I took this tattoo portrait of Joseph while working for the organization/project, Walk With Me.
Joseph, a poet, was leading a community writing workshop for the project. I was shooting portraits and he obliged with me a session. Joseph struck me as a down-to-earth kind of guy with a quick smile and a creative mind. As he stepped under the lights and folded his arms, he remarked, “this is how I want to be buried.”
Joseph was short-listed for the 2021 Griffin Poetry Prize and writes at least one poem every day. In an interview in the digital magazine, Stir, he says, “I write to create stories and images and connections. I write poems to show just a little of what is truly inside my mind… which is sometimes terrifying.”
Warning: Some readers may find this material triggering (contains references to residential schools and sexual abuse)
To learn the truth at once
Mom was 5 when she rode the train and she never did come back the girl she was when she left and now she fights a brain disease and she is so cute and she dresses like it is the death of winter even when the summer sun heats the earth and if you mention the school she was sent to when she was 5 her eyes fill with tears as even a brain disease does not wash it away and she remembers that priest who stuck his fingers into her when she was 6 and when he finally tore her up when she was 11 and now at 79 she walks to the toilet and she is so proud of herself and she lays back down and we watch funny shows together and she smiles to me her eldest son who was not around much as I left home when I was 15 when my old man kicked the shit out of me for the last time and I was fast and I ran and never went back and now I sit with my mom and she falls asleep and I wonder if she dreams of that school and that evil man and I leave her and I go home and I fall asleep and I dream of the men and boys who hurt me and I too remember that priest when I was 5 and how he took down my pants and he tore me when I was 11 and when I wake up I light a smoke and wonder if I too will suffer a brain disease and if this time it will wipe all this shit from my being.