If I Added to the List
by Lois Roma-Deeley

If I got another tattoo
it wouldn’t be designed by Bang Bang or Dr. Woo—
no single continuous line
of delicate blue will snake around my wrist—
no poem or lyric song
will slither up my arm, coil around
the nape of my neck.
My new ink won’t be in Mandarin,
no slender strokes will rise above my left breast—
Winter’s eye is closing. Since you left me
I’ve learned
a few names for the color red:
candy apple, cherry, bittersweet.
Now I squint through the smoke of my cigarette,
check my phone for texts I will never read,
my finger deleting each with a holy flourish.

IMAGE: “Apple” by Andy Warhol (1983).

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I don’t have a tattoo—and, most likely, never will. However, I am fascinated by the whole process. I have heard from folks that getting “tatted up” is almost spiritual and oftentimes addictive. The voice in this poem owes its life to Edna St. Vincent Millay and her poem “Only Until This Cigarette Is Ended,” especially the line: “Yours is a face of which I can forget.”


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Lois Roma-Deeley is the author of three collections of poetry: Rules of Hunger, northSight, and High Notes—a Paterson Poetry Prize Finalist. She has published in numerous anthologies and journals, and is a recipient of an Arizona Commission on the Arts 2016 Artist Research & Development Grant. Visit her at