by Travis Laurence Naught

Trying to describe an experience not felt firsthand is tough

But I saw the depth of reality in Jamie’s eyes
As she described how words were painted on her skin
With caring touch and real connection
Pausing as the pain grew too intense

Model: Jaimie Junction. Photography: Mark Anthony.

Model: Jaimie Junction. Photography: Mark Anthony.

Gently wiping away ink and blood
Shed as an intimate gesture

A gift
Unlike any that could have been given
Given a different set of circumstances

It is felt like being there in the moment when her skin was bare
Allowing all the elements to embed sense memory
On the naked tapestry of her body
In an atmosphere that started off nervous
For a variety of reasons

Ranging from shy feelings brought shedding clothes
To knowing a single slip of the wrist
Would mean probable infection
Since the bold artist with beat ideas to ink
Carries HIV

Understanding the consequences of a mishap
Actually led to some demands for delay
So he could build up courage to work on a friend

Touching her completely across the upper torso
Working masterfully while inflicting mixed doses of pleasure, pain
Closely holding her skin in new directions
Breathing across her
Adding to the intensity

Felt by even the wind outside
As it provided a soundtrack
Varying degrees of climactic expression
That mixed with classical music
Played inside to provide a point of focus
Keeping both minds in the moment instead of being lost

In the moment
Which would have led to a more seductive touch
Between two people that could not afford to forget the cost
Lest the virus were given an opportunity to spread

And worse

A marriage possibly caught in turmoil
Caused by a friend that for mere pleasure put aside her nerves …

No sex happened

The connection was deeper than that
Even if they both felt a similar excitement
It was due to exquisite workmanship

A closeness rarely encountered

A gift that will last a lifetime

About the poet: Travis Laurence Naught is an author who happens to be a quadriplegic wheelchair user. The Virgin Journals (ASD Publishing, 2012) and Still Journaling (e-book, 2013) are full-length volumes of his poetry. Individual poems and stories by Travis have been published in print (Lost Coast Review, Freshwater Poetry Journal, etc.) and online (BALLOONS Lit Journal, Deadman’s Reach, etc.). Check out for more information and original work by Travis!

About the model: Jamie Junction has been a multimedia performance artist and figure model for 14 years. Artists she has posed for include Jack Lantz, Brad Scupina, and Steve Knutson. Her recent posing with surrealist painter Tom Quinn explores the issues of women in popular culture and fairy tales. In 2014, Jamie was hired at Gonzaga University as their first nude figure art model. Photographers she has posed for include Mark Anthony, Sarah Benton, and Stina Rae. As an activist, she has worked against censorship in books and figure art, HIV prevention, education, women’s rights, free healthcare, and other causes. She likes to write, produce short films, and collaborate with her weirdo friends!

About the collaboration: Travis and Jamie frequently attend a weekly poetry open microphone event in Spokane (Broken Mic). After one of the readings, Jamie regaled a number of the poets in attendance about a gift one of her friends bestowed upon her. The Allen Ginsberg words (placed on Jamie’s side using ink from black Japanese tree bark) are intended as a commemoration between her, activist and writing friend Ryan Weech, and Jeff Forte. It was important for the tattoo artist to remain anonymous, as they are still employed and working in traditional Americana and Japanese styles. HIV does not have to mean an end to professionalism or intimacy.