can do now is lick the sticky side and hope

that the room holds up for a little while

longer, because check out isn’t until noon.


This poem is previously unpublished.

Please check out one of Jozi's amazing tattoos over on Tattoosday here.

Jozi Tatham is currently a poetry MFA student at George Mason University in Virginia. She hails from Milwaukee, WI where she received her BA and the place which serves as "the inspiration for most of my being thus far." She has been published in newspapers and small publications in the Milwaukee area for poetry and nonfiction.

Thanks to Jozi for participating in the Tattooed Poets Project!

Thursday, April 29, 2010

The Tattooed Poets Project: Phebe Szatmari

Today's poem comes to us from Phebe Szatmari:

Sex should be like eating

Sex should be like eating

she told me last night.
Something that we just do—
which is exactly the opposite
from the way she touched me.

Magnetic electrical impulses
begin in my arm and shock like a current through
the hollow empty hull of a ship
that floats in the water

allowing the balance of buoyancy
that is the tugging of equal gravities,
those captured airs that will never stop trying to escape.
And yet release in my breath, on her neck

until another shock fills me again.
This is not like eating—
shocking with our hands, our lips,
carving down the spine, through the body.

Be sure to check out Phebe's lovely tattoo here.

Phebe Szatmari was working full-time in an office in Manhattan when she learned there was a shortage of poets. She immediately dropped everything and is currently pursuing an MFA in Creative Writing and Literature at Stony Brook Southampton.

In her spare time, Phebe freelance edits, teaches writing, volunteers at LIGALY (Long Island Gay and Lesbian Youth Center), serves as a judge for teen poetry slams, and practices parkour. Her poems will be published in the forthcoming Writing Outside the Lines 2010 anthology.

Thanks to Phebe for sharing her poetry with us here on the Tattooed Poets Project!

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

The Tattooed Poets Project: Steele Campbell

Today's poem comes to us from Steele Campbell:

My Words Are Bad Tonight
Lord I am not worthy
I am not worthy
but I speak words only
I should not be here
you should
proud at the lectern
to heaven with your voices
I have nothing dazzling to say
all is
not what you want
and I’ll just sit
with my failures
folded in my pockets
or clenched in
sinful hands
My words are boney
dry and twiggy
like walking sticks and limbs
of old men
with memory in the bones
to still a point
of the turning world
then to cease

in scribbled immortality
and fill the depravity
with the cold
letter frozen
to the page

I stole these words
borrowed from the cross
dying poets
to dance upon
cheating tongues
these words are not new
I did not bake them
boiling with meaning for you
to lick
taste the thick
skins of insinuation
I cannot call the gods of words
rusting in oblivion
to specific form
my words
can only say
that which
no longer needs
to be said
So forgive me
and my verbal deficience
you’ve been
a wonderful audience
just please

Head over to Tattoosday and see Steele's tattoo here.
Steele Campbell is currently living (and I mean that robustly). He is essentially transient, but has paused his peregrination at Auburn University to complete a Master’s Degree on the fiction of Marilynne Robinson. He is the recipient of the Robert Hughes Mount Jr. Poetry Prize from the Academy of American Poets two years running and has been published in Decompression, The Boston Literary Review, Rope and Wire and Touchstones. He is the student poetry editor of the Southern Humanities Review. You can visit him at

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

The Tattooed Poets Project: Lisa Gill

Today's contribution on the Tattooed Poets Project comes to us from Lisa Gill:

Locomotion Poem for Two Voices

from The Relenting by Lisa Gill


Let there be locomotion.

      Let us wind through the grasses across the mesa

      and up through the boulders to the top of the ridge;

      let us keep climbing until I can scale mountains with you,

      some red-faced cliff with petroglyphs

      or a bluff topped with aspens,

      any place we can rise up counterintuitive

      while monsoons run down arroyos…


As if gravity were always something to succumb to

instead of just another kind of magnetism

designed to remind you

to scale


because today my body has become simply some unexpected soft surface

for you to encounter in your environment,

as if love were tactile,

or timely,

as if love didn’t have rough edges,

my own elbows and knees,

a scathing surface of jutting collarbone and breast,

together we are a cacophony of softness and hardness.


My spine against your belly.


Your ribs wrapped by the reach of my arms.


My jaw pressed against your sternum.


Hard valley of animal meeting reptile.


The length of our long bodies intertwined…


Because I am the one who can help you molt

the parts of your body hardened by parasites,

the epidermis solidified so tough you can’t grow

or breathe into who you are becoming…


And I am the one who can help you remember

that fear doesn’t have to be fraught with expectations of danger;

sometimes it’s simply anticipation of interactions not yet experienced.

If there is a reason for our togetherness, let it be vulnerability,

the sloughing off of old ways, the abandonment of fierce exoskeletons

that protect us a little too well,

as if you and I have been calling it safe to be sealed under a bell jar,

as if that vacuum were enough to merit the word “alive”….

when the other option is this…


Intensity of now.


Be sure to check out one of Lisa's tattoos over on Tattoosday here.

New Mexico poet Lisa Gill is the recipient of a 2007 National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship in Poetry, a 2010 New Mexico Literary Arts Gratitude Award, and just earned her MFA from the University of New Mexico this April. She is a literary arts activist, currently booking poets for "Church of Beethoven," and the author of three books of poetry, Red as a Lotus, Mortar & Pestle, and Dark Enough. A fourth book, The Relenting, is forthcoming with New Rivers Press (June 2010) and can be considered either a play or a poem scripted for two voices, rattler and woman. She'll be touring the play in the upcoming year, starting with a staged reading with Tricklock's Kevin Elder at 516 Arts in Albuquerque in June and then onward to Minnesota, LA, hopefully even to NY.

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

Monday, April 26, 2010

The Tattooed Poets Project: Jeff Simpson

Today's poem comes to us from Jeff Simpson:


This is the night of the living dead or the morning after,

which I always imagine as a hangover

of restless souls, human and zombie alike, converging

to maim each other in the spirit

of fellowship, but today we've come here for the brisket

and potato salad

and the moonshine, which threatens to melt the two-liter

Mountain Dew bottle into an emerald

puddle while a group of third cousins tune guitars,

fiddles, dobros, an electric bass,

before singing songs about the heartland and their collective

achy breaky hearts.

And so we’ll huddle up because we are bound by blood,

or so the story goes. Year after year

we come here to catch up on the latest weather reports,

obituaries, the pitiful retelling

of Uncle Ed’s death, a man who, as far as I can tell, was never

anybody’s uncle, tales of triumphant

poker games or the purchasing of a new Lincoln, fables

with plots that remind me

of a pulp novel I once found at a truck stop in Tucumcari:

Trailer Park Trash,

a tale of two people whose “love was as mobile as their home.”

Mobile love and mobile people

who once migrated from Mobile, Alabama to the southern

plains of Oklahoma

to work the oil fields and multiply, and now there are kids

running around the room I’ve never seen,

bodies floating to and fro inside the Seminole Convention

Center next to the Jimmy Austin

Golf Course where men in polo shirts are teeing off

on the eleventh hole,

dreaming of the nineteenth, bourbon and cigars for everyone,

while workers from the Department

of Corrections operate heavy machinery, pluck crab grass

from velvety greens.

What is this fascination with all the little cells of the world—

family reunions, class reunions,

Sting and The Police reuniting for one last performance

of “Roxanne”?

What is this love for folding chairs and vinyl tablecloths,

for supreme carrot cake,

for bullet holes and war stories, for rumors of illnesses,

stints in rehab,

for knowing at what age I can expect to develop Parkinson’s?

The band revs up.

The music bears us as we bear the music, as we lay witness

to tradition and ceremony

and rituals, the way Cherokee women wear their hair long

until the death of a loved one,

then out come the scissors; the way small town citizenry

fill the stands on homecoming

adorned with war paint and gold bells; the way peaceniks

and students poured into Altamont

in ’69 to watch Mick Jagger, all snarl and swagger,

sing “Gimme Shelter”

to a swirling mob of Hells Angels so they could feel like they

belonged to one great human tribe.

And I’ll admit I’m partial to concerts and bikers

and leather jackets,

just as I’m partial to all these people who have my mother’s

eyes and possess a genealogy

of patchwork quilts, some bearing the name of every first-born

son because we’re a family

of male heirs, because we’re phallocentric, because the band

plays on as I sit forking my carrot

cake and drinking my coffee before it goes cold, before I start

to forget the names.

Head over to Tattoosday to see Jeff's tattoo here.

Born and raised in southwest Oklahoma, Jeff Simpson received his MFA from Oklahoma State University in 2009. He is the founder and managing editor of The Fiddleback, an online arts & literature journal that will launch its first issue later this year. His poems have recently appeared or are forthcoming in Prairie Schooner, Copper Nickel, Harpur Palate, The Pinch, and H_NGM_N. His first full-length collection, Vertical Hold, will be published by Steel Toe Books in 2011.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

The Tattooed Poets Project: Cheryl Dumesnil

Today's poem comes to us from Cheryl Dumesnil.

Titled "Triangle Tattoo," it appears in In Praise of Falling (University of Pittsburgh Press 2009), and also appeared in Dorothy Parker's Elbow: Tattoos on Writers, Writers on Tattoos (co-edited with Kim Addonizio, published by Warner 2003).

Triangle Tattoo

Wood-planked floor, twelve-foot

ceiling, a wall of glossy snapshots—

dragonfly, water lily, barbed wire

spiraling a woman’s thigh. The artist

bends over my love’s shaved leg,

his palate of paper cups filled with ink.

Through her skin, three finches

emerge on a blackberry branch,

ink mixed with blood beading her calf.

For the third time, I run downstairs

to the car, slap the gearshift into

neutral, roll over the parking cop’s

chalk mark, buying us time. Hours

I sat beside them, telling stories,

changing the music, rubbing color

back into her fingertips. Now

I lean against the car and listen—

the buzz of his needle piercing

her skin, the heart-shaped sign

swinging its rusted chain. This is

my job—he will change her body

forever, I will love what she becomes.

Be sure to go over to Tattoosday and check out Cheryl's tattoo here.

Winner of the 2008 Agnes Lynch Starrett Poetry Prize, Cheryl Dumesnil is the author of In Praise of Falling, editor of Hitched! Wedding Stories from San Francisco City Hall, and co-editor, with Kim Addonizio, of Dorothy Parker's Elbow: Tattoos on Writers, Writers on Tattoos. Her poems have appeared in Nimrod, Indiana Review, Calyx, and Many Mountains Moving, among other literary magazines. Her essays have appeared on,, and in Hip Mama Zine. She lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with her wife and their two sons. Visit her at

Saturday, April 24, 2010

The Tattooed Poets Project: Gina Myers

Today's poet is no stranger to us here at The Tattooed Poets Project. Gina Myers appeared last year here on BillyBlog, one of three poets from our inaugural year to return with more work in 2010.

This year, she offers the following poem:


I just tried to save a man
who didn't need saving
which sounds like a great line
for a poem, but it's a line
from my life / I apologized
to the 911 operator as I watched
the man, who seconds ago was lying
in the street & crying out in pain,
stand up & walk away / Now,
a little shaken, I'm locked in
my apartment / It's just past
midnight, a new day / I try to recall
all the pills I have taken
in the past 24 hours to determine
if I can take one more or crack
this beer, something to calm
my nerves / I explained to the operator,
I'm a woman, I am alone /
The darkness surrounds / There was no one
else on the street & for some reason
I was scared but I couldn't not
do something / The sickness I have
will not go away / Because sometimes
this is how poems happen: months
& months of not writing followed
by a brief moment, a second needed
to share this moment with someone,
my imaginary reader, so I can pretend
I am not alone.
Please head on over to Tatoosday here and check out one of Gina's tattoos.

Gina Myers lives in Saginaw, MI, where she works as the Associate Editor of 360 Main Street, the Book Review Editor of NewPages, and the Reviews Editor of H_NGM_N. Her first full-length collection of poetry, A Model Year, was published by Coconut Books in 2009.

Friday, April 23, 2010

The Tattooed Poets Project: Amber Clark

Today's poem on the Tattooed Poets Project is courtesy of Amber Clark:

Of Names

and how amazing the names of ex lovers on the tongue
how lovely and sardonic their lull, the names of all the towns
you slept through on your way to somewhere else

how sweeping the names of lost things, unremembered names,
tucked in a botanist's notebook - calyx and clover and pistil - how sweet
the sound of a gun cocked back and the rooster at dawn, and the thistle

how stunning the names of accuracy, of Euclid's quadratic, economy, elusive hints
of anatomy, uvulas swinging the foreign name - a wind its certain welt, the sting
of a nematocyst, the telson and the carapace

to crave the wild, delicious names - éclair and brie and fig -
the music of the treble clef and tremble of an aural math, the sprig
of spring come clean again, the cochlea gone mad

(- first published in Pebble Lake Review Winter 2010 Issue)

Be sure to head over to Tattoosday and see Amber's poetry-inspired tattoo here.

Amber Clark teaches English and literature at Northwest Florida State College as well as Gulf Coast Community College. She reads for Tin House, and she will be guest judging the Scratch Poetry Contest in June 2010. While most of her own work can still be found on napkins and matchbooks, in personal journals and private word docs, and on the windshields of friends' and lovers' cars, most recently, her work can also be found in Pebble Lake Review, SandScript, Slow Trains, Underground Window, and Poetry365. A graduate of The College of William & Mary and The Radcliffe Publishing Institute at the Center for Advanced Study at Harvard, she also holds a MFA in Creative Writing from Queens University at Charlotte.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

The Tattooed Poets Project: Aaron Anstett

Today's poem is also a tattoo poem, and it is delivered to us by Aaron Anstett, the current Pikes Peak Poet Laureate!


In our bodies, we move uniformly.
No one owns a rickshaw tattoo
that actually clatters, hip to rib,
dust rising off the skin.

Across my torso,
print a flesh-tone color tattoo
of the word Invisibility.

Think of people
with their own names emblazoned
as if they might forget.
Call me anything:
alphabet braceleting one wrist.

Circling an ankle: many nations’ monuments.
She stepped from the bath like a giantess.

An old man’s arm tattoos,
green like just-before tornadoes
and the taste of anesthesia.
Once, nothing shone so brightly for him.

Tattoo two lungs
and I’ll return yearly
to have them darkened.

How bare the body looks
around the first one.

Best, for me, the flaming prophecies:
Stick Knife Here, Born to Die,
the ones redundant at autopsies:
stream of air bubbles
rising from the mermaid’s red mouth
on a drowned man’s palm.

Aaron Anstett's collections are Sustenance, No Accident (Nebraska Book Award and Balcones Poetry Prize), and Each Place the Body's. He's completing the last weeks of his term as the inaugural Pikes Peak Poet Laureate and lives in Colorado with his wife, Lesley, and children, Molly, Cooper, and Rachel.

Be sure to head over to Tattoosday and check out Aaron's Donne-inspired tattoo here.

Thanks to Aaron for sharing his tattoo with is here on Tattoosday!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

The Tattooed Poets Project: Daphne Lazarus

Today's poem was contributed by Daphne Lazarus, whose work has appeared previously in Holly Rose Review. Be sure to check out her amazing tattoo over on Tattoosday here.


the epilogue

You, the omnipresent phantom,
A spectral apparition
Transfigured into
The bleeding azure sunrise,
The Pebble lodged in my shoe,
The glint of the bohemian crystal vase I use as a pencil holder,
Sound waves resonating forth from a melancholic song,
Reverberating heart throbs,
The affable Chimera in my siestas,
A beguiling Incubus traversing my dreams.

You morphed yourself into,
Photographs of white landscapes and alpenglow,
The zenith, the celestial sphere,
The Marrow in the bones of my lunch,
Orbs after a dry spell,
Quivering heat wave over the parched tarred road,
Jubilation after a serendipity,
Therapeutic sounds of running water,
The pungent aftertaste of ecstasy,
In the smell of the earthen rain.
Flux, constant flux

We will forever be antipodes,
Dwelling on opposite sides of the earth
Syzygies in a perpetual orbital dance,
Careening and meandering around the moon.

But now,
Analogous to a shapeless formlessness
A verisimilitude, a semblance we are.

To delete and obliterate from lucid minds,
The evils of nostalgia
A soggy quagmire.

An epilogue to our epic Ramayana.

Daphne was born in Singapore. She received her BA (Hons) in Arts Management from LASALLE College of the Arts in Singapore in 2009. She has curated several contemporary art exhibitions featuring emerging Singaporean artists and an exhibition featuring art works of pioneer Singapore artists from a permanent collection of an art institution. Daphne writes for a tattoo website at in collaboration with tattoo artist Shane Tan. She was also one of the event organizers for Singapore’s first body suspension show in conjunction with the first tattoo convention in Singapore.

Daphne’s passion lies in writing about art and tattoo culture and has several articles featured in several contemporary art publications. She has also written a thesis on tattoos for her undergraduate study. She will be pursuing a Master’s in Art History at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) at the University of London.

Daphne is not a poet by profession, but she uses it as a tool for catharsis. She has published literary works mostly in contemporary art journals and aspires to be an art writer and art historian.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

The Tattooed Poets Project: Rebecca Wolff

Today's poem comes to us from Rebecca Wolff.


Mad as Hell/Not Going To Take It

When they tapered off my meds
                (no “they”)
began to feel it

they say depression is anger

                   (no “they” anywhere)

tapered off my meds unsupervised

food tastes larger
loins activate
crystal reformation

into pronoun conversion

was elected to become
accounted for

raised my hands into


feeling politicized


long sigh.

feeling it at the gas pump
fumes unchained

—I will report you—

squad car drove up
my tailpipe

called my friend

to see what he could do for us


Be sure to head over to Tattoosday to see a couple of Rebecca's seven tattoos here.

Rebecca Wolff is the author of three books of poems: Manderley, Figment, and The King. Her novel The Beginners is coming out in 2011 from Riverhead Books. She is the editor and publisher of Fence and Fence Books, and publisher of The Constant Critic. She lives in Athens, New York, with Ira Sher and Asher Wolff and Margot Sher.

Thanks to Rebecca for sharing her poetry with us here on BillyBlog!

Monday, April 19, 2010

The Tattooed Poets Project: Brendan Constantine

Today's poem in the Tattooed Poets Project comes to us from Brendan Constantine:

The Man In the Next Bed

The man in the next bed has
a habit of silver; he darkens
when he’s not under hand.
He blames the road atlas

for bringing him here, for
counting the miles in gold.
The man in the next bed is
cast out of bronze. The man

next to him out of wax. Hold
him too long, he’ll furrow
and tantrum all night like
a candle. The man next to him

talks to his pillow. He blames it
for his dreams; his falling
& his crawling dreams. Why
did you show me tigers? Why

were my legs full of mud ?
The man next to him has
an answer, he listens to the roof
for angels. It’s raining

bishops & bastards, he yells
& hides his medicine cup
in the sheets. The orderlies
know better than to take it;

he’d only steal another
from the man in the next bed.
That man is the president
of Monaco, it says so

on his pectoral tattoo: I am
the president of Monaco.
In case of emergency, call
a jeweler. In the bed next to him

there’s a man who breaks
his fingers as a calling. God
tells him which to snap
or save. He leaves himself

one to point with, to accuse
the man in the next bed; the man
who built the hospital, who
doesn’t remember building it,

whose heart plays the machine
beside him, whose eyes stay
open, vacant as the next bed
& the next bed over.

This poem originally appeared in the journal, Chaparral, 2009

Please be sure to head over to Tattoosday to see one of Brendan's tattoos here.

Brendan Constantine is a poet based in Los Angeles. His work has appeared in numerous journals, notably Ploughshares, Ninth Letter,The Cortland Review & RUNES. His book, Letters To Guns, was released in 2009 from Red Hen Press. He is currently poet in residence at The Windward School and Loyola Marymount University Extension.