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secret tattoos

secret tattoos a three-masted schooner tattoo on his bare chest my father tosses us each high into the air and we squeal with delight make it sail for us. he rubs his ocean belly and his ship rolls swoons dips for us and we dont know he is fading like the lines of the ink geisha with parasol seducing on his right arm or blue-red butterfly on his left calf that doesn’t fly like he no longer can and sailor you never told us how you raced behind marines on strange pacific beaches tagging mates to live and fleeing their dying screams: at sixteen summers young nebraska boy belongs in fields of wheat or corn or a soda shop on main street. their bone splinters and flesh shreds mingling with sand still cry in his ears save me brother help me mother oh god please shoot me bob don’t leave me leave me. leave me. tides lapping at the shores of his memory will wash his secret tattoos. Rb 90 for my father, a Navy corpsman who served in two wars.

Copyright © | Year Posted 2020




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