Sunday, 27 April 2014

The Tattooed Poets Project: Stephanie Berger

I met Stephanie Berger last summer at the NYC Poetry Festival on Governor's Island. I didn't take a photo of her tattoo then, but we stayed in touch and she sent me these photos:



Stephanie explains:
"I got this tattoo in 2005 while my father was dying. I'd taken the semester off of college so that I could spent time with him and take care of him while he was sick. I remember lying on the couch in my dad's apartment feeling inconsolably sad when suddenly some kind of bug crawled over my foot, and my cat leapt upon it like a crazy, wild animal. For whatever reason that was the first time I hadn't felt hopeless in months. I decided to tattoo a scarab beetle on my foot because the scarab is an Egyptian god of rebirth. I got it done at some random shop near Los Feliz in LA."
Stephanie sent us the following poem, which she wrote around the same time, and appeared originally in HoboEye magazine around 2008:

Conversation: Sexual Assault

Excuse me, are you curious George’s father?
I’m afraid.
The uncle?
You have the wrong girl.
Certainly.
I’m little curiosity.
Have or are?
Half or wrong?
23 years old.
I have difficulty speaking the language but understand it perfectly.
There’s a market for that on the Internet.
I hear.
Had I stopped I might have moved in some other direction.
Half or wrong?
Right and left I can deal with.
What about north and south?
Too tied up with the up and down.
In this culture.
Makes a girl sea-sick, a little more consistent.
Can I have a cigarette?
You have one in your hand.
Do you want the panties or not?
You have the wrong girl.
Has anyone ever told you those things will kill you?
That’s not a question.
79 years old.
My father was a sociologist.
Too tied up with the up and down.
He appreciated fine wood-working.
I believe he hated the French.
I hear.
I have difficulty speaking the language but understand it perfectly.
In this culture.
I was eight and nine when I lived there.
He kept a wooden fisherman out on the deck.
He showed little interest in metals.
I like your mustache.
Certainly.
I like your hook.
You have one in your hand.
Yes, less to lose.
Have you ever felt such shimmering exhaustion?
She bet me she couldn't sit on my stomach for an hour without my crying uncle.
There’s a market for that on the Internet.
The uncle?
Do you want the panties or not?
My father was a sociologist.
That’s not a question.
In this culture.
Excuse me, are you curious George’s father?
I hear.
Had I stopped I might have moved in some other direction.
But I've little curiosity.
Have or are?
23 years old.
Perhaps it is better to walk around very isolated.
Yes, less to lose.
Less to emboss.
Maybe more to enamel.
He showed little interest in metals.
Half or wrong?
I’m afraid.
Right and left I can deal with.
Can or have?
Can I have a cigarette?
I can be the wrong girl.


~ ~ ~

Stephanie Berger is the Executive Director of The Poetry Society of New York, co-founder of the New York City Poetry Festival, and The Madame of The Poetry Brothel.  Her poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in Fence, Bat City Review, StyleiteSimilar:PeaksSmoking Glue GunLa FoveaH_NGM_NCoconut, and other publications. She published a chapbook, In The Madame’s Hat Box, on Dancing Girl Press in 2011, and she has a collaborative chapbook, The Emoji Poems, forthcoming from Coconut Books. She is co-editor of the photo-poetry press, #wtfislongsdrugspress, and occasionally she tumbles over at stephani-berger.tumblr.com

Thanks to Stephanie for sharing her tattoo and poem with us here on The Tattooed Poets Project!


This entry is ©2014 Tattoosday. The poem and tattoo are reprinted with the poet's permission.


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