Tattoo — by Ted Kooser
What once was meant to be a statement—
a dripping dagger held in the fist
of a shuddering heart—is now just a bruise
on a bony old shoulder, the spot
where vanity once punched him hard
and the ache lingered on. He looks like
someone you had to reckon with,
strong as a stallion, fast and ornery,
but on this chilly morning, as he walks
between the tables at a yard sale
with the sleeves of his tight black T-shirt
rolled up to show us who he was,
he is only another old man, picking up
broken tools and putting them back,
his heart gone soft and blue with stories.
See more excellent poems in Sabio’s Poetry Anthology
I really enjoy body art and especially tattos, but unfortunately most tattoos are more impulsive and not done with a great deal of thought or depth. But each tattoo is a gold mine of feelings and experiences waiting to be told. Starting here I wrote three posts about asking people about their tattoos.
Ted Kooser is the first poet I found who I could enjoy without reservation and who then allowed me to read other types of poets more easily. Today I was surprised to find that I had yet to include him in my anthology.
Here is a quote of Ted’s which expresses one of my deepest appreciations for his poetry: “I favor poems that keep the obstacles between you and [the reader] to a minimum. “ –Ted Kooser (The Poetry Home Repair Manual)