The sky is a wonderful blue

and the air is just the right touch

of cool for November.

Southern California days in

the lateness of the year are a

pleasure – which makes this

parade exhilarating instead of

tiring. Armistice Day, 1924!

We came back from France

changed, my old self, dead.

I hardly remember my childhood

in Iowa before we came to

Long Beach.

My parents bought a bungalow

on East Ocean and I went to

High School by the sea.

I do remember the bombs

and the snaking rows of trenches

between us and the Boche, though.

I told Larry, he was there in ’18,

that you could almost smell the fear

of so many young boys who’d never

seen the inside of a movie palace,

let alone been to Europe.

It was the rats at night that kept me

awake, though.

But it’s a beautiful day in California

and I put on my khakis to march

down Pine Avenue with the young ladies

starring at me. A couple of stolen

kisses almost make the

nightmares worth it.

I can hear over the roar of the crowd

(or perhaps my own imagination)

the breakers by the pier.

Red, white, and blue flags hang

from the Drug Store, free Cokes

for us Doughboys, lost and found.

I look at the asphalt under my feet

and feel the vibrations of thousands

of beating hearts

and I hope to live here forever.

Thankfully that war was the one

to end all wars.

And no more young men will

ever have to march to senseless

death, not while people

in this parade remember.