Saturday, April 24, 2010

American Legion

by Thomas Michael McDade

I had early liberty and was coating
my system with some greasy grub
at the Hamburger Haven
for the night’s drinking.
It was Virginia Beach, 1966.
A guy was playing a guitar softly
singing “Blowin’ in the Wind.”
He wasn’t bad and I noted his
sandals and jeans, wondered if he had
a gig at one of the coffeehouses:
The Upstairs or Quasimodo’s.
He had short sailor hair like me.
I applauded along with three
or four others.
There was no guitar case open
or a hat strategically placed.
All I had was enough for a couple
of quarts of apple wine anyway.
We talked. He was stationed on a Norfolk
destroyer and he envied my shore duty.
From Ohio and against the Vietnam War,
he was working on a couple of protest songs,
couldn’t wait to get out of the Navy
to travel around singing at peace rallies.
Hell, he might go AWOL yet!
I shook his hand, wished him luck
while thinking about a chopper
landing and marines jumping out
while the National Anthem played
before every movie screened at the base
and the article I’d recently clipped
by an angry officer in Nam
calling war protesters cowards.
The greasy burger precaution failed again.
A couple of sailors I didn’t recall seeing
said I held my booze
about as well as the tune
to that Dylan song.

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