‘Two Tattoos,’ Poems by Damian Robin The Society June 15, 2020 Culture, Humor, Poetry, The Environment 13 Comments Two Tattoos Tattoo One: On the Corporate and Politic Bodies Across my town, the shops and offices are short. Its buildings don’t blot out the sun. There’s sky to spare. However, needling, thin, construction cranes consort With straight-edged arms and steel-thread lines to pierce the air. Soon architects’ designs will be indelible, The town line drilled with hard-edged boundaries Until there’s just a lid of sky—unsellable— Though City Hall still has the corporate will to please. Tattoo Two: Too Much Information While walking through the narrow town, I passed this guy in sleeveless shirt and tattooed arms to fingertips (not unlike the patterns of organic dye that certain Asian women paint across each hand at festivals (though his were more like comic strips but mashed so close they were too hard to understand.)) He show-cased beasts and humans lined in violent colour: thorns, lumped blood drops, daggered heartbreaks, hatchets, whips, white, cracked skulls—carved in grim, exacting squalor. On riddled thighs (from tiny shorts) a scaley nose hard-snorted smog and green-based, dragon poison drips and squeezed its gyring body parts around rapt rows of snarled, gyrating devils massing to attack some missing target near his covered, ambling hips (maybe me, or some poor soul behind my back). His face was clear of ink, and looked most scrupulous, though up his neck and ears there wept a bunch of tulips choked by fists—he’d have to be an octopus to take on all the images he’d like to use, for, God forbid, he’d let the drill gnaw to his lips, or use one skilled on lids to make his eyes not bruise. When I told a friend, a frank, religious guy, of what I’d seen, he wasn’t fazed and made some quips about such creatures never reaching God up high; that if your body’s scarified up to the eyes, you’re just a human snake and so must come to grips with shedding skin—for your soul to grow or rise. He likened tattoo drilling points to iceberg tips that freeze on skins their massive, cold-heart, karmic curse. (While I agree, my moral compass needle slips to rubberneck this graphic crash in septic verse.) Damian Robin is a writer and editor living in the United Kingdom. NOTE TO READERS: If you enjoyed this poem or other content, please consider making a donation to the Society of Classical Poets. NOTE TO POETS: The Society considers this page, where your poetry resides, to be your residence as well, where you may invite family, friends, and others to visit. Feel free to treat this page as your home and remove anyone here who disrespects you. Simply send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Put “Remove Comment” in the subject line and list which comments you would like removed. The Society does not endorse any views expressed in individual poems or comments and reserves the right to remove any comments to maintain the decorum of this website and the integrity of the Society. Please see our Comments Policy here. CODEC News:Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on WhatsApp (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pinterest (Opens in new window) 13 Responses Rob Crisell June 15, 2020 Thank you, Damian:”Tattoo Two: Too” (!) is one of my favorite poems that I’ve ever read on this site. I love the choice of terza rima; so appropriate to describe what seems to be a hellish “gyre” of assorted tattoos. I enjoy how the enjambed lines work with the form to urge us onward on our journey through this inky, nightmare landscape. In my imagination, you even meet your own Virgil at the end, who explains the deeper meaning behind all the body ink. I certainly have had this “rubbernecking” experience after seeing a person who has rashly decided to turn his skin into a canvas. Well done. Reply C.B. Anderson June 15, 2020 Rob, I’m not sure what this is (it might be a nonce form), but it is certainly not terza rima! Reply Rob Crisell June 15, 2020 Thanks, Kip. You’re right, of course. The tercets and chain rhymes fooled me (even the A-b-a-b quatrain at the end). It certainly gave me the same feeling as terza rima. Whatever it is, Damian, I really like it! Damian Robin June 17, 2020 Wow this is high personal praise. Thanks Rob, good to reach a ‘(one of my) favourite’ category! I like your observation about meeting my own Virgil. He’s a poet I’ve found enmeshed in genres I don’t appreciate, he being so mannered and pastoral in his early work and I being very urban in my upbringing. But it is probably that I haven’t found a favourable translation. Reply Damian Robin June 17, 2020 Thanks for your correction of Rob’s diagnosis of the form, Kip. I believe a nonce form is a form made the particular occasion it is used. I would agree with that. Your astute recognition of formal aspects of poetry is always valued. Damian Robin June 17, 2020 And well done with your explanation of why it seemed like a terza rima, Rob. And I’m glad you like the form. Rod June 15, 2020 These are really good Damian! Like Rob, I especially appreciated the TMI one which is the first I’ve seen of its type. Graphically descriptive such that I could see the guy in my mind’s eye. Good ink Damian! Reply Damian Robin June 17, 2020 Thanks Rod. I was educated in art colleges. In the Foundation course at (what was then called) The London College of Printing, there was a large banner with the clear statement DON’T THINK, LOOK. I still appreciate this, though introducing more thinking has helped me balance life. And there was a lot of good ink at that print school. Reply Susan Jarvis Bryant June 15, 2020 Two poetic treats! Tattoo One: I’ve been watching Grand Designs, and last night’s episode was about the tiniest plot in East London that was so small that half the house was built underground. The vision of that unsellable lid of sky is just perfect. Tattoo Two is bursting with “Too Much Information” that grabbed me, captured my sensibilities and left me with images that delight and disturb in equal measures – the sign of a very fine poem. Thank you for the wonderful poetic trip, Mr. Robin. Reply Damian Robin June 17, 2020 Is the house you mention this one in https://www.granddesignsmagazine.com/grand-designs-houses/367-q-a-with-grand-designs-home-owners-joe-stuart-and-lina-nilsson ? I will search for the episode for when my wife comes out of hospital. She is a fan of Grand Designs. Your comments “delight and disturb” me. They are measured and very pleasing, and you pinpoint a lot of what I intended (so, disturbing in the surprised sense). Nice how you wrapped up with ‘trip’. I wonder do young people know this word in its sixties manifestation (as I think you are using it, and is how I though of the imagined tattooed skin). I appreciate your appreciation, Susan. Thanks. Reply Susan Jarvis Bryant June 18, 2020 It’s a privilege to hear your intentions with “Tatoo Two: Too Much Information” (I love the humorous title), and I’m glad to have tapped in to a lot of what you intended. It really is a breathtaking piece that engages the senses and gets the mind whirring – great stuff! As for Grand Designs, that is the episode I mentioned. It’s a marvel of modern architecture all brought to fruition by a 26 year old. It makes a rabbit-hutch home look like a castle – it’s somewhat of a miracle. Episode 9 of Season 15 is the best… it’s set in Herefordshire, takes ten years to build from scraps, and it is simply… I won’t spoil the surprise. I wish your wife a speedy recovery and fun watching Kevin McCloud. Reply Damian Robin June 21, 2020 https://classicalpoets.org/2019/03/27/freakish-tattooing-by-joseph-s-salemi/ Please remember Joseph Salemi’s attack on tatoing. Reply Damian Robin June 21, 2020 And there’s a frequent problem with tattooing – misspelling – (see ‘tatoing’ above). Reply Leave a Reply Cancel ReplyYour email address will not be published.CommentName* Email* Website Notify me of follow-up comments by email. Notify me of new posts by email. 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