Lonna Jo’s “and petty squabbles”

Lonna Jo's "and petty squabbles" (photograph by Kurt Gohde and Kremena Todorova

Lonna Jo’s “and petty squabbles” (photograph by Kurt Gohde and Kremena Todorova

“One of my favorite words is maktoob. I learned this word from reading Paulo Coehlo’s The Alchemist. maktoob is an Arabic word that means ‘it is written’ or ‘destiny.’ I am a believer in destiny, that life is a journey. We are all connected and intertwined, including our destinies. That is why I would have to say that my Love Letter To the World tattoo began in 2008 when I met my friend Karyl Anne.

I went back to school to complete my degree after having been a stay-at-home (for the most part) mom of five kids and wife (twice) for nearly 20 years. I had to retake some core classes because my credits were too old to use. I met Karyl Anne in an English Literature class. That was in the fall of 2008. Fast-forward to May 30, 2014 and my friend invited me to a poetry reading. She was earning her MFA at Spalding University and her mentor was one of my favorite authors, Silas House. She knew how much I loved him and Frank X Walker, both of whom would be reading that evening at the Brown Hotel.

After the poetry reading, I began following Frank X Walker on social media. In August 2014, I learned through his Facebook about the Love Letter To the World tattoo art project being done by Kremena Todorova and Kurt Gohde. I fell in love with the whole concept and poem; therefore, I posted about it all over social media to encourage others to participate.

All throughout 2014, I was always finding myself in the presence of dragonflies. Being an introspective person, I took this as a sign that there needs to be a change. I felt unsatisfied with the way things were going in my life because I felt trapped behind a mask. By December 2014, I felt the need to voice the transformation I was ready to make, inspired by the LLTW tattoo art project. To love the world, to love other people, to love life, we must begin by loving ourselves by being faithful to our own nature.

This past year of 2015, perspicacity brought me to an opening; my spirituality bloomed fully with a deeper understanding of the unity of our world … of the universe. I began meditating and visualizing. I strove to understand human connectedness and energy. I grew. In mid-August, there was a posting on the LLTW Facebook page, offering a free tattoo to two people. The tattoos were sponsored by Kentucky for KentuckyTo enter, one had to tell of a legend and had to pick one of four designs from the poem Love Letta to de Worl’: ‘our own efforts,’ ‘it shows off,’ ‘everything we do,’ or ‘and petty squabbles.’ I submitted two legends. One was of the Pope Lick goat man at the train trestles; the other—of Steve Dehart, from Nada, Kentucky, who purportedly killed off all the black bears of Eastern Kentucky in the early 1900’s. I chose the words ‘and petty squabbles.’ I felt that tattoo was mine and imagined it was already inked in my skin.

The day before my 44th birthday, I was notified that I had indeed won that tattoo! I was ecstatic! A year in the making … seven years in the making … or longer; at least a year after falling in love with the poem and the artwork, I was going to be able to get one of the tattoos from it. On September 13th, I went to Twisted Images in the Highlands of Louisville, Kentucky, where Irish S8N was ready to ink the words and design into my skin forevermore.

I love my tattoo. I love being part of a global art project. I love the poem Love Letta to de Worl’. In the beginning, I had chosen the words ‘healing waters.’ Swimming is an activity I love: flowing gracefully through water. Water is purifying; think showers/baths, ablutions before prayer, and being baptized. Purification of body and soul always requires the healing of waters; what is more healing than tears?

The stanza that holds the words of my tattoo is as follow:

When you weep, daily, 
over our continued ignorance, 
our epic failures and petty squabbles 
–our every transgression, 
your waters 
break and we are born again.

As a mom of five, I have cried over my children’s petty squabbles with one another. As a Bowen (maiden name), I have shed tears from the petty squabbles within my clan of hillbillies living on Hell Hill (it is named Bowen hill, but nicknamed Hell Hill due to the fighting). As a human being, I have sobbed over the petty squabbles that affect our world dividing us into ‘us’ and ‘them.’ Tears are healing waters by way of their cathartic effect and sadly ‘our continued ignorance,’ ‘our epic failures,’ ‘petty squabbles,’ and ‘our every transgression’ ensure that there will always be a continuous flow of ‘healing waters’ from our faces and that of our earthen mother, Gaia.”