When the war ended, we were ready to go home.
We heard about troop ships delayed, being prepared,
but anything that could float was fine with us.
We slept on the decks, didn’t have much food, but
that was nothing new. I lost almost sixty pounds
in those years in Australia, Manila, New Guinea.
Not much chow. Dengue fever. I almost died.
No, we’d have jumped in and swam if we could.
I’ll never forget our first sight of the Golden Gate.
Everybody was out on deck, crying and cheering,
hundreds of people waving back at us.
Mustering out in San Francisco took forever.
Paperwork, medical exams, giving up our uniforms
for fear they carried diseases. They probably did.
They invited us to stay for a talk about the Army reserves.
Hell no, our CO told the guy. He turned to us:
“Do you want to get out of this man’s army?”
“Sir, yes sir!” we shouted back.
I got a ride from a Mexican guy down to San Jose.
His family had come to pick him up.
We got to the ranch near midnight. I rang the bell,
got everybody out of bed, surprised my mom and dad.
We were all crying, couldn’t believe I’d made it home.
My brother was six feet tall with this big deep voice.
Yeah, it was something. I kept looking around.
It was all the same, but different, you know?
No, I’ll never forget that day. None of us will.
—from Rattle #63, Spring 2019
Tribute to Persona Poems
Sue Fagalde Lick: “These poems are written in my father’s voice, which has been drummed into my head over the years. He’s 96 now, and that voice is fading. Writing as someone else helps me get myself out of the way and hear more clearly what is being said.” (web)