Ancient Curse


The tough guys come to jail

So they can sport their tattoos

The need to display the torso

With its intricate pointillism

Of design on the living canvas of skin.


The man, influenced by the

Tribal shamans of the orient,

Specialists in needle and ink.


The jeweled pirate and the banners

Of legion hordes

Racing from dark encampments

Into the sweat of leather

And the heat of steel

Now bringing the city the booted

Legend and the fast bike

A deployment of big pals

Weary of work

Wanting bright playthings

And shifting a sudden

Side glance of the eye

And a quick switch to a thick fist.


Now the caught quarry

Sits like a big beast

In the County Jail

The torso working

Its muscular map

Of lines and loops

While the mouth repeats the

Ancient curse of

Mother fucker, Mother fucker.


Ted Goodell




6 thoughts on “Ancient Curse

  1. We have to talk further about this one ted. I’m curious about your thoughts behind it…and the inspiration for it. Do you have tatoos? Have you been to jail? One of your more mysterious pieces.


    1. Hi Isabelle!

      Thanks for your great comment! Dad/Ted LOVED seeing it 🙂 and he would be happy to discuss it with you sometime. As for your questions. . .
      Tattoos – zero
      Time in jail – 20 years. He worked there as a counselor.

      Keep the comments coming!
      Thanks so much,
      Cousin Elianne


  2. Powerful and thought-provoking, I’m thinking influenced by your years with inmates in jail. I’ve alwyas been fascinated and slightly distrubed by the culture of tatoos, never understanding the psychology behind one decorating their body in such a permanent way. I particularly like the finish,with your use of the best swear word ever invented by mankind.


    1. Hello Anonymous! I’m guessing you are a cousin?
      Thanks so much for your thoughtful comment and yes, MF is one of the best, if not THE best.
      Dad appreciates your thoughts and would love to hear more.

      I tried to make it easier for people to comment by removing the email requirement, but now we don’t know who you are. Give us a hint!

      Cousin(?) El


  3. What a powerful poem.
    Let me explain…In Cape Town South Africa we have a huge gang culture with in the jail system – with the gangs known as the ’26’s’, ’27’s’ and ’28’s’ They all use tattoos and the rituals around tattooing to show their status and hierarchy within the gangs. This poem just highlights for me how universal this gang culture is.


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