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Sunday, April 17, 2022


by Jerry Krajnak

Fifty years ago, a boy returned
on a drizzly Easter Monday and found no one
to curse or kiss him. Holiday decorations
peeled from the walls as he lugged his duffel bag
to the gate of the final red-eye homeward flight.
On that eastbound plane no one asked
what he had done to earn that colorful ribbon
on his lapel or the metal pin on his hat.
Not wanting to hear about Vietnam, they looked
away from him as the plane sped on in the dark.
Only clinking ice cubes and the cry of a baby
welcomed him home on that dark United flight.
What kind of welcome will they receive next year,
all those young Russian soldiers, as they return
from afar? Uneasy and gone so long from home,
will they be thanked for their service to the state,
hear shouts of baby killer hurled, or worse,
arrive ignored by tired mothers and brothers
all sick of deprivation and numbed by broadcast
body counts that cannot be confirmed?
Will sisters and fathers and friends all cover their ears,
unwilling to hear what these young men would tell
about the distant place where they were sent
to do what leaders told them they must do?

Jerry Krajnak is a retired Vietnam veteran who lives in the North Carolina mountains. Recent poems appear in Plants and Poetry, Novus, Rat's Ass Review, Sublunary Review, and in the Flee to Spring anthology.