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By Jacqueline Genovese

Tattoos line the perimeter
Of arms, shoulders, legs, chest
Defying bullets, bombs, blasts, wrecks
Painful, permeable armor
Can’t heal nor keep hidden
War’s brutal bequest

Tattoos shout into silence
Of a nation that cannot see
The moral shrapnel lodged
In hearts that keep us free
Telling stories soldiers cannot speak
For fear of being called weak

Tattoos weld the remnants
Of the young men they used to be
As they struggle to reclaim
Their souls and sanity
Listen to soldiers’ stories, Call them by name
Welcome them home, understand their pain

Jacqueline Genovese is the daughter and sister of Navy veterans. This poem was inspired by the tattoos of OIF and OEF soldiers she interviewed for her thesis:
Post Traumatic Story Disorder: Using the Power of Narrative to Help Heal the Invisible Wounds of War. Ms. Genovese is a graduate student in the Institute for the Medical Humanities at the University of Texas Medical Branch.

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