Monday, December 12, 2011

You've Left Your Mark




A sailor's not a sailor,
till he's been tattooed.

If I ever tire of it,
I will have to go
under the knife
to have it removed.

X marks the spot
and all that,
thanks to you.

It's not a subtle
simple initial,
but dark, cutthroat
as Mercurochrome.

I've lathered repeatedly,
but it's potent, resistant
to nail polish remover
and Goo Gone.

What does it feel like?

Strangely, as if
it's always been there,
like a birthmark,
some kind of birthright.

I could sail the Atlantic
all in one night.


tk, December 2011


Listen to the talented R.A.D. Stainforth read this piece:
image by Mostafa Habibi

64 comments:

  1. Nice words for such a permanent mark.

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  2. Good sailing. I love your jumps here. You are not afraid to let the reader fill in the dots which is just wonderful and makes the poem much more potent. K.

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  3. Strangely, as if it's always been there made me think of my husband. I felt that way about him from the first kiss. Funny where the words can take us...

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  4. Mercurochrome.... awesome word! How long have you had that in your "word book" and been itching to use? Another challenging prompt... thanks for the weekly brain stretching! :)

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  5. anytime we would get a cut as a child, my grandpa would slather us with mercurochrome, so I know just how red it is! Loved this poem, Tess

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  6. Sailors take inspiring trips ...

    Intriguing image and poem. Thanks Tess.

    Isabel x

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  7. The photo reminds me of LOST. We just watched the season 4 finale last night, so it's on my mind a great deal lately.

    The poem reminds me of my tattoos. I have 3 pretty major ones, and one small one. So far. I can't imagine ever wanting to remove them - they feel as if they've always been there. Almost as if they were uncovered, rather than applied.

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  8. You left your mark, Tess...as did the painting.

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  9. "like a birthmark, some kind of birthright." Brilliant description, as is Marcheline's "almost as if they were uncovered, rather than applied." Yes...
    "I must go down to the sea again...
    And all I ask is a merry yarn from a laughing fellow-rover
    And quiet sleep and a sweet dream when the long trick's over."

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  10. great image- love your take on it- now I must go read others!

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  11. nice...sail on...almost got a tat once...def like the last line and its departure a bit to the narrative but it adds much...

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  12. I must down to the seas again, for the call of the running tide
    Is a wild call and a clear call that may not be denied;
    And all I ask is a windy day with the white clouds flying,
    And the flung spray and the blown spume, and the sea-gulls crying.

    (John Masefield, Sea-Fever)

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  13. Makes me wonder...do you have a tattoo? :)

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  14. All I ask is a Tall Ship
    And a Star to steer her by..

    Reckless symbols of youth or Maudlin reminders of Love turn on the tide a sailor does like Hello's and Goodbye's
    Cheers Tess!

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  15. I've never really wanted a tattoo but if I had one, it would feel like this poem...beautifully placed on any sailors arm!

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  16. Tattoo? I'll keep you guessing...

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  17. R.A.D., I love the Masefield...I will answer the wild call on a windy day...

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  18. Tattoo- no, although I was tempted when I turned 65 to mark such a momentous occasion, but- no. Provocative write.

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  19. Fun take on the prompt. Love the opening couplet especially.

    My son has several amazing tats on his back, including a raven that spreads shoulder to shoulder.

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  20. Really really never thought I would see "Goo Gone" appear in a poem -- I'm afraid this may leave an indelible mark on my psyche... :)

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  21. Your opening lines made me smile. :)

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  22. Mercurochrome ~ The only way I would let my parents treat a
    boo-boo. Loved to pretend it was a tattoo, just like the tattoo on my uncle's arm.
    Your poem is wonderful.

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  23. Goo Gone is the Eighth Wonder of the World...

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  24. While I like the idea of tattoos, I've never seen one that, in my opinion, improves the look of the human body, which I think is a miracle of nature. I've even designed a few tattoos for people, but I've never come close to thinking, "I want that image attached to me forever." Your poem was well written and very evocative.

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  25. I love your first line. None of the sailors I know have ever been tattooed but they sailed the seven seas all right.

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  26. Her tattoo is on her left ankle,
    but most of the time her woolley
    socks hide it. I cannot reveal
    what the Tat is of, but a lot of
    it is in red ink.
    Some of us carry tattoos that
    only we can see in the right
    light, and I suppose the scars
    and blemishes we sport count
    for something, some tale told
    in the dark of night, or on a slave
    ship sailing boldly around the horn.

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  27. Guess again, Glenn...not on the ankle...not in red...

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  28. I'm guessing your tattoo is ... here ... or maybe ... there ... or there ... am I getting warm ...

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  29. Hey, R.A.D., that tickles...yes, you're getting warm...

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  30. Loved that! Rhythmic and the glorious suprise arrhythms and unexpected words. Glorious.

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  31. Strong, compelling poem, dear Tess. By our loves and follies are we marked.... I especially loved:

    It's not a subtle
    simple initial,
    but dark, cutthroat
    as Mercurochrome.

    One of your strengths is the richness of detail in your work-- the tapestry effect even when working in compression mode..xxxj

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  32. good work. I wish I had thought of tattoo.

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  33. Ooooh Tess, that little gem sent tingles down my spine. Almost makes me want to send MOTH out to the nearest tattoo parlour for some creative inking.
    Millie xx

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  34. Dear Tess: Lovers or sailors of the sea, the seal-tattoo? A ring-like tattoo..that's smooth-sailing poetry! And...did I get it right? It is a ring-like tattoo somwhere yes a the ring finger! Getting warm! (and almost 1/2 way across the mare by now)...

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  35. Resistant to Goo-Gone? I love it, Tess.

    Kay, Alberta, Canada
    An Unfittie’s Guide to Adventurous Travel

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  36. Love this...a sailor is not a sailor 'til he 's tattooed...great words for needled skin...:)

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  37. Ohhhh! Even flying takes all night, to cross the Atlantic. I've never dared more than 100 miles out to sea, then return. Feel like buried in the sand! Hmmmm. Maybe I should get my first tattoo?

    Let's see, a violin and a bow, on separate cheeks? No, NOT my face cheeks--grin! Then when I flex those muscles, it will look like the bow is playing the violin.

    Gawd, what an awful mental picture!
    If you read this, hope it doesn't ruin your morning.
    PEACE!

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  38. I've never been a fan of tattoos, but the sea always pulls hard.

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  39. This is great, like a dream tattooed on the thin skin of consciousness.

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  40. Wonderful poem Tess... Stained scriptures on skin are like the birthmarks we choose & sometimes albeit very hard may one day not want anymore. I don't have one myself for that very reason but I have a friend that has a wee little butterfly in the small of her back & it really is quite lovely.

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  41. Love this! I especially like the opening and closing couplets.

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  42. Beautiful verse Tess! Not one for tattoos but some are pretty to look at.Call of the sea,call for adventure is strong for many so long one is not rooted! Unfortunately some are!

    Hank

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  43. Not much will remove such a mark!
    Good one! thanks.

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  44. I say, keep the tat...what's not to be proud of..including this poem!!

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  45. One day I will write a poem to equal this! And one day I will get myself a tattoo. And the tattoo will spread from one scapula to the other and it will say in letters of purple, green and gold - "Mercurochrome has been banned by the FDA!"

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  46. Fascinating take....i love it Tess!! :-)

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  47. For some reason, this one totally reminded me of Capt. Jack Sparrow (Pirates of the Caribbean).. I am sure he (with his amazing character) would have said the same thing...

    Loved this one!

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  48. We have a big bottle of Goo Gone over our washer/dryer. That stuff works wonders. Wonderful poem.

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  49. I agree with Brian: that last line says so much.

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  50. I can understand how people love their tattoos and wouldn't think of removing them, because after awhile it does seem like they've always been there, like a mole. But I wouldn't ever get one. I really like the flow of your words in this poem.

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  51. "A sailor's not a sailor,
    till he's been tattooed."
    Or as they used to say at the time, screwed, glued and tattooed. During the war, I was all three. :-)

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  52. I could sail the Atlantic
    all in one night.

    I love the power in this! Wonderful poem...

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  53. great first line.....then just gets better....thanks Tess

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  54. WOnderful poem, Tess. I had to re-read this a couple of times. It flowed very well.

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  55. Your poem would have been worth the read for Mercurochrome alone! But in fct I found it evoked all kinds of memories and associations.

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  56. i like that you found a drawn shape in an image with such a smooth skin =)

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  57. I've been a sailor and have the 'too to remind me of 17 hour trip across the pacific and the birthmark of war indeibly imprinted, unerasable from body or mind.

    The atlantic took 6 hours.

    rel

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  58. "A sailor's not a sailor,
    till he's been tattooed."

    what a fine line

    it needs five poems from it
    at least

    and two short stories

    a novel and
    a play

    and then it could still be put is some article
    like one of those intro phrases

    and suspended in the movies
    good as Forrest's feather floating along in the breeze.

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Inject a few raisins of conversation into the tasteless dough of existence.
― O. Henry (and me)