​​H E R M E N E U T I C   C H A O S   J O U R N A L

S T A C E Y   B A L K U N

T A T T O O   M U S E U M

Past the velvet ropes
hung across the lobby,
we become exhibits

of flexing biceps, ligaments 
swollen beneath inked skin
and rolled-up pant legs,

our stories on display.
The skull and roses 
of my shoulder

fold into the garden 
blossomed to your chest. 
A family of ticket-holders

stops to watch 
from the gift shop
as we trace fingers 

across each other’s 
murals: a compass, 
a ship’s wheel, a finch.

Together, too alive 
to be mannequin
no matter how public

this private life 
of ours may feel.
The lights flick to signal 

closing time, but before 
I slip on my shoes, 
you sketch a map 

across my feet. 
I draw a heart
around the name of our city.


Stacey Balkun is the author of two chapbooks, Jackalope-Girl Learns to Speak (dancing girl 2016) & Lost City Museum (ELJ Publications 2016). She received her MFA from Fresno State and her work has appeared or will appear in Gargoyle, Muzzle, THRUSH, Bodega, and others. A 2015 Hambidge Fellow. Stacey served as Artist-in-Residence at the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in 2013. She is a contributing writer for The California Journal of Women Writers at www.tcjww.org.