Tattoos – A Poem

hula girl

I tried to take rubbings of his tattoos-the hula girl,
the palm trees, the sailing ship,  the crossed cannons,
the anchor. The hula girl danced for me when he flexed
his forearm. He never told me where he’d got them.

He was in the war when he was eighteen, and he was an
old man when he came home at twenty. His ships pulled
into ports where Sailors got drunk and happy. War made
men do things, then let them try and forget.

After the war ended he tried to find his way but never
quite found his footing. He raised a family and visited
his folks, and he smiled sometimes and told the few jokes
he knew that made people laugh. He worked hard.

The hula girl stopped dancing one day. I tried to take
rubbings of his tattoos but there was nothing to stick to
paper. He never tried to hide them from good people. The
tattoos. The ones he got in the war. When he was happy.

8 thoughts on “Tattoos – A Poem

  1. I like seeing how some tats change with the age of the wearer (not all of them….). The ones of those who got theirs way back when were from a time of terror and beauty and a world we can only imagine.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Dad’s were all black, no color. The dancing girl in the image I posted is the same as the one he had; I imagine she was a popular tattoo for Sailors in WWII. Dad must have gotten his in Pearl, San Diego, or San Francisco. Maybe even Norfolk since that’s where he went to gunnery school before he shipped out for the Pacific. In any case, I loved his tattoos. They show in some photos but not very well and not close enough to make out detail.


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