Wednesday, April 14, 2010

The Tattooed Poets Project: Lea Banks

Today's poem is from Lea Banks:


Nothing is so beautiful as spring.

Gerard Manley Hopkins

Something like the ride on the Tilt-A-Wheel,

the teasing carnie with the snake tattoo. Something

like his boarding house room with the meltdown

mattress floor. Milk bottle of vodka and orange juice,

just a little vitamin C to help me dance until the ceiling

exploded. Woke up with nothing on but a Heavy Metal

tee shirt. Naked smoke rings blown from his scratched

mouth next to my ear, a torpedo. My hands

covered my throat. His curdled breath demanded

me watch where his snake started — and ended.

Something like being thrown hollow and naked

into a pool I couldn’t swim in, so-huddled

with death. This time it was a man carrying

me to poolside. His fingers inside my gasping

mouth, hooked between my teeth and cheek.

Told me to drink more wine, stop that screaming.

Something like being fucked drunk and willing

the waves of the lake over the two of us

in a mad tangle of wet clothes, lips of shiny

Erie oil, fish water, dirty wine. Freezing

later under a blood-soaked moon with a teenage

blotchy-faced stranger. I was a blue slip of a thing

slimy, sodden. I slept under a van that night.

It was nothing like you said it was, mother.

It was something else entirely, father.

You weren’t there for my undoing, a volley

against those lessons that you taught or failed

to teach. I was an emergency room wide open.

Angry squall of death in a small town morgue.

It was nothing. It was nothing like the spring

it should have been, innocent and brave. Before it

cloud, Christ, lord, and sour with sinning. Spring could

have been jumping in puddles, boggy smell

of brack, lily pads hiding sacks of eggs. A firefly

chase, a swat of black flies, rolling rolling dizzy

down hills of parachute grass — something

like the garden of Eden after the gate had closed.

Please head over to Tattoosday to check out some of Lea's tattoos here.

Lea Banks lives in Western Massachusetts. She is the author of the chapbook All of Me, (Booksmyth Press, 2008). She was a finalist for The Pavel Srut Fellowship in Prague and had two poems nominated for the 2009 Pushcart Prize. Banks is the founder of the nationally-known Collected Poets Series in Shelburne Falls, MA and editor of Oscillation: Poetry in Motion. She was the former poetry editor of The Equinox and editorial assistant for the Marlboro Review. She attended New England College’s MFA program, facilitated stroke survivors’ writing workshops, and is a full-time poet, community organizer, freelance editor and writer. Banks has published in several journals including Poetry Northwest, Slipstream, Diner, and American Poetry Journal. See more here:

Thanks again to Lea for sharing her poem with us on the Tattooed Poets Project!

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