mardi 30 mars 2021

Hélas Hellas Persephone, published February 2021!



I am happy to announce that my poetry book Hélas Hellas Persephone has been published by Pannonica Press. It represents the last 25 years of my writing and is in four sections:

1) Hélas Hellas Persephone (in which Persephone finds a way to liberate herself from Hell and turns the mythology of Hellas on its head)

2) Twelve Poems of Malady and Despair (detailing my 16 years of chronic illness and pain from which I eventually recovered)

3) One Too Many Muses (the driving forces and characters of my life and writing)

4) Mortal and Immortal Poems (deepening poems of life, death and recovery)

The book is 127 pages and includes three poems in French and their translations. From the Amazon page: "Laura Tattoo's stunning collection of poems reveals hard-won insights and flashes of illumination in its pages by exploring her life and its intersection with the Persephone myth of Ancient Greece."élas-Hellas-Persephone-Selected-Poems/dp/0980001455

I am filled with so much gratitude for this moment! Thank you for your support over the many years of this blog and my poetry. I look forward to your comments both here and on Amazon!

~Laura Tattoo




vendredi 16 septembre 2016

Final post for Moineau en France

Since October, 2008, I posted much of my new work here. Now, in September, 2016, I will just let it stand and say, it was really beautiful and I am grateful to everyone who read a poem and felt a kinship... ~moineau

dimanche 13 mars 2016

Sept ans sans Alain Bashung

Dans une autre vie
Les marguerites s'effeuillent au ralenti
Personne n'est vainqueur ... xoxooxox

mercredi 6 janvier 2016

Psalms in the Desert (for my mother)

“And he brought up Hadassah, that is, Esther, his uncle's daughter: for she had neither father nor mother, and the maid was fair and beautiful.”

Now that your eyes are gone,
your visual anchors that
brought you to safety,
living alone for twenty years or more
without the jealous husbands and lovers
bewildered by your beauty,
without the Daddies who left you
or the ones you left,
you became wise and strong,
talking out loud to God
in ironic conversations,
--”Who are you talking to, Mom?”
--”To myself! Who else?”
until the lights went out
and your photography was gone
and the books by Karen Armstrong
and all those faces, gone gone
--”Do you realize how much I love faces?”
And more than anything else,
the safety that light brings through the eyes
or at least the illusion of it
is what macular degeneration
took from you.

Your five-year-old girl
wandered door to door in Queens,
asking neighbors to be
invited in for supper
because your mother was out again
schmoozing after work,
and your sister, ten years older
who was more battered even than you,
was locked in her room again,
brooding... so you begged at doors,
and thank God, as you say,
New York was still a village.
You laugh proudly:
You knew when Mrs. Drew had
made another pot roast
and when the neighbor down the block
was frying latkas.
You knew what everyone
was having for supper.

A man appeared a few times
a year and brought you presents,
took you places, restaurants,
Broadway shows or the zoo,
and you never understood
until you were older
who this mysterious uncle was,
Martin Schaeffer,
this man who sold furs in Brooklyn,
and you asked your mother
in your crisis seventeen,
“Why did you never tell me
he was my father?”
and her answer was spit
at you in hatred,
“Because he was a Jew.”

So many questions
leftover from your childhood,
like why your mother Adelaide
and her mother Lydia Broll
spoke Yiddish in the kitchen
under their breath,
why Lydia hid in the closet
every time there was
thunder or lightning,
why these women had no love
for two beautiful daughters.

Your other Daddy was German
and a drunkard too,
but he loved you,
even if he was afraid
to show you too much,
afraid of your mother,
that foul-mouthed lush.
He worked for Ma Bell
and paid for you to take
accordion lessons,
and at six, small as you were
(and I can only imagine it
as you are still small today)
how you lugged that thing
six whole blocks to your lesson
and back again.
And then you played for him
as tears ran down his face:
“Patty,” he would say,
“play it again.”

When he was dying,
unable to breathe through the cancer,
you laid me in a crib and
took care of him.
It was a small price for me to pay,
the debt so big to your Daddy.
Your mother was late to his funeral
late from the hairdressers
and then wouldn't let you ride
in the limousine to the cemetery:
You were devastated.
Many years later, you wrote him an elegy
called “Daddy,”
and even if you gave away
the only copy you had of it,
you can still recite parts of it,
calling him “the Picasso of my
silent nights,”
the tears straining from your chest
every time you try.

How much you have given me,
the things that were
never given to you:
the books, the typewriter,
the encouragement, the cuddling,
the separation, the pain, the becoming.
We didn't have it easy, you and I,
and this long story of two women is
no less poignant than an Italian film
by Vittorio De Sica.
I will be brave in the telling of it,
I will be as courageous as David.
Thus will it rest as a testament
to your faith and your strength
like psalms in the desert.

mardi 5 janvier 2016

Sunset Boulevard

Quarter to four
The lights are on
in the hallway
The kitchen lights too
just in case she gets up
but she's not getting up
She's not here
She's in the hospital
transferred from ICU
to Med-Surg
and she's sleeping hard
finally disconnected
from all those wires

No it's me who's up
wandering around her
apartment, bitter
anxious and depressed
knowing she's going
to fight me
on every front
and not just me
but everyone
with her repartee
her razor wit
and her stubbornness

I don't know
what to do
I've got PTSD
a mile long
as I stand in her kitchen
reeking with stale smoke
and plug in the coffee
Five o'clock
and I'm watching
Divine in "Polyester"
recognizing the insanity
of my own family
and asking myself
what my duty is
when nothing I can
say or do
will fix a lifetime
of her martyrdom

God forgive me
I'm human but
I'm asking
I'm trying to listen
as I go quiet
turn off the television
take out the garbage
and head to the hospital
I can't even cry
I can't feel anything
I can't live on
Sunset Boulevard
It's no longer
my address

mercredi 9 décembre 2015

Paris chante pour les poètes

Si je dois écrire Paris
il faut que je le fasse en poésie
car quand Paris dit son nom
on n'entend que de chansons
éclattant de son cœur, de son marbre
ses lumières, ses ombres
s'embrassent dans une danse
de libertié d'avant
de plaisir sans attente
et tout le monde sait ça
dans son bruit, dans son silence
voilà comme Paris chante
constamment sans peur de rien

Vivre à Paris il faut du courage
car on doit vivre chaque instant
sans compter si le soir
va finir tôt ou tard
si l'on va se trouver sans voiture
si les restaurants ou le métro ferme
car trouver qu'on est seul
sans ni montre ni téléphone
écoutant un cloche qui sonne
que c'est déja le matin
et qu'on a marché d'un bout à l'autre
entouré par les fantômes qui chantent
tous les poètes morts et vivants

Ça c'est la joie, notre raison d'être
Que Paris chante pour ses poètes!

jeudi 12 novembre 2015

my greek phone is dying

my greek phone is dying
it made me feel special
with all its greek bells and whistles
flying greek alphabet
and greek wake-you-up jingle

it's a smart phone
it once saved me when 
an athens bus brought
me to a mountain top
or when a crazy woman
rushed me on a dark boulevard
shrieking "I know what you've done!"

it's got my daily alarms
texts from my greek lover
and songs he sent to calm me
when I said it was over
but they're all gone now
with a factory reset
that didn't fix anything

every minute or so people say
"you're gone again...
can you repeat that?"
i'm tired of repeating myself
tired of the disappearing act

i'm grieving the end 
of a marriage
i'm grieving the end 
of a romance
and my phone is helping
me again by dying

"o kosmos mas, esi" 
efharisto! signomi!

samedi 7 novembre 2015

The Return

Returning to an old city
for a new life
it isn't easy
Around every corner
are memories
and buses take routes
never anticipated
past the lying-in hospital
where my first son was born
and where every year
he returned with croupe
the threat of laryngectomy
pressing against his throat
and my breasts overflowing
with the milk denied him

I accidentally walked past
the nw children's theater
where my second son
studied Hamlet
Where was I then?
Depressed miles away in a bed
I couldn't get out of
but somehow or other
I caught every performance
If they only knew
how much I loved them

I drove past the old
TV station where
I worked in the 80s
I spent five years
training teachers in
the fine art of
cross curricular television
I put everything into it
while the man I married
walked a tightrope
between love and alcohol
He slipped and fell
I couldn't catch him
and by then I wasn't sure
I wanted to
but I wanted to:
I went crazy
resigned from my job
tried to save 
the whole damned world
wound up in a hospital

They say you can't
go back
but you can
I've proved it
I'm willing to take
I'm eager to forgive
and be forgiven
Until then
I'll just keep
riding buses
rounding corners
remembering the love
that never dies

dimanche 1 novembre 2015

Good riddance to all abusers!

When you nailed me to the cross
with your hate-filled speech
I bled a little, rolled my eyes
and then expired
I wasn't going to hang around
and let you sever my head
kick it down the hill
and send it into the abyss
where it would spin
in a gravity-less space
big enough to get lost in forever
No, I expired, a hundred-years faint
that I carried in my heart
and wore on my face
like a mask of sadness
I couldn't hide it
and everyone who saw me
would say, "You look so sad!
What happened?"
and I would poo-poo them
full of misplaced shame
and wanting to protect them
"I just have sad eyes
It's nothing"
but inside I was dying
remembering your cruelty
when what I needed most
was love and compassion

Like a fool
I found you again and again
in one form or another
brother, mother, child, lover
and the cycle would begin
the hammer, the sickle,
the chopping block, the volley
I guess I took it on
because I couldn't love myself
but I've been practicing:
Every moment that your whip
embedded in my brain matter
begins to crack and sting
I've trained myself to answer
"I accept myself
fully and unconditionally
right here, right now"
and the whip flies
from your hand
and from my head
and a great calm descends
upon my spirit
Then I say
"I accept you too
fully and unconditionally
right here, right now"
but I don't want you
in my life anymore
if you think you can ever
speak to me like that again
I love myself too much
to listen to your vulgar judgments
those hard lies you tell yourself
to feel superior
that you pronounce as easily
as a killer kills --
Good riddance, all abusers!
Your raging star is no longer
the center of my universe
I don't care who you are
It's over
I am free

jeudi 22 octobre 2015

Recovery Rag

I could languish over
then throw myself
into the sea
but I won't do it
I'm so glad I
washed the dishes
and my teeth last night
before I hit the bed
Bad habits sneak in
so easily
the self-pity
the paralysis
the disgust
like a lifelong practice
of apathy and self-abuse
Now I try
not to give up
put one foot forward
then trudge
make a phone call
finish the novel
open up the window
greet the day
then remind myself
one more time
that I'm worth it

dimanche 27 septembre 2015

Hélas Hellas

Sky or water
it doesn't much matter
I was falling I was flying
with a stone around my neck
drowning in illness
We could say you reached down
and pulled me out
it wouldn't be an overstatement
You were not Calypso
and I was not Odysseus
though when I consider
everything we went through
the analogy is fitting
I rested with you
on that volcanic island
erupting in the middle of Europa
and I was grateful
As the sweet centenarian habits
of high fat, early sleep and sex
became a fascist doctrine
I found myself floundering again
feeling controlled and angry
in the face of your volcano project
I was no longer buying it
and my mind wandered home
to the doorsteps of my children
because those deep umbral cords
and the lyric flow of breast milk
keep us united in an eternal song
Even if I could see into the future
as you would later bless
and curse me with
the rejection complete and total
of sons for their mother
I still longed to return
and every morning
I ran through the streets of Lamia
heart beating madly
with fire and sweat
and nothing could help me
not warm Greek bread
not antique beauty
Sweet Calypso
I had to leave
mais j'ai fait un beau voyage
and even if you are correct that
the earth is rapidly cooling
as we pass through
galactic cloud matter
and the increased celestial electricity
is raising the magma flows
in their underwater chambers
sparking discontent
among the nations
I would rather die
than never write poetry
again by lamplight
and I will die
that is what you
do not understand, being a god
I am a woman
tied to Ithaca
and I am mortal.

I know I promised
to marry you, Apollo
but I did not foresee
how punishing you would become
when I broke my pledge
and left you to languish
on a smoldering Olympus
in the volcanic winter
of your snowball heart
I was a lovestruck silly girl
who thought she could see
into the future and you said
Go ahead, Cassandra
I have a roadmap”
I looked and looked
but didn't see it
or maybe I looked
and couldn't do it
or maybe I saw how
cold Greece would become
in the immediate future
and democrat and Jew that I am
I couldn't handle your antisemitism
your hatred of all Muslims
and even those "barbaric" Christians
though you still pretend to be Orthodox
If anything Greece was lost
to those black-cloaked priests
who are paid by the state
and thus subjugate and are subjugated
Strange country:
You blame the Ottomans
and I don't blame you a wit
but someday you guys
have to get over it or
start making your own clothing
Everywhere everywhere
the labels scream
Made in Turkey”
Made in Germany”
Let the wealthy of Greece
rise up and invest
in their countrymen!
Throw off the bureaucratic
shackles of church and state!
Don't believe me?
Well there's the rub
for me to see the horrors
and no one to believe what I tell them
just as I didn't believe you
your narrow road
your climate litanies
or your love
It's fast karma or some such
religious nonsense
more blasphemy
more cannibalism
more 21st-century anarchy
We both see the frozen future
but no one can hear us.

I was a tree
frozen in bark
neglected, celibate
roots of sadness so deep
the sky's tears
could not reach them
Apollo chased and ravaged me
and I became a woman
named Daphne
I blossomed with
sea pine in the fall
orange blossom in the spring
swooning under my
own salted perfume
I climbed hills
I sought beauty
I read until my eyes
grew red and bleary
Every cell vivant
my skin bronzed
my heart charged
with a lightning rod
For a brief moment
it made me young
and the world became turquoise
water, light and sulphur
burnt fields
paradisiacal mountains
endless groves of olive
and the language that entered
my ears was music
and I tried hard to learn it
but it was never enough
Oh make me a tree again
Oh make me a statue
now that Apollo has gone
and taken with him
his words of love
Life is complicated
and then it is not
and then it breaks apart
into a new composite.

Photo: Cassandra by Evelyn De Morgan

mercredi 9 septembre 2015


A long sigh of exhaustion
after a lifetime of love
and of things resembling love
I wasn't perfect
I committed myself when
commitment was clearly wrong
and I withdrew myself
when I felt threatened
I married and married
like a mail-order bride
without a dowry
and I was passed around
like a dollar bill
until I felt used and dirty
I woke up in a foreign country
with another ring upon my finger
and nothing inside
to claim as my own
so I started on this
vowing to study myself
for as long as it took
to  reclaim my honor
to love myself
and become an honest person
Every day requires courage
to look into that mirror
admit my transgressions
then amend them
My addiction to relationships
sends out little hooks
to catch fish
and then I realize
I don't want them
and take the barbs out
of my own skin
I'm on sabbatical
I remind myself
I'm not lonely
only growing
millimeter by millimeter
It doesn't matter
As long as it takes
as high as it goes
as deep as the ocean is
the love in my own soul

vendredi 28 août 2015

Roxy Music - A Song for Europe

A Song For Europe (1973) - Ferry/Mackay

Here as I sit
At this empty cafe
Thinking of you
I remember
All those moments
Lost in wonder
That we'll never
Find again
Though the world
Is my oyster
It's only a shell
Full of memories
And here by the Seine
Notre-Dame casts
A long lonely shadow
Now - only sorrow
No tomorrow
There's no today for us
Nothing is there
For us to share
But yesterday
These cities may change
But there always remains
My obsession
Through silken waters
My gondola glides
And the bridge - it sighs ...
I remember
All those moments
Lost in wonder
That we'll never
Find again
There's no more time for us
Nothing is there
For us to share
But yesterdays
Ecce momenta
Illa mirabilia
Quae captabit
In aeternum
Modo dolores
Sunt in dies
Non est reliquum
Vero tantum
Tous ces moments
Perdus dans l`enchantement
Qui ne reviendront
Pas d'aujourd'hui pour nous
Pour nous il n'y a rien
A partager
Sauf le passé 

vendredi 21 août 2015

Happy birthday, Miki Theodorakis!

Mikis Theodorakis turned 90 on July 29th, 2015. Hronia pola, maître et patriote! This is a painting by Efthymio Warlamis, one of 130 paintings from the life of Mikis Theodorakis I saw in Lamia, Greece, in 2012.

A beautiful song from a poem by Odysseas Elytis, music by Theodorakis. The video, with English subtitles, uses clips and images from the film "Iphigenia" by Michalis Cacoyiannis.

mercredi 19 août 2015

Adieu, adieu

Separation, Munch, 1896

Adieu αγάπη μου
Νάσαι καλά mon amour
Je te souhaite un bon succès
un autre amour et de la paix
Peut-être un jour il y aura pardon
car nous n'étions que d'enfants
dans un chateau de sable
et ça fond n'est-ce pas?
Mais nous voilà
nous allons vivre

mercredi 22 juillet 2015


"For the Lamed-waf are the hearts of the world multiplied, and into them, as into one receptacle, pour all our griefs.” — from Le dernier des justes by Andre Schwarz-Bart

I am Lamed-vov
the last of the just
and I'll tear my hair out
before I'm done
if God will permit me
and of this indeed
nothing is less certain
for I must stand
and bear it all 
as recompense for
what I've done and
what came before
when I was nary a thought
a dove on an olive branch
that traversed the great
Mediterranean cradle
and its salt-encrusted air
clung to my skin
and made it brittle

The ultimate rejection
by everyone I loved
is not a simple fruit
to carry in one's womb
but a heavy pit
of infinite sadness
every bit as unbearable
as Demeter's grief
or any mother who
lost her child to death
or misfortune
or rejection
choose your poison
or an unjust God will
choose it for you
and then you will
cleave to him because
he is all you have left
abandoned in the middle
of the great forest

Your little clay hut
molded by your hands
out of water and mud
a tepid oil lamp burning
on the hearthstone
beads running through
your fingers upon which
you count the names of
everyone you've loved
the dearly departed
the vagabonds
and the children
alive and buried
and each one a blessing 

Thamar - Hans Collaert


jeudi 16 juillet 2015


Enough they said
from their twaddle of
beaming off the
one cup then two
like a china collection
her skin
the motives
the incongruities like
mustard and berry
it doesn't matter if
it tastes good
the tongue indolent
and greedy
wanting what it wants
no thought to the
oh fuck it they said
we're tired of
making sense
we're going after the
sound bites
no calories no chewing
just ironies
the good the bad and
the ugly
you know
the fucking clichés
a congregation of
hail mary's
old bags who make
beautiful music
they boil and whistle
and I run to them
jumping across the
hedge of madness into
something ressembling